Tuesday, September 30, 2014

White House fence-jumper made it far deeper into building than previously known

From the Washington Post:

The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident.

More here.

We've spent trillions of dollars, invaded two nations, killed tens of thousands, become a people who torture prisoners, allowed electronic surveillance on citizens, endured anal probes at airports, rained hot death from the sky on multiple foreign nations. And a crazy guy with a knife makes it deep inside the White House just by running past security? That's it? That's the best we can do?

Screw you guys. I'm going home.


Monday, September 29, 2014

West Texas Sheriff says 'Muslim clothing', 'Quran books' found near border

From the Midland Reporter-Telegram via the Houston Chronicle:

Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter was back on national television Monday morning, making another warning to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria members who may be entering the U.S. from Mexico.

Painter, interviewed by Fox News' Elizabeth Hasselbeck, reiterated the warning he first said on CNN on Sept. 5, saying ISIS will be sent "to hell" if they show up. He also referenced again the report he received a few weeks ago that warned of ISIS activity in the Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, area.

More here.

OMG!!! ISIS is coming!!! Head for the hills!!!

Either that or Texas has its own Arpaio nut-sheriff. One of those two.  I mean, everybody knows that ISIS advertises their presence by leaving behind Muslim clothing and Koran books. It's a terror-effect.

But seriously, this is but one from what seems an endless list of examples of conservatives living in their own weird, but fake, reality.  ISIS is a regional military force geared toward taking territory.  To the best of my knowledge, they have not opened up an Al Qaeda style global terror network.  Sure, they're pretty terrifying, chopping off people's heads and such, but they're local, with "local" meaning "in the Middle East."

Right-wing nuts miss the early days after 9/11 so much that they're jumping at shadows.  Stupid fuckers.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fox Host Calls Eric Holder One Of The "Most Dangerous Men In America"

From Media Matters:

Andrea Tantaros: "He was one of the most divisive, polarizing, controversial, most dangerous men in America...He ran the DOJ much like the Black Panthers would."

Click here for the video.


Actually, this is so over-the-top, even for Fox, that it's essentially self-parody, even though the participants seemingly have no awareness of this--like I keep saying, conservatives neither understand nor do irony. That's no doubt why I laughed out loud multiple times watching this.


Saturday, September 27, 2014


Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.


Friday, September 26, 2014



Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Truly Shocking Video: Cop Shoots Black Man for No Apparent Reason

From AlterNet:

In an incident captured by the police car's Dash Cam, South Carolina state trooper Sean Groubert approaches Levar Jones as Jones gets out of his car at a gas station. Groubert asks to see Jones' license, and Jones turns around to retrieve it from his car. Groubert starts yelling, "Get out of the car, get out of the car," and opens fire, shooting at Jones four times, and striking him at least once, reportedly, in the hip.

More here.

There's a Michael Brown every other day, and a Trayvon Martin on the days in between. This is the truth: black life is cheaper than white life, a lot cheaper, and as long as we keep confusing the issue by treating all these shootings of African Americans as individual "isolated incidents" which may or may not have legitimacy, without looking at what is OBVIOUSLY a clear pattern of racist abuse coming down from the institutions which own and operate our society, black life will continue to be cheap. And the blood on America's hands will become ever more difficult to wash clean.

At least in this particular case, the shooter was charged with a crime. But, as we all know, that's something of a rarity.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A NYC Bartender's Powerful Open Letter To The Hedge Funder Who Allegedly Grabbed Her Ass

From the Gothamist:

A SoHo bartender is fed up with misogynistic bros treating her like a piece of meat, and she's written a powerful open letter to the hedge funder who she says grabbed her ass at work. Laura Ramadei, an actor who tends bar at Lucky Strike on Grand Street, says that when she asked customer Brian Lederman what he'd like, he immediately groped her. And after she made it clear she wasn't enamored by his charms, he left her with a shabby tip. Ramadei's outraged Facebook message to Lederman is going viral, but we'd like to see it printed out on leaflets to be dropped over most of Manhattan and Williamsburg.

Click here to read the letter.

Part of the privilege coming from the fact that I am a man in a patriarchal society is that I don't have to put up with this crap as a restaurant server. If I were a woman, it is highly probable that I would find such work intolerable.

But it's not all about rich assholes in restaurants and bars, of course. We see this kind of behavior in men throughout all socioeconomic groups, for all ages, in all places. Personally, I think we should teach good behavior in sex ed classes, which wouldn't be a difficult thing to do. On the other hand, weirdo Puritanical attitudes are all over sex ed, especially here in Texas, and Puritanism and misogyny tend to walk hand in hand. So I don't know. Seems a bit hopeless.

I think that things had been improving for years as far as sexual harassment goes, but now we're going backwards.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014


You never can tell what's going to happen when you post on facebook.  Case in point, I posted a link to a really funny Sean Hannity moment, where he goes on about how he was spanked as a child, how it was no big deal, and he even pulled off his belt and beat on his desk to illustrate.

But then a weird conversation ensued in comments between me and an old high school friend who is extraordinarily intelligent:

Ron Just beatin' his belt on the table. Brilliant.

Jeff Sharing articles and talking about him on social media only helps him.

Ron Jeff, you don't really think I'm helping Sean Hannity, now, do you?

Jeff You are. Every mention of his name or share of his article online helps his social media buzz. Doesn't matter if it's a negative comment.

Ron I don't really think anything I say about Hannity has anything to do with whether people watch his show. Seriously, I could go on about him all day long, all week long, and it would make no difference. People watch his show. His viewers have absolutely nothing to do with what I say on facebook. This is a weird assertion you're making, Jeff.

Jeff Every time you share a Sean Hannity link publicly, you help his metrics on trend-tracking companies like Klout, Facebook and Google. None one differentiate between positive and negative mentions.


Ron Right, right, I get that part. What I'm saying is that, in the grand scheme, anything I say about Hannity online, anything at all, will have absolutely no bearing on his overall reach in terms of his demagoguery. Also, there's not even an organized action on this, and my refraining from commenting on his antics would be like my not shopping at Walmart: I hurt myself and only myself.

For that matter, can you name a single instance, just one, in the history of mass media when a group of people who weren't a particular celebrity's audience managed to make that celebrity go away by ignoring him? There aren't any.

Personally, I think the best way to handle the likes of Hannity, Rush, O'Reilly, etc., is to ridicule them. So that's what I do. It's also fun.

Jeff "For that matter, can you name a single instance, just one, in the history of mass media when a group of people who weren't a particular celebrity's audience managed to make that celebrity go away by ignoring him?"

Yes I can. Sean Hannity. Look at that graph again. It seems a lot of people are ignoring him. Let him fade into obscurity.

Ron Jeff, you're speaking as though his television show is irrelevant. You're also speaking as though Sean Hannity is all about website hits, which he's not. He's a plain old fashioned television demagogue. And ignoring him online is just about the same as paying attention to him online. That is, so what? It makes virtually no difference.

I mean, can you show me some connection between his Google rating and his television ratings? Is he losing money, viewers, advertisers? It seems like the campaign against Rush's advertisers, in sharp contrast, actually has the potential to do something: Rush is increasingly finding it difficult to make money. I am EXTRAORDINARILY skeptical that what you're suggesting would have ANY EFFECT AT ALL on Hannity.



Monday, September 22, 2014


So, of course, through Miles' solo you're, like, yeah, this is great, legendary, totally brilliant, a transcendence of art and jazz as I understand them. But then Coltrane steps up and starts to do his thing, and you're, like, no, no, I was wrong, NOW it's a transcendence of art and jazz as I understand them. It's like the moment when Jerry Rice catches a ball thrown by Steve Young.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Alabama Governor Consoles Family Of Murdered 8-Year-Old Black Girl By Suggesting Their Dysfunction Killed Her

From Wonkette:

When reporters asked Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley to comment on the news that Hiawayi’s body had been found, these were the words of comfort and support he had for Hiawayi’s family:
“There are things that happen we just don’t understand. There are difficulties in families. We don’t know, maybe drug related. Maybe alcohol related. Maybe family problems. We just don’t know what the situation is.”
Bentley added he needs to do everything he can to make families more sound.

What a peach. A child goes missing, her family is frantic and organizing a search for her, and the governor’s first thought when her body is found is to shake his head and pontificate on the sad, sad state of the Black Family In America Today. And let’s keep in mind that absolutely no one in law enforcement has said anything to suggest that Haiwayi’s family had anything to do with her abduction and killing. Needless to say, people in Alabama are Not Happy.

More here.

Putting aside for the moment the numerous arguments and observations I and many others have made about racist tendencies in the Republican Party, you wanna know why people keep calling out the GOP for racism? Because prominent Republicans keep saying shit like this over and over.


Saturday, September 20, 2014


Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.


Friday, September 19, 2014



Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

How the Bush Administration Covered Up the Saudi Connection to 9/11

From CounterPunch via AlterNet:

In his  New Yorker article, posted on the magazine’s web site last week, Lawrence Wright tells how the Bush administration deleted 28 pages in the 2002 report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry on 911 probably because they describe in detail the Saudi connection to the Al Qaeda attack and Saudi financing of its operatives in the United States—people who knew two of the hijackers, and may well have been used as conduits for Saudi cash. Some of the money may have come from the royal family through a charity.

In removing the 28 pages Bush said the publication of the information would damage American intelligence operations. The Saudis deny all this.

In fact no one would be talking about it now were it not for families of victims of the attack and insurers, who are suing the Saudis.

More here.

Hey, 9/11 Truthers!

So, of course, I still think you're crazy, but I've always, at least, agreed that there continue to be many unanswered questions about the attacks. It seems that some of those questions may soon be answered. This is g
oing to be fun, I think. But I'm pretty sure it's not going to be some inside job or Israeli false flag operation. Just some really embarrassing stuff for former Bush administration officials. And the Saudis.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014


From Esquire courtesy of Eschaton:

Is it important to care what Chuck Norris thinks about world history?

Oh, hell no. It's just fun.

Obama isn't the first to have a foreign policy of blissful appeasement and too-little-too-late interception. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain did it with the Nazis. President Gerald Ford did it with communists. President Jimmy Carter did it with the ayatollahs.
More here

You know, someone needs to say this so it might as well be me. Chuck Norris is a freaking moron.  I mean, he's no Ted Nugent, but just because Norris isn't all the way at the far-out-in-space end of the psycho right-wing like the Nuge doesn't make the faux Texas Ranger any less moronic.  Also, he's a bad actor.  A pretty good martial arts guy, sure.  But stupid as all get out when it comes to politics.  I'm kind of sick of him being identified with my state.  On the other hand, there's also Ted Cruz, so Chuck Norris isn't a HUGE problem.  Just a problem.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014


From AZCentral:

Pearce resigns as first vice chair of Arizona GOP

"You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I'd do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations…Then we'll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job."
More here.

You know, requiring women to be sterilized in order to receive welfare ranks right up there with China requiring abortions for women who have exceeded their allotment of children. It is beyond the pale.

Anyway, the guy who's pushing it just resigned his position. Good riddance. Dick.


Monday, September 15, 2014

WATCH: John Oliver Exposes Sham of For-Profit Colleges

From AlterNet:

Oliver spends the bulk of the program exposing the misleading tactics of for-profit universities like DeVry University and ITT. These institutions account for 30% of national college loans, even though their students only make up 14% of the total higher education population. The schools prey on low-income and disenfranchised communities, offering them subpar educations at exorbitant prices.

More here, with video.

The for-profit university was disturbing to me from the moment I understood the concept. My original discomfort came from my knowledge, as an educator, that the "product" sold by these businesses is so esoteric and abstract that quantifying and assigning monetary value to it is extraordinarily difficult. So there had to be something wrong with it from the get go. It is a necessarily dishonest venture.
Apparently, however, as John Oliver so adeptly illustrates, that's all just the tip of the iceberg with how lame for-profit colleges are.

Really, the biggest problem, as I see it, is our culture's recently embraced confusion about the differences between university study and job training. That's the opening these predator institutions use to rip people off.


Sunday, September 14, 2014


OBAMA: "So ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East — including American citizens, personnel and facilities. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region — including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners — including Europeans and some Americans — have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks."

As with Saddam Hussein, the Islamic State are DEFINITELY bad guys. But I don't see a damned thing here suggesting that the US has any vital interest that would necessitate any sort of combat activity at all on our part. ISIL is a regional military force geared toward taking territory, not an Al Qaeda style global terrorism operation; the whole notion that they're going to send Americans and Europeans back to blow us all up is absurd. That is, Obama is making a really flimsy and, by his own admission, unsubstantiated argument, just about as bad as any of the crap offered by the Bush administration to get us into Iraq.

I mean, you know, unless dominating the Middle East, economically and politically, because of the oil, is a US vital interest. Personally, I don't think it is. We've gotten our oil from elsewhere since the oil shocks of the 1970s, so in any worst case scenarios we're still going to have access to the fossil fuels we use to power our economy. Yeah, yeah, global oil market, yadda, yadda. Is it really our responsibility to make the world safe for oil? And is killing more Muslims the best way to do that?
No, and no.

OBAMA: "That's why I've insisted that additional U.S. action depended upon Iraqis forming an inclusive government, which they have now done in recent days. So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat."

Sigh. There is no inclusive Iraqi government. Iraq is now dominated by Shiites, and the Sunnis continue to be squeezed out. For that matter, Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq simply don't trust each other, and this will remain the case for the foreseeable future. Indeed, the Islamic State exists for this very reason. We can't just order Iraq to get its shit together and then declare that they're ready to be our ally. I mean, that's a stupid joke.

OBAMA: "Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy."

"Degrade" maybe. "Destroy" no way.

OBAMA: "Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we're hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense."

I'll believe this about "Iraqi forces" when I see it. Thus far, the "Iraqi government" hasn't instilled me with much confidence.

OBAMA: "Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition."

Wait a minute. I thought the Islamic State comprises a big chunk of Syrian opposition forces. This is just a big mess we're walking into, and, for me, these kinds of statements make Obama's speech near-incoherent at points.

The third and fourth points aren't so bad, the stuff about cutting funding for terrorists, improving intelligence, and upping humanitarian aid. So that's good stuff. But I'm also concerned about what, exactly, this "broadly based coalition" is going to be. Sure, I'm all about coalitions when it comes to world affairs. But there are coalitions like the joke one we bought for the Iraq invasion in 2003, and then there are coalitions like the UN. Needless to say, the UN is the far superior option.

But really, analyzing this speech on its own terms is something of an exercise in futility. The problems in the Middle East are pretty simple when you get right down to it:

1) All the industrialized nations want the region's oil. 2) The history of colonialism there has made the region inherently unstable, with artificially drawn borders, despots, and multiple ethnic/religious groups possessing legitimate grievances. And 3) The US decided long ago to embrace the region's instability, appointing Israel to be our local attack dog; it is, therefore, impossible to separate Israel's oppressive treatment of the indigenous Palestinian population from US policy in the Middle East.

And that's it. They're BIG problems, to be sure, but not nearly as complex as they appear to be when you listen to American establishment blathering about it, which is essentially what Obama's speech is, US establishment blathering.

The bottom line here is that, without addressing the root problems in the Middle East, instability will continue. Period. No way around it. And Obama isn't suggesting ANYTHING that would deal with those root problems. He's just trying to find a way to continue the long reign of Middle Eastern instability because the American establishment's perception is that this is beneficial to us. We want it to be unstable, but not so unstable as to hurt business. So US policy, from Nixon to Obama, has been all about finding the right level of instability, the one that makes us top dog.

Of course, that's totally insane.

For the full text of Obama's latest war speech, click here.


Saturday, September 13, 2014


Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.  And, obviously, my computer problems are now fixed.  Well, actually, I had to buy a new one.  But that doesn't matter now.  Just enjoy the music.


Monday, September 08, 2014


...pretty bad ones, in fact.  So I'm going to be keeping a low profile for the next few days.  Hopefully, I'll be back soon.


Sunday, September 07, 2014

What Seeking an Abortion Was Like Before Roe v. Wade

From AlterNet:

The four years since 2010 have brought us a resurgence of antiabortion legislation, with hundreds of restrictions enacted at the state level. The guiding theory of this renewed anti-abortion activism is that abortion is the source of social ills, and that the way to end abortion is to make it illegal. Yet we know from long experience that criminalizing abortion neither ends the practice nor alleviates social ills. That, at any rate, is the timely and provocative lesson to be drawn from Nancy Howell Lee’s 1969 book, The Search for an Abortionist: The Classic Study of How American Women Coped With Unwanted Pregnancy, which was originally published by University of Chicago Press and was recently reissued by Forbidden Bookshelf, a division of Open Road Media.

More here.

In addition, of course, to the privacy rights on which the Roe v Wade decision was based, there's a damned good reason we made abortion legal back in 1972: keeping it illegal caused far more problems than it solved.  Actually, being pro-choice, I don't think criminalizing abortion solves any problems at all, but I'm sure you get my drift.  Making abortion illegal is beyond problematic.

For starters, the rate of abortions in this country appears to be fairly constant, whether it's legal or not.  As the article observes, before Roe, there were anywhere between 200,000 and 1.2 million abortions per year in this country--it's impossible to know for sure because, obviously, it's difficult to obtain accurate statistics for a practice taking place in the shadows, but this is a widely accepted estimate.  In contrast, there were 1.2 million abortions in 2008, and that's with a much larger population than the one we had in 1972.  So maybe keeping abortion illegal would stop a million abortions.  Maybe not.  Probably not.  But it's definitely fair to argue that it is entirely possible that it makes no difference at all whether abortion is legal or not.  Women get abortions.  We cannot stop it.  And we probably can't even reduce the numbers.

And that essentially puts us into a "War on Drugs" situation when it comes to contemplating the concept of illegal abortions.  We're talking about laws that people don't obey, laws designed to accomplish something which they cannot accomplish, laws that we pay lots of money to enforce, but fail to enforce.  Wasted money, wasted effort, wasted lives caught up in the criminal justice system, a mockery of rule-of-law because society is trying to do something of which it is incapable.  So anti-abortion laws are just a big huge fat joke.

Of course, the problems created by illegal abortion go much deeper than simply those of the "War on Drugs" variety.  When abortion is illegal, there is a very good chance that it's also unsafe.  Needless to say, unsafe, when we're talking about a surgical procedure, is SIGNIFICANT.  That is, when we criminalize abortion, we force frightened and desperate women to take their lives into their own hands.  All so we can say that abortion is illegal, and for no other reason.  Pro-lifers would harm and kill women just so these moralists can say that they're saving lives, which they aren't because anti-abortion laws don't stop abortions.  It's vain, fanciful, blood-soaked narcissism with a body count.  Some "pro-life" attitude.

And there are also profound civil rights issues, too.  Because only women can get pregnant, anti-abortion laws apply only to women.  It's the state getting inside women's bodies in order to control their behavior.  And their bodies.  They reduce women, and only women, to government property status.  It is impossible for women to be equal and full citizens when abortion is illegal.  That is, you can't be a person in the eyes of the law, or society, when you are also considered to be property.

And the list of ills associated with anti-abortion laws just goes on and on and on.  It's a hopeless quagmire of stupid social shit.  It's all just too damned problematic.  Sure, for a lot of pro-lifers, it seems like a fine idea.  Save the babies.  Stop the murder.  But I seriously doubt most pro-lifers have really thought through the ramifications of what it is they support: a fractured societal existence breeding hypocrisy, incarceration, physical injury, death, humiliation, and contempt.  That's what "pro-life" must ultimately mean.  A worse society.  A joke civilization.

Roe v Wade is one of the best things that ever happened in this country.


Saturday, September 06, 2014


Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.


Friday, September 05, 2014



Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Thursday, September 04, 2014


From Daily Kos, courtesy of Eschaton:

Incarcerated For Writing Science Fiction

"A Dorchester County, Maryland, teacher was taken in for an 'emergency medical evaluation,' suspended from his job, and barred from setting foot on another public school. Authorities searched his school, Mace's Lane Middle School in Cambridge, for weapons. As classes resumed, parents worried that their children were in danger, so police decided to remain on the premises to watch over them.

What happened? The teacher, Patrick McLaw, published a fiction novel. Under a pen name. About a made-up school shooting. Set in the year 2902."

More here.

My first year teaching was when Columbine happened.  It was emotionally tough; there was no way for me to avoid thinking about my own students, about just how horrible such an event must have been.  I listened to a spot on NPR shortly after the shooting when they named all those who were killed.  I cried.

That was bad enough.  The shooting itself was bad enough.  What took me by complete surprise, however, was the reaction of the school in which I worked.  Columbine, being in Colorado, is hundreds of miles away from Baytown, Texas, and, needless to say, the shooters themselves were dead very quickly after their massacre.  But that didn't stop district authorities from trying to protect us all from them.  For a few weeks, police presence on campus beefed up.  New emergency procedures were established.  Loitering in the hallway became a SERIOUS offense.  Trench coats were now forbidden.

Or, rather, I should say that trench coats were "officially" forbidden for everybody.  But really that only meant black trench coats.  Black trench coats worn by kids who listened to Marilyn Manson.  Who wore black eyeliner.  Who wore black t-shirts.  It was pretty amazing, really.  Amazing and almost as horrifying as the shooting in Columbine itself.  A tragic event across the country meant cracking down on non-conformists in the school where I worked.  Just because.

While I was surprised at the time, in deep hindsight, it makes complete sense.  Public schools in the US have been pursuing the concept of "zero tolerance" for many years now, turning standard student sass into a significant administrative disciplinary issue, turning administrative disciplinary issues into actual crimes.  That is, kids are often arrested now for stuff that would have gotten you d-hall thirty years ago.  And police are now a common presence on campus.  All it takes is for a shooting somewhere in the country to put everyone on lockdown.  As each year goes by, our schools are incrementally, baby step by baby step, becoming more like prisons.

To me, this is simply the logical conclusion of the institutional mania toward orderliness and obedience deeply embedded in our society's conceptualization of schooling--it was only a matter of time before this shit started happening.  But whether you think that's the case or not, it's pretty damned clear that there's something wrong with how we're approaching security in our schools.  I mean, for god's sake, the school security apparatus has turned on a freaking TEACHER.  For writing a scary story.  That's totally f'd up.

No, I don't care if you think this means your baby is in danger.  You're wrong.  Teachers OUGHT to do things like write stories.  I don't care if you think kids dressing in black are a menace to society.  You're an idiot.  You know nothing.  And you definitely have no business, as an idiot, telling the schools what they should be doing.  You should go back to school, yourself, because you're stupid.

You know, when you combine this awful "zero tolerance" mindset with all this standardized testing mania, all this "accountability" crap about "bad teachers," what chance do you think the schools have for teaching some real critical thinking skills?  None at all.  Just none.  This is pathetic.  


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Ted Cruz's dad: African-Americans 'need to be educated' about minimum wage

From the San Antonio Express-News via the Houston Chronicle:

Black people "need to be educated" to stop supporting minimum wage laws, the father of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told a gathering of Republicans in Central Texas in August.

The video, published by Buzzfeed, shows the Rev. Rafael Cruz encouraging members of the Western Williamson County Republican Club on Aug. 21 to purchase "Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed" authored by Jason Riley, an African-American member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

More here.

Leaving aside for the moment Rafael Cruz's utterly patronizing attitude toward blacks, I would say that somebody needs to educate HIM about the minimum wage.

When the only jobs available for an individual are minimum wage jobs, then it would be the height of lunacy for that individual not to support minimum wage hikes. And that's that. Abstract reasoning, pushed by businesses, and often bullshit, about "the economy" or "job makers" or "fewer jobs," has absolutely no meaning when you're trying to put food on the table for your family. You need better pay. You know the business employing you can afford it. You also know, in this now union free America, that they'll never give you a raise unless the government forces them to do it.

In short, you're freaking STUPID not supporting minimum wage increases when you work for minimum wage. Also, it stimulates the economy. Also, the only reason businesses are against it is because they're too short-sighted to understand that it benefits them, too, in the long run.

I'm so sick of this folk wisdom masquerading as serious thought.


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Wages Dropped for Almost All American Workers in First Half of 2014

From AlterNet:

Think your money's not going very far this year? It's not your imagination. According to new research by the Economic Policy Institute, real hourly wages declined for almost everybody in the U.S. workforce in the first half of 2014. Thanks, so-called recovery.


This was true whether you had no high school degree, a high school diploma, some college, a college degree, or an advanced degree. In fact, people with advanced degrees saw the biggest drop (2.7 percent).

More here.

REPUBLICANS: Oh, well, of course wages have dropped.  We've got that socialist in the White House.  And tax-and-spend Democrats won't let us free business up enough to do its thing.

DEMOCRATS: Oh, well, of course wages have dropped.  The Republicans continue to control the House, which means Obama can't get anything done, and Bush really did leave a mess for the President to clean up, you know.

I'm so sick of hearing this shit.  Wages have dropped because nobody is doing anything to stop it.  For the Republicans, it's a fundamental misunderstanding of macroeconomics, originally based on the flawed assumptions of neoliberalism back during the Reagan era, but which has now devolved into bizarre folk wisdom, and I use the term "wisdom" very loosely here.  For Democrats, it's essentially the same thing, but without the devolution part--that is, with the Dems, it continues to be "morning in America," even though that sinister euphemism never did describe reality.

In short, both parties have embraced neoliberal thought, Reaganomics, corporatism, whatever you want to call it.  And it's total bullshit.  Kissing big business' ass does not grow the economy.  But that's what both parties have been doing, over and over, for decades, in spite of numerous demonstrable failures.  This is why I continue to say that there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties.

Well, okay, to be fair, maybe there's at least a dime's worth of difference.  But not much more than that.  The GOP, for instance, is very much into second amendment rights, while the Democrats prefer to protect the rights of people who don't want to die from gunshot wounds.  Republicans, in spite of their recent seeming love of "libertarianism," want the government inside all women's vaginas; Democrats, of course, oppose this.  And so on.  So yeah, there are some very important differences between the two parties.

But not when it comes to economics, which arguably affect our lives overall far more than any other issues.  On economics, Democrats and Republicans are in lockstep.  I mean, okay, yeah, the GOP establishment has to throw a few psychotic bones to their psychotic Tea Party base, you know, utterly irrational debt ceiling standoffs and the like, but philosophically, among Republicans who can pronounce the word "philosophically," there is something approaching full agreement with Democrats.  Low taxes, privatization, less regulation, anti-union attitudes, etc.  The stuff we've been doing in this country for three decades, always with shitty results.

I'd vote for somebody else, but I don't know who that would be.  And now Elizabeth Warren is all about terrorizing Gaza.  It just keeps getting worse.


Monday, September 01, 2014


From AlterNet:

What If Everything We Know About Treating Depression Is Wrong?

A subset of the mice who couldn’t produce serotonin were given antidepressant medications and they responded in a similar manner to the drugs as did normal mice. Altogether, the study found that serotonin is not a major player in depression, and science should look elsewhere to identify other factors that might be involved. These results could greatly reshape depression research, the authors say, and shift the focus of the search for depression treatments. 

The study joins others in directly challenging the notion that depression is related to lower levels of serotonin in the brain. One study has shown that some two-thirds of those who take SSRIs remain depressed, while another study has even found them clinically insignificant.

Critics of common antidepressants claim they’re not much better than a placebo, yet may still have unwanted side effects. 

More here.

This study, if replicated, goes a long way toward confirming a sense I've had for some years now: psychiatrists have no idea what they're doing.  At least, not with depression, and probably not with lots of other mental illnesses.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I've known a person or two over the years with some severe psychiatric disorders, and psychiatry has allowed them to live relatively normal lives.  So I'm not dismissing the field outright.  But the regulatory capture of the FDA some years back by Big Pharma insiders, with its accompanying rush-to-market of all kinds of pharmaceuticals which in previous eras would have been held off the market for a lot more testing, has shifted a great deal of psychiatry's treatment emphasis to drugs, rather than other forms of therapy.  Indeed, at some point around the turn of the twentieth century, I started realizing that a LOT of people within my social sphere were taking prescribed psychiatric drugs.  From Ritalin, to Prozac, to Paxil, it seemed, and continues to seem, that an ever increasing percentage of Americans are zooming on weird legal and establishment-recommended bizarro brain drugs.

Then I started encountering people with that Prozac stare.  I've long felt like something really disturbing is happening, and it is: the country is being medicated, for better or worse.  Somewhere along the line, I watched a really good Frontline documentary called "The Medicated Child."  Overall, it's about how psychiatrists are using drugs on children that have not been approved for use on children.  That's frightening enough, but the film explains how psychiatrists actually approach psychiatric drugs for all their patients: in short, they take guesses, prescribe drugs, and then make more guesses based on reactions and side-effects--a not insignificant number of patients end up taking four, five, or even six kinds of drugs, all of them attempting to treat each other's side effects, and one of them, presumably, treating the ailment that got the patient in the doctor's office in the first place.  They're so medicated it's like they're not even human beings anymore.

It's insanity, but it's being pushed by the sector of the establishment charged with making us less insane.
Now it turns out that the field may very well not understand the brain chemistry for depression AT ALL.  And it's kind of weird that we're just now figuring this out.  According to the linked article, antidepressants don't have a much better effect than placebos.  That is, we already know that these drugs might not even work.  But still they prescribe, prescribe, and prescribe.  And people zoom, zoom, zoom.

You know me.  I think profit has very likely driven the whole thing.  That the drug companies have a product they want to sell, and, by golly, they're going to use their economic muscle to make sure that product sells.  And sell it does.  But it might not even work!!!  I guess enduring a nation of drug-addled, and still depressed, zombies is simply the price we all have to pay so that corporate fat cats can make shitloads more money than most of us do.  But man.  This is some cold-hearted shit.