Monday, November 28, 2011

PIC: put a little Occupy in every letter to Congress

I've heard from several sources that for every letter a congressman or senator receives, they figure there are ten people who feel the same way but are too lazy to write.  I think there might be an easy way to convince them that quite a few more than ten agree with you.

For example, look at the two letters below with the exact same text.

Which is more likely to put the fear of God (or more accurately, the fear of real democracy) into the hearts of our profoundly corrupt legislators?

click to see full-sized

I might be overly optimistic, but if you choose your words and issues carefully, the letter on the right might convince a corrupt politician that you don't represent ten people, you represent 99% of the people.

There are a lot of images of the Guy Fawkes or V for Vendetta mask online--find one you like and add it to a letter to local tool of Wall Street posing as your elected representative.  

Let them know you see behind THEIR mask.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Condoleezza Rice on Bush Poison Scare

It was just a few weeks after 9/11 when then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice received an alarming message from Vice President Dick Cheney: President Bush may have been fatally poisoned.

She later found out that the president had gone to the White House kitchen for a snack, but the entire kitchen staff was in a meeting, so he began looking through cupboards and cabinets for  himself.

Cheney found him lying on the floor unconscious, his clothing stained with amonia and bleach-scented cleaners, which he feared the president ingested, thinking they were alcoholic beverages since he would be unable to read the labels.

The president was rushed to secure emergency room in the White House basement where his stomach was pumped.

Rice said the story had a happy ending.  Bush had apparently found a bottle of peppermint schnapps, drank the whole thing and spilled some on his shirt.

Not wanting to take the time to go back to his room and have the valet change his shirt for him, he tried to remove the stain himself with various kitchen cleaners and declining coordination until he blacked out from the schnapps.

"We learned an important lesson about the president's security that day," Rice said.  "We had to be prepared for every contingency."

She said Vice President Cheney supervised the installation of child-proof locks on all liquor cabinets and cleaning supplies cupboards throughout the White House and even tested them by watching the president try to open them.

The only damage done to the president was some scrapes on his face from his fall that were not explained to the public at the time.

"If we had told people what had happened, the president's life would have been at risk every time we traveled, simply by terrorists disabling child-proof locks on cleaning supplies. The public's right to know was outweighed by the president's safety.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

friendly advice for centrist Obama supporters

 You are doing a piss poor job of convincing progressives to reelect Obama.

I believed you guys were actually Republican trolls until I heard the same words coming out of the mouths of top Obama aides and in only slightly milder form out of the mouths of the president and VP himself.

Does that persuade you and make you want to keep reading?

I didn't think so.

So why do you repeatedly insult the progressive majority of Democrats to try to keep them in the Obama tent?

I am not 100% pleased with Obama, but I will be voting for him again. Your efforts mostly make me feel like an idiot for doing so.

If you sincerely want to help Obama win reelection, here's some tips that might help you warm up the base.

Enough with the insults. You know what I'm talking about--calling anyone who criticizes Obama from the left ''far left'' (going as far as to say we are as bad as the far right), ''the professional left,'' ''hopeless idealists,'' and perhaps most aggravatingly ''Obama haters.'' That last one is just fucking lazy. You borrowed it from the Bush PR team.

Stop being crybabies. When you come to a discussion board, expect that people are going to criticize your guy as well as praise him. If you want undiluted praise, go to Obama's campaign website. If you come to a site like this expect to have to defend some of his actions and do so as if talking to your peers not your children.

Retire some of these talking points:
  • You don't understand the process--it requires compromise. Actually, we understand that perfectly well. What we don't understand is why the president we elected to pursue Democratic policies gives away half the pie before negotiations even start and then gives up even more to make a deal. That would make some kind of sense once Republicans took over the House, but Obama did this even when Democrats had majorities in both chambers. Either honestly explain why he did this or just leave it alone.

    Most of us also notice that this isn't the way the GOP negotiates, regardless of whether they hold the White House or either chamber of Congress. They start with proposals that are clearly conservative, excoriate the Democrats, and then grudgingly compromise at the end of negotiations (and sometimes not even then).
  • Obama has to be president of ALL Americans. Again, this one is an insult to our intelligence. We understand that he has to be president of ALL Americans, but we hold elections to decide what policies we want our president pursue. A solid majority of Americans thought they elected a Democratic president, not one who rarely mentions the name of his own party and blames it as much as the opposition that blocks everything and tries to destroy popular, effective programs, and not one who thinks every proposal has to include at least 50% Republican content. The Republicans certainly don't play that way when they take office, and even if they did, that would mean our vote would be meaningless since either party would do the same thing. With just the Democrats doing it, we essentially have a choice being 100% GOP policies or just 50% plus, which is barely a choice at all. So stow this shit.

  • Any Republican will be WORSE. progressives seem to know this better than you or Obama does. If they are so bad, stop agreeing with them and letting them set the agenda, as your points about process and bipartisanship prove.
  • Obama will be more progressive in his second term. Maybe FDR did that, but no president in my lifetime has. Bill Clinton was doing well to hold onto office and like Obama agreed with the GOP policies far too often. For good or ill, you have to run on what Obama has actually done (and not just the nice things he has said or will say during the campaign.

That brings me to the one thing you guys do well, the list of Obama's accomplishments. Even your presentation there has room for improvement though.

  • Edit the list for a progressive audience. The catfood commission, the Afghanistan surge, and certainly the recent debt ceiling deal are not things you want to brag about with a progressive audience.
  • Emphasize the radical and confrontational rather than incremental and bipartisan. So for example with health care reform, instead of talking about the market based exchanges and ''cost controls,'' the latter meaning controlling costs for insurance companies, talk about what the reform did to help the average American and bring insurance companies and big pharma to heel.
  • Give it to people in chunks instead of the big dump. Focus especially on progressive moves that aren't getting a lot of MSM coverage, like working to get Medicare Part D to negotiate drug prices.

There are a couple of points that you also avoid mentioning, like why Obama started with an economic team that included so many of the architects of our financial collapse, and why he lets firms like Goldman Sachs pick their regulators instead of picking their cellmates in the Federal pen.

Another area where you need to address progressive concerns is K-12 education. I'm glad Obama gave schools money to keep them from laying off teachers, but a lot of us who care about kids have trouble trusting him on this issue when he hired an education secretary who right wingers praise for his union-busting, mass firing of teachers, emphasis on repetitive standardized testing and privatized charter schools, all ''reforms'' backed by billionaire dilettantes rather than trained educators.

The problem with Obama's approach to Wall St, education, trade, and other aspects of foreign policy is that it is top down rather than bottom up--he appears to talk to almost exclusively the wealthy and largely does what they ask, rather than looking at the wishes of average Americans, who would like to see Wall Street subject to the rule of law and suffer the same kind of consequences a middle class or poor person would if they intentionally caused as much damage, and would like to have safe public schools that borrow the best practices of private schools, rather than privatizing public schools so our tax dollars can be siphoned off in profits and teachers treated like interchangeable burger flippers.

You must address these concerns if you want to get progressives in the tent, and address them in the way that Bruno Bettelheim laid out in his essay ''The Victim.'' He told about how as a concentration camp inmate he needed to get an SS guard's approval to get medical treatment for frostbite. He had to make his case to someone who had no sympathy, all the power, and a gun. So far, you guys have been arguing more like the guard than the inmate.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

FIRE Def. Sec. Panetta for threat to military retirement

It appears that when the current administration talks about cutting defense, they don't mean cutting endless wars, or corrupt contracts with connected corporations--they want to privatize (which means give to Wall Street) the troops pensions. At least that's what Secretary of Defense Leon Pannetta said recently at National Defense University citing a plan by an advisory board of corporate suits.
It would be no surprise if the Republicans proposed this, given their constant schemes to undermine and privatize Social Security, but if Obama and Democrats in Congress embrace and push for this, there would be no surer sign that care more about obeying Wall Street than winning elections.

The ''reform'' would change military retirement from a guaranteed amount based on rank and available immediately when they retire after 20 or 30 years of service to a 401K type plan than wouldn't be available until they are 60. One military group did the math and it would end up costing an E-7 $1.6 MILLION over the course of their retirement, an 85% cut.

This is a classic corporate move on a couple of levels: reducing and/or stealing employees pensions, and by saying currently serving troops would be spared the change is a standard union-busting move--divide and conquer future vs. current employees.

That Obama's Secretary of Defense even mentioned this other than to tear it to shreds destroys one of the things many progressive Democrats took pride in during the Bush years: Republicans give lip service to supporting the troops, but Democrats supported them in ways that mattered most to the troops, with VA funding, strengthening the GI Bill and the like.

That might have been why troops donated to Obama six to one over McCain in 2008 (besides the mistaken impression that he was anti-war).

This shoots that advantage in the face.

Pragmatically,this is not just an insult to the troops, but it will make it even easier for mercenary companies to lure highly trained troops out of the military with their big paydays. That training cost taxpayer money, and the longer they stay in the military, the better return we get on our investment in them. When they join mercenary companies, we end up paying even more for the services of someone we paid to train in the first place.

This is not just my opinion, but when a similar ''reform'' was attempted in the 80's, the Pentagon had to plead to get it reversed because so many people were leaving the military.

If Democrats in Congress and the White House want to cut military spending, fine. Let them do it by ending the wars, and taking our troops off oil reserve hostile takeover and pipeline (and poppy field) protection duty (or at least making the oil company assholes actually pay for the service).

Panetta should publicly apologize for publicly even entertaining this idea. If he does not, the right wing talking point about Democrats not supporting the troops will sadly be true. If he won't apologize and condemn the idea, he should be fired.

Tell Obama, your senators, and you congressman exactly that.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

''Super Congress'' amounts to affirmative action quota for dying GOP

Now is the moment. No more games. No more gimmicks. The Constitution must be amended to keep the government in check. We’ve tried persuasion. We’ve tried negotiations. We’re tried elections. Nothing has worked.
Mitch McConnell
Oh you foolish withered jellyfish of a man! No need to amend the constitution. Obama has just ensured your power no matter how quickly and much your party shrivels.

The super congress will be divided 50/50 between Dems and Republicans, apparently regardless of the composition of congress, and regardless of the fact that the GOP is going the way of the horse and buggy.

Check the demographics of the last few elections and the general demographics of the country as a whole. Angry racist whites are a dying minority but the vast majority of GOP voters. Other major ethnic groups largely vote democratic, as even younger whites do. The only thing slowing this trend is the persistence of some elected Democrats in supporting republican policies, muddying the water about who is who.

If Democrats did NOTHING differently, Republicans will eventually shrivel to the size and influence of the Lyndon LaRouche party.

Instead, Obama came up with a deal that give them 50% say in budget and tax issues no matter what, and if corporate Democrats end up in the other slots, they will have greater than 50% influence.

Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot: if the Democratic Party's only constituency were a dying minority, would the GOP do everything possible to give Democrats a veto power over Congress?

More importantly, doesn't this perverse form of an affirmative action quota for racist waterboys for the rich spit in the face of democracy itself since elections won't change it's composition?

I've said it before but this is now exhibit A: If Democrats in Congress were vampire hunters who stumbled across their quarry weak and about to burst into flames in the midday sun, instead of putting a stake in the bloodsucker, they would drag it into the shade and open a vein to feed it. If it was their own blood, it wouldn't be so bad, but it is invariably ours.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

the rich should fear their servants

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article that said the greatest fear of the wealthy is political violence in the streets.

But it’s not the people outside the gates they should fear--it’s all the ”little” people they need to fear run their lives, the butlers, nannies, drivers, gardeners, accountants, ass-wipers, and probably even the private security.

Even if these servants are well-compensated, they have eyes and ears and could realize that their bosses are screwing their friends and family and even endangering their lives.

Those inside the walls might take action or even leak some useful information to the rest of us.

Jack London wrote about this happening in a revolution in the US in THE IRON HEEL. It was incredibly accurate about the methods of the wealthy today even though it was written over a hundred years ago.

You can see a real life example of this in THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED when the wealthy of Venezuela are fretting on camera that their servants may be spying on them, then the camera turns for just a second to a Native maid dusting whose eyes flash up making you wonder if they were right.

So it will be here.

We have already seen this with low and mid-level people who execute the orders of the rich in the defense and foreign policy establishment, from functionaries who refuse to lie like the Iraq Survey Group and the pre-Iraq War intel analysts, to those in the military who leaked specifics of war plans against Iran and the suspicious movement of nuclear weapons in the US, to the wholesale leaking of Bradley Manning.

You can’t be an idiot and do those kind of government jobs, and when they see the real agenda, not of protecting our security or even enriching average Americans, but of killing people and crushing democracies to enrich a very few, they can’t do their job blindly forever. As Frederick Douglass said, when someone realizes they are doing an injustice, either they will be eaten by guilt until they end the injustice or they will figure out a way to justify it in their mind.

In the Internet Age, when it is so easy to find other opinions and facts about what’s going on, a literate person would have a hard time keeping up the walls of rationalization for long.

When enough of their servants say “ENOUGH,” their day will be over. Then we can get on with solving our pressing problems without worrying about whether the solutions offend or cut into the profit margins of  pampered, morally degenerate trust fund babies.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan's nuclear meltdown shows threat of gov't of, by, and for the rich

As if we hadn't seen enough of it in recent years with unnecessary wars that drained our treasury and killed our patriotic youth, massive oil spills that contaminate major supplies of seafood, trade deals that exported our jobs, demands for deregulation of the financial industry, then bailouts when they destroy what they just had deregulated, taking our homes with mortgage scams, put tax avoidance of the rich as the absolute top priority ahead of schools, heat for the poor and old, health care, and honoring the contracts of public employees.

Now with the meltdown in Japan, what most people see as a no-rush, second or third tier issue, the rich's demand that we stick with dirty energy sources like oil, coal, and nuclear power, which they have figured out how to monopolize and manipulate the price of, instead of allowing us to switch to limitless sources of clean energy is going to cost us thousands, maybe millions of lives. Not slowly from a cancer here, or a mine collapse there, but all at once.

Japan's earthquake has led to an accidental Hiroshima that could affect the whole world, and it was entirely avoidable. But our politicians, both here, in Japan, and around the world, have been bought by a financial elite that would rather risk millions of lives than pass up a chance to increase their profit margins.

That cloud of radiation that might drift over to us through the jetstream could just as easily be coming from nuclear plants built on or near faults here in California.

We can no longer afford a political system that allows such a malignant financial elite to call the shots.

We must put our people ahead of their profits.

It's a matter of survival.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

WISCONSIN PROTESTERS: call out the national guard yourselves

The one card Governor Scott Walker has to play is calling out the national guard, but what if protesters beat him to the punch?

If you know someone in the guard ask them if they will obey the order to disperse or even fire on their friends and neighbors, and what kind state they think they'd end up living in if they did. Then post their replies to blogs or here, anonymously if they want or with their names if they are willing.

It would be a good question for capitol and state police as well.

Reporters should be asking guard commanders the same question. (I'm going to email or call later today).

Even if they say they. Will follow orders, it will plant a seed of doubt.

If someone says they won't follow the orders, I would challenge them to join the protest in uniform--which would be a good idea for veterans among protesters right now. If the right doesn't mind calling teachers and other public workers lazy pigs, it will a lot harder for them to do if it makes them look like they aren't ''supporting the troops.''

Maybe if you know a someone in the military in Iraq or Afghanistan, especially public workers deployed in the guard, you could get video clips of statements of support.

We need to do more than beat the right here--we need to make them afraid to bash public workers and union bash ever again. We should make them BEG for the privilege to vote for the Employee Free Choice Act. This needs to be their Waterloo, and we need the troops on our side to do it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SANCTITY OF CONTRACTS: Wall Street execs vs. Wisconsin public workers

If you recall, after Obama was sworn in, people asked if he would add some strings to the no strings attached bailout of Wall Street to the tune of $700 BILLION, like capping executive compensation or cutting those bonuses that surely no one deserved if their company needed a bailout. Obama's excuse for not doing so was those Wall Street execs had CONTRACTS, gosh darn it, and we can't violate those CONTRACTS even if we want to.


If he really believes that, he SHOULDN'T be freezing the salaries of federal workers many of whom have unions and are under contract, and SHOULD be backing the public workers in Wisconsin to the hilt and unleashing his Labor and Justice Department on the governor of Wisconsin the way Eisenhower, Kennedy and Nixon went after governors in the Jim Crow states since the governor is trying to nullify all those contracts.

I'm not hearing much noise like that.

What is the difference between the two sets of workers besides that one works in the private sector and one works in the public?

It can't be that one involves individuals making contract with employers as opposed to large groups making contracts with employers because our government doesn't seem to mind mergers of corporations for more bargaining clout--why should they mind the merger of individuals for more bargaining clout?

The private versus public sector distinction was wiped out by the bailout. Every bank an brokerage that got taxpayer money was a de facto public entity until that money was entirely repaid. If they hadn't gotten the money, many of them would have gone under, which is worse than what Wisconsin or any state faces since they have the power to either borrow with bonds or raise taxes.

It can't be that all contracts are not created equal, with the contracts of the wealthy being more valid than contracts with the working and middle class?

It can't be that the only difference is that public workers don't have as much money to contribute as individual Wall Street execs, or that public worker unions can't offer megabucks jobs as lobbyists, CEO's or do-nothing board members after politicians leave office can it? Or that they can't offer those kinds of bribes to politicians' family members while the politician is still in office like Wall Street can?

If that was the case, how can we accuse any other government of corruption, even our own oil company consultant, brother of a drug lord puppet in Afghanistan?

In reality Obama has shown repeatedly that the contracts of middle class workers are only fit to wipe his ass with. Obama had no trouble demanding concessions from the autoworkers union to bail out Detroit, so those private sector contracts didn't seem so sacred.  And Obama's education secretary made his bones in Chicago with union-busting (and therefore contract-busting)  mass firings of teachers to clear the path for for-profit charter schools and education management companies. Those teachers were also middle class people.

The White House and Congress could at least be honest with the working and middle class and say, ''This is what Wall Street is paying us to screw you. If you can scrape together the money to top that, we can talk,'' instead of just assuming we can't pay.

Or maybe we have to figure out a way to get closer to one person one vote instead of one dollar one vote before most of us end up living in cardboard boxes and sifting throw the garbage and sewage of the rich to survive.

Monday, February 14, 2011

a violent reaction to nonviolent revolution

`Buzzflash posted a debate on violent versus nonviolent revolution between anti-war activists David Swanson and Ted Rall, but I felt an important angle was left out.  Here's my comment:

RE: blocking the courthouse

The hypothetical Swanson mentioned about blocking the courthouse until they allow gay marriages and Rall's reply to it about the cops dragging off the protesters or them being slaughtered shows the real use of violence, and even Martin Luther King used it in this way: when you get those in power to use violence against non-violent protesters and it is broadcast on TV for all to see, those in power have lost.  They can only retain power by using escalating violence and eventually, they will get to the point where police and soldiers will no longer pull the trigger--and then we have won.

That is what happened during the coup against Gorbachev and what happened when we tried to overthrow Hugo Chavez early in the Bush years.  In the latter case, enough of the military was tired of being the bad guys to their own people to undo the coup.

Nonviolence can work if you are willing to be on the receiving end of a rifle butt, tear gas canister, or even a bullet.

But as cities and states across the country are cutting police forces and looking to cut public pensions (which police would have), I don't think we have far to go before they will stop beating us and start joining us.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

FINISH THIS SENTENCE: Low taxes on the rich matter more to Republicans than ____________.

For example, Michelle Bachmann thought low taxes on the rich were more important than veterans benefits--until vets handed her her ass and she backed off.

Clearly, low taxes on the rich are more important than smaller classes in K-12.

Low taxes on the rich are more important than having enough firefighters.

Low taxes on the rich are more important to Republicans than having enough cops on the streets.

Ironically, low taxes on the rich are even more important to Republicans than low taxes on everyone else.

and so on.

Please add your own (with a link if possible).

NOTE: Unfortunately, that question could also include a lot of Blue Dog and DLC Democrats, who (like Republicans), think public office is a way to audition for jobs as lobbyists, CEO's, or highly paid, do-nothing board members.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt example should kill ''internet kill switch'' bill in US

Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins have reintroduced a bill to set up an internet kill switch that can be activated by the president in the case of a cyber emergency, supposedly by terrorists or China or something.

Egypt has pulled just such a switch in the face of growing demonstrations to overthrow the Mubarak regime.

We should learn two things from Egypt's example:

  1. The kill switch is more likely to be used to kill domestic dissent, which is exactly how it's being used in Egypt. If they were really worried about certain government or industry users, they could simply call them up and tell them to pull the ethernet cable or wifi card out of their computers--it ain't rocket science.
  2.   More importantly though:
  3. The kill switch doesn't work.  The leader who pulls it admits that he is a coward afraid of his own people having access to information and access to each other.   Those who propose such a switch in the United States or elsewhere have contempt for democracy and even if elected, serve the very wealthy who need protection from democracy not the rest of us.

Instead of looking for ways to silence dissent and keep up the embarrassing kibuki pretense of democracy, where we can vote all we want so long as the wealth of the very wealthy remains untouched and their crimes go unpunished, our government should be looking for ways to sync their words with reality instead of PR tested talking points and sync their policies with the common good instead of using public office to line up their next job as a lobbyist, CEO, or board member for the companies they served while in office (or if they are president, the more circuitous bribes of speaking fees and donations to their foundations and presidential libraries).

If Washington doesn't learn the lesson of Egypt and serve the massive middle and working class instead of the miniscule moneyed class, a lot of DC politicians will be joining Hosni Mubarak on whatever desolate rock where he lives out his sorry life.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Poll: should Wikileaks just release their ''thermonuclear file''?

 Rather than waiting for some judicial or other harm to come Assange and others in the organization, wouldn't the best protection be releasing the thermonuclear file, so everyone's anger is focused on the corruption in their governments and even those tasked with persecuting Wikileaks might realize they would better serve the common good by staying their hand?

If Wikileaks dropped some of their biggest bombs, it could reset our democracy and force Washington to acknowledge what and who is really driving many of our policies instead of insulting our intelligence with childish drivel about chasing terrorists with the most powerful military in the world, which if true would be like swatting at flies with a bazooka.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had real information, so we could make real choices about whether to support wars?

If we could see the internal discussions of the Wall Street bailout from both the Wall Street side and the government side?

That would be democracy. What we have now is an increasing hollow puppet show. Everyone sees that they are puppets, that the script is crappy, and we suspect whose hands are up their asses, but we don't have the definitive evidence to prove it.

Wikileaks could do that, save their own asses, give our democracy back to us, and maybe even give it to some people who never had it before. That's worth more than any game of chess they are playing now.

Why doesn't Wikileaks just release their ''thermonuclear file''?
Wikileaks should release their thermonuclear file while they can
Wikileaks should wait only because the information has more impact when it trickles out
Wikileaks should wait because the damage would be great than the benefit
other free polls