Nov 17 2010
Despite my profound disappointment with Buhdy’s withdrawal, and the impending loss of Docudharma, I will not challenge (i.e try to talk him out of it) his decision. We all have to find our own path and while I regret the path Buhdy has chosen, I have no choice but to respect it. Buhdy is one of the best voices in the progressive blogosphere and his absence is truly our loss.
But I have to wonder if it was not with divine providence, or the secular equivalent thereof, that this decision came at this time. For as some of you may or may not know, I have been scheming on a new website for some time now, and it was only quite recently that the funding came through and the account was set up. I literally started working on it this past weekend.
I spent over a year securing the domain name dailyprogressive.com. My intent from the beginning was to create a place for progressives who have moved on from the failed strategy of “electing better Democrats” and “taking over” the Democratic party. As I have written repeatedly, it is the system itself that corrupts and even if there were some super-progressive candidates out there who could save the world, the carnival/freakshow that is the American, mass media controlled, electoral process prohibits us from electing them or even determining who these super-progressives would be.
So it is with this in mind that I set out to create a new, Independent Progressive community website as an alternative to Daily Kos, which has become nothing but a corporatist Democratic propaganda front.
Nov 03 2010
For those of you who used your wealth and power for no higher purpose than to plunder and pillage the Earth – the reckoning is coming.
And those of you who used the power of our public airwaves to spread lies and hatred, dividing the people among themselves, to serve no other purpose but that of the greedy and powerful – the reckoning is coming.
And especially for those of you who were chosen by the people, under the sacred principles of democratic self governance, to serve us and, instead, used that power and responsibility bestowed upon you against us – the reckoning is coming.
Oct 05 2010
So I spent a couple hours tonight researching oil and gas consumption rates when I stumbled across an amazing statistic: in 2005, according to this Los Angeles Times article, we used an average of 386 million gallons of gasoline per day. Wow, I thought. That’s insane. I wonder what 386 million gallons would look like in a great big tank. Surely it would be as big as a skyscraper.
So I surfed to the trusty conversion calculator and entered the data and found that 386000000 gal(US Liq) = 51600694.443 ft³.
That’s 51.6 million cubic feet of gas we burn every day, at the 2005 rate. So then I chose a skyscraper to compare it to: the Sears Tower. That’s a good one. I didn’t know it had been renamed the Willis Tower. WTF?
Anyway, to my amazement, and quite coincidentally, the Sears Tower, according to too many sources to cite, has 53.4 million cubic feet of space. That’s really close. So here it is in picture form, using Google Earth, a 3D modeling app, and Photoshop. I made the gas tank a bit bigger to extrapolate out the probable increase from 2005-2010. And I made the Sears Tower green.
We burn this every single day, just in the United States. Did we really think it wouldn’t have consequences?
Oct 04 2010
As surely as if tanks were parked in our streets, we are under attack. But this is not just a class war and it’s not just our livelihoods that are at stake. This is an attack on our very freedom, our sovereignty, our lives.
The history of warfare is the history of one nation’s attempt to seize the land, wealth and resources from another nation. That is what’s happening here. The only difference is the weapon used.
In conventional warfare, the aggressor uses weapons of destruction – armed battalions, bullets, bombs. This war is much more clever. Much more subtle. And much more horrifying. The primary weapon being used here is a box you set in your living room.
Do not be fooled, however, by the innocuous appearance of this box. It is more powerful than any army, laser guided missile, or all the arsenals on Earth. For who controls this weapon controls the greatest power humans can possess – the power of ideas.
The old saying, “the pen is mightier than the sword” can be rewritten, “the idea is mightier than the sword.” Because that’s what we’re really dealing with here. In one sense, television is just the medium by which we disseminate ideas. But in the right hands, it is the most powerful political weapon in history. It is a means by which one may control an entire population.
Edward Bernays*, a loathsome and despicable creature, was not exaggerating when he said this:
Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. …It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind….
Sep 05 2010
Apparently, I am a purist. I believe in some ideal Democrat that no one could ever live up to and so I fail to acknowledge the real world distinctions that make the real world Democrats so much better than the real world Republicans. Or so I have been told.
Let me introduce you to my ideal Democrat.
My ideal Democrat is probably corruptible, wholly flawed, and possibly even takes a bribe or a kickback on occasion. And when he or she drinks way too much, I’m pretty sure my ideal Democrat says things that would get him or her in lots of trouble if the press found out. Maybe my ideal Democrat sleeps with hookers or got her husband a cush job somewhere in the Fish and Wildlife agency – anything to get him out of the house. Or maybe he or she is a fucking saint. Regardless, I’m still pretty sure I wouldn’t want my ideal Democrat to babysit my children. I’ve never much liked politicians.
Oh, and one more thing. My ideal Democrat is completely fucking wrong about a couple of issues I care about.
But it is true. I am a purist. For there is one thing upon which my ideal Democrat cannot waver. One line that can never be crossed, come hell or high water, no matter what. And that is this: He or she must remain forever loyal to the common people of this country above all others. And when the situation demands, as it most often does, that he or she must choose between serving the common people or serving the entrenched interests of the few, even at risk of personal sacrifice, my ideal Democrat will always serve the interests of the former. To choose the latter would be unthinkable.
Now, I know Bush kinda made the whole, “either you’re with us or against us” thing unpopular. He said that in the context of a fictional “war” on an abstract idea (terrorism) that imposed a foreign policy position most sane people saw as untenable, to say the least.
But there are, indeed, times when one must draw a line in the sand. And this is certainly one of those times. As I said before, our nation is under attack. There’s no other way to describe it. A powerful elite with horrifying and vast resources have set their sights on destroying our society, seizing our system of government, looting our resources and turning us into veritable slaves in a corporatocracy.
Either you are working for us, or working for them. There is no in between.
Now, it was predictable, but a few people weren’t quite able to get past the title of my last post. And as such, they appeared to not to be willing to dig in to the substance of what I was really getting at enough to understand that I wasn’t talking about letting Republicans win over real Democrats™. I was talking about letting Republicans win over these sold our sacks of shit disguising themselves as Democrats while they facilitate the destruction of everything that once made this country worth living in. My point was that the ideal Democrat is pretty much extinct and even if you find a few, the system will devour them. Look how Alan Gtrayson and Dennis Kucinich folded like paper dolls on the Corporatecare plan.
So let’s pull the sheep outfits off the wolves, shall we? No one should wear white after Labor Day (which, by the way, I’m going to celebrate by watching a bunch of movies about the plight of the labor movement on the History Channel.)
I hope that clarification was helpful.
Oh, and for those with a more visual synaptic proclivity:
Is it COKE!™? Or is it a brown, carbonated corn syrup beverage?
Sep 02 2010
We’ve tried plan B. That was the elite blogger pipe dream about electing better Democrats. That plan failed because there is no criteria for determining, especially in this Vaudeville act we call American elections, who is really better.
When it is the system itself that corrupts, it really doesn’t matter who you elect. Does it?
So plan B has failed. Got that? It failed. It will continue to fail. No criteria. No money to compete with those who purchase our politicians daily. No money or system to organize a counter-offensive to those who buy our politicians.
Did you read the New Yorker piece on the Koch brothers? The part about them alone spending more than 100 million dollars to shape American politics? That’s just two people. There are thousands of them. Not all on their scale of course. But the money is ridiculous.
We are not going to buy our government back. We can’t afford it.
So before we talk about plan C, can we at least have the fortitude to admit that plan B has failed? That we cannot elect “better Democrats” because even if they are saints, the system will not allow their sainthood?
One of the super big arguments the Democratic loyalists love to spit out is that Republicans are so much worse. To that I say prove it.
We just had two big election that changed parties and what do we have to show for it?
The only thing that has substantially changed with Obama and the Democratic Congress is the label. It’s as though they removed the Pepsi label and just stuck on a Coke label. It’s still, fundamentally, the exact same carbonated syrup beverage.
Yes, I know there are some issues that the Dems are clearly better on. But those issues never have anything to do with money. Supporting civil rights doesn’t hurt Goldman Sachs’ bottom line. Does it?
Apr 14 2010
Economists are fun people. They sit around in their offices of academia and crunch numbers all day. They play and crunch numbers and they come up with extravagant theories about how those numbers fit together and what they mean. Then they get tenure at the university and it takes a crowbar to pry them from their cushy jobs playing and crunching.
But often, all the playing and crunching causes the economists to get confused. They forget that in the real world, those numbers mean more than anecdotal folly. Those numbers often have names and former addresses before they were evicted from their homes.
So sometimes we have to step back and look at the big picture. We have to look at the big picture and assess our priorities and remember why we invented this thing we call “the economy” in the first place.
We invented the thing we call “the economy” for only one reason. So that each of us could have a life. As in make a living. As in having jobs so that we can make a living, have a family, raise and educate our children, and eventually retire with an RV so we can see Yellowstone before we die.
What about profits? Isn’t the point of capitalism so that you can make a profit and grow your business thereby creating jobs.
No. Whether you’re the owner of a hotdog stand or the CEO of GE, the only reason to make a profit is so you can make a living, get a dog, and one day take up fly fishing.
Now the cushy economists have all sorts of measures for how the economy is doing: GDP, PCE, GDPP and CPI. But if you understand that we only invented “the economy” so we could all have a life, then you realize that there’s really only one economic indicator that matters: the percentage of people who have good, living-wage jobs as opposed to those who do not.
So the next time you hear someone saying the economy is coming up roses even though the number of people with good, living-wage jobs continues to decrease, remind them that, unless the economy is helping everyone have a life, it’s really just pushing up daisies.
Apr 13 2010
Daily Kos is Dead. I know, it still gets a lot of traffic. And a lot of the Democratic establishment stop by to rally their little neofascist soldiers. But as a hub for progressive change, as a base for the people power movement: Daily Kos is Dead.
It died when Markos Moulitsas came out and threatened to primary challenge one of the best progressives in the Democrat party. Though the site’s downfall as something useful for anyone other than Moulitsas’s wallet and the party hacks to wanting to spread propaganda and raise money had been ongoing for some time, especially after the site started getting airtime mentions on teevee and every nutjob from here to moon city started spamming their nonsense there (it kind of reminds me of that scene in “Contact” with the alien people) Moulitsas’s attack on Kucinich kind of sealed the deal. Moulitsas is now working for the other team, fully incorporated into the corporatist media complex, and hilariously, sounding not much differently from his arch nemesis Joe Klein. And there will be no way that anything that challenges the probama hegemony will ever thrive there. The game is rigged.
But that’s okay. Daily Kos’s 15 minutes are up. He may very well turn it into another Politico or some other corporatist friendly site. But as a progressive hub, it’s over. Get over it. Move on. Orange is an ugly color anyway.
And besides, progressive is a bad word there now. Haven’t you heard?
I had hoped this site could become more than a shadow of the GOS. A hub of its own. If that’s not possible, I just registered three new domain names (dailyprogressive.com, .org, and .net). I’d rather start from scratch then keep suffering through the sloppy seconds of a site that has become a parody of itself. You guys decide what you want to do. We can replace DKos and be the new hub for real progressives who aren’t still deluding themselves about what just happened in the last election, or we can keep wallowing in orange shadows and letting this war against the corporatists party hacks distract us from real political solutions. You can guess what I’m going to do.
Apr 12 2010
One of the most important aspects of this whole FISA mess has been largely overlooked. That is that it is not just about privacy. Or principle.
It is about political power.
The power of the Executive to spy on Americans is an incredible political weapon. Our Founders understood this even back in the 18th Century – information is power.
And if one has any doubt about the dangers of such power, one has to look no further than the presidency of Richard Nixon. There’s a great scene in the movie All the President’s Men where Woodward finally gets Deepthroat to talk. It is not, as far as I know, taken from an exact quote. But it is an accurate depiction of what Woodward learned:
Woodward: I’m tired of your chickenshit games. I need to know what you know.
Deepthroat: … Mitchell [Nixon’s attorney general] started doing covert stuff before anyone else. The list is longer than anyone can imagine. It involves the entire US intelligence community. FBI, CIA, Justice. It’s incredible.
The cover up had little to do with Watergate. It was mainly to protect the covert operations. It leads everywhere. Get out your notebook. There’s more.
Apr 10 2010
I’m sure everyone is familiar with the AIPAC spy scandal in which Larry Franklin, working under neocon Douglas Feith at the Pentagon’s now infamous Office of Special Plans, was caught passing classified documents to two top AIPAC officials, policy director Steve Rosen and senior Iran analyst Keith Weissman. These two men were scheduled to finally stand trial (they were indicted in 2005) on April 21, 2009, but Obama’s Justice Dept. dismissed the charges.. Franklin had already pled guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in a federal penitentiary, but the judge, based on prosecutors dropping the charges against Rosen and Weissman, reduced his sentence to 10 months.
This was not the first time Israeli agents have been caught spying on their good friends the Americans. One you probably haven’t heard about, because the story broke on the day of the 2008 Pennsylvania primary, is the case of Ben-ami Kadish, an 84 year old retired army engineer who was part of the same spy ring as Jonathan Pollard, the American naval intelligence analyst who was convicted in 1987 for passing classified intelligence to Israel. In fact, the number of instances of Israeli espionage against the US are far too many to list here. It’s been going on since Israel’s birth. And it hasn’t stopped.
But there is a bigger, and far more important case that has hardly been reported at all – even in the so-called alternative press. It involves surveillance and penetration of government and civilian communications systems, from the phones in the White House to potentially 80% of civilian phone phone service.
This story begins back in 2000…
Apr 09 2010
I remember a while back, a liberal blogger made a big todo about a World Bank report on what poor people want. I’ll never forget. This was a popular diary at Daily Kos with hundreds of comments. The diary went on to explain the findings of the report and describe what the WB found out about what poor people want.
According to the report, what poor people want is respect, dignity, a sense of purpose and other such drivel. I did a quick search of the comments and there was NOT ONE expression of incredulity over this idiotic diary. It had not occurred to one fucking person that, uh, sorry but what poor people want is FUCKING MONEY.
This is the state of the liberal left in this country. So completely disconnected to the poor, that they can’t even see through a World Bank ruse.
This blind spot manifests itself in many other areas, especially public policy. Liberals have come up with a scheme, or program to address every societal ill but the very one that matters – not enough money to go around.
Every single one of the liberal intelligentsia’s pet issues would eventually, be solved outright, or greatly alleviated by a simple policy of never letting any household dip below the poverty line which now adjusted for inflation is about $40,000 p/y.
Teenage pregnancy, drug addiction, domestic violence, racial tension, etc, etc. would all drop significantly if we just had a healthy society.
What makes a healthy society? No. Not more counseling or intervention by liberal babysitters. What makes a healthy society is a family being able to be supported comfortably by only one working adult.
No, this will not solve everything. And yes many liberal programs have great value. But they cannot be a replacement for an economic system that seeks to turn a significant majority of society into serfs.
If you really wanted to reduce the political conflicts of the past 150 years to its most basic component it would be a war between monied business interests and labor. That’s what almost ALL of this fight has been about. Cheap labor.
Free trade, globalization, deregulation, “the war on the middle class”…, it’s all about cheap labor.
And almost all of societies ills, from drug abuse to gang violence, to even school shooting in some respects, are the direct result of the disintegration of the middle class.
THE MOST PRECIOUS THING
One of the greatest achievements of the massive propaganda campaign that has been waged in the last four decades is to change American values. We need to change them back.
The most valuable, important, indeed essential thing in our society is what a friend of mine calls the Human Ecosystem. What is that? It is everything that makes up the immediate world of the modern American. This includes everything from the local community, to band practice, neighborhood schools, a comfortable home, access to healthy food. It is the reality for millions of Americans. It is a dream for millions more.
This human ecosystem is all that goes into making a life for individuals and families. And it absolutely requires above all else, a good paying job.
There is nothing more important than a stable home life for our people. A place where families grow and grow old. Not this sociopathic scheme of “mobility”. People aren’t wired that way. We are wired to settle down and raise families in a stable community.
Somehow, we allowed corporate sociopaths to think that there is something more valuable than this human ecosystem. The ideology of the free market, or a dozen other bullshit excuses to let people, families and communities perish.
I don’t give a fuck how we do it. If we have to hire people to dig holes so that they can fill them back in again, or better yet, rebuild America to accommodate the end of cheap oil, whatever it is, we have to create jobs for every single able person alive that allows for the creation and maintenance of the human ecosystem.
NOTHING ELSE IS MORE IMPORTANT.
Apr 08 2010
When things look really, really bad, it’s always comforting to me to stare at the stars. It provides a good dose of perspective to think about how fleetingly insignificant our little existence is in the cosmic big picture. I don’t know why. The eternity of the universe should offer no more comfort to me than it would have to a dinosaur. If they could think about such things.
But comforting it is. And even more comforting is to look out on the universe through the lens of science. Just as a pair of vice-grips enhance the strength of your hand, science enhances the ability to see and understand the universe.
I suppose part of the comfort lies not with the view that science affords, but with the science itself. To think we have come so far, the Hubble Telescope, the Principle of Relativity, spacecraft zipping around our solar system, only to be taken down by lesser minds such as the assclowns infesting the nations capital and Wall Street. On good days anyway.
Fun With Einstein
Many people don’t realize that perhaps Einstein’s greatest discovery, encoded within his Special Theory of Relativity, is that time travel is a real phenomenon. I was fifteen when I was first exposed to this concept and I refused to believe it. But over the years I slowly came to grasp the theory and eventually concluded beyond all reasonable doubt that it was a fact.
Of course, the phrase “time travel”, within the framework of Relativity is somewhat misleading. The fact is, we are all traveling into the future, as we speak. And we are surrounded by countless physical processes, serving as clocks to mark this fact.
So what Einstein really discovered was that we can travel into the future at different rates. This has been proven.
One way to think of it is like audio recordings being played back at different speeds. We’ve all heard a tape play back in slow motion, or sped up like chipmunks. Well, the Principle of Relativity demonstrates that when certain conditions are met, different observer’s “tapes” will play at different rates relative to others.
Most people think of time travel in terms of going into the past. I’m sure there are many events we would all like to undo. But Einstein’s Principle of Relativity strictly prohibits traveling back in time. There are many ways to describe why this is so, and many books on the subject, but it works just fine to think of it in terms of us all traveling mandatorally into the future, only at potentially different rates.
So we are all like little tape recordings in progress, and depending on certain conditions, those recordings can run faster or slower relative to someone else’s recording. Varying degrees of chipmunkization or being slowed down. So what are those certain conditions? Well, there’s really just one: go really really fast through space and you will go faster into the future. But watch for astroids.