Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rich Man's War, Poor Man's Fight

War is a Racket
by Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Major General Smedley D. Butler - USMC Retired

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 of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.


A classic. Why the war as racket industry continues is a matter of fevered speculation right up there with the mystery of why Latinos and African-Americans supporting the GOP.

Crystal Ball Time

Richest Americans’ Income Doubled as Tax Rate Slashed

Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The average tax rate paid by the richest 400 Americans fell by a third to 17.2 percent through the first six years of the Bush administration and their average income doubled to $263.3 million, new IRS data show.


It’s Theirs and They’re Not Apologizing

"On Main Street, 'bonus' sounds like a gift," he said. "But it’s part of the compensation structure of Wall Street. Say I’m a banker and I created $30 million. I should get a part of that."


What can one say in this face of naked, violently agressive greed?

As the days pass, I am less and less hopeful about our ability to maintain the peaceful continuance of the status quo.

Here are two more bits:



It’s one thing for me to make bizarre speculations about the future; I’m nobody. It’s quite another to see a very similar ‘prediction’ show up in the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

Although, thanks largely to conservative gasbags, there has been some rumblings floating around the net on the topic of a second US Civil War.

Which is to wonder if the relative handful of conservatives would consider a ‘revolt’ against their ‘free market ideology’ as an issue anyone other than the investor class would be willing to defend?


As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.

MOSCOW -- For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument -- that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. -- very seriously. Now he's found an eager audience: Russian state media.

In recent weeks, he's been interviewed as much as twice a day about his predictions. "It's a record," says Prof. Panarin. "But I think the attention is going to grow even stronger."

Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.

But it's his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Mr. Panarin's views also fit neatly with the Kremlin's narrative that Russia is returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s, when many feared that the country would go economically and politically bankrupt and break into separate territories.

A polite and cheerful man with a buzz cut, Mr. Panarin insists he does not dislike Americans. But he warns that the outlook for them is dire.


Pick up the pace Obama and Dems in congress, the future will not wait with empty bellies. Move fast, move boldly - you need to make up something like 20-30 million jobs and truly remake the economy of the U.S. Halfway measures will find you on the wrong side of history.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Health Care Now

The whole world is in recession. But the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe — in which millions of people will lose their health insurance along with their jobs, and therefore lose access to essential care.


...Very timely, very accurate, very right on target.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Iraqi Freedom at Last!

A sofa-sized shoe monument was unveiled today in Tikrit - the hometown of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein - in honor of the Iraqi journalist who threw his footwear at Bush last month during a Baghdad new conference.


Well, that's enough freedom for me. Can we get the fuck out of Iraq now?

"Blue Dog" Dems?

Okay, now - seriously - what the fucking hell is a "blue dog" Democrat?

Democrats are the party at the center, so if there is something more centrist than that I guess it's midpoint from the true center toward the extreme right.

And you know what? That shit is not going to help us out of this jam. This new bailout/TRAP/whatever plan is an epic fail. Too little, far too late. And with tax cuts out the ass, it simply makes no sense.

If I get to keep $1000 in taxes do you know what I won't be doing with it? Spending it on shit I don't need. A rich man will spend even less because he needs nothing at all.

I have seen the future - a possible future - and it looks just like this:

People need jobs. And more than a mere 3 million at that. We need to create more than just the jobs that have been officially lost already. We need to bolster the economy after 8 years of calamitous bullshit that has left people so far out of reach that they are no longer even counted. We need to create more jobs than what would have been part of a natural expansion in the economy had things progressed better than at present. The local economies range from 9-14% unemployment officially - that's actually a good deal worse in reality because the numbers of the uncounted unemployed and under-employed probably double those percentages.

We should be aiming to create 10 million jobs and then be satisfied to have created only 7 or 8 million instead.

[Edit: You know, I was being far too optimistic when I wrote this yesterday. I think the numbers under Bush were wildly manipulated to reflect whatever the White House criminals wanted it to reflect. I'm not going to run the numbers like an expert, I'm just going to claim that moderate job growth grows at a rate of 2% per annum, or 3-4 million jobs a year. Over 8 Years time that's 24-32 million jobs that need to be created on top of the ones we are shedding like crazy right now. What that means is that the bullshit stimulus plan that is being argued over is really quite weak even if it meets its goals. We need much more than that. And I think an absolutely necessary part of the equation will be some kind of single payer healthcare or universal medicare. That would put people to work and make us more attractive to manufacturers who don't want to hassle over bennies.]

These fucking politicians are haggling at numbers with the death of the status quo at stake. You know, I might do very well after a bloody revolution sweeps across this land. My head will not end up on a pike, as has been repeated throughout history. Up until now it's just been peaceful demonstrations that have been turned into riots by cops wearing riot gear and firing into crowds with rubber bullets. Soon we shall have true riots where the people are actually armed and motherfucking dangerous. The cops that even try to stop that will not fare very well. We haven't seen true riots in this country to know any better.

Dear Dems - stop trying to appease the wrong quarter, the GOP will never budge an inch anyway. You should fear your constituency more. When they get hungry enough, the blood of tyrants will overfill our sewers.

I love peace. I'd rather that never happened and that a peaceful solution could be found out of this mess. The sacrifices cannot all come from the bottom of society this time. When I hear of $18 billion of bonuses on Wall Street again this year I know that the people at the bottom are getting ferociously angry.

This may not end well...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama Sucking GOP Cock

Maddow, Sirota on Stimulus Package


The WSJ looks very bad on this. In truth, it differs very little from most of the major media channels. This is journalism? I mean, I could pull made up shit out of my ass as easily as anyone.

A few days ago Obama supposedly reminded the GOP that he won the election and that the GOP needed to come around and side with the Democrats on the stimulus package. Ever since all I hear about is how the stimulus package - which needs to be bold and decisive in creating new jobs - is being watered down to appease the GOP instead. We need jobs not tax cuts. Tax cuts are voodoo economics all over again.

Here's some advice Prez Obama: grow a pair and get it done! I voted for you, man. Please don't just be the GOP's house negro.

"Trickle down" shit doesn't work. We need to float from the bottom.

HFCS: Now with Mercury!

Our Melamine: There's Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup, and the FDA Has Known for Years

What makes this news truly shocking is not just that the manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup would put consumers' health at risk, but that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knew about the mercury in the syrup, and has been sitting on this information since 2005.

Here's the connection, according to the IATP press release (pdf): The IATP study comes on the heels of another study, conducted in 2005 but only recently published by the scientific journal, Environmental Health, which revealed that nearly 50 percent of commercial HFCS samples tested positive for the heavy metal.


Everywhere one turns there is mounting evidence that you simply cannot trust anyone else with food safety. The government is to be trusted least of all. Corporations buy and sell the government every fucking day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jon Stewart, Inaugural Edition


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Olbermann: Prosecute Bush's War Crimes


Exactly. Something must be done to repudiate the Bush years and its legacy of torture and running roughshod over the rule of law. Forgetting it by laying it aside is not enough - something must be done.

We are a nation of laws.

How can we assume, or resume, our status as the first nation of the world with such a blemish on our record?

Paul Krugman's "Letter to the New President"

What Obama Must Do

How bad is the economic outlook? Worse than almost anyone imagined.
In other words, you have to get job creation right — which FDR never did.
Do the math: You probably have to spend $800 billion a year to achieve a full economic recovery. Anything less than $500 billion a year will be much too little to produce an economic turnaround.
The biggest, most important legacy you can leave to the nation will be to give us, finally, what every other advanced nation already has: guaranteed health care for all our citizens. The current crisis has given us an object lesson in the need for universal health care, in two ways. It has highlighted the vulnerability of Americans whose health insurance is tied to jobs that can so easily disappear. And it has made it clear that our current system is bad for business, too — the Big Three automakers wouldn't be in nearly as much trouble if they weren't trying to pay the medical bills of their former employees as well as their current workers. You have a mandate for change; the economic crisis has shown just how much the system needs change. So now is the time to pass legislation establishing a system that covers everyone.
...and we'll have universal health coverage up and running by the end of your first term. And that will be an achievement that, like FDR's creation of Social Security, will permanently change America for the better.
Universal health care, then, should be your biggest priority after rescuing the economy. Providing coverage for all Americans can be for your administration what Social Security was for the New Deal. But the New Deal achieved something else: It made America a middle-class society. Under FDR, America went through what labor historians call the Great Compression, a dramatic rise in wages for ordinary workers that greatly reduced income inequality. Before the Great Compression, America was a society of rich and poor; afterward it was a society in which most people, rightly, considered themselves middle class. It may be hard to match that achievement today, but you can, at least, move the country in the right direction.
I also haven't said anything about foreign policy. Your team is well aware of the need to wind down the war in Iraq — which is, by the way, costing about as much each year as the insurance subsidies we need to implement universal health care. You're also aware of the need to find the least bad solution for the mess in Afghanistan. And I don't even want to think about Pakistan — but you have to. Good luck.

There is, however, one area where I feel the need to break discipline. I'm an economist, but I'm also an American citizen — and like many citizens, I spent the past eight years watching in horror as the Bush administration betrayed the nation's ideals. And I don't believe we can put those terrible years behind us unless we have a full accounting of what really happened. I know that most of the inside-the-Beltway crowd is urging you to let bygones be bygones, just as they urged Bill Clinton to let the truth about scandals from the Reagan-Bush years, in particular the Iran-Contra affair, remain hidden. But we know how that turned out: The same people who abused power in the name of national security 20 years ago returned as part of the team that, under the second George Bush, did it all over again, on a much larger scale. It was an object lesson in the truth of George Santayana's dictum: Those who refuse to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.

That's why this time we need a full accounting. Not a witch hunt, maybe not even prosecutions, but something like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that helped South Africa come to terms with what happened under apartheid.


That's probably Krugman's most compelling piece of writing ever. Brilliant! He misses almost nothing. Although I would have made more explicit warnings about escalating things in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Krugman clearly doesn't want to distract too much from the main thrust of his extremely insightful comments on economic matters. Still, it remains true that if we have to watch where we spend our dollars we have to avoid throwing money away on adventuring abroad. War is the most foolish extravagance ever - and we simply cannot afford it! And what we don't waste on war can be spent on this country instead, within our own borders. You know, spending taxpayer dollars on taxpayers.


A Bridge to Universal Healthcare

Getting There from Here - How should Obama reform health care?


A must read. How it is implemented is not as important as that it should be implemented almost immediately. We can work out the kinks later...

Obama's Inauguration Oath & Speech

Text of the inaugural address:

Tom Tomorrow's "A Farewell Salute..."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Alternet Reader Quotes on the Failures of the Democratic Party

Plexius2 said:
Basically, those of us on the ground trying to support LIBERAL (yes, I said the L word)candidates have been tearing our hair out for years now, because the Democratic frontrunners are always just Republican Lite from our perspective. We support them ONLY because, though voting for Nader felt good, it resulted in Bush's election. So we are always supporting spineless cowards like Clinton, and perhaps Obama, who won't act in a truly Democratic fashion, when what we need is someone bold like Kucinich. I am hoping that the pendulum must swing back to a moderate like Obama first, before it continues on further left to a Kennedy. I am sooo sick of living in a Conservative world governed by repressive Repubs and wimpy Demos.


mmckinl said:
At least from what I've read. He wants 70 or 80 Senators to support his Stimulus Plan. This would of course need the support of 15 to 25 Republicans ...

Ask yourself what "real change" are we the people to get if Obama wants to cater to Republicans ... The answer is not much. Looking at Obama's stimulus it is all temporary, there are no structural or permanent changes.

We need bold, daring proposals such as "Medicare for All", a Public Central Bank and higher taxes and eliminated loopholes on the well to do and corporations.

Obama 's incrementalism will only lead to disaster. We do not face "normal problems" in normal times. We face a crisis that will consume us if economic, structural, political, moral and philosophical changes are not made. These needed changes will not be born out of compromise but out of bold even radical ideas ideas pressed by bold and courageous leadership.

Obama is trashing his own mandate with small ball, incremental, compromised proposals that give away progressive ground in return for nothing.


Sickening, ain't it?

Why not nationalise?

...Not really on the list was nationalisation.

But it seems to me, based on an ongoing blogospheric discussion, that nationalisation is the only good option left. The basic problem is this—some banks are likely insolvent. Any option that solves the problem by buying bad assets will either fail (if those assets are bought at face value—recall, the banks are insolvent) or will succeed by buying those assets at well more than they're worth. The latter option is a large and generous gift to the bank's shareholders.

The question is, why would one want to give a large and generous gift to bank shareholders, out of the taxpayer's purse?...


Exactly. And remember, this is from that well-known "liberal" source the "Economist."

Nationalization is the only solution and always was. But the elite want their handouts and politicians abhor doing their actual job of providing oversight in these matters.

This what we do:
We nationalize insolvent banks and then hold onto their toxic waste real estate or put it to work housing the homeless. Later we can sell these banks to other banks once the subprime debris is cleared away. Once the economy stiffens a bit we can unload the real estate at improved market prices. The taxpayer might not even lose anything at all in such an arrangement.

But yeah, that makes too much sense to actually be implemented.

And so it goes...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

8 Years Of Bush in 8 Minutes! ~Olbermann



Friday, January 16, 2009

Worst. President. Ever!

Bye Bye to the Worst President Ever


That pretty much sums it up.

Goodbye you odious motherfucker. Most of the world will celebrate your passing when it comes.

Too Little Too Slowly...

Will the Economic Stimulus Be Too Compromised to Work?


Really good points in that article. It's still moving far too slowly and involves too few dollars. Let's not argue about the value of fiat currency and keep things narrowed to only what it will take to prop up the lower and middle classes.

See below for job creations tips, the implementation of universal healthcare, how banks should be nationalized instead of handed bailouts, etc. Personally, I am very tired of too big to fail excuses. Why should a schoolteacher's taxes be going to cover for the foolishness of the people that are in charge of our biggest financial institutions?

It's still a clusterfuck. Big time.

LDS Church Goes Too Far Politically for Prop 8

This is pretty disgusting. We have to stop churches from having too much power politically. If they want to play, they'd better be prepared to pay: no more tax exempt status.

If god is big business, let's tax the fuckers.

Wartime Obama-Ade!

Afghani Quagmire


Doubling U.S. troops in Afghanistan is wildly unintelligent. I am pretty sure that most votes for Obama were more substantially votes against McCain who is certainly in the mold of a neocon war god. We absolutely voted against the continuance of war in Iraq and I am pretty sure that it wasn't because we thought a war in Afghanistan was some brilliant alternative to that. So what advantage is now being revealed in Obama's policies? Not much of one in my view.

Yup, "continuity we can believe in"...utterly pathetic in terms of leadership. Does Obama have any ideas that don't provide taxpayer subsidized handouts to the military industrial complex, wall street, or his corporate supporters? Is there any chance he's actually going to put forward some progressive policies?

For more of the same bullshit we could have voted for anybody else.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Single-Payer Health Care

Single-Payer Health Care Would Stimulate Economy

1. Create 2,613,495 million new permanent good-paying jobs (slightly exceeding the number of jobs lost in 2008) -- and jobs that are not easily shipped overseas

2. Boost the economy with $317 billion in increased business and public revenues

3. Add $100 billion in employee compensation

4. Infuse public budgets with $44 billion in new tax revenues


This makes too much sense to be implemented, surely...

Not Our Man

Surrounded by elite yes people, toying with various "trickle down" theories that simply aren't working and effectively refusing to go after political criminals in the Bush admin, Obama is looking more and more to not be our man. I had scant hope that Obama would attempt a proper fix of the country, but now I feel more and more justified in asserting that he will not and never intended to attempt anything of the kind. I still regard my vote as the correct one, but the elite own the choices either way so that they cannot lose. Same as it ever was...

The elite never learn either. They try the same shit century after century...

But here's the thing - a fear-biting dog WILL ABSOLUTELY bite you if cornered. And if the fear-biting dog doesn't scare you enough; I do warn you to be very wary of Madame Guillotine.

We can only hope...

Killer Economy? The deepening recession may lead to growth in suicide rates.

Recent weeks have seen a spate of suicides by some of the most financially powerful people in the world. German billionaire industrialist Adolf Merckle lay down in front of a train after huge investment losses threatened his family's business empire. Chicago real-estate mogul Steven Good shot and killed himself in the driver's seat of his Jaguar after the property-auction business turned sour. René -Thierry Magon de La Villehuchet lost $1.4 billion to Bernie Madoff, went to work, took sleeping pills and slit his wrist.
"Middle-class people are less likely to commit suicide over money troubles because gains and losses are never that disproportionate; their family relationships tend to be closer, deeper and broader; and their religious beliefs are stronger and play a greater role in buffering their sense of hopelessness."


Good news is hard to find so this will have to do. Now I'd like to see a billionaire suicide stimulus package.

That'll do nicely, comrade.

BofA Buying Up Banks on TARP Funds

Bank of America May Get U.S. Aid for Merrill Lynch


Gee, I guess they are getting to be too big to fail. Of course, they are acquiring so many assets themselves that there is no liquidity for lending.

Will we never learn?