Monday, February 17, 2014

What It Means To Be An American

An eye-opening antidote from an objective observation:

"Americans live in a state of ignorant, prelapsarian bliss. Because of that, it can be very relaxing to go to America and watch them. If you go to America and look at Americans in their natural habitat: the theme park, the shopping mall, the race riot, the high school massacre, and you watch them walking around looking at colours and shapes. And lights and words. Sometimes imagining what the words might mean... It's very relaxing. It's like watching carp in a pond in a stately home. Their mouths opening and closing. It's charming. But you mustn't hate the Americans. They're not naturally curious. Most Americans do not own passports. They're not naturally curious. If you were to lock an American for years in an empty underground bunker, which contained nothing except a woolly tea cosy, the American would not even be curious enough to be tempted to see if the tea cosy would make a serviceable hat. They're far more likely to arrest the tea cosy, intern it illegally in Guantanamo Bay, and then repeatedly anally rape it until it admits that it was actually a member of an al-Qaeda training cell. Even though at the time of the offence, the tea cosy was working as a shop assistant in a branch of Currys in Wolverhampton." - Stewart Lee

  1. 1.
    characteristic of the time before the Fall of Man; innocent and unspoiled.
    "a prelapsarian Eden of astonishing plenitude"

Melting Press

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Intercept - New Online Journal


Here is the new online journal from First Look Media. A collaboration between Jeremy Scahill, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Pierre Omidyar.

Welcome to The Intercept
We are very excited to welcome everyone to The Intercept, a publication of First Look Media (FLM). The Intercept, which the three of us created, is the first of what will be numerous digital magazines published by FLM. Read more
The opening article is: The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program
The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people. Read more

Glenn Greenwald: "*** no American, no matter your political affiliation or ideology, should accept the idea that the president of the United States has the power to order American citizens killed, not on a battlefield or anywhere else that is in a war zone, but simply on the suspicion that they intend to engage in future criminal behavior. To describe that power is to describe the most extremist and out-of-control government you can get."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

They Call THIS a Compromise

[UPDATE Below]

When you can't feed your family and your kids are hungry, look to your Republican neighbor first, then take a good look at your Democratic neighbor, especially the one that voted for and continues to support Barack Obama. Maybe they can make up the difference in food stamp losses. They, the Republicans, Democrats, Independents and God only knows who else, take your money, keep it to use for buying votes, or spend it on lawless wars and bail-outs for the Banks and Too Big To Fail 1% oligarchy, and you and your children can eat dirt.

This is a news headline on Democracy Now this morning Wednesday, February 5, 2014:
Senate OKs Farm Bill with $8.7 Billion in Food Stamp Cuts
The Senate has approved a long-stalled farm bill that includes a major cut to food stamps. The measure would reduce funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by $8.7 billion over a decade. The figure amounts to a loss of $90 per month for 850,000 families in need. The cuts mark a "compromise" between a Republican plan to slash food stamps by $39 billion and a Democratic one to cut them by $4 billion. The bill would also end billions of dollars in direct payments to farmers, but still hand out billions more through the expansion of government-subsidized crop insurance. President Obama is expected to sign the measure into law. In a statement, the Children’s Defense Fund said: "It is shameful that Congress continues to treat poor Americans like second-class citizens by cutting supports they desperately need."
The Google definition for compromise is:
1. an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.
1. settle a dispute by mutual concession.
2. weaken (a reputation or principle) by accepting standards that are lower than is desirable.
The Biblical definition for Sin is Compromise - The real reason Jesus Christ was put to death. To try to force him to sell-out or compromise his soul, to extinguish the light.

[UPDATE :: February 6, 2014]
Despite majority vote, Democratic plan to restore long-term unemployment insurance fails to clear parliamentary hurdle

Don't you just love them? 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Ronald Reagan Lie

The Dangerous Charade of Billionaire Victims

(By Robert Freeman)

The Tom Perkins “billionaires-as-victims” charade couldn’t be more surreal. It goes without saying that his comparing the 1% to victims of Hitler’s genocide is tasteless. That it is oblivious is obvious. And that Perkins himself suffers from paranoid delusions must be suspected.

But there are deeper reasons for plumbing the pathology of Perkins’ rant. As background, let’s recall some basic facts.

Over the past 30-odd years, since Reagan, a vast share of the nation’s income and wealth has been transferred from the poor, working, and middle classes to the very wealthy. Twenty five years ago, the top 1% of income earners pulled in 12% of the nation’s income, today they get twice that, 25%. And the rate of transfer is accelerating.

In the ten years between 1996 and 2006 67% of all the growth in the entire U.S. economy went to the top 1% of income earners. Between 2009 and 2012, 95% of all the new income produced in the economy went to the top 1%. What about everybody else?

Since the late 1970s, labor productivity in the U.S. has risen 259%. If the fruits of that productivity had been distributed according to the capitalist ideal that a person gets what he produces, the average person’s income would be more than double what it is today. The reality?

Median male compensation, adjusted for inflation, is lower today than it was in 1975, a full generation ago. A staggering 40% of all Americans now make less than the 1968 minimum wage. It’s the exact opposite of the cultural myth of shared prosperity and opportunity for all.

The rich are getting richer, and everyone else is getting poorer. That is not an ideological statement. It is an empirical one. Perkins believes that simply discussing such facts cannot be allowed. The rich may only be addressed in terms that signal deification.

But underlying Perkins’ tirade is a conviction that the super-rich have earned everything they’ve gotten and so are beyond reproach. Have they?

An enormous amount of the gains by the super-rich have flowed to those in the finance industry. But much of that has been the result of naked fraud and outright criminality, for example in the mortgage, mortgage securities, and derivatives markets. The simple fact of banks being “too big to fail” (an immunity to failure underwritten by the government) is worth tens of billions of dollars a year. And do we even need mention the trillions of dollars of bailouts lavished on the banks, even as millions of mortgage holders were losing their homes?

The banks have learned how to pillage the public and plunder the public purse by paying a periodic “licensing fee” in the form of a nominal fine with no admission of guilt, even as tens of millions of global victims are denuded of income and wealth.

This is hardly the John Galt/Atlas Shrugged model of rugged economic individualism that Perkins fantasizes. It is a cancerous corruption of markets, achieved by equally cancerous capture of political and regulatory systems. It is so brazen and uncontested it’s become normal. Perkins literally believes it is admirable.

Markets in fossil fuels are equally corrupted, if not more so. Coal and oil companies reap enormous, breathtaking profits, partly by offloading their waste products into the global commons called the atmosphere. As with the banks, it is a massive, trillion-dollar case of privatizing profits while socializing costs.

This is the essential nature of almost all major markets today: the government acts as guarantor of staggering private profits, underwritten at public cost. This is the basis of much of the income and wealth transfers of the past thirty years.

We have WalMart and McDonalds, for example, paying their people so little they are forced onto food stamps. It is a covert subsidy of their costs, borne by the public, and worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year. All hidden in plain view.

Or, remember G.W. Bush’s billion giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry with his Medicare Part D gift. It prohibited the government from negotiating for lower drug prices or from allowing foreign-made competition into the U.S. market. Its value? $600 billion.

The government effectively quit enforcing anti-trust thirty years ago, with the consequence that almost all major markets have become consolidated into just a handful of mega-corporations who agree not to compete on price. Think, for example, of the banking, airline, telecommunications, insurance, weapons, and media industries. They are massive oligopolies, extracting all value from their captive customers.

It is through such structuring of industries, stripping of regulations, provision of subsidies and guarantees, favorable tax treatments, and a thousand other insider artifices that the U.S. economy has become a mechanism for sluicing the nation’s income and wealth to those who are already the most wealthy, like Tom Perkins.

The consequence is that the U.S. has become the most unequal economy in the developed world, and with less upward mobility than any other industrialized country. Another consequence is the devastation of democracy, as pharaoic wealth is channeled into buying politicians, judges, regulators and all other gatekeepers of the public trust. Inequality and plutocracy then become an irreversible problem.

Perkins’ delusions of persecution might be tolerable were they rooted in some reality about the source of the 1%’s income and wealth. They are not. We must guard against letting his narcissistic delusions become anyone else’s cognitive map for how to deal with the problem.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Robert Freeman

Robert Freeman is the author of The Best One-Hour History series which includes World War I and The Vietnam War. He is the founder of the national non-profit One Dollar For Life which helps American students build schools in the developing world from their contributions of one dollar.

Mirrored from

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks: “Rich Asshole Tries To Apologize And Makes Things Much Worse”