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    • Assassination Works Only Under Two Circumstances
      For years, decades even, America has had a policy of assassination. Americans believe that if you kill the leaders, you kill an organization. This is delusional. It only works when it almost isn’t necessary. How many times has American killed the #2 man of the Taliban? Did killing Osama stop Al-Qaeda? Assassinating Yamamoto in WWII […]
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My advice, whether you want it or not- 1

I’m dispensing advice to the blogosphere.  You’re welcome.

1.)To Digby, Corey Robin, et al, regarding whether the recent set backs in the rights of women in America have something to do with protecting the influence of the traditional hierarchy in the home, you’re not quite seeing the whole picture.  The backlash against women started about the time that more women were moving into the workforce, competing with men who used to get all the good jobs, frequently with little more than a high school diploma.  This was also about the same time that african americans were moving into the middle class.  It also roughly corresponded with a lag in wages compared to productivity.  We should do more research to find out if there is a correlation and what it is.

I think the push to put women “back in their place” has less to do with protecting the home than to protecting the traditional privileges of the workplace.  How can we decide which is the case?  We can look to countries with better and worse gender equity scores than the United States and do some comparisons of what cultural and legislative changes they have made in the past 100 or so years.  My gut feeling is that we are experiencing a backlash because we have rewarded the persons who promote it via their outsize representation in the media and through their culturally protected religious affiliations.  It is OK these days to say racist things and insult women by referring to them as sluts.  No harm done, says Limbaugh and the Fox News team.  There’s no law against being an ignorant bigot.

In other words, the language is being used in the service of the previously privileged.  It was and always will be the economy, stupid.  When money gets tight, women should get the f^&* out of the way and go home.  Making it hard for her to get out of the house when she’s tied to babies and lacks good childcare serves the guys very well indeed.  They’re just all hoping it’s the next guy who has to put up with the domestic situation, not them.  It’s purely opportunistic.

2.) Countries that have had a history of secret police and neighbors spying on neighbors in a manner that lead to mass murders and ruined careers tend to have a negative reaction to their allies spying on them for unknown purposes.  It’s just freaks them out in a way that Americans cannot fathom (yet).  Think twice (or thrice) about doing it.

From the NYTimes article on the expulsion of US spies from Germany, we get this nugget and advice from Angela Merkel:

As is usual with intelligence matters, the United States Embassy had no comment on the expulsion request. But in a statement, the embassy also said it was essential to maintain close cooperation with the German government “in all areas.”

“Our security relationship with Germany remains very important,” the embassy statement said. “It keeps Germans and Americans safe.”

Ms. Merkel, speaking two hours before the expulsion request was announced, said in response to reporters’ questions that spying on allies was “a waste of energy.”

“We have so many problems,” she said. “We should focus on important matters.”

Waste of energy indeed, not to mention money.  Money that could be used on mass transit and infrastructure improvements that the Republicans seem to think are unnecessary.  I guess it’s OK if New Jersey looks like Mississippi.  Mississippi might be what America looks like to Republicans and NJ is just being uppity.  How would they know the difference?  Come to think of it, I’m tempted to start a “…You might be a Republican” thing.  Like, If your friends would describe you as a greedy old prick, you might be a Republican.  Or If they would describe you as a grumpy old prude, you might be a Republican.

Wait, I’m getting off topic.

Yeah, don’t spy on your friends.  It’s unnecessary.

3.) With tensions and rockets flaring in Israel, be prepared for your local fundamentalist Christians to be almost ready to pee themselves with delight at the impending rapture.

4.) To the Republicans who are itchin’ to impeach the president– DO IT!  Yes, by all means, find something to nail on him.  Tie him up with congressional hearings.  But please, do it Blitzkrieg style, ok?  Don’t waste any time drawing the whole procedure out.  Wrap it up quickly.  Better yet, take Biden down first.  Then we can appoint Hillary to VP while you guys go for the jugular.  Then when Obama is forced out, Hillary can step up to the presidency.  It will save us a lot of money in 2016.  And it’s what everyone wants anyway.  You’d be doing us all a big favor.  Oh sure, we’ll have to put up with your nonsensical grandstanding and foaming at the mouth over a guy who is mostly ineffectual rather than criminal but when has reason ever curbed you and your destructive waste of legislative privilege?  Just do it and make it quick.

5.) When you’re planning your next kitchen renovation, do yourself a favor and pick the refrigerator first.  Make sure that the one you want will fit through your doorways and won’t bang into the expensive teak cabinets you just had to have above the refrigerator.  Because once those cabinets are up and you’ve spent thousands of dollars getting the look you want, you are going to have a hard time taking them down to accommodate the behemoth refrigerators that appliance makers are manufacturing these days.  If you have a small kitchen made smaller by those annoying cabinets that are only good for seasonal ice buckets and Rubbermaid containers, you should know that appliance makers don’t really make a lot of nice refrigerators in the small to medium category.  Yes, they are still living in 2008.  Adapt accordingly.

 

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The Desolations of Smaugs

Gotta make this quick so I can bop down to the farmers’ market in East Liberty.

Here are two posts that belong together.  The first is about the crazy amount of money that the wealthy are just sitting on and not investing.  In The World’s Richest People are Sitting on Gigantic Piles of Cash that aren’t Earning them Anything, we get confirmation of what we have suspected for some time, that is, rich people are hoarding money.  But the reason they are hoarding makes no damn sense.  Apparently, the wealthy are waiting for a market correction before they dive back in to investing and since that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon, they’re going to sit on the cash.  Now, I can understand that feeling if you’re a poor schlub like me, hoarding the miserable little bit of IRA you have left after several years of employment insecurity.  It makes less sense if you’re a plutocrat with more money than god.

Hmmm, maybe we should be wondering why the wealthy think there is going to be a pullback.

The second is about the consequences of hoarding all that money.  When the shareholders demand more money and less investment, companies tend to shutter their facilities.  Recently, Hoffman-LaRoche in Nutley, NJ closed it’s doors and is preparing to dismantle the site.  When I was a young chemist a long, long time ago, I visited the Nutley campus.  Like many research facilities, it was more like a small town with a gatehouse and a shuttle that delivered the visitor to her destination.  Now that Roche has decided to stop doing research in the US because shareholder value (and Americans are notoriously easy to lay off since they have virtually no labor protections whatsoever), the Nutley facility is about to undergo a radical transformation.  If it is anything like my facility where the rent the company was demanding from small startups was prohibitively high, they probably won’t get many takers.

In other words, if some of the scientists they laid off decided to get together and try to operate one of the buildings as a small incubator, they wouldn’t be able to afford it.  And these days, vulture capitalists want a lot of the research done up front so they don’t actually have to risk any money at all.  That makes research on small scale even more difficult to finance.  Rent, reagents and researchers are expensive.  So, if Roche can’t get any takers to rent its empty labs, it may go the route of some of the other companies in similar circumstances and demolish perfectly serviceable, and in some cases, brand new research buildings, rather than keep them on the books.

Lovely.

One final thing, Hillary Clinton gave an interview to Terry Gross, former Obama fangirl extraordinaire, the other day.  It got a little testy about half way through when Gross started pushing her on same-sex marriage.  Hillary talks primarily about her four years as SOS and seems to think that Edward Snowden had other options to spill the beans.  I’d have to differ with her there though.  Snowden had superuser privileges.  Anything he revealed while he was still in the US would trace right back to him very quickly.  You don’t give su privileges to many people, or at least I don’t think the NSA and its contractors would.  I could be wrong about that.  It seems a little sloppy to allow one person to download massive amounts of information and have no one notice.

Given the reaction of the Obama administration to leakers, I think Snowden did the only thing he could have done and I’m not unhappy that he did it.  I meet people everyday who are pretty non-political who are keenly aware of what Snowden revealed and they are not happy to know that the government has so much information on them.  Until Snowden, the conversation about spying on Americans was tepid at best.  Hillary should know by now that timing is everything.  Snowden forced door open and let the sunshine in a lot more quickly than some politicians might have found convenient but he sure did get their attention, didn’t he?  No putting the genie back in the bottle now or slowing that genie down now.

Ok, enough with the foreign policy stuff.  What about domestic issues?  I want to hear about that now.  No time like the present.  Let’s not put it off any longer.

 

More Obama Privacy Creepiness

Hooliganism moves online at The Cave in Chicago, sucking up your private information and harassing your friends

There’s nothing surprising (at least to Clintonistas) that the Obama campaign has been using peer pressure and psychological manipulation to herd Democrats.  But in light of Snowden’s revelations about the extent to the NSA’s reach into our private lives, the Obama campaign’s tactics are deeply disturbing.  If you got an email from a suspicious sender asking you to surrender your address book and a lot of private information so he can harass your friends, you’d quickly change all your passwords and turn on two-step verification.  But when it’s some 20 something Obama fan boy in a cave in Chicago doing it, we’re supposed to trust them?

I don’t think so.  

Anyway, listen to the Terry Gross  interview with Jonathan Alter and think to yourself how different this sounds now than it would have a month ago.  Who believes that the information gathering, retention and mining stopped after the election?  I have bridge in Brooklyn…

Who or what is Snowden?

The leaker identifies himself.  Or does he?

Maybe he’s a metaphor for virtue or humanity made mortal by conscienceless militaristic flak and ultimately destroyed by Milo Minderbinder’s greedy capitalism.

Then again, his hideout scenario sounds eerily familiar.  It sounds like what the protagonist did in Ready Player One.

The authors say he showed them his SSN and other identification.  Hmmm, did he start off life as Snowden before he was at the CIA or did he merely adopt that persona for security clearance, because that would be bloody clever.  Betcha he’s not in Hong Kong or Iceland.

Whoever or whatever Snowden is, stay safe.

I wuz bugged

Security Expert: All Occupiers Phones were logged.

In light of news that every day the entirety of telecom giant Verizon’s call system records are handed over to the NSA, news that Occupy Wall Street protest attendees’ cellphones were logged should hardly come as a shock. It nonetheless bears noting that cellphone metadata of march and rally participants was likely specifically logged, as security expert Steven Ramdam recently noted. This means that individuals were directly targeted for their engagement with First Amendment-protected activity.

So, let me see if I have this right.  As a result of my coverage of Occupy events in New York City where I went to observe and cover the protests and marches for this blog and exercise my First Amendment Rights, my cell phone was put on a surveillance regime.  Not only that but the phone usually ends up in bed with me at night while I listen to various podcasts and books so I have been literally sleeping with the enemy and depending on what technology they’ve been using, they have been able to record everything that I did or didn’t do there.  Everything that happened in my house has probably been recorded for posterity and stored on a cloud server at the NSA.  I should probably warn the new owners of my old house…

Lovely.

Now, I can imagine a bunch of stupid whip kissers out there thinking that anyone who went to an Occupy event deserved this because nothing bad happens to you if you are obedient and pious.  But I’d like to know if 2nd Amendment assholes who threaten to shoot the shit out of anyone who threatens to take away their guns are similarly targeted and if not, why not.

Someone has some explaining to do, preferably in front of a Congressional committee.

Lest we forget who we are talking about, this picture was taken at the peak of the Occupation of Zuccotti Park in October 2011.  These are the people who were bugged.  We’re not talking about lice infested anarchists.  We’re talking about ordinary Americans who went to the park on a nice October day to check things out and talk to other like minded people about economics.  For this, we’re not entitled to privacy.  It just goes to show how powerful Occupy was to the ruling elite and their politicians.  More than ever, I’m glad I went.  I rocked the boat just by showing up.  How many Americans can say that they were considered dangerous enough to be bugged simply because they were there?  The rest of you can hold your manhoods cheap.

Come to think of it, that means Paul Krugman and his wife were probably bugged too but in their case, they’ve always been rabble rousers and trouble makers.