FROM THE REAL ART SPORTS DESK
TEXAS CLOBBERS WORST TEAM IN FBS
From the AP via ESPN:
Freshmen run for 4 TDs while Texas' defense holds Kansas to 46 yards
Freshman tailbacks Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron racked up 255 yards rushing and four touchdowns as Texas (No. 24 BCS) ended a five-game home losing streak in the Big 12 with a 43-0 romp over Kansas on Saturday night.
"We got back on track ... It's been a while since we were singing in the locker room," Texas senior safety Blake Gideon said. "That was huge. There's a certain amount of pride in that, in protecting your home stadium."
Texas rushed for 441 yards as a team against the worst defense in the country. Brown reached the 100-yard mark by halftime and his 635 yards this season already are the most by a Texas player since 2007.
Freshman quarterback David Ash got his second consecutive start for Texas (5-2, 2-2 Big 12), which ended a two-game losing skid and got its first home Big 12 win since beating Kansas on Nov. 21, 2009.
Is it just me, or is the Longhorn Network, which I don't have, and I don't even know anybody who has it, really frustrating? Well, it frustrates me, at least. So yet another Longhorn game I didn't get to see but could have if it was on ESPN or ABC or whatever, you know, a normal channel. It would have been nice to watch the thrashing, after the last two frustrating weeks against schools from Oklahoma.
At any rate, as all the sports analysts are observing, beating KU really means nothing. I mean, sure, it's a Big 12 win, and that's something, at least, but the win doesn't really tell us much about how Texas has bounced back from losses against elite teams. And the rest of the schedule, excluding all Baptist schools from Waco, could prove to be pretty tough. We've got Tech next weekend, and even though they're uneven this year, they did, after all, knock off the Sooners, in Norman, something we couldn't do in neutral Dallas. Then we've got another refugee headed to the SEC, Mizzou, who just knocked off the #16 Aggies, in College Station of all places. K State just lost to OU, but they're definitely a threat, and then Texas A&M, at Kyle Field. This could be a great run, or it could be almost as big of a disaster as last season.
I guess we'll see.
Texas running back Malcolm Brown (28) breaks the tackle of Kansas safety
Keeston Terry (9) to score a touchdown during the first quarter of an NCAA
college football game, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011, in Austin, Texas.
(AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Monday, October 31, 2011
FROM THE REAL ART SPORTS DESK
Posted by Ron at 11:20 PM
Here you go, totally illegal, which makes it all the more enjoyable:
...and sorry about the pop-up if you get it; that's the price you have to pay when it's free.
Posted by Ron at 2:24 AM
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Drug War Profiteers: Book Exposes How Wachovia Bank Laundered Millions for Mexican Cartels
From Democracy Now:
But what was found was that $110 million—small change—was directly connected to four drug deals in Mexico involving the Sinaloa Cartel, but that the staggering figure of $378 billion—that’s a lot of money—was insufficiently monitored. Now, we don’t know how much of that was connected to drug deals. It could be anything between naught and $378 billion. But it gives us a glimpse of the size, of the volume, the quantity of the money involved. These were coming through things called casas de cambio, holes in the wall, basically, exchange houses, not even a proper banking system. So we have a medium-sized bank, that kind of money.
Then, I thought, well, let’s set this in context. Talked to a man called Antonio Maria Costa, who’s the head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna. He’s not there any longer. He posits that the volumes of money coming in from Mexico, from—and obviously his speciality was Europe, Russia, you know, similar operations—laundering of vast quantities of the profits of drugs and, of course, the calamitous violence that is the scourge of Mexico, is basically propping up the banking system. It is a major pillar of the banking system. Without it, it would have collapsed long ago. Well, we know that the other pillar propping it up is tax dollars.
Click here to watch, read, or listen to the rest.
So, lots of places I could go with this. For instance, I could talk about how the War on Drugs has over the years literally developed a life of its own with people getting rich off of it, on both sides of the law, from both legitimate and illegitimate cash, and is therefore unlikely to end in our lifetimes. But that's not what's most important about this little excerpt.
What's important is to note that a significant portion of the entire global banking system may very well be based on laundering dirty money for organized crime. Did you get that? Too-big-to-fail banks are in league with international criminal enterprises. And they have profited handsomely from it.
For several years now I've enjoyed the little word-play joke "banksters" used by liberal bloggers and writers across the internet: it combines the word "banker" with the word "gangster" to get across the idea that these guys are criminals, which, for various reasons including but not limited to toxic mortgage securities, is entirely true. But if this allegation is true, then the bankers really are gangsters, making shit loads of money from the murder and mayhem produced on a massive scale by these drug cartels.
I've been saying for years now that these people just don't give a shit if people live or die, as long as they're making money. This big time money laundering operation would seem to totally confirm my assertions. Fucking scum bags.
Posted by Ron at 10:44 PM
Friday, October 28, 2011
FORGET IDEOLOGY: FOLLOW THE MONEY
From the Huffington Post:
Health Care Industry Donates More To Obama Than GOP Candidates
President Barack Obama has raised more money from the health care industry than Republican candidates, according to an analysis conducted by the Center For Responsive Politics published in National Journal.
Obama has raised $1.6 million from the health sector, more than the $920,000 raised by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the $494,000 raised by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Pharmaceutical companies gave Obama $230,000 versus $161,000 for Romney and $43,000 for Perry.
Simple point if you don't already get it. Obama the Kenyan Muslim Socialist Anti-Colonialist who destroyed the health care industry by turning it into a government run socialist institution is getting more money from the now-destroyed and therefore non-existent health care industry than the American Born Free Marketeering Business and Freedom Protecting Republicans are getting. How can this possibly be?
Because the only true part of that statement I wrote above is that the President is getting more money from the health care sector than the Republicans are. That's because Obama is, in fact, big business' guy. What's more, he's also much more effective as a friend to the corporations than the Republicans are. Indeed, the much criticized from the right Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. "Obamacare," isn't much more than a goody bag for Big Pharma and the HMOs, one that has a few new regulations, but that also forces all Americans to buy their products, whether they want to or not.
Of course, he's being rewarded with large campaign donations. That's how this shit works. In the twenty first century, ideology, political beliefs, rhetoric, none of that shit matters. All that matters is power and money. And our President has both. 'Cause he's the corporate guy.
Posted by Ron at 12:36 AM
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Church Of Scientology Investigated 'South Park' Creators
From the Huffington Post:
For Matt Stone and Trey Parker, nothing is holy or immune to satire. And since the launch of their groundbreaking animated TV series "South Park," they've skewered a multitude of world religions, pointing out hypocrisies, inanities or just playing with ridiculous stereotypes. One of their most famous religious satires, 2005's Scientology-targeting "Trapped In The Closet" episode, allegedly struck such a nerve with the church's leaders that the group responded by targeting Stone, Parker and their friends in a long-term covert investigation.
Marty Rathbun, a former Church of Scientology executive-turned-critic and independent worshipper, revealed to the Village Voice a number of documents that detailed the religious sect's detailed surveillance of the Emmy-winning TV moguls. Through the help of informants, public records and various other means, they searched for "vulnerabilities" in the pair's personal lives, and after exploring their personal and business connections, widened their focus to investigating actors such as John Stamos, as well.
You know, as an agnostic, I have an understanding of some of the things that make certain religions so appealing. A sense of moral values, a sense of oneness with the Creator, unity with other human beings all devoted to some sort of higher spiritual presence, connection to ancient tradition, community, doing good. All the major religions have these aspects, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, even kooky Mormonism. I mean, I have problems with all these religions, too, really with all religion, but I'd be a dick not to acknowledge that religion does some good things, provides for abstract human needs, as well.
Scientology, in stark contrast, is nothing but a bunch of selfish, immoral, unethical, and deeply narcissistic trash. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely nothing good about this science fiction spawned "religion." Does Scientology tell its believers to be kind to the poor and suffering? No, it tells them to go get what's coming to them, what they deserve, just because they're Scientologists. And if somebody stands in their way, then fuck 'em. In this respect, Scientology is more like Satanism than any real religion.
To be honest, I had been kind of wondering why Parker and Stone received no retaliation for their "Trapped in the Closet" episode--Scientology is well known for its vengeance-seeking behavior. This report simply confirms my understanding of these asshole Hubbard acolytes.
Also, John Stamos? WTF?!?
Posted by Ron at 1:01 AM
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Stossel's Attacks On Public Education Feature Misleading, Out-Of-Context Claims
From Media Matters for America courtesy of Eschaton:
During a Fox News appearance promoting an episode of his Fox Business show, John Stossel used misleading and out-of-context statistics to tout charter schools as a preferable alternative to traditional public schools.
Stossel: "In 1970 They Spent $50,000 On K-12 Education ... Now It's Triple That. But Test Scores ... Totally Flat."
From Fox News' Your World:
NEIL CAVUTO (host): That's a preview of what is to come on Stossel tomorrow night on FBN. And John hopes one Joe Biden is watching. Why? What was the vice president saying on this?
STOSSEL: He went to Pennsylvania to say if you just pass this jobs bill, we'll hire 300,000 new teachers and that will be wonderful for the kids. But if you look at the data, they have spent so much more -- this graphic shows it well. In 1970, they spent $50,000 on K-12 education, adjusted for inflation; now it's triple that. But test scores, the lines on the bottom, totally flat.
John Stossel's been on the air at least since I was in high school.
Indeed, I used to like his reports on ABC's show 20/20. He was always fun, debunking conventional wisdom on this or that topic, a sort of friend of the consumer, cheerfully and amusingly setting up his targets and then taking them down. Then at some point in the mid 90s I had to reevaluate him. He went after organic food, pushing the idea that, contrary to what everybody else seems to think, industrially produced food of all varieties is far more healthy than its organic counterpart. He used one guy, some scientist I'd never heard of, to verify all his claims.
This didn't really pass the smell test for me, so I started paying more attention to his stuff: in the long run, it became clear that, instead of being the consumer's champion, far from it, he is the exact opposite, the capitalist's best friend, an apologist extraordinaire for Big Business, a kind of modern day version of old 1950s pro-nuke propaganda.
In short, Stossel's just your standard libertarian piece of shit, albeit with a very friendly and loquacious facade, pushing his nonsensical views as news. It's just as well that he finally left ABC and moved over to Fox where his bullshit is much more obvious as bullshit, simply because Fox is bullshit, and most people know it.
Anyway, click through and read the Media Matters piece; it's got some very precise fact-checking, which virtually always makes Stossel's absurd claims collapse. But I just wanted to make a couple of points MM doesn't make.
First, charter schools can in no way be viewed as some sort of alternative to public schools. That's because charter schools aren't an approach to education. Rather, charter schools, in their totality, are an experiment, or if you prefer, a whole bunch of educational experiments. The idea is to free individual campuses of standard education rules and regulations, just to see what they come up with--if a charter school here or there finds something promising, maybe it can be adapted for use in the public schools. Consequently, there is no one single charter school method; there are as many charter approaches as there are charter schools. To push it as some sort of "alternative" to public education is to reveal that you have no fucking clue as to what you're talking about, which is no surprise with Stossel, who often has no idea what he's talking about.
Second, and perhaps we can be a bit more forgiving of Stossel on this because the entire public discourse on education is dominated by the concept, standardized test scores simply cannot be used as the sole measurement by which we gauge student learning. There are so many variables in a student's life that have absolutely nothing to do with what happens in the classroom, but have everything to do with student performance, that it is essentially impossible to tell how well a school is doing based on test scores alone. Indeed, one SAT official years ago remarked that we might as well erase the scores and replace them with parental incomes because we'd end up with just about the same result.
So, like I said, perhaps we can forgive Stossel just a bit on this one because the politicians and pundits are all about test scores these days when it comes to education. On the other hand, Stossel presents himself as a reporter, and if he'd actually done his job, he wouldn't be furthering this kind of right-wing libertarian claptrap. So forget the forgiveness. Fuck him.
He's just a shit-for-brains propagandist for the One Percent.
Posted by Ron at 12:28 AM
Monday, October 24, 2011
FROM THE REAL ART SPORTS DESK
LSU CONTINUES SCORCHED EARTH CAMPAIGN
From the AP via ESPN:
Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee share duties to help No. 1 LSU whip Auburn
It didn't matter who was launching long passes to Rueben Randle and it certainly didn't matter that LSU was missing three key players.
Randle caught scoring passes of 42 yards from Jordan Jefferson and 46 yards from Jarrett Lee, and No. 1 LSU once again overcame off-the-field distractions in style with a 45-10 victory over Auburn (No. 20 BCS, No. 19 AP) on Saturday.
"It just seems like no matter who goes down or who's out, we have guys who are ready to step in ... and not just to fill a spot but to go in and dominate," said LSU center T-Bob Hebert.
LSU was without star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, leading rusher Spencer Ware and defensive back Tharold Simon -- all suspended one game for violating the team's drug policy. They watched the game on TV, teammates said, after being told to stay away from Tiger Stadium.
Yet LSU continued to make team history with its eighth double-digit win in as many games this season, a streak that started with a season-opening triumph over Oregon without then-suspended Jefferson and receiver Russell Shepard.
And now all eyes in the college football world are looking toward Tuscaloosa for LSU's big showdown with SEC division rival #2 Alabama. To be honest, I haven't gotten to see 'Bama play this season, so I don't know how good they actually are. I mean, they're undefeated and all that, running up lots of points on their opponents week after week, but I don't think they can beat LSU. That's because I don't think anybody can beat LSU. The 2011 Tigers may very well be the best college football team I've ever seen. For god's sake, they had three bigtime playmakers suspended for the Auburn game and they still totally kicked ass, doing virtually whatever they wanted. The level of talent in Baton Rouge this year is simply astonishing, and it all seems to be clicking on the field.
I've said this multiple times before: if you can go undefeated through the SEC, the national championship is just a formality. Is Oklahoma State, or Boise State, or even Kansas State going to beat them? No fucking way. Alabama's probably the only team that can even come close, which makes this upcoming game something of a de facto national championship. I can't wait.
Football Notes: Texas Tech took down the hated OU Sooners in dramatic fashion. The Houston Texans took possession of first place in the AFC South by kicking the former Oilers' ass. The Saints set all kinds of records in the Superdome last night smearing the Colts around the stadium like so much Crisco. Good weekend!
Ron Brooks #13 of the LSU Tigers intercepts a pass intended for DeAngelo Benton
#3 of the Auburn Tigers during the game at Tiger Stadium on October 22, 2011 in
Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Posted by Ron at 8:59 PM
NO POST TONIGHT...
...because I've spent my blogging hours helping an actor pal prep for a big audition tomorrow. And now the sun's coming up soon. Actually, it is pretty big, a lead role in some movie starring the Rock. Anyway, back late Monday night so I can gush over LSU's shellacking of Auburn, or maybe even the Saints' making the Colts look like a middle school B team, or maybe even the Texans pounding the fuck out of the former Oilers, or maybe even Tech beating OU. Definitely I'll write about LSU. But it was a good weekend for football.
Posted by Ron at 5:07 AM
Sunday, October 23, 2011
PEOPLE RUN CORPORATIONS, SO CORPORATIONS REALLY ARE PEOPLE?
Been hearing that off and on for a while, with the most recent iteration being Mitt Romney's statement that "corporations are people, my friend."
Here, check it out:
The whole debate over corporate personhood, of course, has to do, overall, with how corporations use rights and legal privileges that were written into law with the intention that they would be used by individual human beings, who have consciences, a sense of loyalty to the nation and other human beings, and a clear sense of right and wrong. And who don't have billions of dollars in their bank accounts. I mean, there are, of course, some exceptions: not everybody has a clear sense of right and wrong, and some people do, indeed, have billions of dollars in their bank accounts, but these are exceptions, few and far in between. Generally, the problem is that the organizations known as corporations just have a totally different set of values than actual citizens do.
Freedom of speech, for instance, becomes automatically problematic. Corporations, as a rule, and I mean that literally because corporations are required by law to maximize shareholders' profits, do not have the nation's best interests at heart; rather, they have their own best interests at heart, whether that's good for the country or not. But because they have amounts of money rivaling that of various nation-states, they can create massive propaganda campaigns to shape public perception on a scale no individual can even dream of approaching, can hire armies of lobbyists to cajole, harass, and persuade legislators, can offer unlimited amounts of campaign donations to make those same legislators beholden to them. It's all free speech, of course, which corporations enjoy because of their paper-status as de facto US citizens, but such "speech" so skews the so-called "marketplace of ideas" in the direction of corporate interests that the voices of actual citizens are rendered, by and large, meaningless.
However, if corporations really are people, simply by virtue of the fact that people fill the ranks of corporate organizations, the entire criticism above becomes philosophically suspect. I mean, from this point of view, corporations are simply a manifestation of the citizens who own and operate them.
Obviously, I think that's bullshit.
The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of notable experiments in social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. Milgram first described his research in 1963 in an article published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, and later discussed his findings in greater depth in his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.
The experiments began in July 1961. Milgram devised his psychological study to answer the question: "Was it that Eichmann and his accomplices in the Holocaust had mutual intent, in at least with regard to the goals of the Holocaust?" In other words, "Was there a mutual sense of morality among those involved?" Milgram's testing suggested that it could have been that the millions of accomplices were merely following orders, despite violating their deepest moral beliefs. The experiments have been repeated many times, with consistent results within societies, but different percentages across the globe. The experiments were also controversial, and considered by some scientists to be unethical or psychologically abusive, motivating more thorough review boards for the use of human subjects.
"Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority."
And again from Wikipedia:
Stanford prison experiment
The Stanford prison experiment was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted 14-20 August 1971 by a team of researchers led by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. It was funded by a grant from the US Office of Naval Research and was of interest to both the US Navy and Marine Corps in order to determine the causes of conflict between military guards and prisoners.
Twelve students were selected out of 75 to play the prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Another twelve of the same 75 were selected to play the Guards. Roles were assigned randomly to the 24 men. The participants adapted to their roles well beyond what even Zimbardo himself expected, leading the "officers" to display authoritarian measures and ultimately to subject some of the prisoners to torture. In turn, many of the prisoners developed passive attitudes and accepted physical abuse, and, at the request of the guards, readily inflicted punishment on other prisoners who attempted to stop it. The experiment even affected Zimbardo himself, who, in his capacity as "Prison Superintendent", lost sight of his role as psychologist and permitted the abuse to continue as though it were a real prison. Five of the prisoners were upset enough by the process to quit the experiment early, and the entire experiment was abruptly stopped after only six days. The experimental process and the results remain controversial. The entire experiment was filmed, with excerpts made publicly available.
So, as longtime Real Art readers know, I have severe issues with authority, and could go on about it for days. No need to do that now because it's a very simple point I want to make: human beings behave very differently in different social contexts, especially when they are subject to authority. That is, you don't act or think the same way at work as you do at home, or on the street, or at a football game. You don't have the same priorities. You don't operate with the same set of values. Some of the more sinister manifestations of this fact are lynch mobs and gang rapes. More pedestrian manifestations include signing an eviction notice or turning the switch that cuts off a delinquent family's electricity when it's below freezing outside.
Ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill got into a whole heap of controversy after describing some of the bankers who worked in the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns" deserving of the 9/11 attack that destroyed the building in which they worked. He was definitely insensitive, but he was absolutely right. Adolf Eichmann personally killed no one, but he was the talented bureaucrat who made the Holocaust possible in terms of organizing and logistics. That is, his crime against humanity was committed with paper and pen. A decade and a half after WWII, Israeli agents captured him where he was hiding in Argentina, tried him for his role in killing six million Jews, and executed him.
By this same standard, corporate bureaucrats in the health insurance industry should also face the gallows. Corporate bankers whose actions push subsistence farmers off their lands in India, farmers who then kill themselves in grief and desperation, should also be put to death.
Of course, I'm not really pushing that standard. I don't really think corporations are actually people. I think the people working within corporations are guilty of not much more than being human beings who want to put bread on the table, or, at least, the lower level guys who aren't running the world. But if corporations really are people, if we really do believe that, then we have a terrible mess on our hands in terms of criminal justice. Millions of people are guilty of heinous crimes. If that's the standard. And they need to be brought to justice.
Fortunately, corporations aren't people. They're organizations. And it's time to start treating them as such. Really, it's much simpler to pass some laws reigning them in than to put millions on trial.
Posted by Ron at 2:26 AM
Friday, October 21, 2011
ECONOMICS YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW
From NPR's All Things Considered, a look back on that brief window in 2000 when erasing the US debt appeared to be imminently on the horizon:
What If We Paid Off The Debt? The Secret Government Report
If the U.S. paid off its debt there would be no more U.S. Treasury bonds in the world.
"It was a huge issue.. for not just the U.S. economy, but the global economy," says Diane Lim Rogers, an economist in the Clinton administration.
The U.S. borrows money by selling bonds. So the end of debt would mean the end of Treasury bonds.
But the U.S. has been issuing bonds for so long, and the bonds are seen as so safe, that much of the world has come to depend on them. The U.S. Treasury bond is a pillar of the global economy.
Banks buy hundreds of billions of dollars' worth, because they're a safe place to park money.
Mortgage rates are tied to the interest rate on U.S. treasury bonds.
The Federal Reserve — our central bank — buys and sells Treasury bonds all the time, in an effort to keep the economy on track.
In the end, Seligman concluded it was a good idea to pay down the debt — but not to pay it off entirely.
"There's such a thing as too much debt," he says. "But also such a thing, perhaps, as too little."
And just like that, out the window go a whole lot of "common sense" attitudes about money and the federal government, chiefly, the widespread comparison between your family's household budget and the government budget. That is, comparing federal spending and debt management to what an individual family does with its money just doesn't work. Your family's financial fate primarily affects you and your family--you go bankrupt, and it really doesn't affect anybody else; win the lottery, and you, and only you, get rich. Not so with the federal government. Indeed, if you think of a household as just a few people, then the federal government is something of a force of nature, a god on high Olympus, making the rain come or the ground quake. It's just so enormously big, dealing with money on a scale that challenges the imagination, and so profoundly intertwined not only with our economy but with the entire world's economy, that to even contemplate its removal from the economic picture is to go to places even Karl Marx feared to tread.
It is, indeed, counter-intuitive to think that running massive deficits can sometimes be a very good idea, or that we always need to be in debt in order for the economy to actually function. I mean, our own personal experience tells us how fucking stupid such a financial situation is. But that's the point: we're not the federal government; we're individuals, and individuals are not enormously massive processors of money. So understanding federal spending in terms of our own personal experience is what's really fucking stupid.
Economics is pretty fascinating, no?
Posted by Ron at 12:54 AM
Thursday, October 20, 2011
From Reuters via the Huffington Post news wire:
U.S. 'Misery Index' Rises To Highest Level In Almost Three Decades
An unofficial gauge of human misery in the United States rose last month to a 28-year high as Americans struggled with rising inflation and high unemployment.
The misery index -- which is simply the sum of the country's inflation and unemployment rates -- rose to 13.0, pushed up by higher price data the government reported on Wednesday.
The data underscores the extent that Americans continue to suffer even two years after a deep recession ended, with a weak economic recovery imperiling President Barack Obama's hopes of winning reelection next year.
And from the Stylelist courtesy of the Huffington Post:
The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book's Most Extravagant Gifts
The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book is the mecca for over-the-top, luxurious gifts, and this year's issue has just arrived. Among the latest from designers like Ferragamo and Fendi, you'll also find some items in the catalogue that may seem more fitting for a king or queen than an average department store shopper. Fancy yourself a custom speed boat, Ferrari or dream vacation? How about a fountain reminiscent of the one in front of The Bellagio in Las Vegas? All of these fantasy items, as Neimans has dubbed them, are available to order through the Christmas Book. The prices are naturally super steep, but even if you're not in the market for a tricked out tent for your backyard, it's fun to look through the alluring photos and dare to dream.
Click here for pics of how the other half, or one percent, if you prefer, live.
President Carter's people came up with the "Misery Index" back in the 70s, a time of spiraling inflation mixed with recession known as stagflation. Things were, indeed, miserable back then, but the index back in the day was pushed up more from inflation than from unemployment. Today, it's the reverse. Inflation is currently not very high by historical standards, and, as the article observes, is only at around four percent right now because of spiking fuel prices, and economists fully expect prices to drop in the coming months. But it's a good point to make: people are hurting out there.
Even me. When I started waiting tables four years ago at the restaurant where I work, the average tip was around twenty percent of the tab's total. In recent months, it's dropped to around fifteen percent. I mean, people still think they can afford sixteen dollar entrees, but are too nervous to hand over a couple more bucks to the guy who makes their dining experience happen. So my bottom line is affected, pretty heavily, and it's pretty clear that the bourgeois types on whom I wait are worried about their financial fates, too.
But not the rich. No, they're doing really well. So well, in fact, that the luxury market is positively booming, even while all other consumer markets are tanking. Irony? Sure, but somehow the longstanding conservative meme that what we all need to do is work harder, and maybe go to college, and soon enough we'll be enjoying the American dream doesn't seem too terribly relevant at the moment.
Something's really fucked up here: Chris Hedges keeps calling it "neo-feudalism," and I think that's just about as good a term as any. The aristocracy laughs and plays while everybody else toils in order to support their fabulous leisure. Eat the rich, I say.
Posted by Ron at 12:36 AM
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Occupy Wall Street is a Movement Too Big to Fail
From AlterNet, Chris Hedges explains why OWS is so extraordinarily important:
Liberal institutions, including the church, the press, the university, the Democratic Party, the arts and labor unions, set the parameters for limited self-criticism in a functioning democracy as well as small, incremental reforms. The liberal class is permitted to decry the worst excesses of power and champion basic human rights while at the same time endowing systems of power with a morality and virtue it does not possess. Liberals posit themselves as the conscience of the nation. They permit us, through their appeal to public virtues and the public good, to see ourselves and our state as fundamentally good.
But the liberal class, by having refused to question the utopian promises of unfettered capitalism and globalization and by condemning those who did, severed itself from the roots of creative and bold thought, the only forces that could have prevented the liberal class from merging completely with the power elite. The liberal class, which at once was betrayed and betrayed itself, has no role left to play in the battle between us and corporate dominance. All hope lies now with those in the street.
Liberals lack the vision and fortitude to challenge dominant free market ideologies. They have no ideological alternatives even as the Democratic Party openly betrays every principle the liberal class claims to espouse, from universal health care to an end to our permanent war economy to a demand for quality and affordable public education to a return of civil liberties to a demand for jobs and welfare of the working class. The corporate state forced the liberal class to join in the nation’s death march that began with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Liberals such as Bill Clinton, for corporate money, accelerated the dismantling of our manufacturing base, the gutting of our regulatory agencies, the destruction of our social service programs and the empowerment of speculators who have trashed our economy. The liberal class, stripped of power, could only retreat into its atrophied institutions, where it busied itself with the boutique activism of political correctness and embraced positions it had previously condemned.
I was watching Massachusetts Representative Barny Frank last night on the Maddow show. Frank is a liberal stalwart, a real Northeastern Democrat, so when he spoke on the effectiveness of the Occupy Wall Street movement, I was kind of halfway expecting some lip service, at least, to what the whole thing is about. Instead, with much pompous pontification, he gave a textbook example of Hedges' notion of the bankrupt and useless liberal class: OWS doesn't have any policy goals, he said, no attempts to get any legislation passed, just a lot of wasted effort.
In an instant he revealed how smart people can be really, really, really fucking stupid.
The reality is that, under the current political and cultural circumstances, there can be no policy, no legislation. I mean, really, we just sat through weeks and weeks of debt ceiling standoff over budget cuts, when there should be no budget cuts, when we need to increase federal spending tenfold, and this is supported now by a majority of economists: the political apparatus of the United States is severely dysfunctional; it can't do what it needs to do to improve our nation's dire situation. The Senate can't pass any bills because everything is filibustered by the Republicans. The House is now essentially ignoring the economy and instead debates abortion bills that are simply knockoffs of abortion bills it has already passed. Rome burns while Nero plays his fiddle.
For OWS to go to politicians with policy demands right now is a total waste of time. Worse, it's dealing with the devil: any negotiation with the Democrats on policy will certainly be subverted in the same way Obama's health care reform ended up as a massive giveaway to the for-profit health care industry. How can Frank not understand this? Answer: like most Democrats, he stands for nothing but reelection and perpetuation of the corporate state which has rewarded him with notoriety and massive campaign donations. At best, he's useless; at worst, he's part of the problem.
The only way to make the federal government, indeed, government in general, responsive to the needs of the people is literally to change the conventional wisdom about how the world works, and OWS is actually doing a very nice job of pushing the corporate news media, at least, in that direction. But until that condition is satisfied, until the culture of the United States is altered in such a way as to make real the concerns of average ordinary working Americans, bloviating politicians like Frank and his used up liberal ilk are simply in the way, and nothing more.
If you read any essay this week, read this one: Hedges has got the goods.
Posted by Ron at 1:54 AM
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The “very scary” Iranian Terror plot
From Glenn Greenwald's blog:
To begin with, this episode continues the FBI’s record-setting undefeated streak of heroically saving us from the plots they enable. From all appearances, this is, at best, yet another spectacular “plot” hatched by some hapless loser with delusions of grandeur but without any means to put it into action except with the able assistance of the FBI, which yet again provided it through its own (paid, criminal) sources posing as Terrorist enablers. The Terrorist Mastermind at the center of the plot is a failed used car salesman in Texas with a history of pedestrian money problems. Dive under your bed. “For the entire operation, the government’s confidential sources were monitored and guided by federal law enforcement agents,” explained U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, and “no explosives were actually ever placed anywhere and no one was actually ever in any danger.’”
But no matter. The U.S. Government and its mindless followers in the pundit and think-tank “expert” class have seized on this ludicrous plot with astonishing speed to all but turn it into a hysterical declaration of war against Evil, Hitlerian Iran. “The US attorney-general Eric Holder said Iran would be ‘held to account’ over what he described as a flagrant abuse of international law,” and “the US says military action remains on the table,” though “it is at present seeking instead to work through diplomatic and financial means to further isolate Iran.” Hillary Clinton thundered that this “crosses a line that Iran needs to be held to account for.” The CIA’s spokesman at The Washington Post, David Ignatius, quoted an anonymous White House official as saying the plot “appeared to have been authorized by senior levels of the Quds Force.”
The ironies here are so self-evident it’s hard to work up the energy to point them out. Outside of Pentagon reporters, Washington Post Editorial Page Editors, and Brookings “scholars,” is there a person on the planet anywhere who can listen with a straight face as drone-addicted U.S. Government officials righteously condemn the evil, illegal act of entering another country to commit an assassination? Does anyone, for instance, have any interest in finding out who is responsible for the spate of serial murders aimed at Iran’s nuclear scientists? Wouldn’t people professing to be so outraged by the idea of entering another country to engage in assassination be eager to get to the bottom of that?
Then there’s the War on Terror irony: our Hated Enemy here (Iran) is a country which had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attack. Meanwhile, our close ally, the victim on whose behalf we are so outraged (Saudi Arabia), is not only one of the most tyrannical and aggressive regimes on the planet, but produced 15 of the 19 hijackers and had extensive and still-unknown involvement in that attack. If the U.S. is so deeply offended by the involvement of a foreign government in an attack on U.S. soil, it would be looking first to its close friend Saudi Arabia, where “elements of the government” were likely involved in an actual plot rather than a joke of a plot.
When this broke on Friday, I was listening to NPR while I was getting ready for work, and it immediately failed the bullshit test. Greenwald's post goes on to observe that, short of the rantings of the loser they arrested, the feds have offered not a shred of evidence that Iran knew anything at all about this "plot," which was apparently more FBI than anything else.
What I want to know after all these years is what, if anything, is the Obama administration doing in the so-called War on Terror. I mean, I know we got bin Laden and all that, in Pakistan of all places, but the Iraq and Afghanistan wars never really counted: you don't fight terrorists with jets and tanks; you investigate and apprehend them like the criminals they are. And I know we just took out Awlaki, a US citizen who was denied his Constitutional right to due process, and who was also far less of a terrorist than he was a propagandist.
What the fuck are we doing? Really. We're spending hundreds of billions on this shit, and I'm not entirely certain of what the results are. The FBI has been arresting what seems an endless stream of these "lone wolf" types for years, and the links to al Qaeda, or whatever, never really pan out. Then there was the lone wolf they didn't get, that Fort Hood shooter, and even though he was reading radical jihadist literature, he wasn't part of the international terrorist conspiracy they've been indoctrinating us to fear since 9/11.
Maybe I'm just naive, but this kind of bullshit is more worthy of the Bush people than the Obama people. Sure, they've carried over support for the Draconian Patriot Act, support for winning the unwinnable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, probably support for the torture of POWs, support for military tribunals instead of actual courts, and on and on. But creating entrapment schemes so complex that these plots might as well have originated with the FBI? Would they do that, too? Yeah, I'm naive. The only thing that's changed is the sophistication. We don't have those goofy color-coded terror alerts anymore, nor the advisory statements telling frightened Americans to buy duct tape and plastic wrap to fend off sarin gas and whatnot, but we're still parading around buffoonish terrorist "suspects" for the news media as though they were the real thing.
And the Saudi connection continues to languish in obscurity.
In the end, like I and countless others have been asserting for years, the only real way to deal with radical Islamic terrorism is to address the very real political, social, and economic concerns that attract Muslims to the movement. This means dealing fairly with both sides on the Palestinian issue, not just enabling radical Israelis to do whatever they want. It means getting out of the business of supporting brutal, corrupt, and abusive tyrants in the Middle East because of the oil they control. It means getting our troops the fuck out of there and bringing them home where they belong. It also, of course, means hard-nosed police work, which includes tracking down leads like this fucktard they got Friday, and to keep on working once it becomes clear that they've been going down the wrong path.
But taking loser idiots on celebrated perp walks for the cameras is nothing but patronizing propaganda. I don't know about you, but I'm well past the point of being sick of this shit.
Posted by Ron at 12:10 AM
Monday, October 17, 2011
FROM THE REAL ART SPORTS DESK
TEXAS CONTINUES SKID; LSU CONTINUES TO DOMINATE
From the AP via ESPN:
Oklahoma State goes on the road to hand Texas second straight loss
Twice Oklahoma State's Jeremy Smith took a handoff, hit the line of scrimmage and braced himself to get smacked.
Instead, there was nothing but yards of green field, the burnt orange end zone and the groans of nearly 100,000 Texas fans in front of him.
Smith ran for 140 yards on seven carries, scoring on runs of 30 and 74 yards straight up the middle of the defense, and No. 6 Oklahoma State rode several big plays to a 38-26 over the No. 22 Longhorns win on Saturday.
And again from the AP via ESPN:
LSU continues to roll through season by trouncing Tennessee
Even when top-ranked LSU isn't playing its best, the Tigers are still finding ways to dominate games.
Jarrett Lee and LSU got off to a slower start than usual against Tennessee but wore the Volunteers down in a 38-7 victory on Saturday. It was a record sixth straight victory over a Southeastern Conference East Division opponent for the Tigers, and their seventh consecutive win by a double-digit margin.
"I felt like we did what we needed to do," LSU coach Les Miles said. "It wasn't our best game, but we did what we had to do to ensure victory. Our defense gave us turnovers and the opportunities to take the opponent out. Our offense late in the game gave us the football and ate up the time of possession and scored."
As for Texas/OSU, at least it wasn't a blowout. Texas was in position to take the lead in the third, and a few key mistakes is all that stood between the Longhorns and victory. I mean, the Cowboys are the number six team in the land. Rebuilding year, rebuilding year, rebuilding year. I'm sure we'll beat the Jayhawks.
And about the worst thing I can say about LSU's performance Saturday is that they didn't turn on the afterburners until the second half. Pure talent muscled them to victory, and they have that in abundant supply. But they're going to need to execute a fabulous game plan when they go to Alabama in a couple of weeks. Talent alone won't do the job. They're going to have to be better than good. Actually, I'm pretty sure they've got it in them.
Oklahoma State safety Daytawion Lowe sacks Texas quarterback David Ash (14)
causing a fumble in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against
Texas, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. Oklahoma State won 38-26.
(AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Spencer Ware #11 of the LSU Tigers rushes over Brian Randolph #37 of the Tennessee
Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Knoxville, Tennessee.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Posted by Ron at 1:37 AM
Sunday, October 16, 2011
FORMER SEC DEF ON STATE OF THE UNION
Robert Gates on the GOP's Breakdown and
Failure at "The Basic Functions of Government"
Brian Beutler had a good item on this the other day, noting the increasing frequency with which prominent voices, not prone to hyperbole or alarmism, are raising awkward questions.
The GOP’s hyper-partisan turn after Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 meant 112th Congress was destined to test the limits of dysfunctional governance. But it also happened to coincide with a moment in history when the country needed the government to do better than the bare minimum. Instead, it’s done less. And that’s shaken people who’ve spent their careers steering the ship of state.James Fallows noted the same remarks, emphasizing Gates’ demeanor. “I specifically recognize how carefully he has always chosen his public words,” Fallows wrote. “For such a person to say plainly that the American government has lost its basic ability to function, and that he is more concerned than he has ever been about this issue is … well, it’s worth more notice than it’s received so far.”
“I do believe that we are now in uncharted waters when it comes to the dysfunction in our political system — and it is no longer a joking matter,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told an audience two weeks ago at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, where he received the Liberty Medal for national service. “It appears that as a result of several long-building, polarizing trends in American politics and culture, we have lost the ability to execute even the basic functions of government much less solve the most difficult and divisive problems facing the country. Thus, I am more concerned than I have ever been about the state of American governance.”
From Star Trek: "Bones, did you ever hear of a doomsday machine?...It's a weapon built primarily as a bluff. It's never meant to be used. So strong, it could destroy both sides in a war."
Of course, I essentially agree with Gates' analysis of the situation. Except for the part about "long-building, polarizing trends in American politics and culture." Long-building, yes. But not trends, and not polarizing. The political situation America now suffers comes from deliberate choices on the part of the Republican Party and conservatives in general made decades ago; trends are things that just kind of happen, spontaneously, especially when it comes to culture. I mean, trends have causes, but they're not generally conscious choices. Furthermore, the nature of our problems is not that we have become polarized, which connotes two opposing sides at the extremes. Surely, the GOP presidential candidate field represents one polar extreme. So what's the other polar extreme? I'm not sure, but I'm certain that you won't find it in Washington. Unless you want to call President Obama an extreme leftist, which would be personally insulting to me, an actual leftist.
But I think Gates concedes this to some extent when he references the Republican "hyper-partisan turn" after Obama's election--I imagine he's just not fully aware of how long this has been in the making; to him, this is a recent turn of events, not something that's been brewing for three decades.
Really, it goes back even further, to anti-communist hysteria predating the McCarthy era. Back in the 1930s, anti-communist businessmen started connecting with anti-communist fundamentalist clergy around the country: how could they turn back the New Deal, which would surely lead to Soviet style socialism, complete with state ownership of industry and godless atheism? This was the dark and distant origin of today's conservative monstrosity. This was the beginning of the pro-business, fundamentalist Christian alliance that didn't find its full flower until Reagan, an early convert to the movement, took office in early 1981. This was the beginning of the notion of conservative think tanks. This was when a few conservative outsiders made the key decision to literally change American culture to something that was far more favorable to their then unpopular ideas.
We just really didn't start to take notice until the Reagan era. But it really does go that far back. It happened very quickly after the end of the Gilded Age. That's when the culture war really started. That's when the first recruits hit the battlefield.
It's been a war for them for seventy years. Lots of battles. Beating Carter was just one. Impeaching Clinton was another. They've suffered some losses, too. Nixon's resignation was one such loss. Roe versus Wade was another, but all it did was make the faithful more determined to win. So they just kept fighting. And finally, at some point in the 90s, they started winning a whole lot more than they were losing. Their multi-decade propaganda effort had pulled the entire nation's political apparatus to the right. The Democrats, the press, seemingly everybody with any institutional power at all was by then much more conservative than they would have been back in the 60s.
With this new found institutional power, the conservatives started dismantling the nation, selling it off to the highest bidder, essentially allowing vast concentrations of wealth to literally take control. And that brings us right up to the current era.
Today's Democrats are, in fact, yesterday's Republicans. They run the nation for the wealthy, like the good conservatives they are, but they still have some residual sanity from the old days: they want, at least, for the country to run. Today's Republicans, on the other hand, having been abandoned by everyone who is not a zealot, now solely consist of the seasoned shock troops from the culture and class wars of days gone by. Only the most crazed berserker warriors are allowed in the party. Only those who are willing to slit the throats and bathe in the blood of any and all who oppose their political and cultural views can be a party leader today. They will fight to the death in a savage frenzy. Forever.
And that's what the problem is in terms of the government dysfunction Gates speaks about. It's not conservatives versus liberals--indeed, the liberals have been removed utterly from Washington politics. Rather, it's conservatives versus their own doomsday machine, constructed so long ago that nobody remembers it. Today's right-wing zealots have been programmed to see the enemy everywhere. To fight fiercely. No quarter, no mercy. Death, death, death. Bring the whole shit house down because it will destroy the liberals.
It is indeed notable that so many rational conservatives are starting to see just how bad things have become. But the writing's been on the wall since before I was born.
Posted by Ron at 1:51 AM
Friday, October 14, 2011
GOP ECONOMICS: EYE OF NEWT, AND TOE OF FROG
From the New York Times, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman on how the Republican understanding of economics has gone much further into voodoo territory than was ever thought possible:
In the real world, recent events were a devastating refutation of the free-market orthodoxy that has ruled American politics these past three decades. Above all, the long crusade against financial regulation, the successful effort to unravel the prudential rules established after the Great Depression on the grounds that they were unnecessary, ended up demonstrating — at immense cost to the nation — that those rules were necessary, after all.
But down the rabbit hole, none of that happened. We didn’t find ourselves in a crisis because of runaway private lenders like Countrywide Financial. We didn’t find ourselves in a crisis because Wall Street pretended that slicing, dicing and rearranging bad loans could somehow create AAA assets — and private rating agencies played along. We didn’t find ourselves in a crisis because “shadow banks” like Lehman Brothers exploited gaps in financial regulation to create bank-type threats to the financial system without being subject to bank-type limits on risk-taking.
No, in the universe of the Republican Party we found ourselves in a crisis because Representative Barney Frank forced helpless bankers to lend money to the undeserving poor.
The Great Recession should have been a huge wake-up call. Nothing like this was supposed to be possible in the modern world. Everyone, and I mean everyone, should be engaged in serious soul-searching, asking how much of what he or she thought was true actually isn’t.
But the G.O.P. has responded to the crisis not by rethinking its dogma but by adopting an even cruder version of that dogma, becoming a caricature of itself.
During the financial implosion of 2007, I really did have a sense that it was all over for neoliberalism. I mean, I wasn't sure how it was all going to work out, but it seemed totally obvious that one of the most foundational assumptions of this economic point of view, that markets are self-regulating, was exposed as bullshit for all to see. I had no idea what conservatives were going to be considering as a replacement economic philosophy, but I was becoming more certain every day that there was no way they could continue with the views they'd had for over three decades.
I really should have known better.
Conservatives simply doubled down on their bullshit economics. It took me awhile to understand what was happening. In my world, the real world, concrete events had proven once and for all that standard Republican tropes about the economy could no longer be trusted. In the conservative world, concrete events didn't matter. Just a little fiction here, a little fiction there, and bang! There was, indeed, a financial collapse, but...lo, and behold...it was all the liberals' fault. By the time I understood this dynamic, the Tea Party was driving the Republicans toward yet another electoral victory in 2010.
Like I said, I should have known better: these are the same people who, in spite of masses of evidence to the contrary, took us to war in Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. The same people who insist that climate change isn't real, or that if it is real, isn't man made. The same people who think the world is only five thousand years old. The same people who think President Clinton murdered Vince Foster and ran cocaine through Arkansas for Colombian drug cartels. The same people who endlessly preach about government spending being out of control, but when in control of Congress took a surplus and turned it into a trillion dollar deficit. And then blamed the Democrats for it. The same people who think that withholding birth control information in lieu of religious "abstinence" will lower unwanted pregnancy and STD rates. And on and on and on.
It is no surprise at all, in hindsight, anyway, that conservatives totally ignored definitive proof of neoliberalism's fictitious nature. They've been practicing this for years now. They've become experts at believing whatever feels right and then insisting that everybody else believes, too. No surprise. They're good at this.
I just never imagined they would be able to pull it off on such a grand scale.
Posted by Ron at 12:24 AM
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Why Occupy Wall Street isn't about a list of demands
From CNN Money courtesy of Occupy Wall Street's facebook page:
It's easy to trivialize Occupy Wall Street -- even as it inspires similar protests around the country -- by saying the movement lacks an end game. The group is trying to crowdsource its list of goals, which all but guarantees that no major ones will be set.
A demand list of sorts has appeared on the official Occupy Wall Street page, serving as an ever-changing document on which people can comment with their own suggestions. It has also served as fodder for critics like Fox News, which posted a version of the list and suggested that readers "try not to laugh."
But no list has been endorsed by the "general assembly" at Occupy Wall Street, says press team member Mark Bray, who added that "making a list of three or four demands would have ended the conversation before it started."
"The guys in Washington are supposed to be helping me, but they don't get it with their mansions and their millions," says an unemployed nurse at the protest on Wednesday, who declined to give her name. "They don't understand my situation and they don't want to hear me. Well, now they'll have to hear all of us."
A couple of months back my old pal Matt registered frustration in Real Art comments (for this post) on how I write about economics. That was a bit puzzling to me because my sense is that I'm generally pretty clear with my writing, an ability that has served me well over my many years as a professional student. I didn't really press Matt on the issue, but I figured that it probably has to do with our respective assumptions about how the economy functions. Matt's a businessman, and, I think, probably shares many of the assumptions that American business has about economics, chiefly that understanding the economy is best done from a business point of view. Conversely, I look at economics from the point of view of labor, which is also the consumer point of view, or, if you prefer, the rank-and-file citizen's point of view. This comes, no doubt, from the masses of left-wing writings I've devoured over the last decade or so.
Needless to say, the two points of view are very much at odds with one another, in as much as what the priorities of economics, as a field of study, and a topic of national debate, ought to be. I mean, there's a great deal of overlap, too, in that if the economic needs of the people are to be met, business must function efficiently and profitably. But how profitable should business be relative to the concerns of the people? And when we talk about efficiency, we must ask, efficient for whom?
For many years now, indeed, since the Reagan era, the greatest emphasis in the public discussion about economics, that is, the discussion in Washington and in the mass media, has been on the concerns of business, and solely business: the underlying and often unstated assumption here has been that if business is thriving, so, too are the nation's citizens. Recent history, however, has proven this assumption to be utterly unfounded. That is, corporate America is seeing record profits, year after year, yet unemployment is at levels not seen since the Great Depression. The maxim "What's good for Wall Street is good for Main Street" is now unmasked as a false statement.
But the national conversation goes right on as if this was not the case. Washington and the media continue to view economics solely from the standpoint of business, seemingly not realizing that there is now a profound disconnect between those concerns and the concerns of the nation's people. In short, the establishment is stuck in a conversation, a way of understanding how the world works, that bears little resemblance to reality.
And that's why Occupy Wall Street's lack of specific demands is more of a strength than a weakness. That there has suddenly arisen such a mass movement, in and of itself, seriously challenges Washington's unchanging conversation about economics. That is, strength of numbers alone, coupled with the fact that this is a movement attacking the economic institutions of the nation, rather than its government specifically, is necessarily forcing the commentariat and our leaders to confront the faulty assumptions on which their economic diatribes are based.
That is, OWS is changing the conversation such that it is more reflective of what's really going on. Indeed, the article excerpted above isn't from a left-wing website: it's from Money magazine's online partnership site with CNN, which is just about as mainstream and establishment as you can get. Indeed, check out this article from Business Insider, a pro-business online source whose editor-in-chief was banned from Wall Street after a conviction for securities fraud.
The establishment is now talking about the issue of wealth disparity in ways not seen in my lifetime. And we have OWS to thank for that. In that sense, the movement is already successful.
Posted by Ron at 9:42 PM
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
GOT AN AUDITION IN THE MORNING...
...so I'm focusing on that instead of blogging. Of course, I'll be back tomorrow night with my usual dose of pontification, maybe with some dirty words, too.
Posted by Ron at 11:52 PM
Monday, October 10, 2011
The Wall Street Occupiers and the Democratic Party
From AlterNet, former Clinton administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich:
But if Occupy Wall Street coalesces into something like a real movement, the Democratic Party may have more difficulty digesting it than the GOP has had with the Tea Party.
After all, a big share of both parties’ campaign funds comes from the Street and corporate board rooms. The Street and corporate America also have hordes of public-relations flacks and armies of lobbyists to do their bidding – not to mention the unfathomably deep pockets of the Koch Brothers and Dick Armey’s and Karl Rove’s SuperPACs. Even if the Occupiers have access to some union money, it’s hardly a match.
Yet the real difficulty lies deeper.
Barack Obama is many things but he is as far from left-wing populism as any Democratic president in modern history. True, he once had the temerity to berate “fat cats” on Wall Street, but that remark was the exception – and subsequently caused him endless problems on the Street.
To the contrary, Obama has been extraordinarily solicitous of Wall Street and big business – making Timothy Geithner Treasury Secretary and de facto ambassador from the Street; seeing to it that Bush’s Fed appointee, Ben Bernanke, got another term; and appointing GE Chair Jeffrey Immelt to head his jobs council.
Most tellingly, it was President Obama’s unwillingness to place conditions on the bailout of Wall Street – not demanding, for example, that the banks reorganize the mortgages of distressed homeowners, and that they accept the resurrection of the Glass-Steagall Act, as conditions for getting hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars – that contributed to the new populist insurrection.
And this is precisely why there is such a thing as Occupy Wall Street. The formal structure and functioning of our democratic republic has failed. There is now no compelling voice in the Congress, on the Supreme Court, or in the White House to articulate the reality that Big Money has taken near total control--indeed, there is no voice because they're all working for the interests of the super-rich and corporations. So, when formal democracy has failed, the only solution is to force a democracy of the people, out in the street, messy, leaderless, persistent, loud.
Even though the movement is clearly gaining momentum, its amount of staying power remains to be seen. If Occupy Wall Street can survive over the long term, however, if it can keep demonstrators in the streets for many months to come, can resist being co-opted by the unions and big liberal institutions, there must necessarily be a showdown with the Democratic Party. Indeed, such a confrontation would be, ultimately, what the entire movement is about. Everybody knows the Republicans are the party of big business: the Democrats, on the other hand, have become the housewife whores of American politics, pretending to be caring and nurturing paragons of virtue in public, while sucking cocks of depraved rich men for money behind closed doors. If the movement can unmask for all to see the wanton sleazy trash that is the Democratic Party, I'd say they will have won something of a major victory.
Posted by Ron at 11:32 PM
FROM THE REAL ART SPORTS DESK
TEXAS FAILS TO ACHIEVE ELITE STATUS; LSU SHORES UP ITS OWN ELITE STATUS
From the AP via ESPN:
Landry Jones' three TD passes help No. 3 Oklahoma dominate No. 11 Texas
So many people starred in this resounding victory that it only made sense for plenty of people to take part in the celebration.
Landry Jones threw three touchdown passes, Dominique Whaley ran 64 yards for a touchdown and three defensive players found their way into the end zone, too, powering No. 3 Oklahoma to a 55-17 victory over No. 11 Texas on Saturday -- the kind of whipping that could help the Sooners return to the top of the poll.
And again from the AP via ESPN:
Spencer Ware, top-ranked LSU easily put away Florida
LSU's decisive advantage at quarterback was obvious from the Tigers' second offensive play, when Jarrett Lee unloaded a deep pass over Florida's defense and hit Rueben Randle in stride for a 46-yard score.
Yet even without that quick strike, the reeling Gators and freshman quarterback Jacoby Brissett might have struggled to keep up with the No. 1 Tigers.
Spencer Ware rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns, and LSU (6-0, 3-0 SEC) quickly opened up a double-digit lead that it never relinquished in a 41-11 victory over 17th-ranked Florida (4-2, 2-2) on Saturday.
I was in my acting class during both of these games. The Texas game I don't mind missing, for obvious reasons. I might have watched the LSU game if it had been on ABC or ESPN: my cable company has some sort of deal with ESPN that allows subscribers to watch games later streaming over the internet. But no, it was on CBS, so I only got the highlights. Maybe I'll watch Nebraska beating Ohio State tomorrow or something.
At any rate, I'm disappointed, but not surprised by the Longhorns loss to OU. I mean, it's a rebuilding year, but I was hoping it would be closer. Suffice it to say, good teams in rebuilding years suffer meltdowns against great teams from time to time. Texas will win a bunch more games this season and probably play in a good second tier bowl at the end of the year. Actually, I'm feeling pretty good about beating the Aggies, but we'll see.
LSU, of course, continues to utterly dominate. I do regret missing the game, if only because they're so fun to watch right now. I mean, even Jarrett Lee seems to be getting better, an old school drop back NFL style QB, surrounded by NFL caliber players who make play after play after play. Oh god, bring on 'Bama so we can kick their snotty asses all around their white trash state.
Oklahoma defensive back Tony Jefferson (1) runs over Texas wide
receiver Jaxon Shipley (8) after Jefferson's interception during the
first half of an NCAA college football game at the Cotton Bowl in
Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
LSU running back Spencer Ware (11) dives into the end zone for a touchdown against
Florida in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La.,
Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Posted by Ron at 12:49 AM