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
~~

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
~~

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.”
~~

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

Todd Walton: Brandon Crawford


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTable

Mendocino

“The Possible’s slow fuse is lit
By the Imagination.”
Emily Dickinson

While following a seemingly insignificant line of thought I will suddenly find myself on a broad avenue of inquiry that becomes the on-ramp to a sixteen-lane super highway of conjecture leading to an imposing citadel wherein is housed the solution to all the problems of humankind. Wow. Talk about grandiose. But isn’t that how our minds sometimes work, leaping from the insignificant to a grand unified theory of everything?

For instance, my recent musings about Brandon Crawford merged onto the super highway of an idea that all the problems of human society can be traced to a lack of imagination, to the inability of people to imagine new ways of proceeding rather than repeating the same old nonsense that dooms us all to slide down the steep and slippery slopes to a most unpleasant bottom of the dysfunctional pyramidal paradigm.

Who is Brandon Crawford? A descendant of English royalty? An up-and-coming politico? A movie star? Nay. Brandon Crawford is a baseball player, an easy-going California guy, a wide-ranging and quietly brilliant shortstop for the San Francisco Giants recently sent back to the minor leagues where, because of the aforementioned lack of imagination by people in positions of power, he definitely does not, in the way I imagine things, belong.

When Brandon was called up from the minor leagues a month or so ago, the Giants were reeling from injuries to star players and mired in a debilitating ennui that threatened to send our team spiraling out of contention for a return to the World Series. Desperation, not imagination, inspired General Manager Brian Sabean and Manager Bruce Bochy to call up the young Brandon, and the results were miraculous. The moribund team came to life, moved into first place, and steadily won more games than they lost. Brandon Crawford, as far as my imagination is concerned, was the catalyst for this revival, and his removal from the starting lineup and eventual demotion to the minor leagues was the cause

Dave Pollard: Making a Living for Ourselves


From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World

By now it should be pretty clear that our economic system is incapable of providing meaningful work for the majority of the population. Real unemployment rates (not the fabricated rates published by our governments) are in excess of 25%, and the number of people employed by companies with over 500 employees has dropped dramatically every year for the past 15 years. All growth in employment now comes from small entrepreneurial organizations. Every month in the US, 150,000 more people enter the labour force.

Yet there is no educational program of any size that teaches people how to start their own small, community-based sustainable enterprise, and entrepreneurial start-ups have a colossal failure rate. Most MBA and Commerce programs provide case study based programs that are aimed principally at teaching students how to be better middle-managers in (or consultants to) large corporations — yet those corporations are shedding jobs, not adding them, every year. Entrepreneurial programs offered by community colleges and community business development offices are generally focused on the least important parts of small business: legal structure, regulatory compliance and record-keeping (or on the ghastly process of seeking vultures who will bleed them dry with “venture capital”).

Partly in response to this need, I published my book Finding the Sweet Spot: The Natural Entrepreneur’s Guide to Responsible, Sustainable, Joyful Work three years ago, to explain the six key attributes that differentiate Natural Enterprises from the mainstream of struggling entrepreneurs. The book asserts that these Natural Enterprises are what we need to create, by the millions, so that we can all make a living for ourselves, so we are no longer dependent on others to create jobs for us.

A book alone, however, is not enough. Until millions of Natural Enterprises exist as models that we can visit and learn from to create our own enterprises, we need extensive programs for online and in-community study and for young people to learn hands-on in secondary school. These programs need to be developed cooperatively with local Natural Enterprises in each community

Hackerspaces: Hubs For Tech-Minded Do-Gooders?


hackerspace

From FAST COMPANY

Following the recent disaster in Japan, the Tokyo Hackerspace–an open community space where hackers get together to play with hardware (among other things)–channeled its hive mind not into its usual playing with lasers and forgetting to shower, but rather into helping the country recover from earthquake and nuclear-related woes.

The Tokyo Hackerspace’s most high-profile project is its NETRAD geiger shield, an open-source geiger counter shield that detects local radiation levels. Eventually, the hackerspace hopes to expand its sensor network to the Fukushima region. But the geiger counter project is just one of many community-oriented initiatives from the Tokyo Hackerspace. Other quake-related projects include solar lanterns, personal disaster protection packs, and even geodesic dome kits.

The Japan disaster didn’t somehow switch the Tokyo Hackerspace into this altruistic mode; it was already there. The group is also working “smart” canes for blind people, solar cell phone chargers, and a rice farm wireless sensor network.

Lest you think that the Japanese are alone in their community-mindedness, other hackerspaces around the world are helping out with the diaster relief—and working on similar projects of their own. Ohmspace in Oklahoma sold T-shirts and stickers to raise funds for the Tokyo Hackerspace’s solar lanterns, and Arizona’s Heatsync built 300 lanterns for the Tokyo group.

Washington, D.C.’s HacDC is working on its own disaster preparedness project, dubbed Project Byzantium. The project aims to develop a communication system for users to connect and share information in the absence of easy Internet access. Potential use scenarios include natural disasters, a government Internet shutdown (a la Egypt), or “a zombie apocalypse in which the personnel responsible for maintaining key infrastructure have all been turned.” See, still nerds, just nerds with hearts of gold.

This isn’t to say that hackerspaces don’t work on superfluous projects as well; the Tokyo Hackerspace, for example, recently made LED clothing for dancers at a local Michael Jackson tribute concert. But when people with enough free time, knowledge, and good intentions gather together to tinker with gadgets, positive outcomes will often result.
~~

The Beginning of the End Started 30 Years Ago Today


From MICHAEL MOORE

From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, “When did this all begin, America’s downward slide?” They say they’ve heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent’s income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how “lowly” your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.

Young people have heard of this mythical time — but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, “When did this all end?”, I say, “It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981.”

Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to “go for it” — to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves.

And they’ve succeeded.

On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who’d defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days.

It was a bold and brash move. No one had ever tried it. What made it even bolder was that PATCO was one of only three unions that had endorsed Reagan for president! It sent a shock wave through workers across the country. If he would do this to the people who were with him, what would he do to us?

Reagan had been backed by Wall Street in his run for the White House and they, along with right-wing Christians, wanted to restructure America and turn back the tide that President Franklin D. Roosevelt started — a tide that was intended to make life better for the average working person. The rich hated paying better wages and providing benefits. They hated paying taxes even more. And they despised unions. The right-wing Christians hated anything that sounded like socialism or holding out a helping hand to minorities or women.

Democracy Died First in Wisconsin – Long Live the Oligarchs


From THOM HARTMANN

[Also see below from Thom: Globalization Is Killing the Globe: Return to Local Economies]

The Wisconsin recall election was the first major test of the new era in American politics.

That new era began in January of 2010 when the US Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. FEC that the political voice of We The People was no longer as important as the voices of billionaires and transnational corporations.

Now we know the result, and it bodes ill for both 2012 and for the tattered future of small-d democracy in our republic.

A few of America’s most notorious oligarchs – including the Koch and the DeVos (Amway fortune) billionaires – as well as untraceable millions from donors who could as easily be Chinese government-run corporations as giant “American” companies who do most of their business and keep most of their profits outside the US – apparently played big in this election.

I say “apparently” because the Supreme Court has ruled that we no longer have the right to know who is really funding our election commercials, or even our candidates themselves.

Thanks to an irrational and likely illegal Supreme Court ruling, we have moved into an era of oligarch-run politics. As much as $40 million of our oligarch’s money was spent in Wisconsin in a handful of local races – a testing laboratory for strategies that will now be used against Democrats nationwide in 2012.

And so now we enter the battle of the oligarchs over the next fifteen or so months.

As the old saying goes, when the elephants fight, the mice get trampled. In this case, the mice aren’t just the voters. It’s democracy itself.

America is now – demonstrably, as proven by Wisconsin – just a few years away from the possibility of a totally corrupted, totally billionaire- and corporate-controlled political system. Political scientists call it oligarchy.

The Citizens United election experiment is over, and the oligarchs won. Long live the oligarchy.

________________________

Globalization Is Killing the Globe: Return to Local Economies

Democracy is coming to the USA…


[Democracy is dead. Long live democracy… DS]

If you want to strengthen democracy where it matters most — in our communities, our schools, our workplaces and local economies, our military, our government, our media, our constitution — you will find something inspiring in Madison this August.

More than one conference, this first Democracy Convention will house at least nine conferences under one roof. As the great progressive reformer Fighting Bob La Follette said, “democracy is a life,” and “involves constant struggle” in all sectors of society. With the 2011 Democracy Convention, we recognize the importance of each of these separate democracy struggles, as well as the need to unite them all in a common, deeply rooted, broad based, movement for democracy.

A NEW DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT

A new movement — a democracy movement — was born in the streets of Seattle on November 30, 1999. This movement’s early years were not easy. Pro-democracy organizers faced crisis after crisis: the stolen presidential elections of 2000 and 2004; the militarization of America that followed September 11th; the destruction of the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Katrina; the Supreme Court ruling that corporations wield constitutional rights to buy elections; and today, an economic crisis that is being used to impose fiscal austerity and corporatization schemes on our states and people.

Through these difficult struggles, the new democracy movement has taken form, expanded, and matured. Now it is time for a coming-of-age celebration. This is the moment to unite in one location the many different efforts to build genuine democracy in the United States. And what better place to come together, and to rejoice, than in Madison, Wisconsin, the city and state that have inspired people everywhere to declare that “We are Wisconsin!”

The Democracy Convention is a project of the Liberty Tree Foundation and co-convened by the Alliance for Democracy, Progressive Magazine, and Move to Amend. We thank our local partners on our Host Committee, as well as our national partners whose support as Major Sponsors, National Sponsor, Co-Sponsors, Endorsers, and Conference Conveners, has been vital. To find out how your organization, union, business, or community can join us, click here: http://democracyconvention.org/sponsor-convention

Democracy is coming . . . to the U.S.A.
~~

James Houle: Let’s bring on the Grand Depression!


From JIM HOULE
Obama-Watch
Redwood Valley

“The $2.5 trillion deficit-reduction deal brokered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, and President Barack Obama is grotesquely unfair. It’s also bad economic policy. In the midst of a terrible recession, it will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. At a time when the wealthiest people in this country are doing extremely well, and when their effective tax rate is the lowest in decades, the rich are not required to contribute one penny more for deficit reduction. When corporate profits are soaring and many giant corporations avoid federal income taxes because of obscene loopholes in the tax code, corporate America will not be asked to contribute one penny more for deficit reduction. On the other hand, working families, children, the sick and the elderly – many of whom are already suffering because of the recession – will shoulder the entire burden:” Senator Bernie Saunders of Vermont (Aug.5, 2011).

Selling the American People a Totally Deceptive Message

The forces of the right have managed to guide the American people into a sense of helplessness, lethargy and stupid complacency. We have been told that: (1) the rising national deficit is our most serious problem today; (2) taxes are sapping the initiative of our business community; (3) we have to cut domestic spending because increasing the taxes on the wealthy individuals just gives the government more money to spend; (4) we cannot afford to cut defense spending, for this would only lower our guard against those terrorists who would invade our shores and steal our freedom; (5) entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare are out of control and increasing our national debt; and (6) that if we were to plug tax loopholes on those businesses that contribute so much to our economic leadership in the world, we will inhibit them from expansion and from the creation of new jobs.

Dylan Ratigan rants on ‘bought’ Congress


From THE RAW STORY

MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan angrily ranted Tuesday on MSNBC against economic proposals by both Democrats and Republicans, which he described as “reckless, irresponsible and stupid.”

He said he was tired of Republicans and Democrats, because Republicans “want to burn the place to the ground” and Democrats only care about their reelection, even if it means “screwing” Americans.

“Tens of trillions of dollars are being extracted from the United States of America. Democrats aren’t doing it, Republicans aren’t doing it. An entire integrated system, financial system, trading system taxing system, created by both parties over a period of two decades, is at work on our entire country right now.”

Ratigan said President Barack Obama should not work with Congress. Instead, he should tell Americans that “their Congress is bought” and incapable of making legislation because they fear losing political funding.

Watch video here
~~

M A Landis goes to Washington… Bellingham that is


From MARY ANNE LANDIS
Ukiah City Council

People figured I’d been to Indonesia, when I mentioned I’d been to the BALLE conference recently. It wasn’t BALI; it was the BALLE conference in Bellingham, Washington – The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.

Bali was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen when I was there 25 years ago, but traveling to Bellingham re-opened my eyes to how beautiful OUR home in the Pacific Northwest is…

All along the route, from the clear aerial view leaving Santa Rosa, then flying past Lassen, Shasta and St Helens, to landing in the creative clutch of Seattle, where even the lampposts in Pioneer Square are covered with art, is like nowhere else. Striped hand-knit sleeves wander up all things vertical making this urban park a wacky Dr Seuss tableau. I departed from the grand, somewhat rehabbed King Street Station, on a pretty darn comfortable Amtrak train with the sunset view of the Pacific Coast for the 3 hours north to Bellingham. Soothing, yet majestic.

Bellingham, aka the hippie retirement community for California, is as inviting a location for a conference, Place Matters, on preserving the special places our hometowns are! Coastal breezes, island vistas from the bay shore, great trails along the coast from the neighboring former town of Fairhaven, for walking, biking, running, baby carriages to get to town, or just to explore the towns heading south. For this town of 80,000, the town’s amenities are clearly being planned for accessibility, recreation, and natural beauty. A lovely example of a smaller town that is being re-born as a sustainable local economy.

Successive waves of commerce, from seaport, to gold rush boom, to lumber mill town supplying the rebuild after SF’s fire of 1906, to coal that faded in the 1950’s or 60’s… all focused on Bellingham’s natural resources

20 Measures for a Successful Local Living Economy


From MICHAEL SHUMAN
Research & Economic Development Director
BALLE

This list elaborates what broadly could be measured to determine whether a community is progressing toward Local Living Economy goals.  Admittedly, some of these indicators would be harder to construct than others, but none are beyond the measuring capabilities of most local governments.

  1. Local Ownership – What percentage of jobs in the local economy are in locally owned businesses?
  2. Self-Reliance – To what extent is the community self-reliant, especially in the basics of food, shelter, energy, and water.
  3. Socially Responsible Business — To what extent are businesses present across all sectors of the local economy that are achieving high levels of triple-bottom-line success?
  4. Youth – What’s the probability that young people stay in your community once they are graduated from high school (or return to the community after college)? A related question:  What’s the likelihood that a young person can have fun in your community without breaking the law?
  5. Schools – What’s the probability that members of every age group in your community are increasing the amount of time they spend learning this year, compared to last year.
  6. Entrepreneurship – What’s the likelihood that an entrepreneur in your community, especially a young person, can find the capital, technical assistance, mentorship, and other support that makes it possible for him or her form a small business that he/she is passionate about?
  7. Relationships – What’s the likelihood that every resident knows the names of everyone on his or her block, and that the block throws block parties?
  8. Arts – To what extent are artists, writers, musicians, and other cultural creative drawn to live in your community?
  9. Safety Net

A road map for tomorrow’s cities


From JAMES HOWARD KUNTSLER
Orion Magazine

[…] I depart from a lot of current thinking on the subject. For instance, many people seem to think that there will be more of everything—more people, taller skyscrapers, greater suburbs, bigger airplanes, larger metro regions, or even super-gigantic slums. I don’t go along with this bundle of bull, except for the slums, which I think will be short-lived, contrary to the vision of popular author Mike Davis’s Planet of Slums. Of course, trends won’t proceed with the same timing everywhere in the world. But I think the general theme going forward, certainly in the U.S., will be the comprehensive contraction of just about everything.

I see our cities getting smaller and denser, with fewer people. Skyscrapers will be obsolete, travel greatly reduced, and the rural edge more distinct. The energy inputs to our economies will decrease a lot, and probably in ways that prove destabilizing. The first manifestations of climate change will be food shortages, one of the reasons I think super slum cities will be short-lived. The growth of urban megaslums in the past one hundred years has been predicated on turning oil into food, and the failure of that equation is aggravating weather-related crop failures around the world. Food shortages will quickly bend the arc of world population growth downward from the poorer margins and inward to the “developed” center—with stark implications for politics and even civil order. The crisis of money is already hampering the operation of cities and will soon critically impede the repair of water systems, paved streets, electric service, and other vital infrastructure. We are heading into a major reset of daily life, a phase of history I call The Long Emergency. Tomorrow will be a lot more like a distant yesteryear in terms of reduced comforts, commerce, and the scale of things…

Full article here
~
See also Kuntsler: Change You Don’t Have To Believe In
~~

America is Fading Fast


From NOAM CHOMSKY
In These Times

The resulting concentration of wealth yielded greater political power, accelerating a vicious cycle that has led to extraordinary wealth for a fraction of 1 percent of the population…

“It is a common theme” that the United States, which “only a few years ago was hailed to stride the world as a colossus with unparalleled power and unmatched appeal is in decline, ominously facing the prospect of its final decay,” Giacomo Chiozza writes in the current Political Science Quarterly.

The theme is indeed widely believed. And with some reason, though a number of qualifications are in order. To start with, the decline has proceeded since the high point of U.S. power after World War II, and the remarkable triumphalism of the post-Gulf War ’90s was mostly self-delusion.

Another common theme, at least among those who are not willfully blind, is that American decline is in no small measure self-inflicted. The comic opera in Washington this summer, which disgusts the country and bewilders the world, may have no analogue in the annals of parliamentary democracy.

The spectacle is even coming to frighten the sponsors of the charade. Corporate power is now concerned that the extremists they helped put in office may in fact bring down the edifice on which their own wealth and privilege relies, the powerful nanny state that caters to their interests.

Corporate power’s ascendancy over politics and society – by now mostly financial – has reached the point that both political organizations, which at this stage barely resemble traditional parties, are far to the right of the population on the major issues under debate.

For the public, the primary domestic concern is unemployment. Under current circumstances, that crisis can be overcome only by a significant government stimulus, well beyond the recent one, which barely matched decline in state and local spending – though even that limited initiative probably saved millions of jobs.

God’s Blog


From GOD
NewYorker.com

Update: Pretty pleased with what I’ve come up with in just six days. Going to take tomorrow off. Feel free to check out what I’ve done so far. Suggestions and criticism (constructive, please!) more than welcome. God out.
_____________

COMMENTS (24)

Not sure who this is for. Seems like a fix for a problem that didn’t exist. Liked it better when the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep.

Going carbon-based for the life-forms seems a tad obvious, no?

The creeping things that creepeth over the earth are gross.

Not enough action. Needs more conflict. Maybe put in a whole bunch more people, limit the resources, and see if we can get some fights going. Give them different skin colors so they can tell each other apart.

Disagree with the haters out there who have a problem with man having dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, the cattle of the earth, and so on. However, I do think it’s worth considering giving the fowl of the air dominion over the cattle of the earth, because it would be really funny to see, like, a wildebeest or whatever getting bossed around by a baby duck.

The “herb yielding seed” is a hella fresh move. 4:20!

Why are the creatures more or less symmetrical on a vertical axis but completely asymmetrical on a horizontal axis? It’s almost like You had a great idea but You didn’t have the balls to go all the way with it.

The dodo should just have a sign on him that says, “Please kill me.” Ridiculous.

Amoebas are too small to see. They should be at least the size of a plum.

Beta version was better. I thought the Adam-Steve dynamic was much more compelling than the Adam-Eve work-around You finally settled on.

Todd Walton: Three Musketeers


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTable.com
Mendocino

“Oh, the women, the women!” cried the old soldier. “I know them by their romantic imagination. Everything that savors of mystery charms them.” Alexandre Dumas

Last Thursday evening, as I was about to go to bed, I had a moment of panic because I had nothing to read. Yes, there are millions of books; and hundreds of new volumes flood the world every day; but I was hungry for a particular literary food I’ve cultivated a taste for over a lifetime, nothing else will do, and I wasn’t sure I had anything of the kind in the house I hadn’t too recently read. Alas, I am allergic to science fiction, murder mysteries (save for Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes), fantasy, horror, mainstream fiction, exposés of the depredations of the oligarchic octopus, and odes to the coming collapse, thus new prose is, for the most part, of no use to me.

Stumbling into my cluttered office, I espied a volume recently procured from Daedalus Books, that goodly purveyor of publishers’ overstocks—a happily inexpensive Dover edition of the 167-year-old The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I had attempted to read the book as a teenager and found the language too rich for my fledgling taste buds. I had seen a movie based loosely on the book (there have been more than twenty movies made from the novel) and I have always liked myths in which a group of characters compose a collective being, each character a distinct aspect of the whole—Robin Hood, Little John, Will Scarlet, and Friar Tuck; Groucho, Harpo, and Chico; D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. And so with hope in my heart, I lugged the ample paperback to bed, settled in for my customary bout of reading before sleep, and was relieved to find the first two chapters of The Three Musketeers exactly the food I craved.

“The intrigue grows tangled.” Alexandre Dumas

Three months before I began to read The Three Musketeers, I was inspired by various twists of fate to begin a series of large and colorful drawings (large for me, small for Picasso), 20 x 16 inches.

Scott Cratty: Ukiah Farmers Market News for Saturday, August 6, 2011



Billings Forge, Connecticut

From SCOTT CRATTY
Ukiah

Friends of the Farmers’ Market:

Lots of good food and a couple of new events tomorrow.

Did you know there is now a local hot dog?  It made with Ford Ranch beef from Willits and is available at the farmers’ market.

Cucumbers are coming on strong … maybe too strong. Paula from Mendocino Organics reports that they will be selling a lot of pickling cucumbers. “For folks into lacto-fermentation, these are perfect for homemade pickles, and they’re so easy to make. (KZYX Farm & Garden show featured fermentation this week.) We have sooooo much, and Adam and I can only pickle so many cucumbers!”  Perhaps it is time for you to try your hand as a pickler.

The Stormy Weathermen blow into the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market this weekend with live & gusty music.

Bring the kids to meet the B.E.A.N.S. team (Better Eating, Activity, and Nutrition for Students). They have things to sample and many recipes ready for you to try!  The B.E.A.N.S. team is a group of local teen peer educators working together to bring health awareness and information about healthy foods and also to help you prepare healthy recipes.

The breastfeeding coalition will also be at the market with tables and activates to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week.  Nicole Pogrund report that they will have 3 or 4 tables with activities for all and a local Doula is organizing local moms to participate in the Big Latch On, which is a coordinated project to get lots of moms nationwide all nursing at the same time.

The market is open every Saturday from 8:30 to noon.  It is at the corner of School and Clay Streets in historic downtown Ukiah.

See you at the market!
~~

Common Security Clubs or Resilience Circles


~

[See also Thom Hartmann and Economist Ravi Batra analysis videos below…]

In these uncertain times, the Great Recession has reminded us of our vulnerabilities. Debt. Foreclosure.  Unemployment and Anxious Employment. Evaporating Savings. Rising Costs. Job Insecurity.

In response, Resilience Circles (also called Common Security Clubs) are forming around the country, using and adapting free tools provided by the Resilience Circle Network.

What is a Resilience Circle?

For stories, read about our Profiled Circles here. A Resilience Circle is a small group (10 – 20 people) that comes together to increase personal security by:

  • Courageously facing our economic and ecological challenges, learning together about root causes.
  • Building relationships that strengthen our security and undertaking concrete steps for mutual aid and shared action.
  • Rediscovering the abundance of what we have and recognizing the possibility of a better future.
  • Seeing ourselves as part of a larger effort to create a fair and healthy economy that works for everyone.

In the process, a Resilience Circle allows neighbors (co-workers, etc) to get to know one another, find inspiration, have fun, and strengthen community.

Structure of a Resilience Circle

The free, open source Resilience Circle Curriculum provides a guide for facilitators to lead groups through seven initial sessions.  Participants help prepare for and lead these meetings.

After seven sessions have been completed, a circle can decide

Iceland’s On-going Revolution



From DEENA STRYKER
DailyKos

The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents… Refusing to bow to foreign interests, that small country stated loud and clear that the people are sovereign.

An Italian radio program’s story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt.  The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.

As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here’s why:

Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors.  But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt.  In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent.  The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro.  At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.

Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution.

Fukushima deadly radiation detections off the charts. Vancouver B. C. detects massive amounts of radioactivity but ‘zero heath risks’. Radioactive fish in Connecticut River.


From BLOOMBERG

A handout photograph shows a gamma camera image of an area around the main exhaust stuck of Unit 1 and 2 at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (Tepco) Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station in Fukushima, Japan, on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011. On Aug. 1 in another area it recorded radiation of 10 sieverts per hour, enough to kill a person “within a few weeks” after a single exposure, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported its second deadly radiation reading in as many days at its wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant north of Tokyo.

The utility known as Tepco said yesterday it detected 5 sieverts of radiation per hour in the No. 1 reactor building. On Aug. 1 in another area it recorded radiation of 10 sieverts per hour, enough to kill a person “within a few weeks” after a single exposure, according to the World Nuclear Association

“It’s probably the first of many more to come,” said Michael Friedlander, who spent 13 years operating nuclear power plants in the U.S…

The 10 sieverts of radiation detected on Aug. 1 outside reactor buildings was the highest the Geiger counters used were capable of reading, indicating the level could have been higher, Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at the utility, said at a press conference.

“Ten sieverts is the upper limit for many dosimeters and almost equal to the amount that killed workers at the JCO nuclear accident in 1999,”

Food Resiliency Action Groups: Growing Food Together


From PEAK MOMENT TELEVISION

Having learned “How Much Food Can I Grow Around My House?” (Peak Moment 87), Judy Alexander kept right on going. As chair of the Local 2020 Food Resiliency Action Group in Port Townsend, WA, she helped initiate 25 community gardens in her county within four years. Sitting in her own neighborhood’s garden, she talks about the power of cooperative gardens compared with individual plots. There’s something for people of all ages and skills to do (even non-gardeners), while enjoying learning from one another, and building closer neighbors and a more secure community.
~~

If Japan can go nuke-free by next spring, so could a conserving U.S.


From JEFF RUBIN
Smaller World

The rest of the world doesn’t need nuclear meltdown to follow Japan’s example of conservation.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan was recently quoted as seeing the country as a nuclear-free nation. But unlike similar pronouncements from Germany, which pledges to be nuclear-free by 2022, Japan may become nuclear-free literally within a year.

That would be quite a feat for a country that only five months ago relied on nuclear plants for about 30% of its electrical power.

By some measures, the country is already two thirds of the way to becoming nuclear-free. Thirty eight of the country’s 54 reactors are currently shut down, and there are no dates set for their return to service.

Aside from the irretrievably damaged reactors at the Fukushima power plant, reactors have been shut down across Japan for maintenance checks. The only problem is once the nuclear plants are shut down, none have been restarted as local governments have balked against their reopening.

By law, all Japanese reactors must be temporarily shut down for maintenance every 13 months. All of currently operating reactors have maintenance scheduled by next spring. As a result, if the present pattern of indefinite shutdowns after maintenance inspections continues, Japan could effectively be nuclear-free by next spring.

But will the lights go out on the world’s third largest economy when that happens?…

Complete story here
~~


Of Ceilings and Dungeons


From ILARGI
The Automatic Earth

[…] On the real issues, nothing has changed since at least the demise of Bear Stearns and Lehman, and arguably way before that. There is too much debt in the system, way too much, perhaps as much as 10, 100 or even 1000 times too much.

The rate of economic growth that would be required to flush out that debt is not only unrealistically high, it’s downright physically impossible. And besides, Q1 US GDP was revised down to 0.4% last week, which takes it straight into the realm of mere marginal statistical errors. So the only ways to pay the debt is through budget cuts and tax increases. In the foreseeable future, we’ll see lots of the former and none of the latter.

So don’t believe any of the talk about recovery; there isn’t any today, there hasn’t been any in the past 5 years, and there won’t be none for a long time to come. A government spending itself into colossal new debt levels can perhaps create the illusion of recovery for a limited period of time (check), but it will all end up just making things worse down the line. For the people, that is. Not for the politicians and financiers who make the decisions.
And don’t believe that a last minute August 2 debt ceiling agreement solves anything either, since why should anyone on Main Street be happy just because their government has just allowed itself to get even deeper into debt?

The picture has just simply been wrong from the start: a ceiling is too positive of an image: we should perhaps do better to be talking about a debt dungeon.

Corn Pros and Cons


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

This is my favorite time of the year, even with the horse and deer flies. I sit under the oak tree next to the garden and husk sweet corn. I love to husk sweet corn because I love roasted corn. There’s a way to pull down a sliver or two of husk from one side of the ear, and then grab the rest of the husk, silks and all, and strip it down clean off the cob. Well, clean enough for me. My wife fastidiously removes every last strand of silk from every ear.

An ear of corn, just past the pimply stage but not yet fully mature looks more beautiful to me than any of Victoria’s Secrets. I understand why native Americans celebrated their corn feasts with such joy and gusto. Nothing tastes as good as a roasted ear five minutes from the garden. The only fault of today’s super delicious sweet corn varieties is that the smell of the ears boiling in water is not as redolent with the ultimate soul of corn-ness as in the days of Yellow Bantam and Country Gentleman.

So why do I sometimes bad-mouth corn in print? Corn has become a sort of symbol of over-industrialized farming. I wish it were not so because corn is certainly a triumph of humans over nature, or rather humans in cooperation with nature. The ear of corn is one awesome seedhead and growing the stuff is fairly easy, all things considered. That’s the whole problem. Corn is sort of like sex. It is such a wonderful thing that it is easy to carry to excess.

Fascinatingly enough, this is not the first time in human history that corn has been overdone. From what archeology thinks now

Progressive? Depressed? Here’s What’s Next


The National Progressive Convention in Chicago, August 1912

From MIKE LUX
Crooks and Liars

On this depressing day when the crazies, willing to destroy what’s left of the economic engine that is barely sputtering down the road got their ransom paid, everyone has to pick themselves up and decide what to do next. The President, having once again (in his memorable words) given in to the hostage takers, has to decide how to rebuild his political coalition that is in tatters, and how to show some strength after looking weak. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have momentous decisions to make: Are they going to appoint strong negotiators who won’t back down on Democratic Party principles, or will they give away a crucial seat on the super-duper commission who will once again give in to Republican demands? And progressives have to decide as well: do we give up, move away, get out of politics — or do we get out of this depression we’re feeling and come up with a winning political strategy?

As to the President, what is important to understand is that he wanted this negotiation. He had opportunities to avoid it last year, getting this deal done as part of the lame duck budget deal, or at the beginning of this year by making clear that he would only sign a clean debt ceiling increase. But he waded into these negotiations willingly and eagerly, hoping that reason and Wall Street lobbyists would help him craft the grand compromise he was willing to make if the Republicans agreed to raise taxes. It was part of his long-term strategy for getting the deficit issue off his back — Ezra Klein’s piece here (which I have been assured

How to Start A Revolution


From WILLIE OSTERWEIL
Shareable: Life and Art

[On September 17th an occupation is planned for Wall St in NYC and on October 6th one begins in Washington D.C.]

The protest camp proved a central part of the revolution in Egypt. It’s impossible to say where the movements built around the camps of Spain and Greece, which closed earlier this month, will lead, but it is totally clear that their methods are capable of transforming consciousness (particularly among millenials), radicalizing participants and making a better future seem not only possible, but plausible. Camps have sprung up all across the world, and have strengthened protest movements and community activism wherever they’ve appeared. These instructions are based on personal experience from camps in Barcelona and New York City, conversations with campers from Madrid and Madison, and research of other camps around the world.

The early stages of any camp involve intensive planning. Although the camps in Tahrir and Spain were largely improvised from the ground up, they emerged from protests that had been planned for months. The first thing to do is to hold a big protest, and bring all your friends.

Choose a date, a time (a Friday will probably be ideal),

‘It Gets Better’ video for Socialists



Longer version here
~

Olbermann on debt deal: ‘You’ve got to get mad!’

An outraged Keith Olbermann Monday urged his viewers to take to the streets to protest a recent deal between Republicans and Democrats to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

“We have, in this deal, declared that we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all political incumbents are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Re-nomination, re-election, and the pursuit of hypocrisy,” Olbermann explained.

“We have superceded Congress to facilitate 750 billion dollars in domestic cuts including Medicare in order to end an artificially-induced political hostage crisis over debt, originating from the bills run up by a Republican president who funneled billions of taxpayer dollars to the military-industrial complex by unfunded, unnecessary, and unproductive wars, enabled in doing so by the very same Republican leaders who now cry for balanced budgets – and we have called it compromise.”

“Where is the outrage to come from?” he asked. “From you!”

“It will do no good to wait for the politicians to suddenly atone for their sins, they are too busy trying to keep their jobs to do their jobs. It will do no good to wait for the media to remember its origins as the free press, the watchdog of democracy

Obama is talking cruel nonsense when he argues for ‘balance’


From SCARECROW
FireDogLake

Paul Krugman laments on his blog that the nation is suffering from “the destructive influence of a cult that has really poisoned our political system.” The cult he identifies is not the right-wing crazies in the Tea-GOP, though they’re bad enough, but the media’s unthinking assumption that the “center” between opposing positions is the responsible position.

Here’s Krugman on The Cult that is destroying America:

No, the cult that I see as reflecting a true moral failure is the cult of balance, of centrism.

Think about what’s happening right now. We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.

So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.

Krugman goes on to note this media habit means there’s no penalty for extreme behavior, so we get crazier and crazier results. I agree with that, but I think a related problem here is how the media is allowing Mr. Obama and others to define the responsible center.

Take Action! Vote Down This Debt Deal!


From ROOTSACTION

The debt ceiling deal struck last night does not tax the rich or even allow temporary tax cuts on the rich to expire. Nor does it defund any wars. Yet it requires cuts of $1.2 trillion now and $2.5 trillion over a decade.

Tell Congress to reject this deal.

Details of much of the cutting will be worked out by a new 12-member Super Congress empowered to cut any spending, and to force a rushed vote with no amendments on whatever it proposes to the actual Congress. And if that antidemocratic procedure fails, cuts will happen automatically. Half of those cuts might be to the military, but that should be seen before believed, and the devil will be in the details — details being rammed through under the gun of a manufactured crisis.

Will you take two minutes today and send this message to Congress before the vote?

The President gives us credit for solving his non-problem: “The voice of the American people is a powerful thing,” he remarked Sunday night. But has anyone in Washington heard that voice? Your efforts have added more Congress members to the list of those committed to protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

But compare how you would spend the federal budget to how it is spent. We guarantee the two are miles apart, and about to get much more distant.

This is a terrible deal. Tell Congress to reject it now.

RootsAction is supported by independent-minded progressives like Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former Sen. James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley… and you.
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Another take on this: To Fight or Not To Fight here
~~

Why Young Americans Don’t Fight Back


From BRUCE E. LEVINE
AlterNet

The ruling elite has created social institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance

1. Student-Loan Debt. Large debt—and the fear it creates—is a pacifying force…

2. Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance… Heavily tranquilizing antipsychotic drugs (e.g. Zyprexa and Risperdal) are now the highest grossing class of medication in the United States ($16 billion in 2010)

3. Schools That Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy… “The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders…

4. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.”… Fear forces students and teachers to constantly focus on the demands of test creators; it crushes curiosity, critical thinking, questioning authority, and challenging and resisting illegitimate authority…

5. Shaming Young People Who Take EducationBut Not Their SchoolingSeriously… Mark Twain famously said, “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.”…The more schooling Americans get, however, the more politically ignorant they are of America’s ongoing class war, and the more incapable they are of challenging the ruling class…

6. The Normalization of Surveillance… young Americans have become increasingly acquiescent to corporatocracy