Past the bounds of decency

Anil Dash is receiving significant mileage in the blogiverse for this:

What Sarah Palin Is Saying
“if Palin says “Barack Obama consorts with terrorists”, she is making the assertion that he supports acts of violence against American citizens & the media will refute this … If … Palin says he “pals around with terrorists”, she’s used code-switching to mask the seriousness of the charge, obfuscating her meaning enough to get away with making an assertion that inevitably calls for the imprisonment or even assassination of a political opponent. … these words are not imprecise to their intended audience. … Palin is a smart, talented public speaker who makes deliberate choices about her use of language … college-educated & has been a professional broadcaster … She is … explicitly communicating to an audience that is white, overwhelmingly not college educated & lives in rural or suburban areas. … [her] conduct has gone far past the bounds of decency & far past even the most dangerous efforts of any previous candidate … This is … inexcusable, unforgivable & unacceptable”

It’s a terrible thing really

The bogus claim that Democrats are socialist must be offset with a few facts. For instance, the collusion of the wealthy with our government.

How does a strong and growing economy lend itself to job uncertainty, debt, bankruptcy, and economic fear for a vast number of Americans?

  • How did we end up with the most expensive yet inefficient health-care system in the world?
  • How did homeowners’ title insurance became a costly, deceitful, yet almost invisible oligopoly?
  • How does our government subsidize luxury golf courses?
  • How did the Yankees and Mets owners collect more than $1.3 billion in public funds?

Free Lunch: How The Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves At Government Expense (and Stick you With the Bill)

Interview here.
Another interview here.

The Health Care Pirates

There are headlines, likely rigged, stating that business likes McCain’s health care ideas. Well, you betcha. It’s a Wall Street takeover of American health care.

But there are severe criticisms. Even the business rag Wall Street Journal says, “John McCain would pay for his health plan with major reductions to Medicare and Medicaid, a top aide said, in a move that independent analysts estimate could result in cuts of $1.3 trillion over 10 years to the government programs.”

Buying health coverage on the open market is a tremendous step; will take decades to mature; can be intensely cruel for millions of Americans.

We all know that ‘administrative costs’ are drained into private coffers under our current messy system – the highest percentage in the world.

What about adding fleets of sales and their commission costs?

In many cases a salesman will receive thousands to sign up a new customer. Already, commissions are as high as $1,000 for signing up a zero cost Medicare supplement! Already commissions exceed $2.500 for each new commercial Medicare supplement policy.

There are no rules.

Although our medical system has many profiteers, there’s not been usury in health care since rules and laws shut down the era of snake oil. Well, except for food and supplement and spa. Like mortgages and credit cards, McCain’s failed ideology, it’s not science or economics, will erase dozens of laws in each state and leave us like sitting ducks.

McCain’s health program is another relaxation, similar to the lifting of the commodities regulations and the loosening of credit swap and derivative rules.

Our pay, mortgages, credit, pensions and the dollar are already destroyed by loose pirates.

A Brain Hurricane

Texas officials accuse FEMAOnly White House spin said there’s been improvements.

Only corporate media said there’s been improvements.

But Texas accused FEMA of slow response. “It’s a tragedy,” said Jack Colley, the state’s director of emergency management.

We knew it would be. New Orlean’s put it in front of our eyes, the hurricane we have in Washington. What will we do to end arrogant incompetence? Yes, one requires the other.

Nice Concise

Christopher Hitchens is receiving applause across the Internet for his analysis of this election and science.

This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just “people of faith” but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.

Guilty!

Ted Stevens is the first convicted Senator for as long as anyone can recall but Republicans ignore seven guilty verdicts.

Republican Ted Stevens – I will fight this unjust verdict with every ounce of energy I have. I am innocent.

Republican Sarah Palin “is confident her state’s senior senator will do what’s right for the people of Alaska”.

Republican Don Young, R-Alaska – I don’t think he had a jury of his peers.

Republican Party Alaska spokesman McHugh – We need to vote for him because a vote for him is a vote for a conservative candidate, a Republican…

A jury of his peers? Think America.

Internet Backbone

A hyperlink can’t plagiarize!

In a landmark ruling, a Canadian court has ruled that a web site’s publication of hyperlinks to an allegedly defamatory web site is not in and of itself a ‘publication,’ and therefore cannot in and of itself constitute defamation. In a 10-page decision [PDF], Crookes v. Wikimedia, Sup. Ct., British Columbia, Judge Keller dismissed the libel case against Jon Newton, the publisher of p2pnet.net, which was based on the fact that his article contained links to the allegedly defamatory site, since hyperlinks, the Court reasoned, are analogous to footnotes, rather than constituting a ‘republication.’ Mr. Newton was represented in the case by famous libel, slander, and civil liberties lawyer Dan Burnett of Vancouver, British Columbia.

[slashdot.org]

Artificial leg for horses

Riley, first artificial leg for horsesFrom Courant.com:
Thousands of horses are euthanized because of leg injury. Anyone who owns, rides or cares for horses lives with one big fear — a leg injury.

“Horses’ legs are delicate, almost too delicate for the weight they bear. An injury to one leg often affects the other legs, which are forced to bear extra weight. If a horse breaks a leg, common on racetracks, there’s nothing to be done other than put him down.”

But Riley from Best Friends Animal Society is walking around after help from Veterinarian Ted Vlahos who has pioneered an artificial leg for horses. Though not for every horse with a broken or infected leg, Dr Vlahos believes that eventually the prosthesis option will become a common practice. ‘We’re hopeful that horses like Riley will get the word out that we don’t always need to kill them.

Press Release from Best Friends
Story with extra pics at Daily Mail
Story at the Telegraph
NewsGuide story here

To interpret entrails

Dorze elders discussing the entrails of a lambKnown as enteromancy, these fellows of Ethiopia’s Dorze Tribe are reading the condition of things by analyzing the guts of a lamb. The array of blood vessels, globs of navigated fat, translucent linings and, well, the overall gusto in the guts tell many things….

Be curious before you scoff. Because it is not the intestines they are studying. It is their own thoughts and impressions that they see. The designs in the oddly fluid time-frozen intestines are a “cognitive tool“.

We have many tools to help us see the condition of things in our modern world. Stock market charts for example. But are we having better luck than tribesmen divining the guts of our future?

A Vocabulary of the Philosophical Sciences  By Charles Porterfield Krauth

Obama is a clear choice

Alaska Daily News endorses Barack Obama,

The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation. Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand.

Drive out the oligarchs!

OK. Some believe we are a nutty nation:

If America is to adopt socialism, why not have socialism for the poor, rather than for the rich? Why should American households that earn $50,000 a year subsidize Goldman Sachs partners who earn $5 million a year?

Believe it or not, there is a rational explanation, and quite in keeping with America’s national motto, E pluribus hokum.

Thinking back and exploring further:

…the ill-fated markets for structured credit and mortgages of the past 10 years had the undivided attention of some of the world’s best applied mathematicians.

Never before were risks so parsed, measured, cut, dried and marketed to different investor groups with different risk preferences. Professional gamblers, or “hedge funds”, were enlisted to manage the riskiest part of the capital structure, while legions of mathematicians arranged other securities to be as safe as possible – for example, AAA-rated securities backed by subprime mortgages that are now trading at 50 cents on the dollar.

E pluribus hokum.

Americans who saved money during the 1990s put a great deal of it into the stock market and were bitterly disappointed. An American saver who invested in 1996, just as the boom was getting underway, would have given up all his gains by October 2002, at the stock market’s following the technology stock collapse. If the same investor held on to a broad market portfolio all the way to the present, he would only break even after inflation.

American asset markets did not offer returns high enough for the baby boomers to earn enough to retire.

Banker Bluegrass

Chorus:
Oh oh I never knew, I never knew
You could lie to the bottom of your grave, oh woe…
Repeat:
Oh oh I never knew I never knew
You could lie to the bottom of your grave, oh woe…
Verse:

Wasn’t part of my education
Never part of our good nation
No one said it could be true
No one said it could be you
I thought every deal was tested
Oh then why aren’t you arrested?

And go on home:
Oh oh I never knew, I never knew
You could lie to the bottom of your grave.

McCain’s Final Fun

Charles Smith at OfTwoMinds is predicting a furious up-tick in the stock market next week.

Won’t that be handy for McCain?

There is $6 trillion sitting on the sidelines in the U.S. alone, and trillions more in non-U.S. accounts ready to jump in once a “bottom” has been “officially” recognized. Not everyone has been wiped out in the past 6-week decline.

It’s like he says. Nothing moves in a straight line.

Quit Shuts Fear

roubini thumbEarly Friday Morning Update by Nouriel Roubini:

“Yesterday Thursday I gave a speech in London arguing that markets were in sheer panic and becoming literally dysfunctional and unhinged.

“I also made the point that policy makers may soon be forced to close financial markets as the panic selling accelerates.”

Sheep Walking

Years ago I taught local leaders that it’s untrue we live in a chain of command; that locality is our essential prosperity and not once have any laws or rules taken that from us. Today our future is again nearby: Vigor to assure sustenance and a growing justice is our tomorrow – the same frontier that built us.

And thousands die nearby

Burma's Suu Kyi Under Arrest For 13 Years ~Richard S. EhrlichAbout hard times,
she’s been under arrest 13 years,
democratically the leader,
shriveled in a corner,
tucked to a blanket,
shuffling a dim room of rice and relief,
noble yearning,
hope bloating,
scars breathing,
pain and horror and damn resignation,
the weak strength of humanity when we accept torment…
a starvation of our victory.

Justice Is Before Democracy


I tried to purchase Burma once.
Well, a few swashbucklers too.
…ports and airports, huge hotels and smooth highways, lights and power lines, water and solids treatment, export agriculture and tech packaging, all that over-prime stuff we’ve forgotten. Folks visited and dined and toured but D.C. said an embargo is better…. Sub-prime can do that.


The pickle we’re in

Eric Roston at WorldChanging writes a short rhythm, a rant, a message.

Understanding the pickle we’re in
might prepare us to help.

Americans’ requirement for health care, education, labor, and pensions is thought of, at least by inference, as a hand-out, something the state shrugs its shoulders and begrudgingly offers to balance the scales. They are anything but.

These policy areas make up the four corners of human capital investment.

health care
education
labor
pensions

In the 21st century, democracies that understand this and invest in their populations will thrive. Other nations will atrophy.

This observation applies most vividly in education. Every nation that can afford it (or that funds it) builds schools so that the youngest generation can acquire the knowledge and skills that allow civilization to perpetuate itself. I think this is incontrovertibly true; what’s sad is that the state of our schools is such that the previous sentence is a howling absurdity.

Company Store Serfdom

Charles Hugh Smith offers a horrifying jolt:

I actually lived in one of the last plantation “company towns” in Hawaii, and though Dole Pineapple didn’t operate a “company store” in 1969, earlier plantations (and coal mining towns, etc.) did–and the set-up was sweet indeed.

Much like a serf renting/sharecropping land owned by a manor-house or nobility, the plantation worker needed to borrow money to buy food and other necessities at the company store, which just happened to operate as a monopoly and just happened to charge sky high prices. (The serf needed to borrow seed for the next planting, and money to buy food for the family in between harvests.) The rate of interest paid by the serf/worker was always much higher than market rates–another monopoly capital (and highly profitable) feature of the set-up.

The system’s most pernicious feature: the worker/serf never escaped debt. Indeed, the system was constructed to increase the debt to the point it could never be paid off, insuring a lifetime of profitable servitude to the nobility/corporation.

Now the Powers That Be, as embodied in this Republican Administration and its lackeys/minions in both parties, have perfected an entire economy based on this “Company Store”


And if against all safeguards and probability this succeeds in gaining power, and burning the Constitution to preserve our freedom becomes a popular slogan, and a slyly articulate but otherwise inexperienced, almost mediocre, leader arises, and the corporate powers support this person in order to achieve their ends, then it will be time to leave, without looking back, before the storm breaks, and madness is unleashed, and a darkness falls over the land.

I would add only this: the middle class is an illusion, a false construct created by the Ministry of Propaganda to provide self-delusional cover for the serfs whose pride might be pricked by a realistic self-assessment of their true servitude.

The only people who can claim to be middle class are those few with virtually no debt and an income independent of the corporations who view employees as expenses to be slashed and burned as needed and the soon-to-be-bankrupt welfare state. I would estimate that by this more realistic and rigorous definition, no more than 4% of the nation’s households are truly middle class: independent professionals, small landlords, small business owners with no debt and agile, recession-resistant enterprises, etc.

Communications Consulting

[NYTimes] Who was the highest paid individual in McCain’s campaign down the homestretch?

Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist – $22,000 for two weeks.

Who’s next up?

Palin’s hair stylist – $10,000 in two weeks for “Communications Consulting”.

Theory Tipping

Ideoblog is valiantly hoping headlines are not where we learn.

What Greenspan actually said was

I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.

Greenspan was wrong in thinking banks wouldn’t take the risks they did.

So perhaps, this whole incentive thing that is at the root of capitalism, the profit and loss system that incentivizes firms is overrated.

Well, Greenspan’s not the first one to say that. Here’s what another free market guy, Adam Smith, had to say:

The directors of . . . companies … being the managers rather of other people’s money rather than of their own, it cannot well be expected that they should watch over it with the same anxious vigilance with which [they would] watch over their own. . . .Negligence and profusion, therefore, must always prevail, more or less, in the management of the affairs of such a company.

Wrap up.
“The idea that incentives can get out of whack was not exactly invented by Alan Greenspan or Henry Waxman in Congress today. The question has always been whether the market or government is better able to figure out incentives.”

Barack Obama for President

Everybody will know soon that the New York Times has endorsed Barack Obama.

New York Times“This country needs sensible leadership, compassionate leadership, honest leadership and strong leadership. Barack Obama has shown that he has all of those qualities.”

And slammed McCain-Palin.

“As tough as the times are, the selection of a new president is easy. After nearly two years of a grueling and ugly campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has proved that he is the right choice to be the 44th president of the United States.

“Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change. He has shown a cool head and sound judgment. We believe he has the will and the ability to forge the broad political consensus that is essential to finding solutions to this nation’s problems.

“In the same time, Senator John McCain of Arizona has retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. His policies and worldview are mired in the past. His choice of a running mate so evidently unfit for the office was a final act of opportunism and bad judgment that eclipsed the accomplishments of 26 years in Congress.

“Given the particularly ugly nature of Mr. McCain’s campaign, the urge to choose on the basis of raw emotion is strong. But there is a greater value in looking closely at the facts of life in America today and at the prescriptions the candidates offer. The differences are profound.”