Saturday, February 25, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
Alexander Cockburn: Rick Santorum is the most fanatical Christian to run for the Republican nomination in the modern era, maybe any era
Surely Rick Santorum is the most fanatical Christian to run for the Republican nomination in the modern era, maybe any era. Next to him Pat Robertson, billionaire founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, who ran for the nomination in 1988, has the tolerant, glassy-eyed bonhomie of the late Dean Martin. Robertson has always been in show business. Four years ago we had Mike Huckabee, the evangelist and former governor of Arkansas, one of the boys, shacked up with Mrs Huckabee in his doublewide on the grounds of the Arkansas gubernatorial mansion. He has always been in show business too.
But with Santorum – a conservative Roman Catholic and member of Opus Dei – there’s a truly manic edge to his religious pronouncements and activities. It was Santorum and Mrs S, don’t forget, who took their still-born baby home from the hospital and laid it among their living tots, telling them, “he’s with the angels now,” an episode Mrs Santorum later recorded in a memoir.
Santorum doesn’t believe in the right to privacy. Not that Obama has any qualms about taps on your phone and powers of arbitrary arrest, but he probably doesn’t care too much about whatever human combos are being tried out in the bedroom. Santorum frets 24/7 about beastliness and unnatural acts, and yearns to restore full rights to snoops to kick down the motel door, twitch aside the blankets and haul couples off for all manner of moral abominations.
Contraception in Santorum’s opinion is “a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be”. Pre-natal testing is also a no-no for Santorum, father of eight. In 2003 Santorum said he favored having laws against polygamy, adultery, sodomy, and other actions “antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family”. The possibility of bestiality in today’s licentious times bothers him a lot — “man on dog,” as he famously put it on a talk show. Not for him the possibility of abortion in cases of rape: “I believe and I think that the right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape, but nevertheless, in a very broken way, a gift of human life, and accept what God is giving to you.”
Why is a guy like this currently running neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination? The usual maps drawn by political experts stipulate that at some point in the prolonged nomination battle the candidate has to shed the gothick nuttiness and over-the-topness that got him traction in the early primaries and reach out to the independents without whose support no presidential bid can succeed.
There’s zero sign that Santorum is of any disposition to do this. So why does he turn out to be the last man standing in the path of the Mormon billionaire Mitt Romney in the battle for the nomination?
First and foremost, he’s not Mitt Romney.
ain't it amazin' how somebody like santorum can actually make somebody like romney seem not all that bad and somebody like romney can make a two-timing, bait-and-switch president like obama seem halfway acceptable...? nah... screw 'em all, every damn one of 'em... Submit To Propeller
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The secret drone wars - the quiet expansion of presidential power under Obama
The Obama Administration has approved five times the number of covert drone strikes that his predecessor did. Thomson Reuters Digital Editor Chrystia Freeland sits down with Reuters' Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist David Rohde to discuss his special report detailing the quiet expansion of presidential power under Obama.
David Rohde, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning former New York Times reporter and current Reuters columnist, explains how President Obama has significantly expanded executive power and triggered massive anti-American rage in the world through the use of drones and assassinations — or, as Stephanie Cutter and modern-day Democrats would say, he’s showing how Tough And Strong he is (it should be noted that Rohde, who spent months as a hostage of the Taliban, knows much about what motivates anti-American hatred and Terrorism)...
imagine seeing pakistani drones circling over your neighborhood... imagine having your neighbors or members of your family killed by a drone strike... yes... imagine... Submit To Propeller
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Thursday, February 23, 2012
Atrios: Stealing homes, then destroying them and their communities
Across the country, big banks and other large investors are buying up tens of thousands of foreclosed rental properties. They're not always model landlords, according to tenants and regulators. Some banks are failing to follow local and state housing codes, leaving tenants to live in squalor — without even a number to call in the most dire situations.
That's difficult even when there is a property manager. Luz Escamilla in Hyattsville, Md., says she sleeps with the lights on, "waiting for the bugs to come up." Her place is infested. There are chocolate-colored blotches all over her walls; it's the blood of bedbugs she has killed. [Note: the blood isn't "the blood of bedbugs," it's the blood of Luz Escamilla that has been ingested by the bedbugs.]
[Anne] Norton, the Maryland bank regulator, says it's often more challenging to take a bank to court than a mom-and-pop landlord.
"Due to disproportional bargaining rights between tenants and the parties that are the investors, tenants feel that they don't have a voice and also don't have rights," Norton says.
States are at a loss, too. They aren't sure how to make banks comply with their housing codes. Norton and nine other regulators are now drafting guidelines to help states crack down.
i find it downright amazing how rapidly the u.s. is making the descent to the status of 3d world country... Submit To Propeller
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012
European Parliament puts ACTA on hold
good news but the battle is far from over...
In a major victory for Internet freedom activists, the European parliament on Wednesday placed the ratification of a controversial copyright treaty on hold and asked the European Court of Justice to rule on whether the provisions align with the European Union’s “fundamental rights and freedoms.”
The announcement came following publication of a letter written by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, beseeching E.U. leaders to abandon the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Act (ACTA).
Tusk was previously a strong supporter of the treaty, but weeks of demonstrations in Poland and across Europe convinced him to withdraw support. Although Poland has already signed the treaty, Tusk said the nation will not pursue full ratification.
Although ACTA has been ratified by 22 E.U. member states, along with Canada, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, a number of very important nations have begun to question the logic of importing American copyright standards.
Germany, Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have emerged as leaders of Europe’s ACTA opposition. The European parliament’s announcement on Wednesday seems to indicate that the E.U.’s trade chief, Karel De Gucht, has now joined them.
Crafted in the U.S., ACTA was signed by President Barack Obama without Congressional approval because the administration deemed it to be an “executive agreement” that exports U.S. copyright law and does not alter current statutes. Other nations are treating ACTA as a proper treaty, meaning the process of adoption is much more complicated.
While the E.U. may be hedging its bets on ACTA, the pending court ruling will not prevent any additional states from ratifying the treaty on their own, which the U.S. has strongly encouraged them to do through its trade policies. The announcement Wednesday will, however, significantly delay an E.U. parliament vote on the treaty, which was originally scheduled for June.
the effort of our super-rich elites to gain control over the internet isn't going to go away any time soon... Submit To Propeller
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James Howard Kunstler: The banking system is just blowing smoke up the shredded ass of what's left of the economy
[I]t's especially gratifying to see the Republicans sail off the edge of their own flat earth on the winds of religious idiocy. For forty years it has not been enough for them to just be a conservative party. They had to enlist the worst elements of ignorance and reaction, and they found an endless supply of it in the boom regions of the Sunbelt with its brotherhood of TV evangelist con-artists and a population fretful with suburban angst.
Just as there is a place for conservatism in civilized life, there is also a place for the progressive impulse, let's call it - for making bold advance in step with the mandates of reality and an interest in justice for all those along on the journey.
The Democrats under Obama don't want to go to that place. They want to really go to the same place as the fretful Sunbelt fundamentalists, but by a different route - and that place is yesterday, by means of a campaign to sustain the unsustainable. Mr. Obama is pretending that an economic "recovery" is underway when he knows damn well that the banking system is just blowing smoke up the shredded ass of what's left of that economy. He pretends to an interest in the rule of law in money matters but he's done everything possible to prevent the Department of Justice, the SEC, and a dozen other regulatory authorities from functioning the way they were designed. He has never suggested resurrecting the Glass-Steagall act, which kept banking close to being honest for forty years. He never issued a peep of objection about the Citizens United case where the Supreme Court tossed the election process into a crocodile pit of corporate turpitude (he could have proposed a constitutional amendment redefining corporate "personhood."). He declared he'd never permit a super-PAC to be created in his name, and now he's got one. Mr. Obama represents a lot of things to a lot of people. He is mainly Progressivism's bowling trophy, its symbol of its own triumphant wonderfulness in overcoming the age old phantoms of race prejudice. Alas, that's not enough. Where exactly is the boundary between telling "folks" what they want to hear and just flat-out lying?
when people are afraid, they will listen to just about anything that they think can reduce their fear...
if the world as i had always known it was coming down around my ears and i had no idea what was going to happen next, i would be VERY receptive to anyone and everyone who presented themselves as having a solution at hand...
whether it's the repubs promising that they will vanquish all society's great "evils" - brown people, gay people, non-christian people, poor people, uppity women, uppity presidents, uppity countries, the list goes on - or the dems promising a return to the go-go economy, people who live in fear will be very responsive...
the one thing fearful people DON'T want to hear is anyone spouting reality... Submit To Propeller
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Occupy reduced violence in Oakland
Now here’s something astonishing. While the camp was in existence, crime went down 19% in Oakland, a statistic the city was careful to conceal. "It may be counter to our statement that the Occupy movement is negatively impacting crime in Oakland," the police chief wrote to the mayor in an email that local news station KTVU later obtained and released to little fanfare. Pay attention: Occupy was so powerful a force for nonviolence that it was already solving Oakland’s chronic crime and violence problems just by giving people hope and meals and solidarity and conversation.The police attacking the camp knew what the rest of us didn’t: Occupy was abating crime, including violent crime, in this gritty, crime-ridden city.
interesting statistic... Submit To Propeller
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Occupy the SEC - the Occupy suits take on the Wall Street suits
To attempt to oversee the unwieldy bloated tyrants, Congress passed 848 pages of financial reform legislation in 2010. But it was so difficult to comprehend that to implement just one piece of it, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) together with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency filed a 530-page public proposal seeking comment on how the legislation might impact the markets. The deadline for those comments came last week.
Hoping to derail the derailers is a new SEC sheriff: Occupy the SEC, a spinoff of Occupy Wall Street. Going forward, it will be tougher for right-wing corporate media to spin the Occupy movement as smelly hippie radicals desperate for a cause; any cause. Last week, Wall Street spin doctors just got chewed up in the spin cycle and hung out to dry with Occupy the SEC’s filing of a mesmerizing 325-page treatise on redesigning Wall Street to meet the Nation’s needs rather than its perpetuation as a wealth extraction scheme by lawyered up 1 percenters. (The number of lawyers providing public comment was exceeded only by Wall Street firms.)
Far removed from the unstructured demands of the overall Occupy movement, the 325-page tome is precise, hard hitting and essentially nails the core corrupting elements of the current system and lays out what must change. It shows an uncanny insider’s grasp of the minutiae in the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. And, it is more than 171 pages longer than the collective rant of Wall Street’s own sycophant trade groups, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), American Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable, and the Clearing House Association. The trade group letter called the proposal “absurd” and lectured the regulators that they should first “do no harm.” There is striking and arrogant amnesia in this letter regarding the staggering harm done to this Nation by their constituents.
it takes brainy, experienced people to take on brainy experienced vermin... Submit To Propeller
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Monday, February 20, 2012
U.S. human rights abuse hypocrisy
Each year, the U.S. State Department, as required by law, issues a “Human Rights Report” which details abuses by other countries. To call it an exercise in hypocrisy is to understate the case: it is almost impossible to find any tyrannical power denounced by the State Department which the U.S. Government (and its closest allies) do not regularly exercise itself.
hypocrisy is what we're all about... Submit To Propeller
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The "crisis of capitalism" has consolidated its dominance and exploitation over the rest of society
Finance capital, the principle detonator of the crash and crises, recovered, the capitalist class as a whole was strengthened, and most important of all, it utilized the political, social, ideological conditions created as a result of “the crises” to further consolidate their dominance and exploitation over the rest of society.
In other words, the ‘crises of capital’ has been converted into a strategic advantage for furthering the most fundamental interests of capital: the enlargement of profits, the consolidation of capitalist rule, the greater concentration of ownership, the deepening of inequalities between capital and labor and the creation of huge reserves of labor to further augment their profits.
A recent study reports “US corporate profits are higher as a share of gross domestic product than at any time since 1950” (FT 1/30/12). US companies cash balances have never been greater, thanks to intensified exploitation of workers, and a multi-tiered wage systems in which new hires work for a fraction of what older workers receive (thanks to agreements signed by ‘door mat’ labor bosses).
The “crises of capitalism” ideologues have ignored the financial reports of the major US corporations.According to General Motors 2011 report to its stockholders,they celebrated the greatest profit ever,turning a profit of $7.6 billion, surpassing the previous record of $6.7 billion in 1997.A large part of these profits results from the freezing of its underfunded US pension funds and extracting greater productivity from fewer workers-in other words intensified exploitation-and cutting hourly wages of new hires by half.(Earthlink News 2/16/12)
Moreover the increased importance of imperialist exploitation is evident as the share of US corporate profits extracted overseas keeps rising at the expense of employee income growth.
A real capitalist crisis would adversely affect profit margins, gross earnings and the accumulation of “cash piles”. Rising profits are being horded because as capitalists profit from intense exploitation , mass consumption stagnates.
Crises theorists confuse what is clearly the degrading of labor, the savaging of living and working conditions and even the stagnation of the economy, with a ‘crises’ of capital: when the capitalist class increases its profit margins, hoards trillions, it is not in crises. The key point is that the ‘crises of labor’ is a major stimulus for the recovery of capitalist profits. We cannot generalize from one to the other. No doubt there was a moment of capitalist crises (2008-2009) but thanks to the capitalist state’s unprecedented massive transfer of wealth from the public treasury to the capitalist class – Wall Street banks in the first instance – the corporate sector recovered, while the workers and the rest of the economy remained in crises, went bankrupt and out of work.
Socialism is no longer the scare word of the past. Socialism involves the large-scale reorganization of the economy, the transfer of trillions from the coffers of predator classes’ of no social utility to the public welfare. This change can finance a productive and innovative economy based on work and leisure, study and sport. Socialism replaces the everyday terror of dismissal with the security that brings confidence, assurance and respect to the workplace. Workplace democracy is at the heart of the vision of 21st century socialism. We begin by nationalizing the banks and eliminating Wall Street. Financial institutions are redesigned to create productive employment, to serve social welfare and to preserve the environment. Socialism would begin the transition, from a capitalist economy directed by predators and swindlers and a state at their command, toward an economy of public ownership under democratic control.
we need to start taking a hard look at reality... capitalism is a profoundly broken system and we need to face the fact that it has also become a ideological doctrine, no more or less than any other religion... Submit To Propeller
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Greece: If there had not been an explosion of anger, I would have felt adrift in a sea of depression
Greece shows us how to protest against a failed system
I do not like violence. I do not think that very much is gained by burning banks and smashing windows. And yet I feel a surge of pleasure when I see the reaction in Athens and the other cities in Greece to the acceptance by the Greek parliament of the measures imposed by the European Union. More: if there had not been an explosion of anger, I would have felt adrift in a sea of depression.
The joy is the joy of seeing the much-trodden worm turn and roar. The joy of seeing those whose cheeks have been slapped a thousand times slapping back. How can we ask of people that they accept meekly the ferocious cuts in living standards that the austerity measures imply? Do we want them to just agree that the massive creative potential of so many young people should be just eliminated, their talents trapped in a life of long-term unemployment? All that just so that the banks can be repaid, the rich made richer? All that, just to maintain a capitalist system that has long since passed its sell-by date, that now offers the world nothing but destruction. For the Greeks to accept the measures meekly would be to multiply depression by depression, the depression of a failed system compounded by the depression of lost dignity.
The violence of the reaction in Greece is a cry that goes out to the world. How long will we sit still and see the world torn apart by these barbarians, the rich, the banks? How long will we stand by and watch the injustices increase, see the health service dismantled, education reduced to uncritical nonsense, the water resources of the world privatised, communities wiped out and the earth torn up for the profits of mining companies?
The attack that is so acute in Greece is taking place all over the world. Everywhere money is subjecting human and non-human life to its logic, the logic of profit. This is not new, but the intensity and breadth of the attack is new, and new too is the general awareness that the current dynamic is a dynamic of death, that it is likely that we are all heading towards the annihilation of human life on earth. When the learned commentators explain the details of the latest negotiations between the governments on the future of the eurozone, they forget to mention that what is being negotiated so blithely is the future of humanity.
boy, does he get that right... money has taken over the world... Submit To Propeller
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