Wednesday, August 31, 2011

31 August 2011

Cenk Uygur,th' Young Turks: Banks Got Free Money From Fed

Uygur's argument about bonuses is a bit silly, although by now it's conventional wisdom for many. The federal government should not have forbade big bonuses for CEOS but rather substantially increased the taxes on such payouts, including a hike ( say, to 45% or higher) in the tax on incomes over 5 million for those CEOs, and all other incomes in that region, bankers and others. Also, they could have taken over some real estate holdings from the banks in exchange for the bailout dollars, and sold them to sounder, smaller banks. Wealthy Americans are undertaxed in general, not just bankers, and Obama (and the 2009-2010 democrats in general) decided to be part of that ongoing problem, at precisely the time when they had the most favorable conditions to overhaul the tax code and make it more progressive.

Rakesh Raman, Why You Must Not Compare Anna Hazare with Gandhi

I don't know if Raman is right in asserting that Gandhi was unconditionally against violence, as opposed to preferring nonviolence when it was possible, but recognizing that there might be circumstances where it was not.

BDR pondered who the dems would run in 2016 if Obama loses. I commented:

I say Russ Feingold '16, if he's willing to hug enough bankers. Feingold would be valuable as a measure of co-opting optics. Just like converting Kucinich's 'no' vote on the Healthcare Reform Will Get You Act of 2010 was valuable, lest some normals furrow their brows and try to figure out why a lefty would oppose it. They needed Dennis K's vote, if not mathematically, then thematically.

Additional thoughts: I wrote that because I couldn't help but note that if anybody could have usefully challenged Obama from the left in the primaries it was Feingold. At this point Kucinich is probably regarded as too old, and as a two-time loser.

Ted Kennedy challenged Carter in 1980 and actually made it a race for a while, but today as our politics become increasingly tribal something like that seems impossible. Whatever you think of Kennedy, if anybody tells you that he cost Carter re-election, recall what happened to a certain military operation in the Iranian desert on April 24th, 1980.

Duncan Mitchel, "The Trouble With Privilege Is That Everybody Doesn't Have It"

2 pajama-clad girls take stolen goat for walk
"Everything went according to plan for two pajama-clad stepsisters who took a goat they'd freed from a Minnesota zoo for a late-night walk..."

I may have linked to a different site discussing this same study before:

Upper-class people less empathetic than lower-class people: study | The Raw Story

People from different economic classes have fundamentally different ways of thinking about the world, according to research recently published in Current Directions in Psychological Science. [...] “One clear policy implication is, the idea of nobless oblige or trickle-down economics, certain versions of it, is bull," Keltner added.

Slate, "People Always Say You Should Invest Like Warren Buffett. Here's Why You Can't"

Adam Kessler | Cognitive dissonance, the Global Financial Crisis and the discipline of economics [note: pdf link]

I consider the social-psychological concept cognitive dissonance as the best explanatory framework for understanding this response. Cognitive dissonance theory predicts that when real-world events “disconfirm” deeply-held beliefs this creates psychological discomfort in persons...

Or, denial is a river, with flowcharts n' copious statistics.

What Caused the Financial Crisis? Don’t Ask an Economist

Business Insider, "Here's The Bomb That Might Blow A Hole In Bank Of America"

CNN: "U.S. ranks low for newborn survival"

The GOP War on Voting | Rolling Stone Politics

Norway killer tied to drugs, the Tea Party and the libertarian conspiracy:

Peter Dale Scott -- poet, U.C. Berkeley professor and former Canadian diplomat -- has written a fascinating analysis of the mass killings committed by Anders Breivik, which he views as a "deep" event. "Deep" is Scott-speak for "conspiratorial," although he operates on a wavelength very different from that of the conspira-cranks who gravitate toward Alex Jones. "Ayn Rand took government assistance while decrying others who did the same"

Sibel Edmonds, "Politicians aren’t as Incompetent as They Seem"

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The right to privacy(For us, not you)

Two recent items:

1. "Corporations pushing for job-creation tax breaks shield U.S.-vs.-abroad hiring data"
Posted by Dan Crawford (Rdan) | 8/23/2011 09:23:00 AM
via Avedon Carol

referencing this, from the Washington Post:

The latest data show that multinationals cut 2.9 million jobs in the United States and added 2.4 million overseas between 2000 and 2009.

Which reminded me of this from Jodi Dean from earlier this summer, also referencing a WaPo article:

2. JD:"Business group: Public companies shouldn’t have to compare CEO and worker pay"

Now a group backed by 81 major companies — including McDonald’s, Lowe’s, General Dynamics, American Airlines, IBM and General Mills — is lobbying against new rules that would force disclosure of that comparison.

I suspect a much longer post with many more examples is possible with the title above.

see also "The right to be forgotten."

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy 103rd LBJ

image courtesy the LBJ library.

Today is LBJ's 103rd birthday. He was responsible for the Great Society programs, the war on poverty, and the escalation of the Vietnam war. Of course Kennedy started it ... but you already know that. LBJ was born in Stonewall, Texas in 1908.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Arthur Silber update Aug 2011

A lot of people could use some help right now. But the abstraction is just that, and Arthur in particular could use some help right now.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

25 August 2011

Koch Responds To Buffett: ‘My Business And Non-Profit Investments Are Much More Beneficial To Society'

America’s current tax system forces people making $50,000 a year to pay a higher rate than hedge fund managers making $2.4 million an hour. Warren Buffett penned an op-ed last week declaring that America’s super-rich have been “coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.”

By way of counterpoint and context, there's Moon of Alabama's post linked below, with some cold water regarding Warren Buffet's alleged awesomeness. The devil's in the details, as is usually the case.
M of A - Buffet Is Lying On "Future Promises"

It would make sense, and save a lot of problems, if the U.S. would tax capital gains at the same rate as income form a regular job...

Two from Raw Story:
1. "Ron Paul suggests spending cuts could lead to riots"
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul wants to make deep cuts to spending and entitlements, but he’s worried there might be European-style riots in the U.S. if he gets his way. “I see the anger building and problems getting worse,” Paul told Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs Wednesday.

Ron Paul is a problematic figure for me. He generally comes down on the correct side with respect to civil liberties matters and his critique of the security state, as well as regarding our extensive network of military bases all over the world. But Paul and his son are pretty eager to tear down the social safety net, even as they have both made a lot of dough from collecting medicaid payments in their medical practices. Above all, do no harm. Or not.

2. John Dean rips Cheney’s memoir: It displays his ‘authoritarian personality’

Then and now, MLK and Malcolm X; I have a feeling Rob Payne and Duncan Mitchel were unaware of each other's similarly themed essays, both worthwhile, illustrating a similar theme drawn from different material:

Rob Payne: Forgetting MLK, "We cherry pick the past in order to cherry pick the present"

Duncan Mitchel:"He Who Controls the Past Controls the Future"

Dave Anderson, "Austerity kills"
Rachel Tabachnick, Talk2Action, "What is it About Uganda? Bachmann Campaign Faith-Based Organizer Arrested There in 2006"
(via Jay Taber, "Christian Dominion")

The Onion, "Report: At This Point, Most Americans Feel More Comfortable In Dying Economy" August 23, 2011 | ISSUE 47•34

"You get used to sending 50 resumés into the void each day and having them all go unanswered," said Mary-Lee Jones, 46, of Cleveland, who later called the enduring unlikelihood of ever finding employment "her rock." "The emotional trauma of not knowing if or when I'll work again has just become a regular part of my life. Honestly, not living on the knife's edge of poverty might make me a little anxious."

The report also found that many take comfort in the dependable stream of ominous fiscal predictions in the media, particularly in seeing, on a regular basis, the weary face of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the cover of major newspapers, accompanied by giant bold letters announcing the dollar's latest slide.

"Even if the economy did start to make a miraculous recovery, all that would happen is I'd get my hopes up and then, boom, it would collapse again like it always does"...

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

23 August 2011 Nuclear concern

Video above is via Jay Taber(here).

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Monday, August 22, 2011

22 August 2011:"it's not a real country"

Russia Today: Putin: Who gave NATO right to kill Gaddafi?

(above) Hamid Dabashi: "Neo-liberalism a greater threat to Libya than tribalism or extreme Islam."via Reality Zone

CNN, "Top ten myths about the Libya war"-Juan Cole

Although I recognize that Cole is a celebrated expert on the Middle East, I am leery of his myth-busting. Putting aside his discussion of Khaddafi's domestic politics, on which I don't feel qualified to offer an informed opinion, I recognize the counterfeit quality of his argument that the Europeans aren't after their oil because some companies that have a current stake in Libya's oil fields have lost some money since the war started. That's a little like saying that because some exploratory wells don't pan out that proves oil companies aren't trying to make a profit.

see also, from the NYT:The Scramble for Access to Libya’s Oil Wealth Begins

Colonel Qaddafi proved to be a problematic partner for international oil companies, frequently raising fees and taxes and making other demands. A new government with close ties to NATO may be an easier partner for Western nations to deal with. Some experts say that given a free hand, oil companies could find considerably more oil in Libya than they were able to locate under the restrictions placed by the Qaddafi government.

A problematic partner? I wonder what they are trying to say. I get the impression Elisabetta Povoledo of the NYT said "problematic partner" because she was trying to comply with the NYT manual on style. They must have such a manual, right? 'If you're trying to convey thing or idea x, say "problematic partner."' It's probably like their crossword, full of big words.

Now, another thought, and I know this is going to sound crazy, maybe even problematic: it occurs to me that one of the purposes of the Libya campaign was as P.R. to help justify the existence of NATO in the first place. Cole doesn't address this. Maybe he sees that as a given, the modishness of austerity notwithstanding.

I do agree with Cole, however, that the frequently bandied-about assertion that various states aren't "real countries" is bogus orientalism.

(I would add racism, as in the implied, "Why, we had a civil society and laws when they were living in mud huts..." Of course this assumption itself is also wrong sometimes.)

However I think his citing Alexander Cockburn's criticism is a bit off, and based on a misreading of Cockburn's argument, whether deliberate or accidental. I think Cockburn is saying the NATO countries might try to partition Libya for their benefit by force, not that the national identity Libyan people may feel is shakier and less authentic than that of Westerners, which seems to be what Cole thinks Cockburn is saying.

(That begs the question of whether having a strong national identity in fact makes you a civilized person, but that's a discussion for another occasion. My initial point in bringing it up is that I'm with Cole on the "it's not a real country" trope. Still, I never thought I'd see the day that CNN links to an article on Counterpunch!)

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

August in Tripoli

Narratives establish verisimilitude by including a wealth of believable details, and the plucky freedom-fighting rebels may well be on the verge of capturing the Libyan capitol, and they may well represent the authentic aspirations of the Libyan people. And it may be jealousy[1] on my part to note that this just looks like a guy in a hotel wearing a kevlar jacket talking into a camera, and for all we know he may be in Terre Haute or Akron.

Let me be clear, I don't actually question that reporter Matthew Chance really is in Tripoli. Nevertheless, the abstract, stage prop quality of this report seems emblematic of much of the reportage we've gotten about the NATO campaign against Libya, plucky rebels or no plucky rebels.

We're told the war is about this, or that, or something else, so it must be so. Humanitarian interventions are humanitarian interventions because we're told they're humanitarian. And they're interventions, so they can't be wars, and we're picking sides, and picking the right one, because the government says so, or Samantha Power says so, or some guy on TV says so, etc.

Could we be making things worse by interfering? As "Davidly66" pointed out recently,

"Denying the myth of American exceptionalism will quickly get you accused of blaming America for all the world's problems."

It takes belief in our exceptionalism, or at least insufficient skepticism of the justness of those with authority and power, to believe that we will inevitably choose the right side when we interfere in somebody else's conflict, that there is a clearly right (and wrong) side, that we should interfere, and that any accusations of nefarious ulterior motives are just mean-spirited and wrong(like for example, that we're stealing somebody else's oil.)

See also

Jyoti Prasad Das, "Why Is Libya in the Crosshairs of the West?"

Rob Payne, "Fifteen to One"

Fred Kaplan, "It's Not What We Ought To Do, But What We Can Do"

(Apparently the original title of this article, per the bookmark data, was

"Humanitarian intervention: Why is NATO bombing Libya but not Syria?"

Maybe this made the war-mongering quality of Kaplan's argument too obvious. I think it's also useful to note that "R2P" was originally described, according to the note at the bottom, as "right to protect" and later changed to "responsibility to protect." Kipling should have been Fred Kaplan's copy editor.)

[1]I say jealousy because several years ago, in 2005-2007, I tried to raise funds to go to Iraq and report on events there but was largely unsuccessful. The persons who helped me were very kind and decent, but it wasn't enough and frankly I went about it the wrong way; I should have attached myself to a graduate program in either journalism or film, and I failed to do this.

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Bruce Levine

On a quiet Sunday, I found the following. Levine's reasons for what seems to be the apathy of youth today make a lot of sense.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Buy Suze Orman books or else

August 17, 2011
Personal finance expert Suze Orman tells CNN's John King how consumers can cope with Wall Street's wild swings.

Added On August 17, 2011
CNN's John King and Jessica Yellin talk about the president's new proposal geared toward creating jobs

Mother Jones,The Next Debtpocalypse: Fiscal Meltdowns in the States:Inside the plan to gut state budgets and keep corporate America happy.

the Huffy Post, "Obama For America's New Mexico Director Sends Out Email Bashing 'Firebagger Lefty Blogosphere'"

Star Tribune/AP, Report: Justice Department investigating Standard and Poor's mortgage securities ratings.
Updated: August 17, 2011 - 10:43 PM

Annie Lowrey, Deliverance:The U.S. Postal Service must make massive changes if it is going to survive

I generally like Annie Lowrey's reporting, but this was really disappointing, just the usual boilerplate about a government agency needing to become lean and mean and innovative, blah blah blah, at the expense of its workforce. Presumably Lowrey and her peers have to periodically remind you that they work for the Washington Post and mustn't rock the austerity boat. People worry about jobs, and the further deterioration of the economy. OK, how about not laying off 120,000 more postal workers and not getting apoplectic about how the USPS needs to break even? (Does the post Osama Afghanistan war have to break even? How about the not-war that we're not-waging on Libya? Couldn't we use cheaper missiles or fewer sorties and still achieve a protracted stalemate?)

Lowrey does mention "innovating" by allowing the Post Office to set its own postage rates (You know, like their private sector competitors already do), as opposed to waiting for the congress to vote on any rate changes. Of course they could have done this years ago if the Democrats and Republicans weren't intent on starving the beast. As one commenter observed, the problem is the Post Office is underfunded.

CNN: Bachmann: I'll bring back $2 gas How can you not vote for her?

Alternet, 6 So-CalledSo-Called "Job Creators" Who Won't Hire The Unemployed
Allstate Insurance, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and the University of Arizona are just a few of the companies advertising that they will only hire people who already have jobs.

TV reporter:"The Down House owner Chris Cusack said the customer called the bartender a "twerp" on Twitter, and the manager showed her the door."
Tweet Gets Houston Customer Kicked Out - HOUSTON

-- A Houston diner is kicked out of a restaurant not for something she did, but apparently for something she said on Twitter. Wednesday, August 17, 2011.

Unintentional humor is often the funniest.( watches Fox News so you don't have to...)
Fox's Eric Bolling Asks If Warren Buffett Is "Completely A Socialist" This Is For Everyone Who Thinks The US Can't Fund Its Own Debt
This idea that we need to borrow from China is dangerous nonsense.

Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes? | Rolling Stone Politics
Imagine a world in which a man who is repeatedly investigated for a string of serious crimes, but never prosecuted, has his slate wiped clean every time...

(OK, so she doesn't say buy my books or else.)

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Ides of August, approximately

Nouriel Roubini, Slate, "Is Capitalism Doomed?"
Karl Marx was right that globalization, financial intermediation, and income redistribution could lead capitalism to self-destruct.
Posted Monday, Aug. 15, 2011, at 2:17 PM ET

There's something amusing about this story carrying a Goldman Sachs ad. Or maybe it's not the least bit funny.

IOZ, on Ron Paul(and Dennis Kucinich): "Ersatz intellectual diversity superimposed on the public facade of the ruling class is an affect overlying an underlying unanimity among the actually powerful."

Sibel Edmonds has a website,and links to a bunch of other links, here.

Dennis Perrin, "Nietzsche's Abyss"

Rob Payne announces his pick for the 2012 presidential contest.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pentagon Unable to Account for Trillions: interview with Stephen Glain

I've taken issue with interviewer Aaron Task before, and I note the on-screen graphic says that Glain(author of State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America's Empire)wants the Pentagon's pension system reformed, so I'm curious of the nuts and bolts behind this and what Glain means by reform in this context. I can't help but be skeptical, wondering if it's another example of demonizing federal employees. ("Reform" seems to have rapidly become the new softer word for cutting something you were previously entitled to in mediaspeak.)

What about the pallets of US dollars being sent to Afghanistan they refer to? What are they for? I wish I could remember where I saw somebody suggest that the military has a semi-secret policy of bribing locals to not kill our soldiers.

At least they mention the expense of our many overseas military bases and wars. (Also, to credit Task when it's due, note that he points out that often Americans don't realize that we spend very little on foreign aid, or at least much less than is commonly believed.)

Original link, at Yahoo here. [via a commenter at Economic Populist]

via Jeffrey St Clair:
China’s Nuclear Power Plans Unfazed by Fukushima Disaster, David Biello:

In the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns, some nations are looking to move away from nuclear power. But not China, which is proceeding with plans to build 36 reactors over the next decade. Now some experts are questioning whether China can safely operate a host of nuclear plants.

NYT photo-essay, "Where Children Sleep"

via Ian Welsh:
Who Rules America? Breaking Down the Top 1%

A complex and discrete set of laws and exemptions from laws has been put in place by the top 1% of the U.S. financial system. It allows them to protect and increase their wealth and significantly affect the U.S. political and legislative processes.

Ministers plan removal of rioters’ benefits -

Kiran Stacey, Political Correspondent

...Ministers are drawing up controversial plans to remove benefits from those convicted of taking part in the riots that engulfed England last week, in a move Liberal Democrats and independent experts have condemned as counter-productive and overly expensive.

Officials in Number 10 and the department for work and pensions are putting together plans for the harsh punishment of those found guilty of even the most minor infringements during the riots after a public petition calling for such a move gathered nearly 200,000 signatures.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

11 August 2011

Joshua Holland (Alternet) on the "Super Congress"

Two from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

1.Attorney for Graves, Rogers: Bank is at fault(via Unqualified Offerings)

Jeremy Redmon and Aaron Gould Sheinin:

CALHOUN -- While U.S. Rep. Tom Graves was calling for fiscal responsibility in Washington his attorney was arguing in a lawsuit that a North Georgia bank is at fault for issuing Graves a $2.2 million loan the bank knew he could not repay. Graves was fighting a lawsuit along with business partner Chip Rogers, the state Senate majority leader. The two Republicans, through a limited-liability company, used the loan to purchase and renovate a Calhoun motel that quickly went under.

The bank sued, alleging the two defaulted on the loan. The politicians filed counterclaims against the bank, accusing it of improperly declaring the loan in default after reneging on a promise to refinance it at more favorable terms.

2.Pa. judge gets 28 years in 'kids for cash' case |

SCRANTON, Pa. — A longtime northeastern Pennsylvania judge has been ordered to spend nearly three decades in prison for his role in a massive juvenile justice bribery scandal that prompted the state's high court to toss thousands of convictions.

Dahlia Lithwick,Slate, "The GOP's war on the NLRB isn't just about airplanes and unions"

John Robb writes(July 29th), " I admire the way the US gov't used the budget fight to manufacture a black swan financial event out of thin air. Very GG of them. Of course, there will be lasting damage done that hasn't been considered even if it doesn't result in a default. "

The capital of hard times: With 28% of unemployment, a U.S. high, Arizona city twists in the wind. Erik German, Monday, August 1, 2011

Thoreau at Unqualified Offerings, "Hire one man to drop a bomb, hire another man to fill the crater with old tea leaves"

Poll: Christians Are Much More Likely to Condone Violence Than Muslims or Atheists

from the Christian Science Monitor, "Knights Templar: In Mexico, like Norway, criminals look to past for legitimacy"
The attacker in Norway and a Mexican drug ring both invoke the ancient Knights Templar to describe themselves. Why do violent ideologues and criminals search the past for inspiration?

Buckeye surgeon, "Irrational death"

Belarus Drafts Law Against Peaceful Gatherings
(via NYT)

The class politics of the US debt ceiling crisis
(I think this was from Jodi Dean)

Jay Taber, "Greed Kills"

In his 1994 book Civil Wars: From L.A. to Bosnia, Hans Magnus Enzensburger examined the consequences of societies built on systems that treated people as if they didn't matter. Introduce weapons and scapegoating, and pandemonium will ensue.

Thursday, August 11, 2011, Reality Zone:
"5 Reasons Why American Riots Will Be The Worst In The World"

via KFO, who writes,

20% is that portion of the landscape where government is recognized as an oppressor, not a force for good; where consumerism is seen as destructive, not liberating; where capitalism is seen as plutocratic, not empowering; where fashion-style-fine wines-fine dining-trendy literature are seen as corrosive diversions, not as fulfilling ways to spend one's time. The 20% is where we find that America is fatally collapsing because of hubris, greed, materialism, self-satisfaction, consumerism, and a pretense of being beyond and above failure.

Dennis Perrin,"Chaotic Masters"

...Instead, they rave on about Obama the Socialist Muslim. They cite the Founders as timeless seers whose 18th century social notions fit a 21st century global economy. They blast runaway spending but say little about corporate/military influence. That they didn't erupt when Bush expanded the state exposes their hypocrisy. Tea Partiers are no threat to the status quo. They espouse some vile opinions, but then so do many Americans.

Liberals pout and are equally locked down. Far from organizing grassroots resistance, liberals leap into Dem arms, afraid of the scary GOP. As I've said, it's a beautiful system for those who own it.

I tend to think that Dennis Perrin is closer to the mark. Things may get worse, maybe even a lot worse, but Americans, at least those who vote, seem to have an endless appetite for hitching their aspirations to co-opted faux outsiders, both on the left and the right.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Darcus Howe interview on the BBC

update: I think this video is better than the old one.
update no. 2: Lenin's Tomb, "The BBC vs Darcus Howe"

I'd never heard of Darcus Howe, before, and I note the linked wikipedia article seems to have been edited pretty extensively in the past 24 hours.

Somewhat coincidentally, I was reading Jack Crow's essay "Humiliation" last night when I came across a link via the comments from Justin:

"Why the Rich Fear Violence in the Streets"

Which inevitably made me think of events in Tottenham. (Justin is right, some of the comments at the WSJ link are genuinely malevolent towards poor people.) We may not know exactly what happened in Tottenham, but I'm struck by some things:

(1)Believing that precipitating conditions(like Cameron's austerity measures) are irrelevant while simultaneously condemning the rioters as morally reprehensible, less civilized, etc, and less worthy of empathy, is a little like believing in "free will for me but not for thee" while also being indignant at the putative sub-human Other for not possessing as much free will as you do, even as you may be part of the reason he has less freedom. (Or not possessing as much as you believe you do.) The belief in the sub-human other is rarely directly expressed of course, but it seems as if it comes to the fore pretty quickly.

(2) Automatically dismissing the possibility of agents provocateurs as having had a hand in the events, as opposed to being agnostic about the question without hard evidence pro or con, amounts to an ideological tenet. (I talked a little bit about the world of marketing co-opting the signifiers of radicalism and protest politics the other day; apparently is an online lingerie seller.)

(3) Riots like this are opportunities for the elite to strengthen the loyalties of the middle class. Maybe this is thunderingly obvious, but relates to why I mention no. 2, above.

See also Will Shetterly, "Why rich people hate looters"

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Remembrance of Investigations Passed Over

"Eric Holder May Investigate Bush for Torture"

May. May.

Uploaded by The Young Turks on Jul 13, 2009

And, below,
Michael Ratner: Obama broke law not prosecuting Bush & Cheney

Uploaded by The Real News on Aug 7, 2011

Meanwhile, in Europe:

Guardian UK, 4 August 2011, "Police raid Milan offices of Moody's and Standard & Poor's"

Chief prosecutor of Trani conducts investigation into whether the two rating agencies abide by regulations

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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Al Gore: So Close (2011 edition)

Keith Olbermann interviews his new boss, big Al Gore. I used to be really enthusiastic about Gore, and voted for him in 2000. I used to tell people that if he had been president in 2001-2005, that yes, he probably would have made war against the Taliban but not against Iraq, and we would have been out of Afghanistan by 2004, or even earlier. Did I know this? Obviously I didn't, anymore than the people who knew he would have fabricated evidence against Saddam and gone to war with him, just like the other Junior in the 2000 race eventually did. (That begs the question of whether even the Afghan invasion of late 2001 was justifiable, but it may have been next to impossible for a sitting president at that point, in our system, to avoid at least "a little" military action.)

For better or worse Al Gore will likely go down in history not primarily as the 45th vice-president of the United States, nor for the Nobel Prize, nor the lock-box and the sighing from the 2000 prez debates, or even for trying to suck his wife's face clean off in front of millions at the Dem convention in L.A. that summer. Instead he'll be primarily remembered for winning the popular vote and losing the White House in that excruciatingly close election, the funny business in Florida, Bush v. Gore, etc.

I did find myself wondering if his call for a 'nonviolent American Spring' in this interview was essentially a call for a Democratic party led co-opting of populist angst, designed to neuter it into irrelevance, but maybe that's being uncharitable or excessively suspicious. Otherwise, Gore comes pretty close here too, sounding good for the first six and a half minutes of this interview.

The Weekly World News folks also watched this, and discussed Olbermann's interview with Gore:

“We need to have an American spring, you know, the Arab spring. The non-violent part of it isn’t finished yet, but we need to have an American spring. A kind of an American Tahrir Square. Non-violent change where people from the grassroots get involved again. Not the, you know, not in the Tea Party style,’” Al Gore said on Current TV’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”

“There are people who are genuinely upset in the Tea Party. I understand that. But that movement was funded with seed money from right-wing billionaires, the Koch Brothers, and promoted on Fox News,” Gore said.

Gore said that he would happily lead the revolution but that he is “afraid of large crowds.”

OK, he doesn't really say that.

See also "Obama throws 'downgrade party' at White House"

Bruce Levine, Alternet,"8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance"

Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism "Only 17% Say Government Has Consent of the Public"

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Saturday, August 06, 2011

6 August 1945

upi photo boy survivor hiroshima

photo: UPI

I'll admit I'd forgotten that today is the 66th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima; Arthur Silber reminded me. If you like to divide history into eras, then in a very real sense we are living in the era that started 66 years ago today. I note that no US president has visited either Hiroshima or Nagasaki while serving. (Carter visited Hiroshima as an ex-president.)

See also Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Bomb Hiroshima

Ike: "It Wasn't Necessary to Hit Them With That Awful Thing"

Alperovitz:Though most Americans are unaware of the fact, increasing numbers of historians now recognize the United States did not need to use the atomic bomb to end the war against Japan in 1945. Moreover, this essential judgment was expressed by the vast majority of top American military leaders in all three services in the years after the war ended: Army, Navy and Army Air Force. Nor was this the judgment of "liberals," as is sometimes thought today. In fact, leading conservatives were far more outspoken in challenging the decision as unjustified and immoral than American liberals in the years following World War II.

via Arthur Silber, "Not Suicidally Depressed Yet? Try This!"

Article about Tsutomu Yamuguchi by Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail(UK), "The man who survived TWO nuclear bombs: 'Lucky'Yamaguchi tells how he lived through Hiroshima... and fled home to Nagasaki" 30th March 2009

And, "Fukushima: It's much worse than you think" June 2011(via Jack Crow)

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Friday, August 05, 2011

Rich people need hugs too

Arthur Laffer on Fox, via Media Matters

Fox Hosts Art Laffer To Claim "You Gotta Cut Government Spending" To Get Out Of Recession.From the August 5 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom.

I imagine there actually are people who don't realize how absurd Laffer's "two person economy" model is and need it explained to them. Laffer is a dangerously irresponsible man.

Alex Pareene, The baffling paranoia of rich guys against Obama:
The president who preserved a system rigged for the haves now faces their (confused) wrath.

Ken Langone* doesn't strike me as being the least bit confused, and I don't doubt that he knew that BHO meant to accommodate the right wing agenda of his ostensible opponents. But hey, Pareene has a paid writing gig and I don't, so what do I know. This article from earlier this week originally had a video from late July(i.e. last week), which CNBC has subsequently yanked. I think this is it, below:

*Actually I agree with Langone that BHO shouldn't call the super rich "fatcats." It sounds kind of silly, and suggests that the president thinks poor people are just resentful and stupid, as opposed to thinking they are really hurting and being concerned with fairness. This is awfully unseemly of him, almost a "tell." He really should call them his employers.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The 4th way, or possibly the 5th way. Sorry, I've lost track

The best way, possibly, to fix the deal is to primary you-know-who, and the rest of his minions. Mockery of the tea party and the falseness of their grass-roots origins notwithstanding, that's what they did.

Does the democratic party deserve saving? This is a silly question; what does "deserve" have to do with anything? It's like saying this cardboard box has been in my family for years, and it used to contain some really swell stuff. I can't throw it away.

It needs to be retooled to serve people's needs if this is possible, or discarded if it isn't, with no sentimentality. It's had a good run, or a bad run, or a mostly bad run with some bright moments, or whatever.

It may of course be too late, as a key provision of the poison pill is scheduled to take place in late 2012, just after the election.

Oh by the way, welcome back.

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Monday, August 01, 2011

"You know, this used to be a helluva good country"

Excerpt from Easy Rider[video link]

Yes, Easy Rider is dated. And the idea that long hair represents rebellion seems quaint, because most or all of the signifiers of rebellion and discontent from the 1960s have been co-opted for marketing purposes, to sell perfume or cars or mutual funds, etc.

Ian Welsh, "What the Debt Limit Crisis Should Have Taught You", July 31

Arthur Silber, "Tell Me Again: Who's the Stupid/Weak/Incompetent One?" August 1st

Zachary Karabell, Time: "The U.S. is not drowning in debt", July 15th

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