Monday, November 30, 2009

In the name of Jesus...

The nature of religious difference seems to be based on that old sing-song school-yard, na, na, na, na, na...."my God is better than your God."

Or maybe, "my make-believe friend is better than your make-believe friend."

Whatever the interpretation, the following quote demonstrates why differences based on religious belief seem to be irreconcilable in nature.
"I contend that we are both atheists.
I just believe in one fewer god than you do.
When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours."
-Stephen F. Roberts
Whether one believes in God or not, should not determine how one thinks about the following. In the name of Jesus...

Church 'lied without lying'

The four archbishops of Dublin during the period covered by today's report into the handling of allegations of clerical child sex abuse. Clockwise (from top left) John Charles McQuaid, Dermot Ryan, Kevin McNamara and Desmond Connell.
The four archbishops of Dublin during the period covered by today's report into the handling of allegations of clerical child sex abuse. Clockwise (from top left) John Charles McQuaid, Dermot Ryan, Kevin
Commission finds Church covered up child sex abuse

One of the most fascinating discoveries in the Dublin Archdiocese report was that of the concept of “mental reservation” which allows clerics mislead people without believing they are lying. A formal investigation of Dublin’s Catholic Archdiocese concludes that there is “no doubt” that child sexual abuse was covered up by Church authorities over four decades.
Read more here and here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Drooling Cretin Speaks

Via Think Progress:
"What we’re experiencing now is really a ticking time bomb that they designed about 100 years ago, beginning in the progressive movement. And they thought, "you know what, if we just do this and this and this and this, over time if we do it in both the Republican and Democratic parties, we will have our socialist utopia." Well, I am drafting plans now to bring us back to an America that our founders would understand...We need to start thinking like the Chinese."
-- Glenn Beck

h/t Gil Ross

A Palin-Beck 2012 Ticket?

Not according to Glenn Beck...

Glenn Beck quote of the day_99467.jpg

No, no I’m just saying — Beck-Palin, I’ll consider. But Palin-Beck — can you imagine, can you imagine what an administration with the two of us would be like? What? Come on! She’d be yapping or something, and I’d say, “I’m sorry, why am I hearing your voice? I’m not in the kitchen.”


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Real Culprits are the Insurance Companies

The Republicans, the teabaggers, the cable pundits, Fox News and the the wing-nuts have been basing part of their argument against a public option on a tale of fear and deception. They are promoting the idea that Congress and the government will get in between you and your doctor and therefore, will make crucial life and death decisions. This is just an off-shoot of the "death panel" farce.

The truth is that right now health insurers stand between patients and their doctors.
One of the most common right-wing memes used by opponents of health care reform is that progressive solutions to America’s health care problems place “Washington bureaucrats firmly between you and your doctor.” Again and again, conservatives have deployed this meme to demagogue the health care debate.

However, the reality is there already is someone standing between you and your doctor: health insurance companies. Single mother Ellen Hayden knows this from experience. After losing her mother at the age of 7 from breast cancer, Hayden has done everything she can to get regular mammograms. Following an abnormal mammogram, her doctor recommended that she have an MRI. After the scan, her insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, refused to pay for the procedure and is also refusing to pay for a follow-up second MRI her doctor has suggested.

Ned Helms, a former health insurance industry executive who now works at the University of New Hampshire, told Sea Coast Online that this is Hayden’s case is an example of “insurance people” getting between patients and their doctors:

“It’s understandable that this is an emotional issue because most patients believe that ‘nothing is going to stand between me and what I want to get done,’” said Ned Helms, a former health insurance industry executive and director of the N.H. Institute of Health Policy and Practice at the University of New Hampshire. [...]

“We have this notion in our political debate and popular culture that we can’t have reform because that means that government bureaucrats will make decisions but we already have insurance people playing that role,” said Helms.
Helms went on to say that one of the major obstacles to attaining proper reform is the way insurance companies often “write their own rules for the road.” Late last year, former Cigna executive Wendell Potter left his 15-year career at the major health insurer and joined the fight for universal health care. He told Bill Moyers last July that politicians who warn about the government getting between patients and their doctors are “ideologically aligned with the [health insurance] industry.”
It is time for the Democrats to change the frame.

Where are they? Oh that's right they're trying to get Republicans to join them in a bipartisan way. Which means that the Democrats will negotiate away most of what is important to change our present 'for-profit' healthcare system where the insurance companies write all the rules.

Another View of Palin's Apocalypse

On the lighter side...


What does Sarah Palin Mean...

...when she says "Jewish people will be flocking to Israel?"

Bruce Wilson believes Palin's words are laden with dire significance. What she is referring to are her apocalyptic beliefs which really tend to be very anti-semantic and call for the destruction of the world.

There's some acceptance that statements such as Sarah Palin's prediction that Jews will soon be "flocking to Israel" may indicate Palin holds apocalyptic beliefs. What's not understood is that she's closely associated with a religious tendency whose leaders promote anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, including one most commonly used by the Third Reich, in the 1930's and 1940's, to whip up anti-Semitic hatreds: the claim that a worldwide cabal of Jewish bankers manipulates the world economy and preys on working classes.
What did Palin say in the interview with Barbara Walters?
Walters asked, "Now let's talk about some issues - the Middle East. The Obama Administration does not want Israel to build any more settlements on what they consider Palestinian territory. What is your view on this ?" Palin responded, "I disagree with the Obama Administration on that. I believe that, um, the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon because the population of Israel is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead."

What does Sarah Palin's predictions for the 'Jewish people'have to do with the destruction of the Jews?

In the 1920's and 1930's, rising anti-Semitism was propelled, in part, by conspiracy theories alleging that Jewish bankers such as the Rothschild banking family controlled both the German and world economies through the manipulation of global money markets. Leaders in Sarah Palin's religious tendency have for years been promoting extremely similar conspiracy theories.

In the 1980's and 1990's that conspiracy theory was folded into a apocalyptic meta-conspiracy narrative claiming that Jews and "Illuminati" controlled, or were close to controlling, the US government and were plotting to implement a "New World Order." The narrative went on to claim that the Jewish/Illuminati conspiracy was imminently ready to call up hundreds of thousands of foreign troops hidden on US army bases and in National Parks, who would round up patriotic Christians and pack them into trains which would bring them to internment camps where, in some versions of the narratives, those Christians would be slaughtered via machine guns, guillotines, ovens, or poison gas.

Sarah Palin is on the same playing field as Christian Zionist John Hagee.

In short, this comes around to a concept widely promoted by Christian Zionists such as Christians United For Israel Founder, Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee, of the "fishers and hunters":

"Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks." - Jeremiah 16:16, KJV
Hagee and other Christian Zionists interpret that Biblical passage from the Book of Jeremiah as a prophecy which applies to current-day Jews worldwide.

Christian Zionists, broadly speaking, are Christians who think God wills it that all Jews live in Israel - and who go to elaborate lengths to bring that about. Regardless of whatever differences there might be between John Hagee's and Sarah Palin's respective brands of Christianity, the two seem to share a narrative common to Christian Zionist theology, that a terrible upwelling of anti-Jewish hatred will in the end-times cause Jewish citizens of every nation on Earth to make aliyah and move to Israel. [...]

Paradoxically, while "fishers" such as John Hagee decry overt acts of hatred and violence directed at Jews, they also promote various anti-Jewish myths, slurs, and conspiracy theories that foster anti-Semitism. The same grotesque paradox surfaces in Sarah Palin's religious tendency as well.
Read complete article HERE.
[Below: video documents similarity of John Hagee's financial conspiracy theory to the financial conspiracy theory promoted in the most notorious anti-Jewish propaganda film ever made, The Eternal Jew, produced under the personal supervision of Joseph Goebbels]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Succinct Quote of the Day

Rarely has so much been made about so little!
- Robert Reich commenting on Sarah Palin's book tour on This Week.

The Cool Media Views Obama

Have you been wondering why the media has been cool about Obama's China trip. Actually, The Mahablog has pondered, How the Liberal Media Behaves With Abject Obsequiousness to Barack Obama.

By James Fallows, who lived and worked in China and Japan for many years: “Barack Obama’s recent swing through Asia was a relative success, and certainly nothing like the disaster that most U.S. coverage implied.” And in a more recent post, Fallows says the press corps is guilty of distorting reality by “compressing every complex issue into the narrative of the DC-based ‘horse race.’”

Fallows quoted Alexandra Fenwick in the Columbia Journalism Review:

In almost every analysis of the trip, Chinese officials were portrayed as optimistic and newly emboldened to stand up to American interests and Obama was cast in the role of the meek debtor, standing with hat in hand. The line is that little was achieved and Obama was stifled, literally by state television and figuratively by the Chinese upper hand in the power dynamic.

… that negative narrative failed to take several things into account: the strict Chinese image control that doesn’t allow the sort of media celebrity that Obama enjoys elsewhere in the world; progress made in backroom diplomatic discussions; Obama’s stated objectives; and his quiet diplomatic style that doesn’t produce the kind of sound bytes that a scorekeeping-focused press Washington press corps feeds on.

Fenwick interviewed former New York Times Shanghai bureau chief Howard French, who basically said the reporting on the Asian trip sucked out loud. “Everything is shot through this prism of short-term political calculation as opposed to thinking seriously about stuff,” he said.

See also Trish Durkin at The Week. In brief, she says the idea that Obama somehow failed to obtain anything was based on the erroneous idea that there was anything that could have been obtained on one trip.

Last but not least, there is the bupkuss factor: the consenus that Obama, poor jerk, has come away with nothing. No breakthroughs. No deals. Not even an Oprah “a-ha” moment. It’s as if everybody thinks that some concrete public concession on at least one of the biggies — carbon emissions or political reform or North Korea — is something a U.S. president just can’t leave China without, like a silk robe or a ceramic tea set.

But in reality, it’s not like that. Every key element of the Sino-American relationship is too big and too convoluted for the thumbs-up/thumbs-down approach to apply.

So, relax, everybody. Obama came, he charmed, he left. And for now, that’s perfectly fine.

It is truly interesting how journalism has become a showcase for mediocre. If any of these "news folks" did a little bit of homework and looked at the reality of the politics then maybe another viewpoint would rise above the underlying right-wing hype of putting down Obama.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

An Investigation....

I don't need no stinking investigation!!!!!

Think about it. If someone asked you whether it was appropriate for a police officer to taser a 10 year old child who was having a tantrum because her mother wanted her to take a shower, would you need an investigation to know that the answer is NO?

Apparently Mayor Vernon McDaniel of Ozark, Arkansas, a small US town, doesn't know the answer. He has requested an investigation. The incident occurred when Officer Dustin Bradshaw delivered "a very brief drive stun" to the back of a 10 year old child who was "violently kicking and verbally combative" when Mr Bradshaw tried to "take her into custody and she kicked him in the groin."

Mayor Vernon McDaniel said the girl wasn't injured and is now at the Western Arkansas Youth Shelter in Cecil.

However, Mr McDaniel said he wants Arkansas State Police - and if they decline, the FBI - to investigate the incident. State police have declined, and the FBI won't say whether it is involved.

Officer Bradshaw had a good reason to use his stun gun on the 10 year old girl who "was curled up on the floor, screaming." The child's "mother gave him permission to do so."

Here's another stunning twist to the story:

A US police officer who used a stun gun on an unruly 10-year-old girl has been suspended - for seven days with pay - not for using the weapon but for not having a video camera attached when he used it.

I'm stunned and I wasn't even hit by a taser!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Irony of It!

Via Grist:
This Ad is from from a 1962 edition of Life Magazine, available on Google Books. This ad for Humble Oil (which later merged with Standard to become, yes, Exxon).
The irony is that the ad promotes the ability of oil to supply enough energy to melt glaciers.

The Public Option Diluted

Robert Reich always has an uncanny viewpoint of events. His perspective on the Senate healthcare bill is direct and to the point in his article, Harry Reid, and What Happened to the Public Option [emphasis added].

First there was Medicare for all 300 million of us. But that was a non-starter because private insurers and Big Pharma wouldn't hear of it, and Republicans and "centrists" thought it was too much like what they have up in Canada -- which, by the way, cost Canadians only 10 percent of their GDP and covers every Canadian. (Our current system of private for-profit insurers costs 16 percent of GDP and leaves out 45 million people.)

So the compromise was to give all Americans the option of buying into a "Medicare-like plan" that competed with private insurers. Who could be against freedom of choice? Fully 70 percent of Americans polled supported the idea. Open to all Americans, such a plan would have the scale and authority to negotiate low prices with drug companies and other providers, and force private insurers to provide better service at lower costs. But private insurers and Big Pharma wouldn't hear of it, and Republicans and "centrists" thought it would end up too much like what they have up in Canada.

So the compromise was to give the public option only to Americans who wouldn't be covered either by their employers or by Medicaid. And give them coverage pegged to Medicare rates. But private insurers and ... you know the rest.

So the compromise that ended up in the House bill is to have a mere public option, open only to the 6 million Americans not otherwise covered. The Congressional Budget Office warns this shrunken public option will have no real bargaining leverage and would attract mainly people who need lots of medical care to begin with. So it will actually cost more than it saves.

But even the House's shrunken and costly little public option is too much for private insurers, Big Pharma, Republicans, and "centrists" in the Senate. So Harry Reid has proposed an even tinier public option, which states can decide not to offer their citizens. According to the CBO, it would attract no more than 4 million Americans.

It's a token public option, an ersatz public option, a fleeting gesture toward the idea of a public option, so small and desiccated as to be barely worth mentioning except for the fact that it still (gasp) contains the word "public."

And yet Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson mumble darkly that they may not even vote to allow debate on the floor of the Senate about the bill if it contains this paltry public option. And Republicans predict a "holy war."

But what more can possibly be compromised? Take away the word "public?" Make it available to only twelve people?
What does Reich suggest?
I want every Senator who's not in the pocket of the private insurers or Big Pharma to introduce and vote for a "Ted Kennedy Medicare for All" amendment to whatever bill Reid takes to the floor. And if this fails, a "Ted Kennedy Real Public Option for All" amendment. Let every Senate Democratic who doesn't have the guts to vote for either of them be known and counted.
Let's hope our Senators get Reich's point so we don't get stuck with Reid's.

Read more here.

An Amazing Oprah Interview

The New Face of the Republican Party

Is Somewhere Between Blame and Confusion...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

'Heads I Win, Tails You Lose'

13.04.2008: Steve Bell on the 9/11 trial

Holy slippery banana peel! Is this story from a Batman comic book? What happened to 'up is up' and 'down is down'? Now, it turns out that if you win, you lose? Or more to the point, if you win, you can't win because I will always win!!!

What has happened to the rule of law?

Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged on Wednesday a previously unspoken proviso to the controversial decision to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators in a federal court in New York: even if the defendants are somehow acquitted, they will still stay behind bars.

Holder's comments at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee would seem to turn the criminal-justice system on its head. The whole point of a criminal trial is to determine guilt—and if the government fails to make its case beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant walks free.

At least that's the way the system usually works. [...]

"It's heads I win, tails you lose," says Joshua Dratel, a top New York criminal-defense lawyer who has represented numerous defendants in terrorism cases. "It does unfortunately ruin the effect of the notion that we are bringing them to federal court to uphold the rule of law, if you say, 'If the rule of law doesn't work, we'll try something else.'"

Remember when Jack Nicholson, the Joker in Tim Burton's 1989 movie Batman, asks, "Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"

It's now a question to think about.

Palin "The Rogue Warrior"

It used to be that politicians needed some factual basis to support their claims. Now, all you need is fame recognition and a set of talking points to create spin in the world of politics today. Truth isn't even considered a necessary factor. Intelligence isn't even a criteria!

Take for example the media frenzy around Sarah Palin. Jon Stewart puts into perspective what many have been thinking.

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A Cause for Students to Unite

In the 60's it was Vietnam. It has taken 40 years and the collapse of our economy for students to again rally against something.

Today it is in California against the University of California for increases in fees. But students across the country are feeling the impact of increase fees and cost

Via LA Times
Students Storm UCLA Building to Protest Expected UC System Fee Increase


About 30 students stormed UCLA’s Campbell Hall and barricaded the doors with chains and bike locks early this morning to protest a student fee increase that is expected to be endorsed by the University of California’s Board of Regents today.

The proposed two-step student fee increase would raise UC undergraduate education costs more than $2,500, or 32%.The annual cost of a UC education, not including campus-based fees would rise to $10,302.
Increased cost of tuition, reduction in scholarships, grants and loans and a reduction in job availability has led to this student revolt. It is now small but it has potential to grow. Where will the next protest take place?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Israel-Palestine Conflict

Should the focus in the Middle East be on peace or on a truce?

According to Roger Cohen in his New York Times Op Ed column, A Mideast Truce, states
"Peace and walls do not go together. But a truce and walls just may. And that, I must reluctantly conclude, is the best that can be hoped for.

Obama, who has his Nobel already, should ratchet expectations downward. Stop talking about peace. Banish the word. Start talking about d├ętente."
Cohen agrees with Israeli author David Grossman who writes:
“We have dozens of atomic bombs, tanks and planes. We confront people possessing none of these arms. And yet, in our minds, we remain victims. This inability to perceive ourselves in relation to others is our principal weakness.”
Can strength come from a truce? What will it take?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Message for Congress

In his article for OpEdNews, Rob Kall wants you to Tell Congress To Go To Hell With Their Current Health Reform.
I know some of my words are not nice--crude, vulgar--but if you're not thinking something like them, you don't get it. And if you have been thinking them, but don't want to say them, send your legislator my article.

Just thinking. The current legislation that the Democrats have celebrated in the house is a pile of shit, an incredible insult. People are dying.

Tell your legislators in Congress what you think of their health reform.

Flipping Congress the bird collage by Rob Kall

People are enslaved in jobs they hate, abused by employers, because they can't afford to leave because they'd lose healthcare coverage.

What have they offered us?
-a four year wait for a plan that affects hardly any Americans.

-no controls on drug costs, and every likelihood that co-pays will go through the roof, since raising co-pay is one way to cut monthly insurance rates.

-We should expect rates to go up and benefits to keep shrinking.

-The current version is a horrific affront to women-- the 60+% of whom voted for Democrats-- that they would have rights to control their bodies and abortion rights. Disgusting. It's amazing Pelosi not only allowed the amendment to reach the house floor, but that she celebrates any legislation that cuts women's rights.
There are a handful of legislators who are calling for single payer. That is the only legislation worth talking about. The majority of the population wants it. America desperately needs it. I can't see myself voting for anyone who doesn't support it.

So, when the senate starts working with the house's bit of garbage health reform, let your senator know that anything less than single payer is an insult and a shameful failure to do what needs to be done.

Let him or her know that waiting four years is obscene.

Make it clear to all your legislators that what they've done so far is not enough.

There are teabaggers (see the wikipedia explanation of Teabagging) who oppose single payer. I can see legislators opposing it because they are whores who have sold out their constituents to health care companies. But the grassroots idiocracy is another story. These are the dumbest, most deluded, mislead lemmings in American history. They will be remembered as a movement of fools and idiots, dupes who bought the lies of Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Fox News and the right wing echo chamber that was used by corporatists to take America from First to Third world status.

History does funny things. If the teabaggers win, which is possible, then they will be lauded as rescuing America. That will be history written in the US of Teabaggery. But outside the US, where truth may still see daylight, they will be seen as the moronic idiots that they are.

It's time to remember that health care is a human right, a civil right, and those who block it are no different than those who have engaged in blocking other human rights. It's time to remember that even after 40 years of equal rights for blacks, there are still tens of millions of racists. The toxic dregs of humanity don't go away. They linger, putting brakes on human progress. Now we face a new challenge to fight these dark forces. It will take the same kinds of strategies that freedom riders and protesters who supported Martin Luther King in the sixties south and those who supported the fighters against Apartheid in South Africa used.

Congress must be told that their best so far is not even close to good enough. The current incarnation of the public option is a sham. It will set back progress. Tell your legislators. Raise your voice. Let them know that they are not even close yet. Tell them to find their spines.
I agree! If you aren't completely appalled then you haven't been paying attention!!

The Hazda of Tanzania

The Hadza

They grow no food, raise no livestock, and live without rules or calendars. They are living a hunter-gatherer existence that is little changed from 10,000 years ago. What do they know that we've forgotten?

Very interesting National Geographic article by Michael Fink with photography by Martin Schoeller about a way of life that is literally loosing ground to modern society. Read article HERE.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reinstate Glass-Seagall

Don't you think?

This week marks the tenth year anniversary of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley or Financial Services Modernization Act, marking the moment when we were royally screwed by the banking system. Thank you to all those involved.

It's amazing how downright ebullient, President Bill Clinton was at that signing ceremony on November 12, 1999. an event introduced by then Treasury Secretary (now Obama advisor) Larry Summers, successor to Robert Rubin. Those restricting, anti-competitive Depression era, laws were finally behind us. Awesome.

Fast-forward to now and most of us know how devastatingly expensive that signature was for the American public. Yet, despite our government having deployed or made available over $14.1 trillion worth of federal subsidies to fix Wall Street, the banking landscape is less stable than it was before last year's crisis. And, despite national unemployment approaching double digits, and another record quarter of foreclosures, we stand farther away from the intent of Glass Steagall than ever.

Banks weren't handled with kid gloves then. They were treated like the spoiled, reckless, destructive beings they were. After the stock market crash in 1929, the country sunk into the throes of the Great Depression, characterized by 25% unemployment, bread lines, rampant foreclosures, and general despair. In 1932, the Pecora commission examined the shady banking practices that contributed to the devastation, all of which hinged on one thing - banks had used depositor capital and loans to speculate with. Exactly like the practices going on before and since last fall's financial calamity. The result of that speculation gone wrong tanked the economy. Glass-Steagall logically sought to ensure this wouldn't happen again. It divided up the banking landscape into two parts, commercial banks and investment banks. The federal government would back commercial banks and consumer deposits through establishing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). But, it wouldn't be Wall Street's investment bank bookie and bitch.

Over the decades, the financial sector, armed with cunning lobbyists and overpaid lawyers, took many swipes at Glass-Steagall, but none as devastating as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Since then, the banking sector's powerful ate its weak, amidst a wave of massive consolidation. Nearly half of the nation's biggest bank mergers took place just before or since that Act was passed. All these mega banks can thus churn deposits and loans into debt or capital to fund speculation, risk, and create a roller coaster of an economy that is defined simply on whether those bets, or asset creations, work or not, at any given moment. Heads they win, tails we lose.
What can we do?
Thus, whether we merge all regulators into one ginormous one, or have a council of them to deal with the hard issues of mega-collapse and crisis, or even place one inside the office of every top bank CEO, shadowing him like a probation officer (no that's not in one of the bills, it would just be fun to watch unfold), the beast remains out of the cage.

That's why we need to reinstate Glass-Steagall. Now. We need to dissect the speculative from the boring within our country's financial institutions. And yes, it's possible to achieve. Banks split off pieces of companies and move them around every day. Plus, the Glass Steagall Act didn't wave a magic wand that divided up bank divisions, it ingeniously used banks' own competitive desires against them, by giving banks a one-year period to dramatically reduce the portion of profit they made from investment banking activities to 10% of total profits. Banks were free to choose how to do this, knowing commercial banking got government backing, and investment backing didn't. Betting behaviors are more conservative when it's your own money, and not someone else's on the line. Stability follows.

We need to specifically reinstate section 16 of the Glass-Steagall Act that had restricted national commercial banks from engaging in most investment banking activities, up to a certain small percentage, coming from client directives, not their own proprietary trading. And, on the flip side, we need to reinstate section 21 that restricted investment banks from engaging in any commercial banking up to a certain percentage limit.

Doing these two things, would reduce the more systemically risky competitive desires between these two types of banks that spurs them to merge into institutions that are too big to exist without our help, or take the kinds of leveraged risks that drive short-term profits and bonuses, at the expense of long term financial system stability.

It's time to put the beast back in its cage, while taming it, by re-instating Glass Steagall, and keep it from inflicting even more danger on the rest of us. Meanwhile, we need to support all those in Washington that get this, and keep pressuring those who don't.
The right-wing wants less government control. But they are willing to sit by and allow the banks and investment companies to controll their money. They are also willing to sit by and allow the insurance companies to control the issue of coverage or payment. The right-wing really needs a good dose of reality. Go figure!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

VideoSong 'September' by Pomplamoose

Via Crooks and Liars:

Pomplamoose (it means "grapefruit" in French) is a Bay Area indie jazz-pop band and is compromised made up of Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn, who do what they call VideoSongs.

For those who don't know, a VideoSong is a new medium with (as Jack puts it) two rules:

1. What you see is what you hear (no lip-syncing for instruments or voice).

2. If you hear it, at some point you see it (no hidden sounds).

The unsigned band is fast picking up steam through social media. This is only one of their many interesting covers, but they have lots of cool, original music, too. (Oh, and they do a cover of a Gordon's Jewelers ad, which is amazing because in so many ways, they remind me of the late, lamented Huffamoose - whose name also ends in "moose" and had their song "I Want To Buy You A Ring" used in a jewelry commercial!) Like, synchronicity, man.

Colbert Shows Us the Ridiculous Right

Via Arts Beat
The latest salvo in the war between “Sesame Street” and political ideologues has been fired, this time by the comic firebrand conservative commentator Stephen Colbert. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of “Sesame Street,” Mr. Colbert took the show to task as “the most insidious socialist brainwashing program in our nation’s history.” He also weighed in on the long-running “Pox News” dispute and showed some great vintage “Sesame Street” clips:

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The 10th Anniversary of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

If you want to know the relationship between our economic crisis, the Glass-Steagall Act and the Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act...then watch MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan with his tongue-in-cheek but reality driven synopsis:

This is FUN!!!

A Good Laugh for the Day!!!

Is he Running for Office or Moving to FOX

Lou Dobbs Abruptly Quits CNN on the Air...Video

Gee, I always thought that "strong winds of change" buffeted this country when 'W" was elected by the Supreme Court. Dobbs just sees the change "affecting all of us" in the "past 6 months."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Forget the Middle...It Doesn't Exist!

As the Republicans move further to the Right...The Democrats need to move further to the Left!!!!

Who voted for and against the health care legislation that just passed the House of Representatives. The vote was 220 to 215 and only
one Republican voted for the bill. There were 39 Democrats who voted against reform. That's right! There were 39 Democrats who voted against changing a system that doesn't cover most people but does support a for-profit system that is creating wealth for the insurance industry. So who are these 39 Democrats?
Of the 39 naysayers, 31 hail from districts won by John McCain in the presidential race. Only one progressive vote against the legislation: Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who continues to advocate for a single-payer health-care system. The New York Times has a nifty chart that ranks the members according to the margin of victory in their districts for either McCain or Obama in the 2008 presidential election. Here are the 39, listed in alphabetical order. (Links go to their official Web sites, where you can leave them a message.)
  1. Adler, John (N.J.)
  2. Altmire, Jason (Penn.)*
  3. Baird, Brian (Wash.)
  4. Barrow, John (Ga.)*
  5. Boccieri, John (Ohio)
  6. Boren, Dan (Okla.)*
  7. Boucher, Rick (Va.)
  8. Boyd, Allen (Fla.)
  9. Bright, Bobby (Ala.)*
  10. Chandler, Ben (Ky.)
  11. Childers, Travis (Miss.)*
  12. Davis, Artur (Ala.)*
  13. Davis, Lincoln (Tenn.)*
  14. Edwards, Chet (Tex.)
  15. Gordon, Bart (Tenn.)
  16. Griffith, Parker (Ala.)*
  17. Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie (S.D.)
  18. Holden, Tim (Penn.)*
  19. Kissell, Larry (N.C.)
  20. Kosmas, Suzanne (Fla.)
  21. Kratovil, Frank (Md.)*
  22. Kucinich, Dennis (Ohio)
  23. Markey, Betsy (Colo.)
  24. Marshall, Jim (Ga.)*
  25. Massa, Eric (N.Y.)
  26. Matheson, Jim (Utah)*
  27. McIntyre, Mike (N.C.)*
  28. McMahon, Mike (N.Y.)*
  29. Melancon, Charlie (La.)*
  30. Minnick, Walt (Idaho)
  31. Murphy, Scott (N.Y.)
  32. Nye, Glenn (Va.)
  33. Peterson, Collin (Minn.)*
  34. Ross, Mike (Ark.)*
  35. Shuler, Heath (N.C.)*
  36. Skelton, Ike (Mo.)
  37. Tanner, John (Tenn.)*
  38. Taylor, Gene (Miss.)*
  39. Teague, Harry (N.M.)
* Indicates those Democrats who are the anti-choice holdouts among Democrats. These anti-choice Dems were "threatening to oppose" the healthcare legislation "over the issue of abortion to create a question about its passage."

example of voting the interests of the health care lobby and not the interests of their constituents is Mike Ross (D-AK).

Mike Ross, leader of the House Blue Dog Coalition, lobbed a "no" vote, after having held up legislation in committee before the summer recess. As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Ross was able to marshal the seven Blue Dog members of his committee to sow the seeds of opposition to the bill.

(As ProPublica reported, Ross not only enjoys the largess of mucho health sector dollars in the form of campaign contributions; he and his wife made a million-dollar killing in what appears to be a sweetheart deal with a large pharmacy chain. In Ross's congressional district, 22 percent of constituents report having no health insurance.)

A message to be sent to these Democrats, Blue Dog or not, is to vote them out of office while voting in a Progressive in their place.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Real Purpose of Health Insurance Companies

Alter Net has the story via Sick for Profit:
Meet Andy Cobb, a former professional deceiver for Blue Cross Blue Shield. He’s done all the damage he could being a pretty face for Blue Cross Blue Shield’s health insurance, so now he’s branching out toward his next big whitewashing opportunity. Watch the video and vote below: Where should Andy work next: Wal Mart, B...lack...water, Goldman Sachs, or FOX?

Here's Andy and Robert Greenwald on The Ed Show:

Remember, the real purpose of any health insurance company is to make money. That means they need to deny coverage.

Bust Them and Regulate Them!!!

From Brave New Films and Senator Sanders Unfiltered:
More than a year has gone by since Congress passed the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street.

Greedy, reckless bankers are responsible for the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression. They want taxpayers to be on the hook if they screw us again.

This is why, Senator Sanders is announcing exclusively through Senator Sanders Unfiltered new legislation that would effectively break up the banks so it never happens again.

If a bank is too big to fail, shouldn't it also be too big to exist?

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) believes that in order to prevent another massive bailout the banks that are "too large to fail" must be broken up which would break apart the concentration of ownership and ultimately lead to more competition.

Robert Reich agrees with the Senator that the large banks should be broken up.

The right idea is to break up the giant banks. I don't often agree with Alan Greenspan but he was right when he said last week that "[i]f they're too big to fail, they're too big." Greenspan noted that the government broke up Standard Oil in 1911, and what happened? "The individual parts became more valuable than the whole. Maybe that's what we need to do." (Historic footnote: Had Greenspan not supported in 1999 Congress's repeal of the Glass Stagall Act, which separated investment from commercial banking, we wouldn't be in the soup we're in to begin with.)
The Glass-Steagall Act was passed by Congress in 1933. It was enacted during the Depression and prohibited commercial banks from collaborating with full-service brokerage firms or participating in investment banking activities. In 1999, the act was repealed by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act allowed commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms and insurance companies to consolidate. And we should all now know that this consolidation and lack of regulation led to the problems we have today with banks getting "too big to fail."

If a lesson is too be learned from all this, then Congress would enact a new Glass-Steagall-Act.
Former Fed Chair Paul Volcker, whose only problem is he's much too tall, last week told the New York Times he'd like to see the restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act provisions that would separate the financial giants' deposit-taking activities from their investment and trading businesses. If this separation went into effect, JPMorgan Chase would have to give up the trading operations acquired from Bear Stearns. Bank of America and Merrill Lynch would go back to being separate companies. And Goldman Sachs could no longer be a bank holding company.
According to Reich, the Obama Administration has other ideas.
But the Obama Administration doesn't agree with either Greenspan or Volcker. While it says it doesn't want another bank bailout, its solution to the "too big to fail" problem doesn't go nearly far enough. In fact, it doesn't really go anywhere. The Administration would wait until a giant bank was in danger of failing and then put it into a process akin to bankruptcy. The bank's assets would be sold off to pay its creditors, and its shareholders would likely walk off with nothing. The Treasury would determine when such a "resolution" process was needed, and appoint a receiver, such as the FDIC, to wind down the bank's operations.
What is the solution?
Whether it's using the antitrust laws or enacting a new Glass-Steagall Act, the Wall Street giants should be split up -- and soon.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Exploiting Sesame Street

Recently a right-wing blog characterized Sesame Street's Oscar the Grouch as a "soldier to the Left’s war on Fox News."

It all began two years ago.
During an episode of Sesame Street that was originally broadcast two years ago, a character tells Oscar the Grouch, who happens to be reporting for “GNN” (Grouchy News Network), that she is switching her news viewing loyalties to “Pox News,” adding, “Now there is a trashy news show.” WATCH:

Right winger Andrew Breitbart’s “Big Hollywood” blog took on the Sesame Street menace this week.

If Mom and Dad watch cable news, it’s better than 50/50 they watch “POX News.” So what gives? PBS — a network partially funded with my tax dollars — has the right to tell my kids that their parents watch “trashy” news? The message is clear, I can’t even sit my kids in front of “Sesame Street” without having to worry about the Left attempting to undermine my authority.

It shouldn't be a surprise that Fox News immediately joined in on the attack.

Thursday night on Fox News, host Bill O’Reilly picked up on Big Hollywood’s rant and couldn’t resist defending his network against the smear merchants at Sesame Street. “Say it ain’t so. Sesame Street trashing Fox News!” O’Reilly complained. After airing the segment in question, O’Reilly said wryly, “We may have to ambush Oscar.” Watch it:

Besides the fact that this Sesame Street episode aired two years ago, Sesame Street also spoofed other news organization or media personalities besides Fox News.
“Walter Cranky,” “Dan Rather-Not,” “Meredith Beware-a” and “Diane Spoiler,” all made appearances on the show. And of course, Oscar’s employer, the “Grouchy News Network.”
One great part of our society is the ability to laugh at ourselves. When Fox News and right-wing pundits or blogs start demonizing anything or anyone who spoofs them, then it reflects their inability to laugh. They're just wound up too tight!

Democracy Isn't Always Pretty

An interesting article, The Matrix, 2009, presents an analogy of The Matrix with the concept of democracy.
The Matrix as metaphor: what if the world we know and live in is actually not a world but a simulacrum, created by omnipotent machines in order to numb and distract us while draining us of our labor (in the 1999 film, the machines use our body heat as an energy source). With corporations as the machines, we are numbed and distracted by the purported opposition of free market democracy to socialism, terrorism, and (at least among secular liberals) theocracy, as if the separation of church and state which shifts power—i.e. the power to enslave—from the cloak to the white collared suit is an improvement.

The US government is run not as a democracy—do a majority of us want troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, or bailouts of AIG and Bank of America?—but as a corporation. [...]

The opposition to a public option in the healthcare reform debates, as much as the denunciation of a single payer system as dangerously socialistic (even by Medicare recipients), underscores the corporatization of both government and discourse. At the mercy of private insurance companies, health care becomes completely arbitrary: practitioners are forced to deny coverage or bill for care they never actually provided, dates and descriptions are altered, unnecessary treatment is prescribed and the health care consumer is penalized while the perpetrators avoid accountability. Where else can such large sums of money be exchanged for a product that doesn’t actually exist, only to benefit those further removed from the point of care? [...]

As a culture we’re taught to blame the people victimized by greed rather than the victimizers, whether those with balloon mortgages and subprime loans they can’t afford and didn’t understand or those who max out their credit cards on groceries and emergency room visits. We’re never taught to blame marketing. [...]

Our world runs on exploitation of what does exist (resources, labor) in support of what doesn’t (the power of the simulacrum). [...]

As Morpheus warns Neo in The Matrix: “You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”
Today, we need to fight for a society that truly has compassion. We also need to fight to keep reality in the forefront of the news especially when there is faux news such as Fox.

It is most important to understand that
nonsense, fear and an imitation of the truth spews forth from talking heads such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and politicians such as Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman.

The 'compassionate conservatives' have been taken over by the SSRWNJ's (sanctimonious, shrilly, screaming, right wing nut jobs)!!!!

It is time to take back compassion and call it Democracy.

WATCH: Mark Fiore's cartoon as he muses: Democracy isn't always pretty. But shouldn't it at least be kind of attractive?

Saturday, November 7, 2009