Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya

General Smedley Butler: War is a racket


From GENERAL SMEDLEY BUTLER (1933)
Thanks to Dan Hamburg

War is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits

Privatization: The Road to Hell


From JIM HIGHTOWER
Truthout

Billionaires are different from you and me, for obvious reasons, including the fact that they buy much pricier baubles than we do.

A sleek car costing $100,000? Why, for them, that’s just an easy impulse purchase. A few million bucks for a Matisse original? Go ahead — it’ll liven up the hallway. How about throwing a fat wad of cash at a university to get an academic chair named for you? Sure, it’s all part of the fun of living in BillionaireLand.

Then there is the top crust of the upper-crust — such megalomaniacal megabillionaires as the Koch brothers. Using money from their industrial conglomerate, their foundation and their personal fortunes, these two far-out, laissez-faire extremists are literally buying public policy. Their purchases of everything from politicians to the tea party help them push the privatization of all things public and the elimination of pesky regulations and taxes that crimp their style.

Privatize Public Services? Just Another Stupid Scam…


From ELLEN J. DANNIN
Professor of Law

White Paper On Privatization

Here are some impacts the Cornell University Hebdon Report found that result from privatization:

  • diminished quality and access to services
  • lower employee morale, productivity and training
  • worker exploitation through lower wages and benefits
  • increased discrimination against minorities and women
  • loss of government control and sovereignty
  • lost constitutional and other legal rights
  • decreased efficiency as a result of difficulty monitoring and administrating contracts
  • loss of accountability and control
  • lost infrastructure
  • increased corruption, bribery, kickbacks, bid-rigging, campaign donations, low-ball bids, and contractor bankruptcy

Social Security: Their numbers are bullshit, they’ll steal us blind, please pass this on!


From MANNY GOLDSTEIN
Democratic Underground

OK, by now we all know that the Social Security Trust Fund will be depleted in 26 years, and only a portion of benefits will be paid after that. Actually, that “known fact” is pure BS, a product of cooked numbers. What they aren’t telling you is that this projection assumes that over the next 75 years, the US economy will grow at a far lower rate than it has in the past. (They weren’t expecting us to check the calculations, were they?)

Since 1960, US GDP growth has averaged 3.2%. Even in the decade before the 2007 crash, which included a recession and jobless recovery, GDP growth averaged about 3.0%. However, in creating its publicized projection, the Obama administration assumes that the future US economy will grow at a rate of about 2.1%, much lower even than the 2.9% rate in 2010, which most of us would agree was a tough year for our economy. Even in this very pessimistic projection, Social Security is still able to pay more than 75% of promised benefits after 27 years. (Note that we need about 2.5% growth just to break even with our increasing population.)

And what if the economy stays the same as in 2010, and we continue to lurch forward at 2010’s 2.9% growth rate? The same projection showed that at a 2.9% rate, the Trust fund would remain flush with cash as far as they projected (75 years).

So, unless the US economy is about to get even worse than today and stay that way, Social Security should pay full benefits for our lifetimes and beyond.

If you believe otherwise, then the bad guys have already won: they now have a pretext for stealing you blind

How Small, Mostly Conservative Towns Have Found the Trick to Defeating Corporations


From Alternet
Thanks to Dan Hamburg

[The next logical step after we defeat the USPS’ plan to gut our town by moving our Post Office to the freeway, is to ban corporate personhood at a local level. By hiding behind the privatized part of the USPS charter and refusing our requests to see the numbers they say force their decision, it is incumbent upon our citizenry to deny this subterfuge in the future by others intent upon killing our local democratic process and buying up everything in sight. Disaster Capitalism is in full sway and needs to be stopped NOW. -DS]

As the Right pushes privatization as a solution to the economic collapse, one organization is teaching communities how to defeat corporations. California’s treasurer just announced that the state may need to begin issuing IOUs if the governor and legislature can’t close the budget gap. And California’s not the only place that’s hurting. The Great Recession, hit not only businesses and individuals, but governments as well. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimated that 31 states are facing a combined shortfall for fiscal year 2011 of nearly $60 billion.

So, what’s being done? “Cities and states across the nation are selling and leasing everything

Ayn Rand Was A Lunatic, Her Economics Nuts, Her Philosophy Cruel: Republicans, Of Course, Love Her


From JOHANN HARIJ
Slate

[Want to know what the Republicans are really trying to do to our democracy? Read on… -DS]

The perverse allure of a damaged woman

Ayn Rand is one of America’s great mysteries. She was an amphetamine-addicted author of sub-Dan Brown potboilers, who in her spare time wrote lavish torrents of praise for serial killers and the Bernie Madoff-style embezzlers of her day. She opposed democracy on the grounds that “the masses”—her readers—were “lice” and “parasites” who scarcely deserved to live. Yet she remains one of the most popular writers in the United States, still selling 800,000 books a year from beyond the grave. She regularly tops any list of books that Americans say have most influenced them. Since the great crash of 2008, her writing has had another Benzedrine rush, as Rush Limbaugh hails her as a prophetess. With her assertions that government is “evil” and selfishness is “the only virtue,” she is the patron saint of the tea-partiers and the death panel doomsters. So how did this little Russian bomb of pure immorality in a black wig become an American icon?

Two new biographies of Rand—Goddess of the Market by Jennifer Burns and Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne Heller—try to puzzle out this question, showing how her arguments found an echo in the darkest corners of American political life. But the books work best, for me, on a level I didn’t expect. They are thrilling psychological portraits of a horribly damaged woman

The New Republican Landscape of Destruction


From NYT Editorial

Six months after voters sent Republicans in large numbers to Congress and many statehouses, it is possible to see the full landscape of destruction that their policies would cause — much of which has already begun. If it was not clear before, it is obvious now that the party is fully engaged in a project to dismantle the foundations of the New Deal and the Great Society, and to liberate business and the rich from the inconveniences of oversight and taxes.

At first it seemed that only a few freshmen and noisy followers of the Tea Party would support the new extremism. But on Friday, nearly unanimous House Republicans showed just how far their mainstream has been dragged to the right. They approved on strict party lines the most regressive social legislation in many decades, embodied in a blueprint by the budget chairman, Paul Ryan. The vote, from which only four Republicans (and all Democrats) dissented, would have been unimaginable just eight years ago to a Republican Party that added a prescription drug benefit to Medicare.

Mr. Ryan called the vote “our generation’s defining moment,” and indeed, nothing could more clearly define the choice that will face voters next year.

His bill would end the guarantee provided by Medicare and Medicaid to the elderly and the poor, which has been provided by the federal government with society’s clear assent since 1965. The elderly, in particular, would be cut adrift by Mr. Ryan. People now under 55 would be required to pay at least $6,400 more for health care when they qualified for Medicare, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Fully two-thirds of his $4.3 trillion in budget cuts would come from low-income programs.

Thom Hartmann: No such thing as a safe level of radiation



~
Nuclear Meltdowns 101

Cluborlov

I am no nuclear expert, and that is probably a good thing. I did do a lot of reading about Chernobyl back when it happened. And now I am, as I was then, and as I am sure many of you are, getting really fed up with incomplete, inaccurate, misleading and generally unsatisfactory explanations that are being offered for what is going on at Fukushima. Either information is not available, or it is a flood of largely irrelevant technical minutia designed to thrill nuclear nerds but bound to bamboozle rather than inform the general reader. And so, for the sake of all the other people who aren’t nuclear experts and have no ambition of ever becoming one, here’s what I have been able to piece together.

What do they mean when they say “hydrogen explosions”? The hydrogen gas is being vented from inside the reactors and from spent fuel pools that are directly above them. Since it is very hot, it explodes as soon as it mixes with the outside air. It is formed from the rapid oxidation of the zirconium pipes that hold in the pellets of nuclear fuel. At Fukushima, some of the fuel pellets are made with uranium, while others are made with plutonium from reprocessed nuclear weapons. Zirconium is a metal which, like aluminum, instantly forms a thin, protective layer of oxide on contact

Expert Who Predicted Previous California Earthquake Says Another Imminent


Jim Berkland Website

Thanks to The Automatic Earth

~

TEPCO Director Weeps After Disclosing Truth About Fukushima Disaster
Thanks to Anna Taylor

The Daily Mail has released a dramatic picture showing the emotional exhaustion of TEPCO managing director Akio Komori who is openly weeping as he leaves a conference to brief journalists on the true situation at Fukushima, following his acknowledgment that the radiation spewing from the over-heating reactors and fuel rods was enough to kill some citizens. “A senior Japanese minister also admitted that the country was overwhelmed by the scale of the tsunami and nuclear crisis. He said officials should have admitted earlier how serious the radiation leaks were. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said: ‘The unprecedented scale of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, frankly speaking, were among many things that happened that had not been anticipated under our disaster management contingency plans.” This is precisely as Zero Hedge had expected would happen all along, following our recurring allegations of a massive cover up by the Japanese government. And furthermore as we predicted a week ago when we said that continued government lies and subversions

Senator Bernie Sanders: There is a war being waged by some of the most powerful and wealthiest people against the Middle Class in this country


~

From BERNIE SANDERS

Many of the nation’s billionaires are on the warpath, they want more, more, more… their greed has no end… and apparently there is very little concern for our country or for the people of this country who get in the way of the accumulation of more and more wealth and more and more power.

Mr. President, in the year 2007 the top 1% of all income earners in the United States made 23.5%

Has America Reached The Tipping Point?


[The Fascist Majority on the Supreme Court is responsible now for much of the destruction of our democracy. They installed a defeated Presidential candidate as President who left us unprotected despite being warned repeatedly before 911, and who then put us into disastrous wars. They have now left us to the mercy of the very wealthy and to unrestrained corporate power. Things have got to change, and it is up to us to change it. ~DS]

See also: Senator Bernie Sanders on Income Inequality (Video) “Greed is an issue we have got to deal with.”

From Wake Up and Stand Up

Years from now, we will think of February 2011 as the tipping point in America’s great awakening. After all the warnings and wake-up calls, this be will remembered as the time when the American people decided to come together, confront the plutocracy that plagues our republic, and do something to change the economic inequality / instability that has grown from it. There is a tide. If you don’t yet feel it, here are Ten Wake Up Calls that we predict will help define February 2011 in America.  The more people who get involved, the more meaningful it will be.  So, please share this page with others who may still need a reason to wake up and stand up.

1.  Egypt. It had to have an impact: so many Americans glued to their televisions, watching as people take to the streets, ready to die for freedom, destined to topple an oppressive regime that had dominated them for decades.  How?  By peacefully demanding self-governance.  Their triumph made us believe we could, and should, demand the same.

2.  Bob Herbert’s Challenge To America. While some Americans looked at Egypt and thought, “They’re trying to get what we already have,” Bob Herbert’s Feb. 12 column challenged us to look in the mirror.  He wrote, “Senator John Kerry said that the Egyptian people ‘have made clear they will settle for nothing less than greater democracy and more economic opportunities.’ Americans are being asked to swallow exactly the opposite. In the mad rush

All You Fascists Bound To Lose


~

[We Progressives have been way too shy about calling what this US uproar is really all about: Fascism. When the wealthiest corporatists have bought off and merged with government it’s called Fascism. The Fascists have been showing us their real true face, and we cannot deal with them appropriately, intelligently and non- violently until we call them what they really truly are. They are not Conservatives. They are not Republicans. They are not Tea Baggers. They are democracy-hating, anti-union, nature-killing, sociopathic, money-crazed, genetically-modified, tax-dodging, war-mongering  Fascists. Damn it! Call them out for what they are! -DS]

The Doctrine of Fascism

The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people…

Fascism is therefore opposed to Socialism to which unity within the State (which amalgamates classes into a single economic and ethical reality) is unknown, and which sees in history nothing but the class struggle. Fascism is likewise opposed to trade unionism as a class weapon. But when brought within the orbit of the State, Fascism recognises the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade-unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonised in the unity of the State.

After Socialism, Fascism attacks the whole complex of democratic ideologies and rejects them both in their theoretical premises and in their applications or practical manifestations. Fascism denies that the majority, through the mere fact of being a majority, can rule human societies; it denies that this majority can govern by means of a periodical consultation; it affirms the irremediable, fruitful and beneficent inequality of men, who cannot be levelled by such a mechanical and extrinsic fact as universal suffrage.

The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions,

We don’t need no !@&%#$! budget cuts – We just need our richest tax dodgers to pay their fair share


From DAVIDSON LOEHR
Chelsea Green Publishing

In this winter of worldwide discontent, a powerful moral and political spirit has arisen in the Middle East. There are already uprisings of ordinary people all over the world: nobodies dumping Somebodies off their thrones, as the world watches.  It’s happening so fast our heads are spinning.  But it’s clear that we will turn that moral spirit loose here at home: the next Egypt – or England — will be the United States.

It is maddening and insulting to hear our president and our lawmakers simply accept the idea that we must cut social services, education, Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security and other parts of our social safety nets – while the General Accounting Office has estimated that 83 of our top 100 corporations pay no taxes.  There’s no good reason we should accept that, because it isn’t fair.  It goes against the wishes of a large majority of our citizens.  Many of our laws were bought by corporations whose lobbyists seduced many of our elected officials into selling out their country for private gain.  If our government can’t or won’t see how unfair and morally reprehensible it is to use taxpayer money to bail out those who don’t even pay taxes, then it is up to us.  And the ongoing protests in Arab countries show that we can do it.

There Is No Terrorism and We Are Not at War

As a Google search for “Americans killed by terrorists” shows, terrorism is a red herring:  a bogus threat.  We’re much more likely to be killed by lightning, peanuts, handguns and a dozen more everyday dangers than by terrorists.  We’re being misled by propaganda used to take trillions of dollars of our tax money to deter a terrorist threat that isn’t there.  “Terrorism” is used to frighten us, and as a blank check to cover any military expenditures or assaults on our civil liberties that our leaders choose.

Our tax dollars go to swell the coffers of the military-industrial complex, which alienates all Arab countries and much of the rest of the world.  This is losing us both respect and allies.  It also gives our elected leaders this red herring to keep us stirred up by the untrue claim that terrorists are everywhere and the sky is falling. 

Will Parrish: Our local water commons has been stolen from us by Globalized Corporate Wine Colonizers to produce high-end booze. Does anyone care? (Updated)


Frey Family Vineyards: A Better Way

From WILL PARRISH
Laytonville

[Update: Investigative reporter Will Parrish will discuss his controversial recent series on the ecological toll of California’s wine industry, with a special emphasis on rapacious vineyard development in the Gualala River watershed: The North Coast Wine Industry: Draining Our Rivers Dry]
~

Don Sanderson: Will, your articles have been quite interesting. Alas, this has been happening in other agricultural sectors all over the country as, for example, in dairying. I can even trace the roots back to seventeenth century England. As long as cities made demands, there have been those who saw an opportunity for wealth if they could control all aspects of production and delivery. Those of that color eliminated my prospects for succeeding as a farmer way back in the fifties.

Still, there are many small vineyard owners who are attempting to make it with great difficulties, out in the fields doing their own work. There are also small proprietor-owned wineries scattered around the county providing employment for quite a few and making honest wine from those vineyard owners’ grapes. It is important not to tar and feather them with the same brush.

Will Parrish: Thanks for your kind words on the series, Don. Because your critique is basically the same as a few other people have offered, I’ll address it at length here….

In my work as an investigative journalist, I try to act as an interlocutor with current orthodoxy, expressing forbidden silences and demonstrating how the interests of rapacious power are served when certain things get omitted from public discourse.

UK: The fat cats are robbing all our money

From UK UNCUT

[A cabinet of millionaires in England have decided that libraries, healthcare, education funding, voluntary services, sports, the environment, the disabled, the poor and the elderly must pay the price for the recklessness of the rich. The British youth are taking them on. When will our youth “get up, stand up”? -DS]

UK Uncut was born in a shop doorway.

On October 27th 2010, just one week after George Osborne announced the deepest cuts to public services since the 1920s, around 70 people ran along Oxford Street, entered Vodafone’s flagship store and sat down. We had shut down tax-dodging Vodafone’s flagship store.

At that point, UK Uncut only existed as #ukuncut, a hashtag someone had dreamed up the night before the protest. As we sat in the doorway, chanting and handing leaflets to passersby,

Small Biz: In Broken Market, ‘Swipe’ Fees Must Be Regulated


 

By LARRY NANNIS
Business Week

Small merchants pay too much to process credit- and debit-card transactions. The Fed’s proposed rules will be far more fair—unless big banks and card issuers block them

America’s small business owners have long endured a broken credit-card and debit-card processing market and its attendant ills. Visa, MasterCard, and issuing banks have long charged merchants interchange—or “swipe”) fees every time a consumer makes a payment with a credit or debit card. The fees are excessive for merchants of all sizes, but tier pricing disproportionately affect small companies because their transaction volume is lower than that of their large competitors.

Take Action! The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: What Now?


From ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION

Take Action Here

“The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well. True coexistence is a must.”   –  Whole Foods Market, Jan. 21, 2011

Whole Food’s Dirty Little Secret: Most of the So-Called “Natural” Processed Foods and Animal Products They Sell Are Contaminated with GMOs

In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation’s 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America’s organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it’s time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies

Michael Laybourn: Keep your filthy hands off our money

From MICHAEL LAYBOURN
Hopland

I just listened to Ross Murray on KZYX  rake the polititians and media over the coals while explaining why Social Security has nothing to do with the national deficit. Very well done Ross, glad you are in there still getting enraged about the state of American politricks.

The “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform”consists of 6 Republicans; 6 Democrats and 3 CEOs …. has been dubbed as the “Catfood Commission” because its goal appears to be cutting benefits so drastically that retirees will only be able to afford to eat pet food.

The “bipartisan” deficit reduction commission — appointed by President Obama and led by millionaires — just made their ideas public recently. With ideas are simply ridiculous.  They recommend to Congress cutting Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age. (Well, naturally, this commission of millionaires didn’t focus on raising taxes on the wealthy or even raising the cap to pay into SSA.) Or getting out of wars we can’t afford.

And …the mainstream media’s is picking the chant up with warnings: Deficit, deficit deficit . CNN, Washington Post, Time Newsweek, Atlantic, Reuters, LA Times, everyone. All of a sudden everyone is talking about the deficit: We need to fix it.

Hey GOP Hypocrites: Repeal health care? Give up your own first!


From CREDO ACTION

For 2 years, GOP leaders in Congress fought tooth and nail to oppose health care reform. They did their best to keep tens of millions without coverage, decrying any effort to help citizens as “socialist,” “fascist” or some other equally baffling “ist.”

And incredibly, now that they are the majority, their first act will be to vote to repeal health care reform that gives affordable care to 32 million Americans.

Yet, when it comes to their own coverage, Republicans in Congress are not only using government-sponsored health care, they even whined about having had to wait for it.

As the Republicans are gearing up to appease Tea Party extremists and vote to repeal health care reform for Americans who need it, Senator Chuck Schumer is calling the GOP on their hypocrisy, and calling on them to give up their government-sponsored health care:

“It was a central value to us when we passed health care, and a central value to the American people, that members of Congress should get the same health care as everyone else. It seems unfair that house Republicans want to deprive middle-class Americans of the same health care as members of Congress but to keep it for themselves.”

“Will Eric Cantor urge every Republican who is going to be for repeal to not take government health care themselves and to drop their existing health care?”

We think he should, and applaud Senator Schumer for his challenge. Write Eric Cantor, and ask him if he will practice what he preaches — and ask other GOP members to do the same.

Sign the petition here
~
More GOP hypocrisy here
~~

Jim Hightower: Meet Your New Neighborhood Food Market


From JIM HIGHTOWER
Otherwords

[Locally in Ukiah we have the Walmart store massively expanding its food section, adding 80 employees, which will destroy at least one, maybe two supermarkets and 120 better-paying jobs for a net loss of 40+ jobs. See also: Big Box Bully: Walmart Is Out To Kill Every Other Store In Town; and Watch the Bully metastasize (carpet-bomb) before your very eyes. -DS]

The $400-billion-a-year retail behemoth, with two million employees laboring in 8,500 stores spread around the globe, is putting on a “local” mask.

The signature phrase of America’s booming good food movement has been expanded from “organic” to “local and sustainable.”

Good! The phrase suggests great quality, strong environmental stewardship, and a commitment to keeping our food dollars in the local economy. If you support the local-economies movement, as I do, no doubt you’ll be thrilled to hear that a new, local food store is coming soon to your neighborhood. In fact, it’s even named Neighborhood Market.

Only, it’s not. It’s a Walmart. Yes, the $400-billion-a-year retail behemoth, with two million employees laboring in 8,500 stores spread around the globe, now is putting on a “local” mask. The giant is promising to buy nine percent of the produce it’ll sell from local farmers. Big whoopie. This means that 91 percent of the foodstuffs offered in its “Neighborhood” chain will come from Wayawayland.

But even the nine percent number is a deceit, for Walmart says that it defines “local” as grown in the same state. Excuse me, but

Senator Bernie Sanders: The Billionaires’ Orgy of Greed [Updated]



~

[Update: Millionaires to Obama: Tax us!]

From SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS

The billionaires are on the warpath. They want more, more, more.

In 2007, the top 1 percent of all income earners in the United States made 23.5 percent of all income – more than the bottom 50 percent. Not enough! The percentage of income going to the top 1 percent nearly tripled since the mid-1970s. Not enough! Eighty percent of all new income earned from 1980 to 2005 has gone to the top 1 percent. Not enough! The top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. Not enough! The Wall Street executives with their obscene compensation packages now earn more than they did before we bailed them out. Not enough! With the middle class collapsing and the rich getting much richer, the United States now has, by far, the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of any major country on earth. Not enough!

The very rich want more, more and more and they are prepared to dismantle the existing political and social order to get it. During the last campaign, as a result of the (Republican) Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, billionaires were able to pour hundreds of millions of dollars of secret money into the campaign – helping to elect dozens of members of Congress. Now, having made their investment, they want their congressional employees to produce. Republicans in Congress, needless to say, are all on board. The key question is whether a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate go along to get along, or whether they draw a clear line at protecting the interests of the middle class and vulnerable populations of our country while tackling our economic and budgetary problems in earnest.

In the next month, despite all their loud rhetoric about the “deficit crisis,” the Republicans want to add $700 billion to the national debt over the next 10 years by extending Bush’s tax breaks for the top 2 percent. Families who earn $1 million a year or more would receive, on average, a tax break of $100,000 a year. The Republicans also want to eliminate or significantly reduce the estate tax, which has existed since 1916. Its elimination would add, over 10 years, about $1 trillion to our national debt and all of the benefits would go to the top 0.3 percent.

Why Republicans are So Intent on Killing Health Care Reform


From ROOSEVELT INSTITUTE

It’s not just about expanded care. It’s about proving our government can be a force for the common good.

[Michael Moore has long ago proven the lies that conservatives and tea partiers will tell to kill even the feeble new health care laws we have. We need to stand tall and stop these big lie, sicko bastards in their tracks. -DS]

Why are John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell so intent on stopping health care reform from ever taking hold? For the same reason that Republicans and the corporate Right spent more than $200 million in the last year to demonize health care in swing Congressional districts. It wasn’t just about trying to stop the bill from becoming law or taking over Congress. It is because health reform, if it takes hold, will create a bond between the American people and government, just as Social Security and Medicare have done. Democrats, and all those who believe that government has a positive place in our lives, should remember how much is at stake as Republicans and corporate elites try to use their electoral victory to dismantle the new health care law.

My enjoyment of the MLB playoffs last month was interrupted by ads run by Karl Rove’s Crossroads front group against upstate New York Rep. Scott Murphy, who was defeated last Tuesday. Rove’s ads rained accusations on Murphy, including the charge of a “government takeover of health care.” Some might have thought that once the public option was removed from the health care legislation, Republicans couldn’t make that charge. But it was never tied to the public option or any other specific reform. Republicans and their allies, following the advice of message guru Frank Luntz, were going to call

Whistling past our democracy’s graveyard


From FRANK RICH
NYT

[No, all politics is NOT local. But local politics is all we really have left. Fed up? Please vote anyway! Also, see political joke from Deb Bauman at the end… -DS]

What happened to change we can believe in?

President Obama, the Rodney Dangerfield of 2010, gets no respect for averting another Great Depression, for saving 3.3 million jobs with stimulus spending, or for salvaging GM and Chrysler from the junkyard. And none of these good deeds, no matter how substantial, will go unpunished if the projected Democratic bloodbath materializes on Election Day. Some are even going unremembered. For Obama, the ultimate indignity is the Times/CBS News poll in September showing that only 8 percent of Americans know that he gave 95 percent of American taxpayers a tax cut.

The reasons for his failure to reap credit for any economic accomplishments are a catechism by now: the dark cloud cast by undiminished unemployment, the relentless disinformation campaign of his political opponents, and the White House’s surprising ineptitude at selling its own achievements. But the most relentless drag on a chief executive who promised change we can believe in is even more ominous. It’s the country’s fatalistic sense that the stacked economic order that gave us the Great Recession remains not just in place but more entrenched and powerful than ever.

Tea & Crackers (Updated)


From MATT TAIBBI
Rolling Stone
Excerpts
Thanks to Todd Walton
(See update below)

How corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster

A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it…

“Let me get this straight,” I say to David. “You’ve been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?”

“Well,” he says, “there’s a lot of people on welfare who don’t deserve it. Too many people are living off the government.”

“But,” I protest, “you live off the government. And have been your whole life!”…

Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it’s going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I’ve concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They’re full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry’s medals and Barack Obama’s Sixties associations.

Ben and Jerry’s admits ice-cream with a liberal conscience not ‘all natural’


From THE GUARDIAN

Unilever’s premium brand abandons claim after US food health watchdog notes use of unnatural ingredients such as corn syrup

[OMG! Stabbed in the heart! -DS]

Ben & Jerry’s founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, have had a difficult relationship with Unilever. Cohen said when the firm was bought by the multinational it was ‘just about the worst day of my life’.

The carefully cultivated socially liberal image of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has suffered a knock with a decision by the Vermont-based manufacturer to stop calling its food “all natural” following pressure from a watchdog that questioned whether ingredients such as partially hydrogenated soya bean oil fitted the billing.

Amy Goodman: Percy Schmeiser vs. Monsanto


From DEMOCRACY NOW
Video here

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Bonn, Germany, where the thirtieth anniversary of the Right Livelihood Awards is being held. The Right Livelihood Award was established in 1980 and has become widely known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. Gathered here in Bonn this week are some eighty Right Livelihood Award laureates, including the Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, who has battled the biotech company Monsanto for years. In 1997, Percy and his wife Louise won the Right Livelihood Award for their courage in defending biodiversity and farmers’ rights. I spoke with Percy Schmeiser yesterday in Bonn, but first I want to turn to Bertram Verhaag’s documentary Percy Schmeiser: David versus Monsanto.

    NARRATOR: The pesticide Roundup produced by the multinational concern Monsanto is the most widely sold spray in the world. Monsanto made its canola resistant to Roundup. This means Roundup kills every plant without exception.

“High-Fructose Corn Syrup”? Never Heard of It.


From CIVIL EATS

If you can’t beat ‘em…confuse them. That seems to be the new motto of our good friends at the Corn Refiners Association, the lobbying group and manufacturing association that represents makers of high-fructose corn syrup. The AP is reporting that the group has petitioned the FDA for permission to identify high-fructose corn syrup on food packaging as–wait for it–”corn sugar.”

After all, HFCS sales are at a 20-year low. More and more, science is indicating that the body metabolizes HFCS differently from table sugar in a way that increases the risk of diabetes, liver disease, and obesity. (Yes, we consume too many sweeteners of all kinds, but as I wrote in this recent post, there is evidence that this industrially extracted combination of fructose and glucose has more health consequences than the ones that humans have been consuming for far longer.) As the Corn Refiners president observed sadly, HFCS of late “has been highly disparaged and highly misunderstood.”

American Income Inequality is the Cause of our Crisis


From INFORMED COMMENT
Thanks to Gail Jonas

[Local context: Supporters of Wendy Roberts, seeing this chart, will nod, raise their wine glasses, and chuckle “What’s the problem?” -DS]

Plutarch, writing almost 2,000 years ago, told us that “an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”

The chart shows the course of income imbalance over the last 93 years in the U.S. If it showed the course of net worth imbalance, it would be much more dramatic. If it showed data for the top tenth of one percent– not just the top ten percent– it would be extraordinarily dramatic.

Inter alia, the chart shows that both the Great Depression of the ’30s and the present crisis were immediately preceded by great buildups in inequality. When ordinary people lack the wealth to buy things– houses for example–the system crashes.

There’s also a lot of data that show that economic equality conduces, quite literally, to the health of society. The correlation between equality and most measures of well-being is stronger than the correlation between wealth and well-being. See Richard G. Wilkinson & Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level (2009). For a good review of that book, see David Runciman in the London Review of Books, Oct. 22, 2009 here.

Still, the rich consistently try to destroy egalitarianism, because for their segment, inequality is fine. It means increasingly desperate people

The Dirty F@#*ing Hippies Were Right!


From DAILY KOS
Thanks to Bruce McCloskey

Click On Post Title For Viewing

[This gives me both deep sorrow, and a great, sustainable joy! Living here among the last outposts in Ecotopia, we should always celebrate our fun-loving creativity, foresight, and wisdom, and never, never, never let down the good fight. -DS]

It’s hard to believe but there is still a lot of hippie hating going on. It can even be found here at daily kos from time to time. How ignorant or brainwashed does one have to be to rail against those who tried to save us from the fate that bedevils us now? If we’d heeded their cries for sanity and change we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in. Not saying it would be utopia but it wouldn’t be the hell on earth the establishment conservatives have created for us.

Imagine no possesions, I wonder if you can, No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people Sharing all the world.

John Lennon – Imagine

The hippies were powerful proponents of universal brotherhood, peace, love, tolerance, understanding and ecological stewardship. They tried to change our culture and point out that it was superficial, mean, hateful, wasteful, rapacious, violent, greedy, selfish and unsustainable.

And that, I think, was the handle – that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark – that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Hunter S. Thompson

If the hippies and their message had prevailed we wouldn’t be pouring trillions of dollars into stupid and immoral wars of choice. We’d have (arguably) switched to alternative forms of energy, adjusted our lifestyles, reined in the greedheads,

Thom Hartmann: The Food Bubble – How Wall Street Starved Millions and Got Away With It


From CROOKS & LIARS

Thom Hartmann talked to author Frederick Kaufman about his cover story in this month’s edition of Harper’s Magazine The food bubble: How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it.

It’s subscription only but you can read more about Kaufman and his work at his blog AmericanStomach.com.

Thom shared a little of the article during his interview with Kaufman.

Hartmann: “The history of food took an ominous turn in 1991, at a time when no one was paying much attention. That was the year Goldman Sachs decided our daily bread might make an excellent investment.”

And then towards the end of the story, just a couple of sentences here. “Bankers had taken control of the world’s food, money chased money and a billion people went hungry.” Remember the food riots of a couple of years ago around the world?

“The world wide price of food had risen by 80% between 2005 and 2008 and unlike other food catastrophes in the last half century or so,

The Con of All Cons


From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
OfTwoMinds.com via The Automatic Earth

The con of the decade (Part I) involves the transfer of private debt to the public (the marks), who then pays interest forever to the con artists.

I’ve laid out the Con of the Decade (Part I) in outline form:

1. Enable trillions of dollars in mortgages guaranteed to default by packaging unlimited quantities of them into mortgage-backed securities (MBS), creating umlimited demand for fraudulently originated loans.

2. Sell these MBS as “safe” to credulous investors, institutions, town councils in Norway, etc., i.e. “the bezzle” on a global scale.

3. Make huge “side bets” against these doomed mortgages so when they default then the short-side bets generate billions in profits.

4. Leverage each $1 of actual capital into $100 of high-risk bets.

5. Hide the utterly fraudulent bets offshore

The Bullshit Lies of Alan Simpson about Social Security


From FIREDOGLAKE

[…] Let me elucidate some of the ways that Simpson is wrong about Social Security:

SIMPSON: It’ll go broke in the year 2037.

FACT: The Social Security program faces a modest long-term financing shortfall of tax revenue and interest on Trust Fund assets. The Social Security Trustees estimated in 2009 that the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program will continue to add tax revenue to their Trust Funds up to 2016. The Trust Funds will continue to grow because of interest earned through 2023, at which time total assets will be $4.3 trillion. Subsequently, Social Security will gradually draw down all reserves before the end of 2037, if Congress takes no action whatsoever, it will have sufficient resources to pay about three-quarters of scheduled benefits. Hardly “going broke.”

SIMPSON: All of them have to do with stabilizing the system, which we are told is insolvent, it’s paying out more then it’s taking in.

FACT: Social Security is currently running a surplus. In 2009, an estimated 94 percent of Social Security tax revenues were spent to meet current expenditures (benefits and administrative costs). The surplus tax revenues, along with interest credited to the Trust Fund, contribute to a growing Trust Fund balance.

SIMPSON: It’s 2.5 trillion bucks in IOUs which have been used to build the interstate highway system and all of the things people have enjoyed since it has been setup.

FACT: The interstate highway system was built in the 1950’s when Social Security’s income and outgo were equal. The build up of the trust fund began after 1983 when Congress consciously chose that route as part of the 1983 amendments.

SIMPSON: When I was your age there were 16 people paying into the system and 1 taking out and today there are 3 people paying into the system and 1 taking out.

FACT: This is the same misleading information that Bush used to sell his privatization plan. The 16 to 1 ratio is a figure plucked from 1950, the year that social security expanded to cover millions of farm and other workers. All pension programs that require a period of employment for eligibility show similar ratios at the start or when expanded because all newly covered workers are paying in, but none of them have yet qualified for benefits. By 1955, the ratio was 8 to 1 and by 1973 the ratio was where it is today…

More here.
~~

Who Owns Nature?



Certified Organic Mountain Blue Lupine Seeds by Dave Smith

From ETC GROUP

SEED INDUSTRY

Bottom line: …Patented gene technologies will not help small farmers survive climate change, but they will concentrate corporate power, drive up costs, inhibit public sector research and further undermine the rights of farmers to save and exchange seeds.

In the first half of the 20th century, seeds were overwhelmingly in the hands of farmers and public-sector plant breeders. In the decades since then, Gene Giants have used intellectual property laws to commodify the world seed supply – a strategy that aims to control plant germplasm and maximize profits by eliminating Farmers’ Rights.

Today, the proprietary seed market accounts for a staggering share of the world’s commercial seed supply. In less than three decades, a handful of multinational corporations have engineered a fast and furious corporate enclosure of the first link in the food chain.

According to Context Network, the proprietary seed market (that is, brand- name seed that is subject to exclusive monopoly – i.e., intellectual property), now accounts for 82% of the commercial seed market worldwide.

Genetic Modification Watch


From GM WATCH

Introduction to the GMWatch video collection

We’ve trawled the web in search of the best videos on GM and related issues. You’ve sent us your favorites, and together we’ve created a fascinating and informative collection. Please let us know anything we’ve missed.

We’ve divided the videos into categories (like Must-see, Agriculture, Corporations, Latin America) and created an Index of speakers, where you can check out who’s in the videos, and an Index of GM crops and foods.

Must-see

This section contains some of the most compelling videos we’ve come across. They cover a wide variety of topics as we’ve cherry picked from all the different categories.

Among our absolute favourites is this extract from the film The Corporation about how Monsanto got Fox News to kill an investigative news report into its genetically engineered cattle hormone.

Another treat is hearing razor-sharp economist Dr Raj Patel put the case against globalized corporate agriculture, including GMOs, and its efforts to marginalise the planet-wide push for a more environmentally sensitive approach to food production (agroecology).

Agriculture

This section contains films that place GM in the wider context of corporate control of agriculture and food production and that show how farmers and consumers’ interests are being overridden.

Look out for The Future of Food, a groundbreaking documentary released in 2004, that distills the key regulatory, legal, ethical, environmental and consumer issues surrounding the troubling changes happening in the food system today… More here…
~~

The Looming Water Disaster That Could Destroy California, and Enrich Its Billionaire Farmers


From ALTERNET
Thanks to Janie Sheppard and Michael Foley

[More Privatizing B.S. exposed. -DS]

There’s a disaster waiting to happen in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and a handful of wealthy farmers seem to like it that way.

“That, in your own backyard there, is the scariest place after New Orleans.” — Geologist Nicholas Pinder’s description of the precarious situation in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta after the hurricane Katrina disaster.

Imagine the devastating flooding of Hurricane Katrina multiplied by epic sandstorms, drought and economic collapse of the Dust Bowl. Now picture it happening an hour east of Apple’s headquarters in Silicon Valley and spreading all the way down to the Mexican border. It’s not as far-fetched as you think. A routine 6.7-magnitude earthquake would be enough to set it off, liquefying the decrepit levee system that walls off California’s main source of drinking water from the Pacific Ocean and triggering a deadly flood that would submerge roads, destroy homes, wipe out thousands of acres of farmland, kill countless numbers and possibly cut over 20 million Californians off from their water supply for a year or more.

California’s politicians have known about this looming catastrophe for decades. They also have had the power to neutralize the threat. But no one has done anything to prevent it.

Just like the oligarchs who used the shock of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction to tear down public housing, privatize public schools and pillage the city’s poorest, California’s most powerful business interests have positioned themselves to profit from this disaster. A handful of billionaire farmers and real estate developers are in line to pull off the most brazen water heist in American history, seizing control over much of Northern California’s water supplies and do what they have always wanted: turn water, a shared public resource, into a private asset that can be traded on the open market.

At the center of this epic water grab is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a Yosemite-sized patchwork of waterways and farmland an hour east of Oakland that sits atop California’s single largest water source. Formed by the confluence of state’s two largest rivers as they flow out to the San Francisco Bay, more than half of all rainfall and snowmelt drains through the Delta, supplying two-thirds of California with water and irrigating most of the state’s farmland… More at Alternet
~~

The Big Banks want you back. Yeah, see you later Alligator…


From The New Rules Project

Those who wonder whether public anger at big banks and the Move Your Money sentiment sweeping the country is substantial enough to impact these giants need only look at the banks’ own marketing over the last few weeks to see the proof.

In a spate of new advertisements and PR maneuvers, the nation’s largest banks are working hard to win us back. They are, in effect, standing on our doorstep, flowers in hand, trying to convince us they’ve changed.

They’re using words like “local” and “community,” because they know quite well that there’s a rival for our affections. A recent Zogby poll found that nearly one in ten Americans had moved at least some of their business to small banks or credit unions.

One jilted lover, Citibank, has launched a blog devoted to showcasing the “new Citi.” The site, which Citibank is promoting through newspaper and magazine ads, features a video statement by CEO Vikram Pandit, who offers a few vaguely apologetic statements before detailing how Citi is a changed bank.

We’ve given up boozing and gambling, Citibank seems to be saying as Pandit assures us that the new Citi has embraced “a culture of responsible finance.”

In his opening post, Pandit describes this as a “new chapter” and invites us to participate in a conversation. “We promise we’re listening,” he writes.

So far, many of the user comments, which are moderated, appear to come from Citibank investors, but a few disgruntled customers have managed to get through. “What Cit has done to ‘help’ me in the last year: interest rate increase to 29 percent!” writes Peter. “I have never been late with a payment… [You have] a total lack of caring toward your customer base.”