Tag Archives: oligarchy

Sorry FOXers, this isn’t about ‘envy’ or whatever your current word is.This is danger, a threat the future of the nation.

What David Frum called the conservative entertainment complex continues to dismiss and even mock any expressed concern about income inequality in the United States. They honestly don’t know what they’re talking about. This is one of the very best explanatory videos I’ve ever watched. It’s pretty viral right now, so you may have seen it. If not, take the full six minutes to watch; every moment of this is clear, precise, informative and ultimately of course quite alarming.

Any country that lets this continue dooms itself to oligarchy, to instability, civic unrest . . . a nasty future awaits and denying it doesn’t make it not so.

h/t friend Brian. (Nice to see you at the theatre too!)

Where is Dylan Ratigan?

Neither his website nor his Facebook page show any activity after June 2012.   Many of us remember his infamous “rant heard round the world” on his MSNBC show in  August of 2011, after which nervousness ensued in various quarters. It was full of ugly truths and made plutocracrats across the planet very very uncomfortable. And, I’m sure, angry. Shortly after, Ratigan abruptly announced he was ending the show and said he’d be launching some kind of collaborative activist entity. He put up a website, got on the Twitter and FB, sold his loft in NYC and went – where?

Here is a vid of the rant, and  his own follow-up post about it. The transcript itself is below the fold if you would rather read, but the passion in the video is powerful and I think it’s well worth the three plus minutes of your time.

I picked up most of this at a blog called The Golden Age of Gaia which is, unsurprisingly given the name, a very metaphysical place. (The post is here.)

Dylan Explains his rant:

I’m Mad As Hell. How About You?

August 10, 2011

Yesterday, on TV, I exploded. I spent two minutes giving a primal yell at our political system, demanding the extraction of our money and dignity end. It was my most heartfelt and emotional moment on television, ever.

And the emails poured in. I hit a chord, because it’s something we all feel. Take a look.

With the markets in turmoil and the global financial architecture groaning under the weight of fraud and corruption, it’s a good time to think about what leadership would look like. Believe it or not, we have had good leadership, purpose, integrity, and aligned interests in this country.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy faced a dilemma — how could he direct our intense competitive passion with the Soviet Union in a direction other than war? The answer was his call for America to beat the Soviets to the moon. Kennedy understood power; if he did not lead us towards peaceful productive competition, that same animus would have turned violent (see this key memo on the real rationale for the space race). So he took the passion and focus of our society, the technology of war and missiles, and turned it into a great mission to explore space. He gave us a shared goal.

But that’s not the full story. Kennedy also demanded we use the finest scientists and engineers to design the rockets, and made sure that the path to the moon was based on the best possible solution to get there. For large rocket boosters, he was open to chemical, nuclear, liquid fuels, or any combination. He did not put a commission of astrologers in charge, and he did not put political cronies with no scientific background in charge of designing the rockets.

Continue reading

Let us entertain you

This exchange is from a chat below with Jim Wheeler on the state of the media. I’m sharing it here because my reply to Jim pretty much summarizes my  own evaluation of the current state of TV “news”.  (Also because copy/paste is this lazy woman’s way of posting some thoughts even from my current land of Unbloggistan.) I agree with everything Jim said.

JIM: Faux News is solidly in the grip of conservative politicians, and those politicians are solidly in the grip of corporations. That includes not only the Military Industrial Complex and the Medical Industrial Complex, but also Big Energy, a,k.a. Big Oil and Big Coal. Thus we are seeing the ramifications of the Citizens United SCOTUS decision made real in what we used to think of as television journalism but which has now become a form of corporate oligarchy. Profit trumps environment and the future is never more than one fiscal quarter away.

MOE: The traditional network news shows are just shells, filling their 21 minutes a night with a few headlines, some syndicated video and a few press releases from the likes of Big Pharma or the military about cool new things. CNN is useless; they simply do an awful job (and until they remove Wolf Blitzer from the air, I cannot watch). FOX, as you say, is indeed in a class by itself, happily acting as transmitter of whatever meme suits that oligarchy. And of course, changing the narrative as instructed and  doing it with absolute aplomb. MSNBC started out well, but seem now to be doing the ‘outrage of the day’, all day. Even so, they still have some good shows, Chris Hayes weekend show being the very best because it’s’ not the same old people, and is always about things that aren’t talked about elsewhere.

That said, my secret vice is still Chris Matthews. I cannot quit him. He’s frequently fact-challenged or ignorant of the current state of a story, but the guy is passionate, loves politics, loves the minutia of government and knows his political history unlike anyone else on air. I forgive him a great deal because of that.

Ultimately, we agree that since the majority of people get their information from TV, it’s not looking to good for the future – an ignorant citizenry, no sense of civics . . . it’s all Monday Niight Football.

Onward, Christian soldiers, with your pitch-perfect suicide mission

When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the American flag and carrying a cross.”                                                               Sinclair Lewis

Chris Hedges wrote this article in 2007 –   before there was a Tea Party, before the world economic meltdown, before the dysfunctional congress . . . and before Citizens’ United.

Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, told his students that when we were his age — he was then close to 80 — we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”

. . . He was not a man to use the word fascist lightly. He had been in Germany in 1935 and 1936 and worked with the underground anti-Nazi church, known as the Confessing Church, led by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Adams was eventually detained and interrogated by the Gestapo . . .

Adams understood [then, in 1988] that totalitarian movements are built out of deep personal and economic despair. He warned that the flight of manufacturing jobs, the impoverishment of the American working class, the physical obliteration of communities in the vast, soulless exurbs and decaying Rust Belt, were swiftly deforming our society . . .

The mounting despair [now] rippling across the United States, one I witnessed repeatedly as I traveled the country, remains unaddressed by the Democratic Party, which has abandoned the working class, like its Republican counterpart, for massive corporate funding. . .

. . . the powerbrokers in the Christian right have moved from the fringes of society to the floor of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Forty-five senators and 186 members of the House before the last elections earned approval ratings of 80 to 100 percent from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups — the Christian Coalition, Eagle Forum, and Family Resource Council

Again, he wrote this in 2007. And I agree with him, it’s the thing I fear most, and now our stateless corporate oligarchs have been given the gift of the Tea Party as hapless ground troops. And the poor sods will celebrate in the streets when they take Congress.

I’m in a very bad mood.

Which is why we must defund PBS. Now. Or we all die.

UPDATE:In comments, both jonolan and jamesb have pointed out this chart is, at the  very least, dishonest. They are right. I threw it up in haste. Bad me.

But it still sucks that our damn congress critters are going after PBS.

“The geezer empire strikes back”

We all know that rich old men, let loose by the Supreme Court’s cavalier and supposedly intellectual exercise in constitutional masturbation, Citizens United, are busy buying  themselves a Presidency.

Received from friend Ed today, this is Frank Rich, that elegant and terse practitioner of the English language,  in New York Magazine:

. . . 2012 may be seen as the election in which the geezer  empire struck back.

Who has ever said it better?

Still believe in The Heritage Foundation?

Will the apologists for our emerging American oligarchy try to talk their way around even this?

According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, the United States has an economic freedom score of 76.3, which makes the United States rank tenth out of one hundred seventy-nine ranked countries. Hong Kong ranks first, with an economic freedom score of 89.9.

For those who don’t know, here‘s who they are:

Heritage’s stated mission is to “formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense”.

They think we’re not doing so well.  And in case you didn’t know, here’s who they are:

Heritage is primarily funded through donations from private individuals and charitable foundations. Businessman Joseph Coors contributed the first $250,000 to start The Heritage Foundation in 1973. Other significant contributors have included the conservative Olin, Scaife, DeVos and Bradley foundations.

In 2007, Heritage reported an operating revenue of $75.0 million dollars. As of February 2011, Heritage reported 710,000 supporters.[28] Heritage Foundation is also a part of the Koch Foundation Associate Program.[29]

Those are family foundations, very very conservative family foundations that provided much of the funding for the anti-Clinton crusade of the 90’s: the eternal Paula Jones lawsuit, the fake Whitewater ‘scandal’ – even personal financial support for the public accusers around the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

They are also drivers of a new American oligarchy.  Putin would love them.

Well done governor. You did the right thing.

Until we end state-sanctioned execution in this country, we are diminished as a people. It’s a stain on our national character, a moral failure. Death at the hand of the state is the very hallmark of tyranny, and has no place in a modern open society.

So good for Governor Kitzhaber of Oregon, who just stopped executions in his state by executive order.

Gov. John Kitzhaber announced today he will not allow the execution of Gary Haugen — or any death row inmate— to take place while he is in office. The death penalty is morally wrong and unjustly administered, Kitzhaber said.

“In my mind it is a perversion of justice,” he said at an emotional news conference in Salem.

How is this healthy for a nation? It isn’t. It’s destructive.

We need to fix this or it’ll ruin us.

WASHINGTON — The top 1 percent of earners more than doubled their share of the nation’s income over the last three decades, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday . . .

In this report, the budget office found that from 1979 to 2007, average inflation-adjusted after-tax income grew by 275 percent for the 1 percent of the population with the highest income. For others in the top 20 percent of the population, average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent.

By contrast, the budget office said, for the poorest fifth of the population, average real after-tax household income rose 18 percent.

And for the three-fifths of people in the middle of the income scale, the growth in such household income was just under 40 percent.

Lech Walesa: one of my heroes

Leading his 'mob'

The union organizer who led the movement that overthrew Soviet communism in his native Poland 30 years ago, whose actions signaled the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union, is coming to New York to support Occupy Wall Street.

. . . to show his support for the  Occupy Wall Street protesters.

“How could I not respond,” Walesa told a  Polish newspaper Wednesday. “The thousands of people gathered near Wall Street  are worried about the fate of their future, the fate of their country. This is  something I understand.”

. . . Walesa said “capitalism is in  crisis” and not just in America.

“This is a worldwide problem,” he told  the Lublin-based Dziennik Wschodni newspaper. “The Wall Street protesters have  focused a magnifying glass on the problem.”

. . . A staunch anti-communist and former Polish president who helped steer his  country to a free market economy, Walesa . . .  has warned of a “worldwide  revolt against capitalism” if the Wall St. protests are ignored.

They are  protesting the “unfairness” of an economy that enriches a few and “throws the  people to the curb,” he said in a recent interview.

Americans, bah! It’s not what the oligarchy wants

From Bloomberg:

More than two-thirds of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, say wealthier people should pay more in taxes to bring down the budget deficit, and even larger numbers think Medicare and Social Security benefits should be left alone. . . .

More than 8 out of 10 Americans say the middle class will have to make financial sacrifices to cut the federal deficit even as the public just as strongly opposes higher taxes on middle-income families, according to a Bloomberg-Washington Post national poll conducted Oct. 6-9.

“While Americans see sacrifice as inevitable for the middle-class, the only sacrifice to win majority support is a tax on those too wealthy to be considered middle-class,” says J. Ann Selzer, president of Des Moines, Iowa-based Selzer & Co., which consults with Bloomberg News on polls.

By the way, tonight’s Republican debate will be broadcast only on Bloomberg.

All hail the United Corporations of America

While congress refines its performance art and the media take to their fainting couches, the overlords of our brave new world share a smug smile and head out to their summer houses. Their work is done. For now.

Sunday funnies. Not.

We elected them, but how do we unelect them in a gerrymandered nation world owned by a multinational meglithic oligarchy? (h/t friend Shep)

CLARIFICATION: My words above (unlike the cartoon itself) are actually not directed at the newly elected Tea Partiers, who may be the least ‘owned’ members of Congress. My words are directed at the majority of our Congress Critters, all too many of whom daily do the bidding of their Galtian overlords. (hint: that’s not us)

Hit us again harder. Please.

  • Irresponsible tax cuts.
  • Toothless regulation.
  • Interlocking directorates.
  • Boards hand picked by CEO’s.
  • Quarterly earnings now the fickle measure of a stock’s worth.
  • Perverse incentive systems.
  • A business media of enthralled groupies slavishly following and thrilling to rock star plutocrats.
  • The collapse of the  concepts of the common good and civics.
  • Devotion to profits above all.
  • The demonizing of any talk of fairness or social justice.
  • Purposefully ignoring our collapsing infrastructure while we prop up the economies of China and Brazil and their enormous investments in their own infrastructure (transportation, ports, broadband) that will ultimately make us even more uncompetitive than we are now. (After all, there’s no profit in proppingup a joint where workers demand a living wage.)
  • Our government’s committment to protect the ‘job creators’ who, during a decade of historically low tax rates have managed to lose more American jobs than at any time since the Depression.

And our entirely broken government, now wholly owned by those who created it all. Bill Mahar explains some of it:

Citibank brings you the new Army uniform! (and how I wish I knew how to photoshop)

So many to choose from

Think of the revenues! Just like NASCAR and so many others do, how about we slap corporate logos all over our military uniforms, our tanks, copters and airplanes?  Golden Arches on a tank would attract an enemy longing for a Happy Meal (fooled ya!). BP’s green logo would look snappy on those camo getups. Endless opportunities for serendipity.

Why not? The free market is our god and the corporation is his prophet; we ought to be spreading the word.

Speaking of our corporate overlords: Did you know that AT&T and Comcast are the largest purveyors of online pornography in the country? I got that from Chris Hedges’ book “Empire of Illusion” (no linkee to text), so here’s a link to the online story in The Baptist Standard.

So much to be proud of.

Who are we really? Part II

I’m skimming through Empire of Illusions: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges, who wrote the best-seller War Is A Force That Gives Life Meaning. In it he explores the “mechanisms used to divert us from confronting the economic, political and moral collapse around us. “

From Chapter V –  The Illusion of America

I used to live in a country called America. It was not a perfect country . . . but there was always hope that it could be better. It was a country I loved nad honored. It paid its workers wages envied around the world. . . . it offered good public education . . . it held in regard the rule of law including international law, and respect for human rights. It took care of the weakest among us . . it had a system of government that, however flawed, worked to protect the interests of most of its citizens. It offered the possibility of democratic change. It had a diverse and independent press that imparted to us unpleasant truths and challenged the powerful. . . we had much to atone for, but there was so much that was good, decent and honorable in our country. . .

The country I live in today still uses the same civic, patriotic, and historical language to describe itself, the same symbols and  iconography, the same national myths . . . but only the shell remains. The America we celebrate is an illusion.

The country of my birth, of my fathers back to the founding generation, is so diminished as to be unrecognizable.

Our nation has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations, and a narrow selfish, political and economic elite – a small and privileged group . . . who in the name of patriotism and democracy, in the name of all the values that were once part of the American system . . . has systematically destroyed the manufacturing sector, looted the treasury, corrupted our democracy, and trashed the financial system.

. . . the government, stripped of any real sovereignty, provides little more than technical expertise for elites and corporations that lack moral restraints and any concept of the common good.

I could go on but I don’t need to. You get it. Bread and circuses forever.

The French Foreign Legion reborn in the UAE

In the United Arab Emirates, everyone is a prince, so they  hire lesser beings to work for them and run their country. So why not some Special Forces?

Enter aspiring warlord and Oliver North wannabe, Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater (the infamous mercenaries hired by our own government for inside Iraq). Prince moved to Abu Dhabi a few years ago when US criminal investigations into his company got a little too hot.

From The New York Times yesterday:

[Prince was] hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops . . .

The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest in their crowded labor camps or were challenged by pro-democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.

In outsourcing critical parts of their defense to mercenaries — the soldiers of choice for medieval kings, Italian Renaissance dukes and African dictators — the Emiratis have begun a new era in the boom in wartime contracting that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And by relying on a force largely created by Americans, they have introduced a volatile element in an already combustible region where the United States is widely viewed with suspicion.

A real Freedom Fighter that guy.

Bank of America – who’s your Daddy?

I wonder what happened to the Wikileaks expose of Bank of America.

You may recall that shortly after the Wikileaks’ dump of US Military files (Bradley Manning),  Julian Assange promised that documents were coming showing illegal practices at Bank of America. One day later it was breathlessly reported that Assange is a pervert and rapist. Now those documents are yesterday’s news. Nothing’s been released.

You may also remember what  happened to Elliot Spitzer after he became governor? As Attorney General, he was known as The Sheriff of Wall Street where he was feared and loathed. As Governor he had power to hurt them with exposure and regulation. Voila! Another sexual perversion surfaces.

In February, after Assange’s announcement of Wikileak’s planned release – and the subsequent personal smears – this story appeared at their site:

Bank of America using Private Intel Firms to Attack Wikileaks
2011-02-09

In a document titled “The WikiLeaks Threat” three data intelligence companies, Plantir Technologies, HBGary Federal and Berico Technologies, outline a plan to attack Wikileaks. They are acting upon request from Hunton and Williams, a law firm working for Bank of America. The Department of Justice recommended the law firm to Bank of America according to an article in The Tech Herald. The prosed attacks on WikiLeaks according to the slides include these actions:

  • Feed the fuel between the feuding groups. Disinformation. Create messages around actions of sabotage or discredit the opposing organizations. Submit fake documents and then call out the error.
  • Create concern over the security of the infrastructure. Create exposure stories. If the process is believed not to be secure they are done.
  • Cyber attacks against the infrastructure to get data on document submitters. This would kill the project. Since the servers are now in Sweden and France putting a team together to get access is more straightforward.
  • Media campaign to push the radial and reckless nature of WikiLeaks activities. Sustain pressure. Does nothing for the fanatics, but creates concern and doubt among moderates.
  • Search for leaks. Use social media to profile and identify risky behavior of employees.

And TPM has observed that:

. . . the Gitmo files could be Assange’s last hurrah. Wikileaks’ encrypted submission has been broken for more than a year now, which means no new juicy tidbits have been coming in.

It’s too easy.

Government is the problem; spiting our nose edition

“Other than telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children and, now, die, Republicans have done a fine job of getting government out of our personal lives.”
                                                         — Editorial Page, Portland Oregonian    


A few goodies from Bartcop today. UPDATE: A friend just pointed out the disappearing wallet! I missed it first time.