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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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Give Democrats a piece of your mind

The mid-term election is only weeks away and despite the lack of recovery for the vast majority of us, life is about to get a whole lot harder as the Senate is predicted to fall into the Republicans’ hands.

That leaves us with Barack Obama to guard the door from the lunatics.  In other words, we’re totally screwed.

But why sink into despair?  If you’re disappointed and angry at the way the last six years (and two to go) have turned out, you probably have good reason to be in spite of what Paul Krugman says.  The Democrats are not the Chicago Cubs.  We do not have to feel all sentimental about having a losing team all the time.

So, vent.  Get it all out.  What pisses you off the most about how the Democrats have let us down?  Don’t be afraid to tell it like it is.  Civility is for cotillions.

These student body president types may be perfectly content to ignore you or they may have absolutely no idea why you’re about to allow them to be voted out of office.  Put them on notice in the comments below.

Registered Democrats only please.  If you’re a Republican, Tea Party troublemaker or independent, please sit on your hands.

I’ll go first.  Unemployment is still high for those of us 45-65.  Wages are pathetic.  But the thing that ticks me off the most is how Obamacare 1.) created two classes of American workers, 2.) did nothing to control costs, and 3.) forced the second class Americans without employer based health care into high deductible, tiny network, expensive insurance plans.  Even with the subsidies, which many of us don’t get because we make too *little* money (like that’s supposed to make any damn sense), the plans are unaffordable.  Krugman can go jump in a lake for all I care.  Obamacare is awful.

Ok, your turn.

Stupid, heartless people

Read Paul Krugman’s piece on the death of food stamps in the Farm Bill, after 40 years of success.

Now, I understand that some people think this is a dandy idea.  Split the Farm Bill up so that all the committed tax dollars go to industrialized farms and address the SNAP program separately, where there will be no such security for families with children.

But all I see is an opportunity for Republican voters, who have been deceived to believe that the country is suffering a scarcity of food stuffs that they have to pay for, to get another opportunity to shame and humiliate people.  Apparently, needing food is a reason to strip the dignity from your fellow citizens.

Yeah, that’s really nice.  I believe this is how bullying works.  Pick on someone for something they can’t help and then physically and mentally punish them for it.  That ought to make the Republican base feel smug and good about themselves.

Pathetic.

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

Need more DryLock.  Merde.

Paul seems confused about libertarian populism. Let me take a crack at this.

Up front, I want to say that there’s nothing on heaven and earth that could make me vote for a Republican or a Randian Libertarian.  In fact, when I moved to PA, I re-registered as a Democrat.  Unlike NJ, PA’s primaries are closed.  If you want to vote in the primary, you have to pick a party *before* the election, not on the day of.  So, I figured I would bite the bullet and try to get rid of as many DINOs as I can.

That out of the way, Krugman seems confused about why Republicans think they can pick up white voters through libertarian populism.  And it is true that in general, white voters who vote Republican are voting against their own interests.  But they have been conditioned for years that it’s OK to crap on minorities and women.  When it comes to white working class voters who vote Republican, it’s all about promising the guys that they won’t lose their white male privilege.  That’s what the abortion debate is all about.  That’s why we are still debating the voting rights act and affirmative action.

But the older conservative voter is dying out.  Where will the Republicans find new converts?

Allow me to speculate.

There are a ton of people who were laid off since 2008 who have ended up working for themselves.  Voile!  Instant grouches about taxes.  It is going to be hard enough to pay the bills and the new healthcare insurance bills for themselves and their families.  Think several car payments worth of extra bills on top of what they already have to pay to self insure themselves through the exchanges.  Then stick them with all of the Social Security taxes and self-employment taxes and you have the makings of a new Libertarian.

In fact, Paul should not be so surprised about how the Republicans plan to do this.  NJ has set a perfect example.  And we know that when NJ voters are given a choice between a Democrat who doesn’t reform the tax system like he promised vs a Republican who promises to hold the line on taxes no matter what, they’ll choose the Republican.

Think about it, Paul.  Making entrepreneurs is how they plan to make new Libertarian Republicans.

It’ll probably work too.  Without a compelling a forceful message from the Democrats, there’s really nowhere to turn for relief.

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

Holy Hemiola!  There are two guys here this morning tearing out half of my basement and all of my screen porch.  It sounds like an earthquake down there.

Update: We have met the enemy and he is ducts.  Lots and lots of ducts.  Now I need an HVAC specialist.  Cha-ching!

{{sigh}}

Screen porch gone except for the roof and four supports.  Already an improvement.

Best Book on Keynesian Economics

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute.

You have to wait until the last third of the book for the economics stuff and it’s so well hidden that it’s almost subversive.  I’m surprised that conservatives haven’t put it on a banned book list.

Quick summary: An English lawyer draws up a trust for a kindly old Scottish gentleman who leaves his fortune to his niece with the stipulation that the full funds will not be made available to her until she is 35 years old.  The old uncle wants to prevent the niece from falling prey to fortune hunters.  The niece, Jean Paget, spends her childhood in Malaysia and returns there just before the start of WWII to become a typist at a rubber firm.  When the Japanese invade Malaysia, the women of the firm are sent on a 6 month march from one village to another while the Japanese try to figure out what to do with them.  Along the way, Jean meets Joe Harmon, an Aussie soldier commandeered by the Japanese to drive trucks for them.  I won’t give too much of the plot away but let’s just say there’s a crucifixion and the two protagonists are separated for years.  She thinks he’s dead, he thinks she’s married.

They finally get together with the reluctant help of the lawyer, who has fallen in love with Jean Paget even though she could be his granddaughter.  Jean is not college material (although you may disagree with her own assessment after you read what she does during the war and afterwards) but she has a keen business sense.  She can’t get all of her money for 10 more years when the book starts.  But she can get discretionary dispensations from the Lawyer.  What she does with the money is clever and amazing.

This book is well written, adventurous, has a good plot, you can dance to it and even people who don’t like to read books will like this one.  That’s what makes it so deliciously subversive.  Nevil Shute was a clever bastard.

Get a copy for that Fox News lover in your family.  After he/she reads it, you’ll never have a problem explaining Krugman or stimulus to them again.  I guarantee it.

Highly recommended.  It’s also a great audio book.  You won’t even realize you’re cleaning.

5 sponges.

Here’s a clip from the Masterpiece Theater production back in the 80’s.  The whole movie is not available on YouTube (darn).

I’m not an economist but…

…I read Krugman’s latest post on Conscience of a Liberal this morning about the recent actions of the Fed to raise interest rates.  I’m scratching my head over this one as well because the economy, as I see it, is still in the dumps and I’m still meeting plenty of people who think the economy sucks and unemployment is too high and self-employed people are hurting and it’s just pretty fricking awful all over the damn place.  So, I’m going to guess that the actions of the Fed are in response to something Wall Street is doing as they take advantage of The Market and everyone else in the world.  Are we experiencing another housing bubble? Are the hedge funds still accumulating foreclosed properties like there’s no tomorrow, driving up the cost of housing for everyone else?  I was lucky to get my house but I knew there were a lot of other offers on it and the only thing that gave me an edge is that I had cash and was an owner who was actually going to, you know, live there.

Anyway, I’m going to guess that there’s something afoot that I haven’t paid attention to that is on the Fed’s radar and since bankers, brokers, hedgies and the bonus class are the only people we bail out and go out of our way to not inconvenience, the rest of the world’s billions will just have to suck it up.  If our lives become even more difficult and strained, well, tough titties for us. We must not make it hard for the yacht owners to pay their kids private school tuitions or wives go without the underpaid au pairs for even one summer.  And since the vast majority of us do not occupy the ranks of the “not to be inconvenienced” group, it should come as no surprise that the consequences of the Fed’s actions on OUR lives is of no concern to it.  Of course, impoverishing the real market is eventually self-limiting and self-correcting, as Jefferson once wrote, but people will put up with a lot of shit before they throw the bastards out.

Or is there a political element to this strategy?  Is it still the plan to inflict as much suffering on average Americans as possible so that they will snap and take any measly short term relief in exchange for giving up whatever is left of the tattered social safety net?  If I were going to gut social security, this is not the way I would do it.  No, I’d wait until the economy was growing like Topsy and everyone was fat and happy and only then spring it on us that we’d have to give up social security.  But maybe these guys think Fear, Uncertainty and Dread will be more effective.  If we plunge back into recession because of it, will the Democrats catch the blame, along with all the bad stuff headed their way over Obamacare?  Time will tell.  But one thing is for sure.  The rest of us must still pay for the outrageously reckless behavior of a handful of selfish, greedy sociopaths.

Krugman is unreasonably optimistic about Medicaid expansion and Obamacare

Decreasing the surplus population in Ireland through starvation and homelessness

He’s not the only one.  Digby is also cautiously optimistic about how things are going to go.  Both of them seem to think that the increase in premiums are only going to affect a small subset of people and everybody knew this from the start, had they been paying attention.  They seem to think the people most irked are going to be relatively well off younger people, like entrepreneurs who work for themselves.

But that’s not really true.  I’m not surprised that neither Digby or Krugman are seeing who are going to get slammed by Obamacare most severely because it has become almost a habit not to talk about them.  I’m referring to the millions of long term unemployed, many of whom are over 50, who are now forced to cobble together some kind of living as self-employed.  That affects just about everyone I know who was laid off since 2008.  To these people, the premiums are not just a nuisance.  They are extremely burdensome.  And if Lambert has been reading the tea leaves correctly, lumping these people into the Medicaid pot puts whatever estate they have left at risk.  So, to recap, Obamacare is putting an extra burden on these people who are now forced to a.) work for themselves, b.) pay all of the payroll tax by themselves and c.) pay for their own retirements.

Today, Krugman writes that the states that are opting out of the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare are going to create a backlash against Republicans.  Oh, if only I could believe it.  But I have always felt that the systemic exploitation that our current politicians have allowed to happen over the last 30 years has lead to a repeat of an Irish Potato Famine Scenario, not the beginning of a new Golden Age of rationality and righteous indignation.  The right wing noise machine is still strong and the people who get royally screwed by the Medicaid opt out will be portrayed as a bunch of fricking losers who can’t pull their weight in this new economy.  They will be spat upon by the people who are only a rung or two up the ladder who are simultaneously terrified it will happen to them and triumphantly crowing about their moral superiority.  Yeah, they will look like a bunch of stupid hicks to the rest of us but the message they will be getting is that the world is a random, chaotic, evil place and the only reason they’re surviving is because God favors them, or some such nonsense.  That will keep the whip kissers in line, keeping them from raising their hands against their masters, demanding better wages and benefits.  If they don’t remain obedient and passive, bad things will happen to them.

It’s not that much different than what happened to the starving Irish against their landlords who owned everything, took everything and rented the rest.  Back in the early 19th century, Irish workers had no rights and employers and landlords took full advantage of that.  Why would they not?  What laws were going to constrain them?  When the famine hit, the Irish couldn’t stand up for themselves and the rest of Great Britain acted like they brought it on themselves for being Irish and Catholic.  Some of the onlookers even argued that to help them would be wrong and go against God’s plan.  A lot of people died before the population dropped sufficiently and the potatoes developed some resistance.

Throwing the over 55’s into Medicaid and taking their property to pay for it is very reminiscent of the workhouse and relief rules the Irish had to contend with.  If you had a quarter acre of land, you were not too poor to support yourself.  In order to get any kind of relief at all, you had to give that up.  Then you were eligible for the workhouse where you might get some food in exchange for losing every other possession you had.  In the Medicaid opt-out states, you won’t even get relief.  You’ll just get access to the emergency room and bill collectors.  Back in the 1840s, most people looked upon this as wretched and bad but the ones who were not suffering put up with it.  Opting out of Medicaid is like the landlords pulling down the roofs of starving tenants.  It happened and people were both homeless and starving but no one stopped the billhooks.

So, I don’t expect that there will be much backlash against the loss of Medicaid funds in the bible belt states.  It’s still a plantation down there where labor is expected to be obedient and pious and if you end up poor and sick, it’s because you didn’t follow the rules or were insufficiently religious.  You’ll see.  The right wing media and some of the regular media, will continue to reinforce learned helplessness in the public and Americans will start to accept this hardship when the alternative, public options, Medicare for All, cost controls, etc, will start to seem like impossibilities.

In the meantime, the left’s willful ignorance and denial of just how bad Obamacare is going to be is doing them no credit.  It is BAD policy.  All of the potential problems that the left wants to minimize or deny could have been avoided had the policy been carefully crafted by a president who cared about average Americans and by a Congress who wasn’t rushed to make some really bad concessions.

As for Digby’s silly rationalization that so many lefties were duped by Obama back in 2008 but that she and a few of her friends were not but couldn’t find enough people who agreed with them, that’s incredibly offensive bullshit.  WE were here.  We still call ourselves “Democrats in Exile”.  We saw through Obama and knew what he was because we actually listened to what he was saying.  He was not a brilliant politician.  His campaign staff simply took advantage of demographic trends and realized that a lot of baby boomers would vote for an African American candidate over a woman because of the period of time when these voters came of age, in the Civil Rights Era.  That’s probably why the well off older baby boomers are still in love with Obama.  He completes them.  The campaign would stampede the rest with fear, vicious misogyny, outright lies about our intelligence and racism and blatant bullying of delegates.  Predictably, the activist Democrats acted like the herd animals the campaign psychologists thought they were.

But there was absolutely no truth to the lie that Digby and others are propagating that they couldn’t find like minded Democrats who felt the same way they did about what a fraud Obama was in 2008.  We were here and there were a lot of us.  We were simply defamed and called racists and Digby and her ilk went along with that characterization because they were cowards who were afraid of guilt by association.

If you don’t stand up against unfair propaganda and you allow the bad guys to weaken your side, you should not be surprised if you find that you too are eventually powerless.  I don’t expect that the left will every stop rationalizing about why they invited vampires into their house but I really wish they would start putting more of their energy into getting them out.  We don’t have time for silly self delusion.  Obamacare is almost upon us and about to take out the Democratic party and what remains of whatever defense we have left.

Addendum: It looks like Glenn Greenwald is public enemy number one for, you know, being doggedly persistent about civil liberties and stuff.  It goes without saying that we stand with Glenn against all the nastiness heading his way.

If only Glenn had stood with us five years ago when our hair was on fire when Obama bamboozled everyone, got Hillary to suspend her campaign and then voted for the telecomm immunity bill once he thought his nomination was secure.  But of course, we were only stupid, racist, women back then and people like Digby refused to acknowledge our legitimacy or, unbelievably, our existence.

So, even though Glenn was more than happy to jump on Obama’s bandwagon back when all the lights were flashing red, we are going to stick with him no matter what.  Because he happens to be right about the intrusion into our privacy and it is wrong to publicly harass and defame people who expose uncomfortable truths and wrongdoing.  Glenn is a human being and we do not approve of harassment investigations,  personal attacks or dehumanization of him or his family.  In this respect, we have been consistent with respect to Barack Obama and Sarah Palin.  It is acceptable and morally responsible to criticize unconstitutionality, poor policy and unethical behavior.  But we don’t get personal, racist or go after family members because that’s wrong.  You can check our archives.

By the way, guess who voted against the telecomm immunity bill back in 2008? Of course, the candidates were otherwise indistinguishable.  {{rolling eyes}}

Hitler finds out about the $1 Trillion dollar platinum coin

Don’t tell Krugman.

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

Totally unrelated:  Congratulations to the Hillsborough High School Bio Team who beat surrounding high schools, including Princeton Day School,  in competition on Thursday. Brooke tied for the highest score. Whoop! Whoop!  Go Raiders!

What the Bio Team really needs is its own cheerleaders:

 

It could happen.

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