a meme that matters

at Washington Post:

Once, pretty much everywhere, beating your wife and children was regarded as a father’s duty, homosexuality was a hanging offense, and waterboarding was approved — in fact, invented — by the Catholic Church.

What will future generations condemn us for?


filed but ignored

“Dear, I think I’ll go out to be scorned today.”

“I believe – these gentlemen believe – that this planet is being visited by beings from another world, who, for whatever reason, have taken an interest in the nuclear arms race which began at the end of World War II,” said Hastings, noting that the last incident occurred as recently as 2003.

Talking in the succinct manner you’d expect from life-long military personnel, the airmen looked more like grandfathers than conspiracy theorists.

“This is real. It’s not science fiction. It’s not movie theater stuff,” Capt. Robert Salas told Discovery News.

YouTube coverage here
120 ex-servicemen in the group. Wha??

genus filliebuster

Lisa Miller at Newsweek:

Fundamentally, the mama-grizzly phenomenon is not really a movement or even a political term that represents a fully coherent set of ideas.

It’s mostly a marketing tool, meant to draw attention to Americans’ broad dissatisfaction with the way things are. Fair enough. Many people are dissatisfied, and they want to vent and they want to change Washington. But in the wild, real mama grizzlies are known to be aggressive, irrational, and mean. The issues facing the country are complex, and bears are not.

there is no doubt

The conversation stretched on for nearly an hour and a quarter.

The president began by complimenting my multi-colored striped socks. “If I wasn’t president,” he laughed, “I could wear socks like that.”

You’ve passed more progressive legislation than any president since Lyndon Johnson. Yet your base does not seem nearly as fired up as the opposition, and you don’t seem to be getting the credit for those legislative victories.

When I talk to Democrats around the country, I tell them, “Guys, wake up here. We have accomplished an incredible amount in the most adverse circumstances imaginable.”

When did you realize that the Republicans had abandoned any real effort to work with you and create bipartisan policy?

“Well, I’ll tell you that given the state of the economy during my transition, between my election and being sworn in, our working assumption was that everybody was going to want to pull together, because there was a sizable chance that we could have a financial meltdown and the entire country could plunge into a depression. So we had to work very rapidly to try to create a combination of measures that would stop the free-fall and cauterize the job loss.”

phony right through


Karl Rove is virtually entirely funded by billionaires. 91%

Their manipulation of attack advertising is…?

Double Dammit.

With the exception of Mitt Romney, Murdoch has all of the major potential Republican candidates for the presidency are on Fox channel’s payroll.

Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and, of course, Sarah Palin are on exclusive contractual strings that prevent its stable of Republican stars from being interviewed on any other channel.

Triple super-duper dammit.

Top 20% took 85% of America’s wealth.
Top 1% take 23.5 % of all reported income.

Is trickery really so difficult to understand?

What bugs me more than gaggles of political phonies
is the very poor results of the wealthy.
Oh the poverty of wealth in this era.
sloppy sloppy sloppy.

midterms of the cruel

Robert Reich:

Republican Economics as Social Darwinism:

John Boehner, the Republican House leader who will become Speaker if Democrats lose control of the House in the upcoming midterms, recently offered his solution to the current economic crisis: “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmer, liquidate real estate. It will purge the rottenness out of the system. People will work harder, lead a more moral life.”

Actually, those weren’t Boehner’s words. They were uttered by Herbert Hoover’s treasury secretary, millionaire industrialist Andrew Mellon, after the Great Crash of 1929. But they might as well have been Boehner’s because Hoover’s and Mellon’s means of purging the rottenness was by doing exactly what Boehner and his colleagues are now calling for: shrink government, cut the federal deficit, reduce the national debt, and balance the budget. And we all know what happened after 1929, at least until FDR reversed course.

Boehner and other Republicans would even like to roll back the New Deal and get rid of Barack Obama’s smaller deal health-care law. The issue isn’t just economic. We’re back to tough love. The basic idea is force people to live with the consequences of whatever happens to them. In the late 19th century it was called Social Darwinism. Only the fittest should survive, and any effort to save the less fit will undermine the moral fiber of society.

Republicans have wanted to destroy Social Security since it was invented in 1935… Republicans also hate unemployment insurance. … Finally, like Hoover and Mellon, Republicans want to cut the deficit and balance the budget at a time when a large portion of the workforce is idle.

This defies economic logic. When consumers aren’t spending, businesses aren’t investing and exports can’t possibly fill the gap, and when state governments are slashing their budgets, the federal government has to spend more. Otherwise, the Great Recession will turn into exactly what Hoover and Mellon ushered in – a seemingly endless Great Depression.

It’s also cruel. Cutting the deficit and balancing the budget any time soon will subject tens of millions of American families to unnecessary hardship and throw even more into poverty.

Herbert Hoover and Andrew Mellon thought their economic policies would purge the rottenness out of the system and lead to a more moral life. Instead, it purged morality out of the system and lead to a more rotten life for millions of Americans.

And that’s exactly what Republicans are offering yet again.

so hard to answer

Why Tax The Rich?

Why $250k?  That number didn’t come from the Bible, it is the income level that accounts for about 50% of the income tax revenue.

Fortunately, it is also only about 2% of the population, so you only have to piss off 750,000 people.  That’s democracy.  Eat it.

So Socialism Is The Answer?

To what? You don’t even know what the question is.

they do wrong

Here’s the impassioned conclusion to his post:

How far does this have to go ladies and gentlemen, before you’ve had enough? Before you simply refuse to submit?  How much of your money – both present and future earnings – has to be stolen before you will rise and say “no more”?

How much?

Do you need to be reduced to living under a freeway overpass?  Eating scraps from a garbage bin?  Is not having your retirement and income security destroyed not once, but twice in ten years enough for you to demand that this crap stop, and for you to refuse to labor and thus create more wealth that these crooks can steal until you obtain effective redress and the people responsible are held to account?

These events were not accidents folks.

They were premeditated and intentional, undertaken with the full knowledge of what would – and did – happen.

The truth has been covered up, whitewashed and papered over by both major political parties, neither of which is willing to stand and demand that all of these void agreements be rescinded, that the funds stolen be returned and that everyone involved in this tawdry mess go straight to prison.

No, instead all you’ve heard is “irrational exuberance”.

There was nothing irrational about it folks.

It was intentional, mendacious theft !

via Tao Jonesing

feeorina for senate

The anarchist fortunes of Koch, all the odder as co-founders of John Birch Society and Top 10 polluters in the USA, are insider Fiorina backers — the buy is is is offshore drilling, pipeline oversight, clean tech roll back.

The midterm election is largely being financed by a small corps of wealthy individuals and corporations whose names may never be known to the public. The full brunt of that spending is going to Republican candidates.

don’t let the faucet run

It starts:

During my sophomore year, 1992, 1,500 scientists, including more than half the living Nobel laureates, admonished in their Warning to Humanity: “A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.”

So what have we done? Not much.

From 1992 to 2007, global CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels rose 38 percent. Emissions in 2008 rose a full 2 percent despite a global economic slump. Honeybees are dying by the billions, amphibians by the millions, and shallow Caribbean reefs are mostly dead already. Our soil is disappearing faster than ever before, half of all mammals are in decline, and a recent climate change model predicts that the Arctic could have ice-free summers by 2013. Unchecked, carbon emissions from China alone will probably match the current global level by 2030.

The god thou servest,” Marlowe wrote in Dr. Faustus, almost four hundred years before the invention of internet shopping, “is thine own appetite.” Was he wrong?

Anthony Doerr

in it for the gold

time for embed

Once, after connecting his nerves to an array of electrodes in 2002, he let his wife use her brainwaves to take control of his body.

It was the first time the nervous systems of two humans had communicated electronically.

“It was quite an intimate feeling,” he says.

This isn’t just for fun. He is certain that without upgrading, we humans will someday fall behind the advances of the robots we’re building — or worse.

reckless ideologues

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” —Mark Twain

Torrid argument does not good policy make. Republicans are setting up an across-the-board 20 percent cut in non-security discretionary spending. There is management required to get government fit, but raw bullies have not the wit to do it.

A. Once upon a time, a Latin American political party promised to help motorists save money on gasoline. How? By building highways that ran only downhill.

B. Never mind the war on terror, the party’s main concern seems to be the war on arithmetic.

C. The only way to balance the budget by 2020 while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won’t cut (c) is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government.

Tax cuts & Republican donations.
tax cuts cost us $2.7 trillion in the first eight years.
The 25 top speculators average $1 billion each given tax rate of 17%.
People earning over $200,000 but paying no tax skyrocketed under Bush.
Twice before so much is held by so few—the late 1920s and the robber barons in the 1880s.

We a nation not ours.

White House view:

“On the economy, you said earlier this is going to take an ‘enormous amount of time.’ How long?”

“Well, I think it’s going to take several years from–I think getting through a recession as deep as the one that we were faced with, the sheer amount of job loss, the shock to the system, shock to our financial system, the change in our housing market. We’re dealing with, in many ways, if you look at what happened and what cascaded downward all at a certain period of time, you’re dealing with sort of the perfect storm.”

the saving grace of streets

Three million protesters marched in France yesterday. [woot]

What a phenomena.

Timothy Noah writes at Slate. This 30-year trend “may represent the most significant change in American society in your lifetime,”  “and it’s not a change for the better.”

Part 1
Introducing the Great Divergence:
Trying to understand income inequality, the most profound change in American society in your lifetime.

Part 2
The Usual Suspects Are Innocent:
Neither race nor gender nor the breakdown of the American family created the Great Divergence.

Part 3
Did Immigration Create the Great Divergence?
Why we can’t blame income inequality on the post-1965 immigration surge.

Part 4
Did Computers Create Inequality?
No. The tech boom’s impact was no greater than that of previous technological upheavals during the 20th century.

Part 5
Can We Blame Income Inequality on Republicans?
Yes, but for the very richest beneficiaries the trend has been bipartisan.

Part 6
The Great Divergence and the Death of Organized Labor:
How has the decline of the union contributed to income inequality?

Part 7
The Great Divergence and International Trade:
Trade didn’t create inequality, and then it did.

Part 8
The Stinking Rich and the Great Divergence:
Executive compensation took off in the 1980s and 1990s. Is it to blame?

Part 9
How the Decline in K-12 Education Enriches College Graduates:
When the workforce needed to be smarter, Americans got dumber.

individuals without supervision

Another type of regulatory capture? Being outright dumb.

Reporting from Sacramento — Scores of people convicted of crimes such as rape, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon are permitted to care for some of California’s most vulnerable residents as part of the government’s home health aide program.

It’s a gray area they say. No it’s not. It’s just sloppy and lazy. And dumb.

what needs saying

c. len bullard:

I guess I’m old fashioned.

It’s all too easy to drown in the dark side of life. So to keep a bit of what’s left of my soul, I say, do not despair looking too closely too often at the acts of some of the people some of the time in some situations.

Rejoice for the acts of most of the people most of the time in most situations for that is the spirit of goodness that moves the face of the waters.

It may not be intellectually elite but it gives me a reason to smile at the barrista, tell her how much I appreciate her making the latte for me, telling a joke to the Mom with the two kids, opening a door for her, and generally, ministering to the hardness of life wherever I can hopefully without creeping people out. It won’t change much but it won’t make it worse.

sanity rally

The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Rally to Restore Sanity

It’s set up as a joke, but there’s a serious point at the heart of it.

Dana Blankenhorn asserts, “It may be the most important political event of the year, putting the politics of our time on trial and calling for its rejection.

“He’s calling a new generation to renew the work before us, reasonably, honorably, purposefully, sanely, quietly, which is all the President is asking of us as well, and what our history demands of us.”

kinky economics

Ezra Klein reacts to the GOP’s Pledge to America:

Their policy agenda is detailed and specific — a decision they will almost certainly come to regret.

Because when you get past the adjectives and soaring language, the talk of inalienable rights and constitutional guarantees, you’re left with a set of hard promises that will increase the deficit by trillions of dollars, take health-care insurance away from tens of millions of people, create a level of policy uncertainty businesses have never previously known, and suck demand out of an economy that’s already got too little of it.

Economist Mark Thoma sums it up:

There don’t seem to be any new ideas here, just a promise to undo what’s been done since the Republicans lost power.

Why would we want to return to the policies that brought us
a stagnant middle class even in the best of times,
widening inequality,
out of control financial markets,
the biggest recession in recent memory,
declining rates of health care coverage,
threats to Social Security and to social insurance,
tax policies that reinforce inequality
big holes in the budget,
false claims that tax cuts more than pay for themselves, and
two wars that have brought Social Security and Medicare — programs vital to middle and low income households under increasing financial pressure?

Comment snippets:

Didnt they have a ten point Contract With America when Gingrich took over? Let’s see… one was to run a balanced budget.

The plan is to cut transfer payments that provide food and health care to children while cutting taxes, increasing defense spending, the deficit and expanding the size of government under the guise of protecting morals.

Hey. Some of us get off on that kind of thing. Kall it Kinky Economics. Trickle down was just foreplay.

Republicans are now pledging to stop their spending spree? These Republicans that took a record $236 billion surplus into a record $1.3 trillion deficit? Sick.

The ship of State has a large hole in the bottom where the fuel tank used to be. The Reagan Solution is to chop more holes while invoking Reagan’s name.

“I’ve made clear over the last 20 months, when Republicans were in control of Congress we made our share of mistakes,” Boehner said.  Banana republic, here we come.

from the inside out

The mall.
They’re like little colonies of corpocracy beamed down from the capitalist mothership.

Let’s face it. Malls are soul-deadening, community-crushing, job-vaporizing, passion-flattening, purpose-destroying, innovation-sucking, future-munching vectors of the lethal disease known as consumer capitalism that’s eating America from the inside out.

Er, Walmart is a little different in China. [16 pics]

The bank. The reason banks blew up is that they aren’t really banks.

They are giant leveraged structured hedge funds where your deposits are casino chips in the hands of Gamblers Anonymous. So for Pete’s sake, will someone create a bank for the rest of us already?

The stock market. Gambling with our hard-earned cash sounds about as smart as eating a pound of plutonium.

It’s about time someone invented a stock market for actual investment; real, committed, long-haul, patient capital, not just myopic, narrow, by-the-nanosecond, rumor-mill driven speculation.

Get the idea?

If we could reimagine a better capitalism, what would we want — and where would we begin?

Because whether we like it or not, a Great Stagnation is choking us in the belching, noxious fumes of an industrial age, and it won’t go away just because we want it to. But it will when we cause it to.

organize the signals

Oil. Cash. Disruption.
Step #1: Eliminate whatever is stupid.

Brian Westerhaus’ blog:

Backed-up traffic costs $100 billion per year and wastes more than 2.5 billion gallons of fuel, not to mention the uncountable human hours —some of them yours.

What if traffic lights were smart?

Each set of lights is a sensor that feeds information about the traffic conditions, calculates the flow of vehicles, and works out how long the lights stay green in order to clear the road.  Each set of lights can estimate for itself how best to adapt to the conditions expected at the next moment.

Self-organizing traffic!

Self-controlled traffic lights detect the randomly occurring gaps in traffic.

The flow of traffic is managed as if it were a fluid. Travel time is significantly less, red lights are shorter and more naturally distributed. Does not fight natural fluctuations by trying to impose a rhythm.

clearly, the figures are wrong

David Degraw:

News reports are out saying that in 2009 the poverty rate “skyrocketed” to 43.6 million – up from 39.8 million in 2008, which is the largest year-to-year increase, and the highest number since statistics have been recorded – putting the poverty rate for 2009 at 14.3 percent.

This is obviously a tragedy and horrific news. However, this is blatant propaganda.

The Census Bureau uses a long outdated method to calculate the poverty rate. The Census is measuring poverty based on costs of living metrics established back in 1955 – 55 years ago!

These numbers are based on: $22,050 for a family of four. Let me repeat that: $22,050 for a family of four. That breaks down to $5513 per person, per year. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine living in the United States on $459 per month.

If you increase that measure by just a small increment, to $25,000 for a family of four, you are now looking at nearly 100 million Americans in poverty.

Let’s get real. Someday. Please.

While the economic top half of one percent now fears a ‘double-dip’, the overwhelming majority of Americans are in the same downward spiral they’ve been on since Reagan.

A recent study done by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management found that a mere one percent of Americans are hoarding $13 TRILLION in ‘investible wealth’.

Yep, one percent of Americans are hoarding $13 TRILLION in ‘investible wealth’ and that doesn’t even factor in all the money they have hidden in offshore accounts.