Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Antisemitic double standards in a nutshell

Out of the three reporters from the Jersualem Post I could find willing to use the phrase "Arab lobby" only Alan Dershowitz is cocky enough to wag his finger at someone for doing something he did only 2 years ago.

Somehow this guy is still around. He wrote this about Arab foreign influence (evidently he had in mind only the Saudi lobby) in the US:

The methodology employed by the Arab lobby is thus totally inconsistent with democratic governance, because it does not reflect the will of the people but rather the corruption of the elite, while the Israeli lobby seems to operate within the parameters of democratic processes.

Then in 2012:

Hagel’s appointment would send another disturbing message to the bigots of Tehran, who believe that the only people calling for military action against Iran are “the Jews.” Hagel speaks their language. He is the only mainstream American politician to talk openly about how “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people.” Others refer to the “Israel lobby,” which includes Jews, Christians, and others. They understand that not all supporters of Israel are Jewish, and that not all Jews are part of the Israel lobby. But Hagel apparently sees things in terms of Jewish interests versus American interests.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Israel's Latest Bombing Is Not Defensible

12/4/2012: Yesterday the comment went through. The original article can be found here.

This is an unpublished comment from an article with minor spelling and grammar corrections.

The overwhelming fact remains the rockets were the same pretext for attacking Gaza that Israel used in 2008 (Reuters 05-01-2009 via Wikipedia). It becomes less believable and less credible in its repetition, not more.

So there is a gap between action and speech. It indeed fits the idea of a "release valve" -- every friend of a Zionist on Facebook is well aware of the constant updates by the IDF of rockets into Israel. Less well known is the nationwide exercise the Israeli government undertook in 2009 to make the threat of war "feel real." (Jun 2009 Al Jazeera). To get a sense of how strong this need is, created and encouraged by both sides, there is even outrage against Netanyahu for imposing a ceasefire.

The question remains how to judge Israel's actions once the pretext falls apart. One thing I agree with leftists on is terrorism is not defensible. The CRIF, a French Zionist organization of Jewish groups, and Fox News, pointed to several causes for the war. Benjamin Netanyhu is facing an election (CRIF noted many more). He can perhaps sacrifice the 4% of Israelis who question the war (Haaretz November 2012), while winning over the majority of Israelis who want to see the government do more to stop the violence (Brookings 2011). The picture of two people fighting each for a defensible cause starts to fall down with consideration of these facts.

The CRIF -- in my opinion -- had a good reason to involve their broken Western sensibilities in the conflict. French Jews  report being attacked increasingly as the Israel-Palestine conflict heats up. Further, it's hard to miss the parallel between French Jews and Israel on the one hand, and Gazans and Iran on the other.

The question remains as to what violence resolves when it's practiced under the right pretext. There are lessons that Jews can bring to the table. A Reform Rabbi denied America a biblical pretext for its most cruel and violent adventure, slavery. Man is created free, he noted, not in a state of violence or in an egotistical power trip. This seems to hold true even under the whip.
 When Frederick Douglass fought his master, he probably had a good reason. But even then, it wasn't necessary for his freedom, he noted. That came from his previous master who, after realizing he was learning to read, became furious. By reacting with outrage and violence, his master had proven to him he was taking the first step to his freedom. Jews then can argue to the Palestinians that it is their writers and artists, and extending the lesson to the Civil Rights movements, their successful petition to the UN, where they are making progress. It becomes harder to do this when their media apparatus is bombed. (LA Times Nov 18)

With Cole's perspective in mind, one fact should increase the critical attitude one takes to character reforming (the "adventurer" character in Max Weber's "Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism").The Weberian philosophy looked at in this fashion points to an economical, not a moral or ideological problem. In short, it's about having control over land. And it's confirmed in the founding records. Israel's first immigrants were encouraged to create a new "character" and as noted above, this is enforced with mass fear-inducing spectacles on both sides.

You want to educate and that's all I can applaud. Imposing character reformation is not.

Monday, November 26, 2012

State Dept's Shifting Standards For Rights

In response to political concessions that might not be very effective granted after a 2011 uprising against a corrupt Moroccan king, US State representative Victoria Nuland said:
As you know, we believe that all people have the right to free assembly and to
express themselves, but we’re encouraged by the proposals that were put forth by the King on June 17th to transform Morocco’s democratic development through constitutional, judicial, and political reforms, and we’re watching closely.
Great, we have all the ingredients of a successful human rights movement! I'm sure they will show up in a similar situation, like say Honduras, where they have corrupt unaccountable leaders and terror. But in response to the unsolved killing of a human rights worker reportedly killed before he could testify in Washington, the US State department representative Victoria Nuland said:

Mr. Trejo Cabrera worked tirelessly to resolve the tragic and complex land conflict in Honduras’s Bajo Aguan, relying on legal challenges and negotiations in a region where disputes are too often settled through violence. We urge all parties to continue his efforts to bring peace to the Bajo Aguan.
We're now down from government reforms to just government petition. What about Palestine, where they don't even have much of a state to reform? In response to the upcoming Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN, Nuland said this:
"We continue to make clear that we believe that the only realistic path for the Palestinians to achieve statehood is through direct negotiations," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said last month.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Raising The Right Questions to Shut Down the Israel/Palestine Conflict


My last blog post argued terrorism is predictable. I listed three ways to prevent it: organizing, rapport, and petitioning. This blog will look at Brown vs. Board of Education as a model for a successful movement. For some balance, I'll include the Indian Independence movement and Occupy Wall St. This doesn't mean I'm answering all questions about civil rights, national independence, and stopping violence, but it's a start. It should never be assumed that the information on Wikipedia is a fair sample of the things but if it's included it's generally no more or less correct than a typical encyclopedia.

Organizing, rapport and petitioning in Brown vs. Board of Education

The Civil Rights movement presents several pieces of evidence in support. The story I learned was the government came to its senses and had to enforce desegregation with military might. But  according to a source on Wikipedia

Herbert Brownell Jr.: Instrumental in convincing Eisenhower to give up his Army service and run for president, Brownell was rewarded when Eisenhower appointed him as attorney general in 1953. He served until 1957, helping make the case for Brown vs. Board. According to biographer John P. Burke, Brownell "tenaciously supported and enforced" the Brown decision despite personal attacks by opponents on his integrity. He died in May 1996 at 91.
The main politician involved was only there because he left the army. The Indian independence movement further shared this rapport-building.Ex-patriots were reportedly very good at getting their fellow nationals to stop fighting for the British. This carries more weight than it first seems.

One thing to highlight in the Indian movement though is, although mass education and organizing were there from the start, Wikipedia articles again and again document divisions within the movement -- radicals and moderates could not agree, and Muslims were left out. Gandhi himself was not a part of the movement at first, and much of his early writings do not show respect for the humanity of Africans. I think this could go a long way to explain the current corruption in India.

Back to the US Civil Rights, petitioning has further evidence here:

But Eisenhower did not prevent the action, saying in a letter to a longtime friend there "must be respect for the Constitution -- which means the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution -- or we shall have chaos."

Eisenhower wanted to protect the ideal of the Constitution. He was pushed, but he was pushed into the right place.

And finally organizing is obvious from the sub-headline itself: "Thirteen parents representing 20 children signed up as Topeka plaintiffs."

Unfortunately for Israel/Palestine, it breaks down along nationalities, with more than one government there to petition, more than one set of religious values to appeal to. Occupy Wall Street had a similar problem, but an impressive and documented effect on lowering crime rates where the protests occur. The lessons should be clear. Movements that care about the least fortunate, and that press their claims through courts will be effective. 

After considering my experiences and comparing them to three historical cases, I arrived at these questions to ask in regards to Israel/Palestine:

What are the organizations that exist, and how inclusive are they?
What choices does a soldier have besides joining an army?
If someone brings a court case, who will enforce it?
Are the potentially criminal being fed and given a voice?
What are the enjoyable things for them to do in a protest?

What I learned about these from my own life

When I showed up to an Occupy demonstration, the protest was fun and the people were very educated and straight-forward. We were fed, we sang, and made it in the paper. This inclusiveness is the strength of the movement. The focus on economics is a strength as well. It's not clear to me if there were fun ways of standing up to racism in the 1950's, if there is an equivalent yet to the desegregation law for example, or what that would even look like. But the positive lessons from the Civil Rights movement should be easier to see in effect-- to gather a dozen or so people together and press for action.

Organizing brings to mind power. There is a tendency to see oneself only as doing good. Bullies get jealous of it in others, and bullies deserve to be stood up to.  Doing this is a demonstration not just to the bully, but hopefully to others as well. A charity worker once told me that volunteering is something you do out of kindness, not status. It was hurtful to hear that, because I wanted the status that came from it, but I was wrong to demand that. That's not a helpful tendency to have. She stood up to me for representing the lust for status and abusing a kind institution for my own protection. 

Before that I once told someone the US crushes liberty and used a very ugly metaphor that I knew would make the person I was talking with insecure. Someone pointed out to me this was abusive in a very matter of fact way. He didn't yell it, in fact we were on Internet Relay Chat.

Rapport comes in with clear communication. On the one hand, I find rapport sometimes too difficult to establish. Someone I once considered a friend, although he was very right-wing, once argued that homosexuality was a social disease. I found it too much to bear respecting him as a friend. On the other hand, I still get along with my ex-girlfriend because I applied psychology to our misunderstandings. Each person has a way of thinking, either in labels or contrasts, emotions and so on. Once you establish this, and can adjust what you say, every idea you have will be understood. It's not about changing opinion at all, just finding a way to open up ways to talk.

Finally there is petitioning. I know about this from the Indian independence movement. Reportedly, the ex-patriots were able to get Indian nationals who were working for the British to their side. What comes to mind with my life is when I had to discuss evolution with a friend. I asked him why there were dinosaur bones. I don't think that was all that it took, but it was the tipping point. What he really wanted was to understand human nature, because he started to apply evolution in his thoughts as he expressed them to me. I am the most wary of this strategy though, because he became disillusioned with religion shortly thereafter. I respect him for living out his life, and I think it's for the best that he was free from that doubt, but it's possible he was harboring a separate self, something he didn't understand fully, and it made him pursue more irresponsible things associated with that self -- not serious problems, just undeveloped wishes like a road trip and worshiping marijuana. I think it's important to ask people to anticipate those conflicts, so that the truth can be less shocking to the person.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Terrorism Is Not Random

As I write this highly civilized Israelis are flying over Gaza bombing various things and people, reportedly with the President's approval. Israel's attacking Gaza right now follows the usual pattern of violence and political insecurity lining up. Palestinians are at the UN this year asking for state recognition, Netanayahu's elections are coming up, and reports now are saying that a peace deal not only was on the table, but the Palestinian who was to be involved, was killed. This is significant for a reason.

I first developed an understanding of terrorism as I studied civil wars and assassinations in the US. But more recently, I found other people who discovered the same thing. They weren't bloggers either.

Some months back (my memory doesn't deal with timelines well) there was a massive rise in antiSemitic attacks across the world. My neighborhood was hit with graffiti and broken windows. It was worse in Europe, particularly France and UK.

Two explanations were possible. One was that this violence was chaotic and unpredictable -- a very scary option. The other is that terrorism is predictable. Every time there was political uncertainty between Israel and the Palestinians, serious violence broke out. I recall Glenn Beck disagreeing, citing the more scary version, but according to the people being hurt, who for their own interest have to figure out why, a different reason is available.

The first has one useful quality -- it easily parallels in justifications for more violence. If someone is choosing targets randomly, it's a greater more pressing threat, and deserves more effort, because more people will be hurt. That is to say some particular belief of a person is the problem, and they cannot be dealt with. This is already a predatory mindset, and I question whether it should be ever used on higher mammals, let alone people. If there was a reason why people seem to be acting stupid, I would put it on this. They have to be ignorant in order to justify violence.

There's another theory, and one does not have to rely on testimony from violent people. A study done by the group CRIF, the leading group of Jewish civil society in France, while cautioning that this evidence alone was not enough to confirm an exact parallel, confirmed that more reports of antiSemitic attacks occurred during the times of year when political insecurity in Israel/Palestine was greatest. It turns out there is quite possibly a reason for the terrorism, not a just cause at all, but an undeniable pattern.  It was traceable not just on a timeline but in the acts themselves. Graffiti in France named Israeli figures. This second theory is something I think any reasonable person can understand and apply. It suggests that terrorism, or violence against civilians in order to establish a political goal, can be predicted.

I think getting everyone on the same page about this is a good step. In my next essay I will outline strategies to stop political insecurity. These will include popular organizing, establishing rapport with people who work for powerful interests, and demanding accountability.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why Is Obama Vetoing CISPA?

There's a bill that everyone hates called CISPA that Obama is supposedly going to veto, because he just really believes in "privacy, confidentiality and civil liberties safeguards."

There's an interesting precedent in history, when Harry Truman vetoed what is called the Internal Security Bill. It let the government target communists. Here were his stated reasons:

1. It would aid potential enemies by requiring the publication of a complete list of vital defense plants, laboratories, and other installations.
2. It would require the Department of Justice and its Federal Bureau of Investigation to waste immense amounts of time and energy attempting to carry out its unworkable registration provisions.
3. It would deprive us of the great assistance of many aliens in intelligence matters.
4. It would antagonize friendly governments.
5. It would put the Government of the United States in the thought control business.
6. It would make it easier for subversive aliens to become naturalized as United States citizens.
7. It would give Government officials vast powers to harass all of our citizens in the exercise of their right of free speech.
What's funny is the government at that point was in the thought control business, and the great assistance of many aliens in intelligence matters is one of the most horrible scandals of the country's history. So there's really not much information in Obama's reasons, is there?

Friday, September 21, 2012


Was overjoyed to see that headline. But turns out, it's not what I thought: 

The number of U.S. forces there peaked at about 101,000 last year, and they have been coming out slowly over the past several months.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


In JK Rowling's Harry Potter series there is a demon called a Boggart. Its purpose is to frighten you. When it cannot solve the puzzle in a way to make everyone afraid, it compromises, and loses. It can only scare you by trying to appear as something it's not. To remove its power over you just give it too many goofy things to attempt to be all at once.

The most bullshit ever to come out of the left follows closely to this formula:
A. Someone made a point I'd rather not think about
B. Here's a lot of half-baked ideas that show how evil they are
C. Because I know where it's really at. I'm the authority on this subject.

When the Chicago teachers struck, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown was there on the scene to interview the teachers, he seemed like an ally -- but reading it closely he was keeping his distance.   (1)  On the 13th for example, he happily was bashing the right (for them?) for picking a fight and trying to anticipate the spin:

All week, this strike has been playing out on two different levels: locally, where most of the public has been on the teachers’ side, and nationally, where a strange cadre of union-bashing conservative cheerleaders, self-styled “education reformers” and newspaper editorial boards have been singing the mayor’s praises.
I have no idea what the latter group is going to say about the mayor’s final product. They may decide he’s won as well if he retains the right of school principals to pass over laid-off teachers when they fill job openings. I’m sure that’s what Emanuel will be saying.
Three days later he was starting his column "Some people just don’t know when to leave well enough alone." Yes, when push came to shove though, he lectured the teachers to stand down. Now as he hears Karen Lewis give a speech (that he doesn't cite a single time), he magnanimously declares "teachers need to be heard" while "traditional education" is destroyed or at least harmed. Of course, he can't help but add " those two extra days on the picket line after the deal was ripe did not help them."

Another instance of Boggart-dom is this whole controversy around a book: first popping up in Reddit with the phrase "Kindle censors Naomi Wolf's book's title" had me lulled into thinking the left was on her side. Then a Penny quote showed up on my Facebook. 

"‎"Writing about one's vagina has become shorthand for a style of feminist writing where the personal being political becomes an excuse for the political to collapse at every stage into the personal."

The formula is the same: the person offends in some way, and then the bullshit starts to flow. I checked out the article and was appalled. It was trashing Wolf in every way imaginable without a single citation. In fairness to the author, I looked up Laruie Penny's writing where she quotes approvingly of Wolf. . I was happy to post a comment there saying I recognized her betrayal of Wolf (I assumed her readers knew her work well enough, but I've added her introduction to Wolf below) (2).

Today I got the new edition of the Nation, and what did I see? Another review of Wolf's new book, filled with lots of rhetoric and very few quotes.

I just wish there were a more serious debate on what unions and Naomi Wolf actually are talking about, rather than what wins emotional points. The truth is bigger than what a "slam" piece will give you.

2.  "The formal rules of late capitalist pornography are the fulcrum of modern sexual affectlessness: an endless parade of disembodied cocks going into holes, a joyless, piston-pumping assembly line of industrial sexuality". Meat Market, Laurie Penny. p 21.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Class Privilege And The Mayor's Assault On Chicago's Labor

In my other analysis, I purposefully left out class since it is not one of the declared principles of the anti-union side. As I saw it, the principles were not being greedy, accepting responsibility of education, and making serious claims.

But I couldn't help but see the parallels. I was having a conversation with a former class mate of mine who is now a teacher. Paraphrasing, the standardized testing model Rahm is pushing an unfair standard because poorer students -- and especially the ones coming from broken homes -- do not test as well. I responded:

Douglas and Paine both argued that the society is responsible for preventing abuse of the workers and for education -- and Paine was put in jail for the arbitrary reason of being a British citizen because the French didn't like him. Douglass was not even allowed to learn to read and was put under a new master when he stopped fearing the current one. That's a part of their disciplining of you. They're not just being stupid. In the times of slave whippings, everyone knew the abuse was going on, it was quietly tolerated (not celebrated), so long as the master did not get a reputation for enjoying it. That's about as far as their logic takes them even today.

There are two ways to come at this, principle and fact. The fact is, they are horribly misinformed. And so was I. There is coverage of class and test scores and it explains that race and class play a role in test scores. Whether or not that can be reasonably accommodated in testing, or whether it does enough, is something I have to do research on. It's an uphill battle. Market journalists need money for advertising and for campaign donations and by and large that comes from the same private interests who lie to us constantly as well, to put it bluntly. It's not a conspiracy, it's a business.I'm ready to disagree with the teachers on this principle if testing can be reformed. Bloggers like this, filled with comforting snark, still manage to question the status-quo fairly even-handedly:

In the Texas public schools, all three major demographic groups have tended to outscore their peers from around the nation. It may be that funding cuts will harm this statewide performance. But in recent years, there have been large funding cuts to public schools in other states too. In our view, the failure to compare the size of the Texas cuts to those in other states was one of the obvious, groaning flaws with yesterday’s news report.
Bottom line: Conservatives do enjoy blaming the unions. Liberals like to mess with Texas. 
We live in highly tribal times. Such times may tend to lower comprehension among even the brightest players.

It's here where the liberal heartstrings must be muted. Obama, by not speaking out, is also considered a victim, which is effectively support for Emmanuel.  I don't even have to cite this, this is his own dogma, his spokesman said he knows he wants "both sides" to solve it. In reality, both Fox News and NPR support this delusion. Honestly, Obama just paraded Emmanuel down here, effectively trading him for another Daley, and I'm supposed to pretend he had no idea this was going to happen? The teachers aren't dragging him into this, it's the other way around. Or I suppose you can believe that "By walking out on Second City kids, the AFT’s Chicago affiliate has inadvertently handed Emanuel a new opportunity to take a different approach to reform. " Like the teachers are Jonah and are being rescued by the whale. Sure. That's more likely.

Sorry for the snark. Back to the facts.

This does not neccesarily mean become exactly like Texas in every way, for example while unions are not widespread, they have other (less dignifified in my opinion) forms of collective bargaining:

Texas public school teachers may vote to have a group represent them in discussions with school management in a process known as “elected consultation” — if the local school board allows it. Elective consultation is similar but not identical to collective bargaining, with the most crucial difference being that any agreement reached through elected consultation is not binding on the school board, says Rob D’Amico, spokesman for the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers, one of several public school employee organizations. Texas AFT represents 65,000 public school employees but not administrators.

 But it is definitely a powerful argument in defense of public schools. The claims of "reform" are not usually made without some mention of charters though. Here is a Daily Beast columnist arguing to "tie federal aid, and thus ultimately school revenues and teacher compensation, to measured results" which is "paying off in small but sustained improvements in test scores nationwide." The mayor also made this claim in today's paper. Timothy Stanley from CNN gave a long reasonable-style account of the facts, concluding with "austerity isn't just a tea party slogan. It's an inescapable necessity." It's clear why they like to scapegoat the unions. Both portray the management of government, the bigwigs, as the victims. "Stanley, an Oxford professor, is amazed that "the latest elected official to do battle with a public-sector union isn't the Republican governor of Wisconsin. It's Rahm Emanuel, the Democrat mayor of Chicago and President Obama's former chief of staff." the Beast's Frum's headline blares "Rahm Stands Up To Teacher Union Bullies."

It looks like the message is established but it's on shaky ground. Emmanuel is keeping the focus off of poverty for now, who knows when the media will ever start, and I really don't feel like preparing for how ridiculous they are willing to bend the facts to get out of that.

My personal belief undercuts all of this though, and that's the teachers have not stopped teaching. This is probably the most educational thing that has ever happened to this city in my lifetime.


A More Principled Attack On Emmanuel and Union-busters

By saying what follows I should rightly be seen as jumping to conclusions. This is because the principles of society are not for me to dictate. I will keep to widely accepted sources on living a principled life -- Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, and Frederick Douglass.

First, what should not be controversial. The teachers have undeniable facts on their side. Their ability to form a union was challenged (still got 90% with a 75% minimum), and the President did not come to their aid as promised (by the way, "both sides" kind of people in questions of freedom is who Martin Luther King explicitly told to go to hell). 75% of fired teachers were non-white and the public did not find solidarity then.

Market education is against American conception principled government
One only need to search for #CTU on Twitter or read the columnists from the New York Times. The only argument for charter schools is if they are in fact a better form of protection to the students. The research is not clear on this, but as far as it is about the parent's authority, the argument loses merit. From the "first principles of government" liberty to control someone is not a defense of liberty. Keeping with the definitions of rights set out by Thomas Paine, "their rights are under the sacred guardianship of the aged" who "have not and cannot have the right to make a law to set up and establish hereditary government, or, to speak more distinctly, an hereditary succession of governors." 

Following this, parents cannot impose control on students, they can only act as guardians. Charter schools and private education are brought up in arguments opposing the teachers as being too expensive, not as bad guardians (although it is usually concluded for good measure).This is the ground for a principled debate, not whether the teachers or the city is asking too much. It's clear who sees this part on their side based on who is spinning more. The solution is to stop the spinning, not to spin the other way. Chicago  has indeed been making steady improvements in literacy.

Both sides can make principled arguments with Adam Smith's capitalism:
Doing the same thing day in and day out is the easiest way to make a person stupid. One only needs to look at Joe Biden who has been a professional politician for about half of his life to see this is the case.

There are serious questions that follow: What part of teaching is routine? What encourages students to break out of routine? Again, there is room for a debate here. If teachers are a problem at all, it's because they do the same job their whole lives. But the solution to that is not to make them work year-round, with a curriculum mandated by standardized tests, with less recess, and so forth. They are not babysitters, they are educators. Is allowing for natural intelligence important at all to the mayor and the charter school advocates? It's obvious whose side I see this point favoring but it's the facts that support me, not my ideology.

Why a strike is only the start
The easiest and probably least controversial example of self-defense should not be taken out of context. The most significant form of resistance this country's history provides comes down squarely on the side of the laborer, an educated one. Frederick Douglass did not fight his master until he knew that his master feared him being educated in ideas he did not like. Before resistance, Douglass could only survive as a by holding back. If you worked too efficiently, that raised expectations, which were impossible to live up to. His master was used to whipping him and was not about to lose this habit.  That's what is at stake with education since it should hold for all contracts, if self-respect and self-defense are to mean anything at all. There is no leader who can free you if you cannot demand freedom at all costs.

Emmanuel should live up to his principles of defending Chicago like he thought he was doing with Chick Fil A. Just give them the raise like the contract says and talk about the real issues. That's what the city wants. Nobody has his back except the president and various sophists in the media.

No sane person denies another the right to resist abuse. I can't imagine a more useful lesson in life. But it only now that they are demonstrating that ability. That ability is for anyone else to judge. That is why the common principles must also be addressed. Until, now, the teachers were in this situation alone to a considerable degree. The strike is the right thing to do. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Maddow Doubts Her Abilities Too Much

Fairly recently, NBC News' Rachel Maddow had this to say about studying terrorism (note 1):

But all of these little tweaks — all of these little changes that we made — had the effect of letting a president wage war without political restraint and letting us wage war in a way where we didn't necessarily notice or know the names of all of those who were deployed in our name. Because a lot of them were working for companies that didn't have any obligation to report to us when their people were killed. We ended up doing stuff in a way that insulated the American public from what our military was doing to the point where we don't feel much friction when Americans go downrange."

In this interview she also observed (I'm paraphrasing, there is no record of this online anymore) that she cannot imagine stepping into the shoes of a terrorist. But she gets all hot around the collar at the thought of interviewing Dick Cheney. Let me interview you is literally her plea in her book and in the interview.

What's odd is that she is perfectly capable of understanding most of the logic of terrorism, in fact, she assumes everyone understands it already. For a benchmark, here's Bin Laden arguing for why his friends should be acquiring WMD's:

"It would be a sin for Muslims not to try to possess the weapons that would prevent the infidels from inflicting harm on Muslims." -- Bin Laden 

MADDOW: One of the things that people have questioned is if the U.S. has this high level of electronic capability, why is Libyan state TV still on the air? Is that not one of the things they would want to shut down?

From NATO's website on bombing Libyan journalists via WSJ:

‎"Striking specifically these critical satellite dishes will reduce the regime's ability to oppress civilians while [preserving] television broadcast infrastructure that will be needed after the conflict" -- NATO

Her chirpy rebuttals are therefore false, Here's Maddow mockingly interprets Republicans "Terrorism isn't the big battle. It's the battle between us and the liberals." It's okay to say the truth, just do it in a funny voice. 

Note: I've since contacted NPR about this quote. It appears that either the interview is clipped or I'm mixing them up.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why Is the Truth Always An Aside?

Forbes columnists ;like to bullshit a lot, and they have an interesting tell. Right before they say something totally ridiculous, they first go through a "yes there's this other point of view but Serious People Know Best Just Ask Me."

You know what's the first sign of Nazis? Angry letters from your Congressman:

And it isn’t strictly about the First Amendment. Yes, it’s disgusting that a state legislator who purports to have a PhD knows nothing of his constituents’ free-speech rights (or the proper use capital letters), but he’s far from the only ignorant, hypocritical politician in America.[...]Earlier this summer, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino foolishly told a business, Chick-Fil-A, that it wasn’t welcome in his town because of the company’s political advocacy. He was lambasted and rightly so. This incident is far worse: Menino was targeting a business, not an individual, and it was a business he currently has no jurisdiction over. While repugnant, it was political blathering....Burns’ Gestapo tactic goes a level further, and it should make any business owner wince. 
The economy will be destroyed if the government goes into debt!

For most of us, the debt seems like an abstraction. We can’t see or feel the debt. The debt doesn’t appear to have any tangible effects. But the debt is a serious problem. It’s become a bit of a cliché to point out how the debt crisis is wrecking Europe. And the European situation is different from our own.
But rest assured that if foreign governments like China stop buying our debt, interest on that debt will rapidly rise.

 Imagine an America where all purchases are made with cash, and where nobody can buy or sell a home. That is an economy in free-fall.
I like to suspect the gods are angered by lies. They demand a sacrifice.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The New York Times Is Full Of Shit About Egypt

Two headlines in 2012 of the swag-filled paper warn of "Economic Crisis" followed by "Economic Struggle." But it's easily discovered, once the NewSpeak is accounted for, that Egyptian's parliament and public programs were killed off by groups like the IMF and US government -- they control aid.

Now the New York Times today scrambling to hide this by boasting of its intimate wisdom of democracy:
Mr. Morsi and his party, the Muslim Brotherhood, initially adopted the self-defeating posture of rejecting outside assistance. Since his election in June, however, Mr. Morsi has become much more pragmatic as he confronted the real challenges of governing.
But the Fund had the posture of rejection, not the Brotherhood (May 17th, 2012):

I'll take a question, if I may, "The Egyptian finance minister has said that Egypt will sign an agreement with the IMF on a loan to Egypt by the beginning of next month." He referred to some discussion between the IMF and the Egyptian government to get the first phase of the loan within two weeks.
Let me describe where things stand on Egypt.
We have no fixed timeline for an agreement on a standby arrangement with Egypt. We stand ready to support a home-grown program that maintains macro stability and promotes inclusive growth, and enjoys -- and here's the key point -- the necessary broad political support, and includes adequate external financing from Egypt's international partners. And so we look forward to advancing the discussion, with a view to consideration by the Executive Board, once those elements are in place.
So, as I said, no firm timeline on Egypt.
In fact, according to the Times' own reporting, it was the military who "rejected" the offer, but only on the terms that the government actually address public needs (links are theirs):

Egypt’s military rulers are now realizing how big a threat the collapsing economy is — and they clearly don’t want to be blamed. In May, they rejected a $3.2 billion loan from theInternational Monetary Fund, saying it would infringe on Egypt’s sovereignty. They wanted the money, but with no strings attached — no mandatory reforms or austerity measures, like cutting food and fuel subsidies. Now desperate, they resurrected the loan request this week and welcomed an I.M.F. delegation to discuss possible components of an economic program. The I.M.F. probably won’t make a decision on that request until March.
The fund’s officials say that they do not intend to impose conditions on the loan. But even without conditions, Egypt must make reforms if it wants to spur private business ventures, foreign investment and growth. Such measures can never be sustained without public support.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Health of the State

From a Wired article, citing US's reasons for attacking defenseless countries:

U.S. hasn’t gone anywhere close to suggesting drugs be decriminalized. Gen. Douglas Fraser, the head of U.S. forces in South and Central America, said last year to the House Armed Sevices Committee that “the violence continues to increase in Central America, and that’s where and why we are focusing there.”
Remember the last time you broke your foot, and your doctor decided to break your other one too, for your own good?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

AP Won't tell you: IMF, Morsi, US Government Blocks Democracy To Help Allies Outside of Egypt

At the start of the Arab Spring, Obama said he supports the democratic aspirations of all people, and his administration clarified, especially Egypt.

The IMF is the crucial factor though, because it withholding money on the condition of how much the government in Egypt is going to change itself,  One can easily learn that "Aid packages from the EU, oil-rich Arab Gulf states and elsewhere are contingent on Egypt signing off on the IMF loan" whose governments everybody knows are not at all interested in helping the poor. Let's go back to how AP reports this:

Talks with IMF stalled over differences within the Egyptian leadership. Now that Morsi has taken office and the parliament has been dissolved, agreement might be easier to achieve.
The IMF demands a comprehensive Egyptian recovery plan addressing economic imbalances, protecting the poor and generating foreign investor confidence.
Even according to their own reporting, it's useful to mention that the Egyptian Parliament wanted to do all of that themselves, proposing to do a variety of internal actions while taking on a loan. The reason Egyptian democracy isn't important to the IMF is because they are interested in trying to make a 1.1% profit off of charity and are willing to dismantle democracy, while withholding aid to literally starving people on that condition

The AP summarizes this story by saying it's only the Egyptians who are hampered by and excess of pride.

Going back to US's stated policy, another peculiar phrase caught my eye there, "the commercial and strategic interests" are balanced against democracyThe US government's standard in other words is you can have democracy but only as long as your people there are willing to lick the boot.  Essentially, the IMF is no different. It is doing the same thing as the Obama administration did in relation to "democracy promoting" (political-rigging) institutions that receive our funding, which even by his own administrations standards, did not succeed.

The AP is really just terrible for not considering any of this. The IMF is about opening up markets, not protecting the poor -- that's just cover for their predation. I don't want to say Egypt needs it, I know they had water rationing before the revolution.

It's really up to Egyptians. They deserve their own say, not just because you aren't interested in the truth, but because that's what democracy means. 


And this is just a minor quibble, but why did you make it harder for me to read an older story?

You can see they are one day apart. But put them in your browser. You will get the same story-- today's story.Google them and you will see two separate headlines. 

The original story has been moved here.

Boycott Confusion

Nationalism is one of the silliest things a politician can ever use to justify something because it comes down to Nietzchean power struggles -- my job is too look out for me, and people who are going to keep me in power. This opens you up to irrationality because anything you can use against others is fair game :
Israel is condemning a new South African regulation requiring that products made in West Bank settlements must be labeled as coming from "occupied Palestinian territory."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor calls the requirement "totally unacceptable."

but also implies you know better than your own citizens, as well:

Prime Minister Netanyahu threatens to withdraw funding from theaters whose actors refuse to
perform in city located beyond Green Line, says 'the last thing we need is boycotts from within.'  

All because one group inside the country is more organized to get you elected, not because you are principled but exactly because you put reason in service of power. Thanks for making it very obvious how little help you are even on good causes, so I don't have to seriously feel humanity itself is evil.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

IMF -- Seriously?

The IMF is withholding billions of dollars from `Egyptians because they want to be promised a " a comprehensive Egyptian recovery plan addressing economic imbalances, protecting the poor and generating foreign investor confidence."

That's the IMF for you, teaching Egypt a lesson in what it takes to help your poor.

I'd be happy to be told off by an actual Egyptian, but I'm pretty sure this goes beyond the white man's burden. The US threatened to withdraw aid too, over some petty political shit, because it's US policy to control the trade there. Funny how the IMF has the same goals!

Our Traitors Are Your Heroes

From the Washington Post:

The Obama administration has granted exemptions from trade restrictions with Syria and Iran to allow U.S. tech firms to make their goods and services available to customers in those countries.

To hold their government accountable, they argue. Like Bradley Manning did, with no outside assistance, who ended up naked and sleep-deprived, and has a lawyer arguing he's just an angry misunderstood gay guy, who really didn't mean it.

Sorry Obama, you know how you said there is evil in the world? Look in the fuckin mirror.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Finally, a Bite

After several attempts, I have finally found the connection between the New Age movement and Buckley's Neoconservatism. As I tried to catalog before, rigid thinking along New Age prescriptions is useful for elites who have to answer questions of why the working person, the foreigner, etc. are not allowed to make a choice for themselves. 

The "two streams overlap" but aren't the same. That's a fair start.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

We Are Being Manipulated!

From Newsweek, this year:
The drug dealer told me how, acting with the full approval of his cartel, he strolled into the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office for an appointment with federal investigators. He walked through a metal detector and past the portrait of the American president on the wall, then into a room with a one-way mirror. The agents he met were very polite. He was surprised by what they had to say. “One of the ICE agents said they were here to help [the Sinaloa cartel]. And to fuck the Vicente Carrillo cartel. Sorry for the language. That’s exactly what they said.”
So began another small chapter in one of the most secretive aspects of the drug war: an extensive operation by Chapo Guzmán’s forces to manipulate American law enforcement to their own benefit.
From Wikipedia  on the drug war a generation ago:

Throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, Noriega was able to manipulate U.S. policy toward his country, while skillfully accumulating near-absolute power in Panama. It is clear that each U.S. government agency which had a relationship with Noriega turned a blind eye to his corruption and drug dealing, even as he was emerging as a key player on behalf of the Medellín Cartel (a member of which was notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar)."

I'm sure they're just as outraged that some skyscrapers don't have a 13th floor.

Elites Can't Stomach Democracy Without Feinting

A republican government is forming in Somalia, and my government notes that:

James Swan, the U.S. representative for Somalia, continued with his list of concerns: "Inadequate representation of women and in some cases reports of former warlords who are being nominated by their communities."

while the end of the article says otherwise:

As part of the transition, more than 600 Somali elders earlier this month approved a new provisional constitution that contains new individual rights and sets the country on a course for a more powerful and representative government.
The constitution makes it clear that Islamic law is the basis for Somalia's legal foundation. But it also protects the right to an abortion to save the life of the mother and bans the circumcision of girls, a common practice in Somalia that opponents call female genital mutilation. Those rights were opposed by conservative Somalis.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Math And Personality

Going off of the Wikipedia images of the 9 nominees of various parties, one notices a trend in their facial expressions. From the least "experienced" to the most, here is how they appear to me:

I got something to say, and something to learn.
The things that make me happy no longer do.
At least I'm certain about this one thing.
Ow, ow, ow, I have to be better than you.
Holy shit another day of this?
Hey, someone is looking at me!
Is it time to make the smile face now?

As we all know, "holy shit another day of this" is going to win, which is the best one until "I got something to say and something to learn" who don't propose to poison the world any more.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Keep The Future In The Past

Crime is up these past couple years, but what is instead talked about in the media, is a "peaceful trend" (June, NBC) that is the result of an "innovative public safety approach that is beginning to show signs of tremendous promise" (Eric Holder), although another piece also includes an aging population, video games, the end of the crack boom (Christian Science Monitor). This is keeping with the anti-democratic tradition of viewing people as a mass, not as individuals, a "herd" that must be controlled from above by elites.

One important elite is Eric Holder. The scholars picked up on his message and are sticking to it.

Holder did note in July briefly that "a number of major cities across the country – including Philadelphia – have experienced alarming increases in the number of homicides over the past year" which he reasons, is a problem for the cops, not the citizens. They are "threats that law enforcement officers face every day." Holder is wrong, although it is considered a perfeclty acceptable way to talk about the subject. In quiet voices they recognize that there's a problem, or something, but then proudly boast that they are on top of it. The FBI has refused to release the data required for independent analysis as of yet.

It appears to me communities are not even allowed to take care of themselves. "The same populations—houseless persons, panhandlers,youth of color—that were being targeted for elimination from the downtown area by the BIDs," writes Urban Habitat, "flocked to Occupy Oakland for the sense of camaraderie it created and the services it offered, including food, medicine,and security. Many of the tents pitched in Oscar Grant Plaza housed persons who had been living outdoors or in cars and tents long before the encampment started." With that in mind, Holder's promise to "learn from the successes" of there, where dozens upon dozens of federal agents "surge" into the city during "this time of economic and budgetary challenges" in a form of "targeted assistance and relief" to address "the need for cooperation among all relevant authorities" has a much more class-oriented significance.

Look at those stories again, the Monitor and NBC. People's security resulting from solidarity is not attributed to actual social movements, but to the miserable state they are in.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mitt's List of Hot Air

I like people's lists, because they aren't too well crafted by the ego. They're pure consciousness, pure id.

So what can I imagine about Romney and his political power? (from today's Daily Kos):

Perhaps Romney belatedly caught wind of all this and made one of his patented U-turns Wednesday as his campaign again took him to Iowa:

We have got to take advantage of America’s extraordinary energy resources: coal, oil, gas, nuclear, renewables, wind, solar, ethanol, you name it. We’ve gotta take advantage of all of them.

Boilerplate. But still a change from what he's been saying for months.

Romney specifically noted last week that the production tax credit—which subsidizes wind, solar and geothermal power facilities—should be allowed to expire at the end of the year.


In my mind, in Romney's mind, we can assume it's really hard to remember to say he likes ethanol, it requires the phrase "extraordinary energy" for prompting, quick, brain, we need some more E, we've only got w, h, g, t, o and a and that only covers coal, oil and gas!

And what a running start it takes to consider the audience's opinion! First, solar (the GOP scapegoat for all global warming denier idiots to absolve themselves of responsibility with) and ethanol (proven to be backward). 

To Romeny, I believe, what you want to tell him about how to run the country is something only a backward Obama apologist would put into words. I doubt he's sincerely evil enough to wholeheartedly admit to these opinions, which is why I like to think of politics as a whole batch of perfectly innocent crabs holding each other in a pot of boiling water.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

NYT Gets To Cheer Drug War

More accurately, they get to uncritically report that it's not our fault, which, in my opinion, is a fun delusion. Yesterday's paper reported (or rather, reported that my government believes) that the Venezuelan government is to blame for presumably a huge amount of cocaine coming out of Colombia and into the US. Cocaine demand in the last several years has been lower than it's been in years and years, decades, reportedly, so for the US to make a big deal of this amount is a little suspicious. 

I don't have the whole picture, but it's not the first inverted (perverted?) celebration the Times has done on this subject. Another piece of the puzzle is the way the economics were even allowed to be reported in the first place. It was actually informative, if you look at the graph. Increase in demand happened a few times, and each time without fail, the price went up. The reporter, however, decided that the price going up was like some sort of bandaid, from just being punched hard by our government. 

Of course, both can be true, but without understanding the first, which is a strong, strong hypothesis as I see it, the problem doesn't go away.

Iran Contra and the 2005 plane crash in Mexico suggest the US government is actively involved in drug dealing. Does this reality charted against the Time's delusional thinking allow, encourage, or even give a little more evidence for that I don't know how to test this, we're talking about a black market. So I think a more generous reading is that the war must go on, real problem or no. The polices are admittedly ineffective at stopping wars, is what it is permissible to say. Can't that be reasonably expected from a Power which has a different agenda?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Where We Went Really Wrong

It shouldn't be a very daring observation that democracy basically won't exist in any meaningful way in a country that was just invaded and had a civil war. I believe this can be traced to political and economic uncertainty. It's here where I think we can start to know the significance of violent personalities. When we look at Iraq, this is also the case -- violence makes democracy very difficult. According to human rights reports, this is the case in Libya too:

...the main hindrance to holding free and fair elections is the deep divisions within Libyan society – a consequence of eight months of civil war

So tragic, because you can tell some people just think you're supposed to fight everything out, or encourage people with more power to do that. At that point, I say you are not applying your mind, or looking at history.

An ex-slave observed after our war to abolish  slavery "...we still had to depend on the southern white man for work, food, and clothing, and he held us out of necessity and want in a state of servitude but little better than slavery." This same lack of liberty after war is pretty explicit in human rights reports the world over, one example of this in Libya, "thousands of detainees still languish in prisons run by militias, without a formal charge and without any prospect for legal review." 

Most Chicagoans know that violent crime is up here, and there's a new mayor with new policies and a police chief quite hostile to nonviolent intervention. Going back in our history there is a more dangerous time and it's instructive when looking here and abroad. The formation of the KKK was after a much more extreme uncertainty, the civil war. 

The repression lives on though. It's still common here for people to say things like "the red [train] line is dangerous" and I even had a pot dealer who wondered why the cops weren't just targeting black dealers. 

I know these variables don't seem to match up: we had a free election, they had a "free election." But elections are just one aspect of democracy. They are pretty close to the right place to look however. I think if you examine people, influential people, at the root of violence and hate you find a messed up idea of human nature. It's important to get it right because when democracy fails you can get a quite terrible revolution, even with the best intentions. The rise of Hitler, the "revolution" that Marx predicted, was hailed in this country's press as a return to a "moderate," and even someone not from Germany wrote propaganda for his racist cause and contracted with him (Henry Ford). So it seems to me we have a choice. We can love people and condemn violence, or practice it, and therefore love violence and become monsters. It's really that simple. 

So I disagree that the reason we can feel good about war, as my government once said and continues to say, is because "insurgence" is "the cause of human nature."

Here's Barack Obama giving up as well, for example:

“War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease - the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.”

No, Mr. President, not the manner, just one manner. There are others, that come up spontaneously, despite cultures of violence, and sometimes, however, ended by them..:


At potlatch gatherings, a family or hereditary leader hosts guests in their family's house and holds a feast for their guests. The main purpose of the potlatch is the re-distribution and reciprocity of wealth.

Hip Hop:
At its best, hip hop has given a voice to the voiceless and poverty-stricken worldwide, particularly in inner citiesand neighborhoods suffering from urban blight, and showcased their artistic ingenuity and talent on a global scale.

The period after orgasm (known as a refractory period) is often a relaxing experience, attributed to the release of theneurohormones oxytocin and prolactin

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Nile Is The Longest River In Africa

Are people going to be more free or less in the future? Open up the New York Times editorial page these days and their are loads of stories about how we're not putting freedom in its place. Heck even a story by the Newsweek editor in chief lamenting the lack of attention span cynically holds a grudge against people paying attention to the Egyptian revolution.

But hey, they're just newspapers. What about someone entrusted with the presidency? Bill Clinton gave the game away that this is power tripping dressed up as science. Before continuing to ruin his own reputation with tainted materials sent to Haiti, he was videotaped telling a TV audience that some corporate hive mind bullshit makes everything okay. The problem, he says, is people don't understand that the elites are actually working in the common man's interest. If only they read some New Age psychobabbler, they'd have a better understanding.

What's so terribly pitiful though, s'that they are allowed not only to research and thereby know things about human nature, but I assume also are trusted to not to really understand them significantly. How else could one discuss the punishing of innocent civilians as a way to reach  "complex, high-order thinking"? ( What a great phrase. If only it weren't surrounded by nonsense. 

Another kind of problem (this is kind of just a hunch) We The People are put into a larger system, not just for control, but for something that clicks with our sense of reason. Like, there's no reason we shouldn't have a thyroid gland, but there is also no reason people's will's should be represented only by how much a graph of their purchases goes up and down. In a simpler way of looking at it, just because a person has a brain and a body doesn't mean the Elites and Laborers should serve those functions. It's kind of like reasoning by appeal to poetry. It doesn't really mean anything, but it feels like it has significance. 

That's really where it's at, I think. These are superstitions posing as critical thought. Rational thought hurts people's tribal brains. I mean, you can actually become a millionaire just saying the things we're supposed to believe to keep this whole act up, like how Louis CK throws rocks at "nigger cunt deer" for example. 

I've looked at this before, and I think it's safe to conclude by consuming corporate media you are being used by a rich person or two, unless of course you are that rich person involved in exploiting both sides of the coin, media fatigue and indoctrination. In that sense, our freedom is already being lost. For example, the suppressed reality of global warming and Frank Caliendo's fall from grace into DirecTV commercials could not have happened without a product, oil or media, take your pick, that needed to be sold.

Do we really need to be controlled in this fashion, or at all? Why?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

If I Don't Get To Murder... I'm Not Free

There's a kind of terrible logic to killing murderers. The idea is they had a choice, now they have to pay for it. But I don't agree with it, and here's why. Only by prosecuting another murderer can you get the the necessary blindness for your real satisfaction to happen over and over again. The people who decry murder do so (deep down) not because it is evil, but because it must feel so good Getting Away With It that it's just unfair that I don't get to get away with it. So now I get to murder you, that makes it fair. Here's the government laying out the real logic: 

Jason January, the former Dallas County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Hearn for capital murder, said to stop the punishment because of fetal alcohol syndrome "would be a free pass for anyone whose parents drank."
This is quite an evil thing to say from my point of view. It follow from this logic it is actually good to murder, because it brings into possibility a more moral murder.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What's to come from this blog?

This blog is a curious thing. Some posts work, in ways I didn't know I was capable of allowing. Others, just don't work at all. The posts where I rambled were crap!

In the first case, I have several sources for the reader to check. I was illustrating history, not just my own wishes. (I saved those for the end, the weakest part of the essay, I felt.) So I'm most proud of Frank Caliendo paired up with Gramsci, and my essay on Reagan's Roadmap. Even better is comparing things in the present to history. I always feel I'm cheating the reader by only using a few quotes at the start.

The second case, the post doesn't do what the blog was intended for. All I really wanted from this blog was an energetic quip or two to metabolize the news. I realize now that's an awful way to go about it. There's just no frame of reference allowed for the reader to have. It's the subject posing as the object -- or in plain English, it's just a fairy tale.

From now on, the commentary will be one of two things: in essay form, with citations, or in poetry. I want to be proud of my work. A lot of it depresses me. If it were a song, most of theses posts would be Dr Dre's music,  before G Funk. The grand "game" in history was fun to write, maybe even therapeutic, but I'm not sure how true it is. I want to speak from history. The rest is bullshit.

Monday, April 9, 2012


I put an apple on my head,
it floods me with juice.

I play my old guitar made of bees,
in my days of the week underwear.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Like befuddled deer leaping into a mirage of water
Deluded fools in their ignorance cling to outer forms
And with their thirst unslaked, bound and confined,
They idealise their prison, pretending happiness.
 - Royal song of Saraha

According to Alternet, this is what's in the "Budget for All":

• Direct hire programs that create a School Improvement Corps, a Park Improvement Corps, and a Student Jobs Corps, among others.
• Targeted tax incentives that spur clean energy, manufacturing, and cutting-edge technological investments in the private sector.
• Widespread domestic investments including an infrastructure bank, a $556 billion surface transportation bill, and approximately $2.1 trillion in widespread domestic investment.
Look at that. Amazing. It's going to hurt us, somehow. It has too much relevance to the state of reality.

So what does a country need to have equality and prosperity?

France and Brazil were the first to have trade surpluses  after the recession hit. What's also curious is, according to the Economist, the tax pictures of the two countries look about the same, "Brazil levies enormous taxes on just about everything: despite an estimated half of its economy being informal, its tax burden approaches 40% of GDP." France's comes close.  They also have very strong cultures of democracy, but I'm putting that aside for now.

I bring this up because there are other proposed budgets that will be cheered for the wrong reason. When I see his logic, it's impossible for me to take seriously someone like Business Insider's James Pethokoukis who wants to have "economic growth" without taxes, since taxes would be "economy-crippling." He laments that "the middle" as well as "the wealthy and the bankers" are both in it together, getting "pinched." This is common rhetoric in the business press, from the Economist to Business Insider. One simply wags his finger when taxes and regulation come up. Is this factual, or just a superstition?

According to Pethoukoukis's paper, France is always "inventing new forms of taxation" and busily having protests. The paper admits these are what outsiders don't like about the country, and pretty much leaves the discussion there.

As the two countries stand today, France now has a trade deficit, partly due to the Euro. However, they also have a president who is saying things like this:

“There’s no reason why deregulated finance, which brought us to the current situation, can’t participate in the restoration of our accounts.”

So maybe France doesn't have the winning strategy. But the picture of crippling an economy with taxes just doesn't hold up. While Coca-Cola warned France that they would lose business for a tax there, it's still obviously operating, and adjusted its policy to the regulations. They also have far more opportunity, the poor can become richer easier.

Moving on to Brazil, what do we see? They still have a trade surplus.

If the hostile rhetoric against the "Progressive" budget tells you anything, it's that whatever good there is in the plan isn't going to be looked at.

Starting with the center of the road budget, the Bowles-Simpson act, which was defeated before I had time to even know what was in it:

  1. $200 billion reduction in discretionary spending[13] with proposed cuts including reducing defense procurement by 15% and closing one third of overseas bases, eliminating earmarks, and cutting the federal work force by 10%.
  2. $100 billion in increased tax revenues through various tax reform proposals,[13] such as introducing a 15 cent per gallon gasoline tax and eliminating or restricting a variety of tax deductions such as the home mortgage interest deduction and the deduction for employer-provided healthcare benefits.
  3. Controlling health care costs by maintaining the Medicare cost controls associated with the recent health care reform legislation,[13] in addition to considering a public option and a further increase in the authority of Independent Payment Advisory Board.
  4. A reduction in entitlements, including farm subsidies, civilian and military federal pensions and student loan subsidies.[13][14]
  5. Modifications to the Social Security program to raise the payroll tax and the retirement age.[13]

So, the priorities, man! Tax the ancient oil, whatever, work out the kinks in the mortgage blah blah, good. But, cuts to school loans, what the heck? Good riddance to this, and Obama's bonanza of tax cuts is hardly any better. The Ryan budget, which puts our spending at a measly 19.8% of GDP, needs to go too.

So is there anyone who has the right idea in the business press? Hard to find them. Dug up this gem though, that Business Insider pretends to link to, who says

For the record, I think the “fiscal responsibility” zeal now sweeping through Congress is equal parts delusion and sham. For a vigorous debunking of the current fixation on deficits, see James K. Galbraith’s recent Nation essay. Real fiscal responsibility would mean ramping down military misadventures and making smart investments in future health, prosperity, and ecological sanity. Devoting real resources to school lunches is a perfect example. Doing otherwise is a grave mistake.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I have a lot of questions about protesting

Will I be arrested and humiliated? How do I help stop war? Is going door to door going to turn people away from the cause? If I don't show up with 29 footnotes in a paper covering Obama's favorite wars, Libya, Afghanistan, the Serbian civil war and World War 2, am I not even helping at all? Am I prepared enough? I sure hope so. I don't know why I'm not going to door to door to hand out fliers. Does that hurt or help the cause?

Do I need a legal permit to protest NATO this May?

This will be my first protest. What happens to people when they do something for the first time? Will I be traumatized like Hitler when he saw where his hot dogs were made?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Limbaugh Reflects Sick Culture

Rush Limbaugh called a law student, Sandra Fluke, a "slut"   -- he says: taxes paying for contraception amounts to prostitution. I don't really expect much better from him. What are the consequences of this?

I want to get out of the way the obvious. Limbaugh is playing his usual game, which is to make his point but let people get distracted by another point. It's very sneaky and he's good at it. It's a fake-out. Bring up government's role, and then come up with a way to make everyone listen to him. You know he's following this rationale when he only apologies for his choice of words. It's why he has some quite stupid people agreeing with him, which is especially depressing. That means that the fact that Limbaugh is not actually exploiting anyone except people dumb enough to listen to him is the minor point. The major point is that he has dumb people listening to him, so he is an influential public figure and controls to some degree the spirit of the nation. He might even be rewarded with new advertisers for what he said.

Let's also get his logic dismantled. Limbaugh isn't the rebel. He's picking on a woman for asking the government to actually protect people. Limbaugh's perspective is protected (maybe) but it should be long gone from the present. The label of "slut" arguably made sense (maybe) before condoms were invented because if you slept around, you'd spread disease. It sure explains why sex is considered "original sin" and "taking foreign wives" is a huge sin in the Bible. But that logic works against Rush here.

This points to the most dangerous thing here. It is not Limbaugh's word choice, as he wants to believe, but his entire argument. The "get the government to stop paying for healthcare" crowd is probably small enough to be its own cult. Bad things happen in cults, you start to adopt a very narrow set of values and hatreds, and you just live in your own little world.

It should be noted that there's a larger cult than Limbaugh's following. It's called the whole country. The country is plugged into the media. It is estimated that Americans watch around blah blah blah, we all know, we watch an enormous amount of television. Not only that, we watch mostly our own television, that is, made by us.

I bring this up because what saturates the media are Limbaugh's very old fashioned gender roles. Viewers are expected to accept women as "passive" sex objects, with men more or less preying on them. In fact, when the roles are reversed, and a woman rapes a man, it's played off as humorous. This is the starting point of entertainment. So even recognizing that advertisers are fleeing Limbaugh, there are still problems.

When you have a culture that totally misinforms you of what women and men actually are, you have to expect terribly evil things to be said. For heaven's sake I used to think you just had to stare at a girl to make her like you, because that's how Bart Simpson did it.

When people ask me what do you want to do about this stuff, I say, "encourage people to challenge what they believe." That means start with yourself. If you're a liberal, read conservative opinion. If you're an atheist, read the bible. If you're a Christian, read Hitchens or something. Otherwise, you might even attribute the very act of prejudice, cult-like qualities, or others to a specific group and believe yourself immune. Don't be a Limbaugh.