Friday, August 30, 2013


No posting for a while.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

No, Martin Luther King Jr. Was Not A Republican

From Think Progress, courtesy of their facebook page:

"While not himself a racist, Mr. Goldwater articulated a philosophy which gave aid and comfort to the racist. His candidacy and philosophy would serve as an umbrella under which extremists of all stripes would stand. In the light of these facts and because of my love for America, I had no alternative but to urge every Negro and white person of goodwill to vote against Mr. Goldwater and to withdraw support from any Republican candidate that did not publicly disassociate himself from Senator Goldwater and his philosophy."

More here.

Apparently, some Republicans are trying to put MLK into the same glass display chamber where they keep Reagan's body for patriotic viewing, as per the Soviets and Lenin's tomb.  While weird and shocking to consider in this day and age, you can kind of sense the argument, if you try to contextualize it historically.  King was from the South, where racist white Democrats had ruled since the end of Reconstruction, and even though the Democratic Party was moving in a civil rights direction nationally, it was still the party of Jim Crow South of the Mason Dixon Line.  And a Republican president did, after all, free the slaves a century earlier.  So, you know, maybe.

But no.  King was not a Republican.  No f'ing way.  Lots of Republicans in those days were totally against integration, a view strongly articulated by conservative intellectual guru William F. Buckley in the pages of his right-wing journal the National Review--actually, this position is alive and well in the GOP right now, as embodied by Rand Paul and others who would leave it up to business owners as to whether they should hire or serve people of color, you know, for "freedom" or some such.  And Republicans then, as now, only offer pro-business "solutions" to poverty issues, which is to say, no solutions at all.

This is, of course, not to say that King was a Democrat, either.  Like I said, at that point in history, LOTS of Democrats were as racist as all get out.  And, even though the party was, indeed, moving slowly toward the embrace of civil rights and equality, many had to be dragged, kicking and screaming--indeed, Howard Zinn has told us that President Kennedy initially opposed the March on Washington, and only embraced it once he realized there was no way to stop it.  So while the Democratic Party was, to some extent, better than the Republican Party on civil rights, they weren't all that, not by a long shot.

Instead, King hungered for justice.  He called out the white power structure, which included people from both parties.  That is, political partisanship is one thing, but right and wrong is quite another.  

And the man who was introduced at the March fifty years ago as "the moral leader of our nation" understood this in the middle of the twentieth century better than most Americans understand it today.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Depraved Money Hungry Media Is Distorting What We See

From AlterNet:

Money, they say, is the mother’s milk of politics.  Also of news, sports and the rest of the entertainment industry. Three recent stories drive that home. 

When Reince Priebus pressured Comcast’s NBC to drop a miniseries starring Diane Lane as Hillary Clinton, the hostage that the RNC chairman threatened to snuff was the network’s access to the 2016 presidential primary debates.  When the NFL forced Disney’s ESPN to pull out of a documentary about concussions jointly produced with PBS’s Frontline, the league’s leverage was its deal with Disney’s ABC to air Monday Night Football.  And when Time Warner’s CNN hired Newt Gingrich for its exhumed edition of Crossfire, its motive wasn’t political journalism in service of democracy; it was stunt casting in service of ratings.

More here.

Historically, this sort of thing, big monied interests manipulating mass media content for their own advantage, or media corporations themselves going for the money at the expense of their own integrity, for the most part, has played itself out informally and behind closed doors.  There's always been an aspect of "plausible deniability" about the process.  "Why, we're just giving viewers what they want," they've always told us, "We would never let ANYBODY tell us what to program."  Or, even better, with the news media, they're always hiding behind bogus journalistic "ethics" and whatnot, lecturing us mere mortals about how we can't possibly understand what's best for us.  And to some extent, as Chomsky and Hermann have observed, a lot of these media spokesmen and apologists actually believe what they're saying--after all, you don't advance up the corporate ladder into positions of power if you don't buy the corporate bullshit in the first place.

But things just keep getting worse.  Media consolidation, mergers into ever larger corporate entities, has gotten so concentrated that they don't even seem to be trying to project a veneer of responsibility and honesty anymore.  They're just doing it openly now, without explanation, without apology, as though everybody agrees that this is the way it's supposed to be.  I knew it was going to get worse, but even I'm surprised by the brazenness shown here.

Something else to consider.  Does anyone give a shit?  If not, it's even worse than it seems at the moment.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Little Texas Girl Charged with Rape for Playing Doctor with Little Boy

From Gawker courtesy of my girlfriend on facebook:

Police in Houston have charged a 10-year-old girl with aggravated sexual assault after she was allegedly spotted playing a game of "doctor" with a 4-year-old boy near her house.

According to Fox affiliate KRIV, the incident, which took place back in April, resulted in "Ashley" (not her real name) spending four nights in the Harris County Juvenile Detention after charges were filed against her in June.

Ashley, who was nine years old at the time, had been playing "doctor" with a bunch of children in the courtyard of the apartment complex where she lives, when a neighbor reportedly saw her touch the private parts of the 4-year-old boy and phoned the child's mother.

More here.

Here's the comment I left on facebook when I saw the article:
I wish I could say I was surprised, but this is yet another piece of evidence indicating that our culture is simply incapable of thinking clearly about sexuality and children. Throw this in the same file with "abstinence based" sex education, purity balls, and the Satanic ritual abuse scandals of the 1990s that never actually happened.

And then there's Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. It's all or nothing these days.
'Nuff said.


Monday, August 26, 2013

America’s Gilded Capital

From PBS's Moyers and Company:

Mark Leibovich covers Washington, D.C., as chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine. In his new book, This Town, he writes about the city’s bipartisan lust for power, cash and notoriety. It’s the story of how Washington became an occupied city; its hold on reality distorted by greed and ambition. Leibovich pulls no punches, names names, and reveals the movers, the shakers and the lucrative deals they make — all in the name of crony capitalism.

Watch the video here.

I'm an enormous Bill Moyers fan, and virtually anything he does I'm going to like.  But this show is particularly good, great even.

I've gone on and on for years about how the mega-corporations and the fabulously wealthy have done an end run around our representative democracy and essentially rule informally, even while we continue to practice the formal rituals of the republic, which are now effectively hollow and meaningless.  I mean, it's obvious to any honest observers, but I still get the sense that most Americans just can't get themselves to accept the awful truth: the United States of America is a sham democracy, and its citizens are have been made into fools and suckers.

Hey conservatives, you really think your guys in the GOP are actually representing your interests and beliefs?  Well, you're wrong.  All your guys are on the take, constantly figuring out what kind of right-wing spin they can use to justify publicly the corporate giveaways they legislate in exchange for favors, high-paying post-government gigs, and campaign cash.  And liberals, in your wildest imagination do you really think that the Democrats, who are just as much on the take as the Republicans, are truly capable of passing any bill Wall Street doesn't like?  You do?  Then you're fools, total fools.

This journalist Moyers interviews, Mark Leibovich of the New York Times, spells it all out in agonizing detail.  It's actually worse than I thought, and I already thought it was pretty f'ing bad.  It's not that Washington is broken.  It's that it's running exactly as the lobbyists want it to run.  Needless to say, these K-Streeters who work directly for the vast concentrations of wealth sometimes called the One Percent, have very different ideas about what should happen in our nation's capitol than average ordinary citizens have, regardless of ideology or party affiliation.  We're in deep shit, and we've been there for a long time.

Go check this video out.  If you can stomach it.


Saturday, August 24, 2013


From HuffPo:

Ben Affleck Cast As Batman In 'Man Of Steel' Sequel

“We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics' most enduringly popular Super Heroes (sic), and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some," Greg Silverman, president of creative development and worldwide production for Warner Bros., said in a statement posted to the Warner Bros. Facebook page. "His outstanding career is a testament to his talent and we know he and Zack will bring new dimension to the duality of this character."

More here.

No, Ben's not going to surprise us with his most brilliant effort ever.

While I've liked Affleck in some roles over the years, the bottom line for me is that he is simply incapable of playing Batman. The role just isn't in his range. I mean, okay, if it's going to be a comedy, sure, maybe. But then, for that matter, they might as well have cast Adam West. Go get the real deal, you know?

I'll be more specific. Ben Affleck has been at his best over the years portraying douches who are douches because of some unseen hurt within. And he's really good at it. I mean, you've got to give him a lot of credit for making a douche appealing again and again. My suspicion is that this is his true nature, wounded douche, and it just can't help but come out when he's playing a role honestly.

Now, one might think that this aspect would be helpful in playing Batman. After all, Batman also has a sort of dual nature. Batman also harbors an unseen hurt deep within. But Batman is not a douche. No, not a douche at all. I fear that if Affleck has all four cylinders gunning, we're going to get some douche in the cape and cowl.

Another thing, and possibly the most important thing. Affleck has a sort of douchy smirk he gives. You see it in every movie he's ever done. He kind of swaggers and throws a douchy smirk, often to women, but to men sometimes, too. He's going to do this as Batman. You KNOW he's going to do this as Batman because he's always done it.

And in that moment, when he swaggers and gives his douchy smirk, all dressed up as this character I've loved my entire life, I will hate him more than any human being I've ever hated.

I don't understand how Hollywood executives playing with hundreds of millions of dollars can be so extraordinarily daft. This movie is a flop already, and they haven't even started shooting yet.  For god's sake, this makes casting Tom Cruise as Lestat a brilliant decision in comparison.


Friday, August 23, 2013



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


Sustainability is destroying the Earth

From Deep Green Resistance New York, courtesy of a facebook friend:

If the lifestyle actions advocated really do have the effect of keeping our culture around for longer than it would otherwise, then it will cause more harm to the natural world than if no such action had been taken.  For the longer a destructive culture is sustained, the more destruction it causes.  The title of this article isn’t just attention-grabbing and controversial, it is quite literally what’s going on.

When we frame the sustainability debate around the premise that individual lifestyle choices are the solution, then the enemy becomes other individuals who make different lifestyle choices, and those who don’t have the privilege of choice.  Meanwhile the true enemy — the oppressive structures of civilization — are free to continue their destructive and murderous practices without question.  This is hardly an effective way to create a meaningful social movement.  Divide and be conquered.

Sustainability is popular with corporations, media and government because it fits perfectly with their aims.  Maintain power.  Grow.  Make yourself out to be the good guy.  Make people believe that they have power when they don’t.  Tell everyone to keep calm and carry on shopping.  Control the language that is used to debate the issues.  By creating and reinforcing the belief that voting for minor changes and buying more stuff will solve all problems, those in power have a highly effective strategy for maintaining economic growth and corporate-controlled democracy.

More here.

The essay writer ends up concluding that it's either the internet and wrecking the planet, or going agrarian and saving the planet, although she doesn't come right out and phrase it that way.  Personally, I don't think the choice is quite so extreme.  I have a really difficult time simply accepting that there are no technological solutions out there that would allow us to keep the internet, and maybe some other cool things like air conditioning while still having a relatively healthy ecology.  But that's pretty much the only problem I have with this essay.  Otherwise I am in complete agreement that we cannot use capitalism to fix capitalism.

I mean, in the end, capitalism IS the problem.  It sees the entire universe as exploitable.  Indeed, it is a capitalist mandate that the universe ought to be exploited.  When everything is up for grabs, then everything will be grabbed, and where there's money to be made, take it and run.  That is, capitalism always goes to the money.   Always.  You cannot use it to do anything in the end but go to the money.  Going green, needless to say, is NOT going to the money, and must necessarily become subordinate to capitalism's prime directive.  In short, a green economy is to capitalism as Howard Stern is to rebellion.

So all the hybrid drivers, all the people with their own shopping bags, all the religious recyclers, all the home solar aficionados, and on and on, are essentially doing this stuff simply to make themselves feel less guilty about participating in an economic system that is destroying the planet.  But, make no mistake, even when they give into green marketing campaigns and buy all those eco-friendly products, they continue to participate in that system.  Living a green lifestyle does not change capitalism.  It is simply a niche market for capitalism.

So how DOES one change capitalism?  Well, that part's easy, at least in concept: government FORCES change on capitalism.  Of course, the devil is in the details.  After all, the most important product sold by capitalism is, in fact, government.  If you've got a lot of money, then you've got a lot of government.  And, generally, those with a lot of money like things just the way they are.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Robin Thicke Sues Marvin Gaye's Family To Protect 'Blurred Lines'

From the HuffPo:

Many have noted the similarity between Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" and Robin Thicke's song-of-the-summer smash hit "Blurred Lines," and now Thicke has gone on the offensive to ensure that the sonic likeness of the two songs doesn't end up costing him any money. 

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news late Thursday: Thicke, along with Pharrell Williams and T.I., filed a lawsuit against Gaye's family and Bridgeport Music. In the case, the trio of music makers say they have "the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic and their musical legacies," but must "reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists." 

More here, with video.

Meh. They're different enough. I mean, if the Gershwins could rip off "Motherless Child" and call it "Summertime," if the Nuge can rip off Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" and call it "Cat Scratch Fever," and if U2 can rip off the Nuge's "Stranglehold" and call it "Bullets of Blue Sky," then Robin Thick can rip off Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give it Up" and call it "Blurred Lines." Close, but not the same. Definitely a ripoff, but not really outright theft.

What bugs me is that I really WANT "Blurred Lines" to get into some legal trouble because the only thing I like about it is that it reminds me of "Got to Give It Up." Otherwise, it's highly derived, kind of sterile, and fairly sexist and narcissistic. You know, the typical self-involved misogynistic crap pushed relentlessly by the entertainment industry these days. Also, it's stupid. Really stupid.

Oh well. Freedom of speech.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Are Manning and Snowden patriots? That depends on what we do next.

From the Washington Post courtesy of Eschaton, Andrew Bacevich on the national security state:

By taking technology that the state employs to manufacture secrets and using it to make state secrecy impossible, they put the machine itself at risk. Forget al-Qaeda. Forget Iran’s nuclear program. Forget the rise of China. Manning and Snowden confront Washington with something far more worrisome. They threaten the power the state had carefully accrued amid recurring wars and the incessant preparation for war. In effect, they place in jeopardy the state’s very authority — while inviting the American people to consider the possibility that less militaristic and more democratic approaches to national security might exist.

In the eyes of the state, Manning and Snowden — and others who may carry on their work — can never be other than traitors. Whether the country eventually views them as patriots depends on what Americans do with the opportunity these two men have handed us.

Click here for the rest.

Right.  It's not about security.  It's about control.  Control of us.  As Chomsky and others have observed countless times, the vast majority of government secrets aren't kept from "the enemy," whoever that might be this year, but rather from us, the citizens.  That is, as Bacevich notes in his essay, government secrecy ramps government power up into the stratosphere, and that's the real reason the entire US security apparatus is coming down on Manning and Snowden.  I mean, nobody has yet been able to demonstrate any real harms to the nation coming out of their whistle-blower actions; contrast this with the feeble hand-slap given to Scooter Libby when he destroyed the career of a highly trained covert CIA operative in order to punish her husband who had embarrassed the Bush administration.  A democracy cannot tolerate such secrecy for long while remaining a democracy.

Seriously.  That's what this is about.  The government is CLEARLY misusing the notion of national security in order to do things that Americans don't really want it to do.  I think I've finally made up my mind on this.  To use Bacevich's calculation, Manning and Snowden favored their country over its government.  And that makes them patriots.  Real patriots, not the no-risk, rah-rah, football fan type.  We are in their debt.


Sunday, August 18, 2013


Jennifer's in town, so I'm paying attention to her instead of you.  I'll pay attention to you again Tuesday night.  


Friday, August 16, 2013



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



From the New Civil Rights Movement courtesy of someone on facebook:

Card, who used to sit on the board of the National Organization For Marriage, has dreamed up a dystopian crisis that includes what one might call a unique jobs plan.

“Obama is, by character and preference, a dictator,” Card cries, claiming he treats the Constitution “with contempt,” and “already acts as if the Constitution were just for show.”

Card believes that Michelle Obama will be the next president, and Obama will install her by force.


"In other words, Obama will put a thin veneer of training and military structure on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against Obama’s enemies.

Instead of doing drive-by shootings in their own neighborhoods, these young thugs will do beatings and murders of people 'trying to escape' — people who all seem to be leaders and members of groups that oppose Obama."

More here.

Well, I hope this shuts up Orson Scott Card's defenders who characterize the writer's opposition to gay marriage as a religious thing.  I mean, he probably does use his Mormonism to justify his stance against the civil rights of people who have sex in ways he doesn't like.  But the real story is that he's just bat-shit crazy.  And it's a kind of crazy aimed at people he perceives as being different.  You know.  Gay people.  Black people.

Needless to say, the President is NOT considering enlisting black gangs as a sort of neo-SS.  Nor is he considering installing his wife as President after his second term ends. Indeed, such notions are so utterly preposterous that insanity is the only way to explain how a decent sci-fi writer like Card would come to embrace them.  

But Ender's Game is so good!  How could its writer be such an evil and deluded moron?  Well, Van Gogh was crazy.  Phil Spector is crazy and murderous.  And Wagner was an anti-Semite.  Great art can come from some seriously suspect origins.  On the other hand, I don't know if I'll be able to sit through the movie without thinking about Card's f'd up views.  I'm certainly in no hurry to re-read the book.

I guess we'll see how that works out.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Troubled Teens Make More Successful Entrepreneurs

From the Wall Street Journal, courtesy of a facebook friend:

The economists find that self-employed workers with incorporated businesses were almost three times more likely to engage in illicit and risky activities as youth than were salaried workers. These behaviors include but aren’t limited to shoplifting, marijuana use, playing hooky at school, drug dealing and assault. In addition, the self-employed with incorporated businesses exhibited greater self-esteem, scored higher on learning aptitude tests, were more educated and were more likely to come from high-earning, two-parent families than other employment types. “Of course, you have to be smart,” says Mr. Levine. “But it’s a unique combination of breaking rules and being smart that helps you become an entrepreneur.”

These qualities also have a downside. Risk-taking tendencies in combination with high self-esteem make successful entrepreneurs prone to dangerous lapses in judgement, the Wall Street Journal reported in June, finding that many financial advisers have to keep their entrepreneur clients in check.


The economists note that entrepreneurs come from wealthier families, which may give them an advantage with raising capital. The Journal recently reported that growing student loan burdens have been killing startup dreams for many young people.

More here.

A couple of observations.

First, this kind of makes sense in an intuitive way: capitalism requires dehumanizing, exploitative, oppressive behavior. Who's most likely to be successful under such circumstances? Why, sociopaths, of course.  Note that the study includes people who have committed assault, theft, and who have dealt drugs.  That's some pretty serious shit.  And these are people from well-to-do families, no pathology of poverty to inspire their actions.  All that happens, apparently, is that these little assholes grow up to become big assholes, thieving and beating in ways that are not illegal, and generally recognized as good for the economy.  

We really are lorded over by morally retarded people.

Second, this also makes sense in another way.  Kids who follow the rules, especially in school, are situated within a context that does its damnedest to make followers out of all of us.  That is, the school system is hyper-concerned with indoctrinating children into the culture of obedience and authority, mostly obedience.  It is no surprise, then, that kids who resist such indoctrination are bound to end up as leaders, rather than followers, much to our misfortune.  In short, we have a system that virtually guarantees the country is run by oppressive assholes.

As Linda Ellerbee would used to end her columns, "and so it goes."


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rand Paul: American taxpayers funding war on Christianity

From Russia Today:

American taxpayers are funding a war against Christianity, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) said Thursday during an address made at a popular Washington, DC conservative conference.

Appealing to a crowd at this week’s Faith and Freedom Conference in the nation’s capital, Sen. Paul said changes need to be made with regards to the expansive foreign aid being spent by the United States to fund countries he claims are critical of the most popular religion in the US. 

"There is a war on Christianity," Paul said. "Not just from liberal elites here at home, but worldwide. And your government, or more correctly, you, the taxpayer, are funding it.”
Sen. Paul made the remarks during a luncheon at the conference that was attended by a crowd compose largely of Jewish and Christian members of the Republican Party, Chris Moody wrote for The Ticket. 

“The conference,” Moody wrote, “is organized by former Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed, and it regularly hosts Republican politicians seeking the party's nomination for the presidency.”

More here.

I don't know whether Rand believes this stuff or if he's just tossing the religious right some raw meat to see how they might respond for a 2016 presidential run.  Either way, it's total bull crap.  I mean, obviously, there is no taxpayer funded war on Christianity.  Actually, there's no war on Christianity at all.  I mean, sure, there's some persecution here and there, in non-Christian fundamentalist countries, but nothing sponsored by the US.  It's as fictional as the Fox News created "War on Christmas."  But it's definitely very appealing to conservative Christians who honestly believe that the separation of church and state is a direct attack on their faith.  So this may very well be nothing more than a cynical attempt at rhetorical up-sucking.

But I do like how he worked in his Libertarian intolerance for aid to other nations, which you'll see if you click through to the article.  I agree: we shouldn't be helping countries that hate us, that persecute Christians, or anybody at all for that matter.  I mean, I'm no Libertarian.  I'm all for foreign aid.  But we'd do much better to help out nations that respect human rights, and that don't incubate anti-American terrorists because we're supporting a government that oppresses its citizens.  So yeah, as always, I can find something I like with what the Libertarian weirdos are saying.

But this "War on Christians" thing is just nutty.  Maybe he believes it, maybe not.  Either way, though, he's fanning flames that should have gone out long ago.  As if the religious right didn't have a few too many bees in its bonnet already.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Milton Friedman, Unperson

New Krugman:

Which suggests an interesting question: What ever happened to Friedman’s role as a free-market icon? The answer to that question says a lot about what has happened to modern conservatism. 

For Friedman, who used to be the ultimate avatar of conservative economics, has essentially disappeared from right-wing discourse. Oh, he gets name-checked now and then — but only for his political polemics, never for his monetary theories. Instead, Rand Paul turns to the “Austrian” view of thinkers like Friedrich Hayek — a view Friedman once described as an “atrophied and rigid caricature” — while Paul Ryan, the G.O.P.’s de facto intellectual leader, gets his monetary economics from Ayn Rand, or more precisely from fictional characters in “Atlas Shrugged.” 

How did that happen? Friedman, it turns out, was too nuanced and realist a figure for the modern right, which doesn’t do nuance and rejects reality, which has a well-known liberal bias.

More here.

Back when I took macroeconomics as an undergraduate at the University of Texas, my professor was an unabashed Friedmanite, complete with making required reading of the Chicago School guru's book Capitalism and Freedom.  For me, it was kind of exciting.  I was nineteen years old.  Reagan and all his Friedmanite advisers were still running the economy.  Iran/Contra hadn't happened yet.  Six years in, and it was still morning in America.  So taking an economics class from one of these guys was like going to church, and I don't mean boring fall-asleep church; I mean rolling in the aisles, speaking-in-tongues church, even though we didn't actually roll in the aisles or speak in tongues.  Friedman was the man, and I wanted to know what he was all about.

Flash forward to today.  I've been operating under the assumption for many years now that Milton Friedman continues to be the intellectual heart and soul of American conservative economics.  So I've taken his ideas seriously, if only to understand better the liberal and left-wing ideas about economics I've come to embrace, and to be able to discuss and argue economics better with conservatives.  But something weird has happened in the years since Obama was elected, and I've been slow to recognize it.  

The whole "Obama the socialist" thing should have tipped me off.  Instead, I've just been confused: "Hey, wait, I'm kind of socialist myself," I've thought, "and Obama doesn't come anywhere NEAR where my understanding of economics is."  My thinking has been that this has all been Tea Party, grass-roots driven, you know, people who don't really know much about economics quoting famed non-economists and demagogues Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck.  And to some extent that's certainly the case.  But little have I realized that there has always been someone further to the right, so far right, in fact, that Friedman once described himself as "an enormous admirer" of Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek, "but not for his economics."  

Indeed, Friedman went on to say of this now newly rehabilitated right wing economist, "I think Prices and Production is a very flawed book. I think his (Pure Theory of Capital) is unreadable."  And as Krugman observes, Friedman was totally unwilling to surrender to von Hayek's notion that society ought simply to accept periodic economic depressions as a way of life.  That is to say, while I've come around to rejecting a great deal of Milton Friedman's assertions, at least he was kind of in the real world, kind of dealing with an intellectual structure that I can get my arms around.  But von Hayek is so far in outer space that contemplating his ideas is like considering converting to Islam or Scientology.

Is it worth noting that Hitler, like von Hayek, was also an Austrian?  Nah.  Probably not.  The von Trapp family was Austrian, too.  So was Mozart.

Anyway, again as Krugman observes, there's also bad comic book writer Ann Rand to whom conservatives have been looking for economic ideas, but her best work was a six month run on the 1950s comic Captain Atlas, which is also unreadable, and worth virtually nothing in the collector's market today, so anybody who's into her is kind of a moron.  The point here is that once we've gone beyond Friedman into further right territory on economics, we have truly gone through the looking glass into an intellectual land of either absurdity or insanity.  Probably both.

And that's now mainstream for the Republican Party.  No wonder the government can't get anything done.

Von Hayek lecturing undergraduates at the London School of Economics, 1932.



Cover of the 2005 trade paperback reprinting Rand's infamous mid 1950s run on Captain Atlas.


Monday, August 12, 2013

AUDITION TOMORROW... no post tonight.  I mean, I won't get it.  I never get it.  But I do it anyway.  For now.  Posting, of course, resumes Monday night.


Saturday, August 10, 2013


I shared this picture meme on facebook earlier this evening with a word or two about its implications:

It's getting increasingly difficult for me to listen to armchair climatologists drone on about some contrarian piece they read in the National Review or saw on Fox making corporate ravaging of the Earth a sacred duty. This is serious. There's a lake at the North Pole.


And a suitably gloomy discussion then broke out.

Cole Well then, I, for one, am gonna party like it's 1999 (get out the gas powered turntables, I'm gonna spin some records). :(

Ronald Yeah. Actually, I think it's already too late. We've destroyed the planet, or, at least, we've destroyed civilization as we understand the term. Meanwhile people who are so into capitalism that they won't accept the science still don't get it, and will probably go to their graves in total denial, even while floods, drought, crop failures, civic unrest, mass poverty and starvation, and on and on, rage around them. I'm glad I don't have any children. It is an awful world we're handing down to future generations. So, all we can do is party.

Ronald Really, it's just so sad.

Cole Should we cease to have children if we were in the process? Or keep going? Does this mean it doesn't matter anymore if I decide to use cloth diapers in the theoretical future, or if I do get knocked up, just use disposables knowing that we are all going to die or our children will live in a post-apocalyptical Cormac McCarthy novel? I'm at a loss as to whether I should bathe like I'm living on a boat, or take really long hot showers everyday. I mean, I still cut up those plastic things that keep six-packs together, for the ocean creatures, but if it's all going to end horribly, I might as well straight up vote for every Sarah Palin that comes down the road just to make it happen faster and get it over it. Sorry. (jk)

Ronald Well, in order to have a meaningful existence, one has to hope that I'm wrong, and live life as though tomorrow will actually be better. But I don't think I'm wrong. Obama is the best the Democrats can produce and he's best buds with BP. It's not going to change. We're stuck in a system that can't change. We're just a bunch of monkeys with guns who finally fucked up big time.

So take long showers. Litter. Spit on the sidewalk. Or recycle and yell at people who don't drive hybrids. In the end, I don't think it matters one way or the other. I hate being so gloomy, but I just don't see things improving.

Ronald Heh. I always used to think it was going to be nuclear war. Of course, that possibility still remains.

Cole Le sigh. I'll recycle, but I'm still gonna hate the Prius.
Yes, this is what I really think, how I really feel.  I try to avoid absolute depression by not thinking about it too much.


Friday, August 09, 2013



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


Breastfeeding Mom Puts Woman Who Asked Her To 'Cover Up' In Her Place


This time, when mom Lucy Eades was asked to cover up at a recreation center in Burleson, Texas, her husband caught the exchange on camera. He then uploaded the footage to the family's popular YouTube channel (you can watch it above). 

According to local ABC affiliate WFAA, the mom of four was nursing her 16-day-old while her older daughter was in dance class. An employee of the Burleson Recreation Center asked her to cover up, but Eades stood up for her rights and continued to nurse. "It is state law, I can nurse my child with or without a cover," she said. 

And, Eades is right: It's legal to breastfeed in public in all 50 states, and Texas is one of 45 states that have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.

Eventually, dad spoke up too, and the employee walked away. WFAA reports that Eades was the second mom asked to cover up at the recreation center that day.

More here, with video.

I trained a new waitress at work a few nights ago, a nice girl, less than half my age, and probably a good server.  Early in the shift, she told me about a small controversy that had happened there during lunch that day, while I was at home, as usual, waking up to face the world.  A woman was breastfeeding her infant (gasp!) without any covering (double gasp!).  Apparently, there was discussion about whether to say anything to her about it, but, fortunately, nothing came of it, and the mother was allowed to continue feeding her child unmolested.

Of course, I had to pontificate a bit.  "Look, it kind of weirds me out, too, but I've been thinking about the issue for years now, and I just can't come up with any good reason why a woman shouldn't be able to do this, with or without a covering."

My young trainee was, like, "But you could almost see EVERYTHING."

"Yeah," I replied, "but why is that a problem?"

Another waitress walked by and I asked her to join the conversation because she's a mother of a young child.  Her point of view wasn't too terribly different from my trainee's, which didn't surprise me too much, but I was surprised to find that she also breastfeeds her child.  There seemed to be a consensus between the two women that a woman breastfeeding her child in public, without covering it up, is being indecent in some way.  So I asserted that the only reason this seems "indecent" is because our culture has so sexualized women's breasts that when they're used for their actual biological purpose, everybody thinks it's sexual, which is pretty fucked up.  Needless to say, a woman feeding her baby is NOT sexual.

And that makes US the big perverts.  I say "us" because, as I mentioned above, it disturbs me, too.  But that's my problem.  It's the problem of anybody who gets weirded out by women breastfeeding in public.  It's our problem to deal with and get over.  It is NOT the problem of women simply trying to be good mothers.  I mean, unless perverts who sexualize breastfeeding give them shit about it.  Then it becomes everybody's problem.  But really, it's not the breastfeeding that's the problem.  It's our bizarre and absolutist breast oriented sex fetish that's the problem.

God, we've got a messed up culture.


Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Rich Are Hoarding Cash And It's Making Us A Lot Worse Off

From the Huffington Post:

America's wealthiest households are increasingly squirreling away their cash in a trend that could pose a threat to the economy at large and exacerbate already high levels of income inequality, according to two recently published reports.

America's top 1 percent saved their money at a rate of 37 percent last quarter, according to a recent survey from American Express Publishing and the Harrison Group highlighted by CNBC. That means that during that period, wealthy Americans put away about 37 cents for every dollar they earned, which is more than triple their savings rate in 2007. In addition, a Bank of America study cited in the CNBC report found that more than half of millionaires have a "substantial" amount of cash on hand and of that group, about 60 percent said they didn't plan to invest it in the next two years.

As the recovery struggles to gain solid ground, the findings indicate that even while America's wealthiest households are taking home a larger share than ever of the income pie, they're doing little to put that money to productive use in the economy, experts say. One possible solution: raising taxes on the rich.


That increased concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, combined with the effects of the Great Recession and the slow recovery, has meant less money in the hands of low- and middle-income Americans -- who are more likely to spend it -- decreasing demand for goods and services, according to Sam Pizzigati, an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of The Rich Don't Always Win. The lack of demand makes wealthier Americans more hesitant to spend, keeping the cash concentrated in their hands.

"There's a bit of a vicious cycle," Linden said. 

More here.

Just another reminder among many that everything you think you "know" about economics is wrong.  I'm assuming, of course, that what you "know" about economics comes from what the ruling establishment, mainstream news media, and various businessmen, who think that running a business is the same thing as being an economist, all tell you.  You know, conservative economics, Reaganomics, supply side economics, neoliberalism, "classical liberalism," whatever you want to call it.  All wrong.  

In this case, I'm talking about the cherished notion that cutting taxes for corporations and the rich somehow grows the economy because the recipients of all this free money are wise and invest in growth-positive ways--by extension, I'm also talking about the always-daft notion that cutting taxes results in increased tax revenue, which it doesn't.  Actually, we've known for some years now that tax cuts for the rich don't increase investment.  After all, we've been cutting taxes for the rich for decades, and economists study this shit.  Instead, the rich stick it all away into savings, where it does nothing.  

Well, to be fair, not "nothing."  As economist Richard Wolff has observed, the money in those savings accounts is, in the grand scheme, essentially loaned back to the government, which has become cash strapped because of all those tax cuts.  So we have a really weird situation here.  We cut taxes for the fabulously wealthy, ostensibly in order to grow the economy, which it doesn't, but this massive loss of tax revenue does result in deficit spending, which the government must cover by borrowing the money it used to have by way of taxation.  It's a big scam, to be honest, and it's a testament to how utterly dysfunctional our politics have become that the rich are able to get away with it decade after decade.

That is, I can solve the deficit/debt problem right now and very easily: massively raise taxes on the rich.  Because it's what they OWE.

But, as the linked article observes, it's not all about the deficit.  The wealth inequality caused by such a lax tax policy is destroying what drives the economy in real life, consumer demand.  That is, what's really happening is the exact opposite of the conventional wisdom.  The rich don't create jobs: rather, consumer markets create jobs.  Without consumer demand, there is no need to hire people, no need to expand business, no need for rich people to do anything but sit their fat asses on top of their fat piles of money and laugh because they're screwing us all over.  In stark contrast, however, when the government takes that money as taxes and turns it into important social services that make life easier and less expensive for average ordinary Americans, we all end up with more disposable income, which must necessarily result in higher consumer demand, which, you know, is what creates jobs and grows the economy.

We could end this Second Great Depression RIGHT NOW.  If we wanted.  Instead, we seem to be totally content to let the rich get richer, while education, employment, quality of life, a future for our children, hope itself, all decline for everybody else, because...well...I don't know why.  Fuck the rich.  They're destroying this country.  And a lot of us are helping them do it.


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

4 Reasons 2015 Could Be the Movie Industry's Worst Year Ever


During our ongoing coverage of the implosion of Hollywood, you might ask yourself, "What do I care if a bunch of movies lose money and studios go bankrupt? So what if studio execs have to switch to a lower quality of cocaine?" The problem is that the movies most of you tend to like are very expensive to make, and currently they aren't making their money back. Hollywood is about to start making less of what you like, and/or making it shittier.

Which brings us to 2015. See, studios say that there were too many expensive CGI-filled blockbusters this year, and audiences just went numb by the time July got here. And there will be far, far more of that in 2015 -- we're talking Star Wars VII, The Avengers 2, and Batman vs. Superman serving as the tip of the iceberg of a giant list of huge-budget remakes and sequels all landing at the same time.

As we're about to prove with numbers, Hollywood is about to ramp this car right off the goddamned cliff ...

More here.

Okay, I quibble with the "movies most of you tend to like" statement, because, well, when blockbuster craptacular is all that's on the menu for the most part, that's what you're going to eat, and that's how you're going to be defining your taste.  I mean, okay, I like big blockbuster movies, too, but only when they're good.  You know, with good characters having some depth and complexity, interesting themes, and a well told story.  Like Jaws or Raiders of the Lost Ark.  But there just aren't many of those these days.  The vast majority of directors aren't Spielberg.  Indeed, most of these blockbusters are all style without substance.  A total waste of time.

Do I feel this way because I'm middle aged?  Maybe.  Maybe I'm just jaded and cynical.  But it cannot be denied that, over the last thirty years, there have been enormous changes in how Hollywood does business, and those changes have affected the products it sells, much for the worse.  The short story is that what was once a medium sized business was bought up by big business starting in the 80s, and this essentially moved the money much further away from the creativity and talent.  Multimillion dollar blandness resulted.  But you can read up on the long version here.

At any rate, if this Cracked piece is correct, it's looking like the craptacular approach may very well be running its course.  I sure hope so.  I hope Hollywood goes bankrupt and has to start all over, but without deep corporate pockets.  The way I see it, there's no place to go but up.  I mean, things certainly can't get worse. 

Can they?


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Republicans Against Reality

New Krugman:

When it comes to fiscal policy, then, Republicans have fallen victim to their own con game. And I would argue that something similar explains how the party lost its way, not just on fiscal policy, but on everything.

Think of it this way: For a long time the Republican establishment got its way by playing a con game with the party’s base. Voters would be mobilized as soldiers in an ideological crusade, fired up by warnings that liberals were going to turn the country over to gay married terrorists, not to mention taking your hard-earned dollars and giving them to Those People. Then, once the election was over, the establishment would get on with its real priorities — deregulation and lower taxes on the wealthy. 

At this point, however, the establishment has lost control. Meanwhile, base voters actually believe the stories they were told — for example, that the government is spending vast sums on things that are a complete waste or at any rate don’t do anything for people like them. (Don’t let the government get its hands on Medicare!) And the party establishment can’t get the base to accept fiscal or political reality without, in effect, admitting to those base voters that they were lied to.

More here.

Back during WWII, Finland, a nation we generally think of as being pretty darned civilized, took action that, at first glance, appears to be downright bizarre.  They sided with Nazi Germany of their own free will.  Why on earth would a civilized nation ever do anything like this?  History.  The Soviet Union, which borders Finland, had a very, very long history of dominating the Northern European nation, first as Russia, then in the twentieth century as the USSR, and Soviet troops were on the move.  Germany did not have this kind of relationship with Finland, as evil as the Nazi regime was, which made it kind of a no-brainer to side with the Germans against the Soviets, who the Finns KNEW to be a threat.

That's how I kind of feel about national politics here in the US in the twenty first century.  Both the Democratic and the Republican Parties are horrific institutions.  Both want to oppress American citizens, whether they admit it or not.  But the major threat, historically speaking, comes from the GOP, which has been going after working people for decades and decades.  And like the Soviet soldiers of the late 1930s, the Republicans are definitely on the move today.  I mean bat-shit crazy on the move.  They are definitely the known threat.  So American liberals, like their Finnish counterparts some seventy years ago with the Nazis, reflexively side with the Democrats.  I mean, of course, the Republicans certainly aren't going to further any progressive goals; no way liberals are going to support them.  

But the real downside here is that, also like the Finns before us, when we support bad guys in order to neutralize a threat from other bad guys, we are, in the end, supporting bad guys.  And that's where the WWII comparison ends.  The Allies won the war and Finland managed to evade Stalin's Iron Curtain, becoming a client state for the US, a happy ending.  But in American politics in the early twentieth century, there is no equivalent Yankee knight on a white horse to save the country.  When we support the Democratic vision of a socially liberal but economically oppressive nation, we're cutting off our noses to spite our faces.

And I just don't see a way out of it.


Monday, August 05, 2013

Sunday, August 04, 2013


Two of my favorite conversational topics.  Nice discussion from facebook over Thursday's post:

Bill I'm a Christian, Ron, and I love you. Again, hope to have coffee sometime! And I do believe, despite the radical teaching of Christ, I believe He'd be a conservative.

Ronald Question for Billy: how do you define the word or concept "conservative"?

Chris He'd advocate the subjugation of women and would oppose helping the poor? Dang. C'mon, Jesus. Be a bro.

Ronald Well, that's why I ask what "conservatism" means. Those things might not be in Bill's definition, or he might have a nuanced understanding. For instance, Bill might fall into the "teach a man to fish" camp, which ties compassion to personal responsibility, and rules out welfare as violating both ideas. That sort of thing.

Chris I can get behind that. But I still believe that women should be treated as equals (at least!)

Anthony Somebody correct me if I am wrong, but isn't there supposed to be a separation of church & state? How about keeping organized religion out of the government & vice versa? And that includes the judgement of individuals based on their political views.

Ronald Well, okay, I'm sympathetic to that point of view, myself, Anthony. But separation of church and state, as a legal concept, comes down to the first amendment's establishment clause. So it's a very specific idea, I think, which has some very specific ramifications as far as the law goes. But is separation of church and state also a sort of philosophical principle by which we ought to live our political lives? Like I said, I'm sympathetic to that idea. But that would then be simply a sort of social tradition, for us to violate or observe. And I worry about such traditions, with which I group stuff like "don't burn the flag" or "support the troops means support the mission" or "patriotism or loving one's nation must necessarily be (fill in the blank)." So I think it's probably up to each individual citizen, ultimately, to decide what one's own religion means in terms of political expression.

And really, when one considers the nature of what it means to be religious, it becomes obvious that religion is quite often, if not always, part of one's very identity. How do you toss out part of your identity in order to understand politics in a sort of spiritually neutral way? Is that even possible?

Anthony An individual using his religion as a guide post to decide how to vote is one thing. I don't like it when religious institutions try to influence their parishioners how to vote in elections. It should strictly be a matter of individual discretion and organized religion shouldn't be involved with such decisions. And for such institutions to make judgments about individuals based on political views is going a little overboard in my opinion. Accept people for who they are.

Ronald Agreed. Churches occupy an interesting social space such that, if unregulated as far as partisan political speech is concerned, they effectively become unregulated PACs, cash machines for the influencing of political thought. Fortunately, they are, in fact, regulated in this way. As for judging a politician's individual worthiness based on his or her religious preferences, I hope and pray that everybody remembers how George W Bush was hailed for his fundamentalist views, which was immediately followed by him illustrating for one and all to see that personal piousness does NOT translate into political ability.

Bryce I find it is interesting that conservatives who believe in Jesus are certain he would be a conservative, and Jesus-believing liberals are equally certain he'd be a liberal. All based on a book written by a bunch of people who never knew a dude named Jesus. So it seems like this would be unknowable, yet people argue it vehemently both ways. Sounds like it has way more to do with what the believer believes than some dude named Jesus.

Ronald Well, the Bible's an enormous book. Lots there to argue about.

Bryce Agreed. But argue to what end? It has to be one of the worst books ever written, unless you like mythology. Anyone can support any crazy-ass shit they want to because somewhere in the bible that's what it says. Seems embarrassing to base one's beliefs on something that has been written and rewritten so many times over the centuries, all by persons with different agendas and belief systems. Yet people quote it as though a god or Jesus actually said these things. Frankly, it's delusional. Perhaps if we wait another 2000 years we can come back and see similar arguments about what god really meant in the book of scientology.

Ronald Well, okay, I'd agree with you if we were regarding the Bible as a textbook on, say, chemistry or something. But to follow your reasoning to its logical conclusion, we must also say that Greco-Roman myths have no value. We must also dismiss as coincidence that certain myths and legends have a bizarre habit of repeating themselves in numerous cultures, some of which have absolutely no connection with one another. We must ignore the fact that Judeo/Christian thought has dominated the West for a millennium and a half, and affects our understanding of reality in ways we often don't see or acknowledge. That is, the Bible is a profoundly important work of literature, and its cultural ramifications infuse countless aspects of our lives. You don't have to literally believe it in order to see that it has great value in as much as analysis and discussion go.

We quote Shakespeare, too, because he spoke certain truths, even though we're quite sure that those truths are transmitted to us via fiction. Actually, I'll quote Shakespeare right now: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Check it out:

Brian I'll respectfully submit, because this agnostic is respectful of all faiths, that I find most self proclaimed "conservatives" in the media mainstream (meaning most politicians and pundits) to be extremely ignorant of The Beatitudes which are certainly on the short list of the Most Poignant Things Ever Written. And that (once again I'll respectfully submit) is NOT Christian, by its very definition.
My old pal Brian definitely deserves the last word tonight.  So 'nuff said!


Friday, August 02, 2013



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


The “anti-God” party

From Salon courtesy of a facebook friend:

In a local radio interview this morning, Virginia Republican lieutenant governor nominee E.W. Jackson said the Democratic Party is “anti-God” and that Christians should leave it.

Jackson has said in the past that he thinks believing in God and voting Democratic are fundamentally incompatible, so WLEE host Jack Gravely asked if he still believes it. Gravely explained that he’s a Christian and tends to vote Democratic, just like his parents and family. Jackson didn’t back down.

“You are saying for us, we’re all wrong, leave that party. And all I’m saying to you is, if you said it before, you still have to believe it, why did you say it?” Gravely asked. “Oh, oh, oh I do believe it,” Jackson responded.

More here.

Okay, I know that this is just one guy, and I know that, when pressed, most fundamentalist Christians will tell you that God doesn't care what party you're supporting.  But I've encountered this sort of thing personally, and I think that, even though they'd never admit it, there are, in fact, LOTS of fundamentalist Christians who think this way.

Back when I was teaching high school, I finally got a chance to meet a new government teacher.  He was younger than me, maybe in his mid twenties, and a guy who fit well into my school's conservative dominated social studies department: he was an ordained Southern Baptist minister doing this teaching gig until he could get a post at a church somewhere.  But that was cool.  At that point I had not thought of myself as a Southern Baptist for some years, but it was nice to meet a guy with whom I shared some background.  

Of course, my reputation there as a liberal preceded me.  This is important to note because of how he reacted when we shook hands.  He looked me in the eye as though he was being tested by the Devil himself.  I tried to make some small talk with him, asking him where he was from, where he had gone to seminary, that sort of thing.  His answers were short and curt, just enough to say that he had responded.  His chin was raised.  He seemed to have a sort of "I know what this is REALLY about" attitude.  He never stopped looking at me, never even shifted his gaze, like I was some sort of threat.  He very clearly did NOT want to be talking with me.  I thought the whole thing was very bizarre at the time, and it didn't really hit me until later that it was likely my liberal political orientation making him interact with me in this way. 

I mean, I could be wrong, of course, but that's the sense I had.  And it's not the only time I've gotten this cold shoulder from a fundamentalist who knew I'm a liberal.  And then there are guys like the candidate in the linked article who just come right out and say it.  I really think there's a strain within fundamentalism these days which takes it for granted that Christians vote Republican and scum communist sinners vote Democrat. 

Of course, the really ironic thing here is that I'm halfheartedly of the opinion that it's extraordinarily difficult for a conservative to be a Christian.  I mean, a conservative can probably pull it off, but like the camel having such a tough time going through the eye of a needle, which may or may not be a small gate into a Biblical city, it's not easy.  On the other hand, who the hell am I to be such an expert on one's own relationship with the Almighty?  I'm not an expert.  I don't really know, nor can I know.  People understand the Bible in radically different ways.  If they didn't, there would only be one church.  It is just as unfairly absurd for me to say who is and isn't a "real" Christian, especially based on their political beliefs, as it was for my government teacher acquaintance to do so.

I mean, if you say you're a Christian, you probably are.  The real question here is how you're weighing your political beliefs against your religious beliefs.  In this sense, I have a very strong suspicion that this Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate in Virginia is probably not doing too great of a job.


Thursday, August 01, 2013

Obama's Better Bargain and Our Perverse Politics

From the Nation courtesy of facebook:

But is this what the country has come to? Consider the context, and it’s stunning.

Unemployment is still at crisis levels, and is recovering more slowly than during any previous recession. In fact, throughout the recovery more unemployed workers have been leaving the labor force than have found work. Eighty percent of US adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least part of their lives and half of the US population is currently considered poor or low-income.

Meanwhile, corporate profits are sky-rocketing to all-time highs, and the Wall Street stock indices are booming at pre-crash levels. Corporate America has so much cash it can just stash over a trillion dollars overseas and just park it there until given a chance to bring it back.

Inequality—the gap between the have and have-nots—is widening to historic and alarming levels (the top 1 percent own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 80 percent hold 7 percent of it). It’s actually accelerated faster during the economic recovery and Obama’s presidency, as corporate profits bounded back and most of the regained jobs have been at the lowest wage rung.

In this context, Obama’s proposal is, in a word, insane. Through the repatriation levy, he’s essentially resorted to bribing an already-fattened corporate sector with even more money (savings from not taxing massive overseas income), in exchange for taking a fraction of that gift and steering it towards some job creation efforts.

More here.

This is what I was getting at in my post a couple of days ago where I went on for a while about how and why some 80% of Americans will either be in, or face, poverty at least once in their lives.  Three decades of Washington embracing Republican economics, which includes the Democrats, has put this nation firmly in the control of corporations, Wall Street, and the fabulously rich.  Our leaders necessarily serve the rich.  Not us.  And they're locked into it.  They can't get out.  They don't WANT to get out because they believe in what they're doing.

I mean, it's very likely a weird psychology.  Most of these politicians, no doubt, honestly believe that giving the obscenely wealthy everything they want somehow magically translates into greater prosperity for the nation.  But this big speech from Obama indicates that some of them, at least, are starting to see that the seams holding together the fabric of society are slowly splitting.  Given their belief in conservative economic magic, it's probably extraordinarily difficult for them to reconcile what they see happening with their understanding of how things ought to be happening.  Thus, the President's impossible proposals for strengthening the middle class.

I use the word "impossible," because, as the Bible says, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." (Matthew 6:24)  That is, Washington politicians cannot give the wealthy everything they want while at the same time strengthening economic prospects for most Americans.  The two concepts are diametrically opposed.

But the elites just don't get it.  That is, they don't want to get it.  They know who funds their campaigns, and they know what would happen to that funding if they suddenly decided to understand.  So we're totally trapped.  The government is the only thing that can change this awful dynamic which continually takes from average citizens and then gives to the rich, but one can only become part of the government by making a Faustian bargain with the rich.  

I'd like to believe Obama and the Democrats can get us out of this, but they're all too crazy to do what needs to be done.  They believe contradictory ideas.  And, I suppose, that's the way it has to be, given the situation.  We're screwed.