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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 07/31/2011 - 08/07/2011
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Navy SEAL team that took out bin Laden goes down

this is just too damn coincidental... i'm certainly not one to see conspiracies behind every bush, but c'mon... these guys have been cruising around the af-pak theater forever and now, just a few months after they nail public enemy number one, their chopper gets hit...? was there something that someone on that team knew that they were afraid would be talked about...? i used to believe in coincidences but, ya know what...? i don't any more...
A NATO helicopter has crashed in eastern Afghanistan during a battle with the Taliban, killing at least 31 US and seven Afghan soldiers, a statement from the Afghan president's office said.

The statement on Saturday said a Chinook helicopter had crashed in Syedabad in central Maidan Wardak province, west of capital Kabul, and identified the Americans as special forces troops.

More than 20 US navy SEALs from the broader unit that killed Osama bin Laden were among those killed in the crash, though none of the victims were involved in that raid, the New York Times reported.

The troops from SEAL Team Six were flown by a crew of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, according to one current and one former US official. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because families are still being notified.

One source said the team was thought to include 22 SEALs, three air force air controllers, seven Afghan army troops, a dog and his handler, and a civilian interpreter, plus the helicopter crew.

referring to the disclaimer from the nyt (in bold above), i long ago stopped considering that particular "paper of record" to be any bastion of truth... and, yeah, ok, i may be stretching here, but the nyt telling me ANYTHING doesn't necessarily make it so...

meanwhile, we're all supposed to cluck-cluck and feel sad and properly patriotic for those good and true fighting men who lost their lives... well, i got news... patriotism is bullshit... what i feel sadness for is those souls who lost their lives in the service of our super-rich elites and the spouses, children and other loved ones they left behind...

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Friday, August 05, 2011

The richest 1% of the US population controls 40% of the wealth

from the al jazeera fault lines news magazine that aired august 2, 2011...
The richest 1% of US Americans earn nearly a quarter of the country's income and control an astonishing 40% of its wealth. Inequality in the US is more extreme than it's been in almost a century — and the gap between the super rich and the poor and middle class people has widened drastically over the last 30 years.

Meanwhile, in Washington, a bitter partisan debate over how to cut deficit spending and reduce the US' 14.3 trillion dollar debt is underway. As low and middle class wages stagnate and unemployment remains above 9%, Republicans and Democrats are tussling over whether to slash funding for the medical and retirement programs that are the backbone of the US's social safety net, and whether to raise taxes — or to cut them further.

The budget debate and the economy are the battleground on which the 2012 presidential election race will be fought. And the United States has never seemed so divided — both politically and economically.

How did the gap grow so wide, and so quickly? And how are the convictions, campaign contributions and charitable donations of the top 1% impacting the other 99% of Americans?

pretty pathetic, eh...?

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Jeremy Scahill on Bush administration torture tactics

and we still have a president who isn't the least bit interested in accountability...

jeremy scahill on olbermann's countdown...

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Demonstrable proof of Obama’s impressive political muscle

more and more people are wising up to the horrendous choice we made in electing obama... more horrendous than john mccain...? as lewis black would so succinctly put it, "we had the choice of two bowls of shit and the only difference was the smell..."

david sirota

[I]t is silly to insist that the national political events during Obama’s term represent a lack of presidential strength or will. And it’s more than just silly—it’s a narcissistic form of wishful thinking coming primarily from liberals who desperately want to believe “their” president is with them.

Such apologism, of course, allows liberals to avoid the more painful truth that Obama is one of America’s strongest presidents ever and is achieving exactly what he wants.

Obama is not a flaccid Jimmy Carter, as some of his critics insist. He is instead a Franklin Delano Roosevelt—but a Bizarro FDR. He has mustered the legislative strength of his New Deal predecessor, but he has channeled that strength into propping up the very forces of “organized money” that FDR once challenged.


As hideous and destructive as it is, [Obama's] record is anything but weak. It is, on the contrary, demonstrable proof of Obama’s impressive political muscle, especially because polls show he has achieved these goals despite the large majority of Americans who oppose them.

Importantly, though, Obama himself has not suffered from equally negative polling numbers. While his approval rating is not terrific, he is in decent shape for re-election—and, more significantly, he has suffered only a minimal erosion of Democratic support. He is relatively popular, in other words, despite advocating wildly unpopular policies. Thanks to that reality, every one of his stunning legislative triumphs now has the previously unprecedented imprimatur of rank-and-file Democratic support.

here i sit on friday, my one-day weekend in kabul, afghanistan, reading about my country, the country i am here to be a role model for, watching the dispatches from the u.s. as they positively drip with the bullshit of uncontrolled money, power and hypocrisy, watching as we literally bulldoze everything we touch, while i try to coach my afghanistan counterparts in the essence of principled leadership... HA...!

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

U.S. family indebtedness, U.S. national debt, country-by-country indebtedness

some highly illuminating graphics...

from a bankruptcy law firm...

America Is A Country In Debt

from u.s. debt kleptocracy...

A Visualization of U.S. Debt

from the economist...

World debt guide

although it took me a while to wake up to the fact, i've now known for some years that encouraging individuals, families, governments and nations to build up massive amounts of debt is really a strategy for enslavement - and our super-rich elites are no fools when it comes to strategies for enslavement...

all the solicitations for credit cards that poured in to our mailboxes by the bushel over the past twenty years, the endless stream of tv ads exhorting us to build up our credit ratings (turn on any channel to find the supremely odious ben stein shilling for a sleazy "free" credit score outfit), all the automobile and furniture commercials pushing no money down and no interest until some comfortably distant time in the future, are all calculated to extend and deepen our slavery...

we may think that slavery is a thing of the past but if we really stop to think about it, being in debt is very much the same as "being owned" by someone else... and the societal and legal penalties for reneging on debt are deliberately swift and harsh... after all, ya can't have the sheep straying too far from the herd... they might get to thinking they're not really sheep and god knows where THAT might lead...

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Every country in the world now worries about the judgment and sanity of the country with the largest nuclear arsenal in the world

paul craig roberts...

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The people who bought Obama the Oval Office are delighted with his performance

matt taibbi...
The popular take is that Obama is a weak leader of a weak party who was pushed around by canny right-wing extremists. Observers like pollster Sydney Greenberg portray Obama and the Democrats as a group of politically tone-deaf bureaucrats who fail because the public associates them with a corrupt government that benefits the rich and connected.

The Democrats, Greenberg argues, could change their situation by showing the public that they genuinely represent the interests of ordinary working people. In his piece, "Why Voters Tune Out Democrats," he offers a list of things Democrats could do to turn things around:

What should Democrats do?

The Democrats have to start detoxifying politics by proposing to severely limit or bar individual and corporate campaign contributions, which would mean a fight with the Supreme Court. They must make the case for public financing of campaigns and force the broadcast and cable networks to provide free time for candidate ads. And they must become the strongest advocates for transparency in campaign donations and in the lobbying of elected officials.

IF they want to win the trust of the public, Democrats should propose taxing lobbyist expenses and excessive chief executive bonuses and put a small fee on the sale of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments. By radically simplifying the tax code to allow only a few deductions, the Democrats would generate new revenue and remove the loopholes that allow special interests to win favorable treatment ...

I think everything Greenberg says is true -- except for the part about it being possible. His list of solutions would make sense as advice to a real political party.

But to a bunch of hired stooges put in office to lend an air of democratic legitimacy to what has essentially become a bureaucratic-oligarchic state, what good does such advice do? Would it have made sense to send the Supreme Soviet under Andropov or Brezhnev a list of policy ideas for enhancing the civil liberties of Soviet citizens?

The Democrats aren't failing to stand up to Republicans and failing to enact sensible reforms that benefit the middle class because they genuinely believe there's political hay to be made moving to the right. They're doing it because they do not represent any actual voters. I know I've said this before, but they are not a progressive political party, not even secretly, deep inside. They just play one on television.

For evidence, all you have to do is look at this latest fiasco.

The Republicans in this debt debate fought like wolves or alley thugs, biting and scratching and using blades and rocks and shards of glass and every weapon they could reach.

The Democrats, despite sitting in the White House, the most awesome repository of political power on the planet, didn't fight at all. They made a show of a tussle for a good long time -- as fixed fights go, you don't see many that last into the 11th and 12th rounds, like this one did -- but at the final hour, they let out a whimper and took a dive.

We probably need to start wondering why this keeps happening. Also, this: if the Democrats suck so bad at political combat, then how come they continue to be rewarded with such massive quantities of campaign contributions? When the final tally comes in for the 2012 presidential race, who among us wouldn't bet that Barack Obama is going to beat his Republican opponent in the fundraising column very handily? At the very least, he won't be out-funded, I can almost guarantee that.

And what does that mean? Who spends hundreds of millions of dollars for what looks, on the outside, like rank incompetence?

It strains the imagination to think that the country's smartest businessmen keep paying top dollar for such lousy performance. Is it possible that by "surrendering" at the 11th hour and signing off on a deal that presages deep cuts in spending for the middle class, but avoids tax increases for the rich, Obama is doing exactly what was expected of him?

damn... how badly i wish i didn't agree with matt... we are so-o-o-ooo screwed...

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Should Elizabeth Warren Run for President?

an excellent question posed by yves smith... my answer...? ABSOLUTELY...!!

If anything, the efforts to sanctify Warren have grown. She is treated as the last, best hope of the tattered progressives, when it isn’t even clear how much she supports their agenda. She would presumably promote policies that would stem or reverse the concentration of income and wealth in the top 1%, but her view on other issues is unclear. What is her stand on our military commitments? On gay marriage? On immigration? On our broken health care system? On out of control college costs that result in most new graduates being debt slaves? On climate change? On China? She’s a formidable policy wonk and no doubt a quick study, but even smart people who step outside their areas of expertise can become hostage to bad orthodox thinking or its ugly cousin, leading edge conventional wisdom. And well advised or not, Warren may not be as liberal as her fans like to believe.

But even if she fails to be the Great Liberal Hope, she is an influential counterweight on the most pressing battleground, that of the rearchitecting of our political and economic structures to assure and extend rent extraction by the top 1% (indeed, the top 0.1%).

The other open question is whether she can be a successful candidate. Even though Warren has done remarkably well every time she has been thrown in the deep end of the pool, this is yet another new realm, one where a lot of battlefield judgments are required (like how to respond to swiftboating).

These are gambles a large number of Americans would like to see Warren take on their behalf. She said in March in a Huffington Post interview, “My first choice is a strong consumer agency…My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.”

Perhaps Warren has since come to realize that her pugnacious impulse was right. No consumer agency or any effort that threatens the banks and plutocrats can succeed unless the fundamental terms of political discourse in this country change. Warren may be able to give that effort the impetus it desperately needs.

one of the better ideas i've heard recently...

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