Thursday, March 31, 2016
You have to love Samantha Bee's satire, even when the point of her skewering is so blatantly perverse. In this case it's for profit Probation Companies. Let's hear it for profit ingenuity at the expense of justice or human decency. And if Trump has his way there will probably be for profit abortion abolishers as well; goons with a legal mandate to apply punitive charges on anybody who even thinks about supplying reproductive choice to women, not to mention the women themselves. Yea free enterprise.
Samantha Bee skewering private probation companies
One more thing today on the presidential elections: How is one to respond to the notion that, if you don't vote for anybody but Trump, you are more than just partially responsible for the results of whatever falls out of his winning?
This is a meme that (see recent Bill Maher "Real Time" comments) gets a lot of air play. An expression that gets very close to "too fucking bad if you have to hold your nose on choosing one of the others." Sitting this one out because you don't see any of them really changing things that much for the better isn't an option. Better things stay only as bad as they are now, or get worse a lot slower, than the poop hitting the fan on a turbo charger. Sentiments that you can understand, and perhaps even sympathize with, but should that really be how a Democracy is supposed to function?
I for one disagree. Everyone of us is given the right to choose. If I choose to not vote for any of the above it's because I don't want to take active responsibility for accepting bad choices. If others choose to vote for one or another of those bad choices than they are responsible for what comes of that. And if that comes to be economic or political disaster than so be it. My vote isn't supposed to be a counter action to other people's supposed stupidity after all.
It's time to grow up children. Disaster is coming. Whether Hillary, or Sanders or that orange faced freak, are in office or not. We are not addressing issues that are killing us and the planet, and the current political/economic operating system we have in place bares a major responsibility for that. And the fact of the matter is that all of these people think that all can be made better by sticking with that system, which is denial that simply goes beyond the absurd.
The real issue here is that, at some point, the majority of us need to stop playing this insane game at all aspects of its function; the work, the consumption and the voting for bad choices. That's what you call going on strike to make the power holders know we really are "mad as hell and we won't take anymore."
by ALEX SEITZ-WALD
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
This sort of thing can have a tendency to either make your eyes glaze over, your head spin, or combinations of both, but it is important if you want to understand how industries and services of various types fare in terms of both how profitable they are, as well as how much of those profits get hit by taxes. It is also important to remember that these snapshots are both a bit arbitrary, as this is merely what the sectors have reported (keeping in mind how susceptible to accounting slide of hand they can be), as well as being only a small sampling time frame.
Given all of that, however, what you see here is not only how lopsided sector profitability has been, but also how unequal the tax burden gets spread out by sector. What would really be interesting here would be much larger time frames and then correlations to other factors; such as campaign spending and lobbying spending.
This kind of data might also add an interesting contrast to the controversy over the shameful state of low income housing in this country; especially if you take note of the top line performer indicated below.
There will always be cycles of extremes, in hot and cold, for various regions, as witnessed by the current El Nino event, but the trend line for arctic sea ice remains as it has been, on a steady decline. And as the Time article here makes clear, less ice means more seawater absorbing solar radiation on a full time basis. More heat into the oceans then means more melting ice beyond what we already have occuring; thus establishing a feedback loop of reinforcement which is quite beyond merely "not good."
And again the question needs to be asked: What are our priorities regarding national security threats? Do even a few, if any at all, seek to begin immediate measures to allow us to not only cope with the coming changes, but to also seek to slow that negative reinforcement loop down? Not so much.
What we are probably heading for is a great deal more spending on finding and killing enemies, or preparing to wage war on assumed enemies to come as the competition for resources increases. And the great pitty here is that A: We increase the number of people who hate us by remaining in geographic areas precisely because they have critical resources, and B: We could both change the critical resource equation, and reduce the tensions that create enemies in the first place, if we could simply use the need to replace these dwindling resources as opportunities to cooperate with others to find and implement solutions.
Even more pittiful, however, is the fact that most of these resources make a few people quite rich; and because of that there is oppostion to change. Which then ought to beg the next question: Why aren't we looking into, and talking more about, how greed is a weapon of mass distruction; and that those who wield it are as much, if not a great deal more, our enemies as Islamic extremists, or potential competitors who we fear will hedge us out of further access to substances we shouldn't be using in the first place.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
I found it ironic that Trump would think to deny one of the big sources of income for ISIS by taking their oil away from them. Especially in as much as he would do it via a mini war on certain regional oil sources. If you see oil as a sort of industrial age drug you get a sense of just how rich (all puns intended) this bit of irony is. Just consider that part of why we are still fighting in Afghanistan is to eradicate opium production because, of course, it is also a potent radical Islamic funder.
That he would also go about this in an even more ham handed fashion than we are already fighting drug our wars, which have not worked for the last three or four decades, is clearly, if an more indication was needed at all, reason to see him for the uninformed buffoon that he is. And one need only consider the different nature of the world's oil addiction, as opposed to its, as well as our, drug addiction.
On the one hand, by trying to destroy the radicals production of a thing, you are, in effect, declaring it illegal. And by any sane standard, as far as the planet is concerned, all fossil fuels ought to be illegal. Going cold turkey on fuel, though, presents far greater problems generally for the world's economies than trying to make however many millions addicted to hard drugs would; not that doing the latter is cost free of course. The crime and incarceration that the drug war has caused has already been well documented. It's just in the comparison between the two that the latter will still be fairly small potatoes.
What we see at work here is another example of short sighted declarations of intent made mostly to pander to the passions of the moment; shooting from the hip as it were to knock down straw dogs the general population has been made so fearful of, all without any effort at all at understanding either what causes the fearful thing, or what "destroy it all and let God sort it out" thinking for a solution will do as far as just making things a great deal worse than they already are.
What would really have been surprising here is Trump first declaring that he would mandate the government to start an ever increasing tax on all fossil fuels, both on the production and consumption sides; a tax that might start low initially, but grow fairly quickly. And then take the proceeds of that new income and spend it only on the development of a comprehensive fossil fuel replacement,,, Like, say, hydrogen produced by wind turbines at sea, for example. And he would do this, instead of going to a carbon credit trading market system, so that this new source of fuel could be managed by a nation wide, and hopefully a world wide as well, public power utility. One that would not have profit as a part of its mandate at all.
Why you might ask? Because that's the only way you will ever take the "Big Money" profiteering aspect that has always been a part of the energy business since day one of the industrial revolution; not to mention the power brokering aspects of cartels to influence world politics. And therein lies the main reason why he will always be a part of the problem regardless of how he might suggest to take money away from our enemies: The fact that making money in the first place will always be the most holy of hollies; the sacrosanct dogma of absolutes for which any who would even begin to question have to be labeled blasphemers.
Just remember that the reformers who want to decriminalize drugs do so because they want to take away the main aspect of what makes them profitable in the first place. And, as far as that goes, I am in complete agreement. For my way of thinking, however, if you really want to take away all aspects of the motivations of money, as well as the hindrance towards solutions that a "cost" based mentality unavoidably creates, you really need to start thinking about why you keep a money based economy going in the first place.
Donald Trump Lays Out Foreign Policy Plan, Including How to Fight Terrorism
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump suggested that he would destroy oil fields in the Middle East, saying that they're a primary source of income for terrorist groups such as ISIS.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
As horrible, and tragic, as the new terror attacks in Brussels are, the fact that the fear newly generated from it will likely keep priorities from where they should be is perhaps an even greater tragedy. And already do we see other headlines quoting world leaders declaring their intent to hunt the perpetrators down.
I have already posted on what one can expect from wars of ever cycling retribution. The fact that escapes our attention here is that it is the collateral damage of previous such efforts that ensures a never ending supply of enemies to keep the process going. And at the end of the day, as we strain every more forcefully to grasp at the throats of our enemies, we will all find ourselves drowning in the planetary chaos we have been continuously been in denial of.
"Peace at last" the planet will say. "Glory hallelujah, peace at last."
An abrupt climate shift could lead to sea levels high enough to begin drowning coastal cities later this century, new research suggests, renewing a roiling debate.
Monday, March 21, 2016
As I have stated before, my view of an alternative to Capitalism starts with the notion of a federation of semi-independent city states. The idea here is to turn things around from what we've been doing, as in specialized workers each playing their part in manufacturing, or services, so that various items can be made available for purchase, to a model where we use a mix of automation, and our own involvement to create all of the basic items that end use products come from. From there, instead of going to a store to purchase an end use item, you would utilize your share of basics produced to build your own end use item. You would have that share of basics because you participated in your city's maintenance and management operations.
The idea, in that arrangement, would be that a city would determine all of the tasks it would take to keep its various systems functioning. It would then group these by type, difficulty, and desirability. Every citizen would then be required to select some number of tasks from each of these groups, with each city making its own determination on the specifics therein. For our discussion here let's say it was something between six and a dozen, and further that you had to have at least one in every group. You would then rotate through that list of selected tasks, spending at least a week in each. The result would be a citizenry fully engaged with not only all aspects of what keeps a city functional, but with everyone working with each other, on a continually changing basis, and nobody left stuck doing one or another of the least desirable tasks.
What does it mean, however, when one indicates an at least semi independent city?
In this each city would strive to produce as much of its own basics as it possibly could, knowing of course that complete independence might never be possible; and in this a lot of what would be required would be obtainable from the recycle of what is already there, but certainly not all. At the end of the day each city would have to identify something that they could produce in excess that other cities might need, and for which trade arrangements could be established. One area, however, that each city may not have to worry about, whether they had farmable land (in the ordinary sense) or not is food, and I say this because some remarkable creativity has been demonstrated in recent years on how to grow crops indoors. And in that regard it's not a question of acres under the sun, and favorable growing seasons, but one of enclosed space and energy. I have already described how hydrogen can be created relatively effort effectively, that leaves where you do it. And in that a city could either build up, or dig down.
The question then becomes: what do you put in these spaces to obtain the best results per cubic meter. For that one simply needs to search on "rotary rack, indoor farming," or "large scale indoor farming," to get a place to start from. Just check it out for yourself.
Some Link Examples:
Sunday, March 20, 2016
This is definitely another recommended read. People like Toynbee saw what was coming with the segmentation, and disconnection, of human life with rationalized industrialization. In effect, we went from the greatly connected, but poor material gains, of hunter gatherers, or agrarian collections of feudal monarchies, to the great material gains of the disconnected abstractions of industrialized life. And along the way, as specialization took ascendancy, along with the commoditization of everything, there came the necessary corruption of communication, not only for efficiency's sake, but also to begin the means to market the new abundance of things. The things that had to be sold in order that people could keep the singular skill placements that allowed them on the treadmill in the first place.
It was in this process that we could close our eyes to not only the fate of others, but to the fragile linkages that kept the web of life interactive, and mutually supportive. You only needed to add the further abstraction of money, as skill translator, and thus initiator of unprecedented surges of human action, to give rise to the role of "the special interest;" those whose claim to power came not from royal blood, or the ballot box, but merely from the accumulations of abstracted value. Interests who could run amok through general human need, or through nature itself, as whatever whim to profit, or personal self aggrandizement, took hold of them.
Who could have foreseen, however, what electricity, when applied to silicon as tiny switches, or two magnetic states for the storage of information, would do to this world of industrialized commodity, and the human skill sets that formed one of the most basic of commodity items. Any more than what electrified networks of information transfer would do the segmented world view of isolated perceivers and actors; which is, of course, where Marshall McLuhan comes into the picture with hole new consideration of the effects of new extensions of our physical and mental capacities.
As such, we are now back to a mind set of "holistic thinking," but we are still stuck with an economic operating system that, inhuman even at its start, is now at odds with the environments this new technology has placed us in. Capitalistic Industrialization was a bad idea to begin with, but it did give us a great deal of material gain. One could argue that this gain was well worth the price paid. Not so easy to argue any further, however, that it remains viable. Not for our sanity. Not for the planet. And most especially for our renewed connection to each other.
As the dreams of Silicon Valley fill our world, could the dowdy historian Arnold Toynbee help prevent a nightmare?
by Ian Beacock
I get that there are things going on in this country that you don't understand; not a few of which are troubling not only because of what they might portend for the future, but also for which you see real hurt being done to America in the here and now. And to the degree that this may be real Trump offers rhetoric that seems to address the immediate concerns, as well as to provide answers that also seem to provide clarity to your confusion.
What I don't get, however, is why you would suddenly come to trust someone so intimately involved with how the country is where it is. Let me explain.
His two major theme points seem to be 1: "Let's make America great again." and 2: "We've got to take our country back."
Let's start with the first one. If we need to make America great again the obvious conclusion is that it is not great now. One might argue about in what measure we are no longer great, but let's not worry about that now (you could harken back to that scene from the TV show News Room about why it's not great). Let's accept, for the sake of argument, that American is no longer great. The question then becomes why. Is it because of the influx of immigrants? Is it because we haven't bombed, or otherwise killed, enough of the right people? Or that we don't have nearly enough military power yet (despite spending more than the rest of the main economic powers combined)?
The interesting thing here, however you might answer those questions, is that the people who have been making the decisions that have led us to this point are same people who are part of the top ten percent of this nation; decisions based on what is in their best interests; factors that concern you only in as much as how the effects trickle down to you. And in this, of course, are we talking about "Big Money." So, if America isn't great any more who is actually responsible? And yet you place your trust in one of the members of that group? A guy who inherited a lot of money and hasn't actually done all that well in making the initial fortune any bigger?
Then we come to theme point two, taking our country back, a point I think is related to number one above. Who exactly are we in need of taking it back from? The few protester at your conventions? Do you really believe that they wield any real power in this country? Or are you talking about the two or three percent of Americans that may have come here because things were so desperate for them at home (the cause of which our actions abroad were a big part of)? Do you think they control what goes on here? Do you think they take significant chunks of the job market away from you; especially when most of what they do are the jobs us citizens don't want to do (as in picking crops, mowing lawns or cleaning houses)? Or is it simply that they kill so many of us as acts of terrorism, or at least might if they weren't already so busy taking jobs away from us. Which then begs the question of how you could be worried about that threat, ridiculously low though it may be, and hardly complain at all about the threat of lead in your drinking water, or pollutants in your air, or even the fact that you have a much greater risk of getting hurt driving to and from work every day; especially now that so much of our road and bridge infrastructure has gone so long without reinvestment and repair (because the rich like the benefits, but hate taking their share of the responsibilities to provide them).
I'll just leave you with one last thought. In every TV show that concerns a crime, or someone doing someone else bad, one of the main fallbacks the good guys resort to on how to catch the perps is this:
"Follow the Money." You don't have all that much and yet you are willing to buy into a guy who has made his living on selling folks one "pig in a poke" after another?. What's wrong with that picture? Even you folks should be able to figure that one out.
by HALLIE JACKSON and JACOB RASCON
Staffers across the major networks have reservations about their role in Trump’s rise
"...Staffers at the five major television networks are grappling with what role their organizations may have played in amplifying Donald Trump’s successful campaign of insults, generalizations about minority groups, and at times flat-out lies.
Conversations with more than a dozen reporters, producers, and executives across the major networks reveal internal tensions about the wall-to-wall coverage Trump has received and the degree to which the Republican frontrunner has — or hasn’t — been challenged on their air.
Two network sources also confirmed the unprecedented control the television networks have surrendered to Trump in a series of private negotiations, allowing him to dictate specific details about placement of cameras at his event, to ensure coverage consists primarily of a single shot of his face.
Network officials say the ratings have borne out commercial incentives to devote their campaign coverage to largely unfiltered streams of Trump talking. Trump’s presence in the race has also been good for local television stations who reap the benefits of increased spending on advertisements. CBS CEO Les Moonves quipped that Trump “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS, that’s all I got to say.”
But many inside the networks are growing increasingly disturbed with what they’ve helped create.
'As a programmer, it’s an easy decision, people watch it,” said one producer. “As an American, I’m sort of troubled by it, because I feel like we contribute to it...' "
Friday, March 18, 2016
"Get the lead out" used to be an exhortation to the lazy to start working harder. Now, as Flint already knows, and as Newark may be learning, it is a sad indication of where "lazy" has come to find a new resting place; in the hearts and minds of those who govern our cities and states.
As for the people who profit from doing business as usual from these locals, and for whom taxes to support them properly are looked upon with disdain, one can only ask: what have you sold for your few pieces of gold?
This review of the book "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City" by Harvard Sociologist Matthew Desmond is quite telling in how this nation does not value "thoughtful, loving structure." As one might expect, though, it does exemplify quite clearly how profit rules over even the most basic of human rights.
Below you will find just once excerpt from the Q & A with the author that are a part of the review:
"...In the beginning of the book, you point out that evictions used to be rare, even during the Great Depression. Today, you argue that millions are being evicted every year. Why has it become so common?
That’s one of the big things you see when reading urban history of the 1930s and 1940s. Evictions are these moments of scandal and mass community resistance. There’s a little note in the book about an eviction [in February 1932] of three Bronx families, which brought out a thousand people. The New York Times wrote about it like that was a poor showing because it was too cold.
Now we are evicting hundreds of thousands of people, probably in the millions, every year. There’s this divergence between what low-income families are making and what they have to pay to keep a roof over their heads and heat in their house. Between 1995 and today, median rent increased by over 70 percent. In the 2000s the cost of fuel jumped by 53 percent.
When you ask people why they were evicted the big reason is nonpayment of rent. They can’t afford to keep a roof over their heads. Utilities are a big part of the story too, while the third leg on the table is the lack of government help with housing. Most Americans think that the typical low-income family lives in public housing or gets housing assistance. The opposite is true. In years where you’ve had a growing gap between incomes and housing costs, only 1 in 4 families that qualifies for housing assistance gets any..."
The practice used to be rare. Now it’s an epidemic. Matthew Desmond, the author of a landmark new book, explains how it happened.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
And another reason to engage them in positive ways. Ways in which we start, in finding common ground, by admitting that we are having our troubles as well.
Rest assured, however, that turning a threat waving lunatic loose as our commander and chief will only make China more insular, unyielding and pressed with the perception that they have their backs against a wall. And in that will there be nothing but a great deal more pain and suffering for both sides.
Hardly even a few months into this election cycle and already Trump has minions to do his bidding. I won't say evil bidding as that would bestow a good deal more than he deserves here.
In the first place they are his minions more so in his mind than in reality, and I make the declaration specific to that caveat. As for his supporters, I don't think they're evil, or minions either for that matter; gullible maybe, naive and just plain ignorant perhaps as well, but not evil minions. Which doesn't, of course, release them from any of the responsibility they'll take on for doing a really stupid, destructive act; and all because of the stupid party that made it possible for people like him to have a shot at their nomination in the first place. And how else could you describe a party responsible for Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, and a gaggle of governors who've taken religious extremism to soaring new heights. Why shouldn't just plain dumb have its day in the bright light of extreme expression?
These people would have a right to be angry of course, but the real shame here is that they won't see their own culpability in allowing this to happen at all. It's always risky making generalizations but I would be willing to say that a majority of these people hardly ever read any history, or documented exposes, or scientific reviews. How could they when most of what they know comes from television, and only the most isolated of web sources. As such they don't have nearly enough information to really understand what's going on around them; making them easy marks for whatever simplistic spouting moron that comes along; just as long as that moron puts a resonant salve on their fears, and assurances that easy certainty will save them. That this puts them into the category of children being led away by a man with promises of candy seems to escape them entirely.
It's a sad commentary indeed when one has to be so blunt about a big part of what ails this nation, but there it is. A part of it, of course, is that having children as citizens is exactly what a profit driven, commercial/commodity form of social organization desires the most; or at least what it has always thought it desired the most, as evidenced by conservative Big Money playing into this scenario for so long.
The other part, however, is as it has always been. We are responsible for what we allow our government, as well as our so called "betters," to decide for us. Too long have we all been lulled into the idea that you can simply pay and forget. Pay your taxes (grudgingly or not), pay into a campaign, or buy into this or that miracle remedy. That's all. And after that it will be taken care of so you can sit back, chung your brew of choice, and be entertained, and otherwise pleasantly distracted. We'll even settle for a shitty job if it just pays enough to stay comfortable snug in our own private cocoons of ignorant bliss.
The thing is, people talk about wanting liberty and freedom, but they seldom have any idea of what is actually required of each of us to maintain it, and stay responsible for it. That the bill due to pay for that is informed personal involvement, and not just on a part time basis. To do that, however, as it should be done, cannot truly happen until we reinvent how our social/economic operating system works. This is so because the current operating system was made obsolete decades ago and we just refuse to accept that.
by BENJY SARLIN
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Is he just too clever to quite cross that line? Or has it been just dumb luck as he gets up on any stage and just starts spouting whatever egotistical B.S. that comes to mind? I have a tendency to lean towards the former, but I find it hard to dismiss the latter altogether.
In any case, though, in the court of public discourse he is guilty as charged. And how could he not be while displaying such obvious glee at throwing out verbal hate bombs, as well as pleas for passion filled thoughtlessness. That's the whole point of his resonant simplification of complex issues with factless nonsense. Be afraid, but don't think too hard on any of it. Just be ready to react and let me be your reactor general. I will lead your reactions to the greater glory of my brand, for in that greatness will America be great again.
The bottom line here may well be this: The really scary thing is that he truly believes that the greatness of his brand will somehow rub off to America in general, and if it doesn't then... well that's simply because of a lack of proper perception of just how great his brand is. That is why all of the ventures he's done that failed didn't do so in his mind because of any failing in him. It was because of a failing in the rest of us to see just how profoundly his brand bestows greatness on anything it touches. And if you have the gall to question any of that beware. He has a true believer army ready to lay the kinds of punches only his suckers know how to land. And god how he must love that now.
by ALI VITALI
And by costs here I mean both the human suffering involved for the individual, as well as for immediate family, and the community as a whole, but also for the institutional burdens placed on service systems not designed to handle this sort of thing in the first place.
What we have here, for police, courts and prisons, is responsibility creep for institutions that are not only already overburdened, and have to struggle to respond at all, but end up doing so poorly for the further reason that they were never intended to to do this sort of thing in the first place. And make no mistake here, this also involves, to a large degree, our stance on making drug addiction a criminal matter.
And what is the result of this abysmally short sighted allocation of social resources? The further straining of tensions across several demographic categories; strains that inevitably lead to even more burdens being placed on all of our institutions of social cohesion, and thus more expenditure of effort.
The question then becomes this: Is this simply a case of our political establishment being penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to paying for the ounce of preventive treatment (as opposed to the pounding cure we get now), or are there other players in the game who see proper actions here as merely threats to several lucrative markets; as in not only the privatization of prisons, but the militarization of policing in general? Or perhaps it is some combination of both.
In either case it is still an indictment of a cost/profit form of social organization. How could it be otherwise when the suffering itself , in its human component, doesn't seem to count for much in getting our priorities in order.
by ARI MELBER and MARTI HAUSE
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Isn't it interesting how quickly we forget when the protest shoe was on another foot, trying to disrupt things. It was only a few years ago you know when Tea Party "activists" were disrupting town hall meetings all over the country. Only then, of course, the idea was to stop any kind of open discussion at all; as opposed to now where the "Master of Chumps" seeks anything but open discussion.
His message is simply "yes, be fearful. I know so many things confuse you. That's why I utter nothing but either simplistic blather, or simplistic lies, that are guaranteed not to upset your comfortable cocoon of ignorance. Those fact mongers outside the gates of certainty want only to confuse you more. Of course your're frightened. I want you to be frightened because a strong man authoritarian leader can't crack down on the freedoms you take for granted otherwise.
You lot might want to take a moment, however, to consider this surrender you're contemplating here. The next time you want to go all Tea Party on notions you don't like you may find that, once the logic of absolute authority is accepted, you won't have the opportunity to even consider throwing tea, or sabots, or whatever, into the workings of power. And the Chump Card you're carrying now will be seen for what it always was; a ticket to far worse than what frightens you now
by ALI VITALI and PHIL HELSEL
For the Contrast See:
Members of the audience argue before a town hall forum on the health care overhaul hosted by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, in Reston, Va., on Aug. 25, 2009.