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    • How Ebola Aerosolized in Pigs Could Kill Millions
      Up until today I’ve been moderately sanguine about Ebola outside of some poverty struck African countries with compromised health care systems (and places like Greece.)  The main danger is incompetence and austerity, as with the CDC and Texas fumbling their Ebola cases. No more. Ebola is aerosolized in pigs.  This may not seem like a [...]
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The Origins of Cruelty- another post about narcissism

The world is full of narcissists.  For a period of time during the last century, malignant narcissism appeared to be kept in check.  Our collective consciousness was raised by the after effects of the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War and the Space Age.  Brutality and cruelty happened in other countries, like Vietnam, Bangladesh and Malawi.  South and central America went down the wrong path for several decades and some countries there are still struggling with dictators, corruption and violence.  But for the most part, the world grew away from barbarism.  We held each other accountable.

It started to turn around in the late 70s again, just about the time of the oil embargoes and Ronald Reagan and the “moral” majority.  And now, 80 years after the Great Depression, we’ve reversed much of what was accomplished during the New Deal.  Except for Social Security, the rest of the progressive governmental structures that were created then are hollow shells.  Even the post office is struggling to maintain it’s position as a public service and it is much older than any Depression era program.

We know what happened, we feel its effects, as anyone trying to get a job, working a job and supporting a family knows.  But we don’t know the origins of how it happened.  That is, we don’t know what it is about our human nature that caused our current powerlessness and inequality.

I was watching a video this morning about the dark triad of narcissism, antisocial behavior and borderline personality disorder because I’m getting more and more interested in what the bad guys have been up to.  In that video was another clip from the movie The Spanish Prisoner featuring Steve Martin.  In the clip, a friend of his is telling him how he invented something for a company and has an informal arrangement for compensation and credit.  Martin tells him that the informal arrangement is worthless and that he should have gotten the details down on paper and verified with a lawyer.  The friend is too trusting and then Martin tells him this:

 

We’ve probably had this happen to us at some point in our lives.  For example, it explains why employment has been so stressful lately for many of us, especially temp workers.  A temp worker has no legal rights and the employer has no legal obligations.  In such a situation, it’s easy to take advantage of the temp and treat them cruelly.  In fact, the employer is prompted to be more cruel because the fact that he has no legal obligation makes taking advantage of the worker the smart thing to do.  You’d be a fool to not use your resources to get ahead of your competitors.  But to do so will generate a certain amount of guilt in the employer.  Morally, it’s wrong to exploit a person.  The resolution of this problem is to dehumanize the worker.  As long as the worker is stupid, uneducated, ugly, poor, unpopular or possessing in some other human defect, it is ok to be inconsiderate of them and to take advantage of them.  It should come as no surprise that the number of temp positions has increased steadily in recent years or that many of those in temp positions or insecure part-time positions have to face uncertain hours, sleeplessness, poor pay and undignified behavior from the companies they work for.  This trend will continue until there is law to curtail it.

Let’s look beyond the workforce.  Let’s look at what happened in Ferguson.  The police force has access to a lot of military style weapons and transportation devices.  That equipment costs money, as do the officers themselves.  It all has to be paid for somehow.  The state of Missouri might not be footing the bill.  Let’s get the money from people who are easier to shake down.  No one cares about African Americans.  It would be stupid of us to not take advantage of this situation.  And they deserve to be treated badly.  They wouldn’t be living in Ferguson if they weren’t so stupid, shiftless, lazy and violent thugs.

How about firemens’ pension funds?  Stock analysts, money managers and bankers are under no obligation to protect their clients’ funds more than lining their own pockets.  It would be stupid for Wall Street firms to not work both sides of a deal.  Those firemen are just a bunch of meat puppets represented by fools.  They deserve to be treated badly for not being smart enough to go to Harvard and Princeton and then go to work on Wall Street.

And let’s think about this in political terms.  The reason why no bankers go to jail or are held accountable is because each grievous infraction goes to a negotiated settlement.  One by one, the legal obligations that the banks and large corporations have towards the rest of us are stripped away.  It is perfectly understandable that these businesses are going to push the envelope and demand all they can get.  But we have seen from past presidencies that it is not the norm for the executive branch to crumble in the face of stiff resistance.  Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt took on forces as just as powerful and determined and did not succumb.  So, we can only imagine what level of contempt there must be in the administration towards average Americans that would allow them to assuage their guilt.

This is what I have been referring to when I said back in 2008 that if the Democrats did not resist the voting irregularities, sexism and demonization of half its party during the campaign, that it would not have standing with the people who forced themselves on us.  It’s also why those of us at The Confluence rejected the demonization and dehumanization of Sarah Palin.  We don’t have to like her politics to see that when the party activists went down that road, they were engaging in a thoughtless barbarism that had the potential to seep into other aspects of their politics and turn them into tools of malignant narcissists.

Anyway, I go on too long again.  I just thought it was an interesting clip that describes clearly why we have laws and regulations and why this country flourished when we had consent of the governed to constrain our baser natures and why we should oppose people who try to get around those laws and legal obligations.

Too many of us have been fooled into thinking we don’t need them.

Insulting the Wimmin Brains on Hillary vs Obama

Obama backers promise to bring back the Christmas Tree in 2016

Obama backers promise to bring back the Christmas Tree in 2016

I have the day off so I’m going to the Three Rivers Arts Festival and you can’t stop me.  Will take pictures.

Yesterday, I saw that Digby had a brief flash of insight into the mind of a post-PUMA Hillary supporter.  Referring to Noam Scheiber’s incredibly insulting proposal that Hillary Clinton was stupid enough to believe that the Democrats and the undemocratic Obama patrons of 2008 would let her run in 2016, Digby writes:

I’ve come to think of this in a slightly different way. I think this was decided back in Denver in 2008. The primary campaign was a near tie with Clinton continuing to win races all the way up to the end. (In any previous presidential campaign there would have definitely been a convention challenge to such a tight outcome.) It featured two important “firsts” with an African American and a woman competing for the same prize. It was very emotional. The political arguments among the two camps were fierce but they were both coming from the same center-left policywing of the party, which means there was an agreement, somewhat by default, that this agenda was the preferred agenda of the voters. Both sides fought tooth and nail for the same policies.

In essence, the result of that 2008 near tie vote was that Obama got to go first with the understanding that Clinton would automatically get the nomination 8 years later. What this means is that (barring unforeseen circumstances)there will have been no left wing challenge in presidential races for 16 years and I think that suits the Party and its rich donors just fine. They hate primaries. And since they will have had 16 uninterrupted years of preferred policy, even as the voters get to feel the inspiration of the two historic firsts, why would anyone rock the boat?

Progressives might have been able to leverage that fierce competition in 2008 but they got caught up in the emotion just like everyone else so there wasn’t any real ideological challenge. Unfortunately, it probably ended up being the last primary in which they could have had a voice for a very long time. Too bad.

Savor that for a moment.  Just an instant and no more.  What Digby is saying is what all of us Clintonistas have known for 6 years: the primary was a virtual dead heat and at any other convention, there would have been a floor fight.  But *someone(s)* didn’t want a real primary.  Those someones found it more expedient to ram Obama down our throats whether or not the country wanted it or not and they were willing to rig the nomination to get it.  I suspect those someones were the same people who looked a bit further into the future and didn’t want any cramdowns on securitized mortgages or policies that would force the medical/insurance business to negotiate on costs.

Ok, the moment has passed.  Digby will never admit to being one of us because she is a chickenshit. This is as close as we’ll ever get to the notion that Digby and the rest of them were perfectly aware of what was going on with the primary.  They’re no different than we are except they said nothing.  I think there is a Edmund Burke quote about that.  Come to think of it, how do we know that Digby isn’t just messing with our heads?  Maybe the slight acknowledgement that the Clintonistas were right is meant to soften us up to whatever happens in 2014-2016?  I don’t trust anyone who didn’t pipe up in 2008 or 2012.

But I do not think that anyone offered Hillary a deal.  Ok, maybe someone in the Obama campaign floated it at one time but Hillary is not stupid.  I’ll go to the grave believing that it was Hillary who asked for State before someone locked her into a political grave as VP.  (Biden who??)  If my hypothesis is correct, she was smart enough to know that she didn’t want to become permanently associated with Obama’s domestic policies on the financial crisis and health care.  That would mean she was shrewd and also not totally onboard with what she saw coming.

No, the reason why Hillary’s name has been floated for the last 6 years as Obama’s successor is because that’s what Obama’s backers want everyone to focus on. (You read it here first, folks.) The push to defer everyone’s gratification is not for Hillary’s sake.  It’s so that we will placidly go along with every banker and medical/insurer friendly policy they cook up.  We are lead to think that when Hillary is in office, it will all be ok.  It’s merely a formality.  We had to let the African American go before the woman, that’s all, as if we were all so shallow and simple-minded and easily lead to believe that being the first something is more important than being good at your job. (Insert picture of the Grinch lying to Cindi-Lou Who who is no more than two) Just wait until 2016 and there will be another historic victory for the Democrats, as if competence and good policies have no place in this strategy.  We will finally get the Democrat we wanted in the first place in 2008, instead of the guy who is in the White House now who ramped up the exploitation of everyone not making a living off their investments.

And if my “Promote Deferred Gratification- Pull the Rug Out From Under Everyone Who Waited for 2016 Strategy” (Let’s call it the Cindi Lou Who Strategy for short) is correct, then maybe Obama and Clinton were not as close in policy as everyone was initially lead to believe, right?  Because if they were as identical as the Obama contingent says they were, it wouldn’t have mattered which one was nominated in 2008.  But we know intuitively that this isn’t true because rigging the nomination in Obama’s favor in 2008 was maniacally important to someone(s).  We saw it happen.  And those people knew what was coming in 2008 (read Michael Lewis’s book, The Big Short) which suggests that it wasn’t a matter of electability.  Anyone who lived through September 2008 was going to prefer the Democrat to the Republican and, Clinton, had she been nominated, would have won in a landslide.  She would have been the most visible reminder of the last prosperous economic times  and good government that we had.  Given the series of events in 2008, one might almost be tempted to believe that the nomination of Obama was to ensure that a real Democrat would *not* become president.  So, who’s zooming who?

I have no illusions as to whether these Obama backers want Hillary to run in 2016.  If they feel that their new policies are concretized and their ability to harvest money from us has no chance of being deterred, they probably won’t care who gets into the White House.  It won’t matter if it’s a Democrat, Republican or The Rent Is Too Damn High candidate.

This is Hillary Clinton’s reality and the reality by which the left should judge her fitness to run in 2016.  If she is just going to be a placeholder, why vote for her?  On the other hand, if she is going to represent real change, isn’t it likely that the Obama backers are going to try to bring her down again?  If she’s silenced her critical voice for 6 years in the hopes that she’ll get the nod to run again, she hasn’t done us any favors.  A politician who cares about the fate of the middle class and the loss of policies that made us a great nation shouldn’t have gone along with the campaign to defer our gratification for her run 8 long suffering and destructive years down the line.  Or maybe she’s going to be a stealth candidate, in which case, no one should or would trust her.  The powers that be can’t take that risk and how would the rest of us know  for sure what she was up to?

So, there you go, folks.  I have no idea what’s in her head and no one else does either, except Bill, I suspect.  But the one thing I don’t want in 2016 is to have to vote for a person who said and did nothing to rock the boat for 8 years because she was promised another shot at the nomination.

I am not a stupid woman.

**********************************

One final thing: Obama didn’t run against McCain in 2008.  His campaign had him running against Sarah Palin, a pretty low bar, when you think about it, considering that his campaign had already softened up the media and American public to accept playing to overt sexism a part of Obama’s rite of passage.

Just something to chew on.  Carry on.

What the bankers are doing to Detroit is criminal

Go read No Banker Left Behind at the NYTimes.  Let us recap, shall we?

The bankers, who had all of their bonuses protected and bailed out with our federal tax dollars when they blew up the world because people like Larry Summers argued that it was unfair to violate their compensation contracts, are bearing down on Detroit to pay outrageous sums of money on ill-advised derivatives transactions that will result in innocent Detroit municipal employees forfeiting up to 90% of their pensions.

I blame Obama.  Yes, I do.  If he had come into office committed to holding responsible the people who lied, conned and irresponsibly gambled away our money, we might well be on the road to real recovery right now.  Instead, he had people like Larry Summers and Tim Geithner advising him to go easy on the bankers because shoring up the banks was THE most important thing.

Screw everyone else.

What I really regret is that so many former Democrats went off in a rabid frenzy over some stupid birth certificate issue instead of focussing on the real offenses of this White House.  So much time and energy wasted over citizenship red herrings and vacations.  I’m not sure which is worse.  Stupid conservative leaning Democrats or banker lackeys in the Oval Office.

Whichever it is, Detroit’s employees shouldn’t have their lives ruined over it and I have yet to see Obama step up and prevent this unfolding tragedy from taking place.  Which only means one thing to the rest of us: if our own pension plans go belly up because of some stupid merger or incompetent pension fund manager or predatory bankers, we’re all equally screwed.  No one is going to step up and protect your deferred compensation for all your years of work.

The White House is just going to let the bankers drink your milk shake.

Obama to homeowners: I didn’t say it was your fault, I said we’re going to blame you

Well, actually, he is sort of saying that homeowners were at fault for the housing crisis.  Yes, yes, MOST of us were just responsible, law-abiding citizens, living within our means, paying mortgages on our modest little townhouses as we worked at jobs we loved.  Then the bankers saw an opportunity to lend money to millions of suckers, driving the cost of housing up.  Then they securitized those loans, sliced them up into pieces, sold them to unsuspecting pension and mutual funds and created a whole new financial instrument to insure speculators against risk.

When the bubble burst and people lost their jobs and the economy was taken to the brink of Armageddon because of all of the bankers’ wild speculations, the last people on earth who were asked to take a haircut were the bankers who refused to take any losses on the mortgages they expected to make money on in perpetuity.  It didn’t matter if those same homeowners no longer had jobs or were making less money.  No, they were not going to take a penny less than they expected.  So the government bailed them out and did nothing to help people stay in their homes.  We didn’t adjust mortgage rates or write down principal or stop anyone from being thrown into the street.  Because early on, THIS administration decided to bail out the bankers over everyone else.

And now, future homeowners will also suffer.  This administration has decided to get out of the housing business and let the private sector take over.  The cost of owning a house is expected to go up.

I love this piece of the article:

Previous generations of politicians created Fannie and Freddie as a means of providing those benefits while pretending the costs did not exist. The companies were declared to be private during the fat years, and their shareholders profited handsomely, even as everyone understood that the government would stand behind the companies during the lean years.

That strategy has probably been exhausted, as Washington appears to have lost its appetite for implicit guarantees.

That leaves an unpalatable choice between making the cost of the system an explicit government obligation, or making it harder for Americans to buy homes. Any reduction in government support for the mortgage market is likely to increase the cost of home borrowing.

Plans to revive private sources of financing for mortgage loans also need to be harmonized with the government’s countervailing efforts to reduce risk-taking by financial institutions. Some analysts are worried that new rules and regulations will limit the ability or willingness of the market to finance mortgage loans.

Alex J. Pollock, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said he was confident that lenders would learn to operate within the rules — or learn to go around them — but he added that the effort required to do so would be billed to the borrowers.

“Enterprising companies are very able to figure out how to deal with these regulations, but that’s not free,” he said. “The loans will cost more.”

Well, at least I can say that I didn’t vote for him.  Twice.

More what’s wrong with these people, er, picture?

Screen Shot 2013-07-21 at 8.36.40 AM

So, to recap:

Leakers and whistleblowers who tell us what’s really going on in our opaque neoauthoritarian government get the full force of the law thrown at them, their lives, fortunes and futures ruined.  See, the Obama administration is doing us a favor by catching up on all the cases that were unprosecuted.

BANKERS, who have acted like relapsed gamblers anonymous attendees on a weekend binge, and who ruin the lives, fortunes and futures of billions of people across the world through their reckless, irresponsible, greedy, cheating behavior get a tap on the wrist and the equivalent of a speeding ticket in fines.

Priorities, you know.

This is what the so-called “liberal base” voted for because, well, he could have been Trayvon Martin* and apparently no other disadvantaged group in the country has ever had people telling them they couldn’t do something, especially not women, who never have anyone tell them they can’t do anything.  Except in Texas, Virginia, Ohio, the Dakotas, and pretty much everywhere in the country where it’s Ok to treat women like second class citizens and brains where jobs, money, authority and promotions are concerned.  Otherwise, you know, we could be president.  Or not, depending on whether there is a disadvantaged group represented by a male who gets there first.  Because, you know, females have it easy compared to guys.

{{rolling eyes}}

Wake me when this ridiculous fiasco of a presidency is over. Or when the Obots grow a clue.  Whichever comes first.

*Disclaimer: For the record, I am shocked and dismayed by the jury verdict for George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin was racially profiled by Zimmerman and pre-emptively taken out before he had a chance to grow up.  That was outrageous and shameful. I blame the state of Florida for creating the law that allowed the guy to get away with murder.  But the Republicans have successfully made this country and its laws into an affirmative action program for white guys and I see absolutely no evidence that Obama has done anything in his past or recent present to change that.  A speech, which turns out to be nothing more than mental masturbation, doesn’t cut it, IMHO.  To spell it out for the Obots, Obama uses race as a distraction for his base.  He identifies with the victim and you guys forget that he’s really just a corporate ladder climbing guy who is not doing anything you want him to do as far as the war, economy, finance sector, improving the lives of the poor and disenfranchised  or anything else you find important.  He dogwhistles race, you forget about Afghanistan and unemployment.  Just because Republicans criticize Obama for his reaction to Trayvon Martin doesn’t mean they’re wrong in pointing out his hypocrisy.  They’re just focusing on different issues and their own f^&*ed up agenda.  In this case, the Republicans are not suffering from the cult of personality like the left.  They’re clear headed and smart enough to see what’s going on and are exploiting it to their own nefarious ends while the left is still infatuated and completely losing the plot.

The Obvious Question

Oh my god, the posts are practically writing themselves today.  Here’s what Obama just said about the surveillance mess:

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Friday offered a robust defense of the government surveillance programs revealed this week, and sought to reassure the public that his administration has not become a Big Brother with eyes and ears throughout the world of online communications.

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Mr. Obama said, delivering a 14-minute answer to two questions about the surveillance programs at an event that was initially supposed to be devoted to the health care law. “That’s not what this program is about.”

So, here’s the question: If we are to believe that nobody is listening to our telephone calls, how would we actually *know* that??  Isn’t it the current policy to not let you have access to that information?  If I recall correctly, you need to go to court to find out if the telecomms have turned over your personal communications to government officials and that in many cases, this has been classified as “state secrets” so you can’t ever really be sure.  To have standing in court, you have to show you were harmed by the surveillance but if you only suspect harm and can’t prove you were surveilled, then you’ll never know the extent to which your communications have been monitored.  Jeez, does the Obama administration think we’re stupid??  Based on the previous two presidential election cycles, yeah, probably.

There are other obvious questions, such as, who decided that the surveillance was “legal” and whose definition are we using when we say it was “limited”?  Then there is the “what are you going to do with information that you accidentally dig up that indicates a citizen has been engaged in questionable activities”?   I’m talking about anything from setting up a secret rendezvous with your mistress, to scoring a dime of pot with your pizza delivery, to meeting up at the local Occupy event* (which isn’t illegal but with the batallions of police around the events, sure feels like you’re doing something wrong)?

The final question I have is will an ordinary citizen who gets ensnared for doing something non-terrorist in nature get the same kind of immunity as the bankers did for destroying the world’s economy?  Just askin’ because otherwise, I’m not sure I’m very sympathetic to any sort of surveillance activity.  If you can’t nail the bankers, who are the biggest domestic and global terrorists around, for anything, you shouldn’t be allowed to listen in on ordinary people doing ordinary human things.

Otherwise, it’s not fair or just, it doesn’t sound like equal access to the law, and the people in charge should be held accountable and/or impeached.

*RD’s Law: The power intrinsic to a legal citizen action is directly proportional to the magnitude of the police presence.

Well, of course he’s going to meet with the suits

I’ve read posts by Charles Pierce, Digby and Atrios lamenting how Obama has decided to hold a “leadership” meeting with the big bank ceos who got us into this mess to discuss the details of the Grand Bargain.

It sounds a lot like crocodile tears.

Look, you guys KNEW when you were cheering for him (or cheering against Mitt Romney) last year that he kisses the bankers’ collective asses.

What I can’t understand is how it is that such a bunch of smart people could only see two possible options last year.  You didn’t even try to challenge Obama and put the fear of God into him.  So, stop your “shock!” and righteous indignation or pointless navel gazing about why the “culture of smartness” does what it does and cuts ordinary people out of directing their own fates. You’re either useful idiots doing the party’s work or you’re not nearly as smart as you think you are.

There are always multiple solutions to the problem.  You need to think outside the box, possibly take the long view and stop being such whiny ass titty baby cowards about what is happening to your formerly safe spot in the Democratic party.

They moved your fucking cheese.  Get on with it.

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