What can we do about the great American lie?


From MICHAEL A. LEWIS
Transtion Voice

I. F. Stone told us many years ago that All Governments Lie.

Daniel Ellsberg, in Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, told us why governments, including presidents, always lie, and must continue to lie about what they know to be true, but about which they cannot talk under constraints of “national security.”

Here at home, the lies place an impermeable barrier between those who know and those who cannot be told, a barrier that trickles down hill forever, separating the citizenry of the US from their government.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

Today, the lies continue, as they must

Tar Sands


From PEACEFUL UPRISING

Josh Fox, creator of the award-winning film “Gasland“, has created a moving and informative new video about the Tar Sands Action in Washington DC. He joins a growing list of concerned scientists, authors, and celebrities (Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Mark Ruffalo, for example) who have voiced their support the 2000+ people who have signed up to take action.

Beginning August 20th, and continuing day after day until Sept. 3, citizens from all over the country will gather in front of the White House and participate in the time-honored tactic of peaceful civil disobedience. Why? Because President Obama has the ultimate authority to sign or not sign the authorization of the Keystone XL Pipeline, that would run from Alberta, Canada to oil refineries in Texas. This would allow oil companies

The Light Bulb Conspiracy


From NATURAL NEWS

Here’s a full-length feature you can watch on YouTube. It’s a remarkable film about planned obsolescence and the “buy more stuff” consumer society. In four parts with subtitles.
~

Tired of primitive living?… why not try civilisation!


~~

Dave Pollard: The Internet — A Depression Scenario


From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World Blog

Last year, my article What Are You Going to Do When the Internet’s Gone stirred up lots of discussion and surprisingly little pushback from the technophiles (perhaps because they’ve stopped reading this blog). I thought it might be worthwhile thinking a bit about what life will be like as a combination of economic and energy crises slowly transform the Internet from a ubiquitous tool (at least in affluent nations) to a hobbyist toy for die-hard techies and uber-geeks (kinda like amateur/ham radios were a half-century ago).

The reasons I cited last year for believing the Internet is going to be impossible to maintain as we face the end of cheap energy, the end of stable climate and the end of the industrial “growth” economy) are as follows:

Tax the super-rich or riots will rage in 2012


From PAUL B. FARRELL
MarketWatch

6 reasons we can’t stop coming economic meltdown. Plan now for the revolution, class warfare, market crash, economic collapse, plan for another depression.

What a year. Rage in London, Egypt, Athens, Damascus. All real. Just a metaphor in the new “Planet of the Apes” film? No, much more. Warning: More rage is dead ahead. Across our planet a new generation is filled with rage. High unemployment. Raging inflation. Dreams lost. Hope gone. While the super -rich get richer and richer.

Listen to that hissing: The fuse is rapidly burning, warning us. Wake up before the rage explodes in your face. This firestorm is endangering America’s future. From forces outside, yes. But far more deadly, from deep within our collective psyche. We have lost our moral compass. We are self-destructing.

Crackpot warning? No. This warning comes from the elite International Monetary Fund. A recent IMF report looked at “the causes of the two major U.S. economic crises over the past 100 years, the Great Depression of 1929 and the Great Recession of 2007,” writes Rana Foroohar, an economics editor at Time magazine.

“There are two remarkable similarities in the eras that preceded these crises. Both saw a sharp increase in income inequality and household-debt-to-income ratios.” And in each case, “as the poor and middle-class were squeezed, they tried to cope by borrowing to maintain their standard of living.”

But the rich “got richer, by lending, and looked for more places to invest, bidding up securities that eventually exploded in everyone’s face. In both eras, financial deregulation and loose monetary policies played roles in creating the bubble. But inequality itself

Unequal Protection — Chapter 8: Corporations Go Global


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout

Curtin, what do you think of those fellows in Wall Street who are gambling in gold at such a time as this?… For my part, I wish every one of them had his devilish head shot off.

—President Abraham Lincoln, personal letter to Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin, April 25, 1864

People, at the time, generally weren’t all that concerned about the fate of the world’s dolphins. It was the last week of June 1944, and the war wasn’t going well for Adolf Hitler. The killing machines of his death camps were running full out, straining his resources and creating consternation as word leaked out across Europe. His forces were falling back before the Soviets, and his generals openly worried about

an Allied invasion on the French coast. On Thursday, June 29, almost all of the eighteen hundred Jews of Corfu were murdered upon their arrival at Auschwitz, while twenty thousand Jewish women were relocated to the concentration camp at Stutthof. On Friday, June 30, more than a thousand Parisian Jews arrived at Auschwitz.

This same weekend that opened July 1944, a three-week meeting was convened in an isolated hotel in New Hampshire’s White Mountains near the town of Bretton Woods. Bankers, economists, and representatives of the governments of forty-four nations arrived for the meeting, which was convened as the International Monetary and Financial Conference of the United and Associated Nations.

The official history of the meeting suggests it was a group of nations getting together to work out a new international economic world order that would prevent a repeat of the Great Depressions and the European inflations that had occurred in the 1930s and driven Hitler to prominence and power with his promises to “restore Germany to greatness.”

Wind powered factories: history (and future) of industrial windmills


From LOW-TECH MAGAZINE

In the 1930s and 1940s, decades after steam engines had made wind power obsolete, Dutch researchers obstinately kept improving the – already very sophisticated – traditional windmill. The results were spectacular, and there is no doubt that today an army of ecogeeks could improve them even further. Would it make sense to revive the industrial windmill and again convert kinetic energy directly into mechanical energy?

More than 900 years ago, medieval Europe became the first large civilisation not to be run by human muscle power. Thousands and thousands of windmills and waterwheels, backed up by animal power, transformed industry and society radically. It was an industrial revolution entirely powered by renewable energy – something that we can (and do) only dream of today. Wind and water powered mills were in essence the first real factories in human history. They consisted of a building, a power source, machinery and employees, and out of them came a product.

Windmills and waterwheels were not new technologies – both machines appeared already in Antiquity and the ones used in the early Middle Ages were technically no different from those. However, ancient civilisations like the Greeks and the Romans hardly used them, possibly because of religious reasons and because of a large enough reservoir of human slave labour.

Water versus wind

Water powered mills were – overall – more important and numerous than windmills. This is logical since they are a simpler and more reliable technology; the flow of a river might change according to the seasons, but generally a river

Todd Walton: Rich People


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“ Of all classes the rich are the most noticed and the least studied.” John Kenneth Galbraith

I know people who own nice houses and multiple cars and have sufficient wealth to eat and drink whatever they want to eat and drink, and to take occasional vacations, too, yet they do not consider themselves rich. That is, they do not think of themselves as people who should pay higher taxes because, well, they feel they pay high enough taxes as it is, too high, actually, and besides, they aren’t part of that one per cent we hear so much about, those multi-millionaires and billionaires who pay no taxes at all. These people I know don’t own three and four homes, for goodness sake. Some of them own two houses, and maybe a rental or two, but no one ever gave them a golden parachute. They voted for Clinton and Obama. They proudly click buttons on web sites to indicate their opposition to icky pipelines and their sympathy for homeless people and their support for endangered species. So…now their houses are plummeting in value, their stock portfolios are crashing, and the price of everything edible and the price of anything that produces heat and electricity and horse power is skyrocketing, so it’s not as if these people have much to spare. In fact, when you add everything up, these people I know with houses and money are, relatively speaking, poor, though the words poor and rich are not precise terms; so let’s just say that these people I know with houses and cars and money are adamant that they are not rich.

“A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.” W.C. Fields

I was six-years-old when my family moved from a tiny house in a working class neighborhood in San Mateo to a three-bedroom house in Atherton. For those of you unfamiliar with Atherton, it is a town of eight thousand residents and their servants not far from Stanford University, twenty-seven miles south

The bright future of solar powered factories


From LOW-TECH MAGAZINE

Most of the talk about renewable energy is aimed at electricity production. However, most of the energy we need is heat, which solar panels and wind turbines cannot produce efficiently. To power industrial processes like the making of chemicals, the smelting of metals or the production of microchips, we need a renewable source of thermal energy. Direct use of solar energy can be the solution, and it creates the possibility to produce renewable energy plants using only renewable energy plants, paving the way for a truly sustainable industrial civilization. A large share of energy consumed worldwide is by heat. Cooking, space heating and water heating dominate domestic energy consumption. In the UK, these activities account for 85 percent of domestic energy use, in Europe for 89 percent and in the USA for 61 percent (excluding cooking).

Heat also dominates industrial energy consumption. In the UK, 76 percent of industrial energy consumption is heat. In Europe, this is 67 percent. I could not find figures for the US and for the world as a whole, but these percentages must be similar (and probably even higher on a worldwide scale because many energy-intensive industries have been outsourced to developing countries). Few things can be manufactured without heat.

 The importance of heat in total energy consumption sharply contrasts with our efforts to green the energy infrastructure. These are largely aimed at renewable electricity production using wind turbines and solar panels. Although it is perfectly possible to convert electricity into heat, as in electric heaters or electric cookers, it is very inefficient to do so.

It is often assumed that our energy problems are solved when renewables reach ‘grid parity’ – the point at which they can generate electricity for the same price as fossil fuels. But to truly compete with fossil fuels, renewables must also reach ‘thermal parity‘.

Close All Nukes Now! Fukushima alarm — Ground cracking, radioactive steam seeping — Canadians receiving extreme radiation from rain


From DEBORAH DUPREÉ
examiner.com

Doomed to cripple before quake and tsunami

As Canadians learned about dangerous radiation falling on them in rain on Tuesday as far east as Toronto registered at 20,000 CPM, equivalent to the highly targeted dose of radiation for cancer radiotherapy,  the Fukushima catastrophe escalated even higher Wednesday with evidence that the ground is cracking under the crippled nuclear power plant, causing radioactive steam to escape, “very serious and alarming” according to Anissa Naouai’s guest on Russia Today, Dr. Robert Jacobs, Professor of nuclear history at Hiroshima Peace Institute.

Fukushima nuclear plant workers have reported that the ground under the facility is cracking and radioactive steam is already escaping through the cracks that Dr. Jacobs says is very serious and alarming development because it has happened after two large earthquakes over the past few weeks according to Russia Today. (See embedded Russia Today interviewing Dr. Jacobs on Youtube video on this page left.)

“There was a 6.4 earthquake on the 31st of July and a 6.0 earthquake on August 12th,” Dr. Jacobs told Russia Today’s Naoiai.

“What this indicates is there may have been some breaking of the pipes and some of the structures underground that happened during these earthquakes,” he said.

“There could be radioactive water that is venting into the soil and what’s more, as cracks are opening, the steam and radioactivity is working its way up,” he said.

It is harder for workers to work under those conditions and threatens the Japanese, their children and their hibakusha (victims of radiation exposure from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings).

Why Social Security IS NOT a Ponzi Scheme


From ANDREW SULLIVAN
The Dish

[Here's the counter to conservative bullshit. See also: The Real Ponzi ~DS]

A reader writes:

What a silly argument made by Indiviglio. If a Ponzi scheme is “an economic arrangement where the money paid into the system by later entrants is paid right back out as benefits to earlier entrants,” that pretty much describes any form of insurance. The defining characteristic of a Ponzi scheme is that it is unsustainable, because it requires, like a chain letter or Amway, a geometrically increasing number of participants to deliver the promised returns.  (Amway stays afloat because most participants pay in a little – or a lot – but withdraw without ever receiving any return.) Neither insurance nor Social Security requires a geometrically increasing number of participants so long as the system is funded based on sound actuarial principles.

Another parses further:

Having represented the victims of actual Ponzi schemes in court, I feel compelled to point out an important distinction between Ponzi schemes and Social Security: a Ponzi scheme is just that, a scheme. The definition provided in Zaid Jilani’s dictionary omits this important component. The participants are kept in the dark about how the benefits are obtained. Thus, a Ponzi scheme is not really an economic “arrangement” in the sense that the participants have agreed to it. By contrast, we all know (or should know) how Social Security works. It is more akin to something else, namely an insurance program where the insured event (reaching the retirement age) is guaranteed (barring premature death).

Another:

How To Learn From Open Resources Online


From ANYA KAMENTZ
Shareable

There are plenty of open resources on the Internet to allow for college-level learning on almost any topic. But diving in can be daunting.

If you want to read a textbook, answer the questions at the end of each chapter, and take a sample test, you can certainly simulate that kind of traditional classroom-based learning online, but there are many, many other possibilities.

Just as the three main “buckets” of traditional education are Content, Socialization, and Accreditation, or the “what,” the “how,” and the “why,” the world of open learning can be divided roughly into the parallel buckets of open content, social learning, and reputation-based networks.

Open content is the “what.” Content means textbooks, video and audio lectures, lessons, problem sets, and sample tests and quizzes. The most common form of open content that you have probably turned to for a quick definition or overview of a topic is Wikipedia. Open content, or open educational resources, are found on websites like MIT’s Open Courseware, The Open Courseware Consortium, the Open Learning Initiative, Khan Academy, Open Yale Courses, iTunes U, Academic Earth, Saylor.org, Scribd, Slideshare, Textbookrevolution, Wikiversity, and many more. In a bricks-and-mortar university, Open Content is the equivalent of the lecture hall and the library.

Open social learning happens on sites like P2PU, OpenLearn, OpenStudy, Wikianswers, Quora, Urch, and even Twitter. These are places where you can ask or answer a complex technical question, form or join a book group, or get help studying for the SATs. These sites can be the equivalent of the pizza and study group, the tutoring center, or the seminar…

Complete article here
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Resilient Home


From THE RESILIENT COMMUNITY

“Homes that don’t produce food, energy, water, etc. will be the homes that will see a decline in value. As things stand today, it won’t be long before the value of a home is based PRIMARILY on its productive value.”‘JR

A resilient home produces:

Why?

Here’s a simple answer. A resilient home protects you against breakdowns in the global supply chain/economy. It’s not merely a black hole of consumption — a place where you consume and sleep. It should be a productive asset. The greater production value of your home, the less vulnerable you are to these disruptions.

It’s not as hard as you think. With modern technology and techniques (gathered from around the world), you can turn your home into a dynamo of production.

Energy

Food

Stop Coddling Us, the Super-Rich


From WARREN BUFFETT
NYT

Our leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes… Complete article here
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High Corn


From JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER

Looking every inch the Assistant Manager of a J.C. Penny, Rick Perry of Texas stepped on-board the touring evangelical freak show that the Republican pre-primary parade has turned into. I like to think of him as George W. Bush without all the encumbering intellect. I give it three months before media snoops catch him in bed with Michele Bachmann. The two of them will claim it was all right because Jesus was there as chaperone and anyway, “…alls we did was watch the Vikings-Cowboy game….”

Oh these sons and daughters of the high corn! Make no mistake (to borrow a favorite war cry from the presidential cheat sheet), both of these heartland bozos are dumb enough to lead America straight into the graveyard of failed states. Imagine a summit between Rick Perry and whoever succeeds Hu Jintao – the incredulous side-glances of the Chinese leader and his interpreter when Mr. Perry presents the official gift from our nation: a miniature Bible made by the inmates at Stringfellow State Prison and “prayed over by qualified preachers twenty-four hours a day!” Or how about Michele Bachmann and Vlad Putin. I’d sooner watch a gerbil in a terrarium with a King Cobra.

Meanwhile, the other day poor Mitt Romney tried to explain to a crowd of Iowa hot-heads that “corporations are people!” Wasn’t that just the right thing to say to folks whose employment opportunities have dwindled down to eviscerating chickens on an assembly line or humping boxes on the WalMart loading dock for $8 an hour. He was heckled mercilessly. I don’t see how a candidate recovers from that kind of caught-on-camera mockery – but then again, in a culture that has no shame, just about anything goes. One thing I’d really like to know about the Republican party, though: if they’re so all-fired up about fiscal rectitude and the honest disposition of money, and stuff like that, then how come…

Complete article here
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Fukushima radiation refugees living in cardboard box homes


From AUSSIE 60 MINUTES
Via AsianWeek

[...] One of the more prolific channels varies from crazy conspiracy stuff to mainstream pieces from a very good Australian 60 minutes program. Australia has done a much better job of covering the crisis as opposed to US media which seems to be more covering up than coverage.

In this episode, they hop in a van but have to withdraw once they get within 20 km (10 mi) of the plant because the radiation detectors are going crazy. Remember the workers trying to clean up the plant have to work in this stuff all day when they signed up to work at a fully working plant that isn’t leaking radiation…

They tallied 126,000 refugees and visited one of the many families with no job and no home living on a floor with cardboard box cubicles where kids have drawn in windows and pictures of the outdoors. There are pastures in England that still are too contaminated from Chernobyl to pasture cows 25 years later.

They tour the Chernobyl site where discarded clothing in the hospital basement where they treated the first wave of firefighters who were fatally exposed was still radioactive. People who leave the area must be scanned because the air, water and food are all contaminated, and they’re still not even sure if the reactor fuel which is a massive hot glob on a concrete floor is still generating heat because it’s too dangerous to even check it. They estimate 5 million people have been affected just locally, not counting the rest of Europe, and they have set up hospitals for children whose medical conditions and cancers were almost certainly caused by the nuclear accident.

Michio Kaku is on throughout with his grim assessment that radiation from Chernobyl and now Fukushima circulated around the planet many times and is in all of us sooner or later. The program says that this cheap and reliable electrical generation method is costing the people dearly,

Colbert is the Most Relevant Person on TV


From DAILYKOS

[...] Colbert, however, succeeds in ways Stewart doesn’t when it comes to showing the right as the insane idiots they are. Largely, this is due to extremely deft use of satire — by posing as a right-wing know-nothing, Colbert can show just how know-nothing the actual right is. By playing up his Hannity-inspired persona as bombastically as he can manage, he completely devastates Hannity and anyone of his ilk.

Now, Lawrence O’Donnell last night had some harsh words about Colbert and his new Super-PAC project. I had to watch it a few times to be sure if he was glib or serious, but it seems he was serious. And I have to say, if so, O’Donnell completely misunderstands Colbert. The Super-PAC project is not about Colbert trying to trick people out of their money. (I’m amazed so many have donated, absolutely). What he’s doing is portraying the insanity of campaign finance in America. First as tragedy, then as farce, no? This is Colbert demonstrating brilliantly how insane running for president is in the contemporary USA, and how broken our media is that it would run Colbert’s ad. (And the “Cornographic” ad)

Colbert’s entire act rips to shreds any claim anyone on the Right can claim to seriousness. In portraying a homophobic, anti-tax, science-denying militarist, Colbert shows how radically absurd those actual ideas are. That character allows him to do things Stewart can’t, and Colbert is both brilliant and funny enough to pull it off nightly. Yes, some of his set pieces can be ridiculous, but such is the career of a gifted satirist. Enough are perfectly cutting.

When he breaks character, he does admirable things as well. His testimony before Congress on behalf of undocumented immigrants was incredibly admirable. His solidarity with soldiers in Iraq similarly so. His “It Gets Better” video is genuinely touching. All in all, he seems like a pretty remarkable guy and easily the wittiest and most important person on television today.

Complete article here
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Three Good Reasons To Liquidate Our Empire And Ten Steps to Take to Do So


From CHALMERS JOHNSON
TomDispatch.com

However ambitious President Barack Obama’s domestic plans, one unacknowledged issue has the potential to destroy any reform efforts he might launch. Think of it as the 800-pound gorilla in the American living room: our longstanding reliance on imperialism and militarism in our relations with other countries and the vast, potentially ruinous global empire of bases that goes with it. The failure to begin to deal with our bloated military establishment and the profligate use of it in missions for which it is hopelessly inappropriate will, sooner rather than later, condemn the United States to a devastating trio of consequences: imperial overstretch, perpetual war, and insolvency, leading to a likely collapse similar to that of the former Soviet Union.

According to the 2008 official Pentagon inventory of our military bases around the world, our empire consists of 865 facilities in more than 40 countries and overseas U.S. territories. We deploy over 190,000 troops in 46 countries and territories. In just one such country, Japan, at the end of March 2008, we still had 99,295 people connected to U.S. military forces living and working there — 49,364 members of our armed services, 45,753 dependent family members, and 4,178 civilian employees. Some 13,975 of these were crowded into the small island of Okinawa, the largest concentration of foreign troops anywhere in Japan.

These massive concentrations of American military power outside the United States are not needed for our defense. They are, if anything, a prime contributor to our numerous conflicts with other countries. They are also unimaginably expensive. According to Anita Dancs, an analyst for the website Foreign Policy in Focus, the United States spends approximately $250 billion each year maintaining its global military presence. The sole purpose of this is to give us hegemony — that is, control or dominance

Economic Crisis or Nonviolent Opportunity? Gandhi’s Answer to Financial Collapse


From MICHAEL NAGLER
Waging Nonviolence

On Monday the Dow Jones industrial average fell 634.76 points; the sixth-worst point decline for the Dow in the last 112 years and the worst drop since December 2008. Every stock in the S&P 500 index declined.

It is easy to blame bipartisan bickering for the impasse that led to Standard & Poor’s downgrading of the American debt, and in turn the vertiginous fall of the Dow. This bickering—this substitution of ideology for reason, of egotism for compassion and responsibility on the part of lawmakers—is a national disgrace; but while it failed to fix the problem, we must realize that it did not cause it. The cause—and potential for a significant renewal—lies much deeper.

So let’s allow ourselves to ask a fundamental question: what’s an economy for?

The real purpose of an economic system is to guarantee to every person in its circle the fundamentals of physical existence (food, clothing, shelter) and the tools of meaningful work so that they can get on with the business of living together and working out our common destiny. This was Gandhi’s vision, among others’. We can no longer afford to ignore him in this sector any more than we can ignore his spectacular contributions to peace and security.

By the time Gandhi’s thinking on the subject matured in his classic treatise, Hind Swaraj, or Indian Home Rule (1909), he saw that our present economic system is being driven by a dangerous motive: the multiplication of wants. Because these wants are artificial—being that they created by advertising—and can never be satisfied, it creates what economist David Korten has called a “phantom economy” of fantastic financial manipulations that of course can never endure.

We will never know real prosperity—where we acknowledge that we are much more than producer/ consumers and can only be fulfilled when we discover a higher purpose—until we shift to another basis entirely, the fulfillment of needs. We have physical needs, to be sure, but also

Greedy Conservatives Scheming To Steal Social Security Trust Fund


From SIERRA VOICES

The conservative meme that the Social Security trust fund is a “fiction” is based on the banal fact that Social Security contributions are paid into the treasury, and paid out when needed. Note, though, that each such contribution results in an accounting entry in the notional “trust fund” account and in the contributor’s sub-account.

An “accounting entry?”

Sounds like fiction, doesn’t it?

Well, it is, sort of, in exactly the same way that a bank’s ability to loan more money than it has in deposit reserves is a sort of “fiction,” merely an accounting device, a kind of convenient social contract only.

Other “fictions” in our system — as we have seen so vividly recently — include our national debt obligations. Apparently, if we so decide, and as some Tea Party Know-Nothings encourage, we could simply abrogate many of those debt obligations. After all, they’re just accounting entries, right?

One way to identify a radical conservative in these times is by his immoral willingness to dismiss these important social contracts as “mere fictions.”

Here’s Dean Baker’s explanation for the conservative attack on the trust fund:

” … high income people don’t want to pay the taxes to repay the bonds. That is why they are so anxious to convince the public that the trust fund is not real. I calculated that defaulting on the trust fund would transfer more than $1 trillion from the bottom 95 percent of the income distribution to the richest 5 percent (“Defaulting on the Social Security Trust Fund Bonds: Winners and Losers”). The richest 1 percent of families would walk away with nearly $750,000 each.

“In short, there is a lot of money at stake in convincing the public that the Social Security trust fund is not real. That is the reason we hear it called a fiction. In reality, there is nothing more confusing about the trust fund than an ordinary bank account. The public absolutely should demand that the government not default on the bonds held by Social Security and that the politicians and pundits start talking more honestly about the program.”
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Rick Perry’s Magical Thinking


Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke at a day long prayer and fast rally on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

From TIMOTHY EGAN
NYT Opinionator

[I'll be sure to get out and vote for Obama in the next election if for no other reasons than Supreme Court nominations and the Republican lineup of fools like this corporatist, wingnut, dumbass. -DS]

A few months ago, with Texas aflame from more than 8,000 wildfires brought on by extreme drought, a man who hopes to be the next president took pen in hand and went to work:

“Now, therefore, I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.”

Then the governor prayed, publicly and often.  Alas, a rainless spring was followed by a rainless summer. July was the hottest month in recorded Texas history. Day after pitiless day, from Amarillo to Laredo, from Toadsuck to Twitty, folks  were greeted by a hot, white bowl overhead, triple-digit temperatures, and a slow death on the land.

In the four months since Perry’s request for divine intervention, his state has taken a dramatic turn for the worse.  Nearly all of Texas  is now in “extreme or exceptional” drought, as classified by federal meteorologists, the worst in Texas history.

Lakes have disappeared. Creeks are phantoms, the caked bottoms littered with rotting, dead fish.  Farmers cannot coax a kernel of grain from ground that looks like the skin of an aging elephant.

Is this Rick Perry’s fault, a slap to a man who doesn’t believe that humans can alter the earth’s climate —  God messin’ with Texas? No, of course not.  God is too busy with the upcoming Cowboys football season and solving the problems that Tony Romo has reading a blitz.

But Perry’s tendency to use prayer as public policy demonstrates, in the midst of a truly painful, wide-ranging and potentially catastrophic crisis in the nation’s second most-populous state, how he would govern if he became president.

“I think it’s time for us to just hand it over to God, and say, ‘God: You’re going to have to fix this,’” he said in a speech in May, explaining how some of the nation’s most serious problems could be solved.

That was a warm-up of sorts for his prayer-fest, 30,000 evangelicals in Houston’s Reliant Stadium

How to protect your privacy from Google’s insatiable need to steal it



“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
~Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

GoogleSharing is a special kind of anonymizing proxy service, designed for a very specific threat. It ultimately aims to provide a level of anonymity that will prevent Google from tracking your searches, movements, and what websites you visit. GoogleSharing is not a full proxy service designed to anonymize all your traffic, but rather something designed exclusively for your communication with Google. Our system is totally transparent, with no special “alternative” websites to visit. Your normal work flow should be exactly the same.

The Basic Problem

Google thrives where privacy does not. If you’re like most internet users, Google knows more about you than you might be comfortable with. Whether you were logged in to a Google account or not, they know everything you’ve ever searched for, what search results you clicked on, what news you read, and every place you’ve ever gotten directions to. Most of the time, thanks to things like Google Analytics, they even know which websites you visited that you didn’t reach through Google. If you use Gmail, they know the content of every email you’ve ever sent or received, whether you’ve deleted it or not.

They know who your friends are, where you live, where you work, and where you spend your free time. They know about your health, your love life, and your political leanings. These days they are even branching out into collecting your realtime GPS location and your DNS lookups. In short, not only do they know a lot about what you’re doing, they also have significant insight into what you’re thinking.

Where GoogleSharing Comes In

GoogleSharing is a system that mixes the requests of many different users together

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