All Stories by Emocrat
Below are all stories written by Emocrat.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled media frenzy over yet another act of insane bloodlust, to bring you this tidbit from Charlie Brooker way back in 2009. Brooker, of course, is the Guardian’s media critic and he’s easily among the most pointed and entertaining in the English language. It’s worth sharing with others, so that they too might be able to defend themselves from the onslaught of bubble-headed asininity that always follows in the wake of these things.
Writing at New Economic Perspectives, Bill Black goes into inevitable territory during an election cycle, in which we are being asked to choose between two brands of “austerity”: The Democratic Version or The Republican one. He’s lays out the problem on very realistic ground and let’s us know who the greater enemy to our economy really is: The Democrats.
After this election is finally over, the Democrats are going to go full bore on Social Security and every other social program they can get their grubby hands on. Nancy Pelosi, openly (and ironically) supported by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, have already signaled their intent over the last few weeks. It’s just a shame we can’t have a debate on this before the election, when it might do more good.
So this piece is well-timed and very worthy of your attention. In my not-so-humble opinion:
To many people, it seems paradoxical that conservatives target not the worst social programs, but the best. There is no paradox. Bad government programs are desirable from the right’s perspective – they discredit government intervention. Good government programs pose an existential challenge to conservative memes, so they are the prime target for attack.
The attacks from the right, however, do not provide any guarantee of success. The right’s immense success has come from convincing large numbers of moderates and liberals to join the assault on successful government programs. The major financial deregulation bills that have shaped the criminogenic environments that produced the epidemics of accounting control fraud that have driven our recurrent, intensifying financial crises have enjoyed strong, even overwhelming, governmental support. The Garn-St Germain Act of 1982, the state S&L deregulation laws in Texas and California that “won” the regulatory “race to the bottom”, the “reinventing government” assault on financial regulation, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, and the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000, all enjoyed broad bi-partisan support. Laws making it extremely difficult for victims of securities fraud to obtain civil remedies passed with such strong bipartisan support that supporters were able to override President Clinton’s veto.
Just as only a conservative Republican like Nixon could begin to normalize diplomatic relationships with China without bearing a crippling political price, only “liberal” Democrats can safely begin the process of attacking Social Security. The rationale for the liberal assault on Social Security is “there is no alternative” (TINA). TINA is a particularly nonsensical argument in this context, however, because we are trying to recover from a Great Recession. There are vastly superior alternatives to cutting Social Security benefits, which could force the economy back into recession. There is also no need to cut Social Security benefits. The funding required to meet fulfill our promises is modest (relative to the U.S. economy) and poses no threat to our economy.
The progressive austerians are all the more remarkable because the economists and economic theories they rely on were wholly discredited even before Europe’s suicidal experiment with austerity. The neoclassical and Austrian economists that push austerity were the same economists who (1) propounded the anti-regulatory policies that caused the global crisis, (2) the opponents of counter-cyclical fiscal policies who predicted that pro-cyclical U.S. fiscal policies would speed the U.S. recovery while counter-cyclical policies would fail to spur growth and would cause inflation, and (3) the deficit hawks who claimed that counter-cyclical U.S. monetary and fiscal policies would cause hyper-inflation. The predictions of the proponents of austerity have proven consistently wrong and the proponents of counter-cyclical fiscal policies have proven consistently correct. The predictions of the proponents of counter-cyclical fiscal policies proved correct as to both the direction and the magnitude of the economic recovery. We argued from the beginning that the stimulus package was far too small and that there would be a financial disaster among many states and localities absent a program of federal revenue sharing.
Please do read the whole thing. It’s worth every minute of your time.
From Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON — Facing political pressurefrom Republicans and farming groups, the White House has decided to scrap rules proposed last year that would have prevented minors from performing certain agricultural work deemed too dangerous for children.
The Labor Department announced the decision late Thursday, saying it was withdrawing the rules due to concern from the public over how they could affect family farms. “The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations,” the department said in a statement.
Just a few paragraphs below this remarkable quote, this very same story points out that actual family farms were exempt from these rules. It follows that parents passing along traditions have a rational self-interest in not seeing their kids’ legs cut off under a combine. Corporations, unfortunately, have no such interest… which is why these rules were sought in the first place.
I’m guessing this piece was hastily put together, since a little further down, Sarah Palin is quoted thusly: “If I Want America To Fail, I’d Ban Kids From Farm Work.”
It would seem then, that the Obama Administration and Sarah Palin see roughly eye-to-eye on the matter of exploiting child labor on factory farms. How can one call this “pressure” from the GOP when the two parties clearly agree on something?
Now perhaps I’m wrong about this, but the thought occurs that most parents (or even people who simply appreciate their own non-exploitive childhoods), would be aghast at what’s happening on factory farms. This could be a good issue to attack a party that wants to roll back all of our child labor laws and state so every chance they get.
This is just the latest example of why this election cycle is full of petty, personal attacks that amount to nothing… while real issues of import are almost completely ignored.
The sun is shining a wee bit brighter this morning, as the nation of Brazil has decided to defend their ocean ecosystem against the kind of rapacious corporate wankery that we Americans have come to see as perfectly normal in our own environs.
Via CommonDreams, it seems 17 Transocean and Chevron executives were prevented from leaving Brazil, so they could be charged with Crimes Against Nature. If convicted, they face upwards of 31 years in prison.
Eduardo Santos de Oliveira, the lead prosecutor for the case, toldReuters he was tired of oil companies escaping accountability, including large fines and jail time, for environmental crimes. ”We need to change the parameters,” he said. “If companies don’t listen to millions, we have to ask for billions.”
Oliveira accused the oilmen of creating a “contamination time bomb.” While the spill was not enormous compared to very large spills like Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, Oliveira says Chevron’s subsea oil reservoir was damaged by reckless drilling, raising the specter of future catastrophic leaks.
Brazilian authorities estimate that 2,400 barrels of crude were spilled, which led authorities to suspend all of Chevron’s drilling operations and to deny the company access to huge new offshore fields. Evidence shows that oil seapage continues near the drill site, furthering fears that the damage is much worse than first thought, and certainly more negatively impactful than Chevron and Transocean have argued.
For a mere 2,400 barrels of spillage, people face prison time and billions in reparations. Imagine that!
In the US, of course, spilling millions of barrels of crude into the oceans that give us sustenance, results in federal guarantees of future profits, tax cuts, bonuses and overt protection from future prosecution. This, of course, is only one of many reasons why our country is in decline. In the US, crime definitely pays.
Brazil, on the other hand, is a rising economy and in this case, it shows in a very positive fashion. It seems they have an interest in protecting that which they depend on for food. What a concept!
Fresh off one of the dumbest, emptiest State Of The Union addresses in recent memory––and that’s saying something, given the circumstances of the last couple decades––I couldn’t get the visage of Ronald “Jelly Beans” Reagan off of my mind. Maybe it was the sappy militarism. Maybe it was Obama aping the Reaganite Lincolnism about government doing as little as possible for human beings… but no more. In any case, this song from the Minutemen, also from the Age of Bonzo, came to mind:
I thought of this while watching OFA’s latest messaging attempts tonight on MSNBC. Wow, talk about vacuous television. It’s still better than Piers Morgan or Megyn “vacuum inducer” Kelly, but really. Who honestly believes The Barack is some kind of populist?
In the meantime, I’m trying to read the law enforcement policies on crowd control and “civil disturbances,” which believe me, is riveting reading. Not.
I warn you, this song has made me choke up for twenty some years now. Still does. In any case, this is the Argentine icon Mercedes Sosa and Leon Gieco (who wrote the song) doing a song which all humans should memorize. I’m sorry the sound quality isn’t better, but if you buy one of the albums, you won’t regret it!
Piggybacking on Tim’s post, some more international reaction to the USG’s apparent disdain for basic human rights. This time from New York, actually, by the UN Special Rapporteur for Free Expression. It would seem this gentleman from Guatemala, who obviously has no experience with human rights issues is determined to piss off the Obama Administration almost as much as UNESCO has managed to do. As such, I lift a glass in honor señor La Rue:
WASHINGTON — The United Nations envoy for freedom of expression is drafting an official communication to the U.S. government demanding to know why federal officials are not protecting the rights of Occupy demonstrators whose protests are being disbanded — sometimes violently — by local authorities.
Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. “special rapporteur” for the protection of free expression, told HuffPost in an interview that the crackdowns against Occupy protesters appear to be violating their human and constitutional rights.
“I believe in city ordinances and I believe in maintaining urban order,” he said Thursday. “But on the other hand I also believe that the state — in this case the federal state — has an obligation to protect and promote human rights.”
“If I were going to pit a city ordinance against human rights, I would always take human rights,” he continued.
La Rue, a longtime Guatemalan human rights activist who has held his U.N. post for three years, said it’s clear to him that the protesters have a right to occupy public spaces “as long as that doesn’t severely affect the rights of others.”
In moments of crisis, governments often default to a forceful response instead of a dialogue, he said — but that’s a mistake.
“Citizens have the right to dissent with the authorities, and there’s no need to use public force to silence that dissension,” he said.
I’m gonna have to look into this “human rights” thing. They may be onto something here…..
“People who fear disorder more than injustice will only produce more of both.” — William Sloan Coffin
Mojo Nixon & Jello Biafra’s take on Phil Och’s “Love Me, I’m a Liberal.” (lyrics at the end, after the jump and after my rantiness)
Joan Walsh is very concerned. She’s concerned the rabble being abused on a daily basis might not act nice enough for her delicate sensibilities. She’s not worried about police violence, or their massive efforts to generate violence where none existed previously. Nor is she concerned about the politicians who are issuing the orders to ramp up the brutality being visited upon the haplesss proles. Instead, she is busily taking offense at the Oakland GA for not banning violence outright.
City officials served a fourth eviction notice Sunday evening, after a murder at the camp’s borders Thursday night validated worries about crime and safety even among some camp supporters. Some Occupy Oakland leaders insisted the victim had nothing to do with the protest, but once police announced Sunday night that the 25-year-old man, Kayode Ola Foster, had been camping there, and so had at least one of the suspects, it seemed it could only be a matter of hours before cops moved in to close the camp.
I made my first trip to Occupy Oakland midday Sunday, and I wasn’t going to write about it without returning, because the movement is too complicated for a drive-by report. Several people I admire, including Alternet’s Joshua Holland, have been doing day-in, day-out shoe-leather reporting. But now that Foster and at least one murder suspect have been tied to the camp, and now that it’s gone, at least in its present form, I’m going to try to make sense of what I saw.(emphasis mine)
As in, “Some economists say next year will bring ponies to all the poors,” Walsh applies the oft-overused ruse of a negative suggestion that “some leaders” suggested this murder did actually have something to do with The Movement, even though every account I’ve seen that involved real reporting suggested that incident was simply a symptom of Oakland’s larger social problems. And that’s the lede!
Read the rest of this entry »
Now that we’re seeing a nationally coordinated campaign inching towards State Terror, this song seems appropriate. Also, kudos to those who shut down the Brooklyn Bridge today!
So it looks like Round One of the Occupy Movement is ending. Thanks to upper class twits like Bloomie, Jean Quan and that insufferable asshole of a chancellor at UCBerkeley… well, quite frankly, I’m not sure what we would do without them.
On to Round Two….
By any reasonable standard, Islam Karimov is one of the world’s most infamous torturers. His particular brand of infamy is so horrid that even the Bush Administration had to cut off military aid to the Uzbeki dictator in 2005. For example, one of his favorite methods of punishing his victims is to slowly immerse them in boiling oil. That horrid.
But it seems a good “friendship” is a difficult thing for the Clinton’s–both Bill and Hillary–to let go of. As Fred Kaplan pointed out way back in 2005, before US aid was cut off:
President Bill Clinton struck up a relationship with Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov to stave off the common threat from Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. After Sept. 11, President Bush tightened the alliance. Karimov supplied the CIA and the Pentagon with an air base, which served as the staging area for the invasion of neighboring Afghanistan. During that war, he also allowed the United States to set up listening posts and to launch Predator drones from Uzbek territory.
Later, in 2009, Clinton attended an AIDS fundraiser in Cannes and had his picture taken with the elegant Gulnara Of The Oil Vats:
Ken Silverstein made a point of inquiring with the Clinton Foundation whether or not Karimova made contributions to the foundation. He didn’t receive any reply, which normally translates into English as, “We can’t actually deny it, so we’re not going to say anything at all.”
In any case, it’s a fair question to ask since (1), Clinton is always raising money, and (2), he doesn’t exactly have a reputation as being terribly picky about his funding sources. In this case however, it matters, since Gulnara Karimova–Harvard grad–has a rather terrible reputation as was laid out in Wikileaks releases as noted in this Guardian story from last December:
The post-Soviet state of Uzbekistan is a nightmarish world of “rampant corruption”, organised crime, forced labour in the cotton fields, and torture, according to the leaked cables.
But the secret dispatches released by WikiLeaks reveal that the US tries to keep President Islam Karimov sweet because he allows a crucial US military supply line to run into Afghanistan, known as the northern distribution network (NDN).
Many dispatches focus on the behaviour of Karimov’s glamorous and highly controversial daughter Gulnara, who is bluntly described by them as “the single most hated person in the country”.
She allegedly bullied her way into gaining a slice of virtually every lucrative business in the central Asian state and is viewed, they say, as a “robber baron”. Granted diplomatic status by her father, Gulnara allegedly lives much of the time in Geneva, where her holding company, Zeromax, was registered at the time, or in Spain.
Gulnara acquired interests in the crude oil contracts of Zeromax in “a deal with [a] local mafia boss“, the embassy said. She also got hold of shares in the Coca-Cola bottling franchise after it was subjected to a tax investigation, they claimed.
“Most Uzbeks see Karimova as a greedy, power-hungry individual who uses her father to crush business people or anyone else who stands in her way … She remains the single most hated person in the country.”
The relationship between the US and the Karimovs hasn’t been without its complications though, since Hillary bestowed an award to one of Uzbekistan’s human rights activist:
But the US secret cables go some way towards explaining western ambivalence. They detail how the dictatorial president recently flew into a rage because the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, presented a Women of Courage award in Washington to a newly released Uzbek human rights campaigner, Mutabar Tadjibayeva.
Karimov’s displeasure was conveyed in “icy tones”, which alarmed the embassy: “We have a number of important issues on the table right now, including the Afghanistan transit (NDN) framework.”
This seems appropriate for the hopeful demise of Issue 2 in Ohio, since it’s been polling in the abyss for weeks now.
BB’s work can be found HERE.
Protest music from Africa.
Nigeria more specifically. Most Afro-Pop heard by westerners isn’t as sophisticated as Seun Anikulapo Kuti, who inherited his rather large band, Egypt 80, from his father, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Fela was a pivotal figure in sub-Saharan African music prior to his death of AIDS. He was also a political lightning rod, his compound in Nigeria being raided many times by that sorry regime. On one occasion, one of Fela’s wives was thrown from a third-story window by government troops, killing her. Fela’s songs were long and almost entirely political, which precluded his repertoire from ever enjoying any exposure in the US outside of the record shops people like myself used to haunt. So Seun isn’t some poseur…
In any case, if you find this to be powerful stuff, there is a reason for it.
Lyrics below the fold:
Here is the suggested sound-track to my gripe:
San Onofre Nuclear Power Station Has An Accident… San Diego Media Is Silent
Granted, this isn’t a big accident, as far as anyone can tell… yet. (h/t to Horace Boothroyd III at GOS)
But it was originally announced as a Class 3 accident, which includes the following definition:
3. Site Area Emergency
Events are in process or have occurred that result in actual or likely major failures of plant functions needed for protection of the public. Any releases of radioactive material are not expected to exceed EPA guidelines, except near the site boundary.
Other reports in the Sacramento Bee, for example, reported a Class 2 emergency, which is not as irksome. Of course, the problem with the other reports is that it’s not clear just how the emergency was reported in the first place by officialdom. Class 2, Class 3… it’s almost like such distinctions don’t even matter.
Except that they do to the public, who might be inhaling all sorts of undesirable things over the next few days, weeks and months. A public which numbers almost ten million within a 50-mile radius of the plant itself. At least in this case, it’s merely a leak of ammonia, used as a solvent to clean things that are radioactive.
So there was an accident. At a nuclear power station. It turned out to be not terribly serious, even though the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept. reported it as a Class 3… which seems serious enough to warrant telling the public, but not enough to freak out about.
But in San Diego? Not one single outlet has yet to even mention it.
Not a single one, even though roughly four million people live within its “reach,” as it were.
One wonders what has to happen at San Onofre that might justify San Diego media outlets actually reporting it.
This feller needs no introduction, so there you have it. Still, this is one of my all-time favorite songs. One of many, since I find it impossible to narrow down any “best” category in music to fewer than a Top 20 or so. Indecision may or may not be my problem….
From the description, this recording was made on his radio show in 1942 or so. Now, is it just me, or is the idea of anyone having their own radio show and playing this song seem next to impossible outside of small community radio stations now? Okay, there’s Pacifica. But that’s about it, isn’t it?
Are there any heroically unorthodox media outlets in your neck of the metaphorical woods?
Lastly, it seems safe to say that Woody Guthrie started the whole “putting slogans on the body of one’s guitar” thingy. So every other musician who has done so since is clearly riffing off of this guy.
Another fitting tune from, “The Only Band That Matters,” as The Clash were often known back then. This clip is from the US Festival in 1983, which I attended just five days after seeing them in Tucson. Roughly 200,000 people showed up for each of the three days in a state park outside of beautiful Bakersfield. The first day comprised all progressive bands, ranging from ska, reggae, post-punk, New Wave and so on. The Clash were the headliners, of course.
The Clash were considered proto-punk. Their music was not revolutionary on an aesthetic level, but their lyrics certainly were. Lyrics below the fold: Read the rest of this entry »