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More Mocking of Sarah Palin

Posted by libhom Sunday, February 28, 2010 2 comments

In a meeting with people wearing shabby sheik clothes and looking very serious and virtuous.

GLH: I'm Godless Liberal Homo...and I am...addicted to laughing at...Sarah Palin.

Rest of People in Room: Hi Godless Liberal Homo!

Anyway, here's another Sarah Palin parody video made possible by the addictive software at xtranormal.com.



 

Jonathan Tasini is running a primary challenge against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a far right Republican pretending to be a Democrat here in New York. He has a lot to say. Every time you promote his videos, as is the case with Dennis Kucinich's videos, you are promoting important ideas and values.



Learn More About the Tasini Campaign!

 

nasty snowy weather with a mailbox almost completely covered by snow
Photo: Jef Nickerson

There have been some disappointing economic numbers from the past three months, numbers which have surprised many economists. Some outside the field of economics are arguing that the recovery is weakening or isn't happening at all.

I don't find the recent numbers surprising, and I don't think for a minute that the economy is going into another free fall like it was doing through in 2008 and the early part of 2009. There's a central fact that so many people aren't even considering.

This has been a really bad winter.

Economic numbers are seasonably adjusted, but we have experienced unseasonably bad weather for the past three months. December was unusually cold by a considerable margin in most of the country. January and February were a bit below average in terms of temperature, but both months have been extremely wet. In most of the country, this has meant an enormous amount of snow. In Southern California, an important part of the national economy, it has meant bucketfuls of rain.

The consequences of this shitty weather are predictable. People are going out less. That means they are spending less money. It also means that people are spending less time out house hunting. The former is a huge deal in an economy largely based on consumer spending. The latter also is especially significant since finding a house takes a lot of time and effort, and delays in house hunting will slow down a major sector of our economy.

I should note to younger readers that middle aged and old people are much likelier to stay in during bad weather. So, if this analysis seams weird to you, remember that your body functions more efficiently than those of older folks.

Disappointing economic numbers from this period should be watched, but they shouldn't set off any alarms. Demand delayed by bad weather will show up once the weather gets less execrable. Obviously, if there was shockingly bad weather for a year, it could have longer range effects on our economy, but a bad winter doesn't rate as a cause for panic.

 

San Francisco Queer Pride marchers behind banner that says bisexuals

Photo: nerdcoregirl

Being a gay man, I can't really say for sure, but I can point to a comment that I learned a lot from. It was from a post on Stuff Queer People Need to Know about Lady Gaga coming out as bi.

Other bi girl dilemmas I have personally encountered in my bisexual life:

1) Getting fired for coming out bi at work.

2) Hearing about bi girlfriends needing to run from their boyfriends or husbands, who were so intimidated by their girlfriends’bi-ness, they threatened to break their teeth.

3) Being called a “traitor” or “full of diseases” right to my face by lesbian women.

4) Having sleezy straight boys hit on me for three-ways–because that’s why I exist, to make sure they get their three-way.

5) Being told I don’t exist or that I’m “politically irrelevant” by the gay community.

6) Being harassed when I show up with a bi t-shirt or bi button by gays and lesbians at a queer pride rally or parade, even though I’ve gone there to support all LGBTQ.

7) Being told that I “have a sickness” by straight people who see my bi t-shirt or bi button on the way to the gay parade/rally/event.

8) Being told that I am just a “part-timer” by lesbian, gay, or queer-identified people, even though I am bisexual 24/7, no matter who I am dating.

9) Being told by right-wing religious people that I am an even bigger threat to society because I “choose” my sexuality.

10) Having people like Tila Tequila, Rikki and Vikki Ikki, Megan Fox, and Lady Gaga represent bisexuality to the public, with no counter-representation from regular bisexuals who just try to make it in this world.

Banksters Gone Wild, the February 2010 Edition

Posted by libhom Friday, February 26, 2010 6 comments

wood sculpture that says original bankster on itNow that new credit card regulations from Congress and the Federal Reserve are in effect, the banksters have come up with lots of new ways to rip us off and are expanding on old ways to rip us off. Before I go on, I want to remind people of one central fact.

"Credit Card Companies" = Banks

The banksters reserve many of their most reprehensible practices for their credit card customers. These practices are so larcenous that the banksters have invented the fiction of "credit card companies" in order to make it seem like somebody other than the banksters are responsible for that crap.




American Express: Now, if you are late with a payment, you have to pay a $29 fee to get access to the rewards payments you made on purchases. (CNN Money 2/22/10)

Bank of America: Intimidated customers trying to turn off the overdraft functions of their credit cards at bank locations. . (MSNBC article updated 2/23/10)


JPMorgan Chase: has raised it's fee for transferring credit card balances from 3% to 5%. (CNN Money 2/22/10)

JPMorgan Chase: Sent out threatening letters to customers trying to frighten them into opting into expensive overdraft protection. (MSNBC article updated 2/23/10)


Inactivity Fees: Some banksters are charging up to $36 per year for not using your charge card. (MSNBC 2/23/10)

Rising Interest Rates: Average interest rates increased by over 1% in the last six months. (MSNBC 2/23/10)




How Much Power Do the Banksters Have Over You?
According to a column in the Chicago Sun Times suggests that getting rid of a credit card account may not be as damaging to your credit score as you think.
Your concern is understandable, since it seems the credit card companies have all the power these days, in spite of the benefits of the new Card Act, which took effect Monday. If you make the decision to close your credit card account, assuming your credit is in good standing, it might have a small impact on your credit score. But that might not be enough of an impact to cause you to hang on to the card and pay an annual fee.

There could be two consequences of closing an account. Part of your credit score is based on your length of credit. So if you've had that card for many years, closing it could ding your score about 20 to 30 points, depending on whether you have other long-held cards. Even so, your score is likely to rebound within months.

One way to protect yourself, if you are the one closing the card (instead of the issuer), is to send a registered letter to the issuer when closing the account. Then keep a copy of that letter so that if your credit score declines, you have proof you were the one who closed the account.

Read the Full Article for Details.




Where Is the Money Going?
From AFP 2/23/10:
Bonuses paid to Wall Street securities industry employees in New York rose 17 percent to 20.3 billion dollars in 2009, state officials said Tuesday.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said total compensation at the largest securities firms grew even faster and industry profits could hit a record amount after unprecedented losses in 2008.

Banks are a big part of the "Wall Street securities industry."




What Is the Real Value of the Banksters?
A while back, Craig Murray posted a brilliant indictment of this parasitical class. One paragraph reminds us, in particular, just how little banksters contribute to the real economy.
I am typing this on a keyboard which was not made by a banker. It rests on a desk which was not built by a banker. I am sitting on a chair which was not made by a banker, which rests on floor tiles not made by bankers, resting on a concrete and steel reinforced floor not built by bankers in a house of similar construction. I have to hand a sausage sandwich - the pigs were not reared by bankers and the wheat was not grown by bankers, and a cup of coffee - the beans were not grown by bankers, the milk was not from banker raised cattle, the water was not purified by a banker, the sugar cane was not cut by a banker. The clay was not dug by a banker nor the kiln fired by a banker. None of it was brought to this spot and assembled or constructed by a banker.

The entire commentary is well worth reading. Money is a symbolic representation of goods and services. That's it. Yet, we have allowed the banksters to mystify money and their relation to it to the point that many of us don't realize just how inept and easily replaced these people are. We are bombarded with messages from media where the banksters advertise and make loans telling us we have no choice to go along with what the banksters want no matter how insane or destructive.

We all need to take a step back and think critically.




Any Alternatives?
The disgusting and irresponsible behavior of the banking industry is starting to get people to think about alternatives. One alternative that is getting a fresh look is North Dakota's socialist bank. More conventional alternatives like credit unions are getting more and more attractive.




Think You're Pissed Off at the Banksters?
This guy bulldozed his house rather than letting them take it via foreclosure.


Photo: wot_nxt

 

The IPad Is More of a Prototype Than a Finished Product

Posted by libhom Wednesday, February 24, 2010 1 comments

I tend to be one of those people who picks the best of products from a variety of tech companies based on my own needs. My Cell Phone is from Palm. I love my Mac Mini, but avoid Mac peripherals like okra. The best word processor is still WordPerfect, but Open Office is definitely better than Word and is more than good enough for home use. Firefox is by far the best browser for 99% of websites, but I use Chrome for Yahoo's fancy email version because Chrome is much faster with JavaScript than any other browser, which is Chrome's only redeeming value.

I figured I should disclose that I'm not a fanboy. I'm a picky bastard.

Anyway, Steve Jobs has teased the world with his release of the IPad to high praise and enormous ridicule. I find this interesting, because the IPad that he showed off was very much an unfinished product. Microsoft is notorious for releasing beta software as a finished product, while Google will call finished and stable products "beta" for years. Jobs is definitely emulating Microsoft on this one.

The video I've seen on the Apple website shows that the IPad has a lot of potential due to its portability and style. But, it needs major improvements.

Things it needs:

1) 3-4 USB ports. My Mac Mini has USB ports so I can use a real keyboard and mouse and other devices. There's no excuse for the IPad not having them. Touch screen keyboards are crap. They should let people use real keyboards (and not shoddy Apple keyboards either) for longer amounts of typing. Since IPads don't have cameras and would be too big and awkward for taking lots of photos, there should be an easy way for people to sync their cameras via USB.

2) A Camera: I suspect the AT&T's crappy network is keeping Apple from implementing a camera which would logically allow video conferencing. F That.

3) Choice of Carriers: AT&T is already swamped with people using IPhones. Sprint is better and cheaper than AT&T. People should be able to use whatever carrier they want.

4) A Phone: What's the point of getting a big IPhone that doesn't even have a phone?

5) Alternatives to Apple's Apps Store: Apple arbitrarily excludes apps for dumb reasons. The apps API should be open so people can buy any kind of app they want for the IPad from anybody they want, including ones with sexual content. If IPads become market leaders, the Justice Department will be legally obligated to intervene against this monopolistic, Microsoft style tactic.

6) Multitasking: Until Apple implements that, you're better off buying a Palm Pre, which also has a phone. At least you can use a retracted ball point pen as a stylus for that device.

7) Lack of Disk Space: The IPad really needs at least 200 GB of disk space to be worth buying. Otherwise, I would have to constantly do complicated syncs with my Mac, switching which media I want on the IPad. I like the simple syncs I do with my IPod Classic, and I would expect to be able to do them on an IPad just as simply.

8) A DVD Player: Face it, the single most popular reason people will buy IPads will be to watch porn. Locking people out of their DVD porn collections is biting the hands (usually right hands) that will be feeding Apple. There's no reason why people should be prevented from seeing their other DVDs on IPads either.

A Thing It Might Need:

1) A Stylus: I tried the IPod touch when I finally got around to buying an IPod, and the touchscreen interface was execrable, especially for someone who has big hands. Fortunately, I tried the IPod Classic, and the wheel interface works wonderfully from the get go. (The Classic also has much more disk space, which should be the biggest criterion for buying an IPod anyway.) Basically, IPhones and IPod touches are for women and men with teeny, tiny fingers. Fingers are terrible devices for using touch screens in general, even small fingers. The styluses, which even Palm is phasing out, are much easier, faster, and more precise devices for using touch screens than the human anatomy. Perhaps the larger screen of the IPad will help make the execrable IPhone user interface more usable, but I'm skeptical.

What's the Rush?

Why did Jobs feel the need to rush something to the market which wasn't even close to ready?

This should be the focus of a lot of speculation among Mac addicts. I wonder why it isn't?

 

What Ron Paul Really Stands For

Posted by libhom Tuesday, February 23, 2010 4 comments

a spaced out Ron Paul
Photo: Talk Radio News*

Now that extreme right presidential candidate Ron Paul is won the straw poll at the fascist CPAC convention, it's time for people to consider who is really is and what he really stands for. His cultish supporters have engaged in a campaign of disinformation on liberal and progressive websites for some time now. Back in 2007, I investigated Paul's actual views and agenda and reported the results. This information looks to be even more relevant now than it was then.

Ron Paul has a swarm of zealots on the Internet, spewing pro-Paul propaganda in all sorts of liberal and progressive forums. The Paul worshipers will accurately point out his opposition to the Iraq War and the Unpatriotic Act, but they conveniently omit the vast majority of Paul's views, which are hateful and wacky right-wing. The deception is starting to offend a lot of liberals, and I'm one of them. After all, if Paul could get a 75% rating in 2005 from the “Family Research Council,” a Christian Right hate-group, that should give you some idea of where Paul really stands.

Here are some other ratings of interest:

* Secular Coalition for America: 20% (2004)

* Americans for the Arts Action Fund: 0% (2000, 01, 02, 03, 04)

* Leadership Conference on Civil Rights: 38% (2005)

* Human Rights Campaign: 25% (2003-04), 0% in previous years

* John Birch Society: 100% (2004-2006 in quarterly ratings, except for 88% in Spring 04)

* National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws: 14% (2004), 30% (2005)

* Campaign for America's Future: 0% (2005-06, energy issues)

* Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: F (2006)


Bigotry Against Atheists

It should be noted that each of the following three positions contradict Paul's claims that he is a libertarian and that he supports individual freedom.

Opposes Restoring the Pledge of Allegience to the Version Without “Under God”
http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2002/pr062702.htm

Co-Sponsored Constitutional Amendment Pushing Coerced Prayer in the Public Schools
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d105:HJ00078:@@@L&summ2=m&


Voted to Allow Bigoted Alabama Judge to Post “Ten Commandments” in Courtroom
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/issues/votes/?votenum=257&chamber=H&congress=1091

Homophobia

Here are a couple of examples of Ron Paul's views, aside from his opposition to ENDA.

Opposes Hate Crimes Laws
http://www.house.gov/paul/tst/tst2007/tst050707.htm

Supports “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Ron_Paul

Voted for Amendment Attempting to Block DC Government from Allowing Same-sex Partners to Adopt
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/issues/votes/?votenum=346&chamber=H&congress=1061

Other Right-Wing Extremism,
from his congressional web site:


Opposing Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research:
http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2005/cr052405.htm

Anti-UN:
http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2006/pr061506.htm

Pro-Tax Cuts, Nearly All of Which Go to the Rich:
http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2006/pr042606.htm

Favors Cutting Gas Taxes:
http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2005/pr090705.htm

Against Corporate Accountability:
http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2005/pr041405.htm

http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2004/pr091604.htm

Glorifying Ronald Reagan:
http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2004/pr061004.htm

Supporting Corporate Efforts to Ship US Jobs to China
http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2005/cr072605.htm

Attacking Gun Control and DC Self Rule
http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2004/cr100404.htm

Anti-Union
http://www.house.gov/paul/tst/tst98/tst072798.htm

I should also note that I just checked, and it definitely turns out that Paul has been lying when he says he's a libertarian. He is anti choice. No genuine libertarian would support government involvement in the most personal decision possible.

Ron Paul is correct about the Iraq War. His concerns for civil liberties would be more reassuring if he wasn't determined to limit civil liberties to wealthy, heterosexual, white, Christian men. Otherwise, he is a hateful rightist monster scarcely different than David Duke.

* Note on the Photo: I saw Ron Paul and his cultish followers on Wall St. last year. He looked incredibly lost, confused, and feeble. I couldn't get a clear cell phone pic of him because I kept getting blocked by Paulintologists. This picture shows him less out of it than the day I saw him on Wall St., but the photo I'm running from Talk Radio News was taken in January of 2008. He may have declined mentally since then.

 

Gillibrand Should Give Back the Bankster Money

Posted by libhom Monday, February 22, 2010 3 comments

a confused Gillibrand
Photo: WDPG_Share

New York Democrats have every reason to be frustrated with Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand's refusal to take on the Wall St. banksters and brokesters who are destroying New York and destroying America.

One of the reasons why she is doing this is that she is part of the exact same Republican political machine as former Sen. Al D'Amato and Joe Bruno. The latter is a convicted felon and the former GOP Majority Leader back when they had a majority in the state Senate.

The other reason for Gillibrand's pandering to Wall St. sleaze is that she gets a lot of money in campaign contributions from those sleazebags. Her Democratic primary opponent, Jonathan Tasini, has called for her to return that money. (Note: I'm not sure why a rightist Republican like Gillibrand is allowed by the state party to get away with pretending she's a Democrat.) Here's the text of Tasini's press release:

Today, my opponent, Kirsten Gillibrand, did what New Yorkers find increasingly troubling: she claimed she stands for one thing, while her actions contradict her public relations talking points. On WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, referring to yesterday’s Supreme Court decision that allows unlimited corporate spending on elections, my opponent said, “I think it’s terrible.”

I agree—the Supreme Court decision hands over to corporations control over our democracy. It reinforces the notion in the voters’ minds that our system is dysfunctional and is not helping average people.

But, by her actions, not words, my opponent stands side-by-side with the conservative Supreme Court majority (as she did when she supported the National Rifle Association-backed overturning of the D.C. ban on handguns) by continuing to pocket huge amounts of corporate-influenced cash, particularly from the elite bankers and financial mainpluators who engineered the collapse of our economy, robbing Americans of their jobs, savings and retirement.

Yesterday, at a rally in front of Goldman Sachs, I called on my opponent to stop taking the massive amounts of money she is receiving from Wall Street and the very corporate interests that are blocking real change and to give back every dollar she has taken from the Wall Street bankers who destroyed our economy. That money is legalized corruption and is hurting every New Yorker and the American people. (The specific demand can be seen on this video at the 4:40 mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9y8I9qFsRU)

I renew that call today. A majority of New Yorkers, and a majority of Democrats, do not support the election of the appointed Senator because they believe that she has no core principles. By rejecting Wall Street money—and, thereby, showing that she, in fact, does not support corporate control over our elections—my opponent will actually show voters that her words are not merely talking points to win over voters simply to get elected.

Democrats can respond to the Supreme Court in a forceful manner—and stand with the people. The Democratic Party can declare that it will cease accepting corporate cash today, immediately, as a signal to the American people that our party stands with the people, not with the corporate interests who have done great harm to the economy and the lives of millions of Americans.

It's no secret that Gillibrand is an NRA loving, bloodthirsty gun extremist. However, more people need to realize she is completely beholden to the banksters.

 

Elderly Sexpot from Linda McMahon's WWE

Posted by libhom Sunday, February 21, 2010 4 comments

Mae Young was one of the most entertaining and adorable WWE characters during Linda McMahon's reign as CEO. I loved her and still do.



Linda McMahon's snarkworthy Senate campaign continues to roll along, eating up millions of her WWE dollars. I wonder how GOP primary voters will react if they find out just exactly what has been the WWE product under McMahon's leadership. McMahon shouldn't have resigned as WWE CEO to try to buy a Senate seat. I just don't think it is going to work.

 

CPAC Bigot Cheered and Applauded More Than Booed

Posted by libhom Saturday, February 20, 2010 4 comments

The GOP propaganda machine is trying to claim that Ryan Sorba, of the "Young Conservatives of California," was "booed off the stage" for being anti gay. The facts don't fit the propaganda. Sorba committed the cardinal sin of going off talking points and criticizing conference organizers who allowed some homophobic gay Republicans to attend as long as those self loathing queers said and did nothing to support lgbt rights. (Hat tip for Video: Box Turtle Bulletin)



When you watch the actual video, several things are apparent.

1) He did not leave the stage until he was done talking.

2) The number of people cheering and applauding were greater than those who booed, though the people booing were louder per person.

Also, the GOP noise machine is claiming that Sorba was being booed for being a bigot. That isn't true, if you know anything about the right in this country. He was booed for criticizing the conference organizers, CPAC. Rightists are expected to be good little sheep who flock in unison.

By the way, "GOPride" (it really should be called GOShame) did nothing to promote tolerance of our people at the convention, much less pushing for equality. They accepted terms which expressly forbade that. All they were allowed to do was to offer help and advice on technology. GOShame didn't object to this at all. After all, the GOShame people hate themselves and all other glbt people just as much as the rest of the CPAC attendees and organizers.

 

 

Most people in this country really, really, really need to get laid.

 

Israel has been guilty of a prolonged campaign of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine since the country has started. Isreal's desire to steal more Palestinian land and resources has been insatiable. When the nation of Israel was formed, Israelis were the minority of the population, yet they got the majority of the land and the most valuable of land.

Yet, that wasn't enough for Israel. After nationhood, Israel launched a terrorist campaign to drive much of the native population out of the country. Later, Israel stole the rest of Palestine in two wars of aggression. Now, they have all of the West Bank, including Palestinian East Jerusalem under occupation. Gaza is under a siege.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are subjected to a slow, methodical, and murderous campaign of ethnic cleansing which shows no sign of easing. Palestinians in Israel proper face rampant discrimination for not being Jewish.

All of this is bad enough. One thing that makes this worse is that my own government is involved with this. Administrations and Congresses of both parties have financed, and armed, and provided diplomatic support to Israel's antisemitic campaigns against the Palestinians. (Palestinians are a Semtitic people, and most Israeli Jews are European, not Semitic.)

Worst of all is that Israel got its nuclear weapons by attacking a US submarine, and "our" government has never done a damned thing about it. They murder Americans civilians who commit peaceful acts of nonviolence against crimes against humanity, and "our" government does absolutely nothing in response. The flow of aid, trade, and support keeps going.

With Mossad's latest terrorist attack in Dubai, they used Identity Theft against British citizens to commit their crime. How much longer until Americans like you and me become victims of Identity Theft committed by the Mossad terrorists?

Enough of this bullshit! Our government should ban all aid and trade with Israel. If our government really cared about the "war on terrorism," it would break off diplomatic relations with that terrorist regime.

I'm an atheist, so I have no reason to travel to Israel. It's not like it's in the world's 500 most fun tourist destinations or anything. A travel boycott against Israel by me would be a completely empty gesture. I can, however, call on my government to end its support for the antisemitic government in that country.

 

We're In the Middle of National Condom Week

Posted by libhom Friday, February 19, 2010 2 comments

condoms on assembly line
Photo: Paul Keller

Thanks to Queers United for reminding me about this.

National Condom Week 2/14-2/21 is an excellent way to publicize those simple objects that have saved the lives of the gay and bisexual men in your lives. Although religious extremists love to lie about the effectiveness of condoms, condoms are exceedingly effective when used properly. Here are some instructions from Avert on how to use condoms.

Open the condom package at one corner being careful not to tear the condom with your fingernails, your teeth, or through being too rough. Make sure the package and condom appear to be in good condition, and check that if there is an expiry date that the date has not passed.

Place the rolled condom over the tip of the hard penis, and if the condom does not have a reservoir top, pinch the tip of the condom enough to leave a half inch space for semen to collect. If the man is not circumcised, then pull back the foreskin before rolling on the condom.

Pinch the air out of the condom tip with one hand and unroll the condom over the penis with the other hand. Roll the condom all the way down to the base of the penis, and smooth out any air bubbles. (Air bubbles can cause a condom to break.)

If you want to use some extra lubrication, put it on the outside of the condom. But always use a water-based lubricant (such as KY Jelly or Liquid Silk) with latex condoms, as an oil-based lubricant will cause the latex to break. Click here to see picture of lubricants.

The man wearing the condom doesn't always have to be the one putting it on - it can be quite a nice thing for his partner to do.

Here's a YouTube video that Avert embedded too.



Lubricants:
Generally, you should use lubricants that specifically say that they are condom safe. Women's Health at About.com has some info on some of the things that you definitely shouldn't use for lubricating condoms.
Never use a lubricant that contains oils, fats, or greases such as petroleum-based jelly (like Vaseline brand), baby oil or lotion, hand or body lotions, cooking shortenings, or oily cosmetics like cold cream. They can seriously weaken latex, causing a condom to tear easily.

So many people have died needlessly from HIV. Many people still do because HIV drugs don't work indefinitely for everyone. Some people get sick or even die from the drugs. People with HIV are at risk from unsafe sex too because of the variety of strains from a rapidly mutating virus. Different strains have different resistances to HIV drugs.

Protect yourself and your partners.

 

A Figure That Underestimates a Problem

Posted by libhom Thursday, February 18, 2010 1 comments



This ticker shows that nearly 5 million American families, not individuals, have lost their health coverage since the beginning of 2008. There were tens of millions of Americans without coverage before that. It's an enormous problem.

And, it's worse. Health insurance corporations and HMOs are getting ever more ruthless in denying claims for needed healthcare for the people who still do have "coverage." Copays and fees to employers are going up while insurer/HMO executive pay stays astronomical. A significant portion of those added copays and employer charges have been used to lobby Congress, saturate the media with propaganda, and create the astroturf teabagger "movement" in order to avoid the more efficient and humane alternative of government provided health coverage.

It would be great to replace private coverage, including its death panels*, with single payer healthcare which doesn't have them. If only there wasn't so much corruption in politics.

When are the majority of the middle class and the poor going to realize that we are getting screwed by the rich and their corporations, not by the hated minority group of the week? When are people going to grow up and accept the fact that corporate media owned and controlled by rich Republicans is rightist, not liberal? When are people going to see beyond the propaganda?


*Insurance companies use death panels all the time. The HMO/insurer lobbyist who was feeding the whole "death panel" talking point to Sarah Palin actually was projecting an industry practice onto the government.

 

Christians Gone Wild

Posted by libhom Wednesday, February 17, 2010 6 comments

No Xmas Presents for This Atheist


I Think That This Video Is Actually Serious


Screaming Christian at Jesus Camp


Faith Healing


Christians Protest a Star Wars Movie


Catholic School Bans Harry Potter


Religious Neighbor with Some Signs

Few things are more symbolic of just how out of touch the Democratic Party elites are with Democratic voters and the party's core constituents than the nonsense about "bipartisanship." Nobody outside the Beltway gives a flying rat's venereal disease about bipartisanship.

In the last election, voters wanted change. What have we gotten? It's the same policies we have had for the last 30 years. The politicians keep looting the Treasury on behalf of the rich while the rest of us get screwed.

Let's look at some of the things Democratic voters actually care about.

1) The senseless, expensive, illegal, and murderous war on Iraq.

2) The Great Recession

3) No Healthcare (either because of no coverage at all or because HMOs and insurance companies refuse to pay for needed care)

4) Racist, sexist, and heterosexist bigotry, discrimination, and violence.

5) Putting politicians and the rich under the rule of law.

6) Making the government accountable to the entire population, not just the wealthy few.

7) Global Warming

8) Products in Americans stores mostly being made abroad

9) The continuing cascade of foreclosures.

10) Union busting labor laws.

Yet, what do Obama and the "Democrats" in DC natter on about? "Bipartisanship" Fuck bipartisanship. Start governing.

Those asswipes think that everything is about them. Evan Bayh, a disgusting Bush/Cheney/Clinton/Reagan/Palin/Limbaugh Republican who poses as a moderate Democrat, has been whining incessantly about "bipartisanship." Bayh and most other Democratic Senators don't give a shit about their responsibility to govern. All they care about is restoring a good old boys network atmosphere to the Senate. (OK, it's really a straight, white, Christian, rich, old boys club, but you get the drift.)

President Obama built up this huge grassroots network during the campaign, and he has ignored it once in office. If he held a few rallies in states where Gopper Senators were filibustering the Public Option and sent out a few action alerts, we would have the public option by now. A few Goppers would have caved enough to not filibuster and only vote against the legislation. If he had worked to withhold DNC and DSSC financing from "Democrats" who opposed the public option, they would have caved. Given a choice between losing all of his seniority and his position as a committee chair, Lieberman would have caved like the cowardly sewer rat he is.

Did Obama do this? No, of course not. In fact, Obama and Reid have even refused to use budget reconciliation and recess appointments to put a stop to all the bullshit. President Obama consistently has cared more about "bipartisanship" than the people who voted him into office. In other words, he was more worried about his personal professional relationships with Gopper Senators than he did about the country and his presidency. Obama deserves to have majority disapproval when he continues to act like a narcisstic, sniveling Clinton! The average toddler isn't as self absorbed as the average politician these days.

The Green Party is starting to look golden!

 

Gopper politicians have flip flopped all over the place, even though their party campaigned in 2004 on Kerry being a "flip flopper." The funniest part is when the Gopper politicians take credit for stimulus money in their districts when they voted against it. (Hat Tip: My Big Fat Lazy Blog)

The whole thing also proves that the GOP thinks that the teabaggers are idiots.



Note to Any Teabaggers Reading This:
If your friendly, Republican politician says that the stimulus plan was bad, check and see if they have also made statements in favor of it. (Even the ultraright Cato Institute is noticing.)

Full Listing (Think Progress)
(This is long, so you may want to do a ctrl-F (command-F on Mac) to search for your congresscritter or Senator's name.)

Stimulus Hypocrisy and the Tea Partiers (CATO)


Republican hypocrites vote no on stimulus but take money and credit for 'good policy'
(Examiner.com)

Stimulus Hypocrisy (Think Progress)



 

Hot Guy Argues Against the R-Word

Posted by libhom Monday, February 15, 2010 1 comments

Hat Tip: Queer, Isn't It?

Dale Robertson, who has become famous for a racist sign, is one of the more controversial figures in the teabagger thing. Many of the people trying to corral the teabaggers for the GOP are claiming that liberals are making up the whole thing about Robertson being a leader of the teabagging set.

Guess what? It turns out Robertson is the founder and proprietor of TeaParty.org, a major teabagger website.

Robertson does exaggerate his role in the teabagland. He says he's the "President and Founder - Tea Party." The real founders of the teabagger astroturf scam were beltway insider lobbyists for the HMOs and the health insurers. I don't think Robertson has any idea who is really pulling the puppet strings for the fiasco he is a significant part of.

The corporate teabagger puppeteers are throwing some of their own puppets under the bus, now that they are becoming inconvenient. The very racism and obnoxiousness that corporate lobbyists and GOP operatives found so charming last summer is becoming a political liability now. Teabaggers now are assigned the task of returning to the smarmy GOP code speak for the same racism that Robertson expressed more overtly with his sign.

 

photo from alley with image of sarah palin with evil written belowThe whole teabagging thing started as an astroturf scam by corporate interests trying to block government provided healthcare. However, an actual grassroots movement sprouted from these poisonous seeds, and the corporate masters were losing control. Teabaggers were expressing their own opinions, many of which were unflattering to Wall St. That wouldn't be tolerated for long.

Thus, there should be no sense of surprise that the big teabagger convention was set up to be an exclusionary event. They made people travel long distances, pay for hotel rooms, and pay conference fees during the Great Recession to participate. This wasn't just based on a greedy desire to make a profit. It was even more about a desire to keep the riffraff out.

This gathering of wealthy teabaggers and paid right establishment professionals was quite controversial in the teabagging community. Many middle class members felt that their movement was being taken over, even though it was never really their movement (or a real movement) to begin with. That brings us to the Wasillan Gone Wild: Sarah Palin. Palin was happy to side with the wealthy and corporate interests who rewarded her with $100,000 after she made a speech criticizing Obama for sometimes using a teleprompter while reading notes scribbled on her hand.

Palin with caption saying, Bought my book?  So long, suckers.Of course, Ms. Palin is hardly the only rightist nutjob joining the GOP's wealthy owners in lashing out at the marginally independent parts of the teabagging mob. Glenn Beck has joined in on the fun, attacking teabagging Texas GOP candidate Debra Medina for comments which may suggest she accepts alternatives to the official 911 narrative. This is ironic for two reasons.

1) Glenn Beck loves, loves, loves conspiracy theories.

2) The official explanation of 911 is a conspiracy theory.

But, this isn't about 911. It's about wealthy and corporate interests trying to reassert control over their own astroturf movement. And, it isn't stopping there.

Redstate.com, a far right blog, was founded by Ben Domenech, whose father is Secretary of Natural Resources for the state of Virginia, and Joshua TreviƱo, who now runs a PR firm for wealthy and corporate interests. Yet, that blog pretends to be a grassroots venture. They have joined in on the crackdown against independent teabaggers by banning birthers and 911 truthers. The blog even called the birthers "birfers" in order to build their street cred among semi literate Republicans.

The birthers were encoraged wildly by corporate interests and their media. Now that they have outlived their usefulness, they same interests are trying to silence their suckers.

Grassroots folks who have gotten themselves involved in the whole teabagging mess should learn an important lesson from all of this. The wealthy and corporate interests that buy the far right "ideology" you are being fed hold the teabaggers in utter contempt. That goes double for bought politicians like Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin may have gotten involved with Alaska secessionists, and she did throw red meat to the Texas secessionists at the recent Rick Perry rally, but she doesn't care about any of this. All she cares about is herself.

Middle class Americans who are sick of being screwed over have only one real option: the left grassroots. Middle class people on the right can continue to feed their prejudices, or they can start working to feed themselves and their families.

Photos: cornexo

Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

 

I'm already afraid...of the Cheneys. (Hat Tip: The Joshua Blog)



The organization behind this, Human Rights First, did a good job of satirizing the constant state of fear that rightist and corporate interests want us all to be in. They have a petition to close Gitmo.

 

Clerical Child Molestation in Ratzi's Germany

Posted by libhom Saturday, February 13, 2010 2 comments



Photo: Alessio85

For years, I've wondered why Roman Catholics don't demand that Ratzi resign as their pope. But, then again, I'm still trying to figure out why they don't go after the Cardinals and Archbishops who protect child raping priests too.

From The Freethinker 2/12/03:

THE Catholic Church has become mired down in yet another child abuse scandal – this time in Pope Ratzinger’s native Germany.

The widening public scandal began last month with allegations that three priests at the elite Canisius Jesuit high school in Berlin had sexually abused students in the 1970s and ’80s.

In the midst of a steadily growing uproar over the handling of that case, German magazine Der Spiegel published an article last weekend that said nearly 100 clerics and laypeople had been suspected of abusing children and teenagers nationwide since 1995.

According to this report, the rector of Aloisiuskolleg, a high school in Bad Godesberg – an affluent neighbourhood in the former capital of Bonn where diplomats and leading politicians lived – this week resigned over accusations that he was aware of sexual misconduct by teachers at the school.

Many of the cases now coming to light are unlikely to be prosecuted because the statute of limitations requires crimes to be reported within 10 years of the victim’s 18th birthday.

Ratzinger waving to peopleThe last paragraph is sadly typical. Priestly child molestation generally isn't even addressed by law enforcement or the media until it's too late to prosecute. Meanwhile, priests continue to rape Catholic kids, and nothing is being done to protect the victims.

I remember reading rightist Catholics from Europe, and some from here in the US, acting like the rampant rape of Catholic children by the Roman Catholic clergy was an "American problem." Some commentators here in the US tried to blame molestation by a nutty rightist clergy on liberals. The facts don't support this kind of denial.

These latest revelations also makes Ratzi's ranting against the UK's queer equality laws even more bizarre. Even without his efforts to protect priests who rape kids, this quote from The Guardian would be bizarre.
"The effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal [of equality] has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed."

Under the last pontiff, Ratzi was in charge of a variety of policies one of which included the effort to protect child molesting priests, a policy that goes on to this very day. The far right's meme of "natural law" always has been suspect, given how far it is astray from biological evidence or even basic logic, but Ratzi has taken things to ridiculous extremes.

Only a true psychopath would think that raping kids is OK under "natural law," but sex among consenting adults of the same gender is not.

His Oppressiveness then goes on to demand that Roman Catholic priests in Britain must meddle in politics, using time and energy that should be used protect Catholic children there from being raped by many within their ranks.
"Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society. In doing so, you are not only maintaining long-standing British traditions of ­freedom of expression and honest exchange of opinion, but are giving voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them: when so many of the population claim to be Christian, how could anyone dispute the gospel's right to be heard?" he said.

"If the full saving message of Christ is to be presented effectively and convincingly to the world, the Catholic community in your country needs to speak with a united voice. This requires not only you, the bishops, but also priests, teachers, catechists, writers – in short, all who are engaged in the task of communicating the gospel – to be attentive to the promptings of the spirit, who guides the whole church into the truth, gathers her into unity and inspires her with missionary zeal."

Ratzi really is a monster. He makes his celebrity doppelganger, the evil Emperor from Star Wars, seem like a real softy. There simply isn't any way that an honest person can call this pontiff a "moral leader."

 

Charles Darwin has a posse.  5-11 163 lbs
Image: Colin Purrington

I missed posting yesterday about Darwin Day, which honors the most important figure in the history of Biology. Darwin took a discipline which was more like coin collecting than science and gave it an analytical framework that made coherent sense out of a multitude of observations.

Our society is experiencing evolution in ways that many of us haven't considered. For instance, the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria is exactly what one would expect from the perspective of evolutionary biology.

Yet, Christian religious extremists still refuse to accept the fact evolution has happened and continues to happen to this very day. The anti intellectualism and hostility towards science among these people is only matched by the right's unwillingness to accept scientific fact about Global Warming. People think that they can just form opinions contrary to facts, and that will make those facts go away. People who wouldn't accept the scientific verdict on cigarette smoking far too often paid with their lives. Will people ever learn?

Here's a description of Darwin Day from the official site:

A Global Celebration

Darwin Day is an international celebration of science and humanity held on or around February 12, the day that Charles Darwin was born on in 1809. Specifically, it celebrates the discoveries and life of Charles Darwin -- the man who first described biological evolution via natural selection with scientific rigor. More generally, Darwin Day expresses gratitude for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity.

The International Darwin Day Foundation website provides resources and publicity for individuals and institutions across the world to celebrate science and humanity every year, on, or near, February 12, Darwin's birthday. In addition to information about the life and legacy of Charles Darwin, this website provides practical examples, advice and templates for organizing and publicizing Darwin Day events. It also provides a directory of events where you can find celebrations taking place near you or register your own event for others to find.

Recognizing science as an international language accessible to all individuals and societies, the International Darwin Day Foundation provides a new global holiday that transcends separate nationalities and cultures. Darwin Day can be celebrated in many different ways: civic ceremonies with official proclamations, educational symposia, birthday parties, art shows, book discussions, lobby days, games, protests, and dinner parties. Organizers may include: academic societies, science organizations, freethought groups, religious congregations, libraries, museums, galleries, teachers and students, families and friends. In Darwin Day, we are able to recognize the diversity among us, while celebrating our common humanity and the universal understanding we share.


 

Ben Nelson looking like a dorkCorporate interests are never satisfied with the level of butt kissing they get from politicians. Ben Nelson, the "Democratic" Senator from Nebraska is a perfect example. He has sabotaged healthcare reform, opposed even weak legislation to reduce Global Warming, and now he's gone to extremes to pander to anti union corporate and wealthy interests. From the AFL-CIO Now blog 2/12/10 (bolding mine):

Earlier this week, Republicans proved the lesson we all learned in school, “the majority rules,” doesn’t apply to the U.S. Senate. With every single Republican vote and two from defecting Democrats (see below), Republicans sustained a filibuster against Craig Becker’s nomination to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

After the vote, President Obama cited the filibuster against Becker and Republican holds on more than 60 of his nominees and said he would consider using recess appointment strategy to break the stranglehold the Republican minority has put on the nominees.

...

Those two defecting Democrats who supported the filibuster were Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.). Give them a call and tell them how disappointed you are that they turned their backs back on working families. Nelson’s office phone is 202-224-4842 and Lincoln’s is 202-224-6551.

The Goppers don't like Becker because he was a lawyer for SEIU. They say that makes him "biased." There have been plenty of people on the NLRB who have worked in management positions at corporations, yet the Goppers never said that they were "biased."

You would think that the sleazy corporate interests opposing Becker would be grateful to Nelson, but nooooooooooooooooo.... They actually are attacking them.

The "National Right to Work Committee" (got to love the name) is a lobbying/PR group for wealthy and corporate interests that focuses on denying Americans the right to form and join unions. Even when Nelson went on a major butt kissing mission, they still started running attack ads against him in Nebraska on the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it tougher for employers to intimidate workers into not organizing unions. Here is how the special interests reward "Democrats" who suck up to them.



Democrats should learn a lesson from this. Corporations and the wealthy people who own them are partisan Republicans who will never be satisfied no matter how much pandering they get. The only way for Democrats to keep their majority is to start representing the overwhelming majority of Americans who are middle class and poor.

 

Uplifting Quotes from Howard Zinn

Posted by libhom Wednesday, February 10, 2010 4 comments

Howard Zinn

(Illustration: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

Image paired with the story:
Howard Zinn: A Public Intellectual Who Mattered

The great historian Howard Zinn may be gone, but his amazing legacy remains. Here are two wonderful quotes from him that should inspire liberal and progressive activists at the worst of times (or the best).

"The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. The government will try to deceive the people, and the newspapers and television may do the same, but the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a hundred lies. My hope is that you will not be content to be successful in the way our society measures success; that you will not obey the rules, when the rules are unjust; that you will act out the courage that I know is in you."

- Howard Zinn - Address to Spelman College, 2005


"to engage in whatever nonviolent actions appeal to us. There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at critical points to create a power that governments cannot suppress. We find ourselves today at one of those critical points."

- Howard Zinn

I think the part about "no act too small" is really important. It is easy to get discouraged because you are only one person, and, separately, your actions may not make that big of a difference. Remember, you are part of a large community of activists, bloggers, and others who are doing all sorts of things to achieve the same goals. Be happy to be a part through what you are doing, and try to do a little more.

 

The Indiana Daily Student ran an excellent commentary last month by Zach Ammerman supporting ENDA, the Employment Non Discrimination Act. The author opens with a way of discussing the issue in human terms.

In 29 states (including Indiana), it is completely legal to fire someone or deny them employment entirely because they are gay or transgendered.

Your employer could literally say, “You are a great employee, but I am firing you anyway because I don’t like gay people,” and the employee could do absolutely nothing to fight the unfair termination of his or her employment.

There is simply no reason or excuse for the Employee Non-Discrimination Act not to be passed at the national level.

Opponents of ENDA usually focus on Bible thumping. Some misguided supporters of ENDA try to thump back, which isn't such a smart strategy. Religious beliefs are the main reasons people are homophobic, so debating on the basis of religion has the unintended effect of helping ENDA opponents.

Arguing ENDA in human terms is much more powerful. There really are no humane, people based arguments that work against ENDA. We should lead from our strengths.

Ammerman makes two other excellent points.
Polls have consistently shown that a majority of Americans support these protections, and a large number of local and state initiatives to protect gays from workplace discrimination have passed at the ballot box. Congressional politicians have nothing to fear but the unrestrained bigotry of religious leaders like Pat Robertson.

While our country is caught in the middle of one of the worst unemployment crises in nearly a century, every job lost unnecessarily to bigotry is one job too many. If President Obama and leaders in Congress truly care about decreasing unemployment and keeping their campaign promises to pass ENDA, they should pass ENDA now.

If you live in a state or city with employment discrimination protections, you may think you are safe. However, there's a catch. If your employer relocates to a place without such legislation in effect, you've lost your protections. Also, if you get laid off, you may have to accept a job somewhere other than where you live. The latter is an especially important consideration in this economy.

The queer community needs to keep focusing on ENDA. The corporate media don't want to talk about it because ENDA regulates the behavior of corporations, but it is the most important piece of LGBT legislation in terms of the numbers of queers affected and the level of impact employment on peoples' lives.

Carolyn Beeler also has a commentary on the NPR website which argues that if the military ban can be lifted, then ENDA should be passed too.

Out And Equal: Move 'Don't Ask' Beyond The Military

 

photo from alley with image of sarah palin with evil written belowThere is an excellent post on We Are Respectable Negroes about the racist double standards in our society. Here's part of it that uses Sarah Palin to illustrate just how bad things still are.

If Sarah Palin were black she would have disappeared into obscurity long ago.

If Sarah Palin were black, her daughter's out of wedlock, "baby daddy drama" would have been presented as an example of both pathological behavior and a dysfunctional family that is symbolic of the social problems in that community. If Sarah Palin were black, never would the poor decision making by the Palin family be marked off as challenges overcome, or deeds to be valorized.

If Sarah Palin were black, her neo-secessionist husband would have been the death knell for her political career, because as we all know you can't trust "those people."

If Sarah Palin were black, her lack of intellectual curiosity, willful and cultivated ignorance, and lack of grace both written and spoken, would not be taken as "folksy." Instead, Palin would be viewed as unqualified for any public office.

If Sarah Palin were black she would be tarred and feathered as an "affirmative action baby."

We live in a society where it is socially acceptable to be crazy racist as long as one is careful not to express the racism directly. Indirect bigotry and code speak are quite common. Of course, this is hardly limited to racism. The problem is quite common with sexism and heterosexism too. Code speak like "Family Values," "Identity Politics," and "PC" are quite common and the "Identity Politics" code is often used by people who are on the left on some issues.

Of course, one could easily do an "If Rush Limbaugh Were Black."

- His bosses would have fired him for hoping that a President would fail.

- His lack of command of facts would be used to question the intellectual capacity of an entire race of people.

- Republicans would stampede to criticize him, rather than cowering in fear.

- Rush's dishonesty would get him vilified by the right, while those same wingnuts would treat that dishonesty as something to be expected from "those people."

- Rush's sexual escapades would be tied to stereotypes about black men.

- His illegal drug use would have gotten him taken off the radio.

- Rush's incredible obesity would be attributed to stereotypes of eating habits and laziness.

Don't think for a minute that I'm making this up. There still is a majority view in this country that white people who are incredibly lazy, unpatriotic, bigoted, stupid, dishonest, dysfunctional, and just plain irritating are "superior" to people of other races just because of the concentration of melanin in their skin.

Photo: cornexo

 

My Sarah Palin Parody Video

Posted by libhom Monday, February 08, 2010 3 comments

XtraNormal.com is too much fun.



 

wood sculpture that says original bankster on itMost people think that walking out on a mortgage, negotiating with your bank for a short sale, or being foreclosed ends your debt to the banksters. In many states, it doesn't (CNN Money 2/3/10):

Former homeowners may still be on the hook if there's a difference between what they owed on their mortgage and what the bank could sell it for at auction. And these "deficiency judgments" are ticking time bombs that can explode years after borrowers lose their homes.

It can even happen to people who got their bank to approve them selling their home for less than it is worth.

In most states, the banksters can get away with this.
In the case of foreclosure, lenders can pursue deficiencies in more than 30 states, including Florida, New York and Texas, according to the U.S. Foreclosure Network, an organization of mortgage law firms.

Some states, such as California, are "non-recourse" and don't allow deficiency judgments. But, even there, if the original loan was refinanced, some or all of it may be subject to claims.

Be very careful if you are in this situation.
Releasing title does not necessarily end the debt. It's complicated because of variations in state law, but, generally, a mortgage has two parts: a pledge of collateral, represented by the home, and a promise to pay off the loan.

Lenders may release property liens in order to facilitate short sales without releasing borrowers from their obligations to pay under the promissory notes. The secured debt can convert to an unsecured one after the sale.

Zaretsky had one client who was so relieved to have arranged a short sale that he signed every paper his real estate agent shoved at him, even a confession that clearly stated he still owed the debt.

"He had no idea what he was doing," said Zaretsky. "All the lender had to do was go to court to convert the confession into a deficiency judgment."

If you aren't in financial trouble, but you just want to get out of a mortgage that is for more than the value of your house, be extra careful. Banks look at credit reports and are even more likely to go after deficiency judgements if your other bills are getting paid, which suggests that you are doing a "strategic default."

What the Article Carefully Avoids Mentioning

There is something even more sinister about this. The banksters set up a lot of predatory mortgages that were intended to take peoples' homes from them after they were paying off their mortgages for a few years by sending the interest rates through the stratosphere. Banksters hoped to seize the homes and sell them at a profit, not realizing that their greed and corruption would cause the housing market to tank.

Now, the banksters can collect the deficiencies and eliminate the risks they should have been assuming when they ran these scams in the first place.

The corporate media keeps scolding politicians not to side with populist anger over the blatant misconduct of the banksters. Yet, the behavior of the banksters gets more predatory and avaricious. The same banksters that nearly destroyed our financial system and who are ripping people off every chance they get are looting their own financial institutions by giving themselves enormous unearned bonuses, when their regular salaries alone would make them overpaid.

Here are some great quotes on banks and the people who run them.
It is easier to rob by setting up a bank than by holding up a bank clerk.
Bertolt Brecht

I hate banks. They do nothing positive for anybody except take care of themselves. They`re first in with their fees and first out when there`s trouble.
Earl Warren

But if you want to continue to be slaves of the banks and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let bankers continue to create money and control credit.
Josiah Stamp

A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove you don't need it.
Bob Hope

Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.
Thomas Jefferson

Whoever controls the volume of money in our country is absolute master of all industry and commerce...when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.
James Garfield, 20th US President
Assassinated, 1881

When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes... Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.
Napoleon Bonaparte, 1815


Photo: wot_nxt

 

Military Family Suicides

Posted by libhom Sunday, February 07, 2010 3 comments

Most of the people reading this blog have heard about the disturbingly high suicide rates among our troops and vets from Iraq. (No one seems to be keeping track of the mercenaries, but our country tries to pretend they don't exist.)

Reading a posting a little while back from Gold Star Mom Speaks Out alerted me to another terrible aspect of the Iraq quagmire: military family suicides.

Defense.gov has a big section from a speech by Deborah Mullen, wife of the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the subject:

“As I look at the numbers for each service, the rates have gone up per capita at about the same rate over the past four or five years for every service,” he said. “This isn’t just a ground-force problem.”

Suicide is a growing problem that leaders have to commit to, and experts who study suicide prevention must help those leaders understand the causes, Mullen said. The military’s leaders are eager to implement programs and better prevention measures, he added.

Mullen advocated for better overall training for servicemembers, noting that the military has a tendency to focus on training, whether it’s field or mental fitness, during the deployment-readiness cycle. Training for troops and their family members must start from the day they swear in, he said.

“We have a tendency to cycle [training] to get you ready before you deploy, but I would argue that with where we are right now, we have to have a continuum of readiness that starts to educate families from Day One about the challenges the lie ahead, the information that is available [and] the networks that are out there in these challenging times, so that we can hopefully avoid crisis,” he said.

Suicide among military family members also is a growing concern for the military. Deborah Mullen said that although much focus has been given to suicide prevention for servicemembers and assistance for survivors of suicide victims, more must be done for the families. Family members also need training to build resilience and learn how to deal with the stress of deployments, she said.

“There’s another side to this, and that’s family members who’ve committed suicide,” she said. “It’s our responsibility. These are our family members.”

Families are under great stress, too, she said, noting that watching their loved ones deploy repeatedly can be equally as strenuous on families at it is on the deploying servicemembers.

“I think we need to realize that we have families that are under such great stress,” the chairman’s wife said. “This stress is only going to continue. We need to be able to give tools to family members who are left behind.

“I hope the families are something you will look at as you work through these really challenging problems,” she told the audience. “We do have family members that we need to be aware of, and we need to get our arms around the number of suicide attempts and actual suicides and the impact on the family.”


Gold Star Mom brings up an additional point that we all need to take into account:
I'm pretty sure that most parents who get that knock on the door consider suicide as one of their options, if only briefly, during those difficult days after they receive the terrible news of the death of their child. I know of too many parents who want to crawl inside at the first view of the flag covered coffin. One more hug, one more embrace. If only they could trade their life for their child's.

Please do not forget the Gold Star parents!

We need to think about the human costs of wars before we start them so glibly.

 

Wingnuts Are Making Socialism More Popular in the US

Posted by libhom Saturday, February 06, 2010 3 comments

sign that says liar/liar socialism with a picture of President Obama wearing joker makeup
Photo: TheTruthAbout...

36% of Americans view socialism favorably.

You know who is making socialism more popular? The American Right.

First, you have all these hateful rightists going on about how Obama is a "socialist." They should research what a socialist actually is. If they did, they would realize that a conservative politician like President Obama is far from a socialist. However, the nuts who keep saying this don't realize that they are having an unintended impact on our society.

The far right's policies and attitudes have driven our country into a ditch. The rightists' behavior gets more erratic and bizarre with each passing day. They are understandably unpopular among reasonable people. So, anything they throw tantrums over will get a favorable looking over these days.

Also, the right fringe is fond of referring to a lot of things that aren't socialist as being so. Here are some of them.

- Increasing taxes on the rich

- Bringing back strong regulation of the financial markets

- Taxing unearned Wall St. bonuses

- Unemployment insurance

- Repealing NAFTA and withdrawing from the World Trade Organization

All of these things are liberal policies that are alternatives both to socialism and to the positions of the right. All of these things are perfectly reasonable, and they all have strong historical track records. When the ignorant right refers to these things as "socialism," the expected result is that socialism starts looking really good.

The right is rebranding socialism in a way that helps to sell it. If the right doesn't want the general public to start looking into real socialism and start thinking about actually becoming socialist, the smart thing would be to shut up about the whole socialism thing.

Wouldn't it be weird if Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh ended up being instrumental in turning America into a socialist country?

 

During the first year of his administration, Barack Obama followed Bush regime policies in most major areas, while making a number of small concessions to try to mollify Democratic voters. Here are some examples of major policy continuity:

1) Increasing total occupying forces in Iraq (troops plus mercenaries)

2) Continuing the policy of kidnapping people and sending them to other countries to be tortured ("extraordinary rendition")

3) Keeping the torture center in Guantanamo open

4) Expanding the Bush regime's hate based initiatives to take federal grant money from inclusive nonprofits and give it to nonprofits that discriminate on the basis of religion.

5) Continuing the policy of creating AFRICOM.

6) Refusing to withdraw from the World Trade Organization

7) Refusing to negotiate the end of corporate controlled trade agreements such as NAFTA

8) Attending "National Prayer Breakfasts"

9) Expaning the wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan

10) Supporting a huge corporate giveaway in the name of "healthcare reform" (remember the Bush regime's Medicare changes?)

11) Refusing to support legislation cracking down on bankster and brokester bonuses.

12) Continuing illegal spying on Americans without warrants.

I could go on, and on, and on, but you get the point. This year's administration budget proposal includes some important continuity with the Bush regime. Obama wants domestic spending (including veterans benefits) frozen while continuing enormous increases of military spending. The proposal does nothing to cut off funding for the illegal war on Iraq that goes against American values.

Yet, there is an aspect of the budget that actually does represent a major break with the policies of the Bush regime. President Obama is calling for Bush's tax cuts for the rich to expire. Even when the tax breaks expire, the parasitical rich in this country won't be paying anywhere near their fair share in taxes. But, any progress in this area is critically important. It represents a break with 30 years of corrupt policies that have robbed the poor and middle class to benefit wealthy campaign donors.

We need to pressure President Obama to break with more Bush regime policies. This is a good start, but Obama has a long way to go before he can call himself a Real Democrat.

 

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