Friday, October 28, 2011

There's Always Free Cheddar in a Mousetrap

Ah, hell, I give up.

It's amazing how many people post videos of dying mice. We don't have to wait for Hell. We've already made it, right here.

More of That Liberal Agenda

In the cosmos of Planet Sulzberger, being anti-torture and anti-genocide equals "liberal values":
Since the skirmish, which resulted in more than 100 arrests, several liberal groups — including Amnesty International — have condemned the use of tear gas as well as the actions of Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, who said the measures were justified because protesters threw rocks.
Yes, this is where we have landed--in a place where fighting to free people who've been jailed and persecuted for criticizing their murderous govenments is the equivalent of voting for Elizabeth Warren. #OWS has been painted as a liberal movement, so anyone or anything that appears to defend it is by extension also "liberal". This is a perfect exemplar of the knee-jerking modern journo, who works like mad to find a way to wedge every damn article in the universe into boxes labelled "left" or "right".

Taking this thinking to its logical conclusion necessarily requires us to assign mass murder, thought suppression, and torture to conservatism. Because no self-respecting conservative is going to find fault with whaling tear gas grenades and concussion grenades and rubber bullets at unarmed citizens exercising their right to peaceable assembly. At least I have yet to locate one.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One Step Closer to Small Gubmint

I was reading this nonsense in the NYTimes this morning:
A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder...

The amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. It would bar some birth control methods, including IUDs and “morning-after pills” that prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. It would also outlaw the destruction of embryos created in laboratories.

The amendment has been endorsed by candidates for governor from both major parties, and it appears likely to pass, said W. Martin Wiseman, director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. Legal challenges would surely follow, but even if the amendment is ultimately declared unconstitutional, it could disrupt vital care, critics say, and force years of costly court battles.
That'll be good for the GDP. And it will have to be, because all those rubes are going to have to figure out where they're getting the money to pay for all the extra police and law enforcement actions it's going to take to monitor all those monthly cycles. If a woman has a drink and then a particularly heavy period, are they going to go into her garbage after the sanitary pads for forensic evidence of a homicidal miscarriage? It was only last February these small government types were rattling the same sword. It seemed so far away back then:

Personhood, Personhood, Riding Through The Glen

Blastocyst Totally Looks Like Cookie Monster
see more Celeb Look-A-Likes

Of course, the difference is that no one is trying to pass legislation stipulating that Cookie Monster is a person.

Happy Diwali Quick...

...before liberals declare war on it! Oops, too late:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Turkeys and Some Mistletoe

Nothing else makes the Christmas season as magical as the Yuletide carols of campaign advertising and the candidates dressed up like Eskimos throwing mudballs in the snow:
Nevada today moved its caucus date back a month to Feb. 4, ending a cross-country power struggle with New Hampshire and paving the way for the Granite State to schedule its traditional first-in-the-nation primary in early January.

Nevada Republicans had originally scheduled their caucus for Jan. 14, infuriating New Hampshire officials, who said the date would throw the election calendar into chaos and force them to hold their primary in early December.
Happy Holidays!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

'Tis the Season

As usual, the right wing's information on the origins of Halloween is as fact-based as the right wing's information on climate change.


Friday, October 21, 2011

New Depths Sounded in the Ocean of American Brutishness

The Joe Arpaio School of Economic Sadism is deeply influential across the southern states, and here's one more proof:
Thousands of other inmates in the Texas prison system have been eating fewer meals since April after officials stopped serving lunch on the weekends in some prisons as a way to cut food-service costs. About 23,000 inmates in 36 prisons are eating two meals a day on Saturdays and Sundays instead of three. A meal the system calls brunch is usually served between 5 and 7 a.m., followed by dinner between 4 and 6:30 p.m.

The meal reductions are part of an effort to trim $2.8 million in food-related expenses from the 2011 fiscal year budget of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the state prison agency...

Prison administrators said that the cuts were made in response to the state’s multibillion-dollar budget shortfall in 2011, and that the weekend lunches were eliminated in consultation with the agency’s health officials and dietitians...

Ohio and Arizona serve two meals per day on the weekends to reduce food-service costs. Georgia serves two meals per day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, though inmates on work details receive a third meal.
Bravo, then. We'll have no bleeding hearts whining about taking away the privileges of bad guys, like food and sanitation and mobility. We'll have more of this guy, this Democrat:
State Senator John Whitmire, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee whose outrage over last meals on death row led to the end of the practice last month, said the reductions were not a major concern to him. “If they don’t like the menu,” he said, “don’t come there in the first place.”
You know what else we could do to save the taxpayers money? Shoot people between the eyes as soon as a court finds them guilty. Then we wouldn't even have to feed them! And we could charge their relatives for the bullet, the removal, and the dumping fee. If they don't like it, well, they shouldn't be related to shoplifters in the first place!

Even Cattle Can Have A Change of Heart on the Ramp to the Killing Floor

Lewis Lapham on America's cultivated fear of the future:
The collapse of the World Trade Center in the fall of September 2001 destroyed the last trace elements of the American future conceived as a nostalgic rerun of the way things were in the good old days when John Wayne was securing the nation’s frontiers and Franklin D. Roosevelt was watching over its soul. The loss of the utopian romance that had once supported both the ambition of the state and the strength of the economy was terrible to behold. So terrible that it has been replaced by an apparition—Gorgon-headed and dragon-winged—that reduces its beholders to paralyzed stone. Much of the effect I attribute to the Bush administration’s war on terror, which was lost on the day it was declared. Lost because, to wage the war, the Bush administration was obliged to manufacture, distribute, and magnify the reflection of its own ignorance and fear. Nobody’s cell phone to be left untapped, a jihadist in every rose garden.

In the years since the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the palsied dysfunction has become more pronounced. The foreign wars haven’t been going according to plan; the domestic financial markets have suffered calamitous reversals of fortune; the sum of the national debt goes nowhere but up. The public parks bloom with the installations of surveillance cameras; the inspections at the airports maintain the national quota of patriotic dread, introduce the frequent flyer to the game of playing dead.

Among the country’s stupefied elites, the bad news induces the wish to make time stand still, to punish the presumption of a future that presents itself as a bill collector. As self-pitying as Shakespeare’s melancholy king, they sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of money. Without it the future doesn’t bear contemplating, doesn’t include their presence in it and therefore doesn’t exist. How then can the banks be expected to lend money, the government to build hospitals and schools, the rich to pay taxes for comforts not their own? The suggestion is outrageous, an intolerable effrontery, out of line with the all-American revelation that the name of the game is selfishness. The surplus of resentment affords the excuses to do nothing and bids up the market in transcendence. Politicians in Congress stand around like trees in a petrified forest, or, if allied with the zeal of the Tea Party, console themselves with notions of biblical vengeance, the wrecking of any such thing as a common good a consummation devoutly to be wished. Secure in the knowledge that only the wicked shall perish, they press forward to the Day of Judgment when the host of the damned—variously identified over the course of the centuries as false priests, proud barons, profiteering capitalists, vile communists, and godless democrats—shall fall into the hands of an angry god and gnaw their tongues in anguish.

The last-named beneficiary accounts for the media’s preoccupation with what some of our less well-informed critics still insist on deploring as “the bad news.” They miss the point. The bad news is the carnival-barking spiel that sells the good news, which are the advertisements. First, at the top of the network hour, the admonitory row of corpses being loaded into ambulances in Brooklyn or cleared from the streets of Islamabad; second, an inferno of fires burning in California, of bombs exploding in Libya; third, a muster of criminals, political, financial, and sexual, shuffling offstage in chains. The fear of a deadly tomorrow having thus been firmly established, the camera makes its happy return to the always-smiling anchorwoman, and so, with a gracious waving of her snow-white hand, to the previews of salvation sponsored by Jet Blue, Pfizer, and Mercedes-Benz. The lesson is as plain as a medieval morality play. Obey the law, pay your taxes, speak politely to the police officer, and you go to the Virgin Islands on the American Express card. Disobey the law, neglect your mortgage payments, speak rudely to the police, and you go to Kings County Hospital in a body bag...

Always careless about keeping appointments, the barbarians at the gate tend to show up fifty years sooner than anybody expects or six months after the emperor has fled. They depend for their victories on the fear and trembling enthroned within the walls of the city, and it doesn’t make much difference whether they come armed with slingshots and spears or with subprime loans and credit-default swaps. The waiting around for their arrival is the bait and switch alluded to both by the poet C. P. Cavafy and by the Stoic philosopher Seneca, who asks “whether anything can be more idiotic” than the directing of one’s purposes “with an eye to a distant future.” The doing so suspends the will to think, saps the courage to act...

The future is a work in progress, something made instead of something lost or bought or found. We have little else with which to make it except time-past revised and reconstituted in the present—as close at hand as the next sentence on a new page, no further away than around the corner or across the street.
That knowledge that the future is ours to create has been as carefully bred out of us by our politicians and media as viciousness has been bred out of cattle by husbandmen of centuries past. Maybe the real reason behind the #OWS revolt is that there is still a spark of that old innate wisdom left in us.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Southern Cross Is Bending--No Matter How Geological The Time Frame, It Is Bending

Eugene Debs died today, away back in 1926. As The Daily Bleed said:
1926 -- US: Good Ol'Days? Labor activist, anti-militarist & socialist Eugene Debs dies. His "radical" reforms included an eight-hour workday, pensions, workman's compensation, sick leave, social security — commonplace today. Ran for president from his jail cell. [Seems to us it's the elected ones should be ensconced in the hoosegow.]

"We [propose] to destroy the capitalist & save the man. We want a system in which the worker shall get what he produces & the capitalist shall produce what he gets."
— speech, December 10, 1905
Here are some of the recipients (partial list) of the Eugene V. Debs Award Program:
1965 John L. Lewis
1968 Walter Reuther
1972 Dorothy Day
1974 Arthur Schlesinger
1978 Jesse Jackson
1979 Pete Seeger
1981 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
1982 Coretta Scott King
1983 Studs Terkel
1987 Edward Asner
1991 John Sayles
1992 Ralph Nader
1994 Richard Trumka
1995 Jim Hightower
1998 Howard Zinn
2002 Julian Bond
2003 Molly Ivins
2005 Thomas Frank
2007 Barbara Ehrenreich
From his Statement to the Court, on his conviction of violating the Sedition Act for opposing WWI:
I could have been in Congress long ago. I have preferred to go to prison.

I am thinking this morning of the men in the mills and the factories; of the men in the mines and on the railroads. I am thinking of the women who for a paltry wage are compelled to work out their barren lives; of the little children who in this system are robbed of their childhood and in their tender years are seized in the remorseless grasp of Mammon and forced into the industrial dungeons, there to feed the monster machines while they themselves are being starved and stunted, body and soul. I see them dwarfed and diseased and their little lives broken and blasted because in this high noon of Christian civilization money is still so much more important than the flesh and blood of childhood. In very truth gold is god today and rules with pitiless sway in the affairs of men...

I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence...

Your Honor, I ask no mercy and I plead for no immunity. I realize that finally the right must prevail. I never so clearly comprehended as now the great struggle between the powers of greed and exploitation on the one hand and upon the other the rising hosts of industrial freedom and social justice.

I can see the dawn of the better day for humanity. The people are awakening. In due time they will and must come to their own.

When the mariner, sailing over tropic seas, looks for relief from his weary watch, he turns his eyes toward the southern cross, burning luridly above the tempest-vexed ocean. As the midnight approaches, the southern cross begins to bend, the whirling worlds change their places, and with starry finger-points the Almighty marks the passage of time upon the dial of the universe, and though no bell may beat the glad tidings, the lookout knows that the midnight is passing and that relief and rest are close at hand. Let the people everywhere take heart of hope, for the cross is bending, the midnight is passing, and joy cometh with the morning.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another Fine Mess

This is why the loss of the Fairness Doctrine was no joke. That Reagan-engineered surgical strike single-handedly gave us the Murdoch media empire, Fox News, and the capture of U.S. broadcasting by hate radio, none of which could exist in their current virulent incarnations today if they were required to ensure diversity of opinion on the air. There are a lot of walk-backs that need to be made to rescue the country from its headlong plunge into feudalism, and I know its not popular among liberals, but restoring the Fairness Doctrine could be the most powerful blow of all.

How to Help Occupy Philadelphia

Yesterday we bought a ton of food, cleaning aids, and hygiene products for the folks at Occupy Philadelphia and dropped them off after the march. The Plaza looked really good. Looks like they recovered well from the onslaught of homeless that unexpectedly put added strain on the encampment. Of course, instead of stepping up and taking care of the homeless that descended on City Hall, the city was happy to let the protesters deal with it, which is just business as usual from a city that can give millions in subsidies and tax breaks to businesses but can't open new shelters or maintain properly the ones they have.

Their Facebook page has suggestions for donations that can be brought directly to the northwest side of Dilworth Plaza, City Hall, if the goods are toiletries, camping-type supplies, or ready-to-eat. Food that has to be prepared and kitchen supplies should be taken to the Friends Center on the Cherry Street side. You'll see a gate, and can enter with your goods through there, then up the ramp and to the right.

They are also calling for volunteers to work in the kitchen and at the Plaza when and where people can. And of course, if you can get there and set up a tent for yourself, even if only for a day or two for the solidarity of it, they will welcome you.

But what will happen when the long-planned renovations to the Plaza begin in November? The Christkindlmarkt was set up there in past seasons, but because of the construction this year it will be in Love Park instead. Where will the protesters go then?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Dog-Torturer-in-Chief

Even when all my friends were sweating the Second Coming of Rick Perry and positive he was going to be the next President, I felt certain he wasn't our problem. Nor do I fear that Old Extra Pepperoni is going to be on the radar come fall. My biggest concern from day one was Romney, and it continues to be. The feudal lords of the Colonies have had their fun with the Bircherite fringe, and have gotten their money's worth out of them and the reliable plants in the Supreme Court, but now it's time to hunker down and pull out the serious weaponry, because all that extremist talk is fine when you're dog-whistling to the booboisie, but now you have to appeal to a whole broad array of people, and a lot of them don't even look like you. After winning the primary, Romney can hang a louie and start behaving like a grown man again, and besides, he's one of the Landlords of America--the Chamber of Commerce knows he's as good as any FIRE sector CEO they could plant.

So I hope to see a lot of people reminding the public next year that this is a guy who could do this to a dog:
The incident: dog excrement found on the roof and windows of the Romney station wagon. How it got there: Romney strapped a dog carrier — with the family dog Seamus, an Irish Setter, in it — to the roof of the family station wagon for a twelve hour drive from Boston to Ontario, which the family apparently completed, despite Seamus's rather visceral protest.
Remeber? Now, if a man could do that to the family dog--a happy creature that one may safely assume he knows well and purports to love--what do you think he may be capable of once elected President, with regard to the minions under his gaze? Here's a clue:
Romney, of course, has expressed support for the use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques when it comes to terrorists; his campaign refused to comment about the treatment of his dog.
He then went on to tell CNN how much old Seamus liked "fresh air". And yes, this is a person who expressed shame at having helped saved the lives of the poor and sick with statewide health insurance coverage. I think Charles Koch has his man.

Friday, October 14, 2011

THIS is What's the Matter With Kansas

Even Scientific American is paying attention to #OWS. In a recent article subtitled "The surprising psychology of the Occupy Wall Street protests", we read that the phenomenon the rest of us know as "crabs in a barrel" has been identified by Princeton researchers as the "last place aversion" paradox. In other words, if you're near the bottom, you don't want to see someone poorer than you get a break if it means they will catch up to you economically. They explain:
Our recent research suggests that, far from being surprised that many working-class individuals would oppose (income) redistribution, we might actually expect their opposition to rise during times of turmoil – despite the fact that redistribution appears to be in their economic interest. Our work suggests that people exhibit a fundamental loathing for being near or in last place – what we call “last place aversion.” This fear can lead people near the bottom of the income distribution to oppose redistribution because it might allow people at the very bottom to catch up with them or even leapfrog past them.
Bolding is mine. That's the key takeaway: that the sense of security and self-worth of the people close to the bottom is so fragile that having no one left to look down on is the ultimate insufferable indignity. This really isn't new news. It was always the chief motivater of poor Southern whites who persecuted blacks during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras. Taken to its ultimate deadly conclusion, it distracts the downtrodden from their true enemies--those who keep them on an economic knife edge--and makes them accessories to campaigns of genocide.

The authors end with this:
We’ve also found evidence of last place aversion in laboratory experiments. In one, we created an artificial income distribution by endowing individuals with different sums of money and showing them their “rank”– with each rank separated by $1. We then gave them an additional $2, which they had to give to either the person directly below or directly above them in the distribution. In this income distribution, of course, giving $2 to the person below you means he will jump ahead of you in rank. In our experiments, most people still give to the person below them – after all, the alternative is to give $2 to a person who already has more money than you. People in second-to-last place, however, who would fall to last place when giving the money to the person below them, are the least likely to do so: so strong is their desire to avoid last place that they choose to give the money to a wealthier person (the person above them) nearly half the time. If Americans behave like people in our experiments, then it could be challenging to unite those in the bottom of the income distribution to support redistribution.
Again, the bolding is mine. It really brings into focus the habit amongst the American working class of giving passes to the wealthy while seeking to stick it to the poor, doesn't it?

You can read the study by the authors here.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Remember That It Was The Little Guys That Prevailed

Belong to one of the big banks that are about to (yet again) squeeze you for accessing and using your own money? The best part is that some, like HSBC and TD Bank, are not only planning to charge you a fee to use one of their own ATMs, they are also going to charge you for using a competitor's ATM, which means, of course, you will be charged twice: once by the competitor for using a "foreign" ATM, and once by your own dear bank for philandering around. Depending on the charges, that could result in more than $5.00 a shot just to pull out a yuppie food stamp. Did I mention that it was your own money?

Well, believe it or not there are other banks. There are even other banks that give you excellent customer service, look out for your interests, don't gouge you just because they can, and make it cheaper and easier to buy cars and houses. They are community banks and credit unions. And as the customer of the latter for 16 years, I can tell you that I love and cherish my bank over diamonds and rubies. You can get out from under these crooks.

You can find information on credit unions and how to locate one near you here.

You can find info on a new concept in banking called BankSimple here.

And the Move Your Money Project can help you find small community banks and credit unions, along with lots of good advice.

You don't have to suck this up and take it. Fuck them. Small banking is the wave of the future. And once these dinosaurs fall under their own weight, we'll need the solid support and reliability of the little mammals still standing afterwards.

Emile Zola Wept

Isn't this nice? This is behavior worthy of the Ancien RĂ©gime...

...that is, before Marie Antoinette had her final coif under the blade.

Christ, these people really do think their money makes them better. A decade of TV worship at the altar of the Bougie God during the Reagan regime, and the broadening demonization of the poor, got these clowns hot for it.

Keep it up, fools. I'm sure there must be a few folks amongst the sans-culottes down below who can knit.

Via scarce at Crooks and Liars.