Tuesday Reads: Delusional Republicans, Complicit Media, and Lots More

off-to-see-the-wizard

Good Morning!!

Yesterday the House Republicans made a so-called “counteroffer” to President Obama’s initial proposal for avoiding the fiscal cliff that basically consists of the Romney/Ryan plan that voters already rejected. The plan called for cutting Medicare by raising the eligibility age to 67, cutting Social Security by change the COLA, and supposedly “raising revenues” without raising rates on the rich–with specifics to be determined next year.

The White House rejected the offer immediately as basically a joke and will not be making a counteroffer, according to CNN’s Jessica Yellin.

Senior administration officials said the offer House Speaker John Boehner submitted to the White House on Monday wasn’t serious enough to merit a counter-proposal from the administration. So the president’s team plans to wait for the GOP to come around on the idea of raising tax rates or let the nation go over the fiscal cliff.

In a statement Monday White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer blasted the Republican plan, arguing it “does not meet the test of balance. In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy and sticks the middle class with the bill.”

Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Republicans have gone over the rainbow and have lost touch with reality. They simply can’t accept that they lost the election, and they just aren’t in “Kansas” anymore.

The talk in DC is that the Republicans have talked about a “doomsday plan,” actually another tantrum in which they metaphorically throw themselves down on the House floor screaming and kicking until they get their way. According to ABC News’ Jonathan Karl:

Republicans are seriously considering a Doomsday Plan if fiscal cliff talks collapse entirely. It’s quite simple: House Republicans would allow a vote on extending the Bush middle class tax cuts (the bill passed in August by the Senate) and offer the President nothing more: no extension of the debt ceiling, nothing on unemployment, nothing on closing loopholes. Congress would recess for the holidays and the president would face a big battle early in the year over the debt ceiling.

Two senior Republican elected officials tell me this doomsday plan is becoming the most likely scenario. A top GOP House leadership aide confirms the plan is under consideration, but says Speaker Boehner has made no decision on whether to pursue it.

Under one variation of this Doomsday Plan, House Republicans would allow a vote on extending only the middle class tax cuts and Republicans, to express disapproval at the failure to extend all tax cuts, would vote “present” on the bill, allowing it to pass entirely on Democratic votes.

It’s a mystery what Republicans think they would gain by doing this, so I guess the childish temper tantrum metaphor continues to fit.

What bothers me even more than the Republicans’ nonsensical refusal to accept reality is that the media has apparently decided to go over the rainbow too and pretend that the childish tantrums make some kind of sense. During the presidential campaign, I got the feeling that corporate “journalists” were beginning to face up to reality when they began actually admitting that Mitt Romney’s was telling bald-faced lies with regularity. But no–they’re returned to the default position of pretending that “both sides do it.” A few days ago, Michael Grunwald wrote a great piece about this at Time’s Swampland blog: Fiscal Cliff Fictions: Let’s All Agree to Pretend the GOP Isn’t Full of It.

It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully passing along Republican complaints that President Obama’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff talks is just a recycled version of his old plan, when those same reporters spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan. It’s even more amazing to see them pass along Republican outrage that Obama isn’t cutting Medicare enough, in the same matter-of-fact tone they used during the campaign to pass along Republican outrage that Obama was cutting Medicare.

This isn’t just cognitive dissonance. It’s irresponsible reporting. Mainstream media outlets don’t want to look partisan, so they ignore the BS hidden in plain sight, the hypocrisy and dishonesty that defines the modern Republican Party. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans insisted that anyone who said they wanted to cut Medicare was a demagogue, because I’m more than three weeks old.

I’ve written a lot about the GOP’s defiance of reality–its denial of climate science, its simultaneous denunciations of Medicare cuts and government health care, its insistence that debt-exploding tax cuts will somehow reduce the debt—so I often get accused of partisanship. But it’s simply a fact that Republicans controlled Washington during the fiscally irresponsible era when President Clinton’s budget surpluses were transformed into the trillion-dollar deficit that President Bush bequeathed to President Obama. (The deficit is now shrinking.) It’s simply a fact that the fiscal cliff was created in response to GOP threats to force the U.S. government to default on its obligations. The press can’t figure out how to weave those facts into the current narrative without sounding like it’s taking sides, so it simply pretends that yesterday never happened.

Dakinikat has written about this repeatedly, of course, but it’s nice to see it in the corporate media for a change.

Speaking of media madness, I don’t watch CNN much anymore but it seems like any time I click by the channel one of two people is on the air–Wolf Blitzer or Erin Burnett. Do they even have any other reporters working there in the afternoon an evening?

What’s the deal with having Erin Burnett covering serious news stories, even foreign policy stories? Burnett’s background is as co-anchor of a show on CNBC as an adviser to Donald Trump on Celebrity Apprentice! She recently “interviewed” Julian Assange and failed to ask him even one significant question.

Unfortunately, I don’t get Current TV, but apparently Cenk Uygur has been criticizing Burnett relentlessly for the past couple of years. Most recently, he accused her of ‘Guarding The Fortress’ By Abetting Gutting Of Medicare. From Mediaite:

“Erin Burnett is someone that represents the rich, powerful, the establishment, in my opinion,” Cenk said, “and you can see it in her CNN reports all the time.”

Cenk set up a clip from Burnett’s show, in which Rep. [Peter] DeFazio explains how deficit reduction can be achieved without gutting Medicare benefits. “Listen to her be incredibly incredulous about this,” he said, before playing a few snippets from OutFront.

“(President Obama) has said ‘Yes, I support raising the age on Medicare from 65 to 67,” Burnett says. “Simpson-Bowles talked about raising the age. Most people do, and say that’s really going to be the only way to get out of this. You really think we don’t have to make real changes, or is that just, I understand your constituents don’t want you to say anything…”

The implication is that DeFazio is opposing the change on nakedly political grounds, and not the merits of the policy.

“That doesn’t deal with the cost of prescription drugs,” Rep. Defazio replied, “and with overpriced and unnecessary medical care.”

“Fair,” Burnett interjects, as the clip cuts ahead to Burnett saying “Interesting point, but I still find it a little bit hard to believe. when you say we don’t have to make substantive change to a program that’s going to consume all of our federal spending if we keep going the way we’re going, we do need to make substantial changes. It’s going to hurt.”

See what I mean? As Dakinkat has said, CNN is trying to compete with Fox News, though not very successfully. But why are they doing it when their ratings keep falling? And why don’t they hire some real reporters?

Have you heard that former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has begun blogging at right wing conspiracy site World Net Daily? According to Raw Story, Santorum’s first post is about a supposed UN conspiracy involving Harry Reid.

In keeping with the WND tradition of promoting various fringe conspiracies, Santorum’s debut column claimed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has an objective of “ceding our sovereignty to the United Nations.”

Santorum warned that a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities treaty adopted in 2006 “has much darker and more troubling implications” than to simply improve the treatment of disabled people in other countries.

The staunchly anti-abortion Republican worried that the treaty would “put the government, acting under U.N. authority, in the position to determine for all children with disabilities what is best for them.”

And taking that thought to its absurd conclusion, Santorum suggested that the U.N. treaty would have meant the death of his daughter, who has a rare genetic disorder.

Sigh…

In more serious news, a very sad story this morning: David Oliver Relin, co-author of the book Three Cups of Tea, has committed suicide. Last year I wrote about a 60 Minutes report on the other co-author Greg Mortenson’s fabricated stories in the book. Relin was very disturbed by the revelations and had become deeply depressed, according to the NYT.

David Oliver Relin, a journalist and adventurer who achieved acclaim as co-author of the best seller “Three Cups of Tea” (2006) and then suffered emotionally and financially as basic facts in the book were called into question, died Nov. 15 in Multnomah County, Ore. He was 49.

His family said Mr. Relin “suffered from depression” and took his own life. The family, speaking through Mr. Relin’s agent, Jin Auh, was unwilling to give further details, but said a police statement would be released this week.

In the 1990s, Mr. Relin established himself as a journalist with an interest in telling “humanitarian” stories about people in need in articles about child soldiers and about his travels in Vietnam.

“He felt his causes passionately,” said Lee Kravitz, the former editor of Parade who hired Mr. Relin at various magazines over the years. “He especially cared about young people. I always assigned him to stories that would inspire people to take action to improve their lives.”

Relin obviously had no idea that his co-author Greg Mortenson was a fabulist.

And another sad story from the Times: Homeless Man Is Grateful for Officer’s Gift of Boots. But He Again Is Barefoot. You probably heard about the police officer who recently took pity on a homeless man whose feet were freezing and bought him a pair of $100 boots. Unfortunately the boots put the man’s life at risk.

After Officer Lawrence DePrimo knelt beside a barefoot man on a bitterly cold November night in Times Square, giving him a pair of boots, a photo of his random act of good will quickly took on a life of its own — becoming a symbol for a million acts of kindness that go unnoticed every day and a reminder that even in this tough, often anonymous city, people can still look out for one another.

Officer DePrimo was celebrated on front pages and morning talk shows, the Police Department came away with a burnished image and millions got a smile from a nice story.

But the unnamed homeless man was living in another, more painful reality.

His name is Jeffrey Hillman, and on Sunday night, he was once again wandering the streets — this time on the Upper West Side — with no shoes.

The $100 pair of boots that Officer DePrimo had bought for him at a Skechers store on Nov. 14 were nowhere to be seen.

“Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money,” Mr. Hillman said in an interview on Broadway in the 70s. “I could lose my life.”

Meanwhile, years of Republican rule in New York City have led to skyrocketing homelessness in the city. From Alternet: How One GOP Plutocrat Helped Make 20,000 Kids Homeless

There are 20,000 kids sleeping in homeless shelters in New York City, according to the city’s latest estimate, a number that does not include homeless kids who are not sleeping in shelters because their families have been turned away. Up to 65 percent of families who apply for shelter don’t get in , and their options can be grim.

“Some end up sleeping in subway trains,” Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst at Coalition for the Homeless, tells AlterNet. “Some go to hospital emergency rooms or laundromats. Women are going back to their batterers or staying in unsafe apartments.”

Families that make it into shelters are taking longer to leave and move into stable, permanent housing. Asked by reporters why families were staying 30% longer than even last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “… it is a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before.”

Man, that’s cold. Bloomberg could probably help all those homeless kids with money out of his own pocket and not even notice it, but instead he has banned gifts of food to the homeless even after Hurricane Sandy!

The edict, issued last March by Mayor Bloomberg, is part of a larger move by the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) that dictates serving sizes and other nutritional requirements. These include limits on calorie contents, minimum fiber amounts and condiment recomendations [sic]….

Mayor Bloomberg’s clampdown on food donations can be seen as a greater restriction on New Yorker’s freedom to eat or drink what they want. He banned the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces last September, baby formula to new mothers in local hospitals last July, smoking in parks and open spaces in May 2011, implemented a plan in January 2010 to cut the amount of salt in packaged and restaurant food, forced fast food restaurants to post calorie content in October 2007, and forbid restaurants from using trans fats in cooking oils in 2006.

Real human beings are cold and hungry, and Bloomberg is worried about calorie control and nutritional requirements!

Uh-oh. This post has gotten way too long and I’m way to late in putting it up, so I’ll end on this down note. I hope you’ll have some more upbeat stories to share in the comments.


Michael Bloomberg Suggests Elizabeth Warren is a Socialist, Will Bring Back USSR

Michael Bloomberg’s worst nightmare

WTF?! NYC Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg gave an interview to The New York Times on Friday in which he criticized both President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Today, the Caucus blog reports that Bloomberg also had a few choice words for Elizabeth Warren, who is running to unseat Bloomberg’s chosen candidate Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. Check this out:

“What I’ve tried to do is find liberal middle-of-the-road Republicans and Democrats. In the Senate, Scott Brown, who single-handedly stopped the right-to-carry bill. You can question whether he’s too conservative. You can question, in my mind, whether she’s God’s gift to regulation, close the banks and get rid of corporate profits, and we’d all bring socialism back, or the U.S.S.R.

Really? I’d say Bloomberg’s policies are a lot more reminiscent of the Soviet Union than Warren’s, e.g. stop and frisk and his violent crackdown on Occupy Wall Street.

Bloomberg claims he supports Scott Brown because Brown is for gun control.

“The biggest reason the mayor is supporting Senator Brown is the senator’s help on one of our biggest gun issues: opposing concealed-carry reciprocity that would let people with gun permits from rural states like Arkansas and Kentucky carry hidden handguns in New York City,” Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser told the New York Times.

But Scott Brown has an “A” rating with the National Rifle Association, supports concealed carry laws, and opposes bringing back the assault rifle ban. Elizabeth Warren supports most gun control policies and wants to renew the assault weapons ban. I think we all know why Bloomberg supports Senator Brown (R-Wall Street), don’t we.

This is an open thread.


Saturday Reads: Mitt the Twit, The Churchill Bust, And Much More

President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House, July 20, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Good Morning!

Mitt Romney’s gaffetastic journey began before he even arrived in London when the Telegraph published this now-infamous article based on interviews with some Romney “advisers” who indicated that Mitt would Mitt would “restore ‘Anglo-Saxon’ relations between Britain and America.” The advisers also said that Romney would

seek to reinstate the Churchill bust displayed in the Oval Office by George W. Bush but returned to British diplomats by Mr Obama when he took office in 2009. One said Mr Romney viewed the move as “symbolically important” while the other said it was “just for starters”, adding: “He is naturally more Atlanticist”.

Romney claims he “does not know who these advisers are,” but he apparently agrees with them about the Churchill bust because last night

he told a group of more than 200 supporters in [a] hotel in the heart of London…[that] he is “looking forward” to returning the bust of Winston Churchill to the White House after it was sent back to Great Britain by President Obama.

Mitt the Twit told these supporters [actually wealthy banksters involved in the LIBOR scandal] that he was deeply impressed by the statue of Churchill in London.

The GOP candidate, who suffered a brutal day of press after he suggested that he wasn’t sure the London Olympics would go off without a hitch, spoke highly of the British monuments — singling out the Churchill statue — that he said he got a firsthand look at while stuck in traffic — likely caused by the Olympic Games.

“You live here, you see the sites day in and day out, but for me as I drive past the sculpture of Winston Churchill and see that great sculpture next to Westminster Abbey and Parliament and with him larger than life, enormous heft of that sculpture suggesting the scale of the the grandeur and the greatness of the man, it tugs at the heart strings to remember the kind fo [sic] example that was led by Winston Churchill,” said Romney, speaking in a ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on the edge of Hyde Park.

Boy, he really laid it on thick, didn’t he? But Mitt the Twit was misinformed, as were the “advisers” that he says he doesn’t know. It turns out that the Churchill bust never left the White House! The White House put up a “fact check” post to clear up the misinformation, although they studiously avoided mentioning Romney.

Lately, there’s been a rumor swirling around about the current location of the bust of Winston Churchill. Some have claimed that President Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy.

Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column. He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”

This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.

So where did that story about a bust being removed from the Oval Office come from?

The White House has had a bust of Winston Churchill since the 1960’s. At the start of the Bush administration Prime Minister Blair lent President Bush a bust that matched the one in the White House, which was being worked on at the time and was later returned to the residence. The version lent by Prime Minister Blair was displayed by President Bush until the end of his Presidency. On January 20, 2009 — Inauguration Day — all of the art lent specifically for President Bush’s Oval Office was removed by the curator’s office, as is common practice at the end of every presidency. The original Churchill bust remained on display in the residence. The idea put forward by Charles Krauthammer and others that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day.

I’m sure this won’t stop Nowhere Man from claiming otherwise, since he appears to delight in lying about just about everything.

Here’s a brief video of some of the reactions to Romney in the London tabloids

I won’t bore you with many more tales of Romney’s European vacation, but I really liked this piece in the Guardian by Jonathan Freedland: Britain is an easy date. So how did Mitt Romney mess up so badly?

For an American politician, Britain is an easy date: just praise the country as a steadfast ally, mention Churchill a couple of times and we’ll roll over. Yet somehow Romney managed to provoke both the prime minister and the capital’s mayor – both fellow conservatives who should regard a Republican nominee as a kindred spirit – into public rebukes. That takes some doing. So what explains how an accomplished politician, with the resilience to have prevailed in a bruising primary campaign, could mess up so badly? The answer says a lot about Romney – and a fair bit about the dire state of today’s Republican party.

In the first category comes the observation that, despite having sought the presidency twice and served as a state governor, Romney is not really a politician at all – not in the Bill Clinton sense of someone who thinks, talks and breathes politically, constantly calculating the likely impact of both words and deeds. Instead Romney speaks and acts like the chief executive he was for so long, whether of private equity firm Bain Capital or the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics of 2002.

As we’ve learned in recent weeks, thanks to the likes of Barclays’ Bob Diamond or G4S’s Nick Buckles, corporate titans, so used to the nodding appreciation of yes men, can lack elementary tact and diplomacy, failing to weigh their words for tone, timing and likely reception. Technically, nothing in what Romney said about London 2012 was especially contentious – if, that is, he were merely the former CEO of the 2002 Games speaking privately to Coe a month ago. But for a man who seeks to be the lead partner in the US-UK alliance, speaking on the day before the Olympic flame was lit, it was a diplomatic disaster.

It’s surely CEO thinking too which has led Romney to refuse to release all his past tax returns, even though President Obama has published his in full. CEOs recoil from such personal transparency, while politicians know they will have to succumb eventually and so had better get it over with. Above all, their exorbitant pay means the elite chief executive class is habitually and unavoidably out of touch with everyone else. It is the Romney of the 1% who could smilingly tell an audience in hard-pressed Detroit that his wife has “a couple of Cadillacs”, beaming again today as his wife referred to the “horses”, plural, she owns (including one competing in the Olympic dressage event, providing a picture-perfect image of elitism for his opponents to feast on).

I thought that was a very insightful assessment.

In other news, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota “being evaluated for depression, ‘gastrointestinal issues'”

This one is for Pat: Katherine Jackson Returns Home, Paris Jackson Tweets About It.

I’m not sure I understand everything that happened, but Katherine Jackson says she needed a rest and so she went to Arizona, getting rid of her cell phone so she wouldn’t be bothered. But there’s something else going on:

While Michael’s will gave Katherine custody of his children and a 20 percent stake in his massive estate, her husband, Joe Jackson, and the eight surviving Jackson siblings were completely cut out. Some of the siblings have reportedly been exploring a move to have the will invalidated by arguing that Michael was in New York on the day that the document was notarized in Los Angeles.

In a video that surfaced earlier this week, Janet Jackson is seen trying to take a cell phone away from Paris, 14, and berating her niece for using her phone to tweet about family business. That video leaked after Janet, Jermaine and Randy Jackson reportedly attempted to persuade Paris and Prince, 15, to leave Katherine’s home on Monday. Both resisted and a short time later, sheriff’s deputies arrived to break up a scuffle between Randy, Jermaine Jackson and TJ.

MTV has more detail on the family fracas via TMZ:

Sources tell TMZ that Randy, Jermaine and Janet Jackson entered the home uninvited and then tried to coerce Michael’s children, Paris, Prince and Blanket, into coming with them to Arizona where their grandmother Katherine has been staying.

Sources say that Paris resisted the intervention and apparently things got violent. Allegedly, Janet slapped Paris and yelled, “You’re a spoiled little bitch!” to which Paris responded with a slap and told Janet, “This is our house. Not the Jackson family house. Get the f–k out!”

TMZ shares that Trent Jackson (Joe Jackson’s nephew who deals with Katherine’s daily affairs) put Randy in a headlock and punched Jermaine in the mouth. Tito Jackson was reportedly trying to get temporary guardianship of Michael’s kids.

And I thought my family was dysfunctional!

There may be a breakthrough in the Eurozone crisis. Reuters:

Stocks rallied on Friday on expectations the European Central Bank will tackle high borrowing costs hitting Spain and Italy, but the euro pared gains on market uncertainty about the specific action to be taken.

The benchmark S&P 500 closed at its highest since early May, climbing further after Bloomberg News said ECB President Mario Draghi will meet with Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann to discuss several measures, including bond purchases, to help the euro zone.

The French and German governments said they are “determined to do everything to protect the euro zone” and its single currency. The joint statement echoed similar remarks by Draghi on Thursday, but in comments on Friday, Germany’s Bundesbank pushed back against Draghi’s pledge.

Tim Geithner will also meet with Schaeuble and Draghi next week in Germany.

The meeting with Schaeuble will take place on the German island of Sylt in the afternoon of July 30, and the session with Draghi will be held that evening in Frankfurt, the Treasury Department said in a statement today.

The Treasury said the meetings will be closed to the press, with a photo opportunity before the Schaeuble meeting. A Treasury official with knowledge of the matter said that Geithner and Schaeuble won’t hold a news conference after the meeting.

The Guardian has a live blog with updates on the ongoing crisis.

Bobby Knight hit the Google top stories list last night, because Neil Reed, the former IU basketball player who was choked by Knight during practice, has died at age 36.

In March 2000, Reed accused Knight of choking him during a practice in 1997. When video of the practice surfaced backing Reed’s claim, Knight, a Hall of Fame coach who was known for his angry outbursts as well as his success, was put on zero-tolerance notice by Dr. Myles Brand, then the university president. That September, Knight was fired after a student said he had grabbed his arm.

Reed transferred to Southern Mississippi shortly after the choking incident and played there in the 1998-99 season.

He is survived by his wife, Kelly, and two daughters.

So sad that he was known for that horrible incident and then died so young. When I first saw Knight’s name on the list, I thought maybe he had died.

Finally, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to hold a fundraiser for Scott Brown in August. Get this:

A spokesman for Bloomberg, Stu Loeser, says the mayor’s top reason for supporting Brown is the senator’s opposition to a proposal backed by the National Rifle Association that would allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines.

Loeser said Warren’s tough stance on Wall Street regulation was not the basis for the endorsement.

Hahahahahaha!! Somehow I doubt that Warren is a big NRA supporter….

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Lend/Lease….Burning Braziers…and Mitt Romney

Good Evening

Mitt Romney met with some of Britain’s important politicians and leaders today…below you will find a video clip of his meeting with Tony Blair, former PM of Great Britain.

Ha, that was my attempt at a joke, it is a scene from It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World  .

Here is the dialogue from the scene:

J. Russell Finch: You want me to tell you something? As far as I’m concerned the whole British race is practically finished. If it hadn’t been for lend-lease. If we hadn’t have kept your whole country afloat by giving you billions that you never even said “Thank you” for, the whole phony outfit would be sunk right under the Atlantic years ago.
[Hawthorne screeches to a stop]
J. Russell Finch: What are you stopping for?
J. Algernon Hawthorne: Get out of this machine.
J. Russell Finch: Get out? You can’t…
J. Algernon Hawthorne: It’s my machine, I will do as I bloody well please. Out!
J. Russell Finch: I’m awfully sorry. I’ve been very edgy today and if I said anything about England, I apologize.
J. Algernon Hawthorne: Glad to hear you say so.

J. Algernon Hawthorne: I must say that if I had the grievous misfortune to be a citizen of this benighted country, I should be the most hesitant of offering any criticism whatever of any other.
J. Russell Finch: Wait a minute, are you knocking this country? Are you saying something against America?
J. Algernon Hawthorne: Against it? I should be positively astounded to hear anything that could be said FOR it. Why the whole bloody place is the most unspeakable matriarchy in the whole history of civilization! Look at yourself! The way your wife and her strumpet of a mother push you through the hoop! As far as I can see, American men have been totally emasculated- they’re like slaves! They die like flies from coronary thrombosis while their women sit under hairdryers eating chocolates & arranging for every 2nd Tuesday to be some sort of Mother’s Day! And this positively infantile preoccupation with bosoms. In all time in this wretched Godforsaken country, the one thing that has appalled me most of all this this prepostrous preoccupation with bosoms. Don’t you realize they have become the dominant theme in American culture: in literature, advertising and all fields of entertainment and everything. I’ll wager you anything you like that if American women stopped wearing brassieres, your whole national economy would collapse overnight.

No…but seriously, that scene up top is the way I would imagine that meeting would go.  I am going to stick with Romney for a bit more.  There is a new “flub” making the rounds, Romney calling Britain a Tiny Island…Mitt Romney Dismissed England As “Just A Small Island”

“England [sic] is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn’t been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler’s ambitions. Yet only two lifetimes ago, Britain ruled the largest and wealthiest empire in the history of humankind. Britain controlled a quarter of the earth’s land and a quarter of the earth’s population.”

What a minute…that part about Britain being lost to Hitler is sort of like what Milton Berle said up top.

And then there is this: Mitt Romney Issued Comically Bizarre Cartoon-Mitt-Romney Olympic Pins

Via: google.com

H/T to Boston Boomer via PDGray for those two links to Buzzfeed.

Romney is in London, personally insulting the Brits left and right...watch as Romney causes a stir in Britain

“It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out,” Romney told NBC News, and he called the late-developing concerns over security staffing “disconcerting”.

Romney, a former businessman and one-term governor who managed the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, is largely untested on the world’s political stage, and he hopes to assert himself in a tight and highly expensive presidential race with foreign visits that also include Israel and Poland.

He ended up putting British Prime Minister David Cameron at least briefly on the defensive.

In response to Romney’s remarks, Cameron said: “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”

Why doesn’t Romney just kick him in the balls, and tell Cameron he has ugly children…Hmmm, he is on his way to Poland next, wonder what sort of insults he will let fly there. Like BB says,

How much do you want to bet Romney will ask Lech Walesa how many poles it takes to screw in a lightbulb?

Meanwhile…his campaign is getting some criticism about how they are handling Obama’s recent speech about people getting help to start a business. Have you seen Romney’s answer to his campaign’s  Obama misquote about small businesses? Two local businessowners tapped by Romney to speak out on Obama have bios that contradict message

Two local business owners the Mitt Romney campaign tapped on Wednesday to speak out against President Barack Obamaand government interference couldn’t have been more contradictory choices to speak out on the topic.

The point of the 11 a.m. news conference was to stress that small business owners succeed because of their own grit and determination and don’t need government to do it. It’s part of a Romney campaign line of attack that’s trying to capitalize on comments Obama made in July 13 speech. Obama was talking about how even the most successful business owners didn’t do it completely alone, that they were helped by others, including those in government.

The Romney campaign is using a snippet of the speech to suggest that Obama is instead saying that government is solely responsible for the success of private business owners. That’s not so. Obama isn’t anywhere close to saying that. But in TV ads, that’s the point Romney is making.

And it appears to be working. The line of attack spread Wednesday to 24 events in swing states across the country, from Columbus, Oh., to Palm Beach and Raleigh, N.C. In Tampa, the campaign spotlighted Rebecca Smith, owner of the construction company A.D. Morgan Corp., and Lou Ramos, owner of Value Enterprise Solutions, an information technology company.

“None at all,” Ramos said, when asked what role government have fed into their success.

“I was asked the other day on whether I feel if government doesn’t support small business,” Smith said. “And I think the answer is resounding. Not only does (Obama) seem not to understand business, and he doesn’t seem to want to accord the business leadership with the credit of making the choice to lead and risk in starting a business, I would go one step further and say that our president seems to oppose the success of small business.”

One problem with having Ramos and Smith, both registered Republicans, as speakers on this topic: they both said they didn’t see the entire Obama speech that they find so personally insulting. Ramos said he later read the complete trancript, but couldn’t remember from where he got it. Smith acknowledged she saw only news reports of the speech, either on NBC or Fox News.

Are you ready for the second problem?

But the other, more puzzling problem the two have for this particular Romney message is that rather than wanting to get out of the way of big government, Smith and Ramos have embraced it and benefitted from it greatly.

Read the rest at the link above.

All these strange things coming from the Romney camp. What do you expect from someone who has, what Andrew Sullivan calls : The Persistent Oddness Of Mitt Romney

…something else he said in his “insult to England” interview:

I have to tell you. This is Ann’s sport. I’m not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event. I hope her horse does well.

WTF? If your spouse’s horse were in an Olympic contest, would you not even watch? This is either a fib, designed to insulate him from whatever minimal fallout there is from owning a dressage horse; or it’s true and he’s just unlike other human beings. I mean, Obama makes sure he sees his daughters’ high school sports games. But Romney won’t even watch his wife’s horse at the Olympics?

Wow, I think this remark is not a way to distance himself from the rich “sport.”  I believe the man does not give a shit…because it is not his horse, it is his wife’s horse. If something deals with a subject other than Mitt Romney, he does not have the compassion to be even slightly involved or interested with it.

I have plenty of links for you tonight, so let’s get on with it.

One of the latest Obama ad: ‘It’s a scary time to be a woman’ – No Shit! 

But as Susie Madrak points out, the Republicans will only “care” about women when it benefits their agenda : Gee, the GOP suddenly cares about women’s health

Glenn Greenwald hits on the Chick-fi-la “gay” problem: Rahm Emanuel’s dangerous free speech attack

And another asshole’s twitter is getting him in trouble…James Taranto: A-Hole!

I figured after a little time off I wouldn’t get so sick reading and writing about the twisted minds of the conservative/TeaCrack Party, but I was wrong. Twitter has really fueled their lunatic scribblings. Check this out.

John Cole:

James Taranto, the WSJ rightwing nutjob whose job is the Best of the Web feature, which invariably means reposting whatever Glenn Reynolds or the halfwits at NRO write every day:

assholeofthecentury.jpg

Credit: BalloonJuice

Nasty James Taranto tweet

He is, of course, referring to the reports that a number of men used their bodies to shield their loved ones during the Aurora massacre. Most of us thought of this as a noble and amazing sacrifice, but to the American Taliban, these may have been slutty slut sluts who use birth control (or even worse, vote for Democrats!) and make their own decisions, so whether or not they deserved to be saved is up to wingnut judgment.

I simply had to put that dickish tweet in this post…read the rest at the C&L link.

Of course,  Taranto is not the only ass making the Conservative Tea-Party scene…Nugent Doubles Down, Claims Aurora Shooter Could Have Done “More Damage” With Single Shot Rifle

And with all the talk of losing American Liberties, we have this commentary on Bloomberg and his soda ban.  In Bloomberg’s Healthy NYC, Still Afraid to Take (on) Sick Days

Connie posted this next link in the comments, but I think it is too cool not to be mentioned on the front page.

Dramatic Time-Lapse Videos Show Changes to Earth’s Surface Using 40 Years of Satellite Images

There are more videos at the link.

In other science news,  Ground-breaking windpipe-transplant child ‘doing well’

The first child to have pioneering surgery to rebuild his windpipe with his own stem cells is doing well and is back in school.

Ciaran Finn-Lynch, who is now 13, had the ground-breaking surgery at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2010.

Using Ciaran’s own cells meant his immune system would not reject, and attack, the organ.

His surgeons said things were going well so far and that Ciaran could live the life of a normal teenager.

All you anti-stem cell research GOP nuts…stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

And lastly, this…h/t to Lawyers, Guns and Money.  ‘Secundus Defecated Here’: What Ancient Graffiti Means Today

Easily the best thing I’ve seen on the internet in a while I found late last week while cruising around Tumblr. It was a link to Pompeiana.org, a website from some classics scholars interested in educating the public on Pompeii, which was destroyed in the first century by Mount Vesuvius. The whole site is interesting, if not a little dated aesthetically, but what I found most intriguing was the graffiti page.

Indeed, in an effort to more deeply understand Pompeii, researchers have delved not only into the city’s architecture and frescoes, but also all the graffiti to be found throughout its ancient walls. But before you go assuming the ancient Pompeiians vandalized with only the most brilliant bons mots—“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” everywhere, perhaps—I suggest reading exactly what the excavators have dug up. Here, a list of some of my favorites:

  • Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men’s behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity!
  • Restituta, take off your tunic, please, and show us your hairy privates.
  • I screwed the barmaid.
  • Apollinaris, the doctor of the emperor Titus, defecated well here.
  • I screwed a lot of girls here.
  • Sollemnes, you screw well!

If you’d like to read all the graffiti (and I recommend you do), you can do so here. But you needn’t read it all to see one thing very clearly: Despite whatever beliefs you may have about the dignity of the Roman Empire, a whole host of Romans, it seems, were foul-mouthed, hyper-sexual, and frequently prone to sophomoric humor. The Pompeiians were a smart people, of course, and they built a beautiful city well ahead of its time. But it turns out that they were also kind of juvenile. Go figure.

I love it!

Personally, I think the insults are the best:

VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1816: Epaphra, you are bald!

VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1826: Phileros is a eunuch!

VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1820: Chie, I hope your hemorrhoids rub together so much that they hurt worse than when they every have before!

Surprised there is no quote that says, “I fart in your general direction.”

Well, that is it for tonight’s evening reads. What is going on in your world tonight?


“Krugman’s Army” Open Thread

Photo from #OccupyWallStreet sent to Paul Krugman by a reader

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg was all over #Occupy Wall Street, claiming the protesters were trying to destroy the jobs of Wall Street Bankers and other denizens of Wall Street, and threatening that somehow the protests would cause NYC to be unable to pay municipal workers.

I guess one of his advisers must have told him it might not be a good idea to deny that people have a right to assemble in public and air their grievances, according to the U.S. Constitution, because now Bloomberg is singing another tune.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday that he’ll allow the Wall Street protesters to stay indefinitely, provided they abide by the law, marking his strongest statement to date on the city’s willingness to let demonstrators occupy a park in Lower Manhattan.

“The bottom line is – people want to express themselves. And as long as they obey the laws, we’ll allow them to,” said Bloomberg as he prepared to march in the Columbus Day Parade on Fifth Avenue. “If they break the laws, then, we’re going to do what we’re supposed to do: enforce the laws.”

Bloomberg said he has “no idea” how much longer the Wall Street demonstration will last. “I think part of it has probably to do with the weather,” he said.

I think someone needs to send the Mayor a copy of the Constitution with the first amendment highlighted. He still thinks he gets to decide if American citizens can gather and protest on public property.

I wonder what Bloomberg will say about what the protesters plan to do next? From the New York Daily News:

The Occupy Wall Street protesters are planning to get in the face of some of New York’s richest tycoons on Tuesday.

A “Millionaires March” will visit the homes – or, more realistically, the gleaming marble lobbies – of five of the city’s wealthiest residents.

On the target list: NewsCorp CEO Rupert Murdoch, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, conservative billionaire David Koch, financier Howard Milstein and hedge fund mogul John Paulson.

Between 400 and 800 marchers plan to go to their homes to present them with oversize checks to dramatize how much less they will pay when New York State’s 2% tax on millionaires expires at the end of the year.

This is starting to get interesting. I admit I find the call and response routine of the protesters kind of annoying, but that’s OK. We annoyed a lot of old folks when we protested the Vietnam War too. Annoying old folks is one of the responsibilities of the young.

Meanwhile, in Boston, police are warning the protesters to go home or else:

Boston police were warning the more than 1,000 Occupy Boston protesters tonight that if they do not leave the Rose Kennedy Greenway and Dewey Square areas that authorities would move them out.

Police were visible around the areas in small batches tonight, while protest organizers held a meeting on the Greenway, answering questions from the demonstrators.

Occupy Boston, in a statement last night, answered the police warning by issuing a call “for any and all people to join the occupation as soon as possible.”

“From the beginning, occupiers have worked tirelessly to maintain a positive working relationship with city officials. Today’s threats by the Boston Police Department represent a sudden shift away from that dialogue,” the statement said.

The mayor’s office, however, has said the city will make no effort to clear the original Dewey Square tent city tonight, but police have said that if protesters do not leave the Greenway, the authorities would clear both the Greenway and Dewey Square.

Hmmmm…sounds like Mayor Menino is out of sync with the cops. Very interesting. Minx says the Atlanta police are itching to crack some heads too. The cops just never understand that when they attack protesters they only draw more attention to them and their grievances.


Wealthy and Powerful Politicians are Terrified of #OccupyWallStreet

Mayor Bloomberg is really upset. In an interview with the Village Voice today, He claimed that #OccupyWallStreet is trying to destroy jobs for working people in New York City. Funny, I had the impression they were protesting because so many Americans don’t have jobs.

“Everyone’s got a thing they want to protest, some of which is not realistic,” Bloomberg said. “And if you focus for example on driving the banks out of New York City, you know those are our jobs … You can’t have it both ways: If you want jobs you have to assist companies and give them confidence to go and hire people.”

“The protests that are trying to destroy the jobs of working people in this city aren’t productive,” Bloomberg said in his weekly radio appearance with John Gambling. Taking a swipe at “some of the labor unions participating,” Bloomberg added that “their salaries come from – are paid by – some of the people they’re trying to vilify.”

I guess as far as Bloomberg is concerned, the bottom 99% don’t pay any taxes, and bankers are “working people.” That seems like a pretty skewed view of reality to me. But what do I know? I’m in the bottom 99%. And where did he get the idea that anyone is trying to drive the banks out of New York?

Bloomberg says the protests could affect tourism, but it seems to me that a lot of those protesters are from out of town and probably spending whatever money they have in NYC. But of course they aren’t wealthy or bankers, so they probably don’t count in Bloomberg’s world.

Bloomberg also issues a couple of not-very-subtle threats. He says “we’re not going to be able to pay our municipal employees,” presumably because all the bankers will leave town and there won’t be any tourists. I don’t get the logic there, but the threat to unions who have joined the protests is clear.

Finally, Bloomberg said that he’s letting the protesters “express themselves,” but he hinted that a crackdown could come at any time. I wonder if he realizes how much he sounds like Hosni Mubarak?

“The one thing I can tell you for sure,” he said…”is if anybody in the city breaks the law we will arrest them and turn them over the district attorneys.”

Hmmm…does that include bankers who broke the law? Or does the warning just apply to the bottom 99%?

And then there’s Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA). Today spoke at the “Values Voters Summit,” which, according to MSNBC, is

an annual gathering of the religious right…[that] provides Republican politicians and presidential candidates an opportunity to display their conservative bona fides.

In the speech, Cantor expressed his fear of the #OccupyWallStreet protesters:

House GOP Leader Eric Cantor decried the protests that started several weeks ago in New York, and have spread to major cities across the country. Cantor said in a speech at the Values Voters Summit in Washington that he is “increasingly concerned” about the “growing mobs” represented at the protests….

“Some in Washington have actually condoned the pitting of Americans against Americans,” Cantor said of the protests after accusing the Obama administration’s policies of being an “assault on many of our nation’s bedrock principles.”

Here’s a clip from the speech:

The hypocrisy almost takes your breath away, doesn’t it? Cantor speaks to a group of people who are segregated by their religion and political party and who as a group hate gays, women, and anyone who isn’t their kind of “Christian,” and he accuses the Occupy protesters–a very diverse group–of dividing Americans against each other.

Oh and Cantor loves the Tea Party, because they aren’t trying to divide Americans against each other. /snark

The good news is these two powerful politicians–and probably many others as well–are running scared. Let’s keep them that way!


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

The media is all worked up about how badly NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg handled the blizzard that hit the Northeast early this week. Can we please put aside all the talk about this man running for President? He’s really not that bright, judging by his stupidity in the face of a little winter weather. Bloomberg didn’t even have the brains to declare an emergency parking ban so plows could clear the streets! In Boston, parking bans are routinely declared in advance of a big storm.

From the NYT: Inaction and Delays by New York as Storm Bore Down

At 3:58 a.m. on Christmas Day, the National Weather Service upgraded its alert about the snow headed to New York City, issuing a winter storm watch. By 3:55 p.m., it had declared a formal blizzard warning, a rare degree of alarm. But city officials opted not to declare a snow emergency — a significant mobilization that would have, among other things, aided initial snow plowing efforts.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority entered the holiday weekend with modest concerns about the weather. On Friday, it issued its lowest-level warning to subway and bus workers. Indeed, it was not until late Sunday morning, hours after snow had begun to fall, that the agency went to a full alert, rushing to call in additional crew members and emergency workers. Over the next 48 hours, subways lost power on frozen tracks and hundreds of buses wound up stuck in snow-filled streets.

By 4 p.m. Sunday, several inches of snow had accumulated when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made a plea for help at his first news conference about the escalating storm: he asked people with heavy equipment and other kinds of towing machinery to call the city’s 311 line to register for work. A full day had gone by since the blizzard warning had been issued.

Yes, you read that correctly. Bloomberg called for help from private contractors DURING the blizzard! What a dope. You’d think New York had never experienced a snowstorm before.

Speaking of stupid, did you catch Floyd Abrams’ op-ed at the WSJ yesterday? Abrams presents his lame arguments against Wikileaks by discussing how the Wikileaks revelations differ from the Pentagon Papers.

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg decided to make available to the New York Times (and then to other newspapers) 43 volumes of the Pentagon Papers, the top- secret study prepared for the Department of Defense examining how and why the United States had become embroiled in the Vietnam conflict. But he made another critical decision as well. That was to keep confidential the remaining four volumes of the study describing the diplomatic efforts of the United States to resolve the war.

Not at all coincidentally, those were the volumes that the government most feared would be disclosed. In a secret brief filed with the Supreme Court, the U.S. government described the diplomatic volumes as including information about negotiations secretly conducted on its behalf by foreign nations including Canada, Poland, Italy and Norway. Included as well, according to the government, were “derogatory comments about the perfidiousness of specific persons involved, and statements which might be offensive to nations or governments.”

Um…duh. But so what? Is he claiming that the diplomatic cables that major newspapers are publishing are analogous to peace negotiations? Doesn’t Abrams understand that Wikileaks released the cables to these newspapers so that they could make educated journalistic judgments about which parts should be made public and which should be redacted or kept secret?

Furthermore, the analogy that Daniel Ellsberg has made is not between Wikileaks and the Pentagon Papers but between himself and Bradley Manning. They were both whistleblowers who revealed government lies and corruption. As for the diplomatic cables, there is no evidence that Manning gave those to Wikileaks.

Abrams even tries to blame Manning and Assange for the overkill reactions of the Obama administration:

Mr. Assange is no boon to American journalists. His activities have already doomed proposed federal shield-law legislation protecting journalists’ use of confidential sources in the just-adjourned Congress. An indictment of him could be followed by the judicial articulation of far more speech-limiting legal principles than currently exist with respect to even the most responsible reporting about both diplomacy and defense. If he is not charged or is acquitted of whatever charges may be made, that may well lead to the adoption of new and dangerously restrictive legislation. In more than one way, Mr. Assange may yet have much to answer for.

What a load of garbage. Abrams once fought in defense of the first amendment. Now he’s just another enabler of government corruption and lies. I guess he spent too much time hanging out with Judith Miller, because he seems to have adopted her views on journalism. We have every right to know what our corporate-sellout politicians are doing.

Here’s what Emptywheel had to say about Abrams’ piece:

Abrams’ purported rhetorical questions–can anyone doubt that WikiLeaks would have published the diplomatic volumes of the Pentagon Papers? can anyone doubt he wouldn’t have paid the slightest heed to efforts to end the war?–are one of two things that dismantle his entire argument laying the responsibility for the government’s overreaction to Assange with Assange. Because–as Digby has explained at length–we have every reason to doubt whether WikiLeaks would have published the diplomatic volumes of the Pentagon Papers. And we have solid evidence that WikiLeaks would shield really dangerous information.

Because they already have. And because they have now outsourced responsibility for choosing what is dangerous and newsworthy or not to a bunch of newspapers.

Indeed, back before WikiLeaks ceded that role to a bunch of newspapers, WikiLeaks was actually being more cautious with the publication of sensitive information than the NYT was.

So rather than blaming the government and the press for mischaracterizing what WikiLeaks has done here and then using that mischaracterization to justify an overreaction to that mischaracterization, Floyd Abrams just participates in it. WikiLeaks is responsible, Floyd Abrams says, and I’m going to misrepresent what they have done to prove that case.

Abrams either was never a liberal or he lost his liberalism along the way to his current rich and powerful status. He sounds more like a neocon to me.

At Slate, Jack Schaeffer is even more down on Abrams than I am.

Did an imposter steal Floyd Abrams’ identity and use it to sell an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal? That’s the only explanation I can come up with after reading the First Amendment litigator’s wacky battering of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange (“Why WikiLeaks Is Unlike the Pentagon Papers”).

Abrams, who represented the New York Times in both the Pentagon Papers and Judith Miller cases, applauds Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg because he withheld four volumes of papers—while releasing 43—because he “didn’t want to get in the way of the diplomacy.” That is, Ellsberg didn’t want to interfere with ongoing and confidential negotiations to end the war. Continuing his “Ellsberg good,” “Assange bad” formulation, Abrams asks, “Can anyone doubt that [Assange] would have made those four volumes [of the Pentagon Papers] public on WikiLeaks regardless of their sensitivity?”

Well, yes, I can doubt that.

Perhaps because Abrams listens to too much NPR or doesn’t read the New York Times very closely, he’s under the misconception that WikiLeaks has published all 251,287 U.S. diplomatic cables it claims to possess. It hasn’t, as NPR noted in a correction yesterday. WikiLeaks has released just 1,942 cables, which makes Assange’s ratio of released-documents to withheld-documents much, much smaller than Ellsberg’s. By that measure, Abrams should regard Assange as a more conscientious leaker than Ellsberg, not less conscientious.

‘Nuff said.

In his latest post at Truthdig, Chris Hedges’ argues that both Orwell and Huxley were right when they wrote their dystopian novels about the future. Now that we’re here, we’ve got the worst of both their worlds.

The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.

We have been gradually disempowered by a corporate state that, as Huxley foresaw, seduced and manipulated us through sensual gratification, cheap mass-produced goods, boundless credit, political theater and amusement. While we were entertained, the regulations that once kept predatory corporate power in check were dismantled, the laws that once protected us were rewritten and we were impoverished. Now that credit is drying up, good jobs for the working class are gone forever and mass-produced goods are unaffordable, we find ourselves transported from “Brave New World” to “1984.” The state, crippled by massive deficits, endless war and corporate malfeasance, is sliding toward bankruptcy. It is time for Big Brother to take over from Huxley’s feelies, the orgy-porgy and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. We are moving from a society where we are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions to one where we are overtly controlled.

Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission. But Huxley, we are discovering, was merely the prelude to Orwell. Huxley understood the process by which we would be complicit in our own enslavement. Orwell understood the enslavement. Now that the corporate coup is over, we stand naked and defenseless. We are beginning to understand, as Karl Marx knew, that unfettered and unregulated capitalism is a brutal and revolutionary force that exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse.

Hedges is right, IMHO.

As an antidote to the dystopian nightmares Hedges discusses, you might want to check out some idealistic utopian dreams. Alternet has an excerpt of a new book by Richard Fairfield, The Modern Utopian: Alternative Communes of the ’60s and ’70s (Process Media, 2010). It’s pretty interesting. Check it out if you have time.

Returning to grim reality, the WaPo has an article on high unemployment among returning war veterans.

As they return home to the worst labor market in generations, the veterans who are publicly venerated for their patriotism and service are also having a harder time than most finding work, federal data show.

While their nonmilitary contemporaries were launching careers during the nearly 10 years the nation has been at war, troops were repeatedly deployed to desolate war zones. And on their return to civilian life, these veterans are forced to find their way in a bleak economy where the skills they learned at war have little value.

Some experts say the grim employment landscape confronting veterans challenges the veracity of one of the central recruiting promises of the nation’s all-volunteer force: that serving in the military will make them more marketable in civilian life.

“That [promise] works great in peacetime,” said Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense for manpower under President Ronald Reagan who is now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “But that does not work too well in war. . . . If you are in there four years and deployed twice, what kind of skills have you learned other than counterinsurgency?”

Finally, Elizabeth Warren has piece up at Huffpo: New Consumer Agency Is Frightfully Necessary — And Late

No one has missed the headlines: Haphazard and possibly illegal practices at mortgage-servicing companies have called into question home foreclosures across the nation.

The latest disclosures are deeply troubling, but they should not come as a big surprise. For years, both individual homeowners and consumer advocates sounded alarms that foreclosure processes were riddled with problems.

[….]

First, several financial services companies have already admitted that they used “robo-signers,” false declarations, and other workarounds to cut corners, creating a legal nightmare that will waste time and money that could have been better spent to help this economy recover. Mortgage lenders will spend millions of dollars retracing their steps, often with the same result that families who cannot pay will lose their homes.

Second, this mess might well have been avoided if the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had been in place just a few years ago.

Thanks for being one of the few people advocating for us, Ms. Warren.

Sooooooo…. What are you reading this morning?