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We believe in questioning ourselves, our assumptions, each other -- and we especially believe in questioning authority (the more authority, the more questions). We believe obedience is a fine quality in dogs and young children, but not in adults.
Like America's right-wingers, we believe in
hard work to get ahead,
and stern punishment for serious crimes.
We believe big government should not be blindly trusted.
But unlike most right-wing leaders, we mean it.
Like America's left-wingers, we believe in
equal treatment under law,
war as a last (not first) resort,
and sensible stewardship of natural resources.
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But unlike most left-wing leaders, we mean it.
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But unlike many libertarians, we're not obsessed with the gold standard, we don't believe incorporation is humanity's highest achievement, and we don't believe everything in life comes down to dollars and cents. We've read and enjoyed Ayn Rand's novels, but we understand that they're works of fiction.
We're skeptical, and we're sick of so-called 'journalists' who aren't skeptical at all.
A reader asks, what are our solutions?
We propose no solutions except common sense, which is never common. We like the principles of democracy, and the ideals broadly described as 'American'. The US Constitution is a fine and workable framework for solutions, when it's actually read and thoughtfully understood by intelligent statesmen and women. So, no manifestos from us. We don't dream that big, and if there's one thing the world doesn't need it's yet another manifesto.
Our suggestion is: think.
A fact-based instead of faith-based approach leads to solutions for most of the recurring issues of our time, from abortion to global climate change, pollution to universal health care, careful but real regulation of industry and economy, hunger, war, terror, human rights for humans not for corporations, science not religious doctrine in public schools, equal protection and prosecution under law, etc. Approach problems without glorifying stupidity, without demonizing intelligence, and answers usually come into focus.
These pages are published by Harry and Helen Highwater, happily married low-income nom de plumes and rabble-rousers from Madison, Wisconsin (with a few friends scattered around the world helping out).
We try to spotlight news that hasn't gotten enough (or appropriate) attention in American media, along with our opinions and yours.
We bang our keyboards against the wall, because it doesn't hurt as much as banging our heads.
# Gary M. on Friday evening —
Here's what I know about this bullshit health care reform: Millions of new customers for insurance companies that make their profits by denying coverage. Millions of Americans still deciding whether to see a doctor or buy groceries. Thousands of Americans still dying every year for lack of health care. Something to be ashamed of. Something to oppose, not endorse.
# Howard Sprague on Friday afternoon —
jon stewart did a 15 minute glenn beck imitation last night. hilarious stuff.
# Helen & Harry on Friday afternoon —
I'm a few days behind on Stewart but I'm looking forward to it... he did Beck a few months ago and it was great. The guy (Beck) really should be institutionalized.
# Marie K. on Friday afternoon —
I got curious about what is actually happening in Thailand. I once had some fellow classmates from there and found them to be very bright. Obviously, I cannot claim that I know from experience what's going on there, but I can read, and I found a few links that provide some good clues, I think.
First off, as Wikipedia explains in its Thailand article, Thailand is a country with "a constitutional democratic monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister [PM] is the head of government and a hereditary monarch is head of state. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislative branches."
The recent news involves those termed the "red-shirts" protesting since Mar. 13, 2010 in "the largest anti-government protests the country has seen in years" and occupying the area outside their parliament building as this article dated Mar. 16 explains. They are demanding "that the coalition government of PM Abhisit Vejjajiva step down or call a new election."
So who are the "red-shirts" and who is this PM? The caption under the picture showing the protestors says that "We, the commoners and the lower class, must gather" is written on one of the placards. This quote gives more info. about them: "The red-shirt wearing members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) . . . have become a powerful player on the political stage. They cannot be ignored anymore," says Michael Nelson, a German academic who has written on Thai political parties. 'Nobody would have imagined in the early 1990s that the RURAL PEOPLE [my caps] who are red shirt supporters today would have come out to show their political strength.'"
This quote explains their dress and the link between these protests and earlier protests: "The current clash . . . is the latest in a trend that emerged shortly before the country’s last military coup in September 2006 [the 18th coup] -- which forced out of power the then-twice elected PM Thaksin Shinawatra . . . During his time, Thaksin was hounded by yellow-shirt wearing protesters . . . " Today's "red-shirters" are his supporters even though he "is living in exile to avoid a two-year-jail term for corruption." It seems that "Thaksin . . . remains widely popular among voters in the RURAL [my caps] north and north-east due to a raft of pro-poor policies he implemented during his five-and-a-half- year term in office. The former telecommunications tycoon has since emerged as the political godfather of the UDD [party, see above]."
So what has happened since that coup? This Wikipedia article offers some good info. I've dropped out as much as possible to focus on the main details.
Following the coup on Sept. 19, 2006, "the military drafted a controversial new constitution . . . [and] a national referendum accepted the 2007 constitution with significant disapproval in Thaksin's stronghold, the north and northeast. . . . On Dec. 23, 2007 a national parliamentary election was held . . . [and] the People Power Party (PPP) which is Thaksin's proxy party, gained the majority . . ."
"During 2008, Thailand saw increasing political turmoil, with the PPP government [headed by Samak Sundaravej] facing pressure to step down amid mounting civil disobedience and unrest lead by the PAD [the People's Alliance for Democracy]. . . . [Those] anti-government protesters were . . . mostly better educated, more affluent, urban Thais [also described as "a group of royalist businessmen, academics and activists"] . . . The anti-Thaksin protesters [were] vastly outnumbered by Thaksin's supporters, the rural MAJORITY [my caps] . . . Their loyalty was rewarded by generous social and economic welfare programs for previously neglected provincial areas. . . . [i.e.] Thaksin introduced government programs which greatly benefited rural areas of the country. These programs included debt relief for farmers still reeling from the Asian Financial Crisis and a new health care program which brought coverage to all Thais for 30-baht per visit (about 1 dollar)."
Finally, from Wikipedia's Thailand article and its discussion of the 2008-2009 political crisis: PM Sundaravej [also the host of a TV cooking program] "was found guilty of conflict of interest [due to the TV prog. which ended his term in office and] . . . he was replaced by PPP member Somchai Wongsawat [who] . . . was unable to gain access to his offices, which were occupied by protesters from the PAD." Then the PPP was closed down after being found "guilty of electoral fraud . . ." This opened the door for the opposition Democrats Party to form a government. It's leader 'Abhisit Vejjajiva' was appointed and sworn-in . . . on Dec. 17, 2008." Thus, I guess the PAD people got what they wanted until Mar. 13, 2010 when the "red-shirters" of the UDD [formed after the PPP was closed] started their protests against the leader the PAD members support.
In sum, it seems that Thailand's court system and perhaps its military, too, were used to oust the leaders today's "red-shirters" supported and to close down the parties Thaksin was in or backed. It seems clear that Thaksin is a wealthy man who came to the aid of the rural poor, and that they still support him or those he backs. Did he offer the rural poor the best possible programs or not? Did Thaksin himself benefit from the pro-poor policies he implemented? What I mean is did he dupe the poor or really help them? Those are the questions that I don't have answers to.
# Pinata American on Friday afternoon —
Well now we're supposed to think health care reform is going to pass, and we're probably supposed to be happy about it. I hear that the ban on excluding people because of "pre-existing conditions" kicks in in 2014 (quicker for children, because adults aren't people). Whoopee.
# Marie K. on Friday morning —
[Marie sent this letter to Asia Times, responding to the paper's March 16 article Obama in more trouble than Netanyahu over Iran. I thought it was worth sharing here, too. —H&HH]
This Spengler/David P Goldman article definitely wins the worst piece I've ever read at Asia Times "award." In fact, a few more like it will prompt me to end my visits to the Asia Times site. So, where to start? Remarkably, that is a difficult question because the article goes from one unproven and, I assume, intended to misinform sentence to another right on to the end. That leaves looking at the "arguments" in the article.
1) "Many suspect [Iran's nuclear program] is designed to acquire nuclear weapons" - Well, all of us who follow the IAEA inspections in Iran and the resulting reports know that Iran is acquiring ONE nuclear power station geared to producing electricity. What actually worries us is that Israel is NOT being inspected because Israel hasn't signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). What's Israel's problem with this treaty, anyway?
2) Iran could "make a shambles of America's [Potemkin village]"/seeming control of Iraq - I don't think so unless Iran wants to start WW3 which they seem smart enough NOT to want to do, unlike the "crazies" in the US-Israel. As for Muqtada al-Sadr, he seems to be a nationalist who wants to see his country regain its sovereignty. That sounds like a pretty sane wish to me since the US attack on Iraq and its current occupation of this country was and is illegal, but pushed on and supported by Israel. Why - in order to break up and weaken another of it's neighbors and get its hands on "Kurdistan's," if only they could create it, oil - so that it can be sent through a new pipeline to Haifa.
3) Joe Biden was in Israel last week "to warn Israel against launching an attack on Iran" - REALLY? I thought he was there to perhaps finalize the plans for such an attack. Given the constant war-mongering and propaganda provided by the controlled US mainstream media, Spengler and Israel's obvious support of "kicking" Iran, and Israel's control of the US government, it is very very hard to believe that Biden was there on such a sensible mission. ie preventing WW3. As with all of the "arguments" in this article, I'd sure like to see some solid proof.
4) Finally, there is the most ridiculous argument of all - "if the Obama administration attempted to punish Israel for doing what most Americans seemingly want to do [attack Iran] . . . Obama's party would pay at the polls in November." Oh, boy, give me patience. Let's see - first, there are those "poll" statistics from "The Israel Project" and Fox News that are intended to show us that MOST Americans want "force" used against Iran. Such sources for statistics. Give me a break. In fact, Americans are sick and tired of "force" being used in so many places and of the huge amounts of tax money spent on it. In addition, if Obama ends up losing at the polls, it will be because he did NOT keep his promises and because he has assisted the US military and Wall Street in looting the wealth of We the People in the SAME way that Bush did. That's because the "enormous difference in outlook between the last administration and the present one" is totally non-existent since both main parties became ONE a long time ago. Oh, yes, there's this sentence - "no one cares about the Palestinians" and a negotiated settlement. Well, that's completely false. Everyday that Israel ignores their rights and occupies their land is another day of more people understanding that Israel is controlling/manipulating their government, too.
# Charisse S. on Thursday afternoon —
This just sounds very, very reasonable and wise... enlightened, even... There must be a credible deterrent to official incompetence and crime, and I think this could work for us. There is even a Chinese saying: "Kill the chicken to frighten the monkey" :-)
N. Korean technocrat executed for bungled currency reform: sources
SEOUL, March 18 (Yonhap) -- North Korea executed a former top finance official last week, holding him responsible for the country's currency reform fiasco that has caused massive inflation, worsened food shortages and dented leader Kim Jong-il's efforts to transfer power to a son, sources said Thursday.
Pak Nam-gi, who was reportedly sacked in January as chief of the planning and finance department of the ruling Workers' Party, was executed at a shooting range in Pyongyang, multiple sources familiar with information on North Korea told Yonhap News Agency.
Pak, a 77-year-old technocrat, was charged with "deliberately ruining the national economy" as a "son of a big landowner," the sources said.
Pak, a graduate of engineering schools in the former Soviet Union and one of its satellite states, disappeared from North Korea's official media reports in January after having accompanied Kim Jong-il on a number of his field inspections.
Pak's execution is the latest in a series of punishments the North has reportedly meted out to its elite for failed economic reforms. [...]
# The Canadian on Thursday afternoon —
RE: Marie K and False Flag Operations: Mexican Assassination of US Consulate Employees?
I've been reading and thinking about the recent assassination of the American couple who were working for the US Consulate in Mexico.
I can't help but wonder why this really occurred and I am concluding that it was a planned assassination, but possibly not by the cartels. A targetted murder against American US Consulate employees in Mexico is unprecedented. My train of thought on this subject is, "Who stands to benefit from such a professional but very purposely PUBLIC assassination?" I believe whoever it is clearly wants the US to be more directly involved in Mexico's drug wars. The next question is; "For what outcomes?"
Could the outcomes include:
1. Drawing US military forces into Northern Mexico?
2. A bid by one Cartel to have the US/Mexican forces concentrate their focus upon a rival Cartel?
3. A bid by the Mexican governemnt for more military/intelligence/economic support from the US?
I'd like to read other contributers' thoughts on the subject as I am not educated on the subject of US/Mexican cooperation regarding anti-drug warfare.
# Helen & Harry on Thursday afternoon —
I don't know anything about this, except that the news made my eyebrows go up, same as yours. My eyebrows spend a lot of time in the up position.
# Not Incorporated on Thursday afternoon —
snagged this at WRH:
Idaho challenges national health care proposal; more states may follow
Idaho on Wednesday became the first state to pass a law saying no thanks to part of President Obama's health care proposal. The Idaho Health Care Freedom Act says in part, "every person within the state of Idaho is and shall be free to choose or decline to choose any mode of securing health care services without penalty or threat of penalty."
That speaks to my beliefs, which include Mike Rivero's oft repeated "right to say 'No'". Want Americans to revolt: take away the little money they have left and give them shit sandwiches. I can't imagine people in big parts of West Virginia being able to buy private health insurance, ever.
*Candidate* Obama spoke against the "mandate" (U R required to purchase health 'insurance'). He said, basically, that he didn't want to penalize uninsured people.
Requiring individuals to purchase private plans is unreasonable especially in places where the amount of competition is null due to the long standing anti-trust exemption of health insurers!
So just how high will premiums rise in three years? 100%? In other cases where the government offers subsidies market prices rise by more than the subsidies, essentially flushing the government spending down a toilet and pricing individuals out of the "free market". Best examples of this are housing and college tuition.
Also, as I understand what is in the rapidly changing bill(s), insurers would not be prohibited from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions (including risk factors not already manifesting in illness) until 2012. So the very people who will most need healthcare are quite likely to be unable to afford it via the new law. (If you are in this situation your best bet would be to move -- either to a state with an adequate "high risk pool" already in place, or to another country, like Canada, Sweden or Mexico.)
Bottom line: the Obama Regime is looking for a win but ultimately this new law will look as smart as Bush's plan to invade Iraq to find WMD. (But WTF, if you got nothing now what f'ing difference does it make anyway...)
# Helen & Harry on Thursday afternoon —
Idaho will be the first state — among dozens, apparently — to challenge the constitutionality of Obama's health care reform, over its requirement that individuals purchase health insurance. The Washington Post's article says constitutional experts think the notion will pass muster, but of course, constitutional experts don't get a vote. It's the Supreme Court that would ultimately decide, and the present Court includes Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas, men clearly driven by a right-wing agenda. Would anyone honestly be surprised if these guys thought the all-new notion of requiring Americans to buy insurance wasn't in keeping with the constitutional ideal? And would anyone honestly think they'd be wrong if they made that ruling? I for one think they'd be right.
Not Incorporated on Thursday afternoon —
Yes, esp. given this:
'A Democrat's proposal to create a government watchdog board which would vet insurance premium hikes is likely off the table after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the proposal isn't suitable to be added in reconciliation'
By 2012 rates will be at least 50% higher. (Shit, a box of Triscuits was retailing for $4.88 at the normal grocery store last night. No inflation? My ass. Who will pay five bucks for a box of crackers, no matter how delicious? Maybe for a guest or a party, I suppose...)
That was Diane Feinstein's amendment. She has been AWOL for years. Barbara Boxer has been even more quiet. I read the news everyday, for ten years, and Boxer has mastered the art of See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil. Just a real zero. Now she is in a fight for re-election and I ain't voting for her. Supposedly California is "liberal". That's according to the Big Media conglomerates. But the truth is that SoCal outweighs NorCal and our two senators are conservatives. (My plan going forward is to vote, case by case, only for people that I have individually vetted and approve of; if that means leaving some choices blank, then so be it.
# Mary McNarry on Thursday afternoon —
Dunno if the U.N. readership has any interest in this stuff any more but...
Marc Faber: We Have a New Gold Standard
Published: Thursday, 18 Mar 2010 | 5:53
Faber is essentially giving us his 10 year outlook for where to stash your loot. The recommendations appear somewhat inconsistent but that may be because the article is a long excerpt from Faber's monthly "The Gloom, Boom and Doom Report".
To sum it up -- over the 10 year period, not necessarily this week or year --
- gold is "good" (me: and silver, by extension)He doesn't mention:
- cash and government debt are "bad"
- emerging markets are "good"
- gas/oil and mining stocks are "good".
- drugs, food, farmland, guns+ammo or technology or biotech or solar or yada-yada.An interesting point:
- Presumably there will be periods of extreme volatility during the coming decade so holding zero cash for opportunistic moments seems unwise (that is because a 50% drop in the markets requires a subsequent 100% increase just to get back to even.)
'"In periods of money printing and debasing of currencies, wealth becomes concentrated in the Goldman Sachses of the world because they can move money quickly," he said'
To me, that says individuals might/can profit by being willing to trade (as opposed to LTBH (Long Term Buy And Hold.)) However, the GSes (and the Fed) seem to not only profit from the markets but to also "make" the markets by whipping up and squashing bubbles. So we need to be canny about the large institutions who have a long history of Ponzi scheme and general bullshittery.
In other words, staying attuned to Bubblenomics, perhaps by weekly study of Doug Noland's "Credit Bubble Bulletin" is vitally important!
* * *
Disclosure: current wagers (but planning to dump SLV today -- and at opportunity would re-buy gold/silver as CEF.)
# Helen & Harry on Thursday afternoon —
That last link, to your charted investments, is pretty impressive. Click it while the markets are open and you see your stocks going up or down as they're traded, dozens of times each minute. Maybe it's old news or maybe I've just had java turned off when I've clicked there in the past, but wowsers, what a cool way to put internet technology to damned good use.
I don't know whether anyone else appreciated your market analysis, but I do, even though I'm invested in nothing but canned food and bottled water. You always present a good combination of knowledge, common sense, and well-grounded pessimism.
Mary McNarry on Thursday afternoon —
OK, thx for the feedback. I feel strongly that people need to learn about -- by doing -- converting their Ameribucks into other things, like Silver coins:
You can't learn by just looking because you don't know how you will react to fear and greed until you are gobsmacked...
It isn't necessary to use the stock markets, but physical coins are not very liquid -- they're pretty much like soldiers in Afghanistan always being sure to save one bullet for themselves. You should have an emergency stash that you would spend only to save your life.
# Angry Annie on Thursday morning —
Why is it that absolutely every piece of coverage I see of the health care proposal is about the debate and the politics and what Democrats might do and how Republicans might block it and which politicians will come out ahead and which might be hurt and there's never ever and god damn coverage of WHAT THE PROPOSAL IS and HOW IT WILL CHANGE THE LIVES OF AMERICANS WHO DON'T HAVE INSURANCE NOW?
# Gern Blanston on Thursday morning —
What Paul Krugman said:
"By this time next week we’ll have seen huge headlines about health care. These headlines will either read “Democrats do it!”, followed by various Republicans and their apologists complaining that what the Dems did wasn’t nice, or “Democrats — losers again”, followed by Republicans going bwahahaha.
"And it’s up to a handful of Democrats to decide which headlines we get. They’re out of their minds if they don’t choose door #1."
# Cigarette on Thursday morning —
I got my census form in the mail today. Ten easy questions. I occasionally hear complaints that the census is too intrusive and an invasion of privacy and I just don't see the problem. They want to know how many people live here, names, ages, races, all the expected demographic questions, but really, what's the objection? I fill out forms on line or apply for credit cards and the questions are much the same, maybe more intrusive. Census isn't asking how much money I make. There's nothing asking me if I smoke pot or screw poodles or anything that could get me in trouble.
# Rob D. on Thursday morning —
I like the debunking page but you know it's futile. You can't debunk the lies anywhere near as quick as they can pile on a new mountain of lies. It's really crazy, isn't it? Democrats tell their share of half-truths and spins and for sure almost all Democrats are lying about what they'll do when they're in office, but the Republicans lie about facts and distort the truth and paint up as down and white as black and jello as orange juice and they never stop lying and never come withing smelling distance of any truth. And nobody in power ever calls them on it. The closest we get to truth tellers are bloggers like you and an occassioinal rant from Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann. And there'll be a new flood of lies tomorrow and another flood of new lies the day after that, and it means we never get a chance to actually discuss the issues. The best we ever get is a chance to discuss the lies.
# Theo Lipschitz on Wednesday evening —
'A man used the public-address system at the Route 42 store in Washington Township Sunday night and calmly announced: "Attention Wal-Mart customers: All black people leave the store now.'''
OK, this was either:
a) Walmart official policy at the Washington Township store;
b) Just a bad joke, likely perpetrated by a disaffected youth who works at Walmart;
c) An insidious direct action attack on Walmart by a member of an anti-Walmart group;
d) a combination of b and c.
# Marie K. on Wednesday morning —
Reply to Emma Ibbers re Al-Qaeda, Liz Cheney, and American Failure:
Right off, let me say that you really really should study up on "false flag operations." Mike Rivero is very good at pointing them out and has some good articles on a lot of the ones that have happened, too. As for Adam Gadahn (nee "Pearlman"), just read the name and think through just what is really going on with him.
A second important task would be glancing through/or studying carefully (depending on your prior knowledge) the various propaganda techniques so that you don't get duped by them. Here are a few examples listed at thefreedictionary.com site:
1) Repetition - Repeating a particular viewpoint day in and day out (propagandist's viewpoint or perspective) has a deepening impact on the target audience.
2) Accentuating one side of the argument - Giving a complex and fabricated relativity towards the audience to the point of their losing interest in any opposition towards this view.
3) Taking names - Presenting testimonials and supporting one's cause by taking names: Use of the authority of admired figures of politics, religion, mass culture, and academia.
4) Fear or emotional appeal - For fear, it could involve emotional manipulation by the propagandist trying to manipulate the viewer's feelings by "playing on" whatever concerns they may have or their direct emotional base. Depending on the particular media used, it could be constructing a story around particular events involving selected people (more so, perhaps people who either fit into or are fabricated to exemplify a particular stereotype familiar with the target audience) in which certain aspects and outcomes of the event are made to "play on" (or manipulate) the viewer's emotions. However, viewers can overcome this by understanding how these events actually play out or that the events depicted have nothing to do with them personally. ...
5) Demonization of the enemy - The use of vile stereotypes of the national, ethnic, racial, behavioural, religious, or class Enemy. Exaggeration of physical characteristics or behavior, irrespective of the validity of such stereotypes, serves to contrast heroes against villains. Enemies are often animalized as predatory creatures or as vermin. ...
6) Vilification of slackers - Masses are caused to question whether their loyalty, competence, faith and effort are adequate so that they may be pressured to work harder or cling more closely to the cause contrary to tendencies to become cynical toward the demands of leadership and organizations. At the extreme the slacker or backslider is shown as an unwitting accomplice of the enemy or is in danger of similar judgment. Undesired behavior (such as waste of resources, drunkenness, taking a day off, paying attention to dissident or foreign news sources, or careless talk) is portrayed as causing delight to the Enemy.
I'm sure you get the picture. Next, why in the world are you even reading anything Adam Gadahn (nee "Pearlman") or Liz Cheney have to say? What a total waste of time. Resist the urge to watch or listen to the propaganda spewing media outlets--except maybe briefly in order to check out what their current crap is. You've got better things to do like reading Unknown News or other sites that expose the propaganda and all of the corruption.
Finally, why are you doing just what Rude Pundit seemed to be warning against--worrying about actual terrorism even though we've been plagued with false flag ops. done specifically to ensure that "our rights, our freedoms, our Constitutional guarantees" ARE tossed away making it easier for the government--as I see it, BOTH MAIN PARTIES--to control us? Who benefits--the controllers or us--that's how you KNOW that a false flag op. has occurred?
As for those 2 main parties--I come from a liberal family with a union leader father, but since when have any votes by the Democrats in our government done anything of any benefit to us? Obviously, the Republicans haven't done anything, either, but sitting around listening to the sh*t they spout is definitely NOT a way I want to spend my time. Even if thinking about politics and geopolitics gets us down at times--as it has for me recently, which is why I haven't been writing--we still need to keep on reading the news and comments put up by the alternative sites while doing whatever else helps us stay cheerful and calm. Of course, we also have to deal with all of the details of our lives and the effects of all of the horrible changes that impact on us personally in order to protect ourselves and our families, but while doing those things we MUST also keep thinking about the how to prevent further horrible changes and about how to regain and enforce the laws that did/do benefit us. For sure, there will also be worthwhile events to participate in.
# Helen & Harry on Wednesday afternoon —
I get the gist here, and agree with most of what you're saying, but why is it aimed personally at Emma? Do you think she's unaware of false flags, etc? My impression has always been that Emma is among the well-informed few...
Emma Ibbers on Wednesday evening —
For the record: Emma believes that the best explanation of 9/11 is LIHOP. And that overall, the best strategy in defending against foreign terrorists is that of Congressman Ron Paul.
Helen & Harry on Wednesday evening —
So noted. And Paul's position, of course agreed here, is that the US ought to stop meddling, bombing, and overthrowing foreign countries, generations of imperialism that only inspires endless and justified hatred, and keeps Blackwater, Boeing, and Halliburton rolling in cash.
Emma Ibbers on Thursday afternoon —
That's right. It is also referred to as The Golden Rule. Man named Jesus used to talk about it.
Marie K. on Thursday afternoon —
You are right to ask me why I addressed Emma. I omitted linking to that top link, so I assumed that she wrote the piece or some of it. Earlier formats you have used where you marked "Excerpt" would have helped, but sorry, my mistake. That means I should have addressed the Rude One and probably disagree with your statement: "Beautiful. Brilliant. Yup. The Rude Pundit gets it right almost every time." At least, for me, this was one of those times when he/she got it pretty wrong.
However, what really matters here is that we all have to find ways to prevent ourselves from becoming brainwashed by propaganda. I doubt that it's even possible all of the time, but honing our skills periodically by debunking a mainstream media piece, by talking back to crap news on TV, or by explaining some piece of propaganda to someone else does help. Also, just avoiding known sources of propaganda as I suggested before helps. Avoidance works in two ways--we are less likely to get sucked into whatever is being said, and if we do detect the propaganda, we don't have to sit there feeling betrayed/angry/disgusted etc.--very unhappy states of mind.
Helen & Harry on Thursday afternoon —
I kicked the "excerpt" habit just to make my webmaster work go more quickly, but yeah, I can see the grounds for confusion, and I'll try to come up with a uik and easy way to distinguish excerpts. Sorry about that. I'm enthusiastically all for debunking, especially debunking pieces that seem calculated to add to the worry without asking why, and in re-reading the Rude Pundit's piece there's some validity to your criticism of it.
I certainly have my doubts that the entity we call al-Qaeda exists, doubts that a terror attack on 9/11/2001 was a big surprise to the Bush-Cheney administration, and skyscraper-sized doubts that Americans have any rational grounds to fear terrorist attacks. Toward that last fact of the matter some of Rude Pundit's lines, like "Our unending state of stress-out is al-Qaeda's greatest victory against the United States", do indeed misplace the blame.
In discussing the perpetual panic it's important to recognize that nobody in a cave or wearing a turban did this to Americans — it's been done to us almost entirely by white men calling themselves Christians, wearing silk suits and neckties.
Marie K. on Thursday evening —
On the subject of debunking I recently grabbed my keyboard and put forth my best effort to debunk what I considered a very propaganda loaded article posted at Asia Times Online. The article was called "Obama in more trouble than Netanyahu over Iran."
The problems with the article start even with the title and go right on to the very end. My response is in the "Letters to the Editor" page. It was at the top yesterday, but it's moving down the page now as new letters come in. The debunking involved a number of different issues so doing it in a reasonably short manner was hard. I wished that it would have been possible to work on the entire article, but I had to be selective. It does force you to hone your skills as I mentioned.
Helen & Harry on Thursday evening —
That's an EXCELLENT letter -- do you mind if we snatch it and share it?
Marie K. on Friday morning —
Sure - go ahead and snatch it!
Helen & Harry on Friday morning —
Thanks, and here it is.
# J.S. Magruder at Eat the Blog on Wednesday morning —
Home School Texts Dismiss Darwin
I'm not sure this is a bad thing. If they were pushing for these texts in public schools, then it would be an issue, but they've removed themselves from the public education system.
We're secular homeschoolers, but I can't say I feel particularly uneasy with religious homeschoolers. We share more than articles like this acknowledge. I've never felt threatened by textbooks that teach creationism-I just don't use them.
As homeschooling becomes mainstream (and I really think it will) all these semi-hysterical articles will lose their audience. The unfamiliar is always frightening. I do think there's a bit of snobbery to it-you never see hysterical articles complaining that Amish children are being left behind by the technological revolution. The scary image of the "homeschooling fundie" is an easier target. Dragging out Bob Jones University is kind of a cheap shot too. Saying you want a "religious education" for your child can mean anything from mainline Protestant, to Orthodox Jew. Again, the article goes to great lengths to reinforce an image of homeschoolers that is easily sneered at.
I personally have not had difficulty finding science materials for secular homeschooling. I suppose if you want to purchase a regimented curriculum, in a packaged programme, there might be a bit of searching involved. For us, part of the attraction to homeschooling was the flexibility. If one method isn't working, we can try another until we find what works best with our son. Unlike a school setting, you have the freedom to experiment. The one thing I hear repeatedly from experienced homeschoolers is , "be willing to switch your textbooks." What works for one child might not do well for the second. The woman in the article is upset she accidentally purchased a creationist textbook (a few minutes on Google could have cleared that up beforehand). I would say that's a pretty good average in terms of how many books she's likely to purchase, and find don't suit their needs. Thankfully, homeschoolers tend to be really generous in swapping materials. She shouldn't have much difficulty unloading the textbook.
And really, when she ordered the textbook from Apologia Educational Ministries... (you thought I was going to say, "what the hell did she expect?) that should have been a clue.
# Helen & Harry on Wednesday morning —
No disagreement here. A lot of things look different to me when I'm rapid-fire news surfing than they look when I stop and think or when someone clubs me over the head with some thinking. Nice clubbing.
I hated school with a pure psycho abomination that I've rarely experience in my adult life. Hated the structure, hated the teachers, hated my fellow students, hated the material, hated every minute inside those brick buildings and skipped far more often than I think kids today are allowed to get away with. What I wouldn't have given to have been homeschooled, but when I was a kid you never heard the word. It was a subject never imagined or acknowledged, not even for long enough to be dismissed, not within earshot of anybody in my family.
J.S. Magruder at Eat the Blog on Wednesday evening —
Heh, I hated school too, but I shudder to think what sort of education I would have ended up with had my parents taken over...
# Melody Teague on Tuesday afternoon —
In October, you published a report regarding my termination from the Department of Social Services for the State of Louisiana. I was terminated one day after I spoke to the Governor's Commission on Streamlining Government. I filed for unemployment benefits and my initial claim was denied, so I requested an appeal. My appeal was heard and I received the decision Friday. The judge found no wanton or willful misconduct on my part and awarded unemployment benefits to me.
My only recourse regarding my termination was to file an appeal with the Civil Service Department for the State of Louisiana. My trial was held January 25, 26, & 27. The state had the burden of proof, so they presented their case first. When they finished, the attorneys and the judge met in a private room. When they came back, the two main charges against me were dismissed, namely the charge that I fraudulently received disaster food benefits because I overstated my expenses and understated my income...and the charge that I altered documents to make someone eligible for benefits. The only charges remaining are the ones I admitted to after Katrina, when I finally received training on the Disaster Food Benefit Program. We are awaiting the decision of the Civil Service Referee, which can take some time. I am hopeful that my job will be restored to me along with back pay and benefits. I have applied for 92 state jobs since my termination on Ocotber 2, 2009. I have only been called to one interview. I have compiled a resume' and am actively seeking employment in the private sector as well.
When all of this began, I could have saved my reemployment rights, my leave balances, and my pay scale range by resigning my position. I could not do this because I felt the agency had mistreated me. I chose to stand and fight. Not just for me, but for all the other employees coming behind me who would be persecuted for our performance after Hurricane Katrina. I can't begin to tell you of the chaos within state government at that time. We were pulled from our normal duties and sent out to issue benefits without any program training. State and federal audits after Katrina exposed the agency shortcomings. The head of our agency and her staff were dismissed shortly after Hurricane Gustav when additional problems were exposed. We did the best we could under the most difficult circumstances. Many of us had suffered damages to our homes and had evacuated like the majority of people in the area.
If the agency found an overpayment with any citizen, they would issue a statement of overpayment and the citizen could appeal this decision to an administrative law judge. A hearing would be held and the citizen could present their evidence. A decision would be rendered after the hearing. I was not afforded this opportunity. The agency fired me without giving me due process. During the pre-trial phase, their attorney stated there was no position available for me at DSS because they didn't trust me after what I said to the Streamlining Commission. The paperwork states that I was fired for my performance after Hurricane Katrina. I guess you have to read between the lines.
I will say this, Ann Williamson did testify on my behalf at my Civil Service trial. She accurately portrayed the situation after Hurricane Katrina. The current administration is not interested in the truth. Subpoenas for Hurricane Katrina press releases produced only those issued in October 2005. The press releases we needed from September 2005 were unavailable. This is just one example of their poor behavior. The agency has a large legal staff with many attorneys. However, they felt it necessary to spend public funds on outside counsel for my trial. I don't understand why they do the things they do.
I just thought you would like an update.
# Helen & Harry on Tuesday afternoon —
The information is appreciated. So after Katrina hit you were put on emergency duty distributing benefits, but with no training to do such work. And when you detailed this at a public hearing, your comments were construed as criticism and you were fired immediately. I can't see how this could be adjudged anything but retribution for your comments, and as such you have our hope (for what little that's worth) that you'll be reinstated.
That's a long way to say, consider yourself hugged.
Melody Teague on Wednesday morning —
No at the meeting I told them of contracts we had with individuals who were doing work that could be done cheaper by state employees. I also told them of supervisors who supervise just one employee and their sole duty in reality (not what they concocted for her job description) is to check grammar on outgoing reports. She spends the rest of the day polishing her nails and reading the paper. And she is paid quite well to do that. I felt we could eliminate that position.
After I said these things they fired me for the cases I processed incorrectly after Hurricane Katrina (four years earlier). My work record had been exemplary up to that point. They fired me one day after they found out what I said at the meeting....BUT they used the Hurricane Katrina crap as their excuse.
Thanks for the hugs...I'm a strong-willed person, but some days you just need a hug!
Helen & Harry on Wednesday morning —
Better understood now, and even more aggravating and infuriating. Grrr. Thanks and I hope you win big.
# Charisse S. on Tuesday morning —
Congress is now set to hand out more corporate tax breaks under the guise of job creation. Deeming the new jobs bill an 'emergency' allows them to ignore the new 'Pay As You Go' (PAYGO) rule they enacted into law in January. The new jobs bill follows the extension of jobless benefits that was temporarily blocked by Jim Bunning and which also bypassed PAYGO.
The big 'emergency' I see is the mid-term elections in November. Lots of congress critters crawling out from under their rocks to lasso up some votes and lobbyist bucks!
Overnight Senate session averted on jobs legislation
By J. Taylor Rushing
Fiscal responsibility means owning up to costs
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Sen. Mike Johanns
2 universes: real, unreal
Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle
March 10, 2010, 7:56PM
NOTE: I am not opposed to job creation bills. What chaps my ass is Congress being unable to find *any* wasteful spending ANYWHERE else in government to offset the additional expenditures -- especially after they just patted themselves on the backs and circle-jerked each other about their fiscal prudence in passing a PAYGO law in January.
On top of that, "creating jobs" by giving out tax credits to every corporation that hires new workers or hires an unemployed person is imprecise and wasteful. That means helicopter drops of money at Exxon and Walmart headquarters, and pallets of cash for Blackwater/XE. Why try bribing billionaires to help? That's like faith-based government programs which pay big churches to follow Jesus' commandments ... but only if the government pays out tax-free loot.
My one big idea, which I emailed to several politicians and which generated not one single reply, was to declare "Economic Disaster Zones" across the country. Places like Detroit would be tax-free from federal, state and local taxes for ten years, and regulatory approvals would be guaranteed to be expedited. Maybe this idea is too much like anarchy, or 'freedom' for any Senators to get behind. Maybe 30% unemployment isn't an "emergency" if you're a politico wallowing in the federal feeding trough. But I have to wonder how many new jobs will migrate to Detroit (or Watts) just to snag a one year tax credit...
Screw it. Just saying...
cc: Lynn Woolsey
# Helen & Harry on Tuesday morning —
The problem with your idea, a tax-free zone for Detroit, is that it makes far too much sense. It would solve Detroit's problems rapidly — it's hard to imagine how many people and businesses would suddenly be eager to relocate to Detroit. Dang me, even I'd consider it, though I love where we're at and we can't afford boxes for packing or a ticket to ride.
I'd suggest adding a potential penalty, making the newcomers to Detroit liable for all back taxes if they leave before the tax suspension ends, or within say five years afterwards. And the healing of Detroit would come at the expense of the rest of the American economy — Seattle would lose a small chunk of its residents and businesses, as would Denver and Dallas and Dubuque and Des Moines and so on. And of course, after that grand success everyone would demand such tactics in other American ruins, and there's going to be an endless supply of American ruins over the next few decades.
That said, I still think it's a good idea and I predict grand success, if anyone in government is bright enough to try it. It would largely solve the otherwise incurable problems of Detroit.
# Gary M. on Monday evening —
The more I look at this health care reform the more I hate it. The best thing that could happen would be having this fake fix fail in Congress and ideally having voters punish the completely owned politicians who thought they could serve up this shit stew.
# Angry Annie on Monday evening —
In what sense is that the best thing that could happen? That would be disastrous for Obama and the Democrats, it would mean a year had been wasted to accomplish nothing, and the insurance crooks would still have their free hand to keep killing Americans. You've got a weird notion for "best thing that could happen".
Gary M. on Tuesday morning —
I want Democrats to lose on this bill, and in the November elections. They've earned it. This legislation is horrible, after decades of criminal actfs by the insurance industry just rewarding them with millions of new customers forced to buy their shitty fake coverage. Nope. I am absolutely not going to vote Democrat this fall or probably ever again, and I am absolutely not going to buy insurance under this horrible bill. I don't have a lot of integrity but I have some, and I won't do business with killers. Jail me.
# Mary McNarry on Monday afternoon —
March 15, 2010
Geithner and Bernanke's Possibly Criminal Roles
Lehman Brothers Scandal Rocks the Fed
By MIKE WHITNEY
Here's an article about the shenanigans at Lehman Brother which is based on reactions to a 2,200 page court-appointed examiner's report on the causes of Lehman's collapse. The FED -- specifically the NY Fed -- and its then-chieftan, Tim Tim "Turbo Tax" Geithner, are implicated. Essentially, the financial system was Enron, but 100 times bigger, and the Fed knew all about it, working hard to keep the information from the public and investors.
This should be the end of the line for Crony Capitalism, with thousands of high-up individuals from corporate boardrooms and the halls of government behind bars, if not stood up against the wall with blindfolds and cigarettes.
It also turns Chris Dodd's new financial reform legislation into a fucking joke. He relies on regulators throughout to oversee the goings-on of the financial system, even giving additional power to the Federal Reserve to ensure consumer protections. But we just saw that during bubbles government regulators flat-out refused to regulate. Particularly the Fed. The Bush admin. even sued states to stop their efforts to halt predatory lending!
Regulation will not work. There must be break-ups, divestitures and total prohibitions, much like the Glass-Steagall Act. It is not reasonable to hope that in ten or twenty years some douchnozzles in government will decide to act boldly and heroically to halt the next bull market in bubbles! Ridiculous. Total bullshit.
# Cassandra on Monday afternoon —
Quite late, probably, but re enchilada31:
"You are a voice for the sorry ass, tired, anti-American left that would ban everything from smoking to cheeseburgers and thus you are the embodiment of the problem and I say with no respect, fuck off."
I just had a cheeseburger and a cigarette; I strongly believe that America can be what the men [unfortunately, it was all white men] who broke away from the British Empire envisioned. And I'm strongly, loudly left. Enchilada, if you've nothing to offer in terms of improving this country, please go hunker down in front of Fox news and leave thinking people alone. We have enough problems without your vacuous nonsense.
# Jason4567 on Monday morning —
In an alternate universe where John McCain won the presidential election in 2008, President McCain's rhetoric is meaner and dumber and presidential speeches are terrifying instead of inspirational ... but the policies are pretty much the same. Seriously, even all this Obamacare claptrap just reminds me of the health care reform McCain supported...
# churrero87 on Saturday evening —
boy with different first name wanted, girl arrested. doh! how stupid must Deputy Dawg be, how much of a robotic boss-sniffing nazi to go ahead and carry out this foul deed despite all the evidence beforehand that is was completely wrong in every way? i hope Deputy Dawg gets her donut-eating ass sued off.
Wrong student hauled out of class, arrested
... While the last name on the warrant was the same, the suspected student's first name was not Kalyn. Also, the warrant was issued for a male, not a female. ...
# Mary McNarry on Saturday morning —
Obama Hearts ACTA. Who knew? Obama adores secret global treaties... that protect corporations from those wicked consumers, even though he wipes his ass with anti-torture treaties. Does he think "the media" will re-elect him? Far as I can tell, they rip him every chance they get. What a putz.
"There's nothing wrong with other people using our technologies, we welcome it," Obama said. "We just want to make sure that it's licensed and that American businesses are getting paid appropriately. That's why the (U.S. Trade Representative) is using the full arsenal of tools available to crack down on practices that blatantly harm our businesses, and that includes negotiating proper protections and enforcing our existing agreements, and moving forward on new agreements, including the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)." (Note: You can hear the president discuss ACTA and intellectual property in the video above starting at 18:14 and ending at 19:07.)
This is believed to be one of the first times Obama has publicly come out in support of ACTA, the controversial proposed trade agreement that would set standards for protecting intellectual property. Some of those that are said to be participating are Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, and the United States. Exactly what ACTA is proposing is vague and representatives have kept their negotiations mostly closed to the public. But among some copyright reformists the fear is that ACTA will call for Internet service providers to boot accused illegal file sharers from their networks. On Wednesday, the European Parliament rejected ACTA negotiators' closed-door policy. In a vote of 633 to 13, the parliament demanded that ACTA's documents be made accessible to the public.
Leaked ACTA Internet Provisions: Three Strikes and a Global DMCA
# Helen & Harry on Saturday morning —
Cyber-swapping files is, I've heard, fun and easy and harms no-one except giant scum-sucking corporations, and of course no-one but giant scum-sucking corporations matters.
# Renegade Gargler on Saturday afternoon —
Has there ever been a greater sellout than Barack Obama? He has redefined "bait and switch". He makes George W. Bush look honest. Who was Uncle Tom anyway?
In addition, Obama is a dithering busybody. Every week he verbally attacks a different industry with new Nanny State laws and regulations -- then the following week he does a double-back flip, sucks more corporate cock, and then appropriates another hundred billion dollars to his War/Police State bureaucrats. No one is safe. Everyone is confused -- except those who learn to despise Obama, and then everything becomes clear.
I can't wait for this schmuck to be voted out of office!
Obama Administration Declares Proposed IP Treaty a ‘National Security’ Secret
* By David Kravets
* March 12, 2009 |
* 9:21 pm |
* Categories: Sunshine and Secrecy
President Barack Obama came into office in January promising a new era of openness.
But now, like Bush before him, Obama is playing the national security card to hide details of the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement being negotiated across the globe.
The White House this week declared (.pdf) the text of the proposed treaty a "properly classified" national security secret, in rejecting a Freedom of Information Act request by Knowledge Ecology International.
The national security claim is stunning, given that the treaty negotiations have included the 27 member states of the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand, all of whom presumably have access to the "classified" information.
If ratified, leaked documents posted on WikiLeaks and other comments suggest the proposed trade accord would criminalize peer-to-peer file sharing, subject iPods to border searches and allow internet service providers to monitor their customers’ communications.
# Siskiyousis on Saturday evening —
Oh great. Like my ISP has not enough to do already, wrangling accounts in the double digit thousands while he keeps the scum away... Just one overworked guy; I don't think so.
Siskiyousis on Saturday evening —
I don't see the point when so much of it already offshore...
Mary McNarry on Saturday evening —
Global DMCA means locking down the internet to prevent data disclosures by whistleblowers, among other things. Like the way Microsquish took down cryptome.org. There are no penalties for malicious takedown notices, so it is common for record/media companies to just blanket takedown thousands of files in a pop, and the websites comply without question. And anyone can be sued just based on an IP address, which may be completely bogus but fighting the lawsuit can run into tens of thousands of dollars. The way US copyright is set up now, BTW, nothing ever goes out of copyright because everytime Mickey Mouse's copyright approaches expiration the Congress extends the copyright period. This is nothing less than a ripoff and a burn. Pretty much, the only new books you see on digital.library.upenn.edu/books/ are the shittiest, most unloved books and magazines from the 1800's and early 1900's.
# Helen & Harry on Saturday evening —
All the repulsive and repressive "crackdown" and DMCA enforcement is a clumsy effort to rescue the buggy whip industry. Perhaps I dream, but the tech advances all seem to add up to unavoidably easy copying and maybe just maybe a revival of D-I-Y music, amateur music, and music for art instead of money.
Mary McNarry on Saturday evening —
Tell ya, I heard this on KOIT the other day, after how many years, and I was just stunned at the power of Toni Braxton's voice and her performance of that song. Makes Whitney Houston sound like Pollyanna.
So *that* kind of thing is what the copyright guys are protecting. The mega-songs and gazillion dollar hits that will *never* be too old to be played on the radio. The rest of the stuff is held hostage, like the majority of say, sci-fi novels, which are permanently out of print.
I think you are right about amateur efforts. I'd like it even better if people bought (or made!) their own guitars. There is nothing finer than a brown haired girl with green eyes playing guitar and singing for you personally; doesn't matter what she's singing either, it sounds so good up close and personal.
In the end, do-it-yourself is the best way to go.
# Helen & Harry on Saturday evening —
I have been happily unplugged from almost all of pop music for decades, and to me Ms Braxton is just a name I've heard mentioned once in a while. I googled it up at YouTube and it's the first time I've ever heard this song. Pop music works like TV advertising jingles, getting its power from repeated listening until the listener knows the song almost as well as the performer, so maybe that's why I'm immune. It's not unpleasant or anything, but it doesn't make me need to hit "replay".
I can't afford to eat out often, but once in a while we go to a little cafe in a hipster corner of town, where a guy plays what I assume are original songs on a low-key guitar, and dang me he's good. Just seems a lot more real to me when he's sitting there doing it for a dozen people, than when it's $19.95 at Wal-Mart or $55 at some giant arena.
I dunno. I don't have a theory of art of anything. I just generally seem to prefer, in music and movies and reading, an amateur who's trying hard, or a low-paid professional, to anybody who's made it big. Like I prefer minor league baseball to major league. Just seems more real to me. Yeah, DIY is the way to go, indeed.
# Siskiyousis on Saturday morning —
Reply to Emma Ibbers re Al-Qaeda, Liz Cheney, and American Failure:
Yeah, all true. And here's this -- LINK
We saw a 90 minute Bill Maher standup-special last night; it was recent, filmed in Raleigh, NC and pretty much on the same page as the Pundit and Andy Kroll. He didn't let the Pope off the hook either, or religion in general. The huge crowd had to be mostly university folk, but any rednecks would have been really uncomfortable. He was hoping to point out anyone leaving, but unless they dropped to their bellies to accomplish same, no one did.
(We also saw the film Coraline, animated in some great weird way that was not really stop-motion or purely cgi, but marched on so swiftly that all such concerns were banished to the end and the endless lists of animators. It follows the short book but is so much more on the screen.)