Sunday, December 27, 2009

Board Members Who Skated Away From Financial Failure, Responsibility


Amazing, isn't it, that the men and the few women at the top of the USA's economic heap, who either openly or surreptitiously fund the Randian/libertarian cult of personal responsibility take absolutely no responsibility for their own actions.



And many of these same individuals in the NY Times article more than likely have lobbied in one way or another for looser federal regulations on banking and the financial industry. After all they, like their counterparts in the federal government, are the products of the US's finest institutions of higher leaning, Harvard, Yale, etc. So heaven forbid if they would ever do anything hinting of criminality, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Thanks in large measure to their excellent business school education they are the most competent systems managers money can buy.



Of course these fine upstanding products of America's most prestigious universities' schools of business, WaMu's Kerry Killinger the exception being a graduate of the University of Iowa's business college, always have an escape clause at hand when things go wrong: They were just hired hands.



That's the beauty of the American corporation, no one, no single individual is ultimately responsible for anything. The CEO was hired by the board of directors, who in turn were supposedly hired by the major shareholders, who gained control by owning massive blocks of stock. It's a circle jerk of passing the buck until the American tax payer bails them out.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Adam Nagourney: Debate Shows Obama Plays by Washington’s Rules


New York Times.com
As much as Mr. Obama presented himself as an outsider during his campaign, a lesson of this battle is that this is a president who would rather work within the system than seek to upend it. He is not the ideologue ready to stage a symbolic fight that could end in defeat; he is a former senator comfortable in dealing with the arcane rules of the Senate and prepared to accept compromise in search of a larger goal. For the most part, Democrats on Capitol Hill have stuck with him.

Still, Mr. Obama’s approach to this battle should not be a surprise to anyone who has followed his career or his campaign for the White House. He served in the United States Senate and in the Illinois Senate. His choice for chief of staff — Mr. Emanuel — was the No. 3 person in the House Democratic leadership, and many of his top West Wing aides came out of staff jobs in the Senate.

Mr. Green said that Mr. Obama’s failure to push for the public option — or to enlist his network of grass-root supporters behind it — had sapped the energy out of the base and would have consequences for the 2010 elections. If Mr. Green is correct, that could be a real problem for Democrats, particularly given how energetic opposition to the health bill and the entire Obama agenda appears to be among Republicans.

But this could also prove to be a test of just how much power the outside voices in the left wing have over the insiders in the White House and on Capitol Hill. The stinging attack from Mr. Dean and organizations on the left calling for the defeat of the health care bill failed to dissuade a single Senate Democrat from voting for it. And Mr. Axelrod said he was not worried that would hurt the party come November.

No shit, Sherlock

Pentagon sees big savings in replacing contractors with federal employees

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Defense Department estimates it will save an average of $44,000 a year for every contractor it replaces with full-time federal personnel to perform critical defense jobs, according to the House-Senate conference report on the fiscal 2010 defense appropriation bill.
WashingtonPost.com

Hedges truly diagnoses our national problem

Posted originally at Alternet.org:
From the above article:Hedges...asserts in Chapter 3, "The Illusion of Wisdom," that Harvard, Yale, Princeton and most elite schools "do only a mediocre job of teaching students to question and think." Elite universities are in the business of producing "hordes of competent systems managers" not critical thinkers(emphasis added by me).

This, my friends, is as accurate, succinct definition of the coordinator class I have ever read. Economic class is at the base of America's political and economic problems yet we, the vast majority of the American people, fail to discuss it. So brainwashed are we as a people with the notion of "upward mobility" we do not see that for the vast majority the game is rigged against us.

Again from the article:Hedges not only blames the elite universities for our mortgage-fueled financial crisis but is sure their alumni on Wall Street and in Washington have no capacity to really fix the economic system..."They have no concept, thanks to the educations they have received, of how to replace a failed system with a new one." (He includes George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Obama's "degree-laden" cabinet members in this group.)

Elsewhere on this Web site Naomi Klein excoriates President Obama for squandering ...once-in-a-generation opportunities... to clean up the global environment and repair our broken economy at the same time. From my perspective President Obama fails to see the opportunities Klein describes for the very reasons Hedges outlines above. The president is a product of two of the most prestigious Ivy League universities, Columbia for his degree in journalism, then Harvard Law, and as such is, in Hedges' words, he is first and foremost a competent systems manager, a coordinator.

And why, I think, our center-left and center-right coordinator class politicians and economists try to work within and not alter the fundamental elements of what for the greater majority of Americans is an increasingly flawed and inequitable socio-economic system, is because it works for them. My coordinator class, real estate developer, Democratic state senator is known as a "champion" of the poor in my state, because his district includes some of my hometown's poorest neighborhoods. Yet at the same time he profits from tax incentives, rebates and credits laws for developers, many of which he has hand a hand in fashioning.

Discussion of socio-economic class in the United States is taboo unless it is coupled with race, i.e. blacks and Hispanics are poorer that whites. Yet there is real class resentment which the reactionary-right coordinator class recognizes and exploits to their own benefit, think of the tea party movement.

Sadly unless we can get the big money out of politics and end the myth of corporate personhood I can think of no solution to this dilemma other than the trumbles and guillotines. And this is a step that even the farthest left of the coordinator class will never take.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What if the Republicans had acted like an opposition party?

The health care "reform" bill slithering its way through the US Senate, Massachusetts-style Romney-care writ large, is what Congressional Republicans, had they been responsible and adult, should have offered to counter the allegedly more "liberal" bills from the Democrats. This would have forced Senate Democratic leadership, especially the round-heeled Harry Reid, to hold to a more "socialist" health care reform package that included a "public option" or Medicare expansion.

Unfortunately Republican leadership decided to bite the hands that fed it for so very long, Big Pharma and the health insurance lobbies, and do nothing. This left the door open for Republicans-in-donkey suits, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and long time GOP-deep plant mole Joe Lieberman to take up the cudgels of opposition which US House and Senate Republicans had dropped.

Through intransigence that came close to blackmail at times, Landrieu brought home $300 million in Medicaid bacon for Louisianans and Nelson got Nebraskans off the hook for Medicaid expansion forever.

Writes USNews & World Report columnist Doug Heye,"For Nebraska, the federal government (that means you) will pay the cost for all new enrollees in perpetuity. Think your governor likes that?" Well, Mr. Heye, my governor may not like it but what is he to do? Invade Omaha and hold Nebraska Furniture Mart hostage until the State of Nebraska forks over some dough for Iowa's Medicaid?

Even the darling of the left Vermont's Bernie Sanders got a little Medicaid sweetener.

Unwittingly the Republicans may have signed their own death warrant by taking the obstructionist road to health care deform. As witnessed by Wall Street's "US Investors Flock to Big Health Insurers", MarketWatch.com, after Democrats successfully closed debate on its health care deform bill. Why would the insurance/pharmaceutical industrial complex continue to back a bunch of losers who did nothing for them? So watch for contributions from Big Pharma and Big Insurance dry up for Republicans in 2010. For instance, why would Big Pharma want to contribute to Chuck Grassley, up for re-election, as heavily as in the past? He did nothing to increase their share profitability, nothing for their bottom line. It was all the Democrats.

So while establishment Republicans and teabaggers on the one hand, and progressives and the ideologically pure left on the other rant and rave about back room deals and pork put yourself in the shoes of a Nebraska or Louisiana voter. Why would you want to get rid of a Senator who has brought home the bacon. It is only pork if it goes to the other guy, if it comes to you it is needed federal funding.

And remember, kiddies, people power never trumps money, at least in my life time. Even that hero of the ideologically pure anti-war left Eugene McCarthy's 1968 quixotic presidential campaign was totally funded by four wealthy donors whose identities, and motives, remain secret to this day.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Obama, Wen Offer No New Emissions Cuts -- China Blamed For Lack Of Progress


President Obama I think it is time you admit the failure of the Copenhagen talks does not solely rest on the Chinese government but squarely on the shoulders of the United States.



I think it is time that you as the titular leader of the so-called "free" world admit to the rest of the world's peoples and to the American people that neither you, or the US Congress or any politician controls the United States. That the real political and economic power resides in in the hands of a select few uber-wealthy Wall Street investors, that all politicians of both major political parties are mere puppets for their desires. Republicans, and too many Democrats, dance to the tune of Nineteenth Century technological industries: coal-fueled electric generation, the internal combustion engine, the diesel engine, petroleum and it byproducts, gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene and so on.



It is the Wall Street banker, brokers and hedge fund managers who have doomed the world...not the Chinese government...and their puppets in the US Congress and their legions of brainwashed-by-FauxNews Americans.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lieberman's Medicare Flip-Flop Leaves Democrats Fuming


The subhead on the home page asked: "What Makes Joe Tick?"



Here's my guess, first he's in the pocket of Connecticut's insurance lobby.



But secondly he's also deeply in the pocket of Connecticut's defense contractors lobby and the Pentagon Shadow Nation. According GovernmentContractsWon.com the State of Connecticut was awarded $383,348,280,990 in contracts by the Department of Defense. http://www.governmentcontractswon.com/department/defense/connecticut_counties.asp



Life is good in the DOD Shadow Nation. Health care insurance is affordable. So what is the rest of the nation suffers. the DOD Shadow Nation ensures our liberties.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Lieberman Wins: Medicare Compromise On Chopping Block


Senate rules are ridiculous and anti-democratic. Harry Reid is a milquetoast. And President Obama is no LBJ. That's right Obama's no LBJ.



I know a lot of people have compared Obama's Afghanistan strategy with Lydon Johnson's build-up in Vietnam but really now, would LBJ have let a pipsqueak like Joe Lieberman buffalo the White House and Senate?



Johnson would have called Lieberman up to the White House, given him a tongue lashing in the Oval Office and sent him back to the Senate with a damp spot on his trousers' leg.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NRA Quietly Winning Battles For Looser Gun Laws


Just look at the photo accompanying this news story. Who do you see?



Now, just think of the last time you saw a national news telecast on urban crime and violence? What about a network or cable news story about violence in urban high schools? How about a network or cable news story about gang-related gun violence?



Do you recall the skin pigmentation of all of the "inner-city" Americans who were subject of the news reports?



Did those people look like the gents in the photo accompanying this news item?



Do you think that National Rifle Association vice-presi­dent-for-l­ife Wayne La Pierre or the national and cable television news networks feel any sense of responsibility for casting one segment of American society, a minority, as potentially violent criminals while vast majority are portrayed as helpless victims?



It's a cinch neither La Pierre or the producers and top shareholders of the national network and cable news outlets have a sense of shame.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, December 11, 2009

CIA's Blackwater Ties Run Deep, Private Firm Participated In Covert Raids


More blowback from the 1973 foundation of the All Volunteer Force.



The US military trains highly motived individuals for thousands, perhaps millions of taxpayer dollars, to be elite, efficient killers. But they have a limited shelf-life in the Army, Marines, Navy or Air Force and their skills are of little value, except in police work, in the civilian world.



Since one of the more "free market" concepts of the AVF is the outsourcing of mundane military fatigue duties, cooking, cleaning, hauling etc., to private contractors such as Halliburton-KBR it wasn't that much a leap for the "free market" CEOs in the Pentagon apply that concept to the actual job of security.



And that Xe, formerly Blackwater, employees have partaken in CIA operations should come as no surprise. It's just mission creep for the best hired guns in the vicinity who speak English!



It's time to end the All Volunteer Force experiment. It's time to end military fatigue and security duties, Marines, after all, traditionally guarded our embassies.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, December 07, 2009

Jacqueline Marcus: Corporate Media Networks Want Obama to Fail

Jacqueline Marcus: Corporate Media Networks Want Obama to Fail

Posted using ShareThis

Luke A. Nichter: Who Was Fritz Kraemer? And Why We Should Care.

Whether Vietnam, Iraq, or now Afghanistan, wars come and go, but the real battle is a philosophic one between two sects of conservatives. In The Forty Years War: The Rise and Fall of the Neocons from Nixon to Obama, authors Len Colodny and Tom Shachtman challenge readers to examine the role of a little-known Pentagon figure named Fritz G.A. Kraemer. Colodny and Shachtman argue that Kraemer was the leading intellectual behind what became known as the neo-conservative movement, witnessed by the fact that Kraemer influenced so many high-ranking conservative figures over the course of six decades.

The Forty Years War should serve as a call to researchers to learn much more about Fritz Kraemer. Perhaps the outcome of this future research will confirm Colodny and Shachtman's view that Kraemer was a sort of ideological godfather to the neo-conservatives. After all, a split in the conservative camp indeed took place, and was never resolved. On the other hand, others may conclude that the emphasis on Kraemer is overdone. Either way, the first step is to learn more about the mysterious figure who was indeed influential to so many American diplomatic and military figures since Vietnam. For that, The Forty Years War indeed deserves credit.
Luke A. Nichter: Who Was Fritz Kraemer? And Why We Should Care. HNN.us

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Paul Craig Roberts, even when he's right he screws it up


Interesting rant by the "father of Reagonomics" Paul Craig Roberts:
Obama is Israel’s puppet




First a sample of Roberts' rant with which I agree:

Obama also found out that he cannot change anything else, either, if he ever intended to do so.

The military/security lobby has war and a domestic police state on its agenda, and a mere American president can’t do anything about it.

The war and insurance lobbies rattled their campaign contribution pocketbooks and quickly convinced Congress and the White House that the real purpose of the health care bill is to save money by cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits, thereby “getting entitlements under control.”

“Entitlements” is a right-wing word used to cast aspersion on the few things that the government did, in the distant past, for citizens. Social Security and Medicare, for example, are denigrated as “entitlements.” The right wing goes on endlessly about Social Security and Medicare as if they were welfare giveaways to shiftless people who refuse to look after themselves, whereas in actual fact citizens are vastly overcharged for the meager benefits with a 15.30% tax on their wages and salaries.

Indeed, for decades now the federal government has been funding its wars and military budgets with the surplus revenues collected by the Social Security tax on labor.

The real entitlements are never mentioned. The “defense” budget is an entitlement for the military/security complex about which President Eisenhower warned us 50 years ago. A person has to be crazy to believe that the United States, “the world’s only superpower,” protected by oceans on its East and West and by Canada and Mexico on its North and South, needs a “defense” budget larger than the military spending of the rest of the world combined.

The military budget is nothing but an entitlement for the military/security complex. To hide this fact, the entitlement is disguised as protection against “enemies” and passed through the Pentagon.


O.K. pretty fair assessment there. Yet Roberts fumbles at the endzone.



The United States no longer commands the respect it enjoyed under President Ronald Reagan or President George Herbert Walker Bush. World polls show that the US and its puppet master are regarded as the two greatest threats to peace. Washington and Israel outrank on the most dangerous list the crazy regime in North Korea.


I may be wrong, but I do believe (and, yes, I know belief with few facts is dangerous) the United States' slide into world infamy had its genesis in the Reagan White House.

Soldiers On Acid: 1963 British VIDEO Shows Troops Under The Influence Of LSD


“Here's how we get out of Afghanistan, a little LSD in the Taliban's morning coffee and...voil­a!...they see jesus and we all go home.”
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Chuck Grassley's 2010 campaign slogan

I’ve lived off the public tit all these years


GRASSLEY: For the first 16 years I made $3,000 every other year as a state legislator. Now do you expect me to live on $3,000 every other year? No I was a factory worker for 10 years and I was a farmer for that period of time and I farm with my son now. So if you’re trying to make a case that I’ve lived off the public tit all these years, I think you’re saying correctly in the years I’ve been in the Congress but not the years before I came to Congress.

ThinkProgress.org

Big Brother thy name is Google


What happened when Democrats in Congress cut off funding for the Vietnam War?

What happened when Democrats in Congress cut off funding for the Vietnam War?

Posted using ShareThis

Some Simple Questions After Obama's Afghanistan War Speech


The "kids" in that audience at West Point are there to learn how to be an officer in the US Army. They are not there to learn candy making, needle-point or carpentry. And as we should know by now, paraphrasing Gen. George S. Patton, the "job" of a soldier is not to die for his country but to make sure the other poor s.o.b. dies for his.



Moreover I am certain the vast majority of those West Point cadets are willing to go themselves, so, David, your bleed heart concern is wasted upon the likes of them. From their vantage point it is their job to kill the bad guys over there so you and I can go about our merry way protesting their deployment over here. I know it is a rather simplistic and illogical view point but it is one drilled into their heads nonetheless. Anyway the media, politicians of every stripe and even dedicated anti-war activists universally hale these young stalwarts heroes so why should they lay down arms?



Thanks in large measure to the Vietnam anti-war movement's embrace of the Milton J. Friedman-invented All Volunteer Force in 1973 today's anti-war movement has very little to no stock in the uniformed services. Combat experience in little wars is the surest method for advancement up the ranks for a soldier or Marine. If the nation does not end the AVF experiment these little wars will never end.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Obama's Afghan War Plan: Nine Key Points


War may not be good for children or other living things but it is a godsend for anyone making a career of the military.



War is particularly good for officers. Rank and pay grade during war is on a constant upward arc for those who survive combat. And there is always a cushy managerial position in the civilian world, with full retirement, at the end of a successful career.



Sadly there is no disincentive for the current All Volunteer Force to stop waging little wars. Nor is there any incentive for our politicians, especially those who regularly get re-elected by grandstanding over flag-draped coffins, to end little wars in countries with no strategic importance to the security of the United States.



Those of us opposed to these little wars can protest all we want. It will do no good. Not enough Americans have invested loved ones in these little wars. And anyway the brainwashed professionals of the AVF like to say the reason they are killing people over there is so we have the "freedom" to protest over here. The anti-war activists' plea to "bring the boys, and girls, home safely," is only hear by its own choir, the members of the AVF are stone deaf to it.



The only thing that may end this national madness is a total economic collapse, and I can not foresee that happening any time soon.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost