Saturday Night Shortcuts

T minus three days and counting until I rejoin the machine and become a productive member of society once more.  In the meantime…

Decisive decisionmaking:  Alberto “I don’t recall” Gonzales, aka George W. Bush’s consigliere, is writing a book, which he may or may not finish, and which may or may not get published, but if it does, it will probably say things about his tenure as Attorney General, or it may not:  it depends on whether or not he can remember what he did, or whether or not he can come to any conclusion about anything other than what George W. Bush’s ass tasted like.

His book, if it ever gets published, will probably contain this kind of dazzling insight:

“What I see in the book is what I saw in person, in that President Bush is a person who believed very much that the presidency is about making decisions. He was deliberative and contemplative when he had to be but when he made a decision, he was decisive. Then he moved on,” Gonzales said. “He knew the next big decision was waiting outside the Oval Office door.”

Well played, sir.  Similarly, every morning I have to make a decision about whether or not to take a dump, and once I make that decision, it has been decided, and I move on.

I dreamed I saw Albert Pujols last night:  Rob Neyer at ESPN’s Sweet Spot blog explains to baseball commissioner Bud Selig why he may be exaggerating just a tad about the history of baseball labor disputes.  Selig:

    Both sides will be very intense and have things that they want, but when you think about what went on for years nobody could have ever dreamed that we’d have 16 years of labor peace, given that we had work stoppages in 1972, ’76, ’80, ’81, ’85, ’90 and ’94. In American labor history it’s probably as bad a relationship as ever existed.


Call me when someone actually gets killed. Or hurt badly. Or sprains a finger during a shoving match. Or when most of the best players break away and form their own league (which actually happened in 1890). I mean, something beyond a few frivolous arguments between millionaires. 

I’m sort of a history buff, and I probably get more worked up about this stuff than I should. I love baseball, though, and more specifically I love Major League Baseball in all its glorious history and pageantry and artistry. So I would like to see Major League Baseball run by someone who seems serious, and treats us like we’re adults.

When this Commissioner says eight teams is fair but so is 10, and Abner Doubleday invented the sport, and suggests that a few relatively minor battles between rich owners and rich players is worse than coal miners and their families terrorized and killed by management’s goons … Well, I’m sorry. I just can’t let it go. And I just can’t help looking forward to the next Commissioner.

This seems like an appropriate to spot to park the quintessential Bud Selig image:

Actually, we have the money, we just don’t want to spend it unless it helps rich people:  I am about to leave the ranks of the unemployed, just as my current extension was about to run out, with further extensions seemingly beyond the scope of even the current Democrat-dominated Congress.  Lucky me.  As for the next, Republican-controlled Congress…well, here’s a sample of what to expect:

Q: But what do you tell those folks hanging on by a thread who really need those benefits?

KLINE: Well, they, heh, the best thing to do for them is to get the economy back on track and get businesses hiring so that they have a job that they can go to. We simply don’t have the money to keep extending unemployment benefits indefinitely. We just don’t have the money.

Well, they, heh…

In the last forty years, the U.S. has never allowed extended benefits to expire with the unemployment rate above 7.2 percent, far below today’s rate of 9.6 percent. Plus, there are currently five unemployed persons for every job opening in the country. In fact, there are so few job openings, that even if every open position in the country were filled, four out of five unemployed workers would still be out of work. But for Kline and the other House Republicans, extending tax cuts for the rich is much higher on the priority list then ensuring that these households have an adequate safety net.

But it’s more than having an “adequate safety net” in place – it’s been proven that tax cuts for rich people don’t do shit to stimulate the economy, while unemployment benefits stimulate the fuck out of it, notwithstanding what Fox News morons like Neil Cavuto want you to believe.  It gets so tiring to have to keep pushing back against the up-is-down, black-is-white bullshit.  Hell, it’s exhausting, since no one seems to care about the distinction between truth and lies.

I hate these sorry motherfuckers with every ounce of my being.  But the American people, in their great wisdom, have decided to acquiesce to the desire of the GOP to bring down the Negro president by any means necessary.  But to hand back power to the corrupt assholes who started a war based on lies, then tanked the economy and nearly caused another depression only two years after the fact is just too insane for any rational explanations.  Hope they got what they wanted.

I find it stunning that you’re such an obtuse asshole:  TBogg points out this odd three-way between Matt Taibbi, Sensible Centrist Whore David Gergen, and some other oligarch fellator I’ve never heard of.  Gergen simultaneously tries to come off as a Tea-Party-appreciating man of the people while supporting the policies of corporatist Democratic hacks like Bob Rubin; Taibbi, meanwhile, is his usual blunt, plain-spoken self, and he causes the other two to clutch their pearls in horror.  TBogg has a good excerpt, but here’s an extended portion of my favorite part:

Taibbi: I have to disagree. The notion that the business community is disappointed with Obama because of what he’s done in the past two years, I just don’t see that. They’re sitting on a lot of money, but they’re sitting on it because he gave it to them.

Gergen: You don’t think they’re disappointed?

Taibbi: I’m sure they would have preferred the Republican agenda, where they would get 100 percent of what they want. Under Obama, they only got 90 percent. He bailed out the banks and didn’t put anybody in jail. He gave $13 billion to Goldman Sachs under the AIG bailout alone and then did nothing when Goldman turned around and gave themselves $16 billion in bonuses. He passed a financial-reform bill that contains no significant reforms and doesn’t really address the issue of “too big to fail.” FDR, in the same position, passed radical reforms that really put Wall Street and the business community under his heel.

Gergen: If you talk to many CEOs, you’ll find that they’re very hostile toward Obama.

Taibbi: Who cares what these CEOs think? I don’t care — they’re 1/1,000th of a percent of the electorate. They’re the problem. Obama needs to get other people’s votes, not their votes.

Gergen: It’s not their votes he needs to get — it’s their investments and jobs.

Hart: There’s a fascinating point from the exit polls that supports part of what Matt is saying. When you ask voters who is most to blame for the current economic crisis, 35 percent say it’s Wall Street bankers, 29 percent say it’s George W. Bush and 23 percent say it’s Barack Obama. However, among those who say it’s Wall Street bankers, 56 percent voted for the Republicans in this election. So go figure.

That said, I worry that if the president and the Democrats were to follow Matt’s advice, they would be appealing to the smallest segment of the electorate. Right now Obama has the support of 85 percent of Democrats. If you want to get America back to work, you don’t want to put the people who have the ability to invest on the other side of their fence.

Taibbi: So if we put people in jail for committing fraud during the mortgage bubble, we’re endangering our ability to win over the CEOs? Obama should have made sure that there are consequences for people who committed crimes. Instead, he pursued a policy of nonaction, and that left him vulnerable with ordinary people who wanted an explanation for why the economy went off the cliff.

Gergen: I don’t think his problem is he hasn’t put enough people in jail. I agree that when people commit fraud, they ought to spend some time in the slammer. But there’s a tendency in today’s Democratic Party to turn away from someone like Bob Rubin because of his time at Citigroup. I served with him during the Clinton administration, when the country added 22 million new jobs, and Bob Rubin was right at the center of that. He was an invaluable adviser to the president, and he is now arguing that one of the reasons this economy is not coming back is that the business community is sitting on money because of the hostility they feel coming from Washington.

Taibbi: I’m sorry, but Bob Rubin is exactly what I’m talking about. Under Clinton, he pushed this enormous remaking of the rules for Wall Street specifically so the Citigroup merger could go through, then he went to work for Citigroup and made $120 million over the next 10 years. He helped push through the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which deregulated the derivatives market and created the mortgage bubble. Then Obama brings him back into the government during the transition and surrounds himself with people who are close to Bob Rubin. That’s exactly the wrong message to be sending to ordinary voters: that we’re bringing back this same crew of Wall Street-friendly guys who screwed up and got us in this mess in the first place.

Gergen: That sentiment is exactly what the business community objects to.

Taibbi: Fuck the business community!

Gergen: Fuck the business community? That’s what you said? That’s the very attitude the business community feels is coming from many Democrats in Washington, including some in the White House. There’s a good reason why they feel many Democrats are hostile — because they are.

Taibbi: It’s hard to see how this administration is hostile to business when the guy it turns to for economic advice is the same guy who pushed through a merger and then went right off and made $120 million from a decision that helped wreck the entire economy.

Then there’s this one tidbit, which tells you all you need to know about Gergen:

Speaking of 2012, which of the Republican presidential hopefuls benefited the most from this election?
Gergen: There’s no question that Sarah Palin has gained more from this as a Republican kingmaker. But I imagine there’s going to be a search for someone else to serve as the bridge-builder I mentioned earlier. To me, the leading possibility, if he can overcome the brand-name problem, is Jeb Bush. Two years ago, you would have said, “Impossible.” Today, quite possible. He’s a much more viable candidate today than he was two years ago, and he’s one of the few people I know who could bridge the various factions within the party and hold people together. So I’m putting my money on Jeb Bush as a potential star who might emerge and unite the party.

Taibbi: Whew. I was already depressed this morning, but thinking about another Bush as the better-case scenario in an either/or political future makes me want to douse myself with kerosene and jump into a blast furnace.

Thank the non-existent deity for people like Taibbi.  Without him, we might have nothing but the eternal recurrence of the Bush Dynasty to look forward to.

Give me amnesia or give me death!

Posted in Jesus of Cool, Lazy-ass Blogging | 3 Comments

Who Needs the Enlightenment – We All Look better in the Dark

The thing I love about the Wall Street Journal is that it boldly wears it’s pro-business, anti-humanist credentials on the outside, making no apologies for the oligarch-fluffing, poor-people-be-damned bias of it’s editorial board (which is increasingly leaking over into it’s formerly objective news reporting these days).  Now we can add “anti-Enlightenment” to their bill of particulars.

Recently the WSJ featured this review of  a book titled “A Wicked Company” by Phillip Blom, which chronicles “the 18th-century thinkers of the Enlightenment’s ‘forgotten radicalism’…includ(ing) Diderot, Hume and Rousseau.”  To the reviewer, Michael Burleigh, this “has faint ancestral resonances for the atheists, humanists and rationalists who, to popular amusement, recently threatened to arrest the pope on his visit to Britain.”

Yes, it was highly amusing that atheists like Richard Dawkins called for the arrest of Pope Ratzi “over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.”  I’m sure all of the victims of priestly pedophilia have been laughing their asses off over the churchly practice of moving priests from parish to parish after they were accused of diddling young boys and girls that were put into their care, in order to evade any kind of accountability or punishment.  High-larious!

The Pope was embroiled in new controversy this weekend over a letter he signed arguing that the “good of the universal church” should be considered against the defrocking of an American priest who committed sex offences against two boys. It was dated 1985, when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which deals with sex abuse cases.

Amusing, indeed.  Of course, the philosphes of the 18th century, given as they were to excessive eating, drinking of good wine, and sexual dalliances, were hardly exemplars of morality for Mr. Burleigh:  “No wonder so many philosophes seem to have ended up gouty and spherical, despite the moral austerities they often enjoined on others.”  Hardy-har-har!  Philosophe, heal thyself!  Burleigh can’t quite understand all the criticism directed by these unhealthy, overweight dilettantes at the Holy Mother Church:

Mr. Blom’s other strategy is the essentially romantic one of pitting his brave little band of free thinkers against a rather stereotypical “authority.” The Catholic Church (and the Calvinist fathers of Geneva) appear only as a reactionary presence, ever ready to symbolically burn books and persecute their authors, as part of an ancien régime whose complexities are not explored. That a parallel Catholic Enlightenment strove to reconcile reason with religion by jettisoning the more obviously ludicrous aspects of faith seems to have passed the author by.

Ahem.  “Jettisoning the more obviously ludicrous aspects of faith?”  Catholics still believe that the consecrated bread and wine of the communion are the literal body and blood of Christ, correct?  And that Mother Mary conceived and bore the baby Jesus while still a virgin, amirite?  Not to mention all that Jesus-dying-and-ascending-bodily-into-heaven stuff?  Well, at least they did say “my bad” about that whole Galileo excommunication thing…400 years later.

Naturally, this leads Burleigh to inveigh against the entire Enlightenment as nothing more than a precursor to the mass murder and brutality of the 20th century:

Unfortunately, Rousseau’s instrumental view of “civic” religion would lead, directly, to the grotesqueries of the Jacobins’ Cult of Reason—personified by the fat actress Désirée Candéille prancing about half-naked as the “Goddess of Reason” in Notre Dame in 1793—and to the state’s systematic murder of those who rejected such secular cults, a prefigurement of the age of Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

Strangely enough for the author of a book titled “Earthly Powers:  The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe, from the French Revolution to the Great War,” Burleigh conveniently leaves out the history of the Church’s “systematic murder” of those who rejected the hegemony of it’s rule, from the Crusades, through the Inquisition, to the pogroms of Holy Mother Russia, and the ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia. As awful as the dictatorial regimes of 20th Century were (and to view them as the heirs to some kind of debased version of Enlightenment thinking is, to me, intellectually bankrupt), it is beyond ludicrous to compare a few decades’ worth of slaughter to century after century of religious terror and violence.  The only reason that more people weren’t killed during the millenia of domination by religious institutions is that those same religious institutions prevented the higher learning necessary to create truly efficient weapons of mass destruction.

Burleigh ends with this brilliant bit of sophistry:

Mr. Blom seems to be celebrating the thinkers of the radical Enlightenment for positing “a world of ignorant necessity and without higher meaning, into which kindness and lust can inject a fleeting beauty.” That view of the world is certainly embraced by their intellectual descendants today. But judging by the crowds of people I recently saw mob Pope Benedict XVI on a grim London public-housing estate, it may take more than Mr. Blom’s book to make the radical Enlightenment broadly appealing, especially since the pope’s message combines faith, love and reason.

Did I say brilliant?  No, the last part of that last sentence may be the most screamingly yet unintentionally funny defense of religion that I have ever set eyes upon.  As far as I can tell, the pope’s message of faith relies on believing in the most ridiculous absurdities imaginable.  His love relies on denying women the right to decide when, or whether or not to bear children, and on ignoring the rampant rape and abuse of the children given over to the care of the church.  And his reason seems to consist of ignoring reality and blaming the excesses of humanity on everyone but the church.  I’ll take “radical Enlightenment” over delusion, denial and obfuscation any day, thanks.

Posted in Why Religion Sucks | Leave a comment

Welcome (back) to the Machine

Starting next Tuesday, I will once again be gainfully employed.  Hence, you will be seeing even less of my sorry ass than you have lately.  I will try to compensate by writing at least one post a day for the next several days, so you can see what you will (or won’t) be missing.  However, I plan to continue dropping my spoor here as my schedule permits, and as Nancy mentions, I will continue to be in the running for World’s Laziest Blogger.  Vote for me! If you can find the time or the inclination, that is.

Posted in I Blog, Therefore I Am, Jesus of Cool | 2 Comments

Heckuva Job, Bushies

Digging America’s grave:

Never has a single photo captured so well the banality of evil, Republican-style.

Ms. Condi Rice, who failed to prevent the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil.

The Deciderer, who ignored warnings about bin Laden and focused instead on his blood-feud with Sadaam; detained and tortured people (which he gleefully admitted to) in contravention of all international norms and standards; played a fucking guitar, for chrissakes, while New Orleans drowned; and presided over the worst financial meltdown in this country’s history.  (See here for a succinct appraisal of the colossal foreign policy failures of his administration.)

The First Lady, who got her first taste of death early in life, with her frozen, Xanax-induced smile, epitomized the soullessness and lack of empathy of the typical Republican woman.

The Vice President, the oilman who fucked over America and deepened our dependence on oil by collaborating in secret with his energy industry cronies, and who, through Haliburton, fucked over the fighting men and women who were sent off to die in service of his greed.

The only one missing is Karl Rove, their fucking enabler-in-chief.  God, I hate them all.


Posted in Douchebags on Parade | Leave a comment

Take A Bow for the New Revolution

Well, what a week that was.  It started last Saturday, when I attended the San Francisco version of the Rally to Restore Sanity.  Several hundred people were there to wave ironic signs and watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert clown around on a big video screen; best part for me was at the end, watching Mavis Staples sing “I’ll Take You There” with backing from Kid Rock(?!) and the scary Mooslim formerly known as Cat Stevens.  I love Stewart; I think he does more actual journalism than most of the media whores on the networks, and he and Colbert have the sharpest takes on the political system of anyone in infotainment, but I think Will Bunch nails it:

From the stage we saw a tacit endorsement of the dangerous notion of false equivalencies — the very concept that in a phony quest for journalistic balance caused the news media to give equal weight or greater weight to unsupported spin, not just for the war in Iraq but its cheerleading financial coverage before the 2008 crisis that Stewart demolished on his own show. “The press is our immune system,” Stewart said in his closing speech on Saturday. “If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker–and, perhaps, eczema.” But that’s only part of the puzzle — on way too many critical issues the last 10 years, neither the press nor the public has reacted enough, particularly to ideas that are lacking in reason. It’s stunning that Stewart of all people — who became a national comedic icon in that 2003-04 era, in large part by calling attention to that “Mess O’ Potamia” that the mainstream media was largely content to ignore — would forget where the road to insanity started.

The scary part is that central to Stewart’s message on Saturday was what one of best media critics around — the New York University professor Jay Rosen — calls “the view from nowhere,” the same kind of high-minded pooh-pooing of the messy fray of actual democracy, including passion and commitment that involves fighting in the muck of ideas, that the kind of people who gathered on the National Mall once detested from the likes of the punditocracy’s naysayer-in-chief, David Broder.

On Monday, I watched the teevee as the collection of misfists, castoffs, and pot-smoking hippies known as the San Francisco Giants won the championship of professional baseball of the entire world (North American division).  As an unabashed and long-suffering Giants fan, I greatly enjoyed their improbable ride to the World Series over the past month or so.  It made life much more bearable, and almost enjoyable, and totally numbed me to what I knew was about to transpire on the following day.

Tuesday, of course, was election day, and as expected the Republican Tea Party won every contest for every elected office in America, from dogcatcher all the way up to Chief Scumbag of the House.  Actually, the GOP did about as well as was expected in a mid-term in the middle of the worst recession since 1929, especially considering their dickless competition, the Democratic Pussy Party, which failed to deal with the foreclosure crisis in any meaningful way, and managed to get only a half-as-much-as-needed stimulus passed, while half-assing health care and financial reform, despite holding huge majorities in both the House and Senate.  One place the Goopers missed entirely was the Liberal Fascist tribal homeland of California, where not a damn Republican was elected to anything, in spite of Meg Whitman spending $140 million of her own money (how many jobs could that have paid for, Megs?) to get only 42% of the vote.  And like EMeg, most of those Ladies Against Women (dubbed by their leader Sarah Palin the “Mama Grizzlies”) that were poised to join the boy’s club came up short (more on that later).

On Wednesday it was back to San Fran for the huge victory parade and rally, which drew approximately 100 times more people than the biggest Tea Party or Glen Beck Rally.  Most pleasing to me, besides the strong smell of reefer that wafted over the crowd, were the lusty boos directed at Gov. Terminator, who forgot how enormously unpopular he was as he attempted to bask in the reflected glory of the Giants.  Not today, Arnold.

Back to the election:  something I was noticing a few weeks ago was how many anti-feminist women there were running for office this year under the GOP banner.  We’ve had them in years past, of course; long before Palin’s trainwreck in 2008, women like the batshit crazy Michelle Bachmann, the totally unhinged Jean Schmidt, and the downright creepy Virginia Foxx were already haunting the halls of Congress.  What makes these women want to run for political office, with all of the ambition and cold-bloodedness which that entails, when they profess biblically-based beliefs in the second-class nature of women?  Shouldn’t they just stay home, shut up, and let their husbands do the dirty work of governing, as Jesus (or at least Paul) commanded?  No, actually Jesus told them to run, so that they could deny other women ownership of their own bodies, derail medical care and unemployment benefits to struggling families, and turn back the clock on every civil rights accomplishment of the past century – every one, that is, except for the right of women to vote, and consequently to hold office.

Clearly, part of why these women run is to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the GOP to succeed in a niche role:  that of being a minority, while supporting (rich) (white) (heterosexual) male dominance (think Log Cabin Republicans, or Michael Steele).  As Amanda Marcotte puts it:

For many women in rightwing families and marriages, doing anything more than quietly entertaining the most conservative feminist positions would be disastrous. For other rightwing women, it’s a narrowly self-interested calculation – there are rewards for women who reject feminism and promote male dominance. They may still be second-class citizens, but they get to be considered “good girls” and may even be given more liberties than rebellious women. And that goes a long way towards explaining how the religious right, which teaches that women belong at the home, still blesses hard right women who make a political career for themselves: by complying with and promoting a patriarchal ideology, these women get a pass on their ambitions which they wouldn’t get if they embraced a version of feminism that challenged the premises of that community.

2010 was not kind to them, however – EMeg and CarlyFornia, both CEOs, part of a new class of Republican women who were running as corporatist conservatives, while paying lip service to the Tea Party bullshit; Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle, Tea Party favorites who were clearly not ready for prime time; even Blanche Lincoln, nominal Democrat who tried to out-conservative the Republicans – all lost, and lost big.  Marcotte attributes it to the “curse of the Mama Grizzly,” and the very contradictions inherent in an anti-feminist female candidate:

Candidates bestowed with this label were supposed to clean up at the polls, not just picking up the traditionally conservative male vote but also sweeping up some more left-leaning women by simply being female. In reality, Mama Grizzlies performed below expectations in many high-profile races. Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell lost, and Nikki Haley in South Carolina barely squeaked by with 51 percent of the vote in one of the most conservative states in the country.

The main problem with Mama Grizzly candidates is that they present a contradiction, laying claim to feminism while denouncing most feminist ideals. Sarah Palin, with her peculiar genius, created the term Mama Grizzly to rationalize this contradiction. The Mama Grizzly could be ambitious without being feminist, could be fierce without being threatening, because her feminist means are in service of anti-feminist ends. To an extent, the metaphor worked. But the contradiction hurts Mama Grizzlies in two major ways.

First, the contradiction sits uneasily with the true believers of the Christian right… Fundamentalist Christian beliefs are highly motivating to the strongly conservative in our country, and one of those beliefs is that women shouldn’t work outside the home or outrank their husbands in any way. Abandoning such a rock-solid belief for political expedience is clearly easy for many of these believers, especially when candidates such as Sharron Angle rationalize their choices by pointing out that they have no children at home. Still, for many fundamentalist Christians, a woman who displays ambitions is, by definition, not conservative enough…

This contradiction exposed why it’s so critical to the fundamentalist worldview that women stay at home and abandon ambition. In this world, women are supposed to be the light, the caretakers, the homemakers, those who smooth feathers and wipe brows. Aggression, meanness, ambition, and even lustiness are considered more masculine traits, even by the public at large… The longer the public stares at a Mama Grizzly, the more painful the contradiction between her ideals of femininity and her actual behavior.

As for the part about “sweeping up some more left-leaning women by simply being female:”  not long before the election, molly told me she wished she could support Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, because she wanted to see more women running for office, and winning.  “But I really, really hate both of them,” she said.  “They’re both really awful.”  Yes, they are.  And they’re losers, too.

Posted in Same as the Old Boss | 8 Comments

Waiting for the End of the World, Part Two

Life has been very hard.  I had divorced myself from my body.  I treated my body badly, I treated those I love badly, I had an overwhelming sense of disassociation from everything.  Like wrapping myself in cotton batting.   I was sinking deeper into the vortex of loss of joy and life.  So when my body rebelled against me, I took charge finally and found a way to try to help myself.  This resulted in starting to drag myself out of years of complacency.  It was a positive step forward.

And then I found my birth family.  And all that longing and all those questions have somewhat resolved.  While complicated, I viewed this as a personal, positive step forward.   And then I lost my fucking job, and am now heading for something I consider another positive step forward.

My program in Holistic Health has many levels of awareness.  I’m starting to view the world differently.  I am deeply philosophical, and working my mind makes me happy.  I am starting to create a sense of my body.  All those years of divorcing myself from it is resolving.  All those years of hating it, is now resolving as well.  I have discovered some form of meditation, and not a simple “relaxation” technique, but a thoughtful way of using this so that it can carry into my life and help me develop clarity, and a deeper sense of peace.

All in all, I am moving forward….finally.  I am happy for maybe the first time in a long, long time.

So.  Last night our professor, who has a very good friend who is highly involved in the ecology, who purportedly is a mathematician, an ecologist and a philosopher, has told our professor that the earth will give up in about 20 years with its last gasp.  And there is not one fucking thing we can do about it.  I think we are all aware of our ecology, and this is a large change in our current paradigm, but shit.  So it made all this progress I feel just fly out of the fucking window.  Now I know that I shouldn’t put all my money in the bank of one person.  But this professor is quite intelligent, and very connected.  He is currently an authority figure in my life, giving me sound instruction, very astute, very inspiring.  And then he tells me that?   How the fuck can you resolve that shit?   I came home and looked at my son and felt dismay.  A deep and profound feeling of sadness.  And it’s carried over to this morning.  I’m simply having a hard time separating myself from this thought.

Fuck it.  I told my husband I want French fries.   We are currently headed out to get a heaping helping.  Hell, if this is actually unfolding, I may eat French fries until the end.

Fuck this shit.

– molly bloom

Posted in Adoption: The Last Great Civil Rights Issue, Health Matters | 3 Comments

If Your Recession Lasts More Than 99 weeks…

More lazy-ass blogging:  Once you get past the Viagra commercial, this 60 Minutes piece on unemployment in Silicon Valley and environs is pretty good at showing what the face of long-term unemployment looks like in this country now.  These are people who did everything they were supposed to, played by the rules, and still ended up out on the street.

I actually attended a meeting of “Job Connections,” which is shown early on in the clip; I stopped going because of the overly religious nature of the meetings (every meeting starts and ends with a prayer, and the whole thing is run by a Presbyterian minister), but I recognized several of the people shown, having met them at meetings of another “12-step group” of unemployment professionals that I’m a member of.

And yes, Scott Pelley, paying out unemployment benefits for 99 weeks or beyond is somewhat expensive.  But how much more so are the fucking pointless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (not to mention the defense budget itself, which makes up 60% of all discretionary spending), the tax breaks for multi-millionaires, and the other tax breaks and subsidies that make up all the corporate welfare that gets paid out every fucking year.  It’s a question of priorities:  do we want to spend tax dollars on people who have been out of work for two years so that they can pay their bills, or on blowing things (and people up), or on making sure that some rich asshole somewhere can afford to buy a new yacht?

At some point the powers-that-be are going to have to realize that this is not going away soon.  If the Democrats survive the election with one or both of their majorities intact (hopefully with most of the Blue Dog assholes swept away), they’re going to have to FUCKING DO SOMETHING.  And do it fast.

Posted in It's the Stupid Economy, You Assholes, Lazy-ass Blogging, Unemployment Blues | 2 Comments

The Ineffable Laziness of Blogging: Eat the Rich Edition

Once again slothfulness has gotten the best of me, so I’m just going to repost this entire righteous screed by Bill Quigley that recently appeared at Common Dreams, since it says everything that I would have said about the subject, only better.  Enjoy.

Socialism? The Rich Are Winning the US Class War: Facts Show Rich Getting Richer, Everyone Else Poorer

by Bill Quigley

The rich and their paid false prophets are doing a bang up job deceiving the poor and middle class. They have convinced many that an evil socialism is alive in the land and it is taking their fair share. But the deception cannot last – facts say otherwise.

Yes, there is a class war – the war of the rich on the poor and the middle class – and the rich are winning. That war has been going on for years. Look at the facts – facts the rich and their false paid prophets do not want people to know.

Let Glen Beck go on about socialists descending on Washington. Allow Rush Limbaugh to rail about “class warfare for a leftist agenda that will destroy our society.” They are well compensated false prophets for the rich.

The truth is that for the several decades the rich in the US have been getting richer and the poor and middle class have been getting poorer. Look at the facts then make up your own mind.

Poor Getting Poorer: Facts

The official US poverty numbers show we now have the highest number of poor people in 51 years. The official US poverty rate is 14.3 percent or 43.6 million people in poverty. One in five children in the US is poor; one in ten senior citizens is poor. Source: US Census Bureau.

One of every six workers, 26.8 million people, is unemployed or underemployed. This “real” unemployment rate is over 17%. There are 14.8 million people designated as “officially” unemployed by the government, a rate of 9.6 percent. Unemployment is worse for African American workers of whom 16.1 percent are unemployed. Another 9.5 million people who are working only part-time while they are seeking full-time work but have had their hours cut back or are so far only able to find work part-time are not counted in the official unemployment numbers. Also, an additional 2.5 million are reported unemployed but not counted because they are classified as discouraged workers in part because they have been out of work for more than 12 months. Source: US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics October 2010 report.

The median household income for whites in the US is $51,861; for Asians it is $65,469; for African Americans it is $32,584; for Latinos it is $38,039. Source: US Census Bureau.

Fifty million people in the US lack health insurance. Source: US Census Bureau.

Women in the US have a greater lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy-related conditions than women in 40 other countries. African American US women are nearly 4 times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women. Source: Amnesty International Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA.

About 3.5 million people, about one-third of which are children, are homeless at some point in the year in the US. Source: National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

Outside Atlanta, 33,000 people showed up to seek applications for low cost subsidized housing in August 2010. When Detroit offered emergency utility and housing assistance to help people facing evictions, more than 50,000 people showed up for the 3,000 vouchers. Source: News reports.

There are 49 million people in the US who live in households which eat only because they receive food stamps, visit food pantries or soup kitchens for help. Sixteen million are so poor they have skipped meals or foregone food at some point in the last year. This is the highest level since statistics have been kept. Source: US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

Middle Class Going Backward: Facts

One or two generations ago it was possible for a middle class family to live on one income. Now it takes two incomes to try to enjoy the same quality of life. Wages have not kept up with inflation; adjusted for inflation they have lost ground over the past ten years. The cost of housing, education and health care have all increased at a much higher rate than wages and salaries. In 1967, the middle 60 percent of households received over 52% of all income. In 1998, it was down to 47%. The share going to the poor has also fallen, with the top 20% seeing their share rise. Mark Trumball, “Obama’s challenge: reversing a decade of middle-class decline,” Christian Science Monitor, January 25, 2010.

A record 2.8 million homes received a foreclosure notice in 2009, higher than both 2008 and 2007. In 2010, the rate is expected to be rise to 3 million homes. Sources: Reuters and RealtyTrac.

Eleven million homeowners (about one in four homeowners) in the US are “under water” or owe more on their mortgages than their house is worth. Source: “Home truths,” The Economist, October 23, 2010.

For the first time since the 1940s, the real incomes of middle-class families are lower at the end of the business cycle of the 2000s than they were at the beginning. Despite the fact that the American workforce is working harder and smarter than ever, they are sharing less and less in the benefits they are creating. This is true for white families but even truer for African American families whose gains in the 1990s have mostly been eliminated since then. Source: Jared Bernstein and Heidi Shierholz, State of Working America.

Rich Getting Richer: Facts

The wealth of the richest 400 people in the US grew by 8% in the last year to $1.37 trillion. Source: Forbes 400: The super-rich get richer, September 22, 2010,

The top Hedge Fund Manager of 2009, David Tepper, “earned” $4 billion last year. The rest of the top ten earned: $3.3 billion, $2.5 billion, $2.3 billion, $1.4 billion, $1.3 billion (tie for 6th and 7th place), $900 million (tie for 8th and 9th place), and in last place out of the top ten, $825 million. Source: Business Insider. “Meet the top 10 earning hedge fund managers of 2009.”

Income disparity in the US is now as bad as it was right before the Great Depression at the end of the 1920s. From 1979 to 2006, the richest 1% more than doubled their share of the total US income, from 10% to 23%. The richest 1% have an average annual income of more than $1.3 million. For the last 25 years, over 90% of the total growth in income in the US went to the top 10% earners – leaving 9% of all income to be shared by the bottom 90%. Source: Jared Bernstein and Heidi Shierholz, State of Working America.

In 1973, the average US CEO was paid $27 for every dollar paid to a typical worker; by 2007 that ratio had grown to $275 to $1. Source: Jared Bernstein and Heidi Shierholz, State of Working America.

Since 1992, the average tax rate on the richest 400 taxpayers in the US dropped from 26.8% to 16.62%. Source: US Internal Revenue Service.

The US has the greatest inequality between rich and poor among all Western industrialized nations and it has been getting worse for 40 years. The World Factbook, published by the CIA, includes an international ranking of the inequality among families inside of each country, called the Gini Index. The US ranking of 45 in 2007 is the same as Argentina, Cameroon, and Cote d’Ivorie. The highest inequality can be found in countries like Namibia, South Africa, Haiti and Guatemala. The US ranking of 45 compares poorly to Japan (38), India (36), New Zealand, UK (34), Greece (33), Spain (32), Canada (32), France (32), South Korea (31), Netherlands (30), Ireland (30), Australia (30), Germany (27), Norway (25), and Sweden (23). Source: CIA The World Factbook.

Rich people live an average of about five years longer than poor people in the US. Naturally, gross inequality has consequences in terms of health, exposure to unhealthy working conditions, nutrition and lifestyle. In 1980, the most well off in the US had a life expectancy of 2.8 years over the least well-off. As the inequality gap widens, so does the life expectancy gap. In 1990, the gap was a little less than 4 years. In 2000, the least well-off could expect to live to age of 74.7 while the most well off had a life expectancy of 79.2 years. Source: Elise Gould, “Growing disparities in life expectancy,” Economic Policy Institute.


These are extremely troubling facts for anyone concerned about economic fairness, equality of opportunity, and justice.

Thomas Jefferson once observed that the systematic restructuring of society to benefit the rich over the poor and middle class is a natural appetite of the rich. “Experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to…the general prey of the rich on the poor.” But Jefferson also knew that justice can only be delayed so long when he said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

The rich talk about the rise of socialism to divert attention from the fact that they are devouring the basics of the poor and everyone else. Many of those crying socialism the loudest are doing it to enrich or empower themselves. They are right about one thing – there is a class war going on in the US. The rich are winning their class war, and it is time for everyone else to fight back for economic justice.

Bill is Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and professor of law at Loyola University New Orleans. You can reach Bill at


P.S.:  Found this courtesy of the “Rally to Restore Sanity – San Francisco.”  I’ll be there Sunday – I’ll be the one wearing the “2010 National League Champions” T-shirt.   Don’t stop believing, people!

Posted in Eat the Rich, Lazy-ass Blogging, Torches and Pitchforks | Leave a comment

Lazy-ass Blogging: Saturday Night Short Cuts

Glad the Yankees lost, although I was hoping for a Giants-Yankees World Series.  Guess I’ll have to settle for Texas’ cinderella team getting theirs asses whupped (yeah, I know, first things first – one more win in Philly, boys).

In other news:

George Bush, Still Clueless After All These Years:  His “biggest accomplishment” was that he “kept the country safe amidst a real danger.”  Well, except for that thing on 9/11.  And as Atrios notes, there was that anthrax thing, too.  So, what was his biggest failure?  Not privatizing Social Security.


Heckuva job, Bushie, and by the way – thanks for bringing your book out right around election time, which means that excerpts will be appearing right before people vote, reminding them of what it was like having a fucking overprivileged, plutocratic Republican moron as President.

Long Dong Silver Lives!:  I don’t know what the fuck Virginia Thomas was thinking when she left that voicemail, but I guess she figured that being a Tea Party celebrity wasn’t giving her quite enough juice.  Coincidentally (or not), Thomas’ one-time girlfriend has a book coming out, in which she basically corroborates everything that Anita Hill said, and then some.

Gotta love the lede to that first Post article, by Michael Fletcher:

It is one of Washington’s enduring mysteries.

Nearly two decades after Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his fractious Supreme Court confirmation hearing, it remains unclear who was lying.

Actually, dude, it was very clear at the time that Thomas was the one who was lying (and it has since been confirmed on multiple occasions).  It was also very clear that Thomas was an undistinguished jurist who was nominated merely because he was a black conservative, and he has been an undistinguished Justice, notable mainly for his lack of intellectual curiosity and his adherence to conservative dogma.  The fact that he was also a serial sexual harasser and all-around dickhead, who was able to successfully play the race card to get confirmed to a lifetime position that he did not deserve, just proves how Republicans (see Bush, George W.) always seem able to fail upward.

Some People Will Do Anything to Use the Car Pool Lane:  This story is just plain weird, but seeing that the woman who kept driving around with her mummified friend was a real estate agent, it somehow makes much more sense.

Crocs on a Plane:  While we’re on News of the Weird, here’s a cautionary tale about the dangers of bringing ambulatory luggage aboard as a carry-on.

Juan is the Loneliest Number:  Here’s a good take on the sad fate of Fox News Token Liberal Juan Williams, who can assuage his fears of people wearing Mooslem garb by counting the $2 million that Fox will be paying him over the next three years.  Not bad for a pretend liberal; of course, that little windfall is not enough to prevent the usual phony controversy from being ginned up.  Nobody whines harder than a conservative troll who feels that he or one of his fellow trolls has been wronged.

I’ll leave you with this little blast from the past, as hippie freaks from San Francisco invade Hollywood and befuddle the studio audience and an incredibly square Don (Maxwell Smart) Adams:

UPDATE:  Added some more linkage to the High-Lair-E-Us Ginny Thomas saga; also, Andy Borowitz and Jack White(!) bring the funny.

UPDATE #2:  Hard to let the Ginny Thomas thing go.  I’m just amazed at the passive-aggressive chutzpah of this woman, who says she was “extending an olive branch” by asking Anita Hill to publicly admit to committing perjury.  I mean, I knew that conservatives were untethered to reality, but I didn’t expect such blatantly self-parodying behavior.  Naturally, the morons on the right think this is a big win-win for their side.  Take it away, TBogg…

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“Skilled in the art of defending plutocrats”

Earlier I posted about the bailed-out banksters who would very much like to pin the mortgage fraud debacle on people like us, who bought their crappy mortgages and who, in many cases, got foreclosed on even when, with everything collapsing all around us, we made all of our payments, and trusted the mortgage holders to treat us fairly.

The banksters have their allies in the corporate-owned media, naturally, and it’s no surprise that these include the Wall Street Journal.  As you would expect, the Journal‘s op-ed page has been vociferous in it’s defense of predatory capitalism; but their news pages, which generally steer clear of the red-meat conservatism of the Journal‘s editors, have also been pushing the “it’s all just a paperwork error” narrative, as seen in this post by Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism (via Atrios):

The lead article in the Journal tonight, “Niche Lawyers Spawned Housing Fracas” telegraphs its bias in its headline: the foreclosure crisis is merely the creation of two bit lawyers who by implication don’t know what they are doing, and are pumping trivial issues up for their own enrichment, with the housing market as collateral damage.

Funny that anyone can think this spin is remotely true. The fact that solo practitioner lawyers could have such an impact on the system is not proof that they are miscreants, as the Journal implies. It is that the foundation of mortgage securitzations is rotten as a result of widespread abuses, first on the origination end, later in the foreclosure process. These small firm players are using the legal equivalent of toothpicks; the fact that their efforts have destablized the foundation of the residential mortgage backed securities market is tangible proof that they were imperiled to begin with…

…The foreclosure crisis, which is the result of what increasingly appears to be a widespread failure to convey borrower promissory notes and related liens properly to the the securitization entity is reduced to a mere “paperwork mess”. So the idea that the shortcomings are serious is dismissed. Similarly, the efforts of various attorneys who have been chipping away as aspects of this problem are incorrectly lumped together, as if there was really only a single, simpleminded strategy, a mere “lawyer’s gambit” which by implication, was copied by other low life attorneys. And this effort was to keep a deadbeat borrower illegitimately housed.

Funny, this James Kowalski, the attorney behind this dastardly act, did what members of the bar normally do (at least if they are competent): they look for weaknesses in fact and law in the case presented by the other side. And part of the process involves, stunningly enough, depositions! Kowalski’s evil deed was that he was early, perhaps first, to find a robo signer, back in 2006.

But robo signers are an abuse of court process. You can’t have it one way, and say you believe in law and order and the sanctity of contract, and then say it’s just fine to abuse legal procedures if you are pretty sure you are right. Well you can’t unless you are the Journal, skilled in the art of defending plutocrats, no matter how much in the way of mental gymnastics that might require.

Smith has a great fisking of the Journal article, but the best part is the response by James Kowalski in the comments section of the online version of the article:

Despite my best efforts to answer all of Mr. Whelan’s questions, the article contains a number of misstatements. First, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson did not face a foreclosure hearing after simply stopping payment – they paid the entire amount due per a statement sent to them by GMAC, and paid by certified check. GMAC mistakenly refused the check, alleging it was an NSF payment (not possible with certified funds), then placed the couple in foreclosure. I was simply trying to track the facts of the payment by deposing a witness who had sworn in court documents that she had reviewed the entire file and was familiar with the payment history, when, as it turned out, she was not only not familiar with the payment history, but the substance of her entire affidavit was false, including the allegation that the affidavit was sworn to in front of a notary. These were substantive questions I needed answers to – not an excuse for a delay. Further, the judge did not “throw out the case” – it is still pending, with GMAC still suing the Jacksons, years later.

I, and most of my fellow consumer attorneys who are members of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, do not raise these issues for delay – we raise them because we all have cases (this is the bulk of my foreclosure defense practice) where all or part of the foreclosure is purely the fault of the servicer or mill law firm – from homeowners whose payments were misrouted by the servicer, to servicers who simply changed the address of the property and then force-placed flood insurance, to servicers who ignore insurance plans the borrowers paid for (all examples from my cases) to servicers who refuse to even accept HAMP-type loan modification documents – all are substantive, real problems that were not the fault of the borrowers. The deposition was, in the Jackson case, merely an effort to get at the truth of the reversed payment – instead, GMAC admitted to wholesale manufacture of court documents, then promised to fix the practice, then continued that practice unabated for 4 more years.

Most of what we have uncovered are criminal violations – false testimony under oath, notary fraud, etc. These problems will continue until the attorneys general who have formed a task force recognize and confront the significant criminal violations, and will continue unless we have real reform of the servicing practices that emphasize speed over the truth.

Not a single one of my clients wants (or deserves) a free house. What they want (and deserve) is for their voices to be heard, and, for better or worse, consumer lawyers are the only ones capable of achieving this at the moment.

Oh, and it would have been nice if Mr. Whelan had taken the time to spell my name correctly throughout the article.

So, what’s the Obama administration’s response to the widespread fraud and abuse perpetrated on the American people by these greedy motherfuckers?  Well, bad things may conceivably have happened, and if they did we don’t like it, but let’s not waste time trying to place blame, and bicker and argue about who killed who:

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said Wednesday that the Obama administration will attempt to protect homeowners and police the kind of paperwork fraud that led the nation’s largest banks to temporarily halt foreclosures this month, but added that the administration had yet to find anything fundamentally flawed in how large banks securitized home loans or how they foreclosed on them.

“Where any homeowner has been defrauded or denied the basic protections or rights they have under law, we will take actions to make sure the banks make them whole, and their rights will be protected and defended,” Donovan said at a Washington press briefing. “First and foremost, we are committed to accountability, so that everyone in the mortgage process — banks, mortgage servicers and other institutions — is following the law. If they have not followed the law, it’s our responsibility to make sure they’re held accountable.”

He added, however, that the administration is focused on ensuring future compliance, rather than on looking back to make sure homeowners and investors weren’t harmed during the reckless boom years. The administration is “committed to forcing institutions to change the way that they conduct business,” Obama’s top housing official said, “to make sure these problems don’t happen again.”

As the incomparable Digby puts it:

Well that’s a big relief. And I’m sure they won’t. And anyway, to get all prissy legal beagle on the finance people would end up threatening the system and that would be bad for all of us (especially the people who run it.) Of course, if anyone should suggest that some of the individuals who caused all this carnage might be required to pay a price for what they did just as a sort of warning for the future … well then, all bets are off. In fact, there are no bets. The financial firms are to be allowed to do whatever they choose or they’ll blow this whole place to smithereens. (That’s the “free enterprise” the Koch brothers and our other wealthy overlords are working overtime to protect.)

The deadbeat citizens, however, must be held accountable lest the country creates a monstrous moral hazard. Believe me, it’s not something that our dear leaders want to do. It’s just that no functioning society can allow average people to believe that they are more important than the wealthy owners who need to risk other people’s money for the good of the country. It’s tough love. We should be grateful for it.

Do read the link in Digby’s piece about the Kochtopus and its thus-far very successful efforts, with the help of Glenn Beck and a who’s-who of American Plutocracy, to influence the November elections.  As Think Progress notes, these are the same people, or the heirs of the same people, who have been fighting the New Deal, the Great Society, and every other progressive social welfare accomplishment of the last 80 years.  They really do want a return to the Robber Baron era of capitalism, along with the destruction of unions, the dismantlement of all regulatory processes, and in the more extreme cases, an end to representative democracy itself, the better to enjoy their obscene profits and exalted status as America’s royalty.  And now that it has become easier for them to simply buy the electoral outcomes they desire, while propping up pseudo-populist movements like the Tea Party, why wouldn’t they?  Nothing personal, it’s just business:

Prudential Financial sent in a $2 million donation last year as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicked off a national advertising campaign to weaken the historic rewrite of the nation’s financial regulations.

Dow Chemical delivered $1.7 million to the chamber last year as the group took a leading role in aggressively fighting proposed rules that would impose tighter security requirements on chemical facilities.

And Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and Aegon, a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands, donated more than $8 million in recent years to a chamber foundation that has been critical of growing federal regulation and spending. These large donations — none of which were publicly disclosed by the chamber, a tax-exempt group that keeps its donors secret, as it is allowed by law — offer a glimpse of the chamber’s money-raising efforts, which it has ramped up recently in an orchestrated campaign to become one of the most well-financed critics of the Obama administration and an influential player in this fall’s Congressional elections…

These records show that while the chamber boasts of representing more than three million businesses, and having approximately 300,000 members, nearly half of its $140 million in contributions in 2008 came from just 45 donors. Many of those large donations coincided with lobbying or political campaigns that potentially affected the donors…

In January, the chamber’s president, Thomas J. Donohue, a former trucking lobbyist, announced that his group intended “to carry out the largest, most aggressive voter education and issue advocacy effort in our nearly 100-year history.”

The words were carefully chosen, as the chamber asserts in filings with theFederal Election Commission that it is simply running issue ads during this election season. But a review of the nearly 70 chamber-produced ads found that 93 percent of those that have run nationwide that focus on the midterm elections either support Republican candidates or criticize their opponents.

And the pace of spending has been relentless. In just a single week this month, the chamber spent $10 million on Senate races in nine states and two dozen House races, a fraction of the $50 million to $75 million it said it intends to spend over all this season. In the 2008 election cycle, it spent $33.5 million…

Chamber officials acknowledge the tough fund-raising, but they say it has been necessary in support of their goal of remaking Congress on Election Day to make it friendlier to business.

“It’s been a long and ugly campaign season, filled with partisan attacks and political squabbling,” William C. Miller Jr., the chamber’s national political director, said in a message sent to chamber members this week. “We are all tired — no doubt about it. But we are so close to bringing about historic change on Capitol Hill.”

Funny, I seem to recall someone else talking about historic change, not so very long ago.  Who was that again?

Posted in Eat the Rich, Invisible Hand-Job, It's the Stupid Economy, You Assholes, Koch Sucker Blues | Leave a comment