Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jon Stewart on Net Neutrality

AT&T is pulling out all the stops to try and defeat Net Neutrality. With a a new FCC seemingly dedicated to keeping the Internet the great, unfettered forum for all voices with equal access, the telecom giant is 1) encouraging its employees to lobby against Net Neutrality and 2) sending its K Street droids up to Capital Hill with plenty greenbacks to grease their corporate shills in Congress.

So, the concept is to paint Net Neutrality as "Government Control of the Internet," the great tea bagger bugaboo.

Thankfully, John Stewart puts it all into perspective in about 4 minutes. Sit back and watch. AT & T, you is gonna lose this one!


video

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"He passed the test."

Endless war in Iraq and Afghanistan, collapse
of the economy created by bank fraud, gutting
of the Bill of Rights...

Bush Sr. thinks Jr. "passed the test."

And what's up with the creepy smile when he says "this [sic] 9/11?"


video

I agree: WTF?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Why I Love Michael Moore

I went to see "Capitalism: A Love Story" last weekend, and left the theater (which erupted into applause as the credits rolled) with a certain degree of awe.

Why awe? Well, for much the same reason that I am in awe of
Greg Palast. Both Palast and Moore can always finds the smoking gun, the hidden memo, the little bit of evidence that renders the emperor with no clothes. In "capitalism" it was two things: 1) "Dead Peasant" insurance: secret insurance policies that corporations take out on low level employees (like the moniker that the insurance industry has given this little vehicle?), and from which the company can still collect after Joe or Sadie leaves the firm; and 2) that lovely leaked memo from Citibank, one of the great beneficiaries of involuntary taxpayer largess last year, celebrating the fact that the U.S. system is a “plutocracy” for the benefit of the super-rich — that 1 percent of the population that makes more than all of the bottom 95 percent combined. And, no, they didn't view this as a problem.


I also love the fact that Michael Moore sends the right into paroxysms of loathing beyond measure. Google "Michael Moore" and "hypocrite" for pages of Michael Moore assassination blogs. Do I care if Michael Moore owns stock or once owned stock? No. Do I care that he lives in a nice apartment in NYC? No.

What I care about is that he keeps making movies that mirror light into dark corners, and makes me laugh a few times, too. Laughter is good for the soul.

But most of all, Moore gives us hope. Hope that the 95% of Americans who do not share the wealth, are capable of taking their country back from the plutocrats who consider us little more than peasants.

Friday, October 02, 2009

American Hero V


The Honorable Rep. Alan Grayson D-FL (yes, Florida).

Why?

Watch below.


Monday, September 21, 2009

First aid

Need any further evidence that the Senate Health Reform bill is largely a sham and just a slightly reworked corporate welfare plan?

Think Progress' Igor Volsky reports that, "Following Baucus' announcement, HealthNet shares increased by 3%, United Health Group Inc shares rose by 2.7%, Humana Inc. grew by 2.6%, Wellpoint stock gained 1.7% and Aetna Inc rose 1.6%."

From Jason Linkins at the Huffington Post: "Max Baucus was paid handsomely (in campaign contributions) by the health care industry to deliver a health care reform bill that only the health care industry could possibly love. Well, mission accomplished! As Julie Hirschfield Davis reports for the Associated Press today, the Baucus plan 'gives health insurers, drug makers and large employers reasons to heave sighs of relief, sparing them the higher costs and more burdensome rules included in other Democratic-written alternatives.'"

Jason

Socialize the risk, privatize the profits.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

We're Number 37!

From Paul Hipp: "Here is a song celebrating our proud ranking in the World Health Organization's list of world health systems for all the obstructionist hecklers to sing as they continue down the road to total irrelevance."

It's only rock n roll but I like it.



For Paul Hipp info and downloads please click on the links....

www.cdbaby.com/paulhipp

Paul on Twitter

Paul on Facebook

Paul on MySpace

www.paulhipp.com

E-mail Paul and join the mailing list at: hipptunes@gmail.com

Saturday, September 12, 2009

War Is a Racket

In 1934 there was an attempted coup in the United States that was thwarted largely due to the efforts of U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler (ret., now deceased).

Butler was awarded the Medal of Honor twice and the only person to be awarded a Marine Corps Brevet Medal and a Medal of Honor for two different actions.

After it dawned on him how his heroism and the heroism of the troops under his command had been misused, he wrote a pamphlet called "War is a Racket" which has pretty much been expunged from our historical reading lists in school.

In the following video, an actor recreates the speech that Butler gave to many different audiences during the 1930s.

"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Republican Asshole of the Month

And the winner is ...
Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina.

(Normally these awards are annual, but there's just so many deserving candidates!)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

In Search of Steve Ditko

I realize that this goes against the usual grain of Muttering Jam (i.e., it ain't political), but it IS cultural. Artist Steve Ditko was as much (if not more) a creator of the iconic modern comic book hero Spider-Man as Stan Lee, but abruptly departed the comic at the first zenith of its success, and has eschewed his rightful share of the megamillions that the franchise has raked in since. Now in his 80's, the reclusive artist singularly pursues his own vision, heavily influenced by the philosophy of Ann Rand (oy!). Join BBC commentator and comic fan boy Jonathan Ross as he, in turn, pursues the artist. If you are not an enthusiast of "sequential art," you may want to watch anyway, if only to glean why those of us who are, are.

Part 1
video

Part 2
video

Part 3
video

Part 4
video

Part 5
video

Part 6
video

Part 7
video

Monday, September 07, 2009

Another one bites the dust

Those of you who read this blog with any degree of modest regularity know that I am a big Van Jones fan.

I was ecstatic when he was appointed to be the "green jobs czar" for the Obama administration, and knowing the man's work ethic, I was confident that his low profile since that appointment was evidence that he was deep into the architecture of policy craft that would at once lead our country to a new energy future and empower the lost generation of inner city youth with a cornucopia of green collar opportunity.

But even a low profile cannot keep you safe from the roving eye of the petroleum-bloated corporate machine and their hell-spawned facilitators. No, all it took was a sorryass ex-top 40 DJ turned wingnut cheerleader named Glenn Beck.

If you can stomach it, here you can watch one chapter of this evil little man's week long character assassination of Van Jones.

Now, it should be mentioned that an organization that Van Jones founded called Color of Change successfully organized the advertiser boycott of Glenn Beck's show on FoxNews because of its scurrilous half-truths and racist-tinged attacks on the Obama administration. The boycott has cost Beck 57 sponsors, including Wal-Mart. No, you you won't find that little factoid on any of the myriad right wingnut web sites defending Beck's hideous little mind fuck. And of course that has NOTHING to do with Beck's pukesome crusade against Jones.

Among his other imagined sins, Van Jones DID have the temerity to call right wing Republicans "assholes." He also admitted that he can be one, too. I think he showed statesmanship restraint, don't you? Remember what former VP Dick Cheney, during a Senate session, told Sen. Patrick Leahy to do to himself? And Cheney, as we know, has never let an ounce of self-inspection tarnish his dream image of himself as some sort of white knight.

This weekend, Van Jones resigned from his post in the Obama administration.

Here is a great blog piece by St. Petersburg Times TV/media critic Eric Deggans on this subject.

And another great piece by Sharon Joy
Kleitsch at creativeloafing.com.

The toxic minority

Let's face it.

Somewhere between 25 and 36% of the voting age American public are complete morons.

These are people who cannot think critically, whose pig-brained (and I genuinely apologize to all intelligent members of the genus Porcus) decision-making capabilities are molded exclusively by the latest, loudest, red-faced truth-defiling instrument of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, who willfully take for granted the past largess of the Federal government's experiments towards a civil society (and believe me, we have a long way to go), who often fail to even recognize that such inventions as social security and medicare are in fact government programs, whose grasp of the world stage ends five yards from their front door (or at best, the exit doors of their local shopping mall). These are the people who, right to the bitter end of November 4, 2008 insisted that history would redeem the administration of George W. Bush and his Svengali, Richard B. Cheney.

If the current voting age population of the United States is somewhere around 150 million, that means that 37.5-54 million of our fellow citizens have their heads situated firmly and irrevocably up their colons. That is no small number of pinheads. But they are still a minority. Now, breathing such fecund air does little for such already oxygen-starved brains. And yet, somehow, it is this sputtering minority that seems to rule the debate, at least within the strangled hallways of the mainstream media (what the wingnuts call the "liberal" media), when it comes to reforming the health insurance industry, shifting our energy paradigm to one much less reliant on fossil fuels, climate change, or literally any attempt at reform by our current moderate Democratic president. The reasons for this are manifold, intertwined, but not really very complex.

For one, spewing "tea-baggers" make for better press than quiet, reasoned, proponents of liberal causes. (Aside: "tea-bagger" has an interesting definition among the urban young that has nothing to do with politics - well, maybe sexual politics. Look it up. Personally, I feel like that's what's being done to me when I see some gonad-driven wingnut screaming at my congressional representative).

For two, the media is, for the most part, controlled by large corporations who, in case you haven't figured it out, are the main architects of "public" policy in America today (and times past, too). The status quo serves them very well, and projecting image after image of red-faced Sarah Palin facilitators is a bulwark against any reform that may suit them less.

And for three, the rest of us, by our conspiracy of silence, enable them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who Is Obama Playing Ball With?

by Amy Goodman

It looked like it was business as usual for President Barack Obama on the first day of his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, as he spent five hours golfing with Robert Wolf, president of UBS Investment Bank and chairman and CEO of UBS Group Americas. Wolf, an early financial backer of Obama’s presidential campaign, raised $250,000 for him back in 2006, and in February was appointed by the president to the White House’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Economic recovery for whom?

Interestingly, Wolf’s appointment came in the same month that UBS agreed to pay the U.S. $780 million to settle civil and criminal charges related to helping people in the U.S. avoid taxes. Not to worry. UBS, an ailing bank with a pre-existing condition, had great insurance coverage. It was actually receiving $2.5 billion in a backdoor bailout from bailed-out insurance giant AIG. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said, “It looks like we’re simply laundering this money through AIG.” UBS, this bank that shelters wealthy tax dodgers, was actually being bailed out by hardworking U.S. taxpayers.

UBS, which once stood for Union Bank of Switzerland, was founded more than a century ago. Its success hinges on Switzerland’s famous banking secrecy laws, allowing people to squirrel money away in untraceable “numbered accounts.” Secret Swiss bank accounts have become a favorite way for wealthy people in the U.S. to dodge taxes. According to the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, in a July 2008 report, “From at least 2000 to 2007, UBS made a concerted effort to open accounts in Switzerland for wealthy U.S. clients, employing practices that could facilitate, and have resulted in, tax evasion by U.S. clients.”

As part of the settlement, UBS agreed to share client account information with the U.S. government. While there may be as many as 52,000 such accounts, UBS is releasing only about 4,450 client names. Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Doug Shulman said in a press release, “We will be receiving an unprecedented amount of information on taxpayers who have evaded their tax obligation by hiding money offshore at UBS.” UBS will be sending account holders notification that their names may be among those delivered to the IRS, and the IRS, in turn, is granting leniency to tax dodgers who turn themselves in before Sept. 23. Account holders won’t know if their names are included, though, so gamblers among them may keep quiet and hope their accounts stay secret.

Last Friday, as Wolf was preparing for his golf game with Obama, UBS whistle-blower Bradley Birkenfeld was sentenced to 40 months in prison for facilitating offshore tax evasion through UBS banking schemes, despite assisting federal investigators in exposing the secretive bank.

Above the entrance to UBS’ headquarters in Zurich is a bust of the Greek god Hermes—not only the fleet-footed messenger of the gods, but also the god of thieves and merchants. The symbolism is striking. Whether or not Wolf won his golf game against Obama, UBS has clearly scored a hole in one.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times,” recently released in paperback.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Astroturf: Exposing the Fake Grassroots

Friday, August 07, 2009

And while we're on the general subject....




Here's a little Glenn Beck gallery. Yet another triumph of noise over reason, sheer stupidity over intelligence. 1/4 to 1/3 of the American public feed out of this halfwit's hand.

Scary.











































Now this last one is not of ol' Glenn, but nobody - no less an elected official - so forcefully combines sheer ignorance with outright wingnut lunacy as the Honorable Rep. Michelle Bachman of Minnestota (yes, the same bipolar state that barely elected Al Franken to the Senate).

So, here's my piece of unsolicited advice to all of those first class idiots that swarmed the health care town hall meeting in Tampa the other night, screaming about socialism and nazism:

THIS fat fuck calls Obama a Nazi?!?!?!?

Let us hope that next time Rush the Scumbag comes back from one of his sex tourism jaunts in the Dominican Republic, they find more than an empty vial of Viagra.

Oh ... and as for you so-called dittoheads, do us all a favor and march off in unison into the sea sooner than later.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"It's not like before"

These aren't two hippies railing against the system. This is one of most insightful mathematicians and one of the most accomplished options traders of our time. Watch it and start making plans. Maybe.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Quiet Coup and other things

Wow, has it really been 2 months since I posted anything? Some of it is, of course, the same inertia that has afflicted a sizable number of liberals since election day 2008. I was laughing the other day at an ad from a purveyor of progressive bumper stickers and other paraphernalia, facetiously (or not) begging people to buy from him and help shake the sales slump he's been suffering since the election. On a more somber note, progressive talk radio has evaporated from the south Florida airways.

Complacency? No. Never that. We're still in Iraq; we're killing even more innocents in Afghanistan. We are, no doubt, the Taliban's best recruiting tool, not only there, but in Pakistan, too. The economy is still stuttering, and all anyone wants to do is evaluate recovery by Wall Street! Congress, no matter the Democratic majority, is still the private property of lobbyists.


Hey, President Obama - I'M PISSED!!!!!!! I worked my ass off to win you Florida and you gave me Timothy Geithner, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers! Not to mention Robert Gates.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose ...

Maybe that should have been the title of this post ...


It wasn't until I read an article in the Atlantic by Simon Johnson that I began to understand the pathology of Obama's thrall with Wall Street. Johnson is a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and the former head economist (2006-2007) for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Just so you know that we're not talking about some bandana-wearing anarchist. His article is titled "The Quiet Coup," and it is hands down the best piece of analysis that I have read concerning the strange, sorry state in which our nation has found itself.

From the article's lead in:
"The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time."

Read it, and weep. Then send President Change an email and tell him to do the same.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Best news of the first 100 days

The Obama administration has almost made up for the appointment of Timothy Geithner to the Treasury by announcing that Van Jones will be joining the Cabinet as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). This is just incredibly good news and we should all be celebrating!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Progressive Obama emerges from his centrist shell

... and I for one, rejoice. This is why I gave up my weekends to knock on (sometimes hostile) strangers' doors from September through November 2. Was I worried? You betcha. Why wasn't Joseph Stieglitz and Paul Krugman, both Nobel Prize winners for economics, invited to his economic adviser table along with tired Clintonistas like Larry Summers and Robert Rubin? Robert Rubin?!?!?!? The guy who Marketwatch called one of "ten most unethical people in business," who has profited greatly from policies he enacted while Clinton's Secretary of the Treasury?

So, what is the reason for my (cautious) optimism? It is the following components of his budget, unvieled last week:


  • Makes a $634 billion down payment on fixing health care that will go a long way toward paying for a more efficient, more affordable health care system that covers every single American.3

  • Reduces taxes for 95% of working Americans. And if your family makes less than $250,000, your taxes won't go up one dime.4

  • Invests more than $100 billion in clean energy technology, creating millions of green jobs that can never be outsourced.5
  • Brings our troops home from Iraq on a firm timetable, finally bringing the war to a close—and freeing up almost ten billion dollars a month for domestic priorities.6

  • Reverses growing income inequality. The plan lets the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire and focuses on strengthening the middle class.7

  • Closes multi-billion-dollar tax loopholes for big oil companies. 8

  • Increases grants to help families pay for college—the largest increase ever.9

  • Halves the deficit by 2013. President Obama inherited a legacy of huge deficits and an economy in shambles, but his plan brings the deficit under control as soon as the economy begins to recover.10

  • Dramatically increases funding for the SEC and the CFTC—the agencies that police Wall Street.11

  • Tells it straight. For years, budgets have used accounting tricks to hide the real costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush tax cuts, and too many other programs. Obama's budget gets rid of the smokescreens and lays out what America's priorities are, what they cost, and how we're going to pay for them.12

  • Now, how do we know these are proposals on the right track. Well, the corporate interests affected by each of these budgetary items are already amassing huge lobbying efforts to defeat them, the surest sign that the peoples' interests just may be served by the Obama administration.

    There's more:
    1. Stops unnecessary government subsidies to big banks, health insurance companies and big agribusinesses.13,14,15
    2. Expands access to early childhood education and improves schools by investing in programs that make sure every child has a qualified, strong teacher.16
    3. Negotiates for better prescription drug prices using Medicaid's tremendous bargaining power.17
    4. Expands access to family planning for low-income women.18
    5. Caps the pollution that causes global warming, and makes polluters pay to support clean energy innovation.19

    Sources:

    1. "Climate of Change," The New York Times, February 27, 2009
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/opinion/27krugman.html?em

    2. "Obama Calls His Budget Sweeping, Needed Change," The New York Times, February 28, 2009
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51201&id=15687-630415-XAqpeBx&t=2

    3. "Obama Offers Broad Plan to Revamp Health Care," The New York Times, February 26, 2009
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51202&id=15687-630415-XAqpeBx&t=3

    4. "Obama Expects Fight Over $3.55 Trillion Budget Plan," Bloomberg News, February 28, 2009
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51203&id=15687-630415-XAqpeBx&t=4

    5. "Energy Budget Is Sunlight After Eight Years of Darkness," Center for American Progress, February 26, 2009
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51204&id=15687-630415-XAqpeBx&t=5

    6. "The Economic Cost of War in Iraq and Afghanistan," The New York Times, March 1, 2009
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/weekinreview/01glanz.html

    7. "Tax Cuts," The New York Times, February 26, 2009
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/washington/27web-tax.html

    8. "Energy Budget Is Sunlight After Eight Years of Darkness," Center for American Progress, February 26, 2009
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51204&id=15687-630415-XAqpeBx&t=6

    9. "Student Loans," The New York Times, February 26, 2009
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/washington/27web-edu.html

    10. "Obama unveils budget blueprint," CNN, February 26, 2009
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/26/budget/

    11. "Obama budget would boost SEC, CFTC, FBI," Reuters, February 26, 2009
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51205&id=15687-630415-XAqpeBx&t=7

    12. "Obama's budget," Los Angeles Times, February 27, 2009
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51206&id=15687-630415-XAqpeBx&t=8

    13. "Student Loans," The New York Times, February 26, 2009
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/washington/27web-edu.html

    14. "Health Insurance Stocks Dive on Medicare Advantage Cuts," The Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2009
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51207&id=15687-630415-XAqpeBx&t=9

    15. "Agriculture," The New York Times, February 26, 2009 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/washington/27web-agri.html

    16. "Investing Wisely in Our Children," Center for American Progress, February 26, 2009
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51208&id=15687-630415-XAqpeBx&t=10

    17. "Obama Offers Broad Plan to Revamp Health Care," The New York Times, February 26, 2009
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51202&id=15687-630415-XAqpeBx&t=11

    18. "Obama Offers Broad Plan to Revamp Health Care," The New York Times, February 26, 2009
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51202&id=15687-630415-XAqpeBx&t=12

    19. "Setting 'Green' Goals," The New York Times, February 26, 2009 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51209&id=15687-630415-XAqpeBx&t=13

    A tip of the Mirsky hat to Moveon.org.

    Sunday, January 25, 2009

    Barack Obama's resume

    Are you sick and tired of being assailed by your unrepentant Rethuglican friends and family members about the thinness of President Obama's resume, about how the reason no one could find much meat to hang an attack hook in during the campaign was the fact that he hadn't really done anything?

    Well, fear no more. Here is the new president's resume for your rebuke arsenal. Pretty impressive one, too, I might add.

    Oh, and if you want Dubya's as counterpoint, head over here.

    Thank you, and good day.