A DAILY INNOCULATION AGAINST POLITICAL AND CULTURAL BULLSHIT

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TWEET BEGS OFF

The fact that one of our political parties is comfortable with espousing complete nonsense and paranoia on multiple fronts is proof enough that America is seriously ill such that attempting to discuss or reason through problems is a pointless exercise. The staggering amount of time wasted online and elsewhere in "debating" our condition is itself evidence of the illness. Polities usually break through conditions like this when they are faced with conditions which will take them down - providing that the conditions are immediate enough that they can see the danger in their own back yards. We are a long, long way from that day, so I beg off the discussion. What will be will be. If you're young enough, self-protection is the watchword. If you're not, pull up your lawn chair and watch the show.

- Mémé Aureole Petite

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Mr. Petite has been an adviser to both the Bush and Obama administrations (neither of which ever asked for his advice - and they certainly never took it, so don't blame Tweet) and is a Senior Fellow at (and is supported entirely by) the ETHICS AND THEORY INSTITUTE OF TERMINOLOGY (EATIT), a foundation underwritten by the parents of a United States Senator in return for Mr. Petite's silence on certain important matters. Which explains why he doesn't do TV.

Mr. Petite is a native of virtual New Orleans, and therefore a legal immigrant to his actual residence, so he has never had to do migrant farm work or landscaping. (He did do some shrimping in the virtual bayous on some of the days he played hookey from school.) The use of the word "onions" is metaphoric, or something. His sole contact with actual onions is in some of the better gumbos.

HE DECLINES FURTHER POSTING, FOR REASONS STATED ABOVE.

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Friday, October 01, 2010

The non-existent moral case for tax cuts - Taxes - Salon.com

The non-existent moral case for tax cuts - Taxes - Salon.com:

"Although conservatives generally make the case for specific tax cuts in economic terms, mainstream American conservatism very clearly has a strong moral commitment to keeping taxes as low as they can. You can see this in the Tea Party’s equating of progressive income taxes with 'socialism' and 'tyranny,' and you can see it in Fox News’ Stuart Varney’s on-air tantrum from earlier this week. Sure, the right will rend their garments over the Laffer curve and supply-side economics, but there’s a much simpler argument hiding behind the line graphs.

It goes like this: We earned this money. We deserve it. It is therefore immoral to take it from us."

Eliot Spitzer on the crisis of accountability - War Room - Salon.com

Eliot Spitzer on the crisis of accountability - War Room - Salon.com:

"There’s the issue of communitarianism -- we need a sense of community and responsibility to each other that rises in parallel with a sense of the freedom of the individual.

How does accountability impact the legitimacy of our institutions?

This is hugely important. If accountability suffers, then institutions become highly suspect. This happens everywhere from Wall Street to Congress. When people feel no accountability, they are more hesitant to presume that the system is functioning. This affects the entire structure of our democracy.

Do you see anything on the horizon that makes you more optimistic about government's role in regulation that will impact the accountability crisis?

We're at a moment where the regulatory bodies are appreciating what they need to do. Elizabeth Warren, for example, will set a high bar in that regard. On the other side of the equation, you have the public's complete fury at government intervention in any way and the prospect that Republican takeover of Congress will eliminate whatever impetus there may have been."

The smug morality of breast cancer month - Cancer - Salon.com

The smug morality of breast cancer month - Cancer - Salon.com:

"Yet plenty of other deadly diseases get considerably less attention. The leading non-accident-related cause of death in America is heart disease, frequently a diet and lifestyle-related problem that only recently has gained traction as its own important cause. And how? By taking a cue from breast cancer and dressing it up as a women's issue with a fashionable color. It bears noting that the prevailing icon of heart disease isn't that of an obese male; it's a slim red dress."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

THEY CUT AWAY!

Unbelievably, tonight Maddow CUT AWAY from one of those live Obama speeches which are intended to goose up the youth vote, to play a raft of ads and then Eugene Robinson's commentary on a speech we were not getting to see. If MSNBC is in lala land too, how much hope does Obama have?

William S. Lerach: Blame the Wall Street Bankers and Corporate CEOs for the "Jobless" Recovery

William S. Lerach: Blame the Wall Street Bankers and Corporate CEOs for the "Jobless" Recovery:

"These bankers and corporate CEOs are 'men and women of the world.' If the legal and economic rules of the game permit them to make more money for themselves at the cost of ordinary Americans, they will do so. While they may sit in office towers here, their ultimate economic commitment is not to our country or its workers -- their loyalty is to lining their own pockets, regardless of the impact on ordinary Americans. To be fair to them -- they are really the obliging tools of capitalism's 'invisible hand' -- if the incentives permit, indeed favor, the flow of capital to places that hurt the American economy -- then so be it. It's the incentives as much as the people."

Pentagon Losing Control of Bombs to China’s Monopoly - BusinessWeek

Pentagon Losing Control of Bombs to China’s Monopoly - BusinessWeek:

"A generation after Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping made mastering neodymium and 16 other elements known as rare earths a priority, China dominates the market, with far-reaching effects ranging from global trade friction to U.S. job losses and threats to national security.

The U.S. handed its main economic rival power to dictate access to these building blocks of modern weapons by ceding control of prices and supply, according to dozens of interviews with industry executives, congressional leaders and policy experts. China in July reduced rare-earth export quotas for the rest of the year by 72 percent, sending prices up more than sixfold for some elements."

Did the US ever have any brains? Everywhere you look you find a long term destructive policy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Marty Kaplan: The Scary Staleness of Truth Telling

Marty Kaplan: The Scary Staleness of Truth Telling:

"Why, an audience member asked NPR's Linda Wertheimer at a San Diego symposium this past weekend, wasn't public radio correcting all the lies being told in the campaign?

We do correct a lot of them, she replied. We report that candidate so-and-so made a certain claim today, and then we compare the claim with the facts, and we show that it's not true. The problem, she went on to say, is that our coverage doesn't stop candidate so-and-so from repeating the same falsehood over and over again, but we can't keep repeating the same story day after day, because it's not news any more."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Drew Westen: The Two Stories of the Election of 2010: A Biopsy Before the Autopsy

Drew Westen: The Two Stories of the Election of 2010: A Biopsy Before the Autopsy:

"Years ago psychologists found that under high anxiety, people tend to revert to well-worn patterns, and with 6 or 7 weeks to go before a high-anxiety election, Democrats seems to be reverting to habits that have served them poorly for years, starting with folding when they have a full house. When the lights go down in November, if things look as dark as they do today, Democrats should take the time to figure out how they misplayed one of the strongest hands any party has been dealt in decades."

WHERE THE FAULT LIES

A new Politico poll shows the public trusting the GOP over Obama to create jobs by 51-40%. More important, Palin has closed to within single digits against Obama in 2012. What we are soon going to see is the biggest vote of non-confidence ever delivered to a president.

Clinton had the drive and the popular support to get through 1994. Obama does not. I get the sense he's very fragile, and I don't envy him his next two years, because everyone knows where the fault lies.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Charles Ferguson: Summers Down, Fifty Odd More to Go

Charles Ferguson: Summers Down, Fifty Odd More to Go:

"In fact, the most depressing part of the CNBC Town Hall was President Obama's reaction when that amazing woman told him off -- his timid evasions as the great orator was stripped away to reveal -- emptiness. But people are getting angry and ever more impatient with a President who has turned out to be a wimp rather than a fearless agent of change."

Robert Reich: The Super Rich Get Richer, Everyone Else Gets Poorer, and the Democrats Punt

Robert Reich: The Super Rich Get Richer, Everyone Else Gets Poorer, and the Democrats Punt:

"Democrats have thereby given up a defining issue that could have enabled them to show the big story of the last three decades -- the accumulation of almost all the gain from economic growth at the top -- and to make a start at reversing it.

When will they ever learn?"

Dems' Tax Cut Punt Doesn't Make Any Sense

Dems' Tax Cut Punt Doesn't Make Any Sense:

"So, let's get it straight. The American people broadly support the Democrats' plans for these tax cuts. But if the Democrats were to hold a vote on them, members of their own caucus, who are either too stupid or too scared to know what to do, would not vote for it. The media would report this, and it would expose that it was actually Democrats who blocked the passage. But if you don't hold a vote, you can blame the GOP instead, even though they technically didn't do anything. So now, the voters who support this tax cut plan will go to the polls in November uncertain of what's going to happen to middle class tax relief."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Richard (RJ) Eskow: GOP's "Pledge" to Rob the Middle Class: No Jobs, No Health Care, No Security

Richard (RJ) Eskow: GOP's "Pledge" to Rob the Middle Class: No Jobs, No Health Care, No Security:

"Off the top, their plan is a trillion-dollar giveaway to the rich - at everybody else's expense. Their 'pledge' would slash needed spending, kill jobs and end any hope of growing the economy. It declares open season on the public's health and safety with a deregulation agenda that would unleash BP, Goldman Sachs, and every other corporation whose risky behavior endangers us. It would lead to even more financial crashes and environmental disasters. Firefighters, cops,and teachers would be laid off in droves. The deficit would soar. We'd face a permanently stagnating economy. The middle class would wither away."

Obama's Could-Have-Been-Worse Presidency - Newsweek

Obama's Could-Have-Been-Worse Presidency - Newsweek:

"The BP crisis and its political aftermath are apt symbols for what ails, and what ultimately might save, the president and the Democrats. They are going to get hammered in November. He and they overpromised and underperformed. But if they avoid a blowout it will in part be because voters see the Obama that is, not the fiction they worshiped or dreaded. He is the plodding “national incident commander” for our beleaguered era, and his accomplishments—to the extent he has them—so far are mostly about how our predicament would have been worse had it not been for his bailing of water. It’s a hard message to sell in the midst of 9.5 percent unemployment, when dollar discount stores are all the rage, and the gap between the rich and everyone else in the country is as wide as it has been since the Progressive Era."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NOT PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL

Obama's presidency is likely to be shortly destroyed. He will almost certainly be impeached, and the really significant question involving the number of seats Republicans get is do they have the votes to get him? Or even more horrible, will Democrats join with them in taking Obama out?

This is not the Congress which stood behind Clinton, and Obama is not a street brawler as Clinton was. Nothing but numbers can possibly protect him, and I'm not optimistic about those.

I think he knew this would happen, based on his comments about being willing to be a one term president to get legislation passed. But here's the thing: it wasn't his presidency, it was ours, and considering the disparity of political talent between the left and the right it may be the last presidency we will ever get. He did not have the right to decide not to try to put in place a political framework smart enough to earn him, and us, a second term and the chance for more. Or to hand that chance to the Republicans, who will certainly take it and use it well.

It's not his fault he is who he is. But as the writer of two introspective books about himself he should have honestly assessed himself as not capable of doing what the presidency demands, and not made the run. Whoever did run might have lost, but they would have lost an election, not the country.

Job-Creation Idea No. 2: Rescue The States

Job-Creation Idea No. 2: Rescue The States:

"By contrast, if you want federal money to reduce the unemployment rate, economists generally agree there's no faster or more effective way than sending it to states so they can avoid layoffs or can actually increase their hiring. States are in a position to create lots of jobs almost instantly. And state and local spending has great 'bang for the buck,' as economy.com's Mark Zandi describes the per-dollar effect of spending on gross domestic product."

PALIN WINS IN 2012

So it will be Palin in 2012. She has greatly improved her self-presentation and has uniquely mastered the art of being political in non political settings. She's the Oprah of politics, and should be recognized that way by all sides. Denial is absurd. You have to dig very deep to find the bullshit core of what she says, but that's true of every politician. What she has is passion in a time that calls for passion. No one else has it, particularly including Obama. I think she gets the nomination and I think she wins, unless there are a lot of changes between now and then.

TOO IMMATURE FOR THE OFFICE?

Obama complains that the left are whiners. But it's Obama who's the whiner, a petulant kid who seems to be at the verge of a tantrum when he
doesn't get what he thinks he deserves. He seems to view the presidency as his personal possession and that it's nobody's damn business what he does with it while at the same time he bristles over lack of proper appreciation.

These very whines from him and his pallid spokesman prove his political incompetence. Feel resentment, go ahead, but verbalize it? Attack your
base? In all of history, how many leaders have been that incredibly stupid?

Too, his resentment proves he is totally wrapped up in himself and too immature for the office. Otherwise he would realize that what the left wanted from him was not so much a victory on any particular issue but a strong stand, win or lose, against the Republican machine.

Obama is not the man to win that fight but he could have been the man to throw down the challenge. He could have been a strong voice for the public option at the start of the health care battle, knowing he'd never get it. But that effort - never mind the result - would have glued not only Democrats but also many independents to his hip. No one expected him to do anything but carry his campaign message into his presidency and restate it in battle after battle. He didn't, and it turns out that his conception of himself alone in the office may be an accurate self-construction.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Timothy Karr: Net Neutrality: We're Still Waiting

Timothy Karr: Net Neutrality: We're Still Waiting:

"Instead of doing what's right for Internet users, Genachowski has dodged, dithered and delayed. But it's not too late to turn things around. And Genachowski's legacy as chair of the FCC - either as a champion of openness or as a toothless bureaucrat - rests on what he does now."

Secret agent, I think.

Jacob Lew, Obama Nominee And Former Citigroup Executive, Doesn't Believe Deregulation Led To Financial Crisis

Jacob Lew, Obama Nominee And Former Citigroup Executive, Doesn't Believe Deregulation Led To Financial Crisis:

"Experts and policymakers, including U.S. Senators, commissioners at the Securities and Exchange Commission, top leaders in Congress, former financial regulators and even Obama himself have pointed to the deregulatory zeal of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations as a major cause of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Lew, however, doesn't appear to agree, putting him at odds with an administration and a party that tout their efforts at re-regulating Wall Street in pitches to voters and cast blame for the crisis in part on the deregulatory policies pursued by Bush and his fellow Republicans in Congress."

Incomprehensible unless you think - which I increasingly do - that Obama is not the president but some weirdo or secret agent of the establishment.

James Amos, Obama's Pick To Lead Marine Corps, Opposes Repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

James Amos, Obama's Pick To Lead Marine Corps, Opposes Repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell':

"President Barack Obama's choice to lead the Marine Corps says he doesn't think Congress should lift the ban on gay troops who want to serve openly."

Not only does the right not understand Obama, he is becoming a complete conundrum. Nothing makes any sense. It's like he isn't paying attention to anything he's doing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

VICTORY

The headline is "Banks fight to kill proposed consumer protection agency." It's starkly true, of course. But only in times like these, where naked capitalism has decided it no longer has to consider the interests of anyone other than themselves, and no longer has to sugarcoat or disguise its intentions, could you see a headline like that. This is basically a declaration of victory - not on the specific fight over the agency, but over who rules all. And this after these people nearly destroyed us - or maybe did destroy us.

We'll see if there's any opposition left after the election.

Obama Aides Weigh Bid to Tie the G.O.P. to the Tea Party - NYTimes.com

Obama Aides Weigh Bid to Tie the G.O.P. to the Tea Party - NYTimes.com:

"President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a range of ideas, including national advertisements, to cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said."

Less than two months to the election and they have no plan. Pathetic. Incomprehensible.

GOOD LUCK

We are about to have an election in which voting will, to a large extent, be entirely based on fiction. People will be voting beliefs which have no basis in fact. The critical question is: how many voters will do that, as opposed to those who have some connection to reality. When the media report that such and such a "belief" is going to be prominent in this election, I often note that the percentage of Americans who believe that belief is in the low 20s. Yet the media insist that low percentage will control the outcome. One more reason why the media ought to disgust you.

Yet it's a lot to expect any voter to cast a ballot based on at least a consideration of actual fact when they have been bombarded for years by all sorts of fictions on all sorts of topics which once would have been entirely ignored but now are purposely used by business interests, religions and politicians for reasons which mostly have nothing to do with the substance of the belief. There is no area or topic I can think of which is not tainted by misinformation. It takes work to find the truth, and not only are many Americans unwilling to do that work but they are unable to do it if they wanted to. Because the sources of the truth have been overwhelmed by what I believe is the most successful propaganda campaign of all time, integrating religious, financial, political and even entertainment sources (Sarah Palin before she morphs into a candidate). It has been going on for years but the election of Obama, which for some reason the media feels is controversial, has opened the floodgates.

Over all this time no effort has been made to create serious outlets for the opposite view, or, better yet, the truth. The left has relied on the media to counter the propaganda, but not only is the media not interested in doing that, but they have signed onto the sham. There are left think tanks but they have no voice, primarily because they are interested in thinking, rather than propagating ideas. The left hoped for a powerful spokesman in Obama, but nobody threw up a countervailing publicity force, and although Obama appears to love the truth, he is sadly lacking in any real drive to promote it. The fact is, though, that no one man could have held back the tide.

So for two years the truth has been pitifully represented against a tidal wave of lies. That probably preconditions the outcome of this election. Nobody is fighting it because no one has the tools. The only good thing I see is that all the miserable conditions will continue through the next Republican Congress. They will not be able to fix any of it. So possibly the next election will swing the other way without regard to anything but desperate need for change.

Good luck to all of us.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

THE MOST BRILLIANT SATIRE EVER

The story of the last few years - and longer if you care to contemplate that far - if written fully would be the best, the funniest, the most ontrack satire ever done. Every element of the story brilliantly falls off the edge of reality into what would be a hysterical joke if it were fiction.

Satire assumes a normality which the imagination then alters, the point being to illustrate what the normality really is. If you are a character living inside the satire you can't discern the normality - the satire is your world. Usually though the reader understands the joke. Unfortunately we are living inside the satire, not reading it. If we could step outside the story and see it as some future reader would, we'd be in hysterical fits of laughter as the story unfolded. Sarah Palin for president in 2012. Obama the impotent God figure. All the wingnut ideas being taken seriously and presented by people who are at least slightly beyond what used to be the acceptable. My God. Somehow you have to step back and see the brilliant satire in it because that is the only way you will remain normal. That is, if there is any normality left. to cling to. If the satire becomes reality, then those hanging onto what used to be normal turn out to be the crazy ones.

Capitol Hill reaction to poverty figures sidetracked by political concerns

Capitol Hill reaction to poverty figures sidetracked by political concerns:

"The reluctance of political leaders on both sides of the aisle to directly confront the fact that growing numbers of Americans are slipping into poverty reflects a stubborn reality about the poor: They are not much of a political constituency.

'We talk to many people on Capitol Hill who do believe poverty is important and is a blight on our nation,' said Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, an alliance of national organizations that advocates for the poor. 'But we are also up against a general recognition that poor people don't vote in great numbers. And they certainly aren't going to be making campaign contributions. That definitely puts them behind many other people and interests when decisions are being made around here.'"

Joe Miller Says Unemployment Benefits Are Unconstitutional, Struggles To Say How He Would Deal With Poverty (VIDEO)

Joe Miller Says Unemployment Benefits Are Unconstitutional, Struggles To Say How He Would Deal With Poverty (VIDEO):

"Wallace asked Miller about his assertion in August on CBS's 'Face the Nation' that unemployment benefits are unconstitutional, noting that without them, many more Americans would be in poverty. 'What would you do for them?' asked Wallace.

Miller, however, struggled to come up with an answer, and instead shifted to talking points about reducing the size of the federal government. Wallace repeatedly pressed him on the issue, without ever receiving an actual response:"

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Obama Demeans His Own Supporters

Obama Demeans His Own Supporters

GAME OVER IN FLORIDA

Here in Florida the three Republican candidates - Rick Scott, Allan West and Marco Rubio - are running really well crafted, positive, confident ads. Ron Klein is barely on air and when he is it's with a weak attack on West. Alex Sink looks pathetic, and she's running negative too. Only Kendrick Meek - and Charlie Crist - are running positive for the Democrats (or whatever Crist is) and the ads don't match the quality of the Republican stuff.

It baffles me that all these years after it was discovered that television wins elections, Democrats still can't do it right. In this case I suspect we are looking at bad quality advisers and people who have given up. Eyes open, it looks like game over here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

TOO LATE AGAIN

The core conservative goal is to get as many dollars as possible and to keep everything they get. This is not a matter of utility - i.e., how much money do you really need? It's a matter of "it's mine and you're not getting any of it."

In decent economic times enough may be left of the New Deal mentality to allow some sharing via taxes, most likely unconscious - just not being aware of the diversion. But when the economy is bad - really bad - then everyone's goal becomes the conservative goal. Everyone wants to keep what they have. That's all that matters.

So in the coming election that's what they will be voting for. Social issue craziness will be acceptable as long as the candidate supports tax cuts and the general attitude that what's mine is mine.

The only edge any Democrat has here is the insistence that the rich pay more. It's an adjunct - a corollary - to a general feeling that most of us have not been given a chance to earn and keep more dollars. (It's not specific - most people do not understand how money was diverted from the general population - the Bush tax cuts, for example.) It's a generalized instinctual resentment. The chances of this argument succeeding increase as people give up the idea that they too will join the ranks of the rich somehow. I think the housing bust has convinced a lot of folks that they have nowhere to go to get rich anymore. Which, of course, is true.

A good coherent argument made six months ago might have worked, specifically addressing the question of where an individual's next dollar is going to come from. That would have included a general understanding of the flatness of wage increases over the past thirty years; the current unemployment crisis, etc. People could have understood that the economy was riding on consumer spending, meaning more debt. And when that ended, as it has, what is going to drive the economy? Jamie Immelt recently said the ideological concept of turning the US into a service economy and that the outsourcing of manufacturing was insane. That has been obvious since the concept appeared twenty or so years ago. But not understood.

The sum of that argument would have been that if business is focused on protecting its investors, and that includes cutting employment drastically, the government is the only possible source of funding of research, both short and long term, and funding new businesses to produce actual things to sell. It is also the only possible source of job creation - direct government jobs directed toward what is needed and not what is wanted. And to stabilize the platform, taxes must be paid.

It just doesn't seem that complicated to me. Obama should have told us how things work and what must be done. He didn't. Too late, again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TOO LATE

Democrats seem to think that every Republican nomination of a crazy guarantees the democrats a seat. That's nonsense. People are well beyond looking at these people's records and stances. They are deciding - probably have already decided - to vote Republican or Democrat. Voting will be ticket based. The fact that a candidate is a lunatic means nothing. Consider how many lunatics already sit in Congress. The Dems only chance was to tarnish the entire party, not focus on individual crazies. They blew that over a year ago. Too late now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

THEY DON'T WASTE TIME

It's important to understand - as few in the eminently distractable media do - that conservatives who matter do not hate Obama because he's black. They do not think he's a Muslim or born somewhere else. They don't hate Muslims. All of these beliefs, which they have fostered through their propaganda machine, are simply tools concocted by fringe maniacs which conservatives find useful to keep their noise level up.

They hate Obama - or, in fact, they may not even hate him - because he is (was) a speedbump on the inevitable march of Ayn Randism which began with Reagan and has not changed. So, wisely, they marshal all their resources to grind the bump down until nothing stands in the way of their accumulating as much wealth as the public is willing to give them. It's not even power that they crave - power is just the ultimate tool.

The intent is no different from their intent vis a vis Clinton. They just didn't have these visceral tools to use against him, so they had to invent things like Whitewater and take advantage of Clinton's Lewinsky nonsense. They never did entirely grind Clinton down - but then Clinton played along with a lot of their plan, and so he was survivable. When he was gone, they had to get rid of Gore to eliminate the last of the Clinton speedbump. They did.

The difference between Clinton and Obama is that Clinton was a great politician. His survivability was almost entirely built on his personality. He could see where and when the flow was going against him and take political measures which at least had the chance of stopping, or slowing it down.

Obama seemed to think that Clinton had won. So he brought Clintonites into his administration and tried to model himself after Clinton. Unfortunately, he lacks Clinton's basic skill set. He is not - or doesn't seem to be - empathetic. In the beginning of his term he had the political skill to move people through words, but he squandered that in many, many ways. He took no advantage of Obamamania. Most importantly, his timing was terrible. He did not seem to appreciate moments he could use.

I would add that he never developed an alternate vision for the country - and I would say he did that purposefully, in one of the most egregious political failures this country has ever seen - but that too is a consequence of his belief in Clinton. Clinton never had to present an alternative vision (except when going for votes, a temporary state) because things were good during his term. He didn't need it. He just needed to defend himself. Obama did not understand that political times were different and that a vision was needed. His failure is catastrophic. Unfortunately, I see no one out there who can get through the noise to prevent that failure.

As for tactics, the noise is the key. Not just political noise. Ever since commercials, then TV, then movies developed the quick cutting technique which eliminated content from pictures which were to be used as constant meaningless stimuli to distract the public from matters of importance - even minor importance - the public has lost its ability to reason and concentrate. Add to that the incessant aural clatter. Turn on the TV and you get a constant barrage of loud music, loud voices, anger, narcissism. These were probably not designed specifically to disable rational thought in the public arena - but again are tools conservatives understand and effectively use. And of course the media use them incessantly to try to get attention. Media coverage has nothing to do with presenting meaningful information. There is practically nothing on the media which actually warrants the time they want you to put into them. But they willingly play the role, not necessarily of promoting conservatism, but of promoting a constant brain-busting white noise. Since the Chinese used the technique in Korea it has been a staple of torture. Nobody seems to understand that physical torture like waterboarding pales in comparison to the torture we are all being subjected to through noise, whether it is intentional or not. America is being tortured and has no idea.

The focus on the family is another tool. People who are taught to serve their kids, have growing families and are constantly rushing around to accommodate them are prime targets: 1) they have no time to do anything else and 2) their concerns circle around the smallest possible social unit. If the family is everything, then any other circle is nothing. It's fear for their families that makes them want to "take America back."

If evangelical Christianity is really about what it says it's about - the direct connection of the individual to God - then it too shrinks the web of personal concerns down to one person, or at most a few others the individual cares about. I don't think evangelical Christianity is what it says it is. You don't need megachurches to practice it. As with every other church through time, it has been made a business. It succeeds because it is not easy, in this age where people all believe they are special and attention must be paid (with millions or perhaps billions struggling for that recognition on Facebook and Twitter), to develop a real direct connection with other people, never mind God. I suspect that Facebook and Twitter will turn out to be hugely destructive of all social structures. Anyway, people need to be led to their connection with God - or, better yet, assured that they have that connection and can maintain it with minimal effort. In the end, evangelical Christianity turns out to be Catholicism redirected. It becomes heirarchical, and thus a tool for all heirarchies.

Where we now are is the result of a huge confluence of trends beginning perhaps with the development of advertising techniques, or perhaps with Reagan, or who actually knows or can figure it out? - and including cultural patterns which were actually not intended to do anything but sell, or combat loneliness, or keep the brain from collapsing if for just a moment it is not fed with stimuli. I don't think this has ever happened in America before. It can't be stopped until the public gets tired of it, and conservatives expect that when that happens - if it ever does - they will have enough of a propaganda lock on the mind that when people actually start thinking they won't be able to, outside of that propaganda framework. And that's why they're after Obama. They do not waste time.

If people get tired of the noise, they don't just turn it off (which is rare enough). They also turn off any shred of real content which might get through to them. It's not that they are not enthusiastic voters. It's that they're worn down, worn out by incessant bad news and the inevitability of it getting shoved in their faces over and over and over again. They are becoming hopeless. They are grasping at any straw. So there is no sense in judging what they say or do. In this state of exhaustion, any response - including lashing out - is to be expected, and it does no good to tell them there are better ways of thinking. Or in fact to tell them anything other than who to blame for their current state. They're using their last shred of energy, their final quota of thinking capacity, to find a personal way out of this mess, knowing in their hearts that it's impossible.

Two political elements have had tremendous success since 2001. The first is al Qaeda. If they grasped from the beginning the full effect of 9/11, they are political geniuses beyond any the world has ever produced. Of course, that's highly unlikely. America created the post 9/11 world out of fear, greed and a hundred other elements. I remember that right after 9/11 the media was saying that the world had changed forever. My response was that the only thing that had changed was that terrorists had been able to pull off a large scale attack in America. How important was that really? It merely added one small threat (considering the odds) to personal insecurity. Less than the chance of being hit by lightning. But Americans had been moving for years to the conviction that they had an absolute right to personal safety - in other words, that fate did not exist. 9/11 unhinged that ridiculous belief, and it was used intentionally and otherwise to create permanent, unreasoning fear. That is the track from 9/11 to where we are now, and that is because of the success of important conservatives in making it happen. In their case, it was no stroke of luck. It amazes me sometimes how farsighted they have been. They are brilliant. They are relentless. They are not distractable. They think at the level of 3D chess. They are not Sarah Palin, who's just another tool. They have never been adequately identified. But if you have any inclination to believe that there is a small cabal behind it you are no doubt right. The sources of funding are easy to find. It's their forces of strategy and tactics which have not pinned down - the location of the minds that run it. The media hasn't shown any interest in uncovering them. But some day history will have to ferret them out if we are ever going to understand what happened to us.

Monday, September 13, 2010

NO SYMPATHY

I simply don't understand people who attack the left for not appreciating Obama's legislative accomplishments. There's no argument that he has accomplished a lot. What he has not done is the politics or messaging to tie them into coherence and a strong position on how this country is supposed to function. By that failure he has allowed fantasy to rule without any attempt to stop it. it's not that the left is angry because things were not done. it's because things were not tried, argued for. taking a piecemeal approach against a massive propaganda assault or even populism does not work. Obama is absolutely to blame for what is going to happen to him and to us and I have no sympathy whatsoever.

FASCINATING

People keep looking for Americans to return to their senses before the election. Not going to happen. They will disjoint the country from whatever realities they can't accept or don't understand and send it spinning down a rabbit hole in a vortex of fantasies. The next two years are going to be unprecedented and fascinating.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

NO VOICE

Why are we in a terminal state - and make no mistake, we are, and so is much of the world? Because we can't see beyond our own noses. Everything must produce an immediate benefit to us, never mind what it does to everyone else. We can't understand that issues we don't care about actually matter. And through the net and the craven media we can easily push public debate into meaningless and often dangerous yak. Some blame the web for this state of affairs, but it's just a tool. The problem is the lack of sense of people who use it and the complete irresponsibility of the media who regurgitate it without understanding that it matters whether it's true or not. Looking to the media to tell you the truth? that's not what most of it is for anymore. Does Beyonce have three tits? Probably not, but it's worth discussing.

There does not seem to be any way to return to respect for documented fact as a challenge to belief systems. In some circles that's not new. Any system based on faith - I know the truth in my heart, so don't bother arguing - can ultimately disconnect people from reality. Now you have to add to that disregard for facts for personal gain, either monetary or ego satisfaction. So the scale has tipped. Everything from technology to ideology over the past few decades has moved us toward virtual reality - a concept embedded in video games but extremely dangerous when people start looking for it in everyday life.

Religion as practiced in America is skewed toward denial of fact as well as of what used to be fundamental morality. I keep trying to find the starting place for all this. When did the dominant concept become that lies are as good as truth and that propaganda is a brilliant way to propagate them? But I suppose the better question is: when did so many of us actually start to revel in lies? It will take a massive philosophical treatise to sort this out when it's too late. But the proliferation of pundits make it impossible for any voice to go that deep and that wide. Besides, the world is not looking for that voice. Any more than it can find a leader who can make us look at ourselves. We are in feudal mode. No time to understand. Only time to survive.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

THE EXCUSE

They say we must never forget 9/11. Too bad. The memory has paralyzed America. It causes a constant focus on hyperbolized weakness and fear. The response has helped to bankrupt the country and convince us we are constantly in peril. We are unable to concentrate on solving problems while we fester in a stew of hatred and indecision. Did bin Laden destroy America? With our help, more than he could ever have hoped. What 9/11 exposed was the fundamental weakness of the American psyche. We insist we are strong, constantly proclaim that strength while demonstrating the exact opposite. We are a pathetic people who understand nothing and use a single nine year old act of terror as an excuse for giving up. It's disgusting.

Ted Koppel: Nine years after 9/11, let's stop playing into bin Laden's hands

Ted Koppel: Nine years after 9/11, let's stop playing into bin Laden's hands:

"The goal of any organized terrorist attack is to goad a vastly more powerful enemy into an excessive response. And over the past nine years, the United States has blundered into the 9/11 snare with one overreaction after another. Bin Laden deserves to be the object of our hostility, national anguish and contempt, and he deserves to be taken seriously as a canny tactician. But much of what he has achieved we have done, and continue to do, to ourselves. Bin Laden does not deserve that we, even inadvertently, fulfill so many of his unimagined dreams."

Quran Burning Story: This Is How The Media Embarrass Themselves

Quran Burning Story: This Is How The Media Embarrass Themselves:

"Imagine that, in a world with a nine year-long, going nowhere war and a massive unemployment crisis! Imagine how many times you would have to hit yourself in the head with a ball peen hammer before you would ask a politician from California how they stood on a local zoning issue in Manhattan.

But ask they did, all the way to the White House. And that's when Democrats like Harry Reid stepped forward to publicly cover themselves in cowardice. This turned the frenzy up several notches for the media, because suddenly, they had obtained a very precious thing -- the right to say 'both sides do this.' The matter had become a folie a deux -- a madness made for two! -- but the media focused all their attention on the 'two' and none on the 'madness.'"

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

NO END TO IT

What kind of world is it where one insignificant man in Gainesville FL can threaten the peace of the world with the burning of one book? How can we ever feel secure again in an era where single actors can constantly roil the world?

The answer is to go back to that innocent time when nobody knew about them. The Internet unfortunately makes it impossible to hide them, but the real culprit is the hyper hysteria which drives the net and the media to freak out - mostly for their own financial benefit. It's a guarantee of mass mental illness, which we certainly suffer from on multiple fronts. It's only going to get worse now that "social media" - a misnomer if there ever was one - prattles incessantly about these things and then the actual prattle winds up in media coverage. I see no end to it.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

MAO'S IDEA

A massive part of the American population is employed in developing and promoting information nobody needs, combined with those giving opinions and predictions which have no value except to hype up anxiety levels. And there are other techniques which do the same - people talking over each other which tends to prove that it is not discussion but hyper stimulation which is desired. Loud music, loud volume levels in general, quick image cutting, focus on irrelevant personal stories, a constant flood of celebrities. There is nothing to learn in this media environment. Which is why politics has become hysteria because the hyper anxiety is now in the blood. Nothing but shouting will do. The solution? I like Mao's. Send all the flacks out to do farm labor for a couple of years. Get us some silence.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

TOLERANCE

Why did Rick Scott beat McCollum and Meek beat Greene? Because Republican voters are tolerant of big time crooks while even the whiff of impropriety was enough to scare Dems off Greene. Now we need to see how independents look at Scott.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Markos Moulitsas: How Sex, Sin and Power Bind Jihadists to the Radical Right

Markos Moulitsas: How Sex, Sin and Power Bind Jihadists to the Radical Right:

"Indeed, on issue after issue, there is no daylight between the views of radical jihadists and the American radical right. Fact is, I loathe jihadists for the exact same reasons I hate the modern conservative movement -- because whether it's their violent outlook, or their views on women and gays, or their hostility to knowledge and science, or their fear of pop culture, they are essentially cut from the same
controlling, ideological cloth."

Saturday, August 07, 2010

SADNESS AND HORROR

I'm reading Gary Shteyngart's "Super Sad True Love Story" about America's future in economic, political and
cultural decline - only to me it's not about the future, it's about now, and
it raises in me the sadness and
horror I feel about what is and what's to be. I feel like a Tea Partier railing against a future I can't understand and
don't want to see, but what I see us losing is entirely different from their sense of loss. But I also begin to understand that there is no point in railing. I need to go gentle into the good night and leave the horror to
those who have sought and created it.

Friday, August 06, 2010

SIMPLE

Here's a point not being made: Republicans want to destroy government because they want to privatize all of its functions. Therefore every public sector job lost in this recession is a good thing. Therefore they cannot support any stimulus to the states. it's simple.

LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR

For generations TV has sought the lowest common denominator. Ellen Degeneres has found it. Not a word of intelligent comment passes from the host or any guest. The level of hysteria is the highest of anything on TV. I'm glad she's found the key, for her sake. But I think what happens on that show explains what's happening all over America.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Romer To Leave White House - Hotline On Call

Romer To Leave White House - Hotline On Call:

"'She has been frustrated,' a source with insight into the WH economics team said. 'She doesn't feel that she has a direct line to the president. She would be giving different advice than Larry Summers [director of the National Economic Council], who does have a direct line to the president.'
'She is ostensibly the chief economic adviser, but she doesn't seem to be playing that role,' the source said. The WH has been pounded for its faulty forecast that unemployment would not top 8% after its economic stimulus proposal passed.
Instead, the jobless rate is 9.5%, after exceeding 10% last year. It was 'a horribly inaccurate forecast,' said Bert Ely, a banking consultant. 'You have to wonder why Summers isn't the one that should be taking the fall. But Larry is a pretty good bureaucratic infighter.'"

WHO DO WE BLAME?

So who do we blame for Democratic midterm losses? Obama, of course.

If Obama had not waited so damned long to strike back at the attacks on him and Congress, had spoken timely to the public explaining what he was doing and why, had not given up major progressive programs without at least a fight - in other words, if Obama had been politically present in his first year, we would not be in a battle where the Democrats have been prepositioned to lose no matter what they do. The propaganda has poisoned the well the Democrats have to drink from - that is, the public. And it's entirely Obama's fault.

TOUCHSTONES

So now three court rulings - in Arizona, California and Massachusetts - are the only touchstones I have to the America I remember. Strange that, with the Supreme Court thoroughly corrupted, the lower Federal courts are the last vestige of American democracy as it was conceived. But this has happened before, most notably recently during the civil rights fight. I just wasn't sure that there were any judges left who were not determined to drive home an anti-democratic political agenda.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

AFL-CIO Will Let 'Some' Dems Die On Their Own In 2010

AFL-CIO Will Let 'Some' Dems Die On Their Own In 2010

Just because some people call themselves Democrats doesn't mean you want to support them. Let the people they work for support them - or not.

WHY WORRY ABOUT THE INEVITABLE?

If you look at the stories being covered all over the media, it is impossible not to conclude that the coming election will be a ratification of American insanity. The public would have to be much more educated and thoughtful than it is to see through all the crap being peddled to it. I think the Democrats and progressives will be refudiated in a massive way. So why worry about the inevitable?

Robert Scheer: Married to the Clinton Mob

Robert Scheer: Married to the Clinton Mob:

"OK, so I have gone on too long about a column by one preening society writer, but it is irritating that the Clinton parents are getting off the hook while Obama, who is guilty of relying too heavily on Clintonista alums for policy direction, is somehow scorned. Without President Clinton turning the economy over to Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan and Lawrence Summers, there would have been no financial meltdown. Obama's cardinal error was bringing Summers and another Clinton acolyte, Timothy Geithner, back into power."

Mark Green: Fox's Six Tricks: How to Spot the Next Sherrod

Mark Green: Fox's Six Tricks: How to Spot the Next Sherrod

Monday, August 02, 2010

Deflation, Not Deficit, Is the Real Threat | The Nation

Deflation, Not Deficit, Is the Real Threat | The Nation: "Actually, our situation is more dangerous than Japan's was. The Japanese culture and its economic system are shaped by a functioning commitment to social solidarity that does not exist in the United States. In its worst years, Japan's unemployment rate never rose much above 5 percent. Protective cultural values, embedded in the economic system, would not tolerate it.

The American system, by contrast, readily throws people over the side in the name of free-market efficiency. The pain is distributed first to the weak and defenseless, as we now witness, but the losses creep upward on the social ladder as the recession continues. Deflation would generate the pain more widely, more ferociously."

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Economic View - Like New Deal, Stimulus Should Create Jobs Directly - NYTimes.com

Economic View - Like New Deal, Stimulus Should Create Jobs Directly - NYTimes.com:

"Why not use government policy to directly create jobs — labor-intensive service jobs in fields like education, public health and safety, urban infrastructure maintenance, youth programs, elder care, conservation, arts and letters, and scientific research?"

In view of corporations' increasing unwillingness to hire, this is the obvious answer. But it's politically impossible when even the lowest among us don't want the government to do anything.

The truth is that we need one brilliant speaker who can turn the American public around on this. Obama could have been that speaker, but it's too late for him now. Where will this speaker come from? God only knows.

GLOBALIZE LABOR

Corporations have successfully globalized at the expense of the American worker. Why not globalize the worker, too?

If you are prepared to leave the US and go where the work is, your employment prospects improve tremendously. America's status as a major power will necessarily decline, but that hasn't bothered the corporations, so why should it bother the worker?

The added benefit is that you have a choice to live somewhere the political climate is less likely to drive you crazy.

We need an organization whose purpose is to identify those places and jobs Americans can go to outside the US.

HOW DO WE EAT?

How are we going to feed ourselves if we don't have illegal immigrants?

I'd like to see a study on whether it is possible to attract Americans to heavy agricultural work if wages were increased. I don't think that will make a difference. So how do we feed ourselves without illegal immigrants? 1) Buy all our food from outside the US. 2) Mechanize agriculture to the point no labor is needed. 3) Drive the American work force so far down that they will take this work no matter how little it pays.

We seem to be well on the way toward point 3, but I don't believe we will actually get there. I assume we have gone as far on point 2 as is practical. Point 1 drives us further toward an all-consumer society where we actually make nothing we need.

Perhaps the best solution is to create a new legal status for immigrants who work the farms.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist - A Sin and a Shame - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist - A Sin and a Shame - NYTimes.com:

"“They threw out far more workers and hours than they lost output,” said Professor Sum. “Here’s what happened: At the end of the fourth quarter in 2008, you see corporate profits begin to really take off, and they grow by the time you get to the first quarter of 2010 by $572 billion. And over that same time period, wage and salary payments go down by $122 billion.”"

In other words, job losses were not the result of the recession but of deliberate corporate decisions to shift money from workers to shareholders. This is what I've been talking about for years.

In a society which was informed and not corrupted by propaganda, the outrage would be massive. Not here. The next election must, therefore, be a travesty which has no relationship to reality, heralding the end of America as we've known it.

Henry Hudson, Judge In Health Care Lawsuit, Has Financial Ties To Attorney General Bringing The Case

Henry Hudson, Judge In Health Care Lawsuit, Has Financial Ties To Attorney General Bringing The Case

Judicial ethics is a disappearing habit.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Divisions Emerge Among Republicans Over Elizabeth Warren

Divisions Emerge Among Republicans Over Elizabeth Warren:

"Republican statements of support for Warren's work aren't yea votes, of course, but they poke some gaping holes in the theory, advanced by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) as recently as Tuesday, that lockstep GOP opposition would inevitably shut down a Senate attempt to appoint her.

'It's not all that clear how Chairman Dodd has been doing his math,' said one consumer advocate intimately involved in the effort to get the financial reform bill through Congress."

Robert L. Borosage: Reality Check

Robert L. Borosage: Reality Check:

"But we've got an economy where corporate profits are up, bank profits are up, inequality is rising -- and there are no jobs. This cannot become the new normal. However na�ve it may sound, it would be good for the congress and the president to have the debate. Commit clearly that full employment is the measure by which their actions should be judged. Or alternatively, admit that full employment is no longer plausible, so we will build a strong social contract -- of training, guaranteed income, health care -- for those discarded from the workforce. Let's have the debate -- for the one choice that is socially ruinous is the one we seem to be drifting towards -- mass unemployment without a safety net."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

National Journal Magazine - The Gray And The Brown: The Generational Mismatch

National Journal Magazine - The Gray And The Brown: The Generational Mismatch:

"Over time, the major focus in this struggle is likely to be the tension between an aging white population that appears increasingly resistant to taxes and dubious of public spending, and a minority population that overwhelmingly views government education, health, and social-welfare programs as the best ladder of opportunity for its children. 'Anything to do with children in the public arena is going to generate a stark competition for resources,' Frey says.

The twist is that graying white voters who are skeptical of public spending may have more in common with the young minorities clamoring for it than either side now recognizes. Today's minority students will represent an increasing share of tomorrow's workforce and thus pay more of the payroll taxes that will be required to fund Social Security and Medicare benefits for the mostly white Baby Boomers. Many analysts warn that if the U.S. doesn't improve educational performance among African-American and Hispanic children, who now lag badly behind whites in both high school and college graduation rates, the nation will have difficulty producing enough high-paying jobs to generate the tax revenue to maintain a robust retirement safety net."

If this isn't the Republicans strategy, it ought to be. Want to trash Social Security? Create no jobs. There will be no one to pay into Social Security. It's a beautiful way to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

The old question used to be: how much money do you need? How much is enough?

Now, though, with billionaires eager to buy their way into office with their own money, there is no current answer to that question. We don't know how much it will take - although we'll find out sooner rather than later.

But that won't solve the uncertainty. Because the current preoccupation of billionaires will soon morph into another. Rather than being a senator or a governor, they are going to want to rule America. Since their focus is on political office (although there are smarter ways to rule America), they will attempt to buy the presidency. On top of that, they could attempt to buy a compliant Congress to work with. There are all sorts of things they could buy which will assist their accumulation of power.

And once they have the presidency - why not rule the whole world? This is not a new idea. James Bond used to run into those guys all the time. But only in James Bond did billionaires seek to use their own money to do it.

So there is no answer to the question. Not until you know the answer to this question: how much power do they want? As wealth goes to the wealthy and it becomes more and more possible to buy political office, somebody is going to answer: as much as I can get. That is the world we are moving into.

Obama Urges Netroots Nation To 'Consider What We've Accomplished,' 'Keep Up The Fight' In Surprise Appearance (VIDEO)

Obama Urges Netroots Nation To 'Consider What We've Accomplished,' 'Keep Up The Fight' In Surprise Appearance (VIDEO)

Here's Obama saying the same old shit - literally - to the very audience which doesn't want to hear the same old shit - "change is hard," "keep up the fight". He doesn't seem able to express himself beyond cliche to an audience whose sophistication is way beyond his. And he has to use a clip of Maddow praising his accomplishments, as if Maddow is going to change any minds.

He remains politically pathetic.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Daily Kos :: Diaries

Daily Kos :: Diaries:

"And political opinionating itself is still unyieldingly about credentialism over accuracy: as a nation we have proven over and over again that merely being wrong, and I mean gobsmackingly, world-shatteringly, child-killingly economy-busting mantle-cracking wrong, is of no consequence whatsoever. I repeat: of no consequence whatsoever. There is nothing a pundit can do to lose credibility, because that credibility was never based on intelligence or accuracy or common sense to begin with."

Daily Kos :: Diaries

Daily Kos :: Diaries:

"Oh, for that simple world of yesteryear in which the craziest damn nutcase in politics was only Ann Coulter. Now we've got people nuttier than that in our Congress. Now that level of batshit crazery is the minimum bound for being elected in a Republican primary."

Read it all. This man is the voice of outrage on the left.

Daily Kos :: Diaries

Daily Kos :: Diaries:

"No matter how long or how deep our economic disaster, there will be no jobs programs. There will be no push to invest in a new American future, whether it be new infrastructure, or new energy, or new manufacturing. There will be little or no help to state governments so strapped for cash that even some of the most basic services are being shuttered. We could have saved a literal fortune by crafting genuinely competent healthcare legislation: thanks to the most loyal set of whores an industry could possibly ask to hire, such an action was off the table from the very beginning. We still could institute a truly miniscule transaction tax in order to put the brakes on the worst of market-crashing speculation (and gain a few bucks back in return for saving the banker's hides at our nation's expense), but it seems you might as well propose putting a colony of talking dogs on the moon, for all the good it will do.
If our recession worsens, there is no recourse, for the Senate will not do it."

NO HONOR

For me, Sherrod is Obama's Watergate. That quintessential event which tells us who he is. The seemingly little thing which brings him down

Obama has no honor. I know, I know, nobody does anymore. But his representation that he did was the only reason I voted for him. His lies about who he is are more significant than Bush's about WMD, because they cover more ground and the resulting damage is so much greater.

Friday, July 23, 2010

2010 Campaign: How Are The Self-Funders Doing?

2010 Campaign: How Are The Self-Funders Doing?:

"Call it the Great Recession paradox. Even as voters express outrage at the insider culture of big bailouts and bonuses, their search for political saviors has led them to this: a growing crowd of �ber-rich candidates, comfortable in boardrooms and country clubs, spending a fortune to remake themselves into populist insurgents."

Pay Czar Criticizes 17 Bailed-Out Banks For Huge Pay Packages -- But Won't Go After Money Already Paid

Pay Czar Criticizes 17 Bailed-Out Banks For Huge Pay Packages -- But Won't Go After Money Already Paid

Disheartened yet? If not, what will it take? For my money, this is the most depressing period in American history. Absolutely everything is askew. There is nothing you can point to and say "hey, that's terrific!" as opposed to thousand of things that make you want to puke.

Alvin Greene Responds To Release Of Military Records: 'Ridiculous...They Only Promote The Terrorists And The Communists'

Alvin Greene Responds To Release Of Military Records: 'Ridiculous...They Only Promote The Terrorists And The Communists':

"Enigmatic South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Alvin Greene responded Thursday to an Associated Press report on the former airman's lacluster Air Force record, which showed that he was repeatedly passed over for promotion due to a general sentiment that he had difficulty completing his duties.

'Those folks are ridiculous and yes and they only promote the terrorists and the communists and I haven't gotten a promotion since I graduated from college and that's just what I'm saying,' Greene told the South Carolina Post and Courier. 'This is why we need to have things done differently. This is why we need to overhaul the military. We need get rid of these folks.'"

This guy is actually certifiable. But nothing new about that.

Robert Rizzo, Bell's 800k Man, Resigns From Post

Robert Rizzo, Bell's 800k Man, Resigns From Post

My God, these crooks are just everywhere these days!

Joseph A. Palermo: Robert Gibbs Blew it With the Shirley Sherrod Saga

Joseph A. Palermo: Robert Gibbs Blew it With the Shirley Sherrod Saga:

"White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs showed poor press management skills in handling the whole Shirley Sherrod saga. He allowed the media frame to shift quickly to the missteps of the administration rather than emphasizing the underhanded, contrived, and racist actions of Andrew Breitbart and his fellow travelers at Fox News.

Instead of explaining to the press why decent people in this country should be shocked and outraged at Mr. Breitbart's smear tactics that dragged the good name and reputation of an excellent public servant through the mud, Gibbs offered a mealy-mouthed 'apology' on behalf of the White House. The apology then became the story, not Breitbart."

The whole administration is mealy-mouthed.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Obama Blames Media For His Administration's Firing Of Shirley Sherrod

Obama Blames Media For His Administration's Firing Of Shirley Sherrod:

"'I've told my team and I told my agencies that we have to make sure that we're focusing on doing the right thing instead of what looks to be politically necessary at that very moment. We have to take our time and, and think these issues through,' Obama said.

'If there's a lesson to be drawn from this episode,' the President continued, it's to avoid 'jumping to conclusions and pointing fingers at each other.'"

As to the first paragraph, he's teaching his agencies this NOW? He's been claiming to think issues through since he took office. He sure didn't this time, though. Is there a disconnect between what he says and what he does? Is he lying?

As to the second paragraph: it's simple to avoid jumping to conclusions. Just don't jump to conclusions. Nobody is forcing you to jump to conclusions (although in this interview Obama implied exactly that by blaming the media culture for the administration's response.)

But once you've done the investigation and the research, why not point fingers, if there is someone to be pointed at? See, here is what's wrong with Obama. He believes that the wise requirement to know what you're talking about implies the corollary of never fixing blame. These two concepts are entirely divorced from each other.

Here's how this works: somebody kills an old lady in her bed. Without doing any investigation, Police Chief Obama identifies the killer. When it turns out that the killer was somebody else, Obama justifies his mistake by saying the media was on his case and he had to name somebody quick. Now knowing who the killer is, Obama refuses to prosecute because one shouldn't point fingers.

WHAT'S A MENSCH

The media is insisting on presenting Sherrod as a race issue. It's not. Race is just the setting, and maybe the motivation.

But Sherrod is an issue of lies and congenital liars and how the media deals with them - and how politicians deal with them. (Since the media doesn't want to have to face this question, it insists on making it a question of race, as to which they can say "oh, hell, it's complicated stuff." There's nothing complicated about the right way to deal with lies and liars.)

To me, what this incident has established is the complete worthlessness of just about everyone in or around Washington, particularly including the president. You listen to Sherrod and it becomes clear what is a mensch and what is not. In this context, the public demand for outsiders becomes completely understandable. The problem with that, of course, is that the outsiders who want in are already as bad as or worse than Washingtonians. We are not getting a flood of candidates whose motivation is to serve the public interest honorably.

I'm almost at the point of recommending a new Noah's flood focused on Washington. How many more years of selfish, childish, willingly mendacious government and media coverage by people who are comfortable with crooks and deceit can we take?

EGO

Sherrod said she wanted to tell Obama a few things he didn't know. In the seven minutes of phone time she got, she barely had a chance to get a word in. Obama said her situation reminded him of things he'd written in his books. It always bothered me that his books were all about him.

It's all about him.

WHAT HAS HE ACTUALLY DONE?

Obama doesn't want to spend time countering Republican lies and smears. He seems to believe they won't stick to him, or, worst case, they'll cost him a second term. But he believes his first term accomplishments will ensure his place in history.

The thing is, though, that it's not all about him. It's about us.

We elected him to protect our democracy from those smears. If we'd known he wasn't going to do that, we wouldn't have elected him. Other people could have pulled off what he counts as his accomplishments - which are really the accomplishments of Congress, who did all the work. At this point, we wonder exactly what he's worth to us, and we're not finding much. If anything. It would be fair to say that Obama is not getting bounces from legislation because people understand HE DID NEXT TO NOTHING TO GET THEM PASSED OTHER THAN WATERING MOST OF THE MERIT OUT OF THEM.

I wonder how he's going to stir up the vote next time.

Cenk Uygur: Why Does Fox News Have More Power Than Any Progressive in the Country?

Cenk Uygur: Why Does Fox News Have More Power Than Any Progressive in the Country?:

"As we can all see now, when Fox says jump, the Obama administration asks how high? (Then jumps one inch less and considers it a progressive victory). Is there anyone Obama won't fire or throw under the bus if Fox asks him to? What if they ask Obama to fire himself? Would he do it? Or would he just fire Biden and say he met them halfway?

If the firing of Shirley Sherrod was the first time they had done this, then all of the criticism they have received might be a bit much. But as we have learned from this incident (which the rest of us already knew, with the apparent exception of Fox News and Andrew Breitbart), context matters. We've seen the rest of the tape on the Obama administration and it isn't pretty."

Shirley Sherrod Says She'd Love To Talk Race With President Obama

Shirley Sherrod Says She'd Love To Talk Race With President Obama:

"Sherrod also reiterated she isn't certain she'll return to the Agriculture Department, even though the Obama administration acknowledged she was done a disservice by being forced out, invited out, and then rendered cross-government apologies.

Obama said nothing publicly about the developments while administration officials tried to both show his concern and to distance him from the original ouster.

Sherrod said of Obama: 'I'd like to help him see some of the things that he could do in the future.'

'I really regret what they did. But as I said before, he's my president,' Sherrod said. 'When you get it down to where the rubber meets the road, I think you need to understand a little more what life is like. I'd love to talk to him, though, or people in his administration ... to help them understand.'"

What an utter disgrace.

Sherrod says she doesn't know if she'll accept the job offer from the USDA. Why should she? Who wants to work with people like that?

The undertone of her comments is that Obama is perhaps too stupid to be president. Vilsack said there was no White House involvement in his decision. Is there anyone in the world who believes that? And even if there wasn't, this administration committed a horrendous act of cowardice, and the lack of comment from Obama and the attempts to shield him from the consequences are clear proof that he is a coward and unfit for his office. Some have said if he doesn't appoint Elizabeth Warren as consumer credit chief that will be the final straw in their disenchantment with him. To me, this Sherrod affair is the final straw. And who gets to suffer because of his cowardice? We do. We pay the price of his failure to stand up to the Republican war on Democrats. At the end of his (hopefully) single term, I hope to find him selling hot dogs from a stand somewhere in Chicago - because anything better honors a man who deserves no honor.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Michelle Obama National Design Awards: FLOTUS Starstruck By Tim Gunn (VIDEO)

Michelle Obama National Design Awards: FLOTUS Starstruck By Tim Gunn (VIDEO)

Considering the implosion of the Obama administration, it fascinates me that there is still an audience for this kind of fluff. But then the supermarket tabloids just roll along, don't they, no matter what the reality is.

White House Apologizes To Shirley Sherrod

White House Apologizes To Shirley Sherrod:

"Gibbs relayed that Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had been trying to speak to Sherrod on the phone. And later in the day, the Secretary held a press conference of his own during which he relayed that he had, indeed, talked to Sherrod, offered to hire her back, and apologized profusely for the episode.

'I did not think before I acted and for that this poor woman has gone through a very hard time,' he said. 'There will be changes, one thing there needs to be a more deliberative process, obviously, and I need to do a better job reaching out to get input before a decision of this magnitude is made.'

'This is a good woman,' he added. 'She's been put through hell. She was put through hell and I could have done and should have done a better job.'"

This administration has been in power well over a year. They are, reputedly, adults. And they still apologize for mistakes any rational adult could not possibly make.

I will be relieved when we are rid of these nincompoops.

The Conservative Pseudojournalist Method | The New Republic


The Conservative Pseudojournalist Method | The New Republic:

"No steadfast journalism rule is unbendable when it comes to justifying and protecting the racket that is modern journalism, specifically, political journalism in the United States today. The ends justify the means for the Democrat Media Complex. They lie when they claim to be objective. They lie when they claim to be unbiased, because these so called “truth seekers” are guilty of engaging in open political warfare. ...
most media organizations are either complicit by participation in the treachery that is Journolist, or are guilty of sitting back and watching Alinsky warfare being waged against all that challenged the progressive orthodoxy. The scandal predictably involves journalists posing as professors posing as experts. But dressed down they are nothing but street thugs."

As I've said many times before, conservatives helpfully define themselves for the rest of us by accusing their enemies of precisely what they are guilty of. But I still wonder what their mental process is: are they doing this on purpose, or do they not see what they say for what it is? Is there a mental illness involved? Why have these questions not been answered by people with the skill and information to do so? And how did Andrew Breitbart wind up in the position of being able to define the conservative agenda?

David A. Love: Dysfunctional Politics Begets Suicidal Policies

David A. Love: Dysfunctional Politics Begets Suicidal Policies:

"The Obama administration, having learned nothing from the lessons of history, is drinking the Hooverade as well, saying there is 'no great appetite' for aid to the states.

Now that's just dumb. Stressing deficits over job creation is suicidal in a broke economy. This strategy speaks to an administration that, however brilliant and accomplished, expends too much energy appeasing its adversaries and protecting those of its advisors who rate in the mediocre-to-incompetent range, even as it throws good people under the bus amidst right-wing smear campaigns."

Terrance Heath: Dear Mr. President: Time to Man Up

Terrance Heath: Dear Mr. President: Time to Man Up:

"With all due respect, it's time to man up. It is time, way past time for you to grow into the job you were elected to do, and promised to do. It is time to stand up and be the man we hoped we elected. It is time to justify that hope, and the trust that was placed in you. It is time to pick up the mantle of history that has been entrusted to you and prove yourself worthy of carrying it forward.

Too much is at stake now. Too many people are beginning to think their faith in you was misplaced. What's worse is you are proving them right."

TRULY SICK


The AP reports that, after the NAACP apologized for condemning Sherrod, Obama still stands by her firing.

If this is true, I desperately need to understand what is wrong with that man. Because this is truly sick.

DRIVEL


Hoda, Kathy Lee and a guest talk about removing hair from the bikini region. Someone tweets about it. The Today show reports the tweet. And I write this post.

That's today's media: multi-layered drivel. Giving you four things to choose from as the excuse for your devoting even a second of your time to this crap.

COWARDS


Here's a new word to describe the Obama administration: cowards.

Their history has been to fight for nothing until someone else - usually Congress - has done the work to ensure that the administration can't lose on an issue. That's cowardly enough. But when someone black in the administration is accused of racism by Fox News, this administration bows down and trashes that person without even bothering to investigate the truth of what Fox has reported. That's real cowardice, of the disgusting variety.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

TACTICAL PERFECTION


I have finally figured it out. The senators from Maine are brilliant Republican tactical toys.

Let's say there's a piece of legislation - like unemployment benefits extension - which Republicans want to oppose to keep their base happy. On the other hand, if they filibuster the bill and it goes down in a way that all blame can be placed on them, they risk alienating a lot of independents.

Not a problem. The Mainers get the Dems over the filibuster hump. Whether the bill passes or not, at that point whatever happens is not the Republicans' fault. If it passes and something goes wrong with it, Republicans have a happy base and a solid "I told you so."

Interior Secretaries Under Bush And Obama Exposed By House Panel For Lax Oversight Of Oil Drilling

Interior Secretaries Under Bush And Obama Exposed By House Panel For Lax Oversight Of Oil Drilling:

"A tough new memo from a House committee probing the Gulf oil spill exposes the Interior Department under Presidents Bush and Obama for its failure to properly oversee offshore oil drilling operations. The three most recent Interior Secretaries -- Gale Norton (2002-2006), Dirk Kempthorne (2006-2009), and Ken Salazar (2009-present) -- all come in for withering criticism and are due to testify at congressional hearing on Tuesday, where they are sure to be asked tough questions about their tenure."

Monday, July 19, 2010

John R. Talbott: The Real Reason Geithner Is Afraid of Elizabeth Warren


John R. Talbott: The Real Reason Geithner Is Afraid of Elizabeth Warren:

"For Geithner's strategy to work, the banks have to find increasing sources of profitability in their business segments to balance out their annual loan loss recognition from their existing bad loans in an environment in which they continue to recognize new losses in prime residential mortgages, commercial real estate lending, sovereign debt investments, bridge loans to private equity groups, leverage buyout lending and credit card defaults.

The banks have made no secret as to where they will find this increase in cash flow. They intend to soak their small retail customers, their consumer and small business borrowers, their credit card holders and their small depositors with increased costs and fees and are continuing many of the bad mortgage practices that led to the crisis (ARM's, option pay deals, zero down payments, second mortgages, teaser rates, etc)."

HOPELESSLY SHALLOW


Why don't women rise up and demand that Ellen Degeneris be taken off the air? If you learned everything you knew about women from that show, you would have to conclude that women are hopelessly shallow morons. The truth is I have never personally seen a woman behave the way they do on that show, but I have to assume that in suburban living rooms across the country women are jumping up and down and screaming at each other about things that only an idiot could care about. Are you one of them? If so, please tell me why.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Obama’s Risky Business | The New York Review of Books

Obama’s Risky Business | The New York Review of Books:

"There are loud cries that Obama has been anti-business. But one reason the reform package is rather weak is that Obama and his team refused to blame Wall Street bankers—or the irresponsible regulatory record of the Clinton and Bush administrations—for the catastrophe until much later in the process. “Playing nice” seems to be part of Obama’s plan, but it is not working. He did not rally the people to his side to fight the vested interests. In fact, the people rallied him. Only when popular anger towards bankers rose did Obama adopt the “Volcker rule,” for example, which led to the 3 percent limitation on proprietary trading and hedge fund ownership by banks."

WHERE DID THE CHRISTIANS GO?

I have not seen it noted in the press that as the Tea Party focuses on taxes, the Christian right has become very quiet. Why is that?

It is not a problem that the prevailing Tea Party mentality is decisively unChristian, because so have been the mentalities of the Christian right. I think it's likely that these Christians agree with the Tea Party to the point of having adopted anti-tax rhetoric as Christian doctrine. Most of them have not yet taken that position publicly, but it dovetails quite nicely with the prosperity gospel (see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology and http://www.rickross.com/reference/tv_preachers/tv_preachers4.html) At the moment, it would appear that money trumps abortion, but if religion teaches that the accumulation of wealth is Godly, those who argue against the separation of church and state are now focused on the plan that when the church rules America, taxes will disappear (to some extent replaced by tithes.)

It's always there, whether above or just under the surface.

Inspector General Criticizes Treasury's Role In GM, Chryslsr Dealer Closures

Inspector General Criticizes Treasury's Role In GM, Chryslsr Dealer Closures:

"'At a time when the country was experiencing the worst economic downturn in generations and the government was asking its taxpayers to support a $787 billion stimulus package designed primarily to preserve jobs, Treasury made a series of decisions that may have substantially contributed to the accelerated shuttering of thousands of small businesses and thereby potentially adding tens of thousands of workers to the already lengthy unemployment rolls -- all based on a theory and without sufficient consideration of the decisions' broader economic impact,' the report states."

This should not be difficult to understand. To Treasury, the decision to save money by cutting a dealership is the same as the decision to save money by eliminating free Cokes dealers used to give to customers. Cokes do not protest. They don't even care. People can be cut as easily as Cokes - in that mentality, they do not ever get to the point of understanding that if you unemploy a human being you deepen a recession because it never occurs to them that those being cut are human beings, or that they have any life outside of their balance sheet categorization as one more bean.

This is what the financial sector thinks. It explains stupid decisions. It is also, it appears, what a majority of Americans may think - which explains even more stupid decision.s

Saturday, July 17, 2010

SOULLESS

The fact that business dominates politics is not the result of political maneuvering but of the current American culture. Stop to think about it.

The last time an anti-business attitude had any serious affect on politics was in the 60s, and there were a number of reasons for it. The intellectual quarters, for the most part, were freed by the efforts of their parents to take positions which did not have anything to do with how much money they were going to make. A lot of that intellect focused on art, broadly and freely defined as how one lived one's life; and on how to make the lives of others better, assuming no restrictions on the availability of cash to do it. Additionally, there were many people whose lives only tangentially intersected with business. And there were institutions - like unions - which fostered anti-business politics. Academics thought themselves engaged in pure thought, not earning per se. Their salaries were a perk. Their ideas were everything.

We do not live in that America anymore.

1) People recognize that in the past 30 years ideology has dictated that in order to survive you must be ENORMOUSLY SUCCESSFUL. Otherwise, due to Republican policies, you don't get any participation in economic recovery.

2) Except for inventive entrepreneurship (which a very limited number of people can play at) there are very, very few ways to make a living which don't involve business - in fact, that don't involve corporations. Manufacturing is gone. The stock market is not a dependable source of income, nor are standard fixed investments like CDs paying 1-2%. There are no unions to help you out. Academia is nothing but a business. Little if anything remains of the 60s concept that you needed to study humanities in order to be "well rounded", because you don't need to be well rounded anymore, because hardly anyone is.

3) So most Americans are in some sort of business, and see "business" as a single entity. They don't understand that what's good for big business may not be good for small business. They want all business to succeed.

4) The only way in which quality of life is judged is material - he who dies with the most toys wins. For most people the concept of a "worthwhile" life has shrunk until they think of it only in terms of their immediate families or their immediate churches, not any larger social group.

5) Art is only a commodity. Being an artist is not a meaningful way to spend a life unless you can make a lot of money at it - because your art most certainly is having no impact on the way anyone else lives (unless you're Oprah, and even she justifies the self-improvement she preaches by what it accomplishes in one's own life, not what it accomplishes for the culture or the civilization.)

I see nothing on the horizon to suggest that any of this will change. So our lives will continue to be dominated by business - that is to say, soulless, as we put it 40 years ago.

Op-Ed Columnist - Dog Days of Obama - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist - Dog Days of Obama - NYTimes.com:

"A campaign will require these candidates to air out their hollowness in full view, explaining why they see a phantom in every corner, a plot behind every policy, doom along every horizon. They will have to take positions instead of just give grief. They will have to develop a plan instead of simply picking apart Obama’s. And they will have to point out the pox on their opponents, which will be great to watch."

Half of this op ed piece points out that no matter what Obama does, his approval goes down - often in counterintuitive ways, as if people generically like what Obama did but don't like the way he did it, or as if they really have not given any thought to the whole situation.

And the second half implies that once Republicans declare for president and have to detail their own positions, Obama can sit back and watch them self destruct.

This "reasoning" has been presented over in over in piece after piece. But I'd like to know what in the results observed in the first half justifies the prediction in the second half. The answer being: absolutely nothing.

Assuming the public remains in the mindset which has dragged Obama down, the only rational assumption is that they will stay in that mindset and put someone up who speaks in their terms. They don't really care what Republican political positions are any more than they care about Snooki's, mostly because they can't understand them, or the Democrats either. They don't know what the right thing to do is, and assume (probably correctly) that politicians don't know any better than they. They no longer believe Obama when he tells them things are getting better. But they will absolutely believe anyone else who tells them that he or she can make things better, even if he or she gives them no idea whatsoever how he or she will do it. They're going to want a tough guy, a faux Roosevelt - and frankly Palin is the only person in either party who has created herself in that image.

They will not vote to put a Republican in office. They will vote to put in office, out of the limited pool of people offered to them, the person they most respect - whatever that means. Obama is wrong. 2010 will not be a choice election in the sense of a choice of approaches or policies. They will not elect policy makers. They will elect good politicians. That opens the door for every candidate who says the right thing to enough of the right people and keeps the wrong thing to the wrong people to a minimum. The only question is: what is "the right thing" these days in any political district, and that will be answered in November.

OH YEAH YAWN WE COULD LOSE

Pelosi is mad at Gibbs because he said Dems could lose the House? Wrong. She's mad because he was so matter of fact about it, as if he was prepared to accept the result. But that's Gibbs all over - passive to a fault. If I was given the choice of who Obama would boot - Geithner or Gibbs - I'm not sure which way I'd go.



Lincoln Mitchell: For Obama, Being Right Is No Longer Enough

Lincoln Mitchell: For Obama, Being Right Is No Longer Enough:

"The Obama administration needs to develop a new narrative, one that draws attention to their successes, highlights the energy and focus they bring to their work and, yes, shows the president being a little more impassioned about the problems the country faces, but continues to keep expectations low. If, however, the administration continues to rely on the narrative that they are doing their best after coming to office in a very difficult time they would be making a mistake. This narrative is essentially true but it is no longer of interest to most Americans who are more interested in results than explanations, even when those explanations are sound, or positions, even when those positions are the right ones."

I am truly sick of pundits telling us what Obama "needs" to do. By now, who he is and what he intends to do and not to do are eminently clear. As is the fact that he is probably the worst presidential politician since Bush 41. Not only is he not truly interested in anyone's problems but his, but he can't even figure out how to look genuinely interested. Only a political incompetent could turn even his limited progressive policy victories into liabilities.

You can't fix him. Just tell me how we get rid of him.

Deficits of Mass Destruction | The Nation


Deficits of Mass Destruction | The Nation:

"And yet: the drumbeat of deficit hysterics thumping in self-righteous panic grows louder by the day. Judging by its schedule and online video, this year's Aspen Ideas Festival was an open-air orgy of anti-deficit moaning. The festival is a good window into elite preoccupations, and that its opening forum featured ominous warnings of future bankruptcy from Niall Ferguson, Mort Zuckerman and David Gergen does not bode well. Nor does the fact that there was a panel called 'America's Looming Fiscal Emergency: How to Balance the Books.' This attitude isn't confined to pundits. The heads of Obama's fiscal commission have called projected deficits a 'cancer.'"

Somehow I had gotten the hysterically ignorant idea that the Aspen Ideas Festival was an intellectual Woodstock, a source for fresh thinking from outside the box, an enlightened Burning Man. Silly me. It's a closed system for bolstering establishment conceptions, and I don't for the life of me understand why they bother with it, since they have endless outlets for their pronunciamentos and nobody who might be slightly interested in what they have to say is fooled by the summer camp atmosphere which hides a see and be seen venue for self-congratulation.