Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Night Music Video: "Got to Have Rock And Roll" by Heartless Bastards

I've linked to all kinds of music here at TDS, from thrash metal to alternative country to punk to Broadway show tunes. But if you were to tie me down and waterboard me until I admitted which kind of music is my favorite I would blubber for awhile and then finally acknowledge that what really stirs my loins is good old fashioned 1970s-era classic rock. And that's why I really love the recent tune linked below from the outstanding Austin, Texas, band, Heartless Bastards, featuring an ass kicking guitar lick that I swear you could get out your surfboard and ride for a good four minutes or so. It makes me want to break out some bell bottoms, fire up a doobie and go for a cruise in an old Camaro with all the windows down and the 8-track player CRANKING.


Asshole Idiot Nation: Grocery Store Clerk Humiliates Food Stamp Recipient

You really have to hand it to asshole conservatives and the doctrinaire libertarians for how successful they have been in turning us plebes against one another so that we don't turn around and see that it's the face of the oligarchs that is connected to the big red, white a blue dick they are shoving up our asses on a daily basis. The brillance of their campaign to demonize poverty even as they strive hard to drive even more members of the former working and middle classes into poverty was on display again this week, as reported by Digital Journal:
Cindy Nerger of Warner Robins, Ga., who has been on a waiting list for kidney transplant for five years, was brought to tears at a supermarket last week when a clerk ridiculed her in the presence of other customers for using food stamps. Local TV station WMAZ, reported the incident after Nerger posted her story on the station's Facebook page.

She said she went shopping last week Tuesday at the Kroger off Watson Boulevard. When she got to the register, the clerk insisted wrongly that $10 worth of items were not covered. She said: "He told me I owed him 10 dollars and some change. I am not exactly sure what it was, but I told him, I said I am sorry sir, but there is nothing in my cart that is not covered by food stamps." According to Nerger, Kroger employees kept her on the line for half an hour.

A store manager finally intervened and told the clerk to give her the items. When she complained about the treatment she received, the the clerk said aloud: "Excuse me for working for a living and not relying on food stamps!" Nerger said at this point she was so embarrassed that she broke down in tears. She said: "I was upset, so, I was like, you know, I told you that it was covered under food stamps, you know, so, there was no need for all of this, you know, and he said, 'Well excuse me that I work for a living and don't rely on food stamps like you.'" She added: "I honestly was angry. I was angry at first, but it turned into tears because when I turned around and I saw the people there I was like, oh my goodness, and I just started crying."

According to The Huffington Post, Nerger, 28. said she and her husband were not proud to use food stamp debit card. She told The Huffington Post, "I felt shy when I used them and my husband does, too. I would try to hide the card." She said, "I didn't want to have to go there, you know, nobody wants to have to ask somebody for help, but it got to the point it was either ask for help or starve."

The Huffington Post reports Nerger said she started receiving food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assitance Program) after she fell ill in 2008 and became eligible for Medicare and Social Security Supplemental Income. While she is on waiting list for kidney transplant she cannot work because of daily 12-hr dialysis treatment. According to Nerger, her husband runs a carpentry business but does not make enough income to sustain the family without assistance.
No doubt that idiot grocery store clerk, who is probably living paycheck to paycheck himself, never gave a moment's thought that he could very easily find himself in Cindy Nerger's shoes at some point in the future. Funny that it is often those who are the closest to actually needing the social safety net who often times are the ones who scream the loudest about it.

I'd so like to take that asshole clerk for a visit to the corporate headquarters of Dyncorps International, or SAIC or General Dynamics so maybe he could get it through his thick fucking skull who the real welfare queens are. Those war contractor assholes and others of their ilk are sucking down many, many times more of his precious little tax dollars that all of the Cindy Nergers of the world combined. Or maybe a little tour of Wall Street and all of the giant financial firms that have been bailed out to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars and whose executives continue to rake in millions of dollars in bonuses while laughing their asses off that fucking morons like him continue to listen to fat fucking pig Rush Limbaugh and to vote for the politicians that enable them to rob him and tens of millions of others like him of their livelihoods, security and futures.

Oh, who am I fucking kidding. Like there is ANY chance that a closed-minded simpleton who lacks even one iota of basic human empathy would fucking understand any of it even if you rubbed his fucking face in it. In fact, you know what? Fuck that asshole. Fuck him and every ignorant fucking piece of shit like him. I have had it with all of them. If someone in this country has to find themselves starving and destitute because of the heartless policies he so foolishly supports, let it someday BE him. I just hope I can be there when it happens to sneer and tell him to get a fucking job.

Bonus: Sorry, I think I was actually channeling angry Bill for a moment there

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bill Maher: "Dipshit" Pot Calls the Kettle Black

I used to be a fan of comedian Bill Maher, but after many years of apparently having no one in his inner circle who dares tell him he is ever wrong about anything, the man who used to pride himself on being such a supposed deep thinker as a stand up comedian is now "jumping the shark" on a regular basis. For the first time in many a moon I caught the last 20 minutes of his weekly HBO show last Friday night, and I couldn't believe all the idiotic bullshit that was pouring out of his mouth.

It started with he and Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie basically saying that they agree with xenophobic conservatives that, compared to other religions, a majority of the world's Muslims are irrational hotheads without ever once acknowledging that many Muslims residing in the Middle East and South Asia who have been the victims of America's murderous imperialistic war polices might actually have legitimate grievances. Now I would expect Rushdie, who after all has been living under an Ayatollah-imposed death sentence for nearly a quarter of a century, to be a tad bitter towards Islam, but I was appalled when Maher nodded like a sock puppet while Rushdie asserted that half a century ago cities in the region like Tehran were "open, cosmopolitan cities," rather that the hotbeds of radicalism they are today.

Yes, Salmon, Tehran back then was indeed an absolute paradise of open-minded tolerance for you as a citizen of a brutal British Empire that was only just then deigning to grant the "ignorant savages" independence the world over. Unfortunately, and this might have escaped your notice up there in your fucking ivory tower where the air apparently gets a little thin and kills off the brain cells that enable critical thinking, the average Iranian during that period lived every day in fear of being abducted, tortured and disappeared by the U.S.-backed Shah's Gestapo-like SAVAK secret police force. Maybe, just maybe, it makes more sense to blame the U.S. for engineering the 1953 coup that overthrew the democratically elected Iranian government and set the conditions that ultimately led to the 1979 Islamic Revolution which brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power. To argue that Islam has become "radicalized" in the past 50 years, as Rushdie did with poodle Maher by his side, without once acknowledging the role of Western imperialism in stoking that radicalization puts Rushdie and Maher intellectually on par with the likes of Dick Cheney or Paul Wolfowitz.

A little bit later in the show, referring to Mutt Romney's little 47% problem, Maher lamented that it has gotten to the point where no one can get up on stage to address an audience anymore without someone making a recording of it and placing it on You Tube. Maher then bizarrely compared the crap Williard has been getting for his comments to the infamous Michael Richards and smarmy douchebag Daniel Tosh notorious comedy club meltdowns.

Apparently, in the increasingly addled mind of America's most lovable atheist, no one should be able to hold you accountable if you get up on stage as Richards did and repeatedly call a black audience member the n-word while advocating that he be lynched or, as Tosh did, tell a female audience member that she deserves to be gang raped for calling out to you that she doesn't think rape jokes are funny (oh, and not incidentally, Tosh's meltdown was NOT caught on video but merely blogged about by the victim of Tosh's vicious verbal assault). Obviously I'm a huge fan of risque humor myself, but heaven forbid that the world is no longer safe for blatantly racist and misogynist stand up comedians to keep earning a buck after exposing their ugly inner thoughts onstage. Bill Hicks was a master at verbally destroying hecklers--but he knew how to do it without resorting to such garbage. Oh, and he was, you know, actually funny.

But Maher reached a new low even for him during his "new rules" segment when he called undecided voters "dipshits" who should "stay home on election day." Here is The Raw Story with the details:
“If you’re one of the 5 percent of American voters who are still undecided on who to vote for, it’s okay to admit you just don’t really give a shit,” Maher began. “Seriously, if you still can’t figure out who you like more –Mitt Romney or Barrack Obama– stay home… because you probably couldn’t find your polling place anyway. I mean, what more information does someone need to make this choice? Obama has been President for nearly four years. And Mitt Romney has been running for President since 1971, when his space egg incubated and he burst out of an astronaut’s chest.”

But Maher’s criticism wasn’t merely for the “undecideds,” but for notion that mainstream media outlets give their opinions weight.

“Can we please stop treating them like they’re more noble and discerning than the rest of us? …[Undecided voters are] put on a pedestal by the media, as if they’re Hamlet in a think tank, searching out every last bit of information and high-minded arbiters pouring over policy positions and matching them against their own philosophies. Please! They mostly fall into a category political scientists call ‘low-information voters’ –otherwise known as ‘dipshits.’”
Yeah, Bill, you are such a superior thinker being a "high information" voter and all that you laughably believe that it will make ANY fucking difference whatsoever in the lives of the average American who wins the election in November. In fact, despite President Hopey-Changey having sold the liberal and progressive movement down the river on every singe issue of real importance since his inauguration you still inexplicably donated a cool $1 million of your own money to Obama's super PAC for his reelection campaign. And this happened AFTER you publicly proclaimed that you were "disappointed" in Obama last year for "giving away the store" as you so memorably put it your own self.

So tell me, Bill, because as someone who is a "high information NON-voter" I'd really like to know the answer to this question...who's the true dipshit, the low information voter who can't make up their mind, or the smug, self-satisfied talk show host who despite all of the evidence to the contrary is still desperately trying to convince his delusional liberal and progressive audience that it matters either way?

Bonus: Here is a video of the Rushdie/Maher conversation if you can stomach it. Pretty sad when a hack like Chris Matthews serves the voice of REASON in any political discussion.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

We Were Fucked from the Moment We Elected the Movie Actor

Late last week I saw what I thought was a very funny political post on a libertarian, Ron Paul supporting “doomer” blog. The essence of the post was that Obama is a terrible president because he is unqualified for the job and as proof it served up examples of how he spends more time playing golf and on vacation than he does running the country. Part of the reason I found it so amusing was that liberals and progressives used to say almost the exact same things about Chimpy Bush when he was the prez-nit. But more importantly, I found it funny because as evidenced by the post itself and the reader comments, many of these “realist” libertarian types still seem to be suffering under the delusion that the president actually runs the country.

Let’s cut to the chase and state right upfront who Obama really is: a snake oil salesman. He’s a the Wizard of Oz, with an image-perfect little family right out of central casting from the old Cosby Show, hired by the billionaire scumbags who really run the country to make America’s unceasing addiction to big business, war and empire palatable to enough of the ignorant, stupid masses to prevent serious civil unrest from breaking out. The American Hologram, as our old friend the late author Joe Bageant described the American media, maintains an ironclad grip on the thoughts and opinions of a vast majority of the population—and Obama is the vital cog that maintains the illusion that an elected official is still in charge of the country.

It wasn’t always like this. Throughout history, Americans have often complained about the Tweedledee and Tweedledum nature of the two party system, in which the choices on election day often seem to be between the “lesser of two evils.” But believe it or not, there was a time when the president WAS an independent actor who could be a fearsome opponent to anyone, even a Wall Street titan, who opposed him. Teddy Roosevelt and his staid successor, William Howard Taft, energetically smashed the old monopolistic trusts, which was the first great blow the federal government ever struck on behalf of the common people in the age of the corporation. Teddy's cousin, FDR, was hated as “a traitor to his class” for enacting the New Deal, which was a main pillar that supported the creation of a robust middle class after World War Two. Flash forward another few decades, and whatever else you might want to say about them it would be very difficult to argue that there was little difference between George McGovern and Richard Nixon in 1972, or even Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Speaking of Reagan, as I’ve stated here before it was his election that was really the turning point that started America down this long road to perdition. President Bonzo had a unique ability to appeal to superficial patriotism and cultural divides to get working and middle class people to vote against their economic interests—in other words the former Hollywood actor was also a great SALESMAN. By all accounts, Reagan himself was disinterested in the mechanics of being president, and turned much of the detail work over to his subordinates. In that dynamic, we see the first emergence of the President as a cipher, the man whose most important job is to sell policies that were designed by his puppetmasters. Reagan’s massive electoral success despite his manifest unfitness for the presidency was all the proof the oligarchs needed that they could seize total control over the political process if they could find just the right “useful idiots.”

After Reagan, Daddy Bush and Bill Clinton may have been a bit more their own men than The Gipper, but by the time we reached the disastrous administration of George Bush the Lesser the process of making the president little more than a figurehead fronting for those who put him in office was almost complete. Obama just closed the loop by becoming the first Democratic president to be a total stooge of those who have anointed him as “the one.”

And that’s where we stand today. Six weeks before the election, it appears from how the majority of the fat cat contributors’ campaign contributions are now shifting away from Romney to Obama that the powers that be have decided that President Hopey-Changey is a more effective salesman for their agenda than the hopelessly inept Governor 47%-er could ever hope to be. Obama may not have been a Hollywood actor, but he learned how to say his lines and hit his marks a long time ago, and wouldn’t be where he is today if he hadn’t.

Bonus: In retrospect, we'd have been better off electing Reagan's male co-star.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Billionaires Do Not Care About the Integrity of ANYTHING

Hoo-boy, did Americans wake up out of their usual slumber and get all hot and bothered this week. There was consternation and gnashing of teeth from coast to coast and even out into the various territories. For a moment there, it looked like public anger would boil over and infuriated citizens would pour out into the streets in mass protest. Howard Beale, where are you when we need you? We’re mad as hell, and we absolutely are not going to take this shit anymore.

So what was it that stirred the masses from their media-induced numbness and fueled their growing outrage? Was it the latest war atrocity against innocent civilians overseas committed by a declining empire fighting a desperate rearguard action against the unceasing march of history? Was it the latest federal government bailout of Wall Street banksters who then turn around and send middle class jobs to the country that the Pentagon war pigs tell us is supposedly the worst geopolitical threat we face in the world? Perhaps likely voters are finally waking up to the fact that the approaching presidential election is a sham and that there is virtually no difference between the two major party candidates on any issue of substance?

Don’t be silly, Natch. I’m talking about the horrifically blown call by replacement referees at the end of the nationally televised Monday Night Football game that gave the Seahawks an “undeserved” victory over the Packers.

That’s what it comes down to. That’s what it takes to get the idiots upset in this stupid country. You can bone them up the ass for more than 30 years, slowly stealing their prosperity, security and their children’s futures, but goddamnit don’t allow a meaningless game between two groups of steroid-fueled, overpaid millionaires to descend into a comical farce. That’s taking things a bit too far.

What’s most amusing to me about this latest tempest in a Hologram teapot is that there actually is a very good lesson to be learned from this debacle even if you are not a sports fan. In fact, let me briefly summarize the issue for those of you who do not spend your autumn Sunday afternoons glued to your television screens. The NFL is run by a group of 31 billionaire owners (and the Green Bay Packers, who are owned by the city of Green Bay) who just signed a $20 billion national television contract to broadcast their mediocre games into every household in the land. That big, fat wad of teevee cash virtually guarantees that the owners will make a profit every year no matter how well they manage (or mismanage) their teams.

Moreover, for the past 30 years NFL commissioners have been steadfastly pushing league player personnel rules in such a way to encourage “parity” (mediocrity), meaning that the talent level on each team now evens out enough so that there are no true dynasties anymore and most individual games are closely fought contests. This “balance” is supposed to generate even more fan excitement and interest (and, not incidentally get them spending even more of their hard earned money on NFL merchandise). Unfortunately, there is one little problem that comes with parity, and that is the nature of the game itself, in which subjective penalties called by the referees in a tight contest—pass interference, holding and personal fouls in particular—can swing the results of an individual game one way or another and one bad call can negate the strenuous efforts of the players on the field.

So here you have a league in which the quality of play has already been deliberately watered down, resulting in many close games in which the quality of the refereeing is already crucial to maintaining its integrity as an athletic competition, and what do those billionaire owners with the $20 billion television contract do? Try to save a few paltry million dollars by locking out the regular referees and bringing in a bunch of incompetent scabs to replace them. There just could not be any more fitting metaphor for what the oligarchs who really run this country have been doing to the workers for the past 30 years with the complicity of the bought-and-paid for politicians.

Those sportswriters and fans who are now shrieking about how the integrity of the NFL has been damaged by the use of replacement referees are pissing in the wind. Obviously, the billionaires who run the league could not give a shit about the game’s integrity just so long as they can keep reaping billions of dollars in profits from it. Winning is nice, but making money is all they really care about. If you were to hold a gun to the head of any NFL owner and force them to answer honestly whether they would rather have their team win five Super Bowl Championships or receive a sweetheart new stadium deal with plenty of luxury skyboxes from the taxpayers of his state, I guarantee you that every single one of them would take the stadium deal over the Lombardi Trophies. That’s what separates them from the idiot fans who root for each team: the fans genuinely care whether the team wins or not.

It’s the same thing across all aspects of American society. Yesterday, I posted again about Bain Capital closing the Sensata manufacturing plant in my hometown of Freeport, Illinois, and sending the jobs off to China. You would think that such a horrendous action would rip the heart out of anyone who really cares about this country and about the welfare of its citizens, but clearly the sociopathic assholes who run Bain Capital and the poodle politicians they keep in their back pocket—from Willard Romney to President Hopey-Changey—do not care about America any more than those NFL owners do about the supposed “integrity of the game.”

Always remember that when everything in a society becomes a commodity to be bought and sold without sentiment or feeling, that society eventually reaches the point where nothing is sacred or has value for its own sake. Those who would defend the “right” of the oligarchs to do as they please should always bear in mind that what separates us as American citizens in the early 21st century from the historical human norm when life for most people was truly “nasty, brutish and short” was that brief period after World War Two when America temporarily built a more equitable and just society that allowed most citizens and not just the oligarchs to enjoy the fruits of fossil fueled prosperity. The game has since changed, the age of abundance is coming to an end and all of that is now being ripped away. So you should ask yourself: is it more likely after the dust settles that I will be one of the tiny minority of global oligarchs who rule the planet with an iron fist, or instead will I be one of the vast majority of hopeless peons who are exploited to death so that their rulers may extract every last ounce of value from our resource depleted world?

Bonus: Classic George Carlin

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Call Those Who Offshore American Jobs What They Are: Traitors

Poor old Willard. My hometown of Freeport, Illinois, just refuses to go away and leave Governor 47%-er alone as he continues his increasingly hopeless quest for the presidency. Yet another major story appeared this week about Bain Capital's decision to close down the local Sensata plant and ship the jobs off to China--all while forcing the plant's employees to train their Chinese replacements. But this time, the story featured a new twist:
Being told to train his replacement was humiliating and surreal, but Tom Gaulrapp said the worst part was when the plant’s US flag was taken down before the Chinese engineers arrived.

Gaulrapp decided it was time to take a stand against outsourcing and the man he blames for the loss of his job: Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney, who founded the private equity firm that owns the Freeport, Illinois auto parts plant.

Romney’s ties to Bain Capital have burdened the Republican nominee’s hopes of winning the November 6 election as Democrats unfavorably paint him as a corporate raider who pioneered the outsourcing of US jobs to countries with lower labor costs.

Romney denies the charge, but his claim to be a man who could revive the economy and boost the prospects of American workers rings hollow here.

Gaulrapp thinks it would only take a phone call from the candidate who’s vowed to create 12 million jobs in the United States to save the 170 jobs at Sensata Technologies that are about to leave this already economically depressed town of 26,000.

“What we’d like is a miracle,” Gaulrapp, who has worked at the plant for 33 years, said with a sigh that acknowledged how unlikely it is that his wish will be granted.

“We’d like Mitt Romney to come to Freeport, see what this is doing to this community, and contact his friends that run Bain Capital and say ‘this is absolutely the wrong thing to do’ and save our jobs.”
Fat chance of that happening. So what was the company's justification for stripping so many long term employees of their livelihoods?
Sensata, which is majority-owned by Bain Capital, purchased the automotive sensors unit from Honeywell for $140 million in cash in January 2011.

With annual revenues of $130 million and valuable patents, the unit was a good buy. But with 75 percent of the revenue generated in Asia, it made sense to ship production to Sensata’s facilities in China, the Netherlands-based company said.

“It’s better to be closer to one’s customers,” Sensata spokesman Jacob Sayer told AFP, citing transportation and other logistical advantages.

Sayer acknowledged that the decision to shift production to China is “an unfortunately event” for Freeport and said he understands why it could be “difficult” for the workers to train their replacements.
Goddamn, but the company spokesweasel is completely full of shit. Really? It's better to be "closer to your customers?" If that were really true, why does Walmart North America import all of the crap it sells from China? This isn't about location, it's about lowering labor costs, and the American workers cost too much. You're completely fucking them, so the LEAST you could do, asshole, is tell the fucking truth.

Oh, and what about that American flag bit anyway?
He has no idea why — or if — the US flag was removed before the Chinese engineers and technicians arrived.

“We didn’t request it. I can tell you that,” Sayer said, adding that the company has been leasing the facility from Honeywell and has no involvement in grounds maintenance.
Oh, right, it's just a fucking coincidence that the flag disappeared on the day the Chinese workers showed up. The fucking janitor must have been hungover that morning or something.

All right, folks, I am going to go ahead and put it bluntly. It's time to stop fucking around and call the people responsible for stripping away American factory jobs and sending them to the country that the war pigs at The Pentagon would call our worst potential enemy what they really are: traitors to America.

Now, my regular readers might scoff that I, who derides this country's elected "leaders" every chance I get, is writing a post appealing to patriotism. In clarification, I will say that it is not patriotism per say that I have a problem with, it is the way superficial appeals to patriotism are used to get average Americans to go along with being boned up the ass by sociopathic fuckheads like the ones who run Bain Capital. It is high time that patriotism instead be wielded as a weapon against these MBA assholes who have never worked a real job a day in their fucking lives.

That's not to say that I want to get all xenophobic and start blaming the Chinese. Fact is, I don''t blame them. They are merely taking what is being gladly given to them by greedy scumbags who are selling their country down the river in the interests of making a buck. If I were in their shoes I'd do the same damn thing. Sadly, the regular Chinese workers who get hired on at the Sensata plant once it is moved to their home country will likely get treated no better than their unfortunate counterparts at Foxconn. For that's where the world is headed: massive unemployment in the West, massive sweatshop production in the East and no one except a tiny elite enjoying any form of prosperity, security or leisure.

No, it isn't the Chinese who are the problem: it's the traitors. And by traitors I mean every fucking asshole (read: Willard Mitt Romney) who has ever been involved in offshoring American jobs as well as every fucking asshole (read: Bill Clinton, Barack Obama) who has ever been involved in pushing through the "free" trade agreements that allow American jobs to be offshored. It is only by thinking about them as they really are that we can stay focused on the fact that THEY are our real enemies and not our fellow workers who may be on strike trying desperately to hold onto to what they have. I have no hope that the average American will wake up to this basic realization before it is too late for all of us, but hey, somebody had to say it.

Bonus: "Deeds not words, you should have told the're a liar and a traitor and now we have the proof"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Look Who's Crying About Sequestration

I gather that most people around the country are too busy just trying to make ends meet and keep their heads above water to be paying much attention to the ticking time bomb our fearless "leaders" set for themselves during last year's debt ceiling fight. That ticking time bomb is called sequestration, and it is set to explode on the second day of the coming new year as part of a much larger federal budgetary "Armageddon" known as "the fiscal cliff," which also includes the expiration of Bush tax cuts, the end of Obama's insane payroll tax "holiday" and the need to raise the debt ceiling yet again. Given that there is ZERO political will to deal with these thorny issues prior to election day, it means that all of them will come to a head on the watch of a lame duck Congress (and perhaps president) between November 6th and the end of the year.

I'll no doubt be writing a lot about this gigantic shit sandwich in future posts, but for the moment I want to focus on the sequestration aspect of it since it is already on the lips of plenty of nervous bureaucrats and contractors in the DC area. So what does sequestration mean for them? Well, here is the "bible" of Inside-the-Beltway thinking itself, Government Executive magazine, with the answer:
At last week’s Excellence in Government Live event, attendees from across government packed rooms to hear budget experts, not typically the most popular brand of speakers, explicate the budget battle ensuing on the Hill. The consensus was not optimistic.

Sequestration, automatic budget reduction, was placed into the 2011 Budget Control Act as a threat to spur the budget ‘super committee’ into action. The super committee failed to reach a consensus, and so budget cuts between 8.5 and 10 percent for FY2013 are slated for January 2, 2013 should Congress fail to pass a budget resolution in time.

Agencies, however, have just nine months to achieve the cuts as FY2013 begins in October. The effective monthly rate is then between 11.3 and 13.3 percent. Sequestration is not a one off occurrence, either. It is a ten year budget reduction, essentially freezing agency accounts for the next decade.
In other words, rather than carefully planning how they might reduce federal spending, the idiots in charge have set things up so that every federal agency is going to get whacked with a budgetary meat cleaver. If this actually is allowed to happen, it will cause unprecedented chaos in Washington.

Not that I expect anyone who will not be directly affected to give a shit. Even though sequestration is going to have dire effects on many people whom I know personally and indeed Virginia actually receives more military spending per capita than any other state, I acknowledge that it is probably the only way the federal government is EVER going to start to reduce its insane levels of deficit spending short of default and a total collapse of the dollar. So I say, enough fucking around. Bring it on, already.

One would also think given the above that sequestration would be a political conservative's wet dream. After all, didn't that slimy asshole Grover Norquist say he wanted to "drown the federal government in the bathtub?" Sequestration may not be a drowning, but if it happens the patient IS going to start looking a little peaked.

Well as it so happens (surprise! surprise!), some conservatives are whining like little titty babies about sequestration. And who might that include? Why, none other than the Heritage Foundation for starters:
Considering the recent violence directed at the U.S. in the Middle East and the looming January 2 deadline for sequestration, it would be imprudent for Congress to remain idle. Waiting to address the military’s budgetary concerns until it is politically easier or until a decision is forced by a direct conflict is irresponsible. This is especially true given the strained resources with which the armed forces are already operating around the world. Members of Congress need to act now to stop defense sequestration and support robust national security funding.
Cutting an Already Weakened Force
Sequestration refers to the automatic cuts in the federal government’s operations mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). This legislation requires an automatic, across-the-board $1.2 trillion cut in federal spending. National security funding suffers the bulk of these cuts—roughly half a trillion dollars. The Department of Defense has already shrunk by roughly $800 billion through efficiencies measures in 2009 and the first portion of cuts from the BCA.
While the OMB report does not indicate which military capabilities will be reduced under sequestration, the House Armed Services Committee has made stark projections. The cuts will cause the smallest Navy fleet since before World War I, the smallest ground force since before World War II, and the smallest Air Force in its history. These reductions will hinder the U.S. military’s ability to perform its varied missions throughout the world on a daily basis.
Implications for U.S. Security
What will these defense cuts mean for U.S. security and interests in the Middle East? The recent engagement in Libya provides some answers. The U.S. eventually had to take the lead in this conflict because European NATO forces were inadequate for certain missions, such as enforcing a no-fly zone. If NATO forces become engaged in a similar scenario with a more capable adversary, the U.S. may not be as confident in a leadership role.
The aging U.S. Air Force F-16s and Marine Corps Harriers that flew over Libya are set to be replaced by the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). However, under the President’s fiscal year 2013 budget request, the nascent F-35 fleet will shrink by 179 aircraft over the next five years. Furthermore, sequestration could eliminate the entire fleet for the Marine Corps JSF variant. This has implications for American allies as well. The United Kingdom has staked its entire future fighter jet force on the Marine Corps variant, and allies such as Israel, Canada, and Japan also intend to buy the fighter.
The U.S. Navy maintains an important presence in the Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean. Through this presence, regional maritime choke points such as the Strait of Hormuz, the Bosporus, the Dardanelles, and the Suez Canal remain open shipping lanes. If any of these vital shipping lanes were disrupted, there would be significant economic consequences. The Strait of Hormuz is particularly vulnerable given its extremely narrow passage and proximity to Iran.
The Navy’s presence would also be important if the U.S. were to engage in a conflict similar to the one in Libya. Aircraft carriers host a variety of critical air assets such as F-18 fighters, surveillance aircraft, and, in the future, the F-35. Each carrier hosts an air force rivaling that of most nations. However, one ship cannot be in two places at the same time. Under sequestration, the Navy will reduce its fleet of carriers from 11 to 10.
U.S. Special Operations Forces will also be affected. The President has regularly touted Special Forces as low-intensity tools for his foreign policy ends, exemplified by their successful strike on Osama bin Laden and deployments in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and North Africa for various other missions and training exercises with local forces. However, even if Special Forces retain robust funding, the cuts in conventional forces will hinder them. SEAL teams embark from Navy vessels, and reducing conventional manpower end strength also reduces the pool from which elite troops are selected. Furthermore, modernization accounts such as the V-22 will be used for irregular and unconventional missions.
Provide for the Common Defense
The ideal solution is for the Administration and Congress to solve the budget impasse today, as each additional day of delay makes it more difficult for defense suppliers and military leaders to plan ahead in a very risky world. If that cannot be done, then Congress should offset sequestration for just 2013 with spending cuts elsewhere. Then the new Congress could work with the President next year to solve the rest of the defense sequestration problem.
While the Obama Administration continues to sacrifice national security forces to achieve other goals, Congress should focus on its constitutional responsibility to provide for the common defense. Congress already has all the tools needed to agree on a real budget. Members need no new devices to do this but only the will.
Yep, that's right, these fucking assholes really do believe that maintaining a global military empire at the expense of bankrupting and ruining our economy is "providing for the common defense" even though, as I have pointed out repeatedly on this blog, there is no nation nor potential combination of nations that is even a remote conventional military threat to the United States. Once upon a time, way back in the dark ages of 1972, one of the two major party candidates for president actually promised that if elected he would reduce military spending by a whopping 40%. But this stupid fucking country turned its back on George McGovern in a big way and thus also on its last real chance to hold the military-industrial complex at bay before it started eating us from within like malignant tumor.

More disturbingly, if you combine this insane stance with the heartless, blame-the-poor rhetoric coming from the right in the presidential campaign, you get a pretty good idea of just how intellectually bankrupt mainstream conservatism has become. Apparently, they will not be satisfied until every job has been offshored, every rich fucker pays zero taxes and the federal government does NOTHING WHATSOEVER for its own citizens while going around blasting the shit out of dirty little foreigners all over the globe. What is even more laughable about this hysterical shrieking about the supposed damage to our national security is that their ideal dystopian society as I just described it would hardly be worth defending at all.

So as it turns out, sequestration is actually not a mainstream conservative's wet dream but instead that of a passionate antiwar zealot like me. Like I said, bring it the fuck on already.

Bonus: Unfortunately, they will undoubtedly come to some bipartisan "compromise" and this will be yet another dream I'll never see

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Walmart!

Hey, guess what? America's most predatory retailer, purveyor of mountains of cheap shit from China, scourge of the small businesses everywhere, creator of more ugly ass suburban blight than any other, turned 50 years old this week. So to help celebrate this monumental milestone on America's road to perdition, here is Gawker with a blistering rant from a very happy FORMER Walmart employee:
Well, I'm finally done... I am so glad I will never have to work that god forsaken third shift nightmare of a job at Wal Mart again. I just couldn't take it anymore...I just couldn't waste one more second of my life in that soulless corporate hellhole. There's only one way to go from now on and that's up. I've already been at the bottom of the shit pile...horrible hours, pathetic wages, idiotic ignorant knuckle dragging customers, and asshole incompetent managers. Gonna miss that 10 percent discount though haha

And every time I remember some new injustice perpetrated by this greedy unholy corporate behemoth Im gonna post it on Facebook until I purge its poison out of my year, eight months, two days and thirty two seconds of my life I can't get back working as a corporate whore for the devil LOL

Who in God's name expects people to work EVERY weekend and EVERY holiday because the managers are too damn lazy and uncaring to rotate the schedule..."Well we'll just make everybody on third shift work every weekend to eliminate the hassle of changing the schedule every week" Sad but true...stupid assholes

And you MUST work 12 hours on Black Friday..Which in the greedy corporate soulless world of Wal Mart starts THURSDAY Thanksgiving DAY at 7 p.m. Screw your families and holiday dinner, people..there's MONEY to make.

Oh but Wal mart employees have off Christmas Day"...oh excuse me I didn't know Christmas Day ended at 10 p.m.

How do they plan where they put there stores? It probably goes something like this:
Let's take a crew of desperate people looking for work in a shitty economy in a depressed area, build a big boxy ugly store and sell cheap merchandise manufactured in China and from other poor nations with a child labor force and sell the crap for cheaper than other stores because we dont' pay our employees a livable wage or adequate benefits and they're pretty much disposable if they complain.

And we don't have time to train them properly and we don't have enough people to stock the crap we sell... so simple things like ROTATING STOCK and disposing of damaged or tainted merchandise so people don't get sick goes by the wayside. If our customers get expired produce and meat and dairy products or broken merchandise and stuff that has had chemicals leaked on them...well BUYER BEWARE!!

And if any of our employees gets injured we bully them into not filing a claim and if they do we fire them.

And if they reports unsafe work practices to OSHA we lie our asses off when the investigators show up and pretend that we're "painting the bulletin boards" so we don't have to post the OSHA report for all employees to see as we are required to do so.

What our customers don't know would curdle their blood...pesticides stored on top of pet food, expired baby formula..mice feces in the bakery along with chewed bags of bread...mice with a carnivorous fondness for beef jerky, leaving their poop behind in the display box after chewing through the bags, and meanwhile customers are buying beef jerky from the SAME BOX!!

And by the way if you are buying HOLIDAY candy hate to tell you that's been sitting in our dirty warehouse/backroom since summer for MANY months! ENJOY!!! The mice sure did... Just dust off the feces, get rid of the chewed bags and sell them suckers!!!

If you're ever in our store when the late night bi-weekly cleaning of the meat department cases takes place you'll learn first hand what a rotting corpse probably smells should be done more often but no one wants to do it and the managers don't really give a shit to enforce it...this filthy cesspole catch basin of liquid blood scum is lurking about six inches below that package of hamburger meat you're about to buy, Mr and Mrs. Customer. Bon Appetit!!

Incompetence and indifference trickles down from the top management and infects the average worker..for example the person who orders paper towels was on vacation one week so no one thought to order paper towels for the know, the same bathrooms the employees, the people who handle the FOOD, use too.

So employees wash their hands and have to dry them on their dirty work clothes!!!!!! This went on at our store for a week until some upper management asshole FINALLY gave permission for some lower manger to pull paper towels off the shelves and stock the bathrooms. The issue at stake: Wal Mart would be LOSING money by doing that so they balked at it until workers complained.

Wal Mart is all about the almighty dollar, screw the customers and double screw the employees.

I like for example how employees are instructed FIRST to punch in a code if they are being are robbed which sends a call to the police. In fact, uou have to do it in order for the cash drawer to open...gee THAT won't make the guy with a gun in my face at all suspicious or jumpy when he seems me punching a bunch of buttons.

I don't know what your local store is like but where I worked, it was a mix of middle aged people (quite a few women) who have lost their jobs in the recession and took the job when this place opened because there are no real good jobs to be found in [my area], where the poverty rate is high; there were also young people many of them in college or right out of college who couldn't find work elsewhere.

Yeah we had our share of a "lowlife flunkies" but most of them are the customers who make our lives even more hellish. The people I worked with were mostly poor to middle class people who work hard for very little pay and a lot of abuse.

When a coworker left Wal Mart, it felt to me like it must feel when you're prison, when a longtime fellow inmate is released. You feel happy for them but you wish it was you.
And now, a little reminder of WHY America is going down the tubes, here is a reader comment from some asshole who call himself/herself DoctorOfStyle DEFENDING Walmart:
Boo fucking hoo. At least it is a job. I guess we should just raise taxes on the "rich" a little more so you can sit on your can. Maybe import a few more Mexicans to do the work you are too good to do.
And Jaysus wept.

Bonus: Walmart needs a "scared straight" program

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Night Music Video(s) - "Some Nights" by Fun.

I haven't done this for awhile, but here is the intro and the main videos for the recent hit song "Some Nights" by the band Fun. (yes, the actual band name has a period at the end for some reason). I've never thought that the operatic style of Broadway musicals and the thunder of rock and roll make for a very good combination, but this band really hits it out the park here. Of course, it helps that lead singer Nate Reuss can sing his ass off, and is somewhat reminiscent of a young Freddie Mercury.


Being Poor is Killing Off White Americans--Really

For those of you who think that the population "die off" that is expected to occur as the long era of fossil-fueled economic growth gives way to scarcity and permanent economic contraction lies many years in the future, I've got a surprise for you. It's already happening:
For generations of Americans, it was a given that children would live longer than their parents. But there is now mounting evidence that this enduring trend has reversed itself for the country’s least-educated whites, an increasingly troubled group whose life expectancy has fallen by four years since 1990.

Researchers have long documented that the most educated Americans were making the biggest gains in life expectancy, but now they say mortality data show that life spans for some of the least educated Americans are actually contracting. Four studies in recent years identified modest declines, but a new one that looks separately at Americans lacking a high school diploma found disturbingly sharp drops in life expectancy for whites in this group. Experts not involved in the new research said its findings were persuasive.

The reasons for the decline remain unclear, but researchers offered possible explanations, including a spike in prescription drug overdoses among young whites, higher rates of smoking among less educated white women, rising obesity, and a steady increase in the number of the least educated Americans who lack health insurance.

The steepest declines were for white women without a high school diploma, who lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, said S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead investigator on the study, published last month in Health Affairs. By 2008, life expectancy for black women without a high school diploma had surpassed that of white women of the same education level, the study found.

White men lacking a high school diploma lost three years of life. Life expectancy for both blacks and Hispanics of the same education level rose, the data showed. But blacks over all do not live as long as whites, while Hispanics live longer than both whites and blacks.

“We’re used to looking at groups and complaining that their mortality rates haven’t improved fast enough, but to actually go backward is deeply troubling,” said John G. Haaga, head of the Population and Social Processes Branch of the National Institute on Aging, who was not involved in the new study.
Notably absent from the above analysis is that being poor in a hyper-materialistic society in which social services are substandard at best and public transportation depending on where you live is inadequate to non-existent, really sucks balls. Throw in the callus attitude so many Americans have towards the less fortunate and it is a wonder that they manage to live for as long as they do. But hey, the hard core Randians should be happy to hear this as it means that there are going to be fewer "parasites" around sucking down their precious "hard earned" tax dollars.

Also of note from the article, a little vindication for author Dmitri Orlov:
The five-year decline for white women rivals the catastrophic seven-year drop for Russian men in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, said Michael Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity in London.
And as if comparisons to the collapse of the Soviet Union were not bad enough:
The dropping life expectancies have helped weigh down the United States in international life expectancy rankings, particularly for women. In 2010, American women fell to 41st place, down from 14th place in 1985, in the United Nations rankings. Among developed countries, American women sank from the middle of the pack in 1970 to last place in 2010, according to the Human Mortality Database.
America: we're number 41 and nobody gives a damn...USA! USA! USA!

Bonus: "Born down in a dead man's town"

Friday, September 21, 2012

America "Hearts" Democracy in Burma, Loathes it at Home

image: That's our Hillary, never saw a dictator whose ass she didn't want to kiss in the name of neoliberal globalization.

If the "leaders" of this country were any more fucking full of themselves they would all explode, covering the entire DC metropolitan area in a layer of shit several feet deep. Case in point is a story this week about the assholes falling all over themselves to honor Burmese human rights leader, Aung San Suu Kyi:
Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will receive the US Congress’s highest honor on Wednesday during a landmark trip in which she has called for the lifting of sanctions on her native Myanmar.

The Nobel peace laureate was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2008, during the 15 years she spent under house arrest, and is only able to receive it now as relations thaw between the United States and the South Asian nation.

On Tuesday Suu Kyi thanked the United States for its years of support but said further reforms must proceed without the pressure of sanctions and insisted improved relations with Washington would not pose a threat to Beijing.

“In the end, we have to build our own democracy,” she said in a speech in which she appeared careful not to annoy leaders back home who have initiated reforms.

The opposition leader had long supported economic sanctions to pressure her jailers, Myanmar’s junta, which nominally disbanded last year.
Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that the formerly crazy ass government of Burma has mellowed out a bit as is no longer quite as big an enemy to its own citizens as it has been for the past few decades. But I would also assert that a Congressional Gold Medal being awarded by a country that has effectively become a one-party corporatist state in which the government does not represent the interests of 99% of its citizens, and in which if you do not have access to many millions of dollars you have no hope of ever getting elected to Congress, is the absolute pinnacle of hypocrisy. It's also quite an irony that a dissident democracy activist is being honored in our nation's capitol not long after brutal police thugs were dispatched to forcibly evict peaceable Occupy protesters all around the country at the behest of the 1%-er assholes who have bought and paid for all of our major politicians.

Hmmm...given the above, you don't suppose that Congress might have an ulterior motive here, do you? Oh, you're such a cynic...say it isn't so:
The United States has been rolling back restrictions, in July opening Myanmar up to US investment despite Suu Kyi’s earlier unease about US firms doing business with the state-owned oil and gas company.
So THAT'S it...this farce isn't about democracy but instead coming up with the political cover we need to allow Burma to be subjected to the same economic imperialism as most of the rest of the planet. No doubt, plans for a new "free" trade agreement so that even more American jobs can be turned over to brand spanking new Burmese sweatshops, where the local workers will toil 12-hours-a-day for subsistence wages under brutal conditions with zero retirement and health care benefits, will soon follow. Don't believe it? Let former First Lady NAFTA tell you herself:
Suu Kyi, dressed in a red jacket with three small pink flowers in her hair, began her visit by meeting another of the world’s most prominent women, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who marveled at her political odyssey.

“It’s wonderful to see Suu Kyi back in Washington as a free and forceful leader of a country opening up to the world in ways that would have been difficult to imagine even recently,” Clinton said.

But Clinton warned that Myanmar still had “a lot of work” to do, including freeing remaining political prisoners and ending alleged military contacts with North Korea.

“The government and the opposition need to continue to work together to unite the country, heal the wounds of the past and carry the reforms forward,” said Clinton, who paid a landmark visit to Myanmar in December.
Just remember, folks. Wherever Hillary goes, your jobs are no doubt soon to follow. America: land of the bloody well fucked and home of the craven assholes who sell them out.

Bonus: "Once I had my heroes...Once I had my dreams...But all of that is changed now...They've turned things inside out...The truth is not that comfortable, no"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hey, Mitt, I've Got Your 47% RIGHT HERE

No really, I do. I live and work in the inner DC suburbs of Northern Virginia. Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax County--combined those four jurisdictions, which have well over one million people, gave President Hopey-Changey nearly two-thirds of their votes in 2008. So presumably, they are part of the 47% the Mitt the Twit was deriding by saying they are looking for handouts and don't pay taxes.

Only one little problem with that assertion, namely that Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax County are also among the richest addresses in the nation in terms of per capita income. There are more McMansions, Lexuses, boutique luxury shops and high end restaurants around here than you can shake your gold-plated walking stick at. I mean, this place is literally CRAWLING with liberal upper middle class nitwits...who, and I guess this does actually need to be pointed out, pay a shitload of fucking taxes. Not only are many of them in the highest income tax bracket, but the property taxes around here will take a bite out your ass as well. We even have the odious Virginia state personal property tax on vehicles, which stings all those Lexus drivers pretty good.

What's more, this is not the only wealthy liberal enclave by a LONG shot. My sister-in-law resides in a similar community in suburban Boston, my brother-in-law in another such area just outside New York and my own father and brother in the affluent college town of Charlottesville, Virginia. To say that all Obama supporters are looking for handouts and don't pay taxes is just plain daffy.

Of course, then there is the other little problem that according to the polls, Romney's most steadfast voting block is white people over the age of 65, in other words "welfare queens" who as a group suck down far more in Social Security and Medicare benefits than they've ever paid into the system. And don't get me started about a fucking filthy rich asshole who pays a tax rate on his endless array of investments that is less than HALF of what people pay who actually have to work for a fucking living.

I've stated on this blog that the only two ways Willard can win this thing is if the market melts down before election day or the Middle East completely blows up (or both). This first scenario is looking highly unlikely, and even the protests against the inflammatory The Innocence of Muslims movie have died back a bit. Obama was already looking really good for reelection before Romney's dumbass 47% comments came to light. Now, much to the chagrin of those of us who would love to see his fucking sellout ass humiliated, he looks like a virtual lock.

Bonus: "Damn these hard times, damn the coal mine, damn the good dreams gone cold...and while I'm at it, damn this crooked road"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How to Tell When a War is Over

Modern wars are messy affairs, and since they rarely involve two standing armies going against one another trying to gain territorial advantage anymore, it sometimes can be difficult to tell when they are effectively over and your side has no chance of winning even though it is still conducting military operations. In Vietnam, one of the key indicators that the war was effectively over for the United States was when soldiers began to "frag" their superiors rather than follow their orders. Once that started happening, the pressure on the country's "leadership" to find an "honorable" way out of that jungle quagmire became overwhelming.

We have now reached a similar moment in the stalemated war in Afghanistan, as reported yesterday by the Atlantic Wire:
After yet another green-on-blue attack left four Americans dead on Sunday, U.S. troops have suspended their joint operations with Afghan security forces. And who could blame them? Afghans are responsible for about 15 percent of all coalition deaths, and efforts to promote better cultural understanding are suffering with the recent surge of anti-American sentiment in the region due to the anti-Islam film that's been making its way around the Internet.

Truth is, Americans have been ordered to keep bullets in their chambers at all times and are looking over their shoulders at every turn. "We're to the point now where we can't trust these people," a senior military official told NBC News. "It's had a major impact on our ability to conduct combat operations with them, and we're going to have to back off to a certain degree." The suspension of join operations are indefinite, one official said, and "could last three days or three months."

Again, it's not terribly surprising that Americans taking a step back. It was a particularly messy weekend for coalition forces. On Friday night and into Saturday morning, insurgents disguised in U.S. Army uniforms snuck into the British-run Camp Bastion, where Prince Harry is stationed, through a hole in the fence. Once inside, they took out six (very expensive) AV-8B Harrier jets, "significantly damaged" two more and totally destroyed six refueling stations. They also killed two U.S. Marines. Then, on Sunday, U.S. airstrike killing eight Afghan women gathering firewood on a hillside, and the Taliban took out $150 million worth of plans and equipment in the most expensive insurgent attack of 11-year-long conflict.

Let us re-emphasize the fact that nobody is very happy with how things are going in Afghanistan. The U.S. military stopped training members of the Afghan Local Police earlier this month, a tough move since those are the guys who are supposed to take control of the country's security when coalition troops leave at the end of 2014. As such, experts have grown pretty pessimistic about the handoff. "It looks like what we're going to be handing off is a stalemated war," Stephen Biddle, an international affairs professor at George Washington University told the Associated Press on Monday, "which means the U.S. Congress will be asked to write these checks (to support Afghan forces) for years and years and years with no plausible argument that we're going to bring this to a successful conclusion, at least on the battlefield."
Just like with the fragging incidents in Vietnam, when an occupying army can no longer engage in military operations or even conduct training exercises with their supposed local "allies" the occupation is effectively finished. This is the end result of Obama's insane military surge in Afghanistan, which we must remember was done for no other apparent reason other than to prove that he was a tough guy.

Bonus: Those who forget the past...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Chicago Teachers are Fighting a Battle They Can’t Possibly Win

Let’s cut through all of the bullshit and get down to the brass tacks of what the Chicago teachers’ strike is really all about: a desperate, last ditch effort on the part of one group of public sector employees to prevent the inevitable downward slide that will cause them to slip out of the middle class for good. The petty details matter little in the big picture. The teachers are in a literal fight for their livelihoods and it is a fight they are eventually going to lose, if not this time around then at some point in the near future.

I’ve recently been reading the excellent book, Staying Alive: the 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class, which recounts among other things the last great wave of labor unrest in America that occurred during the first half of that decade, when a new generation of union insurgents battled both corporate management and the ossified, complacent bosses of their own unions in an effort to revitalize, expand and strengthen the labor movement. For a brief, shining moment it appeared that they might be successful in those struggles, and then the economic malaise resulting from the 1973 and 1979 oil shocks combined with the first wage and job destroying effects of globalization to subvert and undermine what they accomplished. Shortly thereafter shrewd conservative charlatans like Ronald Reagan learned how to get workers to vote against their own economic interests by pandering to superficial patriotism and cultural prejudices. Reagan and his ilk were, of course, greatly assisted in those efforts by a liberal movement and a Democratic Party that abandoned the working class in favor of divisive identity politics and political correctness.

Flash forward to 2012, and what we are seeing now in the Chicago teachers’ strike is the last gasps of a labor movement that is all but completely dead in America. The power of unions in the private sector has already been mostly neutered by thirty years of piss poor and corrupt "leadership" combined with relentless corporate assaults and by “free” trade pushing politicians of both parties. While all that was going on, the public sector unions stood idly by while their private sector brethren’s livelihoods were slowly being stolen from them. And now that all those earlier battles have been lost, there is no one left to stand by the side of the teachers in their hour of need. In fact, judging by the vitriol being heaped upon the “greedy” teachers by their fellow laborers in internet forums and chat rooms, I’d say that the powers that be have been quite successful in their relentless campaign to turn all of us proles against one another so we don’t ever recognize who the true enemy is and unite against them.

The most telling sign I saw indicating that the teachers are doomed was when snot-nosed little punk Paul Ryan issued a statement of support for the heinous Chicago Mayor and Obama confidant Rahm Emmanuel. I’ve said it repeatedly on this blog, but in bears saying yet again: however much they may make a show of viciously fighting against one another, it’s when the two parties agree on a particular issue that you really need to grab hold of your wallet. If the teachers and other working and middle class citizens of this country had at least one of the major parties fighting on their behalf, they might stand half-a-chance of preventing their eventual impoverishment and destitution, or at least they could ensure that the selfish rich assholes who run the country share the sacrifice as the long era of economic growth draws to a close. But they don’t, and what’s worse most of them don’t even realize that they have in fact been completely abandoned by both major parties.

Bonus: I just had to post this clip since the irony of douchebag conservative economist extraordinaire Ben Stein portraying a Chicago area public school teacher giving a lesson about the Laffer Curve is just too delicious.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Punishment for Collecting Firewood: Death

Ho-hum, just another sad, sorry day in the graveyard of empires:
Kabul - According to Afghan officials a NATO air strike has killed eight Afghan women and girls gathering firewood. At first International Security Assistance Force officials claimed that 45 insurgents were targeted but later admitted possible civilian casualties.

As is often the case, NATO at first claimed that the targets were insurgents and that initial reports showed that only insurgents were killed in the strike. However this report was contradicted by information coming from Afghan officials who said that victims included eight women and girls who were out gathering firewood before dawn.

Once the Afghan officials contradicted the NATO report Jamie Graybeal a NATO spokesperson said that NATO took any charges of civilian deaths seriously. No doubt the charges were taken even more seriously after villagers from the Alingar district in Lagham province brought bodies of those killed to the governor's office in the provincial capital.
So why should anyone in America care? After all, the NFL season is underway again and we all have far more important things to occupy our minds. Well, there is this:
Sarhadi Zewak, a spokesperson for the provincial government, said:

“They were shouting ‘Death to America!’ They were condemning the attack."

A provincial health director said that there were also seven females injured who were brought to area hospitals for treatment. Some of the injured were as young as ten years old.
So what is the rationale that our brilliant military "leaders" used to justify this senseless attack?
U.S. officials say that these missile attacks are very precise and that civilian casualties are rare. However, what are called signature attacks are now used. In these attacks people are targeted simply on the basis of suspicious behavior. Apparently people moving in the countryside before dawn arouse enough suspicion to be classified as suspected terrorists. There were probably never any insurgents targeted. The women collecting firewood were just classified as suspected insurgents.
Yesterday, I wrote that there is no hope that we can possibly work our way out of our collective predicament. Part of my justification for such a belief is seeing on almost a daily basis such insanity as that of American officials justifying wantonly killing Afghan civilians for the "suspicious behavior" of collecting firewood when there is no justification that any thinking person who is not a raging psychopath could bring forth that makes any sense whatsoever. Even had these women and girls been carrying AK-47s instead of logs and sticks they would represent exactly ZERO threat to the American homeland.

But go ahead, America, convince yourselves that the recent wave of anti-American demonstrations and attacks on our embassies and consulates are happening because all Muslims are easily excitable, irrational whack-a-toons. They couldn't POSSIBLY have any legitimate grievances against the utterly exceptional "shining city on the hill" after more than a decade of such senseless violence.

No, there is no logical reason given the above for the embassy attacks or for this kind of thing to happen:
Elsewhere in Afghanistan four more soldiers were killed in an apparent insider attack. The four killed were American troops. The killings happened at an observation post operated jointly with 6 coalition troops together with 6 Afghan National Police.. One of the Afghan members was found dead at the scene while the other five had disappeared. Over 50 NATO troops have now been killed so far this year in "insider" attacks.
Yep...those frggin' Muslims...they must be crazy.

Addendum: As yet another example of just how badly compromised even the so-called "liberal" media is these days, check out this account in the hideous progressive online "news" rag, The Atlantic Wire, about the killing of the four American troops that completely whitewashes the slaughter of the Afghan women and girls, describing it merely as: "a NATO airstrike that angered locals."

Damn, those silly locals, always getting all worked up about utterly harmless NATO airstrikes. You just can't reason with some people.

Bonus: "One day, something fell from the sky"

Sunday, September 16, 2012

There is No Hope, Only Denial

image: "There is no hope...and you know it now, like I do, don't you? There is no hope for any of us."
There is a memorable scene in the climactic episode of the first season of the otherwise erratic television series, The Walking Dead, in which the last surviving doctor at the Center for Disease Control blurts out to Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes and his ragtag band of zombie apocalypse survivors, "The world runs on fossil fuels...I mean how stupid is that?" right before the generators at the CDC facility run out of gas, extinguishing forever the last hope that a cure might be found for the plague that has turned humanity into mindless, flesh eating corpses. It's just one scene in the series that has resonance in the real world as we are living in it today. Another is in the second season when God-fearing farmer Herschel Greene has a drunken epiphany and confesses to Grimes that he has lost all hope for the future.

For 16 months now I have been writing this blog and attempting to document what I see as the hopeless predicament faced by our industrialized society and America in particular as we confront the multiple scourges of peak oil, resource depletion, overpopulation, climate change and environmental degradation. One thing you may have noticed if you have been a regular reader of this blog is a distinct lack of proffered solutions to our collective predicament. Quite simply, that is because I do not have any solutions, or at least not any that I believe have any chance of being accepted by enough people to matter. Beyond making adjustments in your own life to ensure that you don't fall between the cracks during this "zombie economy" period in which the lights still come on at night, I am firmly of the belief that there is not a whole lot you, me or any other single individual can do. We are merely passengers on this runaway train, and the engine room is as off limits to us as the dark side of the moon.

The impending end of our modern way of life is unlikely to come tomorrow, next week, next month, next year or even within the next few years, but the long term trends could not be more obvious or unavoidable. And while at this late date it might still be theoretically possible with the remaining reserves of fossil fuels available for mankind to manage a powering down in such a way that avoids a world wide calamity and mass die off, that would assume a collective wisdom and willingness to participate in shared sacrifice that sadly our species just does not seem to possess. As long as there are sociopaths who strive for dominance--and they seem to have taken over a vast majority of the leadership positions in the world today--there is no chance of awakening the mass consciousness before it is too late.

Back in June I made the decision to take a break from blogging and then reduce the number of posts here at the Downward Spiral. My motivation was in part so I could do a little more living and spend a bit less time tied to computer keyboard. That part of the plan has actually worked out fairly well. My other reason for doing so was that I had hoped that reducing my relentless obsession with the future might brighten my outlook a bit. That part hasn't been nearly so successful. Even though my thinking has evolved from those dark days of the fall of 2008, and I no longer see a fast collapse of civilization as being a likely outcome, my hopes that by pulling back a bit I might find reasons to be at least a little bit more optimistic about the eventual endgame have not borne fruit.

The same old question that has been nagging me for the past four years still remains: just how quickly are things going to devolve? Well, if I knew the correct answer, I could probably make enough money to ensure that I would be one of the lucky few around the middle of the 21st century who still manage to die of old age. It would seem, for example, that a U.S. presidential campaign could not possibly become more trivial and devoid of substance than the sham we are going through right now. That would seem to indicate that by 2016, a full eight years after America's economy became irreparably broken, awareness that the old paradigm of economic growth is dead should be widespread enough that the powers that be will be forced to snuff out the remaining facade of representative democracy in order to maintain their control. But then again, four years ago I would have said the same thing about the elections of 2012.

The fact is that no one knows how long we have left before things really start to unravel, and anyone who claims they do is completely full of shit. I've said this before, but author Jim Kunstler was very wise to describe what we are going through as a LONG emergency. Nevertheless, getting back to the main theme of this post, that does NOT mean that I see any possibility of redemption when 99% of the population (the REAL 99%) remain utterly oblivious and in deep denial about what's coming (and even the 1% who do know continually argue and fight amongst themselves as to what can or should be done). Thanks to the desire of our "leaders" to keep the game going as long as possible, we'll likely keep on bumbling along until one day we can't any longer. And that is the most definitive prediction about the future that I am willing to make.

Bonus: "This is what takes us down...This is our extinction event"

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Smells Like 1968

The recent attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens was just the highlight of a series of escalating violent demonstrations taking place outside U.S. embassies all across the Middle East and South Asia this past week. The attacks reportedly even spread all the way to the consulate in Channai, India, a country that is supposed to be a steadfast U.S. ally. Clearly, something is afoot in the world that goes far beyond mere popular outrage over an obscure, cheaply made anti-Muslim cinematic diatribe. Those condemning idiot pastor Terry Jones and the producer of the inflammatory low budget film are missing the point, for it is entirely likely that if it wasn’t this movie inflaming passions among the world’s Muslims it would probably be something else. The Jones-linked film merely represents the spark that set off an explosion that has been building up for a very long time.

In order to really understand what is going on in the Middle East right now, one must do what Americans are absolutely loathe to ever do—namely put themselves in the shoes of the average denizen of Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen or Pakistan. Eleven years ago, a tiny Muslim splinter group nestled in the caves of eastern Afghanistan pulled off a spectacular (and spectacularly lucky) terrorist attack on American soil in part because the administration of George W. Bush was (at best) completely asleep at the switch, and ever since that time the U.S. and its NATO allies have been engaged in a systematic campaign of collective punishment against the population of numerous Muslim countries while continuing to support brutal authoritarian dictatorships from Cairo to Riyadh.

For more than a decade, Muslims have had to stand by largely helpless while many of their fellow religionists, most guilty of nothing worse than residing at the wrong place at the wrong time, have been slaughtered as America has taken its chunk of flesh in retaliation for 9/11. And while it is true that many of the killings that have occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan have been at the hands of other Muslims, it was the American invasion and occupation of those two unfortunate countries that destabilized them and created the conditions for the massive amounts of violence and (in the case of Iraq) even ethnic cleansing that have been occurring there.

Looking back over this sad, sorry recent history, the wonder isn’t that our embassies are being attacked but that all this didn’t start happening sooner. It’s like all of the green-on-blue shootings that have been going on in Afghanistan lately in which our so-called military “leaders” are shocked, SHOCKED to discover that after more than a decade of occupation even supposedly friendly Afghanis would like to see us gone and are willing take their chances against the Taliban, who may be brutal thugs but at least look, dress, speak and worship as they do and don’t randomly drop drone missiles on assorted wedding parties.

It is particularly telling that the worst violence to date has erupted in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, three countries where the U.S. either stood aside while their longtime dictators fell or gave them an active shove. While abandoning the pro-Western Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia probably would not have been the U.S. government’s preferred choice of action, we were at least smart enough to recognize that the Arab Spring had gathered far too much momentum to smother. We were just hoping to contain it short of the Arabian Peninsula, and for a while it looked like we might have succeeded without drawing too much popular ire upon ourselves.

Not anymore. The irony of all this is that it is happening on the watch of President Hopey-Changey, who has tried so hard in recent years to play the “good cop” representing America’s brutal foreign policies to Bush and Cheney’s “bad cop.” Obama has just learned that there is an absolute limit to how much sunshine you can blow up the skirts of a certain group of people to try and deflect attention from your bad acts against them before they get fed up and tell you to go fuck yourself. One could make a comparison of how decades of American support for the vile Shah of Iran blew up on the watch of President Jimmy Carter, but Carter at least did more than just pay lip service to respecting human rights.

So where is all of this headed? Time will tell, of course, but we should not underestimate just how ominous these developments are for the continuation of American hegemony in the Middle East and South Asia. Obama’s political advisors must be sweating bullets right now as short of a major market meltdown before election day, which with Benny and the InkJets just announcing the latest round of quantitative easing seems highly unlikely, the one “October surprise” that could unseat the incumbent is the eruption of region-wide anti-American conflagration in the middle of the planet’s most important oil fields. In fact, this whole mess seems to have real “Tet Offensive Potential,” in that it could be the “unexpected” foreign policy event that ends up driving a warmongering Democratic president from power (to also be replaced by a Republican who may be even worse, but that, as they say, is a whole ‘nother story). Obama, it seems, is about to discover that it takes more than just a lot of fancy-but-empty rhetoric and the symbolism of being the first black president to keep blinding people to the unpleasant realities of America’s seemingly endless imperial wars.

Bonus: "I shall not seek...and I will not accept...the nomination of my party for another term as your president"

Friday, September 14, 2012

The War Nerd Explains Why Obama Gets So Little "Credit" for His Warmongering

You almost have to feel for President Hopey-Changey. No matter how many innocent civilians he butchers in pursuit of a foreign policy that in its way is even more bloodthirsty than Chimpy Bush's, he just doesn't ever seem to get the credit as evidenced by the way that Willard tried to used the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens to score political points against him this past week.

So why is that, exactly? Well, Gary Brecher, author of the always entertaining and informative War Nerd column for The Exiled, explains it in an essay published on this most recent September 11th. The whole thing is well worth a read, but here is the relevant excerpt:
When you look back at Obama’s wars, you get a pretty clear idea what went wrong over the last four years. It wasn’t the way Obama’s team handled the wars. Truth is, they did damn well at that, better than I ever thought they would.

The real problem is that they don’t know what world they’re living in. These are people who’ve spent their lives getting straight A’s, collecting gold stars, avoiding mistakes. And they think war is just like all those other little hurdles you face in life.

That’s why they’ll never get credit for any of it. They have this delusion that sanity matters, and they’ve run their wars as sanely and boringly as an exterminator going after termites.

It’s sensible, it’s semi-effective, and it irritates the life out of the 99%. I don’t mean the Occupy 99%, all those “goodhearted ordinary Americans”; that’s a totally made-up imaginary species invented by people just as naive as Obama’s crew. I mean the real 99% of us living our rotten lives out there, mean and dumb and miserable, just waiting for some gore we can really get behind.

Obama just doesn’t understand his job as war chief of this big crazy tribe. A war chief doesn’t have to win; only a wonk’s view of the world would see things that way. A war chief has to look like a war chief and talk like one. And yell a lot. Obama just can’t manage that, and when he tries, he makes us feel stupid. He embarrasses us, trying to sing along to a tune you know he thinks is just dumb.

It’s a shame in a way, because his war wonks did a pretty good job actually running the wars. I like to think of them grumbling about it now, a bunch of youngish dressy-casual technocrats drowning their sorrows in frappucinos at some suburban DC Starbucks, counting off their so-what accomplishments: “We got out of Iraq … not one American killed there this year; we took down Qaddafi without one single American casualty; we killed bin Laden right in front of the Pakistani Army and got away with it; what does a C-in-C have to do to get a little respect around here?”

The answer is: He has to look convincing when he holds our enemy’s head up on a stick and shows it to the crowd, all drippy and drawing flies. That’s what we want, and Obama, with all that creepy self-control, is the last guy you’d pick for that job.

It was obvious, after he ordered the hit on bin Laden. For ten years Americans had been seeing that big long bearded face in their dreams, blasting it on gun-range targets, printing it on toilet paper, waiting for the big day when we could see the bastard in a pool of his own blood.

And boom, at last, Osama was dead. On Obama’s watch. Whoo-hoo! Let the victory parades begin!

Except there weren’t any. I remember real well the weird queasy hush after bin Laden died. Nobody ever tells the truth in this country, so nobody could talk about why Obama never got the cheers he expected, but we all know why. It’s simple: There are two tribes in America and neither one was in a mood to cheer. Obama’s liberal fans couldn’t cheer because they have some taboo about parading around with your enemy’s head on a stick. They think it’s crude or something, “a regrettable necessity”—you know that NYT editorial jabber they use.

And the other tribe, the flyover state white glob I come from, would sooner comp bin Laden a suite in Vegas than give Obama any creds for taking him down. They sulked through it like a confused, hungover Pillsbury doughboy; the way they saw it, Obama got bin Laden on a technicality. There’s always been a lot of Osama/Obama blur in the way they see things, and they might’ve been happier if it’d been Osama zapping that snotty Hawaiian instead of the other way around.

War always comes down to demographics — even this slow cold war we’re having in the US now. And Obama is stuck in the crotch of big demographic forked stick, between the sullen majority and the queasy coastals. The coastals don’t want a war chief, and the sullen doughboys can’t see him in the job.
As for me, admitted antiwar zealot that I am, I really don't know which aspect of Obama is more appalling...that he is as big a thug as Bush and Cheney, or that he is so damn cool about it. But go ahead, Democrats, keep convincing yourselves that he is morally superior to Willard Mitt Romney so you can spend the next four grueling years in just as much denial as you've spent the past four.

Bonus: "And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control"