Election 2016 Was Rigged And Now You Can Do Something About It

Few people ever thought these words would be cogent; but Jill Stein may have radically altered the course of American electoral history. She may even save our democracy (such that it is).

Just before midnight on Thanksgiving Eve of 2016, former presidential candidate Jill Stein and her Green Party reached their online goal of over $2.5 million to fund a recount in the state of Wisconsin. They have now surpassed $4.5 million of their goal, and have pushed their goal to $7 million to cover the expensive filing and legal fees, as well as the necessary observers in a total of three states. The deadline to file is Friday, and while most Americans would be readying themselves for shopping madness, enough citizens donated to the perhaps naïve idea that we can return to transparent and legitimate elections in America. Two more states are in their crosshairs, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and with respective filing deadlines of Monday and Wednesday, these states are needed to swing the electoral vote count away from Drumpf’s favor.

All this based on the concerns of cybersecurity professionals, computer scientists, statisticians and other experts that an audit of the election in these battleground states is needed based on discrepancies in vote totals.

So is it worth it to donate? Is it all some scam? Just a waste of time and money on wishful thinking? Or rather, the most important question of all: Could the election even have been rigged?

Remember, many of Donald Drumpf’s psychological foibles came out to play this campaign, though he seems to have muted them (or been muted by wary staffers). Among these were his tendency to often project his own faults/sins onto his opponents, a quirk of the extreme right in general when faces with challenging cognitive dissonance. Drumpf has also been praised for his brashness, sometimes clumsily blurting out Republican knowledge (and even information from intelligence briefings) that other wiser, more seasoned operators and strategists would have preferred to keep coded.

And what had been the resounding cry for the two weeks when the electoral lead shifted? ‘It’s rigged, it’s rigged!’ Drumpf has thrown out so many red flags, it’d be truly naïve of us not to be suspicious. Though still speculation, we should perhaps appreciate a plan so diabolical that it accuses the other side of rigging the election, eliciting scoffs and jeers of “only a moron would believe our election could be rigged”, thus tying your opponents’ hands and tongues when your side actually rigs the election. Although many did point out beforehand that while “rigging” was unlikely, a theft by “hacking” was a very real danger to the Republic by nefarious agents.

screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-5-06-22-am

The best evidence: if CNN says it can’t be done, it can.

A risky and unbelievable assertion? Perhaps. But also remember that Drumpf and his top aides needn’t even have been aware of such chicanery, and in fact seem to have been as surprised as the rest of us. So be as skeptical if you please, but know that these are very serious experts alleging the possibility of a fix.

Drumpf lost the popular vote by over two million votes and counting, and eked out the most implausible win possible (barring a win for Johnson or Stein herself). Voter rolls in at least two states (that we know of) were probed by hackers. Experts note that if one were to theoretically hack our election as a foreign power, they would need to first view voter registration databases, as was done in Illinois and Arizona, currently being investigated by the FBI. Such bad actors could then utilize malware to do their bidding from there:

“This malware would likely be designed to remain inactive during pre-election tests, do its dirty business during the election, then erase itself when the polls close. A skilled attacker’s work might leave no visible signs — though the country might be surprised when results in several close states were off from pre-election polls.”

~ J. Alex Halderman, Professor of Computer Science, University of Michigan

Vote totals suspicious are suspicious in these states, with many results not matching up with exit polls (never a perfect rubric, admittedly), defiance of trends seen during early voting, and more importantly, eerie discrepancies in precincts that used paper versus electronic ballots. Nearly every single race where there was a disparity between exit poll and final vote data, the race went to Drumpf, and the most notable inconsistencies were in many of the very same swing states in question (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida).

Polling had been fairly consistent for weeks before the election.

Polling had been fairly consistent for weeks, with Drumpf coming close but failing to rise above Clinton’s “wall”.

Drumpf won states that have not backed Republican presidents for decades. A record number of mail-in absentee ballots were seen in Wisconsin. Attorney General Bruce Beemer and police in Pennsylvania are investigating “voter registration irregularities”. In Ohio it was reported that while electronic voter machines did have failsafes in place, officials there actually opted to turn those software protections off.

From Alternet:

“The theory here rests not on the claim that the hackers used data from Illinois to apply for registration status and absentee ballots. Rather, the theory is that the hackers used the data from Illinois to place fake voters into voter registration databases which they also hacked… A leading computer scientist agreed this is how it could be done.”

So was it possible that such hackers in key precincts strategically altered our election’s trajectory and, thus, the electoral count? We already suspect that Putin considers our democracy a carnival or a game for him to manipulate the way America has done with third-world nations and banana republics in the past. For Putin, it is perhaps not just part of his nationalist push to influence governments around the world, or to gain an edge in conflicts like Syria and Eastern Europe, or even the paranoid conspiracy theories of his advisors, but also as revenge for our role in geopolitical tampering going back to the Color Revolutions.

Even with self-deleting software, traces might be left by the massive security holes, and of course, the discrepancies from the paper ballots themselves. A skeptical point about this being an efficacious strategy is that it would require precision timing, a keen observance of polling trends day-by-day and county-by-county, and a massive conspiracy to commit multiple crimes. As a foreign government, the alleged superpower would have the resources, the interest, the motivation, the manpower, and a lack of fear of legal reprisal along with a heaping dose of deniability. Russian officials have been rather coy about their involvement, all but admitting that they planned to effect the election.

15027596_1177694925611604_3884773854915038941_nBut US officials already formally accused the Russians earlier this year of not only hacking into DNC emails, but also covert operations to destroy the integrity of our election itself. Russian officials, a diplomat and at least one veteran spy alleges governmental efforts to communicate with Drumpf’s people via a server registered to the campaign, as well as operations to cultivate Drumpf. They may have created fake documents to discredit the Democratic party to influence the election, they stated a desire to “monitor” polling places in certain states, and the DNC told the FBI that they believe their offices had been bugged. The Republican nominee and now president-elect called on the same foreign power to hack his political rival, whom he later said he would jail.

We do know that America’s voting machines have serious cybersecurity holes, as revealed by peer-reviewed papers and studies by computer security experts.

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

“Voting machines, especially those that have digital components, are intrinsically susceptible to being hacked. The main protection against hacking is for voting machines to provide an auditable paper trail.

However, if that paper trail is never audited, it’s useless.

We not only need elections to be auditable, we need them to be audited.”

Discrepancy between paper ballot and machine counted areas is stark.

Discrepancy between paper ballot and machine counted areas is stark.

Voting machines have indeed been hacked in the past: two officials were convicted for their part in a 2004 rigging scam, amidst claims of larger fraud, a computer programmer in 2010 testified under oath before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that programs could be used to fix elections, and members of Anonymous claimed to have prevented just such a massive voter theft in Ohio in 2012. Others have shown that voting machines could be theoretically hacked in less than ten minutes.

This is to say nothing of the very real and proven attempts by Republicans to disenfranchise voters, even though these voters did nothing wrong, and instead everything they were supposed to. The “Cross Check” system was created by Drumpf advisor and wannabe supervillain Kris Kobach (also notable for helping to craft Arizona’s SB 1070 or “Papers Please” bill), and is truly terrifying in that they may have robbed 1.1 million Americans of their legal right to vote based on legal loopholes that drop voters from rolls based on their names, largely targeting minorities.

Numerous Republicans have stated their motives for depriving voters their right to vote (including voter ID laws) was purely political and demographically selective, including a recent North Carolina politician bragging about depressing black turnout.

Voter turnout was low, and most of the country did not vote. Even then, the majority of those that did, did not vote for Drumpf. Moderate Republicans fled, and many of those who did vote for him claimed that he was the first person they felt they could vote for in many years (meaning, not typical voters). These were the two most unfavorable candidates we could have gotten, and Drumpf even had high unfavorable ratings on election day! It’s quite possible that his margins were even lower, as a recount could reveal.

14962579_191862091270679_4581861585145627938_n

If “Didn’t Vote” were a candidate in the 2016 election

15032239_10157612900440005_8149623638403806740_n

This is all important because no matter the outcome, Donald Drumpf, like all Republicans, wants to claim a mandate. (They claim a mandate despite his losing the popular vote, though the GOP always seems to do so with any win, even midterm, no matter how scant, and deny others have a mandate even when it’s a landslide.)

For those of you not paying attention to what’s going on in the country, or haven’t taken a peek at social media in weeks, the most ardent Drumpf supporters include the KKK and Alt-Right neo-nazis heiling their new führer. If their demagogue claims a mandate, then hate crimes dramatically rise. Luckily Drumpf, between spats with SNL and the cast of Hamilton, did once say “Stop it” into a camera.

The hypocrisy of "mandates"

The hypocrisy of “mandate” claims.

But more chilling, Drumpf is installing a fascist inner circle that includes the man who gave the alt-right their platform, a man who calls Muslims a “cancer”, a man Republicans in Congress once deemed too racist to become a judge, and the aforementioned architect of Cross Check. His plans for America include expanding Stop-and-Frisk, registering Americans based on their religion, enthusiasm for torture, and breaking apart families. These bigotries and ideologues are now closer to the White House than every before, and racists rejoice.

They may not have had implicit knowledge of tampering, but these fascists do not care if the election was stolen for them, by Russians or anyone else. They would be perfectly happy if America turned into a totalitarian state with no elections ever again.

Drumpf is not a legitimate president, and we do not have to accept the leadership of our country by a man who would crush dissent. Even if nothing comes of this and he is inaugurated on Friday, January 20th, it should come with the rank smell of illegitimacy and electoral doubt that it deserves.

The Democrats may not be willing to challenge the vote count, for a myriad of reasons from their tone deaf inside-the-beltway-correctness, to their own corruption, from being seen as sore losers to just feeling plum defeated and exhausted. No state on their own will check the paper ballots without being urged to do so, half of the states gave no laws requiring any manual examination of paper ballots, a failing that would have been known to mysterious hackers who did their homework.

Already Democrats and their stupid tribalism are perpetuating all manner of pooh-poohing and absurdly confused rationale to minimize the Green Party and the American people’s efforts at a recount. “Hillary Clinton hasn’t called for a recount yet” (she should), “Jill Stein just wants to assuage herself and the rest of us that she didn’t cost Hillary the election”, “Jill Stein is just a Russian shill!”

But perhaps this is for the best, for without Hillary Clinton as their easy target on the national stage, the Republicans have only the vague, imaginary monolith of “leftists” to blame, or Jill Stein herself. That may present a problem to them, as she is another outsider challenging their so-called “outsider”. It’s hard to find credible examples of her being ‘crooked’ or in anyone’s pocket, and if right-wingers want to charge that she’s a Putin puppet then they just risk relitigating their own candidate’s foibles in this area.

But if Stein and many who still believe democracy to still be possible have their way, it would be an end run around both milquetoast Democrats and corrupt conservatives. By forcing the issue, raising the necessary funds, filing the paperwork on time and amplifying the message, the scrutiny of the entire world falls to those suspicious precincts.

If even one state has to comply with a paper recount (paper is vital, despite the inconvenience, looming deadlines and astronomical legal fees), and if voter tampering is apparent, then we’ll see shit really hit the fan. If Trumpers think their side did nothing wrong, then why oppose it? Maybe the American people discover that both parties cheated. Maybe it was George Soros all along! We just don’t know. We just need to figure out what’s going on, to restore faith in our system.

There doesn’t seem to be any easy way out of this now that won’t stain forevermore our so-called democratic process. Protests were already underway before allegations by experts of the election being crooked, so imagine what people will do if there are allegations of a crooked recount. Look at the country right now, for fuck’s sake. All it would take is one precinct to have been shown after audit to be have been rigged.

Though the initiative has reached its initial goal, continue to donate so that each of these key states can demand recounts, as attorneys and direly needed overtime-and-holiday pay doesn’t come cheap.Call the Department of Justice (202-353-1555) (202-514-2000), Call Congress’ Oversight Committee (202-225-5074), Call the Pennsylvania Attorney General (717-787-6458) and Governor Tom Wolf (717-787-2500) to request an immediate vote audit due to irregularities & possible manipulation.

This has been a bizarre election. Our country, despite what you may think, has a storied history of bizarre elections, but this one by far has taken the cake. It may be the election to end all elections. Make sure it’s the most discussed political item this holiday weekend.

#AuditTheVote #Recount2016

All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Arrested Development

arresteddevelopment8161212
Arrested Development, quite possibly the most finely crafted series ever to hit television screens, is slated to return any day now. With all fourteen new episodes to be released on Netflix at once, we’ve been excitedly re-watching, reading about, speculating and incessantly quoting for months (years) now. And though it seems like this will probably be a standalone run with no plans announced to produce a follow-up movie or further seasons, I hope the executives at Netflix have nonetheless anticipated our anticipation, lest their massive servers be brought down by our cultish traffic. No matter what happens, the Bluths and their Balboa mythos in the O.C. have already indelibly altered our lives and philosophical outlook, for better or worse. Because they understand more than you’ll… never know.

All I really need to know I learned fromarresteddev

  1. Always leave a note.
  2. Feel the hot sting of sweat in your eyes from an honest day’s work.
  3. Curl up in a ball and remain motionless when confronted.
  4. I’d rather be dead in California than alive in Arizona.
    Arrested Development - Jessica Walter
  5. Never give up animation rights.
  6. Hermano means brother.
  7. Don’t yell.
  8. Never promise crazy a baby.
  9. Vodka goes bad once it’s opened.
  10. You want your belt to buckle, not the chair.
  11. Do not be afraid to ride her. Hard.
  12. It’s okay to take a little something from work.
  13. The blue part of the map is land.
    alg-arressted-develpment-will-arnett-jpg
  14. Do not order the Skip’s Scramble.
  15. Don’t leave the door open with the air conditioning running.
  16. This close they always look like landscape. But nope, you’re looking at balls.
  17. Children should be neither seen nor heard.
  18. It’s the poor craftsman who blames his tools.
  19. You’re gonna get some hop-ons.
  20. Annyong is Hello.
  21. When you can do this without getting punched in the chest, you’ll have a lot more fun.arrested-development-season-4
  22. It ain’t easy being white, it ain’t easy being brown…
  23. Never touch the Cornballer!
  24. Sometimes a diet is the best defense.
  25. It’s called ‘taking advantage.’ It’s what gets you ahead in life.
  26. A Fake Popemobile doesn’t stop real bullets.
  27. Wine only turns into alcohol if you let it sit.
  28. Buy all your cars at police auctions.
  29. Buy yourself a tape recorder and just record yourself for a whole day. I think you’re going to be surprised at some of your phrasing.
  30. arrested-development-tv-shoow-image-blue-tobias-01Don’t pit your sons against each other.
  31. Portugal is in South America.
  32. Take the foil off the ding-dong before putting it in the microwave.
  33. If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a night, but if you teach a man to fish, he’ll want to use your yacht.
  34. Thou shalt protect thy father, and honor no one above him, unless it be-eth me, thy sweet Lord.
  35. The only scary thing about a one-armed man trying to scare someone is the fact that he feels his one arm is only good for trying to scare somebody.

ad-screencaps-arrested-development-2878446-1024-576crop__index

  1. When life hands you a chance to be with someone special, you just grab that brownish area by its points and you don’t let go no matter what your mom says.
  2. A trick is something a whore does for money. Or cocaine candy.
  3. If there’s still plenty of meat on that bone, take it home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato. Baby, you’ve got a stew going.
  4. The jury is still out on science.
  5. Too many lives have been ruined because some cheap waitress at a HoJo’s said she used an IUD.
  6. Faith is a fact.
  7. You gotta lock that down.
  8. British Parliament has three Houses.
  9. If you have a son, either take him to the cabin in the woods, or promise to take him and then not take him. But never not tell him that you’re taking him to a cabin in the woods and then not take him.
  10. Don’t teach lessons.
  11. NO TOUCHING!
  12. Life is about making difficult sandwiches.
  13. Family is the most important thing.
  14. Breakfast is the most important thing (of the things you eat).
  15. There’s always money in the banana stand.

Congressmen Say Their Own Personal Debt is OK, but not Government Debt

This article originally appeared on Disinfo.com

Ah, “elected” government, where hypocrites are paid to advocate for causes they may or may not even agree with, and legislate rules that they themselves don’t follow. And apropos of budget hysteria and economic terrorism being wrought against popular public programs, the trumped-up fears are not only false (the debt crisis is imaginary, and only 6% of the country is aware that the deficit is actually falling) but it’s no surprise to anyone that the ‘debt-fixing’ warriors don’t have the same view of their own debt as they do of the country’s, or yours.

As Josh Israel of ProPublica points out, fourteen of the most vitriolic enemies of vital programs themselves live with the personal irresponsibility of private debt (to the tune of millions).

These hypocrites include:

  • House Budget Committee Member Tom Rice (R-SC):Wrote: “At a time when hardworking American families are living off of a budget, the federal government should be no different. My colleagues and I believe it is time for America to change course and get back on a path of prosperity. This begins with a balanced budget plan.” Reported five mortgages totaling over $4 million.
  • House Budget Committee Member Diane Black (R-TN):Wrote: “The state of Tennessee balances its budget, American families and businesses balance their budgets and so should the federal government,” and “Balancing the budget is not extreme; it is what American families across this country do on a regular basis.” Reported four mortgages on three properties, totaling more than $3 million.
  • House Budget Committee Member Roger Williams (R-TX):Said Wednesday: “We have to have a balanced budget. I have to balance my budget. Everybody in America has to balance their family’s budget or their business’ budget, not every ten years, not even every single year, but every single day.” Reported more than $2.5 million in business debts.
  • House Budget Committee Member Scott Rigell (R-VA):Boasted that he voted for a balanced budget amendment because: “I know that American families do what they have to do to live within their means; and so too should the government.” Reported $1.5 million in lines of credit, a $500,000-plus mortgage, and over $10,000 in credit card debt.
  • House Budget Committee Member Bill Flores (R-TX):Wrote: “It’s time Washington was forced to finally live within its means and cut up the credit cards. Every American family and 49 out of 50 states currently abide by some form of a balanced-budget requirement. If they can make the hard choices to pay their bills and live within their means, then Washington should too,” and “American families and businesses must live by this principle every day, and they want Congress to abide by the same rule.” Reported two mortgages on residences totaling over $1.5 million.
  • House Republican Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA): In a joint editorial with Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), wrote: “Just as any family or business has to do, Washington needs to learn to live within its means.” Reported three mortgages totaling at least $1 million.
  • House Budget Committee Member Vicky Hartzler (R-MO): Said in a floor speech: “Families I talk to, they say, Every year we balance our budget, how come Washington doesn’t? Every small business I visit says, We balance our budget, how come Washington doesn’t? Every farmer and rancher I visit with says, We balance our budget, how come Washington doesn’t?” Reported five real estate mortgages totaling more than $900,000.
  • House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA):Wrote: “Balancing the budget isn’t a liberal or conservative issue. When families in Eastern Washington balance their budgets, they don’t consider it a liberal or conservative policy; it’s just a requirement of life,” and “Families, small businesses and even the State of Washington must balance their budgets. It’s difficult and it forces some hard choices. It’s time for the federal government to do the same.” Reported three mortgages totalling more than $600,000 and a student loan of at least $10,000.
  • House Budget Committee Member Reid Ribble (R-WI):Explained that he’d backed a bill because “we need to put a stop to the irresponsible deficit spending in Washington. Families across Wisconsin have been forced to scale back their spending and balance their budgets, yet the federal government has failed to do the same.” Reported several mortgages on properties and a home equity line of credit, totaling several hundred thousand dollars.
  • House Budget Committee Member Rob Woodall (R-GA):Wrote: “A Balanced Budget Amendment is crucial to ensuring fiscal responsibility in our government, not only today, but in the years to come,” Woodall said. “American families and businesses must decide how to spend their money responsibly; it’s time that the folks in Washington do the same.”Reported two mortgages totaling more than $150,000.
  • House Budget Committee Member Alan Nunnelee (R-MS):Wrote that “businesses, large and small, are working on their budgets for 2012. Each of these groups, local governments, state government, and private businesses operate with a very practical consideration…they must make their budgets balance. This is a concept that American families understand. Thirty years ago, just before I was to be married, a very wise friend taught me a simple but important principle of family budgeting, ‘If your outgo exceeds your income then your upkeep will be your downfall.’ The only entity in America that does not seem to understand this concept is the federal government,” and “Families and businesses in my district have been sitting down, cutting spending, balancing their budgets and making tough decisions. It’s time for the federal government to do the same. A balanced budget amendment will legally force the federal government to only spend what it takes in and start living within its means – a practice Mississippi families and businesses are asked to do every day, yet a practice our own President refuses to participate in. Reported four mortgages on two properties, totaling more than $145,000.
  • House Budget Committee Member James Lankford (R-OK): Said in a floor speech: “Nineteen years ago my wife and I married. I was still in school, I was working as much as I could, she was also working, but we were barely making it, but we made the decision, we were not going to run up credit card debt and live beyond our means. We paid our school loans, we tied to our church, we ate a lot of peanut butter, and we lived simply. As Dave Ramsey said, we determined to act our wage. It’s a biblical principal for myself and my family; Proverbs 22:7 states, ‘The borrower is a slave to the lender.’ Proverbs 22 applies to families, and Proverbs 22 applies to nations. If we were living within our means as a nation, almost all the debate in the last six months in this chamber would have been different.”Reported that he “is a slave” to Bank of America, with whom he has a mortgage of more than $100,000.
  • House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA):Wrote: “In order to make ends meet and plan ahead, hardworking American families and small businesses budget to manage their finances. Why can’t Washington?” and “In the past two years, discretionary spending has increased by 84 percent and our debt has grown by over $3.5 trillion. No family or small business in Bakersfield, or anywhere for that matter, would ever budget like this, and the federal government cannot.” Reported a mortgage of over $100,000.
  • House Budget Committee Member Sean Duffy (R-WI):Wrote: “Congress must learn what every working family and small business in Central and Northwestern Wisconsin has known for a painfully long time: the path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future is paved by fiscal responsibility and smaller, smarter government. One of the most commonsense measures we can enact is a balanced budget amendment which simply dictates that the federal government must live within its means. This is a lesson well-learned by the hardworking citizens of Wisconsin and there’s no reason why Washington should live by different rules than Wausau, Chippewa Falls or Rice Lake.” Reported two mortgages totaling more than $150,000, a line of credit, and a student loan of more than $50,000.

As AllGov points out, forty-six lawmakers in Congress owe thousands of dollars in college loans, totaling between $1.8 million and $4.3 million (via OpenSecrets data). But we’re still not see much action in the way of student debt justice.

They probably don’t care a whit for their own debt because they know the next big bribe or revolving door contract is just around the corner. And they don’t care about your debt at all, because elites in the bubble don’t think the same as we do. And to be perfectly honest, they don’t hate the government debt either, as their buddies continue to get rich off of it (and the big drivers of debt and deficit, Pentagon spending, will not shrink an ounce). But they need a fear engendered in the populace so they can have an excuse to take things away from the populace. And if you complain that the programs you have known and loved on for decades are being austerely destroyed, well, you’re just a ‘moocher’ who wants ‘more free stuff’.

The ProPublica piece reminds us that the government is not the same as a corporation, and shouldn’t be run like one. But even considering that corpo-fascism has already taken hold of our once-public infrastructure that used to serve us, they’re still running it like a pretty piss-poor business.

North Korea blows up Washington D.C.

North Korea is a wet dream for people who study outlandish propaganda. And lately, Pyongyang has stepped it up a notch, with hawkish threats to both South Korea and ridiculous assertions about their missile capability to reach the United States. Not that those of us who live in the U.S. are any strangers to bombardments of state media, testosterone-oozing militarism, and imperialist megalomania. It’s just that our leaders prefer a little more tact and subtlety, veiling their threats in diplomacy and filtering their policy through layers of corporate messaging.

The little-dictatorship-that-could seems laughable at times with their Photoshopped machismo and over-the-top imagery, but it’s still hard not to feel chilled by their sabre-rattling at times. Luckily, their government regularly releases videos which remind us how idiotic their military goals and targets are. Threatening to bomb their southern neighbor is one thing, but claiming that their shaky ICBM technology can reach across the entire Pacific Ocean, then the length of the entire North American continent to destroy a heavily fortified Washington, D.C. with their bad Adobe AfterEffects explosion is… well… it makes me wish all aspects of their dictatorship were as incompetent as their graphics department (and all the fascist states worldwide, for that matter).

via io9:

It’s not entirely clear what North Korea hopes to achieve with such a video, though it recently  declared its interest in a “preemptive” nuclear strike against the United States.

CNN has more on the video and a translation of some of the voiceover. It could be that this was meant less to energize their own citizens than to garner attention from the international community. If so, it seems to have worked, as the U.S. military has announced they are now keeping two nuclear capable B-2 bombers in South Korea, just to ease tensions, I’m sure.

On second thought, maybe the Central News Agency of the DPRK is just jealous of those cool animated Taiwanese news reports.

north-korea-is-best-korea-0b88c

By The Numbers

numbersPLAYLIST
In The Hall of The Mountain King – Hugo Montenegro and His Orchestra
Sénégal Fast Food – Amadou & Mariam
Meditations – Charles Mingus Sextet/Eric Dolphy
Smile – Madeleine Peyroux
Le Mal De Vivre – Barbara
Sunday In Richmond – Danny Cohen
Non Photo-Blue – Pinback
Businessmen – Carla Bley
Guitar Solo 5 – Neil Young
Happiest Guy in the World – The Cheesies
The Struggle – Minutemen
No One Does It Like You – Department of Eagles
Caterpillar Playground – The Nurses
The Group Who Couldn’t Say – Grandaddy
Roots And The Ruins – Karate
Sentinel-Restructure (Nobel Prize Mix) – Mike Oldfield
I Wish I Was Bob Dylan – Bleubird
Earl Sweatshirt – Chum
In an Ice Palace – The Music Tapes
Stuff is Way – They Might Be Giants
the Deep End – Mike Garlington
Swamp Root – Harmonica Frank
Banking on a Myth – Andrew Bird

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-03-23: By the Numbers by The Stranger on Mixcloud

The news coming from Cyprus is but the latest in the class warfare being waged in seemingly every nation, at every level by the powerful moneymen. What you need to know can be boiled down to this: The victims are expected to pay restitution to the wrongdoers. There is no penalty for being wrong or wrongdoing if you’re part of the global financial elite. What happens in Cyprus does not stay in Cyprus, can and is happening here.

The decision to hit ordinary people’s savings violates norms, expectations, and values that have guided Western democracies for thousands of years.

But demonstrators resist despite poverty, unemployment, even suicides.

Some 1,500 Greek demonstrators non-affiliated with political parties mobilized through social media. The demonstration ended when police shot tear gas at protesters—a police tactic also used during the anti-austerity demonstrations in Athens when the debt crisis began in late 2009.

Earlier this month, three people in central Greece killed themselves on the same day, and analysts said there is a correlation between the rising rates and three years of pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions that have pushed many people into poverty.

In light of all this, important questions emerge. Like, what good is democracy coupled with capitalism? Or more accurately, what good is this unrepresentative, bribed version of democracy with this bizarre, bastardized form of capitalism?

Joshua Holland makes some great points about the unwillingness or inability of a majority of Americans to participate in their democracy.

In 2011, Newsweek asked 1,000 Americans to take the standard U.S. Citizenship test, and 38 percent of them failed. One in three couldn’t name the vice-president.

Psychologists David Dunning of Cornell and Justin Kruger of NYU conducted a series of experiments showing that incompetent people vastly overrate their own abilities. “For people at the bottom who are really doing badly — those in the bottom 10th or 15th percentile — they think their work falls in the 60th or 55th percentile, so, above average,”

Republicans overestimate their constituents’ rightward tilt by an average of 20 percentage points, which is “roughly the difference in partisanship between California and Alabama,” the scholars wrote

Catherine Rampell of the New York Times penned a series of posts showing how confused Americans are about the nation’s income distribution and their place in it. “Americans all seem to think they’re ‘middle class,’” she wrote, “even those in the top 5 percent of all earners. As a result they frequently misunderstand what political mantras like ‘let’s tax the rich’ really mean.”

The latest example is evident in a recent Gallup study, which found that 6 percent of Americans in households earning over $250,000 a year think their taxes are “too low.” Of that same group, 26 percent said their taxes were “about right,” and a whopping 67 percent said their taxes were “too high.” And yet when this same group of high earners was asked whether “upper-income people” paid their fair share in taxes, 30 percent said “upper-income people” paid too little, 30 percent said it was a “fair share,” and 38 percent said it was too much. An income of $250,000 per year put them in the top 4 percent of American households – “upper income” by any reasonable estimate.

A 2011 study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science (PDF), Harvard economist Michael Norton and Dan Ariely, a psychologist at Duke, took a look at Americans’ perceptions of how wealth is stratified in this country and what an “ideal” distribution of wealth might look like.

They found that “respondents vastly underestimated the actual level of wealth inequality in the United States, believing that the wealthiest quintile held about 59% of the wealth when the actual number is closer to 84%.”

Perhaps more tellingly, “respondents constructed ideal wealth distributions that were far more equitable than even their erroneously low estimates of the actual distribution, reporting a desire for the top quintile to own just 32% of the wealth.”

Other fun numbers about what Americans believe:

Six percent of Americans believe in unicorns. Thirty-six percent believe in UFOs. A whopping 24 percent believe dinosaurs and man hung out together. Eighteen percent still believe the sun revolves around the Earth. Nearly 30 percent believe cloud computing involves actual clouds. 18 percent, to this very day, believe the president is a Muslim. Forty-five percent of Americans believe in angels. Roughly 48 percent – Republicans and Democrats alike – believe in some form of creationism.

This is serious stuff. We need more rationality in those irrational numbers. How else can we expect to battle the lunacy and lies among our elites. Those who believe it is not “serious” (i.e. politically viable) to talk entertain anything other than austere, conservative talking points. This has the chilling effect, of course, of steering us off the path to recovery, hell, even sustainability, and paints any marginally progressive solutions as frivolous and “unserious” with their rhetoric.

Paul Rosenberg at Al-Jazeera describes the damaging effects of rational problem-solving ceasing to be “serious”:

The culprit here, however, is not just GOP extremism – which is, after all,  wildly unpopular – but rather the morally feckless elite centrists who enable them by obscuring what they’re up to

[S]eriousness can refer both to the merits of an initiative or to its political viability. So  scrapping the minimum wage in favor of a Guaranteed Basic Income isn’t a serious proposal, since obviously it stands zero chance of passing Congress.  the  fallacy of equivocation, in which one word is used with two different meanings for “Serious”.

“Nothing is better than eternal salvation. A ham sandwich is better than nothing. Therefore, a ham sandwich is better than eternal salvation”

If some sort of action is eventually necessary (as it is with budget issues, and most other governmental questions as well), then the unreasonable side – which by definition cares less (perhaps not at all) about real-world consequences – has an increasing advantage the longer that the issue remains unresolved, thus further motivating them to remain unreasonable. If they start at 50 percent (equal blame), things only get better for them over time, as the blame burdern remains constant, but the cost pressure to do something rises much more accurately on the reasonable side.

A classic example of this second bias against reasonable alternatives is the Progressive Caucus’s repeated offerings ( 2011, 2012) of a budget that would balance in ten years – unlike Ryan’s – provide pro-growth investments for the future, preserve popular welfare state programmes, and include a diverse mix of tax increases that still leave tax burderns well below historic highs. The Progressive Caucus budgets have been routinely ignored, despite having significant support

This is why the President and Democrats are putting social security and Medicare on the bargaining table. This is why they repetitively betray their negotiating position before they even begin. This is why they still refuse to raise taxes on the rich or close tax loopholes.

We are the richest nation in the history of the world — richer now than we’ve ever been. But an increasing share of that wealth is held by a smaller and smaller share of the population, who have, in effect, bribed legislators to reduce their taxes and provide loopholes so they pay even less.

The budget deficit “crisis” has been manufactured by them to distract our attention from this overriding fact, and to pit the rest of us against each other for a smaller and smaller share of what remains. Democrats should not conspire.

Inequality is spiraling out of control. The United States already has a poverty rate among the elderly of 24 percent. Why are we even discussing increasing that?

This is exactly what Noam Chomsky writes about when addressing that question of capitalism, or as he puts it, “really existing capitalism.” Can our democracy survive? Can civilization survive?

The system is highly monopolized – In the past 20 years the share of profits of the 200 largest enterprises has risen sharply.

Now control of government is narrowly concentrated at the peak of the income scale, while the large majority “down below” has been virtually disenfranchised. The current political-economic system is a form of plutocracy, diverging sharply from democracy, if by that concept we mean political arrangements in which policy is significantly influenced by the public will.

Within the RECD system it is of extreme importance that we become the stupid nation, not misled by science and rationality, in the interests of the short-term gains of the masters of the economy and political system, and damn the consequences.

These commitments are deeply rooted in the fundamentalist market doctrines that are preached within RECD, though observed in a highly selective manner, so as to sustain a powerful state that serves wealth and power.

Because, as it turns out, the wealthy and super-wealthy are very different than you or me.

According to a new study by the think-tank Demos ( PDF), , authored by David Callahan and J. Mijin Cha, the affluent tend to hold a different vision of a just society than the public at large, and it is that vision which tops the political agenda in Washington and in state houses across the country.

“Wealthy interests are keenly focused on concerns not shared by the rest of the American public, like keeping taxes low on capital gains, and often oppose policies that would foster upward mobility among low-income citizens, such as raising the minimum wage.”

And yet we know, and the Demos report notes, “the affluent… have greater influence over public policy.”

This is why they would rather structure the law to dodge paying taxes. Why they go offshore. And why they still expect Uncle Sam to benefit them with the military, blockades, resources, procurement of oil, Navy protection of shipping lanes, safeguarding of copyrights, provide bailouts and corporate financing, and keep the highways open for business.

Bill Moyers thinks we should just tax those politicians who turn lobbyist, a large and ever-growing bunch, with nefarious organizations like ALEC around. And with so many of them outright lying about the debt and deficit to distract us and further their regime(s), he may be onto something.

Finally, even John Boehner confessed that “we do not have an immediate debt crisis” on ABC’s “This Week”.

So of course, we aren’t having a sober and measured discussion about such pragmatic solutions. Instead, the national conversation about the budget is dominated by debt demagogues with ulterior motives.

Thom Hartmann reminds us that this is ‘economic terrorism‘, and its no way to run a country:

The last time the GOP played political games with the debt limit, economic growth slowed in our nation, and citizens and businesses alike faced increased borrowing costs.  According to Boehner, Republicans plan to wage economic terrorism again, unless the President agrees to cut spending dollar-for-dollar with the debt ceiling increase.

This is dangerous for them, as voters are increasingly seeing the GOP as “scary”, “narrow-minded”, and “out of touch.” A party of “stuffy old men.” But this is more dangerous for the country, and what it is, is a class war.

Don’t expect Obama to save you. In many ways, he’s worse than Bush. In some ways, he’s worse than Nixon. I urge you all to dissent, even if it does mean you’ll end up on the new COINTELPRO lists.

The key is to not fall victim to their lies. But don’t become some conspiracy nut yourself. There are plenty of evil-doers and deeds to focus on without inventing imaginary ones. Your saving grace will be your cool head and reason. Examine the claims, and look at the facts.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-03-23: By the Numbers by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Luke’s Change: The Death Star Was An Inside Job

DeviantArt user: WilliamofOrange (CC)

As someone who has become disillusioned by both overwrought conspiracy theory and the Star Wars universe, somehow these two tastes taste great together to me! Utilizing the Death Star was an Inside Job meme, Graham Putnam parodies the 9/11 truther film series Loose Change by exposing connections within the politically-connected, royal, and Jedi lineage of the Skywalker family. Darth Vader’s motives and opportunity are made clear in “Luke’s Change: an Inside Job

Video via Graham Putnam:

Hey, we’re just asking questions!

Then again, this may just be another bit of Death Star PR.

Private Insecurity

manningPLAYLIST
In the Hall of the mountain king – Silver Fist
Led Zeppelin vs The Beatles Whole Lotta Helter Skelter – SoundHog
Scatterbrain – Jeff Beck With The Jan Hammer Group
Displaced – Amon Tobin
Wheels of Confusion – Black Sabbath
Sort It Out – The Caesars
Torn And Frayed – The Rolling Stones
Undun – The Guess Who
Oscillations – Silver Apples
Confusion – Fela Kuti
Loose Ends – Sergio Mendes
Interruptions – Rogue Wave
Frayed – The Naked And Famous
Entropy – Synaesthesia
Napalm Brain/Scatter Brain – DJ Shadow
chaos – unkle
Da Lata – Distracted Minds – Buddha-Bar (CD Series)
Frazzled Coyote – Carl Stalling
Disorder In The House – Warren Zevon

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-03-16: Private Insecurity by The Stranger on Mixcloud

I’ll just say it. The sequester is (yet another) excuse for some class war bullshit.

Regardless of who owns up to its inception, the dire consequences are ours. The American people. The sequester’s automatic cuts will hit Republican-governed states hardest, but these small-government clowns don’t seem to care. They don’t seem to care how the impoverished, the middle class, and the barely recovering will be financially challenged or ruined by their unnecessary ‘gamesmanship.’

Via Mother Jones:

  • Public housing subsidies:$1.9 billion in cuts would affect 125,000 low-income people who would lose access to vouchers to help them with their rent.
  • Foreclosure prevention:75,000 fewer people would receive foreclosure prevention, rental, and homeless counseling services.
  • Emergency housing:100,000 formerly homeless people could be removed from their current emergency shelters.
  • Educational programs: Learning programs for poor kids would see a total of $2.7 billion in cuts. The $400 million slashed from Head Start, the preschool program for poor children, would result in reduced services for some 70,000 kids.
  • Title I Funding: The Department of Education’s Title I program, the biggest federal education program in the country, subsidizes schools that serve more than a million disadvantaged students. It would see $725 million in cuts.
  • Rural rental assistance: Cuts to the Department of Agriculture would result in the elimination of rental assistance for 10,000 very low-income rural people, most of whom are single women, elderly, or disabled.
  • Social Security: Although Social Security payments themselves won’t be scaled back, cuts to the program would result in a massive backlogging of disability claims.
  • Unemployment benefits: More than 3.8 million people getting long-term unemployment benefits would see their monthly payments reduced by as much as 9.4 percent, and would lose an average of $400 in benefits over their period of joblessness.
  • Veterans services: The Transition Assistance Program would be forced to cut back some of the job search and career transition services it provides to 150,000 vets a year.
  • Nutritional Assistance for Women & Children: The government’s main food stamp program is exempt from cuts, but other food programs would take a hit. Some 600,000 women and children would be cut from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which provides nutrition assistance and education.
  • Special education:$978 million* in cuts would affect 30.7 million children. For example, the scaling back of federal grants to states for students with disabilities would mean that cash-strapped states and districts would have to come up with the salaries for thousands of teachers, aides, and staff that serve special needs kids.
  • Job training programs:$37 million would be slashed from a job retraining and placement program called Employment Services, and $83 million would be cut from Job Corps, which provides low-income kids with jobs and education.

Via In These Times:

  • Military Jobs: furloughs 750,000 civilians employed by the Army to ensure that the richest men in the world can continue paying an unconscionably lower tax rate than their secretaries.
  • FBI Jobs: slashes $550 million from the FBI, hindering response to cyber and terrorist attacks after the equivalent of 7,000 workers are furloughed each day just to ensure that corporations can continue to get tax breaks when they offshore jobs?
  • Mental Health Care: ends treatment for 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and severely emotionally disturbed children just to ensure that the 1 percent continue to receive tax breaks for their corporate jets, yachts and golf carts?
  • Air Travel and Safety: cuts back customs agents and Federal Aviation Administration workers, including air traffic controllers, causing airline delays just to accommodate the demand of multi-millionaires like Mitt Romney to pay a 14.1 percent tax rate, a rate lower than many middle-class workers pay?
  • Vital Health Services: $350 million cut from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eliminating, among other crucial health interventions, 540,000 doses of vaccine for flu, hepatitis and measles as well as tens of thousands of cancer screenings for low-income women, just to ensure that 30 highly profitable Fortune 500 companies continue to pay less in taxes than they do for lobbyists?
  • Science: cancels 1,000 National Science Foundation grants for research in areas like cyber security—especially now that it has been revealed that Chinese groups have hacked into the nation’s electrical power grid, gas distribution and waterworks systems—in order to continue massive government subsidies to oil companies, which are among the most profitable corporations in the world?

There will be no end to tax loopholes for the rich, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has asserted. The Republican ruling: The vast middle class, the elderly and the poor must suffer. Republicans chose, once again, to coddle the rich.

Furthermore and deeply concerning, as The American Prospect points out:

  1. The sequester will hurt job growth: The worst component was the non-renewal of the payroll tax cut, which is already dragging substantially on the economy. All told, if the sequester kicks in the economy will likely end the year with roughly 500-600,000 fewer jobs than if it were repealed. These are jobs the economy desperately needs. Further, it’s worth noting that even a full repeal of it with no offset will still result in an economy growing much too slowly to quickly return to full-employment. In a nutshell, arguments over the sequester are roughly about whether we’d like to be $900 billion or a full $1 trillion below economic potential in the coming year.
  2. It’s unnecessary and perverse: The sequester is the perfect illustration of how D.C. policymakers and pundits think that all economic policymaking can be reduced to shrinking the budget deficit, always and everywhere. However, the nation’s budget balance should be seen as a tool, not an invariant target. When the economy is healthy, rising budget deficits could indeed push up interest rates and “crowd-out” private investments. But when the economy is unhealthy and starved for demand, then budget deficits can (and should) be increased to finance job-creating transfers (unemployment insurance and food stamps) and public investments, with the resulting spur to growth actually “crowding-in” private capital. Further, in today’s economy deep spending cuts won’t just harm the economy (though this alone should rule them out), it will depress activity so much that the resulting fall in tax revenue and increased safety net spending will actually make the nation’s debt ratio worse. One doesn’t need to look hard to see this destructive dynamic in play—the United Kingdom’s clearly disastrous austerity programs has seen not just an increase in unemployment, but also a steady increase in the nation’s debt ratio.
  3. Paying for it with other spending cuts is absurd: Far too many in the Beltway have argued that it is the form of the sequester’s spending cuts—across-the-board and indiscriminate—that constitutes the real problem. From the perspective of job-creation this isn’t right. A cut is a cut. So, in terms of supporting economic activity and jobs in the next year, “paying for” a repeal of the sequester in the form of allegedly more-rational cuts of a similar size will do nothing but cause the same pain the sequester promises. The GOP notion that Keynesian economics applies only to defense spending is just as silly as it sounds.
  4. The sequester is worthless even as a commitment device: Nothing in the law prevents Congress from simply de-activating the sequester with nothing to pay for its impact on deficits. Further, nothing in law prevents Congress six, seven or eight years in the future from scrapping it. In short, it is a completely voluntary commitment device.
  5. Entitlements are our future: Replacing the sequester with cuts to these valued programs would be a disaster. We have shown, for example, that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid combined contributed ten times as much to income growth for middle-income households over the last generation than growth in hourly wages. Gutting them in the name of securing a better economic future is perverse indeed.

Because that debt everyone is freaking out about? It doesn’t even exist. We owe trillions to foreign and private creditors, but the debt we have as it stands poses essentially zero threat to the country’s fiscal health, as ongoing growth of the economy would send our debt-to-GDP ratio dropping like a rock. We haven’t yet incurred the debt that the Republicans are worried about. It’s merely a projection by the Congressional Budget Office.

Sure, we use CBO data all the time, and it does its job for good reason, but making such predictions about the future, especially for such long trends about a volatile and erratic thing as the economy, is sketchy at best. So why are we focusing on pretend economic crises, when we have all-too-real crises in the right-here, right-now? In fact, the very same CBO has projected our deficit to be stable for a decade.

Not only that, but the federal deficit is actually falling. It is down about 50 percent as a share of GDP since fiscal year 2009 and is falling at the fastest rate since the end of World War IIMedicare cost growth is also down.

There is no deficit problem. There just isn’t. Yet the only “serious” Washington talk is about how to make severe cuts to put us back into a recession.

But only 6 percent of Americans know that the budget deficit is getting smaller. That’s what makes it so easy for disingenuous politicians like Paul Ryan to distort the math for his austerity framework to:

  • Repeal Obamacare (though keep Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare, as well as new taxes).
  • Convert Medicare into a private and corporate voucher system.
  • Big cuts to Medicaid.
  • Big cuts to other domestic programs.
  • Repeal of the sequester cuts in the Pentagon budget only.
  • “Simplified” income tax system with only two brackets, 10 percent and 25 percent, benefiting the highest earners.
  • A reduction in the corporate tax from 35 percent to 25 percent.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center crunched the numbers and found that Ryan’s proposal would cost roughly $5 trillion over 10 years. On average, his plan would lower taxes on people making more than $1 million per year by a whopping $400,000. From there the benefits plummet.

Incomes between half a million and one million dollars would owe about $50,000 less, on average. People earning between $20,000 and $50,000 would save just hundreds of dollars.

So here’s the real point, if you want to be scientific about this, and we do. We tried austerity already. It didn’t work.

Aside from the disastrous example Europe is going through right now, we’ve seen in recent years as Obama has slashed government and public sector jobs since the recession.

Federal, state and local governments have shed nearly 750,000 jobs since June 2009, according to the Labor Department‘s establishment survey of employers. […] ~The Wall Street Journal

This adds to unemployment, and there are nearly 950,000 fewer people employed by the government than there were when the recovery started in mid-2009. If none of those people were counted as unemployed, the jobless rate would be 7.1%, compared with the 7.7% rate reported on Friday.

So if the pro-corporate politicians who are dismantling our social contract like to convince themselves that government should be run like the hallowed big businesses.

But smart businesses would never act this way. They invest, they don’t cheat their consumers, they listen to financial experts, they learn from experience, encourage ‘out of the box’ thinking, and charge the consumer the right price.

But when you live in an oligarchy, those few wealthy elites get to decide whatever happens, no matter how unpopular with the masses. That’s why neither party is really interested in balancing the budget at all. It’s a redistribution scheme to get more income to the wealthiest one percent.

Not just Republicans, but Democrats are ready, willing and able to put social security on the chopping block.

Our supposedly “liberal” President repeatedly and needlessly tries to cut Social Security. But Social Security cost-of-living increases are already inadequate. And the grotesque implication that old folks need to ‘live below their means’ to serve the system completely ignores the fact that Social Security is not insolvent, cannot add to the deficit by law, and was already paid into by these folks.

The President’s “sequester” offer slashes non-defense spending by $830 billion over the next ten years. That happens to be the precise amount we’re implicitly giving Wall Street’s biggest banks over the same time period.

You see, they do not represent us:

A new study Conducted by the University of California’s David Broockman and University of Michigan’s Christopher Skovron surveyed nearly 2,000 legislators from across America, documenting politicians’ perceptions of their constituents’ views on issues like universal health care and same-sex marriage. It then compares those perceptions with constituents’ actual views.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers hugely overestimate the conservatism of the very people they are supposed to represent. In all, the report finds that “conservative politicians systematically believe their constituents are more conservative than they actually are by over 20 percentage points, while liberal politicians also typically overestimate their constituents’ conservatism by several percentage points.” Ultimately, that has resulted in a political system inherently hostile to mainstream proposals and utterly unrepresentative of public opinion.

Broockman and Skovron argue that one answer has to do with the prevalence of right-leaning mythology. Citing “Richard Nixon’s pronouncement that a ‘silent majority’ of Americans backed his policies” and “Sarah Palin’s suggestion that a latent ‘real America’ supported her,” the researchers correctly note that there remains “a folk theory among conservative politicians that the American public is considerably more conservative than it seems at face value.” This theory is undoubtedly fueled by a Fox News-ified media that pushes such inaccurate fables.

Of course, don’t ignore the fact that in a system of legalized bribery and big-money politicking, our lawmakers are so far removed from the commoners that they are wholly unrepresentative of their constituencies.

These conservative sell-out fuck-wads would have us all reading Atlas Shrugged by requirement. They would have us silently accept our metaphorical rape while the rich prosper. The wealthy gett all the rewards while the rest of us get nothing.

Our two-tiered economic recovery is an indication of that Randian Beltway thinking.

  • As of 2010, the top 1 percent of households owned 35 percent of all the stocks in America while the bottom 80 percent of us owned only 8 percent.
  • Increases in the use of advanced technologies allow corporations to produce more with less labor, thereby keeping unemployment high
  • Increased global production creates jobs elsewhere
  • Fiscal austerity leads to job, wage and benefit cuts for public employees
  • Fiscal austerity also prevents the additional stimulus we need to create jobs
  • Attacks on unions further erode workers’ bargaining power and keeps wages low
  • Wall Street is using indirect government support to gamble rather than to rework mortgages and invest in businesses

They would do away with unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, public job creation, teachers and public employees, give as many tax loopholes and subsidies to large corporations and hedge funds as they can.

They would give the corporations the right to fucking vote.

But failing that, they’ll just appoint lapdogs to the CEOs instead of watchdogs over abusive industries. Mary Jo White will be the newest SEC appointee and revolving door beneficiary of Wall Street grievances. She has made millions defending the very companies and banks she is now, supposedly, somehow going to investigate and prosecute. The same is true of the FDIC.

Attorney General Eric Holder has publicly admitted that the Department of Justice considers big banks too big to jail.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., most recently lamented: There is one lax system of justice for wealthy corporations and their shareholders, and another draconian system of justice for everyone else.

Meanwhile, privatization is stealing our public land, our water, our air, patents to life itself. They are assaulting our public education, and they are commodifying our children as products, and eventually churning them out as inmates in the private prison system.

The private enterprisers at the top get to use common corporate tax tricks and insane loopholes to pay for their private security, jets, stock options, vacation homes, yachts, and large SUVs.

They use offshore tax havens to drive their corporate tax rates down into the single digits.

They are essentially legalized organized crime syndicates.

There is no accountability for their crimes; their loan sharking, money laundering for drug cartels, rogue nations and terrorist organizations, fleecing homeowners (often fraudulently and, in one case, to the death), and illegally foreclosing on active-duty service members. We are told, it’s all just too bad. Bend over and take it, because these guys are just too big to jail. (Then you’d think they would also be too big for us to take up the ass).

Why don’t the self-proclaimed free-market individualists allow them to fail of their own deeds, and eschew big taxpayer bailouts? I’m sorry, did I stutter? Because they are filthy fucking liars. In the face of all evidence to the contrary, they allow the loathsome market manipulators to have their way.

The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans own half the country’s stocks, bonds and mutual funds, while the bottom 50 percent own just .5%, half of one percent, of all stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

This is the same machine that uses Dick Cheney policies and rhetoric to murder wantonly around the globe. The same well-oiled machinery that would happily target you on your own soil, if given the chance. Drone strikes, signature strike assassinations without trial, extrajudicial rendition and torturesecret national security letters… all parts in the complex schematics of the Obama Justice Department.

That same Eric Holder doesn’t think the President can be limited by the Congress, or by the law, apparently.

Of course, when the shoe is on the other foot, and journalists pry into the surveillance and police state, the Watchers don’t like having their privacy invaded.

This is why Bradley Manning, and those like him, are heroes. In that context, their bravery and sacrifice are all the more poignant. Political prisoners to an immoral or morality-bereft system of robots, we now finally have audio of Bradley Manning’s motives, his intentions in revealing U.S. war crimes to an aghast world.

Wired’s Spencer Ackerman was there and reported:

“Wearing his Army dress uniform, a composed, intense and articulate Pfc. Bradley Manning took ‘full responsibility’ Thursday for providing the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks with a trove of classified and sensitive military, diplomatic and intelligence cables, videos and documents. . . .

“Manning’s motivations in leaking, he said, was to ‘spark a domestic debate of the role of the military and foreign policy in general’, he said, and ’cause society to reevaluate the need and even desire to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore their effect on people who live in that environment every day.’

“Manning explain[ed] his actions that drove him to disclose what he said he ‘believed, and still believe . . . are some of the most significant documents of our time’ . . . .

“He came to view much of what the Army told him — and the public — to be false, such as the suggestion the military had destroyed a graphic video of an aerial assault in Iraq that killed civilians, or that WikiLeaks was a nefarious entity. . . .

It is because of the persecution he faced by the very same unjust system he attempted expose that makes this message even more valid. Because it was not easy for him, it was torture in fact, that is why he is the most important human individual as a symbol of morality and a compass in our struggle against madmen who would confuse us, divert us, distract us, make us scatterbrained and insecure in our reality. They will tear and fray our society, bringing chaos and disorder with their greed and near-sighted self-interest. They will attempt to displace altruism with avarice, and undo the very fabric of a just and free society.

Listen to Bradley Manning’s full testimony here.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-03-16: Private Insecurity by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net