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24 January 2011

In Defiance of Fate, In Pursuit of Destiny

by: Dark Wraith

Destiny, by Dark Wraith

My latest creation at the Cheezburger Network.

· · ·
23 January 2011

Concealed Carry Campus

by: Dark Wraith

State legislatures in Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, and several other states are now considering passing laws to permit firearms to be carried on college campuses. Students and/or professors, depending upon the particular state and the specifics of the bill, might soon be allowed to have guns while on school property.

That's right: firearms on college campuses.

Welcome to the fun house otherwise known as the 21st Century (otherwise known as the insane asylum).

As a teacher at both a state university and at a regional community college, this presents considerable challenges to me in my role as one who is, in the words of Lee Iacocca, "...passing civilization along from one generation to the next."

Passing civilization across the generations begins with the mundane. Setting classroom rules is one of the very first steps. At the appropriate time, I will add a section to my class syllabi entitled, "Firearms: Appropriate Use," which will set forth rules of engagement with respect to when, where, and how sidearms should be the education technology of choice in student/professor interactions.

To those not in the profession of teaching, this might sound complicated, but the emergent nation of top-down hierarchical management in matters subject to government funding makes the job somewhat clearer (read, for example, my article, "On Modern Education"). The state in which I teach is now imposing specific standards on me in my community college courses as part of the pop-academia fad known loosely as "assessment standards" (the second-generation cripple of No Child Left Behind). I must obviously have the new section in my syllabi reviewed by the college administrators who properly channel state mandates; but the working language as I see it will be something to the effect that students who draw their firearms in class, in my office, or otherwise in my presence will be the subject of severe consequences. I'm thinking that those consequences will include harsh words like, "BAD student. BAAAAAD STUDENT!"

I am not entirely sure I can set grading policies on this matter, though, given that the state is now being fairly specific not just about grades, themselves, I issue, but also about the categories (and percentage allocations within those categories) I am required to use for determining grades.

It's difficult, but I've been a college teacher for 30 years, so I'm sure I'll craft workable solutions that maintain the quality of instruction, the appropriate number of students who pass (so the school will keep its revenue stream up), and the overall ambiance that is the hallmark of my classrooms.

As the bonus, of course, I can maintain my own sense of grim cynicism while laughing my way through the expansive graveyard that is this remarkably self-destructing Empire in its twilight.

Am I the one to change the course of history? Of course not. I'm the problem.

You see, I'm the teacher.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · ·
18 January 2011

"The coming hunger: Record food prices put world 'in danger', says UN"

by: Peter of Lone Tree

Perfect storm of climate and oil puts world into 'danger territory'
By Sean O'Grady, Economics Editor
Thursday, 6 January 2011

"Food riots, geopolitical tensions, global inflation and increasing hunger among the planet's poorest people are the likely effects of a new surge in world food prices, which have hit an all-time high according to the United Nations.

"The UN's index of food prices – an international basket comprising wheat, corn, dairy produce, meat and sugar – stands at its highest since the index started in 1990, surpassing even the peaks seen during the 2008 food crisis, which prompted civil disturbances from Mexico to Indonesia.

"We are entering danger territory," said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's chief economist, Abdolreza Abbassian."

Read it all at The Independent.

He's no Harry...

by: Father Tyme


14 January 2011

Goodness gracious!!

by: Peter of Lone Tree

"N.Y. Man Arrested for Threatening to Kill Financial Regulators"

"A Dix Hills, New York, man was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill current and former officials of financial-regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission."

What ever could have possessed him?!?

The rest:

ON EDIT: I'm concerned. What if 300 million or so Americans stand up and say, "He didn't do it. I did it."
11 January 2011

OH! To suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...

by: Father Tyme

· ·
09 January 2011

Butterflies and Hurricanes

by: Dark Wraith


Rebecca Mansour, an aide to Sarah Palin, says of the infamous Palin Website graphic showing crosshairs over congressional districts targeted by the Tea Party Movement, "We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights."

No, of course not.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · ·

Enough is Enough

by: Anna Van Z

Sarah Palin had the unmitigated chutzpah to post "her sincere condolences" to the families of the dead and injured in yesterday's assassination attempt of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson.
Sarah's "sincere condolences". Mmm, yeah, that carries a lot of weight! Coming from the person who may have been a contributing influence in this attack, that's some nerve - and obviously little more than pre-emptive public relations to cover her own ass. As of this morning, all of Palin's crosshairs target symbols on her "target list" have been removed.
The attack was carried out by a muddled, mentally-ill person who is not unlike the other reactionaries who have been influenced to action by the constant drumbeat of hate speech and violent rhetoric spewed by the mainstream media's wingnut millionaire mouthpieces.
Susie Madrak of Crooks and Liars asks, Remember when Beck ridiculed Pelosi for speaking out against violent tea party rhetoric? She says that, "I'm waiting for Glenn Beck to finally apologize. I'm waiting for him to acknowledge that violent rhetoric can and does influence mentally unbalanced people, and that a line has been so clearly crossed, even Glenn Beck has regrets.When you tell people Obama's planning to kill them, that has consequences.When you warn people of an impending Reichstag moment and power grab, you're targeting our leaders.When Byron Williams, armed to the teeth and wearing body armor, drives to San Francisco to shoot officials of the Tides Foundation and hopefully start a revolution, was it a coincidence that you'd targeted them with your violent rhetoric?When your fan Richard Poplowski became so convinced that the Obama administration would take his guns that he gunned down three Pittsburgh policemen, you planted those seeds.What's that old saying? "Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind."You can hide behind the flag, Mr. Beck, but now everyone sees you for who you are. You're a liar, and a bully, and a thug. You incite other people and sit back, counting your cash."
Dave Neiwert, also writing on Crooks and Liars, notes that in the coming days there will be much hand-wringing from the media over yesterday's violence, and that "some of it, almost certainly, from the folks at Fox, who will wonder aloud how this kind of thing could happen.
It can happen, in fact, because conservatives so thoughtlessly and readily use violent eliminationist rhetoric when talking about "liberals" (to wit: anyone who is not a conservative). They will adamantly deny it, of course, but the cold reality is that this kind of talk creates permission for angry and violent people to act it out."
Professor Martin Kaplan writes that the "Lock and Load" rhetoric makes intelligent political discussions impossible, and points out that "The "second amendment solution," though, does something worse than make politics a branch of entertainment. It makes it a blood sport. I know politics ain't beanbag. But words have consequences, rhetoric shapes reality, and much as we like to believe that we are creatures of reason, there is something about our species' limbic system and lizard brainstems that makes us susceptible to irrational fantasies."
I think that people like Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and others need to be held accountable for their destructive hate speech and materials. The fact that these high-charisma, low-intellect wingnut faves have the extensive media platforms that they do is absolutely shameful. I encourage you to contact their program networks, and tell them that not only will you not be tuning in (duh!), you will be contacting their major sponsors as well. This will be the only thing that will influence corporate media outlets. They have zero interest in social responsibility or "doing the right thing." The bottom line, as always, is the revenue.
Also, Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, a psychiatrist, has launched a petition to the Justice Department, asking them to indict Sarah Palin for attempting to incite violence against democrats that appear on her "hit list". I've signed it already, and if you feel so inclined, please sign it and send the link to others. Sign petition here.

AAPSOnline Covering Its Tracks

by: Dark Wraith

Modern CaduceusA brief article at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer calls attention to a strange little side story (perhaps) related to the assassination attempt on Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. It has to do with a YouTube video of one of those Tea Party "protests" at a health care reform town meeting hosted by Rep. Giffords. First, the video got marked "private" by someone associated with it, and now it has been removed entirely. What's even stranger is that, according to the SeattlePI post, the YouTube channel on which the video was being hosted was from the "AAPSOnline." That's the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a "conservative" political advocacy group involved in activities ranging from legal challenges to the federal healthcare reform legislation enacted last year to publication of articles linking illegal immigration to increased incidence of leprosy. The AAPS has also published articles claiming that legislation addressing climate change could be a threat to human health.

Wait. What? Yes, go to the AAPSOnline YouTube Channel and have a look at some of the issues that obsess this seemingly legitimate little group.

Despite a general willingness to publish rather questionable content, the AAPS apparently determined that something in that scrubbed video wasn't good PR right now.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· ·
07 January 2011

Goppers Want to Gut Healthcare Reform - Let's Start with Theirs!

by: Anna Van Z

I'm no fan of the existing health care reform legislation, because it didn't go far enough in most areas, and too far in one way - requiring individuals to buy health insurance from corporate insurers.

At the very least, there should have been a public option; ideally, they should have simply expanded Medicare and allowed any citizen to buy Medicare coverage if they wanted or needed to. And whoever wanted to keep their corporate plan would be free to do so. This would have been an affordable option for most, and coverage subsidies could have been implemented for the poorest citizens. This would have resulted in for-profit insurance providers implementing competitive rates real quick!

But as usual, Obama and the Democrats gave away the farm before even sitting down to negotiate. As a result, what ended up passing is little more than an insurance industry bonanza. The idea that what resulted is somehow government health care (or socialism) is beyond absurd. There is nothing even remotely "socialized" about it - that's what's wrong with it.

Having said that, I'm against repug plans to rip it apart without any plan to replace it. They don't give a rat's ass if millions of Americans lack access to health care, or that thousands of Americans die every year because of it (those "pro-life" values, doncha know). It's just that goppers hate it when taxpayer money goes to anyone but their corporate masters and the ultra-rich investor class.

I also think it's the very pinnacle of hypocrisy of for a congress of multi-millionaires who enjoy government-paid health care FOR LIFE, at our expense, to bitch about the rest of us getting some help with the utter racket that passes for health care in America.

Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager of CREDO Action says, "For two years, GOP leaders in Congress fought tooth and nail to oppose health care reform. They did their best to keep tens of millions without coverage, decrying any effort to help citizens as "socialist," "fascist" or some other equally baffling "ist."

Incredibly, now that they are the majority, their first act will be to vote to repeal health care reform that gives affordable care to 32 million Americans.

And yet, when it comes to their own coverage, Republicans in Congress are not only using government-sponsored health care, they even whined about having had to wait for it.

As the Republicans are gearing up to repeal health care reform for Americans who need it, Senator Chuck Schumer is calling the GOP on their hypocrisy, and calling on them to give up their government-sponsored health care:

"It was a central value to us when we passed health care, and a central value to the American people, that members of Congress should get the same health care as everyone else. It seems unfair that house Republicans want to deprive middle-class Americans of the same health care as members of Congress but to keep it for themselves."

"Will Eric Cantor urge every Republican who is going to be for repeal to not take government health care themselves and to drop their existing health care?"

We think he should, and applaud Schumer for his challenge. Write Eric Cantor, and ask him if he will practice what he preaches — and ask other GOP members to do the same." Click here to sign this petition.
06 January 2011

The Illusion

by: Peter of Lone Tree

America shimmers, losing shape,
lost souls, the weakest generation.
Democracy stumbles, people awaken,
trouble on America’s plantation.

America stands strong and free,
a land of life and liberty?
Indentured servants, ever on,
from sea to shining sea.

Laws for this, laws for that,
control of the air you breathe.
Nanny State, exploding prisons,
Stalinist tits, on which we teethe.

House and Senate, bought and sold,
mortgaged by corporate donations.
Court Supremes, selling their soul,
torture’s cool, but do it in other nations.

Traitors act, as though elected,
a free and fair republic?
Lying thieves, electronic frauds,
in office to cheat the public.

Bankers steal, Pelosi jets,
stimulate this, stimulate that.
Corrupt leadership, so brutal,
little need to trim the fat.

China profits, Brazil prospers,
around us the world grows.
Bush and Clinton, hold their power,
JFK? Oh, no one knows?

It’s falling apart, not so funny,
at least I’m close to passing.
Before the riots, the martial law,
before Obama starts the gassing.

Long before the troops deploy,
during all the fucking confusion.
Lucky enough, simply to know,
our lives were just an illusion. -- RJ O'Guillory
04 January 2011

An Essay by David Michael Green

by: Peter of Lone Tree

Good Morning, Worker Bees! Happy New Year!

And what a year it promises to be, too! We have lots of hard work in store for you. More than ever!

Now that our two-generation-long program of economic restructuring has finally made it to full fruition, I feel it only right and proper to celebrate our achievement with you by recapitulating the events of this greatest historical process in our country’s history.

Normally, of course, plutocrats such as myself would be loath to reveal such secrets to those whom we exploit so thoroughly. If this was the late eighteenth century, perhaps you’d even rise up and sweep us away in some sort of revolution.

Alas, that is hardly a concern anymore, for at least a half-dozen good reasons.

For one thing, we’ve made sure that all of you are stuck in a state of perpetual economic precariousness (at best). This has made you as docile as lambs. No one dares rock the boat, lest the mere scrap of an allowance we grant you in exchange for your labors were to vanish in a puff of smoke. We hold you hostage and demand your acquiescence. You give it to us.

Second, we know everything you think before you think it, anyhow, because our American Stasi Service is so powerful and omnipresent. If you were stupid enough to even utter the ‘R’ word, your well-trained child or spouse will have you turned in before you finish your sentence, and we’ll have you in chains thirty seconds later. Try building a revolutionary movement under those conditions, pal.

Even if you could, we have some very nasty riot police ready to go if we see you on the streets without proper authorization. These cops actually are no different than you – they’re just given a slightly bigger food ration than the rest of you proles. We find that one can get human beings to do almost anything using these conditions. And, be assured, we do.

Of course, revolution is the furthest thing from your mind anyhow, because we’ve turned worship of the existing class structure into this society’s religion, and we’ve made quite fervent little parishioners of you all, haven’t we? Some fools doubted this could be done, but we knew back in the 70s that if one could twist Jesus the socialist – who talks in bold print about money-changers and camels going through eyes of needles – into a champion of greedy capitalism, one could sell anything. And we did.

We’ve also supplemented your excellent cultural programming with some very potent pharmaceuticals to keep you nice and docile. You have much to be angry and depressed about, but your happy pills keep you properly focused. We like that.

Finally, we don’t worry about you conducting some sort of revolution, because we’ve made sure that you’ve never even heard of such a concept. You have the worst education that we could possibly imagine, and trust me, our imaginations are quite fertile. You’ve never heard of revolutions, or economic classes, or slave revolts or labor unions or any other such claptrap. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s almost impossible for you to conceive of it on your own. By erasing history we have restarted history. And this time it’s going to play out in a lot more controlled fashion than it did even last time.

And so my dear sheeple, no, as a matter of fact, I don’t worry about divulging the truth to you about what we’ve done these last fifty years. You won’t understand it any more than you understand what I’m saying now. And even if you did, you are completely incapable of mounting any sort of response to the pitiless and intractable system we have created. Even if you could, we would crush you instantly, grind you into hamburger, and feed you to our pet piranha.

So, here’s what happened.

We (by which I mean us nice folks in the owning class) suffered through fifty years of the New Deal-inspired liberal America. It sucked. Instead of having nearly all the national wealth concentrated into the hands of the few of us, as had been the case for at least the century or so since America’s industrial revolution, we possessed only most of it. Unthinkable! Traitors like both Roosevelts, Kennedy and Johnson enacted progressive policies that resulted in a vast diminishment of our concentration of wealth, that created a massive middle class for the first time in American history, and that provided a modicum of relief for the poor. It wasn’t Sweden, I assure you (not that you’d know what I mean by that anyhow), but it was a big change from our glory days.

Even worse, these liberal bastards advanced an egalitarian ethos which sold the public on the idea that everyone should share in the benefits of economic growth, and that banana-republic-style concentration of wealth in the hands of a few oligarchs was not healthy for society at large, not healthy for democracy, and not healthy for 99 percent of the nation. That’s a dangerous set of ideas. Next stop is communism, buddy.

So we decided that enough was enough, and we came up with a plan.

The first step was to capture one of the only two viable political parties in America. That wasn’t exactly difficult. The Republicans were already halfway there. All that was left was to buy-off the old-school moderates who had come to terms with the New Deal and crush any of those who couldn’t be bought. This process was begun in the 1980s and accelerated in the subsequent two decades, to the point where by 2010 the concept of a moderate Republican more or less only existed as some bizarre notional idea anymore, like string theory in physics. Coupled to the new plutocrat-serving orthodoxy of the Purchased Party we added a hallucinatory hagiography of Ronald J. Christ, The Patron Saint of Tax Giveaways. All had to give praise to The Lord Gumby, and all did, yea, for generations hence.

It was also important to capture the other party as well (not to mention maintaining the absence of any viable third or fourth choices), and this was likewise duly accomplished. It was slightly tougher to take over the party of FDR and LBJ, but in the end not really so hard. The trick was to find some dolled-up whores with lots of charisma and let them do the work. There was this guy named Clinton, and another called Obama, who played their parts quite skillfully. Many devoted Democrats loved these DINOs, though they couldn’t exactly say why. Didn’t matter in the end. By the time we were finished, voters could choose between the Party of Wall Street or the Other Party of Wall Street. Guess which one they picked?

Our assault on your wallets – and, indeed, even upon your health and longevity – was as sophisticated in its execution as it was thorough in its strategy. That’s why we understood from the beginning that it was necessary to control the cognitive landscape of the country at the same time we were driving effective electoral choice down to zero. People had to understand – albeit, not consciously – that there were no choices at all, and that any apparent ones they might perceive were inherently lacking in legitimacy and therefore dangerous to adopt.

There were many implications to this imperative. To start with, there had to be some pseudo-intellectual air cover for the sacking of the body politic. We thus created ‘think’ tanks like the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute, and funded them lavishly. We would have told them precisely what their studies were to conclude, but in fact we never needed to. They knew their purpose in life, and they knew who signed their paychecks.

A new media also had to be created, and we were spectacularly successful at this. Right-wing ranters on the radio had enormous appeal to those who hadn’t yet been dumbed down enough not to be angry, but were sufficiently idiotic not to know the source of their consternation. To those we added a network of television and radio outlets that were supposedly mainstream and dispassionate, but in fact were driving a corporate agenda from top to bottom, and were joined at the hip with the Republican Party. Those of you who are old enough will remember this as Fox News. Today, of course, we just call it the Daily Instruction Network. In any case, another crucial aspect to this process was the pressure that these outlets placed upon the so-called mainstream media to conform to the corporatism. Along with the ceaseless pull of profit, and the constant battering of the media as supposedly possessed of a liberal bias, we got them to self-censor what pathetically little authentic reporting there had ever once been in that domain.

It was also necessary to get people to hate government (except when we didn’t want them to, of course), so that they could never see it as a solution to the obvious problems that beset them individually and collectively. Hating a government that you simultaneously adore when it dons military uniforms and slaughters foreigners is manifestly absurd, of course, but you’d be surprised how illogical people can be, especially when you incentivize stupidity with some little carrot here or some little stick there. Anyhow, if you say that “government is the enemy” enough times – despite the fact that you’re always talking about the joys and wonders of democracy, which is, um, a system in which people pick their government – the public will indeed grow to hate their own government. Better yet, just in case some fool was still left somewhere, running around talking about regulation or taxing rich people or single-payer health care, all you have to do is shout “Big government!” and you’ve shot it down completely. Needless to say, we did.

Incessant fear can also be quite handy when it comes to quietly looting 300 million people, so we made sure there was plenty of that. Fear of evil foreign leaders was always handy. Never mind that they had almost always been on the CIA’s payroll for decades. Never mind that we secretly did business with them at the same time the government was publicly demonizing them and imposing embargos and sanctions for other folks. Never mind that these bogeymen were pathetic, two-bit, local-yokel bully boys compared to a Hitler, Stalin or Mao. No matter. If you say it loud enough and often enough, everybody falls into line pretty quickly. Plus, it’s easy to instantly smash any naysayers to bits just by questioning their patriotism.

Brown people also make pretty good diversionary demons. Or anyone else who’s a bit different. Women. Muslims. Gays. Immigrants. The homeless. Whatever. All we basically had to do was make them lower in stature than you all and then trash them endlessly. Not only did that make you feel gratified, having someone you could stand over and piss down on, it also kept you from noticing the sea of oligarchical urine in which you were yourself drowning at that very same moment. Very effective stuff. Public manipulation for fun and profit. Psych 101. Easy and amusing. You can’t imagine the laughs we had.

From there it was generally just a matter of incessant squeezing. We sold you a ridiculously counterintuitive bunch of bullshit about the joys of ‘free trade’. You went for it, and we made obscene amounts of money by shrinking labor costs down to nothing and pocketing the difference in profits. More importantly, by packing all your jobs off to Mexico, and then China and India, and later Africa, we put you firmly under the heavy jackboot of economic insecurity. That’s a dividend that has never stopped paying off very handsomely, ever since.

Once we had you sinking economically, we could sell you on whatever supposed remedy du jour we decided to hawk next. Tax cuts, which actually ultimately increased your taxes and cut ours, seemed like a lifeboat to a struggling middle class. In fact, they produced massive deficits, which we could then use to sell you on the necessity of slashing your meager safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare. We also got you to line up behind us as we not only smashed unions, but even the pensions that union workers had earned over the span of entire lifetimes. You didn’t say a word as we let infrastructure crumble and defunded education. We told you that none of that stuff could be afforded anymore. It never occurred to you to ask why millionaires and billionaires and corporations essentially no longer paid taxes. Or why it was necessary for your country to spend a sum equal to that of every other country in the world – combined – on a massive military that essentially had no enemies.

You went for it. All. And every time we gave you a chance to say no at the ballot box, you instead begged us for more.

And so we cut and we chopped, and we slashed and we burned. Mostly, though, we just looted and pillaged.

With your help, of course. Thanks for that. It was so much cleaner and quicker and more thorough that way.

All in all, I think you would have to agree that we came up with a pretty successful little program for taking the money that used to be in your pockets and sticking it in ours.

That is, you would have to agree had we not rendered you too ignorant, too brainwashed, too frightened, too prejudiced, too distracted, too sick, too doped up and too dead to notice.

Sorry about all that.

We just wanted your money.

Thanks, Fool.

David Michael Green is a Ph.D professor of political science at Hofstra University. Other "apologies" can be found at The Regressive Antidote.
03 January 2011

Democracies in 2011.

by: Peter of Lone Tree

Seriously, what does Democracy mean ?

What does it REALLY mean ? Freedom of Speech and Majority Rule ?

Someone define that fucking word to me. Because after 7 years of liberation, I still don't get it.

What does democracy mean ?

The grocer next door is selling toilet paper called Freedom and Democracy. Bought a roll in hard currency....he said to me - only dollars will do.

I found the paper too hard on my ass...

Went back to him, complaining, said to him - this paper is too hard on my soft skin. He told me the price was worth paying...

He had memorized the Madeleine Albright democrat cunt a few years prior...who stated when over half a million soft skins of Iraqi babes went blank with death, that American democratic cunt said - she said - the price was worth it

What does your fucking word - your fucking democracy - mean ? apart from some sore ass caught in some freedom dungeon...apart from a mass grave for children.
Posted by Layla Anwar at Arab Woman Blues - Reflections in a sealed bottle....