By Greg Palast on Buzzflash.com:
With the Gulf Coast dying of oil poisoning, there's no space in the press for British Petroleum's latest spill, just this week: over 100,000 gallons, at its Alaska pipeline operation. A hundred thousand used to be a lot. Still is.
On Tuesday, Pump Station 9, at Delta Junction on the 800-mile pipeline, busted. Thousands of barrels began spewing an explosive cocktail of hydrocarbons after "procedures weren't properly implemented" by BP operators, say state inspectors "Procedures weren't properly implemented" is, it seems, BP's company motto.
Click here for the whole article at Buzzflash
If you don't hate BP yet, try not to after reading this article. What Palast has been doing for the past decade or so is invaluable; I wish I worked as hard as him to get the word out about shady corporate happenings. Who knows how long he'll be around, if everything he's been exposing has been true.
This article talks about just a few despicable things BP has done in the past which makes the current disaster easier to understand, and also more enraging. He points out that BP is highly responsible for the destruction caused by the '89 Exxon Valdez spill, which transitions smoothly into their anti-whistleblower tactics against one Dan Lawn, who warned BP for over a decade about corrosion of a certain pipeline in Alaska which was finally addressed in 2006.
The overall lesson here, to me, is that we can't expect the private sector to ever regulate itself seriously or safely. There has to be a referee, and the referee has to be neutral. What we've gotten for longer than I've been alive is the largest corporate entities slithering their way into government regulatory positions and doing the opposite of what they're supposed to do. What's worse, the corporate owned media spins this issue so much that the average viewer of cable news will probably tell you that the private sector deals with enough regulation as it is. It's simply not true. I've lost count of the factory recalls of American products in my lifetime, and that isn't even half of the problem. But every time you hear about e. coli in the burgers, or peanut butter, or flipping green beans, that's a consequence of lax regulation. When people die needlessly because of poorly constructed automobiles, there's your free market working itself out. Fuck BP.
May 28, 2010
By Greg Palast on Buzzflash.com:
May 24, 2010
From my sort-of home town paper, the Baytown Sun:
In the city’s efforts to attract high-end retail and restaurant development, one essential ingredient is having a customer base to support that development. In an early step toward building such a customer base, the Baytown Economic Development Foundation has been conducting a survey to assess the potential market for houses valued at $200,000 or higher.
In a letter DonCarlos sent to large employers asking them to invite employees to take the survey, he said consultants had recommended “for the City of Baytown to establish a framework that encourages developers to build higher-end housing that would attract affluent buyers and therefore create more demand for commercial and retail activity.”
“We feel a lot of the white-collar workers, and a fair number of the blue-collar workers—professional and nonprofessional—in some of our major industries have chosen to live elsewhere. We’ve got a pretty concentrated effort under way to try to attract the people who work here in our industries to also live here and raise their families here.”
for the whole thing click here or on the title of this entry
What this amounts to is a desire for white-washing in Baytown. When you have city officials like mayor Stephen Don-Carlos complaining that houses valued under $160k are not "profitable" for them, you're talking about a city that doesn't want anymore non-white people living there. But there are other issues here.
That last quote I put here, about white collar and blue collar workers from "our major industries," is addressing the fact that the Exxon corporation is the only reason why Baytown exists, yet the people at the top of the company making obscene amounts of money don't live in Baytown. This also begs the question, "Why should the city where the most profitable company in recent history is based have any money problems?"
Another question on my mind is "Does Baytown really need MORE suburban sprawl??"
Is there any chain restaurant Baytown doesn't have at least one of now? Maybe we could have the first Karl's Junior restaurant in the region, how exciting! Is there any room left on Garth road to build another fake, over-priced suburban "Italian" restaurant? We got Johnny Carinos, now Olive Garden, is Carabas on the Don-Carlos radar for white people bait? Ah, but that's not enough. The city wants "high end" retailers to set up shop in Baytown. Ooo, let's turn Texas Avenue into the Galleria of East Houston, complete with a Jeffery's outlet and an Apple store! Floor those old historical buildings and local owned businesses and build a place where Rex Tillerson himself may shop, maybe we can make some room where the old hospital used to be!
I think we all know why people move to Baytown. It's Exxon, stupid. Any economic questions about Baytown can be referred to their accounting department. Exxon is Baytown, Baytown is Exxon.
That's the way things are, but that's not how it has to be. There's been a thriving little-music-scene-that-could living there for a while now. They even had their own legitimate venue to play at on weekends. But new owners of the property got tired of the place's slight money problems, being run by a church that lost support from the Southern Baptist Convention because they dared to let a gay-friendly Christian denomination rent the place out during the week. The venue fell behind on the rent, and despite their potential to put on profitable shows, with over one hundred people showing up to one show in particular in August 2006, the following month the owners of the building kicked out Mr. Haney and his brainchild, The Harbour. That's the kind of ethic the city council is supporting--your only value is your profit margin. Pay now or get out.
What's good for the bosses is good for our city. Screw the poor, screw the individuals who have grown up here and are trying to define Baytown beyond Exxon. Lets pave the way for a yuppie paradise. Gee, why are so many young Baytownians moving to Austin? Screw 'em. The oil an gas industry will never die.....
I haven't linked this blog to my band in a long time but I wanted to post the latest news entry from our website:
Second post of 2010 and what happened Saturday night
Damn, I'm a slacker. Only took five months to post a news entry, and to play a show, for that matter. On Saturday night we played at Cecil's Water Park in Crosby which is actually a pretty cool place. There had been some talk of trouble brewing at this show, but there was also some talk that nothing violent was going to go down. We went on around midnight and played several songs until eventually a fight broke out which led to several other fights over the span of about 30 or 40 minutes. Eventually some police showed up and I think took some people away, but I don't know about that for sure. I don't know what the initial fight was about, but the whole night I could sense some tension in the pit. There were probably some people there who either aren't familiar with "mosh pits" or are accustomed to being excessively violent at shows, but there was some kind of clash and eventually it erupted into a brawl. Apparently, someone also got stabbed in the mouth with a knife. Which is not nearly as funny in reality as it sounds abstractly. The people running the show couldn't decide if they wanted us to keep playing or shut it down, eventually there was a drunken consensus that we keep playing. I packed up my gear and left. I half-heartedly apologize for us not finishing our set. We're supposed to be playing in Baytown in a few weeks but I think it's a semi-private event so I'm hesitant to divulge too much info (of which I have little anyway). If you have any questions, comments, concerns, statements, filibusters, rebuttals, proposals, inquiries, conjectures, objections, interjections, testimony, arguments, bullet points, flashcards, musings, ad-libs, asides, asterisks, spread sheets, dinosaurs, or any Powerpoint slide shows, please contact email@example.com. That is all.
May 20, 2010
Today is May 20th, 2010, the first annual Draw Muhammad Day, as decreed by numerous YouTubers and bloggers. It's a response to the response to the response to the response of a joke that was a response to a response, yadayada yada. South Park joked about drawing Muhammad on their show before, and they self-censored. Now they've drawn Muhammad for real and they got death threats and will probably not be allowed to ever re-run the show.
Take it from Wiki: "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day is a protest against Islamists who threaten violence against individuals that attempt to depict Muhammad. It originally began as a protest against censorship of South Park episode "201" by Comedy Central in response to death threats from radical Islamists."
here's the whole thing
I'm not sure what an "Islamist" is but I think they mean "Muslim." Apparently, Pakistan has blocked Facebook altogether because of a group on the site that is dedicated to supporting Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.
Of course, illustrators have been threatened and murdered by radical hard-liner Muslims in recent history. The death threats continue today, but I still can't quite get behind this particular cause, if that's what it actually is.
From what I understand about the general religion of Islam, those who practice it are not allowed to depict Muhammad. So a moderate Muslim shouldn't care one way or the other whether a non-Muslim depicts their prophet, although it would be hard to blame them at least for being offended by it. Obviously most Muslims do not support the actions of the murderous radicals, but what are they supposed to think about this particular "holiday?" We all know that there are some crazy Muslims out there (and Christians and Jews and Scientologists and and and...) so I'm kind of confused by this particular effort, which serves to alienate all Muslims, but with the supposed intent of only riling up the few who would kill or threaten to kill someone for depicting Muhammad.
Is it all non-Muslims' job to force moderate Muslims to make the choice of openly denouncing other Muslims or being silently complicit with radical actions? No. Do non-Muslims have the right to do so in the US? Absolutely. For me, this a particular right that I choose to wave. As someone who respects people who actually understand their religion, as moderate Muslims and Jews (not Christians) seem to, I have no plans of drawing Muhammad this year.
Seems like misdirected energy to me.
March 11, 2010
After reading this article, I felt compelled to talk about the US public school system's problem with overbearing social discipline, and the peculiar wording accompanying this Associated Press article on Yahoo.com. The article is about a school in Mississippi that canceled their senior prom because the ACLU demanded that they change a certain policy regarding gay couples. The school has a ban on same-sex prom dates, and an 18-year-old lesbian student was planning on wearing a tuxedo.
It should be duly noted that public school's are not bound by strict constitutional guidelines. Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier was part of a Supreme Court precedent which gives public school administrators some leeway in enforcing certain school rules, such as reasonable censorship of school newspapers, or in this case dress codes. On the other hand, Tinker v Des Moines clearly protects students' free expression, so long as school dress codes are designed to promote educational goals. The latter decision is much older than the former, however, and we have a more conservative Court now than when Tinker was decided.
Some may argue that a public school has a right to deny any student access to a non-curricular school function like that of a prom. The ACLU's argument here must be that the school is interpreting its policy (which is probably vaguely worded as "no distracting attire allowed at prom") in such away that explicitly discriminates against homosexuals. What sucks about this AP article is that they give no insight into what the ACLU is saying about this--more on that in a second. Being government institutions, public schools have ZERO right to discriminate on social grounds like this. If this were a private school, the ACLU would have no case and probably would not have bothered the administration.
The subtitle to this article on the Yahoo.com front page was "Citing 'distractions,' a school district under pressure from the ACLU calls off prom altogether." This subtitle would lead any rational person to infer that the ACLU demanded that the school cancel prom. This is not the case. The ACLU demands that the school change its discriminatory policy, the school chose on its own behalf to cancel its prom. The way this article is presented on Yahoo, and with the articles' stark omission of any detailed comment from the ACLU, those who may not openly advocate discrimination but nevertheless "disagree" with homosexuality can simply fall back on the classic Bill O'Reilly narrative that the ACLU is a bunch of busy bodies who are at war with Christians and Christianity (despite the fact that the ACLU has represented Christians and fought for their free exercise).
This article doesn't cite the school's official policy at question here; is it actually a ban on homosexuals or just against causing a distraction at the prom, or both? The article says:
"The ACLU filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Oxford to force the school district to sponsor the prom and allow McMillen to bring whom she chooses and wear what she wants."
"AP" now stands for Absolute Phailure.
March 4, 2010
Just two days after Chile was struck by a devastating earthquake, Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens informed his readers that Milton Friedman's "spirit was surely hovering protectively over Chile" because, "thanks largely to him, the country has endured a tragedy that elsewhere would have been an apocalypse...
According to Stephens, the radical free-market policies prescribed to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet by Milton Friedman and his infamous "Chicago Boys" are the reason Chile is a prosperous nation with "some of the world's strictest building codes."
The Chile of the 1960s had the best health and education systems on the continent, as well as a vibrant industrial sector and rapidly expanding middle class. Chileans believed in their state, which is why they elected Allende to take the project even further.
After the coup and the death of Allende, Pinochet and his Chicago Boys did their best to dismantle Chile's public sphere, auctioning off state enterprises and slashing financial and trade regulations. Enormous wealth was created in this period but at a terrible cost: by the early eighties, Pinochet's Friedman-prescribed policies had caused rapid de-industrialization, a ten-fold increase in unemployment and an explosion of distinctly unstable shantytowns. They also led to a crisis of corruption and debt so severe that, in 1982, Pinochet was forced to fire his key Chicago Boy advisors and nationalize several of the large deregulated financial institutions. (Sound familiar?)
Click here for the whole article
Click here for Paul Krugman's piece on the subject
Click here for the Wall Street Journal article about Friedman
Not surprising that free marketeers would try to spin the disaster in Chile in favor of the gangster-style fundamentalist capitalism that got us into this economic mess. Also not surprising that they spun it in a complete 180 to the facts.
Chile's history in the late 20th century is very much a part of our own; it's a shame so few Americans understand what happened there and why the dictator we helped prop up there was so harmful to the working people of that country.
February 19, 2010
I heard about the Austin IRS building attack by Joseph Stack the other day and today I found out about a man who has become known among the webertubes as "Epic Beard Man."
Joseph Stack flew his own plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. He posted an online manifesto which rails against taxation in much the fashion that the Tea Parties have been doing for over a year now. Epic Beard Man can be seen on YouTube, arguing with another man on a public bus and later beating him up (EBM is in his 60s, is probably homeless or retired, and clearly has some mental health issues).
Both of these men have had Facebook pages made in their honor, revering their honorable acts of violence for various causes. Just like Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin, a new generation of white supremacist heroes enter the hearts of right wing American zealots.
Epic Beard Man
Epic Beard Man interview (pity this man, don't hold him up as a fucking hero)
These men are not to be idolized, nor demonized for that matter. Whether intentionally or not, they each in their own ways acted on deeply rooted white supremacist values. Anyone rejoicing in what these men did is equally pitiful.
February 4, 2010
On January 25th 2007 I wrote this about Obama's proposed stance on health care.
'Obama calls for national health care' -- [so what?]
From the AP via Yahoo! News:
"The time has come for universal health care in America," Obama said at a conference of Families USA, a health care advocacy group.Okay, Barack Obama says we should have universal health care. That's what this article is about. But then it also says that John Edwards and Hillary Clinton want national health care too, so why does it matter that Obama was talking about it? What makes him any better of a Democrat than the other two? He's gotten a lot of praise from just about everyone; Time Magazine had him on the cover a few months back as our future president. Don't get me wrong, I want a black president just as much as the next guy, but I just don't see how much of a difference he would really make.
"I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country," the Illinois senator said.
I'm not usually very pessimistic, but there is no chance in hell that the US is going to convert to national health care any time soon. As Obama pointed out himself, national health care always gets set back by "Washington politics." ..I think .. No matter what the Dems say about it, they're never actually going to go through with it.
I'm like a modern day Nostradamus ain't I not?
Hey, don't blame me, I voted for Nader.
February 1, 2010
As part of a letter writing campaign organized by Amnesty International I sent an email to my Senators from Texas: John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison. I've lost the original message sent to him, but the basics can be inferred from Cornyn's response (Hutchison is probably too busy running for Governor to read many constituant emails). Here are the key points of his response coupled with my own rebuttals:
CORNYN: Many of the being held in Guantanamo Bay—largely members or affiliates of Al-Qaeda or the —continue to pose a direct threat to the security of the United States. [...] In fact, dozens of terrorists previously released from Guantanamo Bay have already returned to the battlefield to fight against American and coalition forces.
ME: What does it take to be a member or affiliate of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban? These are not legitimate, official organizations; they are basically gangs made up of a few thousand people total. That being said, do you really believe that most of the inmates at Guantanamo are actually terrorists? The reason why groups like Amnesty International are upset about this prison is that it has been consistently shown that a large majority of the prisoners there have been put there for little to no reason, and have not helped Al-Qaeda or the Taliban at all. If "dozens" (more like one dozen, to be exact) of released inmates have gone on to join the insurgency, or Al-Qaeda or the Taliban, does this mean that ALL of the prisoners MUST stay in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, indefinitely? I suspect that this violates the Geneva Conventions.
CORNYN: For these reasons, I am gravely concerned by the current Administration’s efforts to transfer dozens of these terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to a state-run prison in Illinois.Unfortunately, this latest plan follows the emerging pattern from the current Administration, wherein critical decisions appear to be made more for the sake of political posturing rather than in the interests of our national security. This is unacceptable, and I strongly oppose any effort to close the detention facility at the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.
ME: For those who are accused of aiding Al-Qaeda to commit the 9/11 attacks, which was committed on U.S. soil, it is constitutionally mandatory that they be tried in the United States. This has nothing to do with political posturing; do you really think that transporting prisoners to the US is politically beneficial? It's the law, Senator! It is the Executive Branch's job to execute the law, and that is why some of the Guantanamo Prisoners must be brought here eventually. To call this political posturing a complete lie: it would be much easier and politically safer for Obama to take YOUR position on this. But guess what, Senator? Obama hasn't talked seriously about Guantanamo since he got into office; he is not bringing those prisoners here any time soon. Turns out you guys aren't so different after all.
CORNYN: Furthermore, all detainees at U.S. facilities are treated humanely and in accordance with our laws. I have visited Guantanamo Bay to observe the detention facility’s operations and the living conditions of detainees. Although neither Al-Qaeda nor Taliban detainees qualify under applicable legal authority for (POW) status, they have been treated humanely and are allowed many POW privileges—including the opportunity to worship, access to correspondence materials, and meals that adhere to Muslim dietary laws. I recognize the complex issues that arise as we work to balance individuals' rights and freedoms with the need to prosecute the and protect the .
ME: To simply state that "all detainees are treated humanely" is to ignore piles and piles of proven instances where this has not been the case. Also, to say that you've visited the prison and that you saw nothing wrong going on does absolutely nothing to support your stance on this. Do you think that the guards are going to leave the prisoners outside in the sun for hours, deface the Koran, and waterboard people while a senator is visiting?
We can't just toss away all of our problems on some island and expect them to go away. If detainees cannot be proven guilty, they have to be let go. If they're accused of a crime on our soil, they have to be tried here. They CANNOT be tortured! Waterboarding is inhumane; if you want to ignore that so you can say that no laws are being broken in any of our facilities, why don't you let someone do that to you and see how humane it is? That is why Amnesty International is urging you to do something about this facility. I urge you to re-examine what our laws and that of the Geneva Convention actually say, and not worry about what it takes to get re-elected in Texas.
January 18, 2010
October 17, 2009
October 16, 2009
A white Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.
Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.
"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."
here's the whole thing, you've probably already seen it
Holy bullfuck. Shit. Fucking ass.
This guy IS a fucking racist. Now, of course, he doesn't have to marry any two people that he doesn't want to. But to deny being a racist while saying you don't believe in mixing races.. uuuuuuuhhh, yeah, fuck you, you're a fucking racist. Fuck.
September 4, 2009
by Ralph Nader:
Ever wonder what’s happening to words once they fall into the hands of corporate and government propagandists? Too often reporters and editors don’t wonder enough. They ditto the words even when the result is deception or doubletalk.click here for the full article
Here are some examples. Day in and day out we read about “detainees” imprisoned for months or years by the federal government in the U.S., Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan. Doesn’t the media know that the correct word is “prisoners,” regardless of what Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld disseminated?
The raging debate and controversy over health insurance and the $2.5 trillion spent this year on health care involves consumers and “providers.” How touching to describe sellers or vendors, often gouging, denying benefits, manipulating fine print contracts, cheating Medicare and Medicaid in the tens of billions as “providers.”
I always thought “providers” were persons taking care of their families or engaging in charitable service. Somehow, the dictionary definition does not fit the frequently avaricious profiles of Aetna, United Healthcare, Pfizer and Merck.
“Privatization” and the “private sector” are widespread euphemisms that the press falls for daily. Moving government owned assets or functions into corporate hands, as with Blackwater, Halliburton, and the conglomerates now controlling public highways, prisons, and drinking water systems is “corporatization,” not the soft imagery of going “private” or into the “private sector.” It is the corporate sector!
This is a really good point that Ralph's making. Don't buy in to the rosy image of private insurance that the major media and the "tea party" groups are trying to paint. They are screwing people over, all of them. That's the way the game is played and has been played for a long time. The point of health care/health insurance reform is to set new, more fair rules to the game. A public option might be a good start, single payer would be way more efficient.
Don't believe the lies; don't believe any corporate entity on health care or health insurance, even if they say they're in favor of HR 3200.
August 27, 2009
From Greg Palast:
There's another floater. Four years on, there's another victim face down in the waters of Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Ivor van Heerden.
On the night of August 29, 2005, van Heerden was shut in at the state emergency center in Baton Rouge, providing technical advice to the rescue effort. As Hurricane Katrina came ashore, van Heerden and the State Police there were high-fiving it: Katrina missed the city of New Orleans, turning east.
What they did not know was that the levees had cracked. For crucial hours, the White House knew, but withheld the information that the levees of New Orleans had broken and that the city was about to drown. Bush's boys did not notify the State of the flood to come which would have allowed police to launch an emergency hunt for the thousands that remained stranded.
Read it all here.
On the anniversary of the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina, Greg Palast reminds us that the Bush Administration was a hell of a lot more Nazi-like than Obama.
The White House knew the levees broke; didn't tell anyone.
August 20, 2009
Apparently, no one is "entitled" to any health care.
I posted the other day that these people are not our enemies and that we just need to get louder and maybe get punched at one of these town hall meetings. Well, I didn't get punched, but outside the town hall meeting in Baytown with Gene Green, I'm sure some members of the San Jacinto Tea Party were ready to punch me if I got too out of hand.
When the man with the bull horn actually said that there was socialized medicine in the House bill, I went off. First I yelled, "No it's not!" and a couple in front of me turned around and basically dared me to go up there, thinking I would shut up. But I walked up closer to the mob, closer to the man with the bull horn and kept yelling, "There is no socialized health care in the bill!" The closer I got, the louder I got, and the braver I got. I must admit, regardless of who was right or wrong, it felt good to yell at this mob.
Earlier these people had been chastising Rep. Gene Green about restricting the attendance to this meeting. There were two restrictions: room space, and actually being from Green's district (TX 29th). The really funny thing was that this group of teabaggers wasn't even standing in the line of people waiting to get in, and it grew to be several hundred people long, while the meeting room at Sterling Municipal Library only held about 100 to 150. In any case, they put on the show that they had been specifically shunned from this meeting, as they ralleyed outside.
They pretended to open up the discussion to any and everyone, saying "Come on up to the bull horn and speak your mind [...] Republican or Democrat, it doesn't matter." Or something to that effect. Well I was up there, I had something to say, I was yelling it, I was able to get everyone's attention for a few seconds without the bull horn, but I was only met with jeers from the mob and some comments from the bull horn man which I could only make out as, "If you wanna disrupt our gathering..."
The irony doesn't stop there. Many of these people appeared to be of retirement age or getting near it, people destined to be on Medicare. They were all railing away about government insurance as if they weren't, or knew no one, who benefitted from Medicare or Medicaid.
After speaking privately with a few of them who engaged me in some civil discussion, it all seemed to be coming back to the freeloaders who were already leaching off of the system. I was told of people in gold jewelry and Escalades lining up to get their Food Stamps. I was told that these people didn't know how to save money, I was told one man's personal story of working as a young man, supporting his family, not leaving the house "If I couldn't afford to make a phone call or put gas in my care." These people were well meaning, but never considered what it might be like to be a black or Latino person in America. I tried to tell them that some people can't just save money like that anymore, and that the job market is getting worse and worse anyhow; some people just can't afford insurance on their own. But to no avail. I needed to read more on the issues, I needed to support moderate politicians. I was young, ignorant, foolish, and idealistic.
One thing I forgot to say to everyone was, "Don't believe every chain email you receive."
August 17, 2009
From Alternet.org on the Administration's wavering stance on a public insurance option:
Startlingly, the clearest signal that the administration is preparing to jettison the public option came from Obama himself. Speaking at a town hall event in Colorado, the President referred to the public plan as merely a "sliver" of his reform agenda and said: "The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of healthcare reform."
On this, Obama is right. The public option has already been so dumbed-down and neutered that it is little more than a sliver. The problem is that it may be the only sliver of real reform in his program.
That's because the "reforms" currently under consideration threaten to undermine Medicare and Medicaid -- with radical cost-cutting schemes -- while steering hundreds of billions in federal dollars into the accounts of for-profit insurers and the pharmaceutical industry.
This is not "change we can believe in." This is change that serious reformers will find "very difficult" to support, as Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, said Sunday on CNN. Johnson explained that progressives would have a tough time backing legislation that did not include a public option.
[...]Congresswoman Johnson is exactly right. Without a robust public option, what the Obama administration and compromised Democrats in the House and Senate are talking about is not "health care reform."
It is "health care deform" that does not begin to address the crisis created by insurance industry profiteering -- and that could well make the "cure" worse than the disease.
Read it all right here.
The only reason why it appears that a substantial portion of the population is against a public option, and furthermore a nationalized health care system, is because just enough misinformed and dishonest people are so much louder and in-your-face than the rest of the people who disagree with them and know better.
Anyone who is really disgusted by the lack of progress that is thus far being made by this supposed "liberal" administration ought to GET LOUDER than our deranged counterparts at the town hall meetings. These people are not evil, they're not necessarily stupid, and they're not our enemies. It's not them we need to yell at, it's the Administration we need to reach. We've got to be louder than the people who are closest to Obama who have been keeping him corporate since his campaign started; we've got to be louder than the corporate owned pundits in the "liberal" media who are controlling the debate in such a dishonest fashion. We don't have to punch people at town hall meetings, but we may have to get punched. We ought to be yelling at Democrats as well, but we ought to be yelling the truth and telling them what the true majority of Americans want. We've got to be calling their offices every week and putting in our two progressive liberal cents just as much as the ditto heads are doing now with their chain email false-facts. They are an angry mob of people who have been lied to their whole lives; we can call them stupid all we want but we can't ignore the fact that they are actually having an impact on PUBLIC POLICY!
Let's GET LOUDER.
August 15, 2009
"Now Make Me Do It"
Never much of a fighter against abusive corporate power, Barack Obama is making it increasingly clear that right from his start as President, he wanted health insurance reform that received the approval of the giant drug and health insurance industries.
Earlier this year he started inviting top bosses of these companies for intimate confabs in the White House. Business Week magazine, which proclaimed recently that “The Health Insurers Have Already Won” reported that the CEO of UnitedHealth, Stephen J. Hemsley, met with the President half a dozen times.
Further indication of Obama’s corporate dealings is that he never identified himself with a specific bill with a House and Senate number that he could rally the people around. No wonder people are confused, frustrated and angry. President Obama did not stand for an unambiguous proposal.
He thereby emboldened both the cash and carry Blue dog Democrats to rebel and the Republican yahoos to launch their lies and distortions via Rush Limbaugh and similar trash media.
Read it all here.
It's so bizarre how there's so much debate on the issue in general but not what's actually in any of the bills. There are hoards of ridiculous claims about what's in "the bill," and it seems like no one on either side knows whats in any of the bills. I've only read one of the bills myself, and not very much of it because it's so impossibly long.
But what's not included in any of the debate whatsoever is the fact that Obama has a really cozy relationship with the health insurance and drug industries. This information would come as a surprise to both Democrats and Republicans who are at each others throats over this, if they ever took the time to acknowledge Ralph Nader's existence.
August 8, 2009
Holy shit I haven't posted anything in a long time. I don't deserve to have anyone read this blog (and they don't).
Everyone's got an opinion on health care, health care reform, Obama, and "socialized medicine."
What really needs to be said, or rather heard, is that no one is proposing a government take over of health care. The House and Senate bills are proposing a "public option," which would just mean that your medical bills would be paid by the federal government rather than a private insurer IF you choose to be on the plan. This idea is only about money, not actual medical care. No one is forcing anyone to take a public health insurance option, no one is forcing anyone to see any particular doctor.
Some say we don't have the money, Obama says it will be "budget neutral," meaning they will get the money for the plan by making equal cuts in the budget and possibly raising taxes on the higher brackets (probably not gonna happen, wouldn't be much if it did. These are wussy Democrats, remember?).
I think it'd be smart to adopt a single payer system. Here's an interesting quote on that from Ralph Nader that I'll leave you with:
In 1950, when President Truman sent a universal health insurance bill to Congress, the American Medical Association (AMA) launched what was then a massive counterattack. The AMA claimed that government health insurance would lead to rationing of health care, higher prices, diminished choices and more bureaucracy. The AMA beat both Truman and the unions that were backing the legislation, using the phrase “socialized medicine” to scare the people.
Fifty-nine years later, “corporatized medicine” has produced all these consequences, along with stripping away the medical profession’s independence. Today, the irony is that the corporate supremacists are accusing reformers in Washington of what they themselves have produced throughout the country. Rationing, higher prices, less choice, and mounds of paperwork and corporate red tape. Plus, fifty million people without any health insurance at all.
May 31, 2009
April 18, 2009
March 26, 2009
My YouTube videos about racism landed me an interview.
At 8:30 central time on Monday, March 30th I'll be interviewed over the phone by Blog Talk Radio user Victim of Racism and we will discuss my videos, why I made them and the response they've gotten, white supremecy, how to combat it, David Duke (since I live in Louisiana) and other such related things. Calls from listeners will be taken as well so if you wanna call in and chat, let's do it.
here's the link
If you can't catch it when it's being recorded, it will be available as a podcast at that same link immediately after it's over.
February 21, 2009
While the reckless giant banks are shattering like an over-heated glacier day by day, the nation’s credit unions are a relative island of calm largely apart from the vortex of casino capitalism.
Eighty five million Americans belong to credit unions which are not-for-profit cooperatives owned by their members who are depositors and borrowers. Your neighborhood or workplace credit union did not invest in these notorious speculative derivatives nor did they offer people “teaser rates” to sign on for a home mortgage they could not afford.
Ninety one percent of the 8,000 credit unions are reporting greater overall growth in mortgage lending than any other kinds of consumer loans they are extending. They are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for up to $250,000 per account, such as the FDIC does for depositors in commercial banks.
click here for the whole thing
The main point of the article is that there are some "credit unions" that are credit union in name only, basically. Big corporate ones who work like the big loan shark banks.
Lucky for myself and my family, we belong to an NCUA backed credit union. I was recently back in Texas and went in to my local credit union to talk about a CD account of mine that had recently matured. The atmosphere in there was really laid back, just like I'd always remembered our credit union being. Also much like the credit union over here in New Orleans that I use to deposit checks, it's just so quiet and calm, not how you'd expect a bank to be at this time. But, it's not really a "bank" in 21st century terms anyway.
It's not like we're on easy street or anything, because we're surely not at the moment, but it's good to know that my family's banking methods did not contribute to the downfall of our economy.
Not to rub it in anyone's face, or anything...
But if you're a credit union member, make sure they are not tempted to turn in to Wall Street style casinos, because:
The one area that is now spelling some trouble [...] comes from the so-called “corporate credit unions”—a terrible nomenclature—which were established to provide liquidity for the retail credit unions. [...] They invested in those risky mortgage securities with the money from the retail credit unions. These “toxic assets” have fallen $14 billion among the 28 corporate credit unions involved.
February 16, 2009
You've been dating my sister for about four or five weeks now. For the last couple of weeks, your plans have been to move in together and get married, and maybe have a baby.
If you can't see whats wrong with this picture, lets keep looking.
I'm not one for snooping on people's Facebook profiles, but after you added my girlfriend as a friend on that site she noticed a comment you had from the beginning of January, just days before you began dating my sister, from a girl named Mary saying how much she loved you, how you guys were going to be together forever, and that she was so happy that she was "having babygrl." You have yet to explain who this person is and what she meant by "having babygrl." It sounds as if she's expecting a child, but it could be another "misunderstanding," right Craig? I'm sure all fifteen pages of your criminal record are a bunch of misunderstandings too (it's amazing what you can do with the internet and a license plate number, eh Craig?).
If you still can't see whats wrong with this picture, lets keep looking.
Early on, you had some moments of threatening suicide if you didn't get to see my sister. My parents witnessed this behavior with their own eyes. It was at this point that you should have been taken away by some higher authority. But you weren't.
Lets keep looking.
Several details of the past few weeks can be found almost ver batim (that means "word for word" in Latin, if you didn't know) in this article, "Warning Signs That You're Dating a Loser." I don't want to call you a "loser," Craig. Afterall, guys like you have been running the world since the beginning of human history. You guys aren't losers, but you are losing. However slowly, you are a dying breed. Sexism still reigns supreme, but it is in it's final days. It may be many more decades, but your way of thinking is on it's way out.
The difference between you and I is that I have ambition. I have something that I believe makes me a better person when I learn more about it, and that's music. I have recently come to believe that becoming a better musician makes me a better citizen of the world. It allows me to interact with people in a positive way and somehow make the world a little bit better while I'm here. This probably sounds like a bunch of faggy bullshit to you, Craig. But that's your problem.
You, Craig, will never take responsibility for your actions. With you, every problem is a woman's fault. It was your mom's fault that she kicked you out of her house and you had no where to sleep but your car. It was my sister's fault that she "wouldn't stand up for you" when everyone was realizing how dangerous you were. It's her friends' fault that everyone thinks you're bad because they supposedly lie about you. My sister's former best friend really just has a homosexual crush and is trying to get you out of the picture (even if that were true, it would be a hell of a lot better than what's going on now). And I'm sure Mary is just some crazy "bitch" telling another lie about you on your profile, which is why you had to delete her words.
You will probably go on for the rest of your life thinking that you are superior to women, and that controlling them and using them makes you more of a man. You will never realize that this behavior holds down society's progress and enslaves people to bigotry. As I said, this cycle is slowing, but you're a part of what's keeping it going.
That, Craig, is why nobody fucking likes you.
February 10, 2009
Courtesy of Alternet:
Last week in Maricopa County, Ariz., more than 200 Latino immigrants were chained, dressed in prison stripes and forced to march down a public street from a county jail to a detainment camp in a desert industrial zone outside Phoenix.
The Phoenix New Times pointed out that Arpaio’s immigrant parade was scheduled for the same day that MCSO Captain Joel Fox was scheduled to appear in court to appeal a $315,000 fine levied against him for channeling an illegal $105,000 campaign donation to the Republican Party in the name of a shadowy entity called the “Sheriff’s Command Association.”
click here for the whole article
This is really fucked up, sick, wrong, racist, nothing that would make me proud as an American.
Just so happens I was studying some prison statistics just before I came across this article. I think I'll be sharing my findings soon, if I get the time to dig further in to it.
February 7, 2009
Paul Krugman, NY Times:
I’m still working on the numbers, but I’ve gotten a fair number of requests for comment on the Senate version of the stimulus.
The short answer: to appease the centrists, a plan that was already too small and too focused on ineffective tax cuts has been made significantly smaller, and even more focused on tax cuts.
According to the CBO’s estimates, we’re facing an output shortfall of almost 14% of GDP over the next two years, or around $2 trillion. [...] So the original $800 billion plan was too small, especially because a substantial share consisted of tax cuts that probably would have added little to demand. The plan should have been at least 50% larger.
click here for the entire article
It's a damn shame you have to have 60% membership of the Senate just to pass a bill that isn't even good enough to begin with, and if you've only got 59% that plan gets watered down even further.
Gee can't say I saw this coming...
From the NY Times
"Wary Shoppers Cause Slide in Peanut Butter Sales"
The Department of Agriculture, which oversees school lunch programs, banned the Peanut Corporation of America from doing any further business with the government. The company’s chief executive, Stewart Parnell, was removed from the Agriculture Department’s Peanut Standards Board, which advises the agriculture secretary on quality and handling standards.
Read further, if you need to.
What was the CEO of a private corporation doing on the standards board of a federal agency meant to regulate his own business?
Sure, regulators should be knowledgeable of their fields, but a sitting chief executive? Is that not a conflict of interest from the get-go? I mean, the Times just nonchalantly mentions, "Yeah, this guy is no longer advising his own regulators, now that his company has spread salmonella all over the country," like it's just a random detail of the overall story. Hopefully Obama understands cause-and-effect more than the Bush administration did, but perhaps a little research is afoot to see who is on the federal agencies and who they're really loyal to: themselves or the People?
Hey, at least Parnell's previous work did not involve Arabian horses.
February 2, 2009
For a while, there was hope that simply lowering interest rates enough, flooding the economy with money, would suffice; but three quarters of a century ago, Keynes explained why, in a downturn such as this, monetary policy is likely to be ineffective. It is like pushing on a string.
What's the alternative? Sweden (and several other countries) have shown that there is an alternative -- the government takes over those banks that cannot assemble enough capital through private sources to survive without government assistance.
It is standard practice to shut down banks failing to meet basic requirements on capital, but we almost certainly have been too gentle in enforcing these requirements. (There has been too little transparency in this and every other aspect of government intervention in the financial system.)
To be sure, shareholders and bondholders will lose out, but their gains under the current regime come at the expense of taxpayers. In the good years, they were rewarded for their risk taking. Ownership cannot be a one-sided bet.
click here for all of it
Joseph Stiglitz used to work for the World Bank. He was basically kicked out for telling journalists like Greg Palast exactly what they do: fuck people over, whole countries even (Latin American ones often).
Stiglitz knows globalization inside and out; he's been on the inside and now he's on the outside. He's probably one of the most important economists there is, because he was a free trade baron who did a 180 in favor of the public interest. It doesn't get much cooler than that.
So I'm saying we should trust Joe on this one, consider this idea, look to Sweden, and fix this mess before we're all standing in bread lines, reminiscing about how we loved our SUVs and MacBooks so much. Maybe when the Senate votes down Obama's budget, this idea can get tabled.
It would behoove all of us to call our representatives and send them this message:
NATIONALIZE THE BANKS!
January 24, 2009
Courtesy of The Washington Independent:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release January 22, 2009
REVIEW AND DISPOSITION OF INDIVIDUALS DETAINED AT THE GUANTÁNAMO BAY NAVAL BASE AND CLOSURE OF DETENTION FACILITIESBy the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to effect the appropriate disposition of individuals currently detained by the Department of Defense at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base (Guantánamo) and promptly to close detention facilities at Guantánamo, consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice, I hereby order as follows:
Sec. 2. Findings.
(d) It is in the interests of the United States that the executive branch undertake a prompt and thorough review of the factual and legal bases for the continued detention of all individuals currently held at Guantánamo, and of whether their continued detention is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and in the interests of justice. The unusual circumstances associated with detentions at Guantánamo require a comprehensive interagency review.
click here for the whole order
Holy shit that's actually pretty cool.
That's all I got.
Okay, well we'll see how long it takes to get this ball rolling as it's currently written. Likely outcome: nothing. Maybe they'll close Guantanamo, but I doubt many of the innocent people held there are going to go free with in the next year or two.
January 19, 2009
Ray LaHood: The Obama Appointment You Should Be Really Worried About
Soon, the U.S. Senate will hold a confirmation hearing on the president-elect's choice of Ray LaHood for Secretary of Transportation.
In case you haven't been following the news, LaHood is a conservative Illinois Republican with little transportation expertise and almost no administrative experience, who has earned a LCV lifetime voting score on critical environmental issues of 27 percent, and who maintains deep financial connections to the very industries he's now supposed to regulate.
click here for all of it
Bu-bu-bu-but Mr. Obama said he wuz gonna change shit......
Anyone who bought Obama's rhetoric during the campaign needs to do some rudimentary thinking about what elections are and what politicians say when they're about to be a candidate on a ballot. In other words, re-take your high school Government class.
There were at least two whole campaigns of hundreds of thousands of people who were "throwing their vote away" on third parties who argued that Obama would be more of the same, that the choice between McCain and Obama wasn't as big of a difference as it seemed on the surface.
I understand the excitement of electing an African American as president of the United States, I really get that. It's got some great symbolism to it, to say the very least, and make no mistake--I was smiling on November 4th, 2008. It really did feel good. But anyone with even a half-assed knowledge of history could have seen this coming: many such people voted for Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney.
Sometimes it really sucks to be right.
January 14, 2009
On Jan. 1, Oscar Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old African American man, was shot and killed by a white Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer.
[...]click here for the whole thing
Following the shooting, BART police tried to confiscate all the videos taken by witnesses. They failed. Three clips videos made it onto YouTube, where they were viewed hundreds of thousands of times and eventually picked up and played on the news, bringing the story to national attention.
I'm literally at a loss for words.
December 6, 2008
FINALLY from Alternet.org:
The New York Times is reporting an "apparent evolution" in president-elect Barack Obama's thinking on Iraq, citing recent statements about his plan to keep a "residual force" in the country
It's an interesting choice of terms. "Residual" is defined as "the quantity left over at the end of a process." This means that the forces Obama plans to leave in Iraq will remain after he has completed his "withdrawal" plan. No matter how Obama chooses to label the forces he keeps in Iraq, the fact is, they will be occupation forces.
click here for all of it
It's funny (or not) how everything Obama is doing now was so plainly foreseeable during the campaign, but the liberal blogosphere pretended it wasn't, and you couldn't vote for Nader this time, couldn't even talk about him. We couldn't have "another Bush" in the White House. So we'll settle with another Clinton in the White House instead? Clinton was a better Republican than George Bush! He gave us NAFTA, maintained a bloated military budget and made sure we kicked some brown people's asses in Kosovo while cutting aid to poor people at home. Now, I realize that anything would be better than Bush right about now, but you can't call this real "change," other than the fact that Obama is (half) black.
It just seems like a lot of liberals were just waiting until Obama got elected before they would actually pay attention to his actions. Now he owes us nothing.
(Oh, and this is completely in line with everything that that "crazy, unviable, conspiracy theorist" Ralph Nader was saying during the campaign, once again)
November 15, 2008
November 10, 2008
November 4, 2008
We progressives finally got something that feels good: a victory. Or so it seems.
Sure, it's really awesome to have a black president (elect), but we can't forget that he DID NOT MAKE ANY PROGRESSIVE PROMISES during his campaign.
All you Obama voters: he doesn't owe you anything!
We MUST demand real change from our newly elected leaders, or else they will turn into another Clintonian Republicratic corporate regime who may perhaps balance the budget, but also cut social programs and keep the military budget bloated in the process. And what are they going to do about the war? Nothing, unless we act. The People ended the Vietnam War, we ended the first Gulf War and we can end this one the same way. Now more than ever, we've got the chance to get our troops OUT of Iraq.
We've got a chance to get gay marriage legalized in more states.
We've got a chance to reform the health care system.
We've got a chance to crack down on corporate crime and promote fair trade,
but WE HAVE TO ACT.
and I mean ACT, like get outside, show our faces, raise our voices, sign real petitions with real ink and write real letters to real congressmen. We cannot sit back and wait for these Democrats to do the right thing on their own: THEY'VE NEVER EVER DONE THAT.
The time is now, and WE CAN DO IT.
October 27, 2008
Greg Palast is involved with a project right now called Steal Back Your Vote. He's trying to get the word out about how the same types of people who rigged the last two elections are at it again. I'm on Greg's mailing list and here's some info from the latest one:
Odd thing about the 207 voters of precinct 999 in Dona Ana County, New Mexico.
Not a single one could choose between George Bush and John Kerry in 2004.
Or at least that’s what their ballots said.
The Secretary of State at the time told me, “Some of those people just can’t make up their minds.” Dirt-poor Dona Ana is 63% Hispanic and the precinct is made up entirely of overseas voters, mostly the Chicano soldiers in Iraq or on duty. The machines say that Hispanic soldiers don’t care who becomes their commander-in-chief.
Or maybe, the machines failed to register their votes.
Few Americans realize that in 2004, 1,389,231 ballots were never counted because they were “spoiled.” How do ballots spoil? They get left out of the ‘fridge?
Here’s an unfun fact: not everyone’s vote spoils the same. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission found that the chances of an African-American voter losing their vote is 900% higher than a white voter. Hispanic votes vanished at a rate 500% higher than Anglo votes.
If anyone's going to spoil this election, it's not going to be Ralph Nader, it's going to be essentially the Republican party, more specifically their cronies in the election system.
Now onto researching Diebold.
October 21, 2008
by Ralph Nader
This past spring, the foreign affairs reporters, not columnists, for the New York Times and the Washington Post concluded that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are advancing foreign and military policies similar to those adopted by George W. Bush in his second term.
Where then is the “hope” and “change” from the junior Senator from Illinois?
Moreover, both Obama and McCain want more nuclear power plants, more coal production, and more offshore oil drilling.
Both support the gigantic taxpayer funded Wall Street bailout, without expressed amendments. Both support the notorious Patriot Act, the revised FISA act which opened the door to spy on Americans without judicial approval, and Obama agrees with McCain in vigorously opposing the impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
go to nader.org for the rest
I'm a "member" of Moveon.org, in that, they send me emails and call me a "member." I've given them a total of like $3.
Here's a quote from the latest email they've sent:
TOP 5 REASONS OBAMA SUPPORTERS SHOULDN'T REST EASY
1. The polls may be wrong. This is an unprecedented election. No one knows how racism may affect what voters tell pollsters—or what they do in the voting booth. And the polls are narrowing anyway. In the last few days, John McCain has gained ground in most national polls, as his campaign has gone even more negative.
2. . Republicans are already illegally purging voters from the rolls in some states. They're whipping up hysteria over ACORN to justify more challenges to new voters. Misleading flyers about the voting process have started appearing in black neighborhoods. And of course, many counties still use unsecure .
3. October surprise. In politics, 15 days is a long time. The next McCain smear could dominate the news for a week. There could be a crisis with Iran, or Bin Laden could release another tape, or worse.
4. Those who forget history... In 2000, won the popular vote after trailing by seven points in the final days of the race. In 1980, Reagan was eight points down in the polls in late October and came back to win. Races can shift—fast!
5. Landslide. Even with universal health care and a new clean-energy policy is going to be hard. Insurance, drug and oil companies will fight us every step of the way. We need the kind of landslide that will give Barack a huge mandate. in the White House, passingYeah it's going to be REALLY hard to pass universal health care when HE'S NOT RUNNING ON THAT TO BEGIN WITH! Barack Obama is not our liberal savior, he's a Democrat. He's a Democrat. He's a Democrat. He hasn't even promised to fight for universal or truly clean energy during his campaign, so it wouldn't just be the big oil and pharmaceutical companies we have to fight, we'd have to fight Obama as well. Just like the rest of the Democrats, if you vote for them just for the fact that they have a chance of winning and you're a liberal and the GOP is "way worse," they're not going to owe you a damn thing if they get into office. The mandate has to be RIGHT NOW.
"BUT HE'S BLACK!!!!!"
Okay, as cool as it would be (or probably will be, but don't rest easy!), to have a (half) black president for once, that's about the entire extent of the "change," Barack Obama would make. Look no further than his voting record, and WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAYS!
As I recall from the piece of shit, canned "town hall" debate, Obama's all for drilling and keeping our military very much present in the middle east (as the Nader article notes as well). Where's the change in that? Chump change, that's what that is.