take a deep breath

Regardless of your position on anything, refuse support to anyone who isn’t willing to deal with the other side. And start dealing with the other side yourself.

Maybe over some tea.

Dana Blankenhorn:

We tend to think of politics in two dimensions — left and right.

The Nixon Thesis of Conflict has accustomed us to this. We can’t put that genie back in the bottle, we can’t close Pandora’s Box.

Medievalism is not an option… the real issue before us, the issue that has led 10% of the Congress to suddenly up and walk, is whether compromise is possible.

Efforts over the last few Congresses to find common human ground between Democrats and Republicans, between liberals and conservatives, have been unavailing. These people don’t eat together, they don’t play together, they don’t socialize with one another at all. They barely acknowledge the others’ humanity. They have become so short-term oriented that the idea of doing the peoples’ business is foreign.

This is most true among Republicans, from the top on down. Republicans will not negotiate in good faith, they will not come to any agreement on anything, they filibuster even routine business on the flimsiest grounds, but more important they have absolute support in this from their grassroots.

It’s time to understand what’s really going on. These people are frightened.

They see the country changing, they see the pace of change accelerating everywhere, and they’re scared.

predator charity

Haiti Rewired points to a necessary slant on the dark motives and easy habits among Haiti’s institutionalized oppression, poverty and misery:

Haiti is called the ‘Republic of NGOs’ with over 10,000 operating for its nine million people, the highest per capita presence worldwide in all sectors of activity and society, many with sizable budgets.

Yet their numbers beg the question. With that abundant firepower, why is Haiti the poorest country in the hemisphere, one of the poorest in the world, and one of the most oppressed? Why were so many Haitians starving pre-quake? Why now are conditions catastrophic and worsening?

…fraud, greed, corruption, apathy, and political agendas:

At the level of individuals and NGOS, the lack of fiscal accountability is manifest in the enrichment of the custodians of the money – pastors and directors of NGOs, schools and orphanages – and the redirection of charity toward middle and upper class Haitians, the very ones who don’t need it.

At governmental levels, ‘Charity is manipulated to serve political ends.’

Without accountability, corruption gets embedded, aid is distorted, and ends up doing more harm than good, precisely according to plan…

Haiti Watch, Center for Economic and Policy ResearchDisaster profiteering is kicking into full gear in Haiti. Dubious contracts will slip through the cracks.

A watchful eye will reduce abuse and fraud.

steps to wrecking us

And now Carly Fiorina is hustling a Senate seat!

Let us consider the sad example of Lucent. During the dot-com era, a myriad of obviously-never-gonna-make-a-dime-in-profit companies were accorded all kinds of bizarre adulation, including sycophantic coverage in the business press and IPOs at delusional valuations.

So the whole business model was greater-fool theory. And it wasn’t just the poor dumb stock buyers who were duped, but vendors.

I am not familiar with the details of the arrangements, but when Carly Fiorina was head of marketing at Lucent, she ramped up sales (and her compensation along with it) by selling equipment by the boatload to these ultimate dot-bomb enterprises in return for paper of various sorts that proved to be worthless.

[Many had the] misfortune to ride the stock down from $100 a share to $1. – source: Yves Smith

mind jar

I have been bottling up a fair amount of rage.

At a time when there are so many smart people capable of solving problems, what happens? Nothing. Running into walls. Grubby murky compromise. I really hate this.

What the world needs is a restart. – Chris Anderson


Yet we’d have to go back before the Enlightenment to find a time that we fought things more than we do now.

You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts; sorry about that. – Michael Specter

fixing piracy

America’s firms are much, much more leveraged and indebted than government. Better if we were not forced to rescue decades of folly, government deficits equal non-government surpluses.

With regard to the future, the choices we make determine the paths we will take. As I have been writing for a long time, we have made a series of bad choices, often the easy choices, all over the developed world. We are now entering an era in which our choices are being limited by the nature of the markets.

global spewing

Freeways speed illnessLiving near freeways hardens arteries at twice the rate of those who live farther away.

“We have shown that air pollution contributes to the early formation of heart disease, atherosclerosis, which is connected to nearly half the deaths in Western societies. . . .”

we, no more than crops

In what amounted to a garage sale on a national scale, Greek officials essentially mortgaged the country’s airports and highways to raise much-needed money.

What other country encourages counties and cities to sell highways and airports and prisons and, yes, its spectrum?

zero, nada, zilch

Posted by Nate Hagens:

No research is published about how much total medical care affects our lives. I estimate the effect is probably less than 2 months average.

If we had no advanced medical care we might live to an average of 78 years instead of 78.1.

I estimate 45% social factors (money, education, work and geography), 40% neighborhood shaped choices (exercise, diet and smoking), 12% ‘fixed’ biology (gender and genetics), and no more than 3% healthcare determine average health in rich countries. Society, not biology, underlies 85% of human health.

Healthcare may make a 2 month difference, while social factors make 5 year differences in lifespan.

Almost all other industrialized nations and some poor ones now outlive us.

not just fishing stories

When defining Canada
you might list some statistics
you might mention our tallest building
or biggest lake
you might shake a tree in the fall
and call a red leaf Canada
you might rattle off some celebrities
might mention Buffy Sainte-Marie
might even  mention the fact that
we've got a few Barenaked Ladies
or that we made these crazy things
like zippers
electric cars
and washing machines
when defining Canada
it seems the world's anthem has been
"been there done that"
and maybe that's where we used to be at
it's true
we've done and we've been
we've seen
all  the great themes get swallowed up by the machine
and turned into theme parks
but when defining Canada
don't forget to mention that we have set sparks

we are not just fishing stories
about the one that got away
we do more than sit around and say "eh?"

We Are More, the 2010 Olympic Commemoration by Shane Koyczan

countering false

The circumstances which surround different classes and individuals, and shape their characters, are daily becoming more assimilated….they now read the same things, listen to the same things, see the same things, go to the same places, have their hopes and fears directed to the same objects….

John Stuart Mill feared that abject conformity can occur by a natural social process of complacency and cultural adaptation, not requiring an autocracy or a tyrant to impose it.

Such a ‘soft despotism, he thought, can prove as great a threat to the freedom of the individual as the repressive state.

we have a problem

Mark Thoma, an economist:

I can remember thinking during the Bush administration that, for the first time in my life, I wasn’t sure if the government was operating in a way that put the interests of “we the people” first.

There had been many, many times when I disagreed strongly with what the government was doing, but for the most part I didn’t feel as though the government was operating in bad faith. But the Bush administration changed that, or at least led me to question the motivations behind those in power, and it’s a legacy that does not get enough attention.

At the time I had these thoughts, I wondered if things had always been this way, if age had simply opened my eyes to obvious truths that were there all along.

I think that’s partly true, I feel dumb for not realizing things earlier in my life all the time. But I don’t think it’s the main thing that was going on. The Bush administration did change the perception of government, and not for the better.

Volcker is right that there is a “real rebuilding job” ahead of us, a job that will be made more difficult by those who, guided by their ideological beliefs, helped to bring the present state of government about. This group doesn’t see much of a problem when government does not work.

Q&A with Paul Volcker at the Financial Times:

Paul VolckerWell, we’ve got a problem in governing in this country…

Our inability to deal with very large evident problems is apparent.

I spent half of my career worrying about public service and the efficiency and effectiveness error. I must say I’ve gotten a little cynical. I headed two commissions on this subject and I kind of feel what am I here for?

Nothing’s happened. It’s gotten worse; not better.

Somebody quoted … there is a questionnaire – one of these things that they ask the same question every year or every two years for decades and try to get the trend of thinking.

One of the standard questions … said, ‘Do you trust your government to do the right thing most of the time?’ That doesn’t sound like the toughest question in the world, but when I was in government way back in the Kennedy years, the answer to that question would be – I don’t know – 60-70 per cent…

You ask that question now and you’re down in the twenties. Somebody quoted a survey the other day. I don’t know if it’s the same survey. It was some politician that said the latest figure was 17 per cent. Now you’ve got a problem in running a democracy and running a government if the amount of trust in the government in general and trust in individual institutions and trust in the Congress, trust in the administration is not there.

It used to be one of the advantages of the Federal Reserve was I thought that was an institution that was generally considered to be competent, professional, independent and trusted. Not unanimously, but more than 20 per cent. I think some of that’s been lost. It’s a big challenge right now. That’s one of our most important institutions.

So we have a real rebuilding job to do…


A Genteel Meditation On Chickens:

Watching chickens is a very old human pastime, and the forerunner of psychology, sociology and management theory. Watching chickens helps us understand human motivations and interactions and why so many words and phrases have something in common with chickens:

  1. pecking order,
  2. cockiness,
  3. ruffling somebody’s feathers,
  4. taking somebody under your wing,
  5. fussing like a mother hen,
  6. strutting,
  7. bantamweight fighter,
  8. clipping someone’s wings,
  9. beady eyes,
  10. chicks,
  11. to crow,
  12. to flock,
  13. get in a flap,
  14. coming home to roost,
  15. don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched,
  16. nest eggs
  17. preening.

other than screwed

The Practice & Power of Authentic Community Engagement :

When a community is authentically engaged in conversations that matter, the conversation engages their assets in the realization of their dreams.

In authentic engagement, the community becomes author of its own future.

The opposite of authentic engagement is lip service…

deficit 101

ratio of debt to GDPJournalists and politicians will not use this formula as their headline or sound bite to scare us.

Instead we read that we are living on unsustainable deficits and robbing from our children.


The fact is that none of Obama’s programs are under threat by the extra spending that is needed to stabilise the very poorly performing US economy. They may be under threat politically but that is another question. He can still conduct comprehensive health care reform and reduce the US dependency on foreign oil and start building a renewable energy sector. He always has the fiscal capacity to do that. Whether now is the time is another matter. It has nothing to do with the current size of the deficit.

Whenever a demagogue wants to whip up hysteria about federal budget deficits, he or she invariably begins with an analogy to a household’s budget: “No household can continually spend more than its income, and neither can the federal government”.


The Federal Budget is NOT like a Household Budget – Here’s Why.

a very deep hole

Don Peck:

  1. We are living through a slow-motion social catastrophe, one that could stain our culture and weaken our nation for many, many years to come.
  2. The worst effects of pervasive joblessness—on family, politics, society—take time to incubate, and they show themselves only slowly. But ultimately, they leave deep marks that endure long after boom times have returned. Some of these marks are just now becoming visible, and even if the economy magically and fully recovers tomorrow, new ones will continue to appear. The longer our economic slump lasts, the deeper they’ll be.
  3. We have a civic—and indeed a moral—responsibility to do everything in our power to stop it now, before it gets even worse.

a long nowhere

Rewiring Haiti:

  1. Haiti, in all its deforested, polluted, cartel-corrupted, disease-riddled impoverishment, is a vision of our planet’s future if we continue to devour natural resources beyond replenishment, downplay the seriousness of climate change, spike efforts at family planning and ignore the integral importance of environmental health. As goes Haiti, so go we all.
  2. Haiti has been teetering at brink of breakdown for as long as anyone can remember…
  3. Practically every medical problem in Haiti is poverty-related. The never-ending cycle of deforestation lead(s) to more ecological damage, more compromised farming, more poverty and more hunger. It goes on and on and on. We can go on giving health-care forever – It would never really touch even the brim of the problem here.

longest ocean voyage

On 16 January, 2010, Reid Stowe achieved his goal of spending 1000 days at sea without touching land or taking on any supplies. Reid’s voyage has broken 4 records:

  1. Longest non-stop voyage – Reid Stowe – 1,000 days (Previous: Jon Sanders – 657 days)
  2. Longest non-stop solo – Reid Stowe – 694 days (Previous: Jon Sander – 657 days)
  3. Longest non-stop by an American – (Previous: Dodge Morgan, 150 days)
  4. Longest non-stop woman – Soanya Ahmad – 306 days (Previous: Kay Cottee – 189 days)

our refusal to recognize

Mick Arran:

If Sarah Palin is a populist, I’m a millionaire.

The Right Wing Noise Machine has spent the past 30 years ceaselessly pounding it into our heads that we should ignore all that screaming and pain coming from offstage because it was just low-lifes complaining about they hate working for a living and lazy bums like that didn’t deserve any better. Of course, they insisted, that would never happen to you. You’re not a lazy bum.

And we, much to our everlasting embarrassment and shame, believed this malarkey.

We might also have been able to put a stop to it before it wrecked the global economy.

we all go down

Inequality damages all of society, rich and poorIs there a way out of the social and environmental problems which beset us, a new approach to improving the real quality of life, not just for the poor but for everyone?

Almost every problem – ill-health, lack of community life, violence, drugs, obesity, mental illness, long working hours, big prison populations – is more likely to occur in a less equal society.

It is common knowledge that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem, but it’s less well known that unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them – the well-off as well as the poor.

The assumption is greater equality helps those at the bottom. However, the truth is that the vast majority of the population is harmed by greater inequality; rates of mental illness are five times higher; people are five times as likely to be clinically obese, and murder rates may be many times higher. The more unequal the society, the more people feel threatened, both rich and poor.

Inequality is bad for everyone, including the richest.

we face a choice

James Kwak:

There is no Chicago-school free market solution to an oligopoly.

We like to make fun of government in this country, but really, what are you and a few of your buddies going to do to fight JPMorgan Chase on your own?