Monday, August 9, 2010

Obama Critics-- Change that's Not; plus Gambling and Gluttony by the Disproportionately Powerful Led to Financial Collapse, & More

In This Issue:

- John Pilger: Change that's Not: 'Obama on Bush route'

- Cindy Sheehan: Hopium and Hypocritium

- Decline of the Middle Class as Metaphor for the Decline of America

- Disproportionate Representation on the Supreme Court (& Elsewhere) [Edited 8/12]

- Dean Baker's Beat the Press: Immigration and Population Comments


John Pilger: Change that's Not: 'Obama on Bush route'

RussiaToday | August 11, 2010

Recent sanctions against Iran are an attempt by the US to return the country to its sphere of influence, claims veteran journalist John Pilger. "Iran was a pillar of the American empire in the Middle East. That was swept away in 1979 by the Islamic revolution, and it has been American foreign policy to get that back," he said. "It has absolutely nothing to do with so-called nuclear weapons. The nuclear power in the Middle East is the fourth biggest military power in the world and that is Israel. It has something like 500 or more nuclear warheads. It is never discussed." Pilger added that Barack Obama has failed to change the trajectory of US foreign policy and following George W. Bush's line. "For the first time in US presidential history -- it has not happened before -- a president has taken the entire defense department bureaucracy, and the Secretary of State for Defense, from a previous discredited administration. We have basically Robert Gates and the same generals running American foreign policy with a lot of help from people of like mind."

[As I shared with used to be "Yes We Can--Hope & Change" democrat friends at the time of his appointments, the ramifications of Obama's selection of aids, councilors, and cabinet members, foretold the future we are now experiencing (but what does a poor white boy know? Criticism automatically becomes suspect racism. Frankly, I much prefer Martin Luther King or Malcom X to Obama.). - Chris]


Hopium and Hypocritium

By Cindy Sheehan

August 11, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- The arrogance of the Bush administration could never be surpassed, right? Wrong!

Today, Whore House (again, with my apologies to my sex-worker friends) spokeswhore, Robert Gibbs, was quoted as saying this of the “professional left” who liken Obama to his predecessor:

“(They) need to be drug tested,” and that these principled critics of the Empire are “crazy.” This kind of hearkens back to earlier in the Changery when Rahm Emmanuel, Obama Chief of Staff and committed Zionist, called us: “F@#king Retards.” Nice, huh?

Rahm Emmanuel is almost as sensitive as Dick Cheney and Robert Gibbs is almost as smart as Ari Fleischer—George’s first Press Secretary.

These quotes of Gibbs’ (who’s not nearly as perky as Dana Perino) highlight two things for me: the slipperiness of the Obama regime and the stubborn hopenosis of its supporters.

First of all, we were force fed daily doses of mass-media propaganda during the presidential campaign telling us that Obama was a “community organizer,” a “man of the people” and don’t forget the famous, “If you want Obama to do the right thing, then you have to make him.” Now the Changer in Chief’s staff is telling us if we are critical of him from the “professional” left, we are drug-crazed lunatics—not principled opponents of the Empire.

I know I have been out in front of Chéz Obama (loudly) expressing my views on his foreign policy many times (so much so, I was banned from the Whore House for four months) and single-payer healthcare advocates were doing the same during the entire fascist healthcare give-away to the corporations. Our voices and vision for a more peaceful, sane, and healthier way of doing things have not even been given a seat at the proverbial table. So, what Gibbs is telling us is to: “Just shut the eff up—we don’t care what you say or want.”

During the same interview where Robert Gibbs called me (yes, I take it personally) a “drug-crazed lunatic,” he also used the time-tested logical fallacy known as a non-sequitur (it does not follow) to say that we would only be happy if the president delivered “Canadian style healthcare,” and “closed the Pentagon.”

Of course, we advocated for single-payer healthcare and only a war-crazed maniacal empire needs a War Department the size of many small countries with budgets to match. But the “president” didn’t even get in the same universe as “Canadian style healthcare” and has vastly increased funding to the Pentagon and Bush’s wars of terror.

Also, the acceptance of this Imperial Faux Pas (IFP) illustrates how far this country is divided along faux political lines. The only change Obama has brought with him to the Whore House is negative, bad, bad, bad, change. We cannot, should not, must not, and better not criticize the Imperial First Family (IFF). However, we are supposed to take up pitchforks and torches when the barely functioning Sarah Palin says something stooopid and forget and forgive the Obamas for Imperial Excess (trips to Spain on our many dimes, $6000 handbags, etc) and their stooopidity.

We also have to ask ourselves a very important question—why did Gibbs do this? Of course, these people don’t make mistakes—even when they allow their true feelings to shine forth for the entire world to see, it is for very calculated reasons. Could it be because of the dismal jobless “recovery?” Could it be because of the obvious continuation and escalation of the wars? Could it be because the Obamas are finally being criticized for their “Let them eat cake” mentality? Could it be because Gibbs wants to blame the “professional left” for Obama’s failures and make it our fault when the Democrats get creamed in November?

So, I want to take Gibbs up on his offer—I will submit a vial of my urine to a location of his choosing—hell, I will even go and pee in the bathroom of the press corps room and hand him a warm sample, if that makes him happy—if he does the same. I seriously doubt that 535 members of Congress would pass the pee-test and I seriously doubt many denizens of the Whore House would, either.

I also wonder when Obama’s supporters will quit smoking the Hopium or taking their daily dose of Hypocritium—those are the people who need to be drug tested, not the ones who have remained ideological pure. What is so “crazy” about wanting things like indiscriminate killing of civilians to end globally and social justice here locally?

I’ll match my pee up against theirs any day!

Please visit Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox

Decline of the Middle Class as Metaphor for the Decline of America

By Raymond J. Learsy

August 09, 2010 "Huffington Post" - -Over the last decade this nation has experienced a massive loss of productive and high value jobs in manufacturing, trade, and the professions sending many overseas and having many destroyed through the egregious misdirection of the self serving priorities of our financial institutions encumbering viable companies making real goods and services with untenable debt. Leveraging their assets in order to maximize profits for the financial engineers before flipping the company or taking it to market as an IPO. Too often the workers who made the company are left with little or nothing while the Wall Street "whiz kids" march off with a bundle having destroyed the vision, imagination and the hard work that went into creating these companies, to their benefit and to the detriment of its workers and society at large.

'Disproportionate' is the freighted word that shackles our society. Over the past few years some two-thirds of the gain in national income has gone to the top one percent of Americans. Mostly those in the financial industry harbored in such government protected entities as 'bank holding companies', part of something that has come to be ominously called the "shadow banking system". They bring virtually nothing viable to the economic landscape other than egregious speculation gorging on complex derivatives enriching the financial players, while through their malign impact, impoverishing great swaths of the American and world economy (i.e. betting on the collapse of the housing market). When these bets go dramatically wrong also collapsing the institutions that took the long side of the bets, they are then bailed out by the government making good the value of these 'bet' instruments whose function had no greater economic justification than a compulsive gambler's casino bets. And the grim irony, when the red comes up instead of black it's the local inhabitants of the casino's venue who are asked to pay to keep the casino afloat, while the casino lets the gambler keep his chips.

And the local inhabitants pay dearly. Their services are curtailed, their stores are forced to close, their local banks are driven to the edge, the value of their houses plummet or are repossessed. Not having insider status their financial assets deteriorate dramatically and even in desperation had they wanted to get back into the casino to try their own luck given their new world being bereft of all other opportunity, the house wont extend them credit. Its just as well, because they wouldn't have to see our compulsive gambler swilling Dom Perignon and downing a small mountain of Pate de Foie Gras after having feasted on Beluga Caviar at the casino's resplendent restaurant.

The gambler is there, and he or his proxy will always be there. And the town and its inhabitants, tattered and poorer are still there trying to make do as best they can and trying to contain their simmering anger at the unfairness of it all, not quite knowing what to do. Some joining in the regional meanderings of the Tea Party, or some equivalent movement that promises to address the clear wrongs that are being inflicted and tolerated by those in charge.

When all is said and done it becomes clear that it is the Casino that needs fixing because it is the Casino that the set the rules, it is the Casino that has permitted the outrages that have resulted in the destabilizing of the norm and sanctioning the unexpected and unfair.

Now with a small leap of imagination lets transpose our government for the nefarious Casino. Clearly it needs a new management or a new way of managing. What has come before is not functioning and major changes are needed. The local inhabitants need a voice in running the Casino, which in a sense has been denied them because they are unable foot either the entry tab, or the needed cash to play at the tables. And that is what it has come to be, without access and without money no one at the Casino pays attention.

And that must now change for the inhabitants to ever again have a chance to rectify the wrongs imposed by the Casino's management and to fairly share in an equitable distribution of benefits should they accrue ahead.

As here, today too much of our political system is bought and paid for. Too much of our political system is self serving, responsive to the wings of our two parties and indifferent to the day to day concerns of middle Americans in spite of the incessant lip service extended to them. Yes, there is limp Wall Street reform, but no clawback of the exigencies that drove the nation to the brink. Yes there is a stimulus program, but faltering shamelesly through lack of clear direction. Yes, there is an alternative energy program without clear mandates nor meaningful results as the transfer of billions to the oil providers continues unabated. Yes, there are our soldiers dying in fragmented nation states far away without a modicum of sacrifice being asked of the home front. Yes, there are moneyed interests both domestic and foreign who have access to those who govern, without limitation and a shameless Congress ready to do their bidding in spite of the promises made in Presidential campaigns to curtail their influence. Yes we have courts of law who, through judicial minutiae rather than pragmatic sense of national welfare have given these moneyed interests even greater influence by striking down financial restraints on the powerfully funded in election laws, that make the middle class even more disenfranchised. Yes, there is talk of restraining government spending while special interests with access to government and its earmarks are encumbering the nation into ever greater indebtedness. Yes, while Main Street and middle class Americans continue to lose jobs, the pay checks on Wall Street and corporate boardrooms continue in their unabated and inflated manner while middle class Americans are absorbing pay cuts or shortened work weeks if they have any jobs at all, while teachers, the backbone of the nations future, police and firemen are losing their employment.

And so it goes, leaving the nation with a Frankenstein system whose core objective of governance has become self preservation of power and personal influence. This, while governing for the greater good of the nation has become a secondary and distant gerrymandered priority leaving the great body of the American electorate virtually without meaningful representation and forestalling and diminishing America's middle class' engagement with its government with every passing day.

And yet something is stirring. People throughout the land understand that the political system is broken and American's throughout the length and breadth of the county that their government no longer speaks for them no matter which party happens to be in power. They feel the system is gamed from within, for and about those who have access and the money to follow through to assure their parochial interests are taken into account and acted upon. How those interests impact the greater good has become dangerously secondary. Checks and balances seem to have gone by the board long ago.

Grass roots movements are beginning to stubbornly emerge from the depths of these frustrations of which I have touched on only a few, as the list could go on almost endlessly. Yes, there are the Tea Parties, and they should be listened to in order to begin to understand how people feel. But out there something much more significant is beginning to take hold. A movement new to many, headed by people of impeccable credentials who are devising a program using the new age technology to bring all Americans back into the political process in a meaningful way and most importantly in a way that each American can once again feel that he/she as a citizen once again has the stature and sense of prideful responsibility that his vote was meant to convey unto him as a meaningful participant in the process of nationhood.

The new organization is called "Americans Elect". I don't want to steal its thunder because it can much better directly convey its goals and points of engagement. It has the potential of becoming the salutary wave of America's political future. Their contact information is given as

Raymond J. Learsy, Scholar and author, "Over a Barrel: Breaking Oil's Grip on Our Future"

Disproportionate Representation on the Supreme Court (& Elsewhere)

The article above refers in the second paragrah to the word disproportionate:

'Disproportionate' is the freighted word that shackles our society.

I have to agree.


dis·pro·por·tion·ate (dspr-pôrsh-nt, -pr-)
Out of proportion, as in size, shape, or amount.

adj [ˌdɪsprəˈpɔːʃənɪt]
out of proportion; unequal

Think of the Supreme Court, with 9 Justices. Six Catholics (around 22% of the US Population, 66% of the Court; three Jews (1-3% of the US population, 33% of the Court); zero white Anglo-Saxon protestants (55-60% of the US population and changing fast).

Back when I was in college, in the late 60s and early 70s, WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) were seen as America's oppressive elite and were stereotypically demonized for having disproportionate representation and power in America. Given their lack of representation on the Supreme Court of the land today, I guess the demonization of WASPs has succeeded beyond the proponents wildest expectations.

[For the record, my mother and her family were Catholic, my father was an atheist, as I am. I was allowed to attend Protestant services with friends when I was a child. If necessary, I can sing the chorus to ""Jesus Loves Me:"

Jesus loves me,
this I know,
for the Bible tells mes so . . . .

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.]

In a New York Times article titled The Triumphant Decline of the WASP, by Noah Feldman, the decline is attributed to WASPs "hewing voluntarily to the values of merit and inclusion, values now shared broadly by Americans of different backgrounds:"

But satisfaction with our national progress should not make us forget its authors: the very Protestant elite that founded and long dominated our nation’s institutions of higher education and government, including the Supreme Court. Unlike almost every other dominant ethnic, racial or religious group in world history, white Protestants have ceded their socioeconomic power by hewing voluntarily to the values of merit and inclusion, values now shared broadly by Americans of different backgrounds. The decline of the Protestant elite is actually its greatest triumph.

Kevin MacDonald, editor of The Occidental Observer and a professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach, while agreeing that WASPs have stood by their principles, sees the reasons for the WASP decline differently in his article "Elena Kagan and the new (unprincipled) elite," [See article for all links.]:

Indeed, Kagan’s arrival on the Supreme Court is a sort of official coming out party for the new elite. It’s been there for quite some time, but the Kagan nomination is an in-your-face-demonstration of the power of Jewish ethnic networking at the highest levels of government. And the first thing one notices is that the new elite has no compunctions about nominating someone for the Supreme Court even though she has no real qualifications. So much for the principles of merit and inclusion: Inclusion does not apply to WASPs now that they have been deposed. And the principle of merit can now be safely discarded in favor of ethnic networking.

[I should add that WASPs are not strangers to networking (i.e., Who you know--not what you know) of all sorts. Here in WASPy Baker City, the degree of in-group/out-group and religious networking in hiring, as opposed to purely merit-based systems, is truly astonishing in my view. - Chris]

[Back to Kevin MacDonald] As I noted previously:

This is a favorite aspect of contemporary Jewish self-conception — the idea that Jews replaced WASPs because they are smarter and work harder. But this leads to the ultimate irony: Kagan is remarkably unqualified to be a Supreme Court Justice in terms of the usual standards: judicial experience, academic publications, or even courtroom experience. Rather, all the evidence is that Kagan owes her impending confirmation to her Jewish ethnic connections (see also here).

The same goes for Jewish over-representation in elite academic institutions–far higher than can be explained by higher Jewish IQ. Does anyone seriously think that Jewish domination of Hollywood and the so much of the other mainstream media (see, e.g., Edmund Connelly’s current TOO article) is about merit rather than ethnic networking and solidarity? And then there’s the addiction of the new elite to affirmative action for non-Whites.

Whatever else one can say about the new elite, it certainly does not believe in merit. The only common denominator is that Whites of European extraction are being systematically excluded and displaced to the point that they are now underrepresented in all the important areas of the elite compared to their percentage of the population. The new elite distinguishes itself mainly by its hostility to the traditional people and culture of those they displaced. It is an elite that cannot say its name. Indeed the ADL was all over Pat Buchanan for merely mentioning that Kagan is Jewish and that, upon her confirmation, Jews would be one-third of the Supreme Court. . . . .


Dean Baker's Beat the Press: Immigration and Population Comments

Undocumented Workers and Low Cost Labor

Monday, 09 August 2010 04:20

[NPR's] Morning Edition had a piece on people who hire undocumented workers to do tasks like landscaping their yards or cleaning their toilets. It quoted one person as saying that they hire immigrants rather than U.S. citizens or green card holders because she "believes American prices are inflated."

The article doesn't tell listeners what any of the employers in the piece do, but it is an absolute certainty that there would be a huge number of qualified people around the world who would be willing to do their jobs at a much lower wage than they receive. However, most people who work in occupations requiring more education enjoy much more protection from immigrant workers than people who landscape yards or clean toilets.

The position of the people interviewed in this piece is that they are entitled to protection from competition to keep their wages high, while they should be able to hire workers from the developing world at low wages to save money. It would have been helpful if the piece had elucidated their view more clearly.
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Robert Samuelson Is Worried That the United States is Becoming Less Crowded

Monday, 09 August 2010 04:05

Yes, in the strange but true category, we have a columnist with a major national newspaper worrying that population growth in the United States could slow or even reverse. Yes, I have the same fear every time I push my way into the metro at the rush hour or get caught in a huge traffic jam. Imagine how awful it would be if cities were less crowded. It could make housing cheaper, reduce pressure on water and other resources and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Shortages of workers would drive up wages as the least productive jobs go unfilled (e.g. the midnight shift at 7-11 and parking valets at upscale restaurants). It's  a looming catastrophe if ever there was one.

Samuelson bizarrely thinks that slower or negative population growth will hurt the economy. He thinks that it will slow demand growth. There are two simple problems with this story. First, we are in an international economy, so if demand in the U.S. economy is growing less rapidly than we can sell our output elsewhere. The other problem is the big "so what?"
If we can produce everything we want in the United States and still not fully employ our workforce then we can all get longer vacations and have shorter workweeks. In a functioning economic system, having too much is not a problem -- you just work less. In the Netherlands they figured this out -- they use work sharing rather than layoffs to deal with inadequate demand. As a result its unemployment rate is close to 4.0 percent. In Germany, work sharing has been so effective that its unemployment rate is lower today than it was at the start of the downturn.

See, this is really simple for countries that have competent people guiding their economy. It is only inept economic policy that makes a shortage of demand a disaster for people and the economy. Too bad Samuelson won't discuss this failure of economic policy.


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