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    • Torture creates enemies and radicalizes people
      This article is a must read: And we’ve documented that torture creates more terrorists.   Indeed, Salon notes: Among the most notable victims of torture was Sayeed Qutb, the founding father of modern political jihadism. His 1964 book, “Milestones,” describes a journey towards radicalization that included rape and torture, sometimes with dogs, in an Egyptian […]
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The People Say: Screw the rich, go over the cliff already

You should read the comments in the latest update post on the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations on the NYTimes.  The jig is up.  Republicans are threatening to screw us now and blow up the economy in a couple of months just so some rich people can keep their incredible deal on taxes.  Oh, yeah, they’re really concerned about the deficit.  Read some of these beauties

Cleveland, Ohio

Once again, I considerate it unconscionable for the right wing Republicans (Tea Party included) to obstruct the normal functioning of our government down to the wire. We Americans don’t deserve such treatment from Republican congressmen. Hopefully, these renegades will be voted out in their next respective elections. Good riddance!

Staten island

Let’s go off the cliff. As a middle class taxpayer, I am OK with that.The Republicans’ will be paying for it long range. They should — as fierce defenders for the 0.1% , holding the country hostage!

            Charlotte, NC

Tax increases for everyone are not horrible, especially if Congress acts to phase them in over time rather than letting them hit all at once. The bigger problem is a failure to act on Medicare, AMT, cancelling the sequester, etc. Congress should stop wrangling over what they can never agree on and take up the pieces of legislation they can now pass given the increase in revenue projections from new tax revenues.

Chicago

It should be clear that the Republicans desperately want cuts to Medicare and Social Security cuts but do not want to take any responsibility for them. That is why they will not say what cuts they want, or for that matter, what loopholes they want to close to increase revenue. This of course follows running on how the President cut Medicare.

Pres. Obama has been clear what he wants on revenue, I would think that the Republicans should not also force him to list the cuts they want.

So instead we will continue to let the rest of the world think we are ungovernable when they hold up increasing the debt ceiling to force agreement for cuts they want. And we can succeed, again, in tanking the economy.

And this one is the top comment with over 128 recommends:

Arizona

I know this whole “Democracy” thing is a lot of smoke and mirrors, and is largely a charade, but The American People spoke in November, and we support President Obama’s plan, and overwhelmingly agree that the wealthier among us need to pay more than the rest of us.

The real crime here is that no matter what happens, it seems likely that the “Romney Rate” on income earned from dividends will barely budge up from its current 15%. Keep in mind that dividends were counted, and taxed the same, as regular income before the Bush Tax Cuts were put in place (at 39.6% marginal rate).

That rate has dropped from 39.6% to just 15%. That is what the GOP donors are really fighting for, the preservation of this lop-sided, unjust, and class warfare tax rate that does nothing but suck wealth out of this economy.

Pretty much.
Let’s do it.  Mano a mano. Let’s fight this class war.

So, all we need to do is add “Leadership Council” to our soiree

I was reading Krugman today about how Starbucks did a Komen with the “Come Together” campaign to make customers pressure their Congress reps and senators to shred the social insurance programs when I decided to look up the infamous “Fix the Debt” website.  It’s run by some shadowy group of rich people called the CEOs Fiscal Leadership Council.

Starbucks does a Komen

The CFLC is populated by the usual suspects of deadbeat corporate executives that we’ve seen in the past 4 years.  The CEO’s of Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and AT&T are on the list.  But so is T. Rowe Price, the 401K specialists.  (There couldn’t be a conflict of interest there, could there?  Nahhhh)  According to the Huffington Post, the CFLC consists of some of the most notorious pension plan underfunders.  Isn’t that sweet?  They are leading us to give up the only means of surviving in old age after they raid their company pensions to pay those M&A bonuses.  Now that’s Leadership.

Then I got to wondering, who commissioned this group?  I mean, was there a Congressional decree?  Did the President assemble this meetup of malefactors?  Because, how else did they get the “Leadership Council” thing in the title?  Who do they think they are leading?  I don’t remember asking for leadership off the so-called “fiscal cliff”.  I’m wracking my brains trying to figure out who appointed these guys, and they are almost all guys.  Wait, let me check.  There are 4 recognizably female names on a list of approximately 150 members. Good job, guys!  Does that mean women can’t be leaders or that they resist being lead?  Clarification is needed here.

And then I started to think, why don’t we left of center unpaid pundits (yes, I do flatter myself. If I don’t, no one else will) have a leadership council or many leadership councils?

For example, where is the Senior Research Investigators Leadership Council that will put pressure on Congress to stop listening to whiny pharma CEOs who keep telling our elected officials that they can’t find good help anymore?

How about a New Deal Democrats Leadership Council to tell Congress to stop listening to whiny rich CEOs that robbed us blind in the past four years?

Or a Dirty Fucking Hippy Leadership Council to tell Congress to get its shit together and do the right thing before we get our shit together and run against them?  Just an idea.

Or a La-La-La I Can’t HEAR You Leadership Council that will help Americans kick the cable TV news and talk radio habit so they’ll stop being suckered in by self-interested CEOs whose messages clog the airwaves.

Add your Leadership Council titles and purposes in the comments section.  I formally commission the best Leadership Council idea.  No, no, don’t thank me.  I take on this burden of Leadership for You.

Rand-omly related stuff

over the river and thru the woods to Grandmother's house we go

over the river and thru the woods to Grandmother’s house we go

Just got home last night from my trip to Pittsburgh where I had forgotten how bone chillingly cold winter weather is there.  It must be a unique combination of cold and humidity in the Pittsburgh climate.  My aunt took me on a tour of some neighborhoods that I had missed when I lived there before.  Little hidden gems that would be prime real estate territory if Pittsburgh was San Francisco.  She’s got a good eye. The view from the cliffs is spectacular and houses in that area are going for a song.  Nope, not going to tell you where they are in case I decide to become a long term real estate investor. Bwahahahaahhhhhh!

I was away from my internet connection for almost 5 days and I am here to tell you that it is survivable, especially if there are interesting people around to talk to.  But I was able to surf a teensy bit when the wind was blowing signal in my direction.  One of my favorite posts of the past week was Matt Taibbi’s 10 Most Pretentious Moments in History.  There are some awardees I had never heard of but will now have to track down, if I can stand it.  How have I managed to miss Martin Amis all my life??

Anyway, coming in as a close runner-up to the most pretentious moment in history is Ayn Rand’s appearance on Phil Donahue’s show in 1979.  Only one segment of this infamous interview was included in the post but it was so jaw-droppingly pretentious that I had to see the whole thing.  Take a look:

Part 2/5

Part 3/5

Part 4/5

Part 5/5

Wow, Roger Ailes must have been watching that because Rand laid out the entire conservative strategy for duping people on Fox.  She even demonstrated how the “Shut up! Shut up!” tactic works.  You just refuse to answer questions you don’t like and tell your questioner that they’re being rude.  What a piece of work.  It’s all there. But what was really unsettling was that the audience was much smarter back in 1979.  They called her on her bullshit.  You’re not allowed to do that on TV anymore.  Questioning uber meany conservatives who say stupid, illogical things is strictly forbidden.  It’s so forbidden that it probably hasn’t been done like that since 1979.

Rand was full of good ideas like letting the rich and powerful do whatever they liked and giving them permission to feel special about themselves.  She was an early proponent of eliminating public education.  She was an anti-feminist.  If you want to know why Hillary lost in 2008, look to Rand.  She gave men permission to murder a powerful woman’s political career for no other reason than they felt they should never have to follow a woman.

It’s hard for me to take in that Alan Greenspan was this woman’s disciple, but it certainly explains Andrea Mitchell’s dismissive and nasty attitude towards Clinton in 2008.  I listened in on the press briefings and was always struck by Mitchell’s nastiness and arrogance.

I only read The Fountainhead and decided to stop there.  So I had to read the cliff notes version of Atlas Shrugged on Wiki and, apparently, the precious “jahb creators” decide to drop out of society to teach the rest of us a lesson, which sounds like a very good idea.  But the literary reference that I think would most accurately describe the consequence of that decision is probably the one from Douglas Adams’ Restaurant at the End of the Universe where the wise people of Golgafrinchan scared their problematic stratum of society into thinking their planet was about to be destroyed and tricked them into boarding an Ark Ship to be sent ahead to an outpost planet millions of light years away, leaving all the productive innovators and working class bereft of their input.

Unfortunately, according to Adams, the Golgafrinchans landed on earth. Rand was like an ancestral Eve.

And now for something completely but not really different, take a listen to this podcast by the Thinking Atheist’s Seth Andrews on the Church of Satan, which Andrews does with tongue firmly in cheek.  Rand and Anton LeVey must have known each other.  It’s uncanny.

Childhood songs mondagans

Atrios put up the lyrics of two childhood songs yesterday but he got them all wrong.

Here are the correct lyrics for the Battle Hymn of the Republic and Old Smokey:

My eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school
We have tortured every teacher, we have broken every rule
We are marching to the office now to hang the principal
Our school is marching on

Glory, glory, hallelujah
Teacher hit me with a ruler
I bopped her on the bean
With a rotten tangerine
And now she’s not so mean

(note that the original lyrics predates the use of assault weapons in school)

And here is Old Smokey:

On top of old Spaghetti, all covered with cheese
I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed
It rolled of the table, and onto the floor
And then my poor meatball rolled right out the door

It rolled into the garden and under a bush
And then my poor meatball,
Was nothing but mush.

The mush was as tasty
As tasty could be,
And then the next summer,
It grew into a tree.

The tree was all covered,
All covered with moss,
And on it grew meatballs,
And tomato sauce.

So if you eat spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball,
Whenever you sneeze.

Kids in the 60s and early 70s were less violent. We knew all the words to the protest songs and no one we knew owned guns except bad suburban dads wwho beat their kids on Sundays as prophylactic punishment and hunters.

True story.

Earth to DC pundits: we’re sick of the “fiscal cliff” crap

In case you were wondering, I’ve been in Pittsburgh visiting relatives and doing things that I’ll fill you in on later. I’ve been staying with a favorite aunt who doesn’t have time for the Internet and whose neighbors have put passwords on all their modems since the last time I was here.

Anyway, the anecdotal evidence suggests that the urgency of the fiscal cliff is not resonating here. People are bored with it. It’s not like Iraq where the Bushies scared everyone into thinking Saddam Hussein had WMDs that he could drop on us in 40 minutes. No, it’s like they really want mute the next TV pundit who is hyperventilating about his taxes going up in January.

Oh, and that whole messing around with social security or any social insurance program? It’s a no go. Don’t even think about it. These relatives live in a different reality than I do. By that I mean, they watch TV news. And this “fiscal cliff” campaign has been a waste of time. Go over it already. No one here gives a flying f#^*. It’s just a bunch of rich people whining to them. Of course, if working people’s taxes go up in January and benefits get cut, they’re going to be pissed. But no one here is fooled into believing that legislators are twisting themselves into knots on their behalf.

They’re just tired of the incessant droning on and on about the fiscal cliff and, surprisingly, they have very little sympathy for whiny rich peoples’ immiment loss of their Bush tax cuts.

So, there you go, TV pundits. You have created a crisis that instantly triggers bathroom breaks. Suck up the new tax levels and stuff a sock in it.

Gun control is another matter. They’re not opposed to that. And they’ve made the connection with the shooters being primarily “white males”. So, verily I say unto you congress persons and senators brutally ripped from your eggnog and ski vacations, your time would be better spent legislating some way to make it inconvenient for white men to intimidate the rest of the country with their god given right to bear arms.

Merry Christmas!

Whoo-hoo! Go, Hawaii!

Hawaii lost both of its senators in the last couple of months.  Senator Akaka is retiring and Senator Inouye, who was a senator when I was living there as a child, recently died at the age of 88.  He spent something like 5 decades in the senate.  Amazing.

But do you know what is even more amazing?  In January 2013, Hawaii may be sending not one but *two* women to replace these two senators.  Mazie Hirono is already scheduled to replace Akaka.  And Colleen Hanabusa was Senator Inouye’s preferred replacement for his seat.  She has yet to be appointed by Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii’s Democratic governor but we shall see.

Stop me if this is old news.  I don’t watch cable TV and news of Inouye’s replacement has been scarce.

So that would take us up to how many women in the senate?  Have we cracked 20 yet?

It’s progress.  I’ll take what I can get.

One other note.  Of the Congressional delegation from Hawaii, both Hirono and Hanabusa are Buddhists, first and possibly second ever in the Senate, and the new representative from the second district, Tulsi Gabbard, is a Hindu.

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