battle back

“Here’s what populism is not,” Hightower told my colleague Bill Moyers. “It is not just an incoherent outburst of anger. And certainly it is not anger that is funded and organized by corporate front groups, as the initial tea party effort — though there is legitimate anger within it, in terms of the people who are there.

“What populism is at its essence is just a determined focus on helping people be able to get out of the iron grip of the corporate power that is overwhelming our economy, our environment, energy, the media, government.”

“So you can’t say, ‘Let’s get rid of government.’ You need to be saying, ‘Let’s take over government.'”

without orthodoxy

Edward Harrison:

Of course the US deficits are too large. Come on: 10% deficits as far as the eye can see are unsustainable over the long-term. The key word, however, is long-term.

No one seems to understand the difference between short-term and long-term and the debate has become an ideological free-for-all.

Anyway, the point is that the US economy will not be able to sustain recovery for long without stimulus. The likely result of withdrawing stimulus is a recession that is deeper than the last one, a major depression.

He seeks to explain:

Policy is exogenous and deficits are endogenous.

What that essentially means is that when I think about government, I view it with suspicion and my inclination is to seek to limit its size and scope. That means I have an innate disaffection for big government, deficit spending, money printing, etc. – but not in an ideological way.  It all depends on the circumstances.

HA! You knew that.

capture by ideology

via James Kwak:

“You’ve criticized the government for withdrawing from the economic and particularly financial sphere and allowing private sector actors to do whatever they wanted. Do you think the government should simply act so as to correct the imperfections in free markets? Or do you see a positive role for government in determining what kind of an economy we should have?”


“College works on the factory model, and is in many ways not suited to training entrepreneurs. You put in a student and out comes a scholar.” [link]

biggest rip-off ever

The session started off with a film from John De Graaf called, “What’s the Economy for Anyways?” which examined American society under the conclusions of Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service who defined the economy as, “The greatest good for the greatest number over the long run.”

Using that metric, the US economy has done a terrible job since 1970.

The US leads the world in GDP but its citizens suffer on nearly every major health and quality of life metric.

The key point here is breaking down the GDP myth.

deal pirates

Matt Taibbi on how greed-is-good conquered America and the simply inevitable folly of brigands:

Even if he stands to make a buck, your average used-car salesman won’t sell some working father a car with wobbly brakes then buy life insurance policies on that customer and his kids.

As  Ayn Rand and Greenspan and foolish minions from Reagan to Bush put it:  ‘How To Buy A Car Without Rules’.


The Wonderful World of American Fraud:

You distract the dumbshits with free-market B.S. because hey, for whatever reason, that’s what the public likes to hear, it doesn’t really matter what lie you feed them so long as it’s the lie that puts them in a trance.

And then behind the scenes, you do the very opposite: You fix the game, you cover up this problem here with those funds there, you move shit around, you skim budgets and you subsidize the system, you cover up the bad shit and once in a while throw a has-been to the wolves to keep the public entertained—that’s the way the system works, and anyone who’s an adult understands that.

arguing surviving

We advance industry, science, technology, but we are dumb about ourselves.

One man noticed we have not fixed our social institutions since our last effort in the 1770s thus we argue its accuracy.

Americans in general do not have the habits of deference, so the conservative in America does not have them either.

Ultimately he does not defer even to his country’s institutions.

gold man’s sack

Blood is today’s gold. This world clamors for wealth and wealth is war.

I never knew what I could do until I let my dreams come through
but don’t think for one minute I expected to grow up in a land of lies;
blood instead of good.

flavoring lies

What surprised you the most as you researched the history of orange juice?

The degree to which consumers have bought the myths that the industry has created about orange juice.

You say in your book that consumers act like robots when it comes to orange juice. What do you mean?

Orange-juice drinkers are misinformed about what it is they are drinking.

Flavor packs are made from the chemicals of orange essence and oil. Flavor and fragrance houses, the ones that make high end perfumes, break down orange essence and oils into their constituent chemicals and then reassemble the individual chemicals to resemble nothing found in nature. Ethyl butyrate is one of the chemicals found in high concentrations in the flavor packs added to orange juice sold in North American markets, because flavor engineers have discovered that it imparts a fragrance that Americans like, and associate with a freshly squeezed orange.

Right now the formula for fresh orange flavors is just about as secret as the formula for Coke.

My intent was not to get people to stop drinking orange juice but to realize what it is they’re drinking.

bleak, dry, and desolate

“This is the last remaining facsimile of the grasslands that once covered all of California. When it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Throw in the antelope, elk, a few roving coyotes and cougars, eagles of the bald and golden variety, some fairy shrimp, songbirds galore, and the occasional California condor, and there’s little wonder why Carrizo Plain has been called “California’s Serengeti.”

Soon after the monument was created in 2001, 13-year BLM veteran Marlene Braun was named manager. She scaled back grazing on sensitive grasslands and began developing the monument’s first management plan, which would phase out long-term livestock permits.

Every agency signed on. But then, in March 2004, the Bush administration… .

Thus in May 2005, Braun arranged her personal affairs and wrote a few important letters about her fears for the Carrizo, took a .38 caliber revolver, killed her two dogs—neatly placing their bodies under a quilt—and turned the gun on herself.

life to the fullest

When I was floating freely in space and looking back on Earth from my safe haven amongst the stars, I saw a world without division…

Name: Anousheh Ansari
Age: 42
Birthplace: Mashhad, Iran
Occupation: Entrepreneur, space traveler

Who am I? I am a human — plain and simple — no labels attached. I would be honored if everyone would think of me and preferably others as such.

By labeling ourselves or others, we create boxes, boundaries and decide who belongs on what side of the line. We divide ourselves, and by dividing ourselves, one would determine which side of the line is better.

Sometimes each side believes that their side is better and sometimes one side can be so persuasive to make the other side believe that they are on the wrong side. At the end, it doesn’t matter which side you are on because no one wins. The labels we put on ourselves and let others put on us are just that — labels. And they can be removed. Once we are free, we can just be human, pure and simple.

eternal active danger

The official death toll from the Chernobyl disaster is 4,000, but the true toll could reach tens or even hundreds of thousands. More than 25,000 emergency workers known as “liquidators” from then-Soviet Ukraine, Russia and Belarus have died.

“There are still more than two million people suffering from harmful effects of radiation exposure, of whom 498,000 are children.”

The dead reactor is still a threat because the concrete cover hastily laid over some 200 tonnes of spilled radioactive material is cracking.

experts astonished

Among the one in seven couples now classed as infertile, the “male factor” has been found to be the most commonly identified cause. As many as one in five healthy young men between the ages of 18 and 25 produce abnormal sperm counts. Even the sperm they do produce is often of poor quality. In fact only between 5 and 15 per cent of their sperm is, on average, good enough to be classed as “normal”  – and these are young, healthy men.

commercial candidacy

Palin stokes the disaffection of her people, then heals them, for a price.

Being governor was drudgery. “Her life was terrible,” one adviser says.

“She was never home, her office was four hours from her house. You gotta drive an hour from Wasilla to Anchorage. And she was going broke.” Her sky-high approval ratings in Alaska—which had topped 80 percent before John McCain picked her—had withered to the low fifties.

She faced a hostile legislature, a barrage of ethics complaints, and frothing local bloggers who reveled in her misfortune. All this for a salary of only $125,000?

The worst was that she had racked up $500,000 in legal bills to fend off the trooper scandal and other investigations. She needed money and worried about it constantly.

No one else has rolled politics and entertainment into the same scintillating, infuriating, spectacularly lucrative package the way Palin has…

timely thought

John Rogers:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

demolish this myth

Christopher Hitchens: The fox, as has been pointed out by more than one philosopher, knows many small things, whereas the hedgehog knows one big thing.

Ronald Reagan was neither a fox nor a hedgehog. He was as dumb as a stump. He could have had anyone in the world to dinner, any night of the week, but took most of his meals on a White House TV tray.

He had no friends, only cronies.

His children didn’t like him all that much. He met his second wife—the one that you remember—because she needed to get off a Hollywood blacklist and he was the man to see.

Year in and year out in Washington, I could not believe that such a man had even been a poor governor of California in a bad year, let alone that such a smart country would put up with such an obvious phony and loon.

our disappointing votes

Are there mechanisms that we can adopt at the local, regional, or national level that would permit us to arrive at a better understanding of complex issues, a better ability to find common ground with each other, and an ability to arrive at recommendations for public policies that are feasible and fair?  [start here]

while we bellyache

There’s talk of turning suburbs into agricultural centers:

In cities, agriculture might be able to take the place of vacant lots. And in suburbia?

Well, in 2008, the New Urbanism evangelist Andrés Duany, of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, architects and town planners, proclaimed that “agriculture is the new golf” a prescient and deliberately provocative claim that is helping frame the conversation about suburbia’s future.

“Only 17 percent of people living in golf-course communities play golf more than once a year.”

Local success is much of what’s missing in our economy. I don’t hang much with tyranny’s preachers, but I do track renovation and re-purposing of regional assets – unused labor and undreamt options in a great new variety of witty vendors.

an era brought few

These times are not mere error but also dis-remembering our motive.

No it isn’t black, it’s bleak. And that difference is us. It’s truly ridiculous but history is made on our strange willingness to pull us over the horizon. Oh sorry, you already know that 🙂

You’ve crafted both solution and purpose. Find me the few of you. You see. Of course I will offer my share to you. Yeh yeh, I know we’re feeble. We all know that. But we have a story, we are crafting tomorrow and there’s trust in that.

We invite the players to our game, it’s our cards on the table.

A bit of leverage and style in this kettle of civilization and I hope new friends arrive, sparks and flames, your eyes are open. Because it’s not mere money, it’s activity you’re after, both the same and both essential. You didn’t know that?

Make good of this disaster. I know for certain it hurts. It took your cash and made your confusion and that’s a good lesson. In an era brought few there’s you, as much as ever, as important as always.