Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Money Throws Democracy Overboard

This by Bill Moyers in "The Huffington Post" - please follow link to original

Money Throws Democracy Overboard

Watching what's happening to our democracy is like watching the cruise ship Costa Concordia founder and sink slowly into the sea off the coast of Italy, as the passengers, shorn of life vests, scramble for safety as best they can, while the captain trips and falls conveniently into a waiting life boat.

We are drowning here, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital. Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them. Not the law, which has been written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny -- they have no shame. Not a decent respect for the welfare of others -- the people without means, their safety net shredded, left helpless before events beyond their control.

The obstacles facing the millennial generation didn't just happen. Take an economy skewed to the top, low wages and missing jobs, predatory interest rates on college loans: these are politically engineered consequences of government of, by, and for the one percent. So, too, is our tax code the product of money and politics, influence and favoritism, lobbyists and the laws they draft for rented politicians to enact.

Here's what we're up against. Read it and weep: "America's Plutocrats Play the Political Ponies." That's a headline in "Too Much," an Internet publication from the Institute for Policy Studies that describes itself as "an online weekly on excess and inequality."

Yes, the results are in and our elections have replaced horse racing as the sport of kings. Only these kings aren't your everyday poobahs and potentates. These kings are multi-billionaire, corporate moguls who by the divine right, not of God, but the United States Supreme Court and its Citizens United decision, are now buying politicians like so much pricey horseflesh. All that money pouring into super PACs, much of it from secret sources: merely an investment, should their horse pay off in November, in the best government money can buy.

They're shelling out fortunes' worth of contributions. Look at just a few of them: Mitt Romney's hedge fund pals Robert Mercer, John Paulson, Julian Robertson and Paul Singer -- each of whom has ponied up a million or more for the super PAC called "Restore Our Future" -- as in, "Give us back the go-go days, when predators ruled Wall Street like it was Jurassic Park."

Then there's casino boss Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, fiercely pro-Israel and anti-President Obama's Mideast policy. Initially, they placed their bets on Newt Gingrich, who says on his first day in office he'd move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a decision that would thrill the Adelsons, but infuriate Palestinians and the rest of the Muslim world. Together, the Adelsons have contributed ten million to Newt's "Winning Our Future" super PAC.

Cowboy billionaire Foster Friess, a born-again Christian who made his fortune herding mutual funds instead of cattle, has been bankrolling the "Red White and Blue Fund" super PAC of Rick Santorum, with whom he shares a social right-wing agenda. Dark horse Ron Paul has relied on the kindness of PayPal founder Peter Thiel, a like-minded libertarian in favor of the smallest government possible, who gave $900,000 to Paul's "Endorse Liberty" super PAC. Hollywood's Jeffrey Katzenberg has so far emptied his wallet to the tune of a cool two million for the pro-Obama super PAC, "Priorities USA Action."

President Obama -- who kept his distance from Priorities USA Action and used to call the money unleashed by Citizens United a "threat to democracy" -- has declared if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. He urges his wealthy supporters to please go ahead and back the super PAC. "Our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it stands," his campaign manager Jim Messina said. To do otherwise, he added, would be to "unilaterally disarm" in the face of all those Republican super PAC millions. So much for Obama's stand on campaign finance reform -- everybody else is doing it, he seems to say, so why don't you show me the money, too?

When all is said and done, this race for the White House may cost more than two billion dollars. What's getting trampled into dust are the voices of people who aren't rich, not to mention what's left of our democracy. As Democratic pollster Peter Hart told The New Yorker magazine's Jane Mayer,

It's become a situation where the contest is how much you can destroy the system, rather than how much you can make it work. It makes no difference if you have a 'D' or an 'R' after your name. There's no sense that this is about democracy, and after the election you have to work together, and knit the country together.

These gargantuan super PAC contributions are not an end in themselves. They are the means to gain control of government -- and the nation state -- for a reason. The French writer and economist Frederic Bastiat said it plainly: "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." That's what the Super PACs are bidding on. For the rest of us, the ship may already have sailed.

Trade unions strike: Banking, transport hit across India

Have YOU heard about this? There are about 100,000,000 MILLION folks on strike in India. No news about it here in the USA. Hmmmmm, wonder why?

Please follow link to original

Trade unions strike: Banking, transport hit across India

New Delhi: Life has come to a standstill in parts of India due to the 24-hour nationwide strike by trade unions and government employees on Tuesday. In all, 11 trade unions across party lines along with 8 lakh public sector employees with the exception of those in the Railways are participating. Banking, transport and government services have been hit across the country including major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

The main grudges of the unions on strike include rising prices, disinvestment of profit-making PSUs and the violation of labour laws.

So far, West Bengal seemed to be the worst hit with four flights cancelled and blockades put up at the Asansol Railway Station. Some local trains remained stranded and there were also reports of one bus being destroyed at Salt Lake in Kolkata.

This came even as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has instructed her ministers to ensure that no Govt employees take part in the bandh which she says is Left sponsored. She has warned of consequences if her orders are violated.

Kerala too, was bearing the brunt of the nationwide strike. The roads of the capital Thiruvananthapuram wore a deserted look as buses and autos were not running.

The Oommen Chandy government has issued notices to government employees and has threatened to deduct salaries for those who abstain from work. The government has also warned that ad-hoc and temporary employees will lose their contract.

Unions leaders who have rejected appeals to desist from the strike had said all 11 major trade unions including Congress-affiliated INTUC, Shiv Sena-backed Bharatiya Kamgar Sena and UPA ally Indian Union Muslim League's trade-wing STU would join hands to make the strike a success.

"This a historic occasion as for the first time all the major trade unions irrespective of political affiliations are coming together to protest anti-labour polices of the government," AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said.

Dasgupta especially lauded INTUC president G Sanjeeva Reddy for being the "most consistent fighter in our joint struggle".

About 5,000 small unions also decided to support the strike call, the union leaders said.

The government had last week appealed the trade unions to desist from going on strike with Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge saying they were ready to discuss any kind of labour-related issues.

Rejecting the appeal, Dasgupta said "We are not ready to consider such a ritualistic statement on the part of the government." He said the government had enough opportunity earlier to sit with the trade unions to discuss the issues.

The unions are demanding no contractorisation of work - permanent or perennial nature, amendment of Minimum Wages Act, assured pension for all and compulsory registration of trade union among others.

In view of the nationwide strike called by a number of trade unions, the Delhi government clamped the Essential Services Maintenance Act on all power companies in the city to ensure that there is no disruption in electricity supply in the national Capital.

"Delhi government has clamped ESMA on all power companies including generation, distribution and other power companies in view of the proposed strike," a statement issued by the Chief Minister's office said.

As a result of the strike banks, telephone and transport services are likely to take a hit. A near complete paralysis is expected in Assam, Kerala, Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Bihar.

There is no “Catholic vote”

Here's something long overdue. It's by Amanda Marcotte of "Pandagon". Please follow link to original. She has an awful lot of good stuff on her site. Go there, hang out, read, BOOKMARK. (Now, I know she has MANY more readers than I do. I also realize I'm using some of her content to make this blog more current. But, I still believe every plug helps -- go there.)

There is no “Catholic vote”

The news is all abuzz today over the fact that Santorum "lost" the Catholic vote in the primaries last night. It's a construction that assumes that it was his to lose, and is based in one of the most pernecious myths of the Beltway media, which is that America is a sectarian society where "people of faith" not only vote according to religious guidelines, but according to those set by the loudest sectarians amongst them. Thus, you get claims that Obama is going to lose the "Jewish vote" because, I dunno, something about Israel, even though he really hasn't done a damn thing to hurt Israel. And now there's a growing adherence to the nonsensical belief that Catholics are a voting bloc, and one that votes primarily based on what a bunch of right wing celibates who spend all their time on TV denouncing vaginas think. The only group that doesn't get this treatment is mainline Protestants, because as the mainstream media doesn't tend to think of "white" as a race so much as a baseline, so it thinks of mainline Protestantism as the norm by which you measure others against. (On that basis alone, I enjoyed Santorum saying mainline Protestants aren't real Christians, because it actually jolted the media into realizing that various Protestants are also religious groups, just like Jews, Catholics, evangelicals, and Mormons.)

But really, this nonsense about the "Catholic vote" has got to stop. There's literally no evidence for such a thing. Most Catholics are pro-choice and use birth control, and they do so in roughly the same numbers as non-Catholics. In fact, they're indistinguishable from the public at large in their voting habits. There's perhaps a slim chance that some of them were moved against Santorum by the JFK comment, but honestly, I'm skeptical. The reason is that we're talking about a Repubilcan primary. I guarantee their identity as Republicans was a bigger factor for Catholic Republicans voting in the primary than their loyalty to the only Catholic President.

Ironically, Rick Santorum is a perfect example of why this supposition that Catholics are following Vatican marching orders when they vote is just completely off-base. Santorum's hardline stance on contraception is presumed, incorrectly, to stem from his devotion. In fact, like with other conservative Catholics, the Pope just provides cover for already-existing misogyny. That is to say, they hated women first and used faith to rationalize it second. You can tell this, because the Pope has lots of other opinions on stuff besides contraception, and Santorum ignores all of it. Juan Cole put together a list of ten Catholic teachings that Santorum rejects while pretending to be a hapless warrior for Catholic Jesus. Santorum has gone against the church on the issues of the Iraq War, universal health care, the death penalty, welfare, the minimum wage, union organizing, and immigration. Interestingly, not only does Santorum reject the church when it comes to these political matters, he also is a cafeteria Catholic on issues of religious questions. For instance, the Catholic Church accepts the theory of evolution and teaches that their god guided the process. Santorum rejects church teachings on this. In fact, not only does the Catholic Church accept evolution, but they are like most religions in this. Really, it's only evangelical Christians that hold that one must reject evolution as a part of their faith; Jews, mainline Protestants, Muslims, etc. by and large accept the theory as not in conflict with their religious beliefs.

The point isn't to say that Santorum is more or less Catholic than other Catholics who may agree with church teachings far more than he (while mostly rejecting the contraception nonsense as the medieval misogyny that it is). The point is that Catholics are a diverse group, politically speaking, and their faith has very little bearing on how they lean. Race, class, geography, personality, etc. all have more influence. In fact, as the example of Santorum shows, there's something of a cultural conflict between the markers of wingnuttery and Catholicism, and so Catholics who want to go full wingnut end up looking and sounding more like evangelicals. Which, in turn, means the notion that a Bible thumper like Santorum is going to make cultural appeals to Catholic voters sound even sillier, since he doesn't really come across as the average Catholic, insofar as there even is such a thing. I bet, if you surveyed people, a substantial number would think he's evangelical. Possibly even a majority.

By the way, that is one religious group that does have a predictable vote: evangelical Christians. While a minority are more liberal, by and large, most are fundamentalists. The whole point of being a fundamentalist is that it gives godly rationalizations to your conservative leanings, and so this isn't surprising

Dangerous Pedagogy in the Age of Casino Capitalism and Religious Fundamentalism Wednesday 29 February 2012 by: Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | News Analysis

Here is a rather long article from "Truthout". Of course you must follow the link to the original. It is titled:

"Dangerous Pedagogy in the Age of Casino Capitalism and Religious Fundamentalism
Wednesday 29 February 2012"
by: Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | News Analysis

Please read. Go to the original. Root around. Look up Henry A. Giroux. As I like to say, It's good for you -- maybe even better than chicken soup.

This is just an excerpt -- go to the original -- read the rest

Dangerous Pedagogy in the Age of Casino Capitalism and Religious Fundamentalism
Wednesday 29 February 2012
by: Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | News Analysis


All over the world, the forces of neoliberalism are on the march, dismantling the historically guaranteed social provisions provided by the welfare state, defining profit-making and market freedoms as the essence of democracy while diminishing civil liberties as part of the alleged "war" against terrorism. Secure in its dystopian vision that there are no alternatives to a market society, free-market fundamentalism eliminates issues of contingency, struggle and social agency by celebrating the inevitability of economic laws in which the ethical ideal of intervening in the world gives way to the idea that we "have no choice but to adapt both our hopes and our abilities to the new global market."[1] Coupled with an ever-expanding culture of fear, market freedoms seem securely grounded in a defense of national security and the institutions of finance capital. Under such circumstances, a neoliberal model now bears down on American society, threatening to turn it into an authoritarian state. The script is now familiar: there is no such thing as the common good; market values become the template for shaping all aspects of society; the free, possessive individual has no obligations to anything other than his or her self-interest; profit-making is the essence of democracy; the government, and particularly the welfare state, is the arch-enemy of freedom; private interests trump public values; consumerism is the essence of citizenship; privatization is the essence of freedom; law and order is the new language for mobilizing shared fears rather than shared responsibilities; war is the new organizing principle for organizing society and the economy; theocracy now becomes the legitimating code for punishing women, young people, the elderly, and those groups marginalized by class, race and ethnicity when religious moralism is needed to shore up the war against all social order.[2]

Given this current crisis, educators need a new political and pedagogical language for addressing the changing contexts and issues facing a world in which capital draws upon an unprecedented convergence of resources - financial, cultural, political, economic, scientific, military and technological - to exercise powerful and diverse forms of control. If educators and others are to counter global capitalism’s increased ability to separate the traditional nation-state-based space of politics from the transnational reach of power, it is crucial to develop educational approaches that reject a collapse of the distinction between market liberties and civil liberties, a market economy and a market society. This suggests developing forms of critical pedagogy capable of challenging neoliberalism and other anti-democratic traditions, such as the emerging religious fundamentalism in the United States, while resurrecting a radical democratic project that provides the basis for imagining a life beyond the "dream world" of capitalism. Under such circumstances, education becomes more than testing, an obsession with accountability schemes, zero-tolerance policies and a site for simply training students for the workforce. At stake here is recognizing the power of education in creating the formative culture necessary to both challenge the various threats being mobilized against the very idea of justice and democracy while also fighting for those public spheres and formative cultures that offer alternative modes of identity, social relations and politics.

The search for a new politics and a new critical language that crosses a range of theoretical divides must reinvigorate the relationship between democracy, ethics, and political agency by expanding the meaning of the pedagogical as a political practice while at the same time making the political more pedagogical. In the first instance, it is crucial to recognize that pedagogy has less to do with the language of technique and methodology than it does with issues of politics and power. Pedagogy is a moral and political practice that is always implicated in power relations and must be understood as a cultural politics that offers both a particular version and vision of civic life, the future, and how we might construct representations of ourselves, others, and our physical and social environment. As Roger Simon observes:

As an introduction to, preparation for, and legitimation of particular forms of social life, education always presupposes a vision of the future. In this respect a curriculum and its supporting pedagogy are a version of our own dreams for ourselves, our children, and our communities. But such dreams are never neutral; they are always someone's dreams and to the degree that they are implicated in organizing the future for others they always have a moral and political dimension. It is in this respect that any discussion of pedagogy must begin with a discussion of educational practice as a form of cultural politics, as a particular way in which a sense of identity, place, worth, and above all value is - informed by practices which organize knowledge and meaning.[3]

An oppositional cultural politics can take many forms, but given the current assault by neoliberalism on all aspects of democratic public life, it seems imperative that educators revitalize the struggles to create conditions in which learning would be linked to social change in a wide variety of social sites, and pedagogy would take on the task of regenerating both a renewed sense of social and political agency and a critical subversion of dominant power itself. Making the political more pedagogical rests on the assumption that education takes place a variety of sites outside of the school. Under such circumstances, agency becomes the site through which power is not transcended but reworked, replayed and restaged in productive ways. Central to my argument is the assumption that politics is not only about power, but also, as Cornelius Castoriadis points out, "has to do with political judgements and value choices,"[4] indicating that questions of civic education and critical pedagogy (learning how to become a skilled citizen) are central to the struggle over political agency and democracy. In this instance, critical pedagogy emphasizes critical reflexivity, bridging the gap between learning and everyday life, understanding the connection between power and knowledge, and extending democratic rights and identities by using the resources of history. However, among many educators and social theorists, there is a widespread refusal to recognize that this form of education is not only the foundation for expanding and enabling political agency, but also that it takes place across a wide variety of public spheres mediated through the very force of culture itself.

One of the central tasks of any viable critical pedagogy would be to make visible alternative models of radical democratic relations in a wide variety of sites. These spaces can make the pedagogical more political by raising fundamental questions such as: what is the relationship between social justice and the distribution of public resources and goods? What are the conditions, knowledge and skills that are a prerequisite for civic literacy, political agency and social change? What kinds of identities, desires and social relations are being produced and legitimated in diverse sites of teaching and learning? How might the latter prepare or undermine the ability of students to be self-reflective, exercise judgment, engage in critical dialogues, and assume some responsibility for addressing the challenges to democracy at a national and global level? At the very least, such a project involves understanding and critically engaging dominant public transcripts and values within a broader set of historical and institutional contexts. Making the political more pedagogical in this instance suggests producing modes of knowledge and social practices in a variety of sites that not only affirm oppositional thinking, dissent and cultural work, but also offer opportunities to mobilize instances of collective outrage and collective action. Such mobilization opposes glaring material inequities and the growing cynical belief that today's culture of investment and finance makes it impossible to address many of the major social problems facing both the United States and the larger world. Most importantly, such work points to the link between civic education, critical pedagogy and modes of oppositional political agency that are pivotal to creating a politics that promotes democratic values, relations, autonomy and social change. Hints of such a politics is already evident in the various approaches the Occupy movement has taken in reclaiming the discourse of democracy and in collectively challenging the values and practices of finance capital. Borrowing a line from Rachel Donadio, the Occupy movement protesters are raising questions about "what happens to democracy when banks become more powerful than political institutions?"[5] What kind of education does it take, both in and out of schools, to recognize the dissolution of democracy and the emergence of an authoritarian state?

In taking up these questions and the challenges they pose, critical pedagogy proposes that education is a form of political intervention in the world and is capable of creating the possibilities for social transformation. Rather than viewing teaching as technical practice, pedagogy, in the broadest critical sense, is premised on the assumption that learning is not about processing received knowledge, but actually transforming knowledge as part of a more expansive struggle for individual rights and social justice. This implies that any viable notion of pedagogy and resistance should illustrate how knowledge, values, desire and social relations are always implicated in relations of power, and how such an understanding can be used pedagogically and politically by students to further expand and deepen the imperatives of economic and political democracy. The fundamental challenge facing educators within the current age of neoliberalism, militarism and religious fundamentalism is to provide the conditions for students to address how knowledge is related to the power of both self-definition and social agency. In part, this means providing students with the skills, knowledge and authority they need to inquire and act upon what it means to live in a substantive democracy, to recognize anti-democratic forms of power, and to fight deeply rooted injustices in a society and world founded on systemic economic, racial and gendered inequalities.

The Responsibility of Teachers as Public Intellectuals

In the age of irresponsible privatization, it is difficult to recognize that educators and other cultural workers bear an enormous responsibility in opposing the current threat to the planet and everyday life by bringing democratic political culture back to life. While liberal democracy offers an important discourse around issues of "rights, freedoms, participation, self-rule, and citizenship," it has been mediated historically through the "damaged and burdened tradition" of racial and gender exclusions, economic injustice and a formalistic, ritualized democracy, which substituted the swindle for the promise of democratic participation.[6] At the same time, liberal and republican traditions of Western democratic thought have given rise to forms of social and political criticism that at least contained a "referent" for addressing the deep gap between the promise of a radical democracy and the existing reality. With the rise of neoliberalism, referents for imagining even a weak democracy, or, for that matter, for understanding the tensions between capitalism and democracy, which animated political discourse for the first half of the 20th century, appear to be overwhelmed by market discourses, identities and practices, on the one hand, or a corrosive cynicism on the other. And, of course, at the present moment a kind of political lunacy that testifies to the rise of extremism in America. Democracy has now been reduced to a metaphor for the alleged "free" market and, in some cases, to the image of a theocratic state. It is not that a genuine democratic public space once existed in some ideal form and has now been corrupted by the values of the market, but that these democratic public spheres, even in limited forms, seem to no longer be animating concepts for making visible the contradiction and tension between the reality of existing democracy and the promise of a more fully realized, substantive democracy. Part of the challenge of linking critical pedagogy with the process of democratization suggests constructing new locations of struggle, vocabularies and subject positions that allow people in a wide variety of public spheres to become more than they are now, to question what it is they have become within existing institutional and social formations, and to give some thought to what it might mean to transform existing relations of subordination and oppression.

There's a lot more -- please go to the original

Aide: GOP candidate says Obama an ‘illegal alien’ and ‘Holocaust never happened’

This from "Raw Story". THIS is what the "NEW" Republican Party has become -- or, what they ALWAYS were, but didn't want to admit it.

Please follow link to original. By the way, I think any Jew who votes for any Republican is voting against their interests, their co-Religionists, and a stable Middle East.

Aide: GOP candidate says Obama an ‘illegal alien’ and ‘Holocaust never happened’

A congressional candidate from Illinois who believes the “Holocaust never happened” is running as a Republican because President Barack Obama is an “illegal alien,” according to one of his campaign aides.

In a report published by OakLawn Patch on Tuesday, Arthur Jones charged that “the Holocaust is nothing more than an international extortion racket by the Jews.”

A campaign staffer who only wished to be identified as “Bill” told Raw Story that the candidate stood by those remarks.

“Mr. Jones is the only candidate in the entire state of Illinois, apparently, that’s not afraid to stand up to the Israeli lobby,” Bill explained, adding that Jones was only running as a Republican because the Democratic Party was even worse.

“He can’t see himself in the same party with an illegal alien like Obama or a homosexual like Barney Frank or all these abortionists and all these people that want amnesty for illegal aliens,” he continued. “To run as a third-party candidate or an independent candidate in Illinois, you need 5,000 signatures, which means you need double that just to get on the ballot.”

Bill said that only Republican and Democrats only needed 600 signatures to get on the ballot.

“If Republicans don’t like the fact that Mr. Jones is running as a Republican then, damn it, change the laws!” the staffer exclaimed “He says, ‘We are suffering under the two-party, Jew-party, queer-party system.’ And he would love to be out from under that system, but as long as that what’s the law is in Illinois, he has to pick one of the two and he figures that Republicans are the lesser of two evils.”

Bill said that he really ges “ticked off” when people give Jones grief for denying the Holocaust.

“Instead of writing about the damn Holocaust, why don’t you print what I told you? Print about Operation Keelhaul, print about the Ukrainian famine, print about the bombing of Dresden, print about all those war crimes committed by Americans and by our great noble ally Russia!”

“My Jones happens to be a Vietnam Veteran, OK?” he added. “So, he fought for the right to hold the views that he has, unlike these other jerks!”

Jones, who is a former member of the Nationalist Socialist White People’s Party, is going up against Jim Falvey and Richard Grabowski for the Republican nomination in 3rd Congressional District of Illinois. The district is currently represented in Washington by Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski.

A Weds. trip to "Some Assembly Required"

It is Wednesday, a good day to read "Some Assembly Required". Of course, you will follow the link. I decided to0 go there simply because I'm lazy willing to trust you all with some of the "bad news" (also known as "NEWS") around today. I know you're strong enough -- and, if you're not -- well, I'm sorry. Just don't hurt yourself.

From The Head Down: In 1994Philadelphia Cardinal Bevilacqua ordered all copies of a memo identifying 35 priests in the Archdiocese as pedophiles destroyed and thereafter denied that that the church had conspired to conceal clerical sex abuse. He kept his own copy, which was discovered after his death last year. How many Hail Mary's is this gonna take?

Psychopaths Are Us: While only 1% of the general public are psychopaths, on Wall Street at least 10% are. Experience suggests this is a conservative estimate.

Auch Auf Deutsch: The German version of the BLS reported that there were officially 3,081,706 unemployed persons in Germany while 5,394,064 were drawing unemployment compensation. Nice work, if you can't get it.

Democratic Demon: Ireland says it must ask its citizens before committing to the EU fiscal compact. If turning over national fiscal sovereignty to Brussels is depends on the citizens of 17 nations approving the idea, it is not going to happen. Only 12 of the 17 need approve, but then it would only apply to those who said “yea', which means when Ireland (or anyone else, say Portugal or Spain) needs another helping of austerity tinged bailout, it won't get one.

Go there, there's more.

If you need further comment --- "Boy, are we F@(%#^ !!!"

Soft and Hard

This from "Financial Armageddon". He got it from "Of Two Minds" a blog I am not familiar with. Please follow link to original, read more, poke around -- it's good for you.

Soft and Hard

In "What's Your Favorite 'On the Ground' Recession Indicator?" California-based author and publisher of the Of Two Minds blog (a longtime favorite of mine), Charles Hugh Smith, writes about an interesting development in his neck of woods:

I've sold a few cars myself at the local "sell your own car" lot, so I know it's reputable and a model that works for buyers and sellers. For a flat fee, you park your car on their lot and price it however you want. Potential buyers get to test-drive it, take it to their mechanic, etc. It's a big lot, so the selection of cars and prices is suggestive of larger trends--at least to me.

Back in 2009 at the initial depths of the recession, the used Toyotas and Hondas vanished and the lot filled with Volvos and other big-car-payment brands. I took this to reflect people were ditching their car payments and snapping up older reliable cars they could buy for cash and get another 100,000 miles out of.

I hadn't been by the lot in a while and what I saw astonished me. The lot was packed with "fun" cars and luxury brands: four recent-vintage Cooper-Minis were lined up (none sold in the week I monitored the lot). A cute yellow VW Beetle--another "fun" car-- was over by the Mercedes. Yes, Mercedes, and Porsches, all beautfully maintained.

For the first time in the two decades I've scanned this lot, it was chockful of luxury cars: a pristine black 2002 Porsche Boxter with low mileage that raised my blood pressure and sorely tempted me because it was "priced to sell"--and for a Scots-Irish-French tightwad, that's saying something; an equally beautiful Mercedes 500-series two seater, low mileage, brand-new in appearance; a fairly decent Jaguar; another pristine 300-series Mercedes, a classic, unbelievably well-maintained Porsche 911 (1991)-- the list goes on.

In the good old days, these "still look new" luxury cars would have been snapped up at these prices. But now they sit here, unsold, day after day.

Another class of "fun" car was also represented--the muscle car: a very clean recent vintage red Trans Am attracted onlookers in one corner of the lot.

Sellers can add comments to the sales tag, and on at least two of the luxury vehicles it was noted that the car had been their father's, one owner. Others indicated the original owner was selling.

If you know some car buffs, or you are one, then you know what these low-mileage super-clean luxury cars represent: they represent the lifetime achievement car for a guy, or the trophy car the rising exec takes out on the weekend. There is no other explanation for a 10-year old car to have 17,000 miles, or 33,000 miles--they were all garaged and enjoyed as a third or fourth car.

It seems Dad is getting too old to drive, or it's no longer feasible to ease into the low-slung Porsche, and so he's given it to one of his kids. And the kid drove it to the lot to turn into cold hard cash.

As for the "fun" cars: maybe they're still selling big numbers of new vehicles, but the glow of owning a mediocre-mileage car with no room for the dog or kids seems to be fading for existing owners. My sister-in-law spent a fortune having her Mini Cooper fixed last year, and our friend with a cutsy VW Beetle had a repair bill after a few years of ownership that could have bought a decent used car instead.

For whatever reason, "fun" cars that I never saw on the lot before are now there in abundance.

This is all anecdotal, of course, and wide open to interpretation. If you go to the techie-hipster favored neighborhoods in San Francisco, the tony cafes and restaurants are crowded: there's plenty of Web 2.0 money floating around. If you only look at these concentrations of talent and free-flowing investment capital, the economy looks like it's booming. Ditto if you try to book a table near the Opera on performance night: there's plenty of old money around that can spend $100 per dinner, too.

Once again, there were no older Toyotas or Hondas on the lot, only a few 2-year old models asking near-new prices. I interpret this thusly: older reliable cars that will last another five years without major expense are snapped up immediately, and superfluous "fun" cars and luxury trophy vehicles are being turned into cash.

When people are driving their pride and joy cars out of their pampered garages and selling them for cash, not trading them in for a new car or keeping them for pleasure, I think that's saying something about the "real" economy you won't find if you hang around Twitter HQ or the bejeweled Opera crowd

Stop Starving Public Universities and Shrinking the Middle Class

Here's the very latest from Robert Reich. Please follow link -- go to his blog. There's a lot more there to read.

Stop Starving Public Universities and Shrinking the Middle Class

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Last week Rick Santorum called the President “a snob” for wanting everyone to get a college education (in fact, Obama never actually called for universal college education but only for a year or more of training after high school).

Santorum needn’t worry. America is already making it harder for young people of modest means to attend college. Public higher education is being starved, and the middle class will shrink even more as a result.

Over just the last year 41 states have cut spending for public higher education. That’s on top of deep cuts in 2009 and 2010. Some public universities, such as the University of New Hampshire, have lost over 40 percent of their state funding; the University of Washington, 26 percent; Florida’s public university system, 25 percent.

Rising tuition and fees are making up the shortfall. This year, the average hike is 8.3 percent. New York’s state university system is increasing tuition 14 percent; Arizona, 17 percent; Washington state, 16 percent. Students in California’s public universities and colleges are facing an average increase of 21 percent, the highest in the nation.

The children of middle and lower-income families are hardest hit. Remember: The median wage has been dropping since 2000, adjusted for inflation.

Pell Grants for students from poor families are falling further behind; they now cover only about a third of tuition and fees. (In the 1980s, they covered about half; in the 1970s, more than 70 percent.)

Student debt is skyrocketing – the New York Federal Reserve Bank estimates it at $550 billion. Punitive laws enforce repayment, and it’s almost impossible to shed student loans in bankruptcy. There is no statue of limitations for non-repayment.

And yet, Santorum’s rant notwithstanding, good-paying jobs in America are coming to require a college degree. Globalization and rapid technological change are putting a premium on the ability to identify and solve new problems. A college degree is also a signal to prospective employers that a young person has what it takes to succeed.

That’s why the median annual pay of people with a bachelor’s degree was 70 percent higher than those with a high school diploma in 2009 (the latest Census data available).

But public higher education isn’t just a private investment. It’s a public good. Our young people — their capacities to think, understand, investigate, and innovate — are America’s future.

We used to understand this. During the great expansion of public higher education from the 1950s to the 1970s, tuition at public universities averaged about 4 percent of median family income (compared to around 20 percent at private universities).

Young Americans received college degrees in record numbers – creating a cohort of scientists, engineers, managers, and professionals that propelled the economy forward and dramatically expanded the middle class.

But starting in the 1980s, as in so many other areas of American life, we took a U-turn. Tuition at public universities began climbing. By 2005, it was more than 10 percent of median annual family income. Now it’s approaching 25 percent – still a good deal relative to private universities (where it’s nearly 70 percent), but high enough to discourage many qualified young people from attending.

Public higher education has been the gateway to the middle class but that gate is shutting – just when income and wealth are more concentrated at the top than they’ve been since the 1920s, and when America needs the brainpower of its young people more than ever.

This is nuts.

What’s the answer? Partly to make public universities more efficient. Every bureaucracy I’ve ever been associated with (and I’ve been in some very big ones) has some fat to be trimmed. Yet universities are necessarily labor-intensive enterprises; research and teaching can’t be outsourced abroad or turned over to computerized machine tools.

Another part of the answer is to raise tuition and fees for students from higher-income families and use the extra money to subsidize medium and lower-income kids. Even now relatively few pay the official sticker price; many receive some discount proportional to family income. But this won’t solve the underlying problem, ether.

A big part of the answer has to be more government support for public education at all levels. This requires more tax revenues – especially from Americans who are best able to pay.

Most Americans still believe in the ideal of equal opportunity. And most harbor the patriotic notion that we have responsibilities to one another as members of the same society.

The two principles lead to an obvious conclusion: America’s richest citizens have a duty to pay more taxes so kids from middle and lower-income families have chance to make it in America.

A pending initiative in California would raise taxes on millionaires and use the proceeds to fund public education at all levels. It’s a good idea, and it comes at the right time. Other states should follow.

"Masters of Delusion"

I posted an article from Bloomberg where Wall Street parasites earning $350,000 and up - some WAY UP, are crying poverty because their bonus has been cut.

These fools most likely think THEY are "Masters Of The Universe". They are NOT. They are well paid functionaries of our system. Most have no WEALTH. They are just another disposable part of the current "system", presided over by the WEALTHY. The folks who are depression, recession, inflation, proof. Folks who own more than "stuff", like LAND. It may do them well to read some of FerdinanD Lundberg's books. Start with "The Rich And The Super Rich". It might be dated, but it is still, and (I fear) always will be valid.

The current group of Wall Street guys are just another bunch of tools, to be discarded when they are finished, used up.

Then we can expect to see another group of "tell all" memoirs. Tales about how "love" is all that counts. The ones who still have some bucks will start foundations -- and "nice people" will speak glowingly about the way these sociopaths have been reformed/transformed/(add whatever other crap you see fit).

Better laugh -- because you, I, and everyone else will not get out of this world alive. Amazing how we allow ourselves to be seduced by greed.

"Wall Street Bonus Drop Means Trading Aspen for Discount Cereal"

This next is an excerpt of a Bloomberg article. It tells us how the drop in bonus money has Wall Street MILLIONAIRES "suffering". I tell you, these arrogant assholes really do not know how f'in lucky they are -- or, if they do, perhaps they're spending it as fast, or faster than it comes in -- because they, somehow or other, know they are NOT worth 25% of what they earn.

"Masters Of The Universe" -- NO! These guys are MASTERS OF DELUSION.

Please follow link to read the original. I'm just posting an excerpt.

Wall Street Bonus Drop Means Trading Aspen for Discount Cereal

Andrew Schiff was sitting in a traffic jam in California this month after giving a speech at an investment conference about gold. He turned off the satellite radio, got out of the car and screamed a profanity.

“I’m not Zen at all, and when I’m freaking out about the situation, where I’m stuck like a rat in a trap on a highway with no way to get out, it’s very hard,” Schiff, director of marketing for broker-dealer Euro Pacific Capital Inc., said in an interview.

Schiff, 46, is facing another kind of jam this year: Paid a lower bonus, he said the $350,000 he earns, enough to put him in the country’s top 1 percent by income, doesn’t cover his family’s private-school tuition, a Kent, Connecticut, summer rental and the upgrade they would like from their 1,200-square- foot Brooklyn duplex.

“I feel stuck,” Schiff said. “The New York that I wanted to have is still just beyond my reach.”

The smaller bonus checks that hit accounts across the financial-services industry this month are making it difficult to maintain the lifestyles that Wall Street workers expect, according to interviews with bankers and their accountants, therapists, advisers and headhunters.

“People who don’t have money don’t understand the stress,” said Alan Dlugash, a partner at accounting firm Marks Paneth & Shron LLP in New York who specializes in financial planning for the wealthy. “Could you imagine what it’s like to say I got three kids in private school, I have to think about pulling them out? How do you do that?”
Bonus Caps

Facing a slump in revenue from investment banking and trading, Wall Street firms have trimmed 2011 discretionary pay. At Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Barclays Capital, the cuts were at least 25 percent. Morgan Stanley (MS) capped cash bonuses at $125,000, and Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) increased the percentage of deferred pay.

“It’s a disaster,” said Ilana Weinstein, chief executive officer of New York-based search firm IDW Group LLC. “The entire construct of compensation has changed.”

Most people can only dream of Wall Street’s shrinking paychecks. Median household income in 2010 was $49,445, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, lower than the previous year and less than 1 percent of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s $7 million restricted-stock bonus for 2011. The percentage of Americans living in poverty climbed to 15.1 percent, the highest in almost two decades.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Breaking: Texas TBagger Doctor Indicted In Largest Medicare Fraud In History

By the way, Rockwall is right next door to us.

This from "Daily Kos" - please follow link to original.

Breaking: Texas TBagger Doctor Indicted In Largest Medicare Fraud In History

A Texas doctor was accused Tuesday in the largest Medicare fraud case in US history, with federal prosecutors charging him with scamming the government with $375 million in phony billings.

Justice Department officials announced that Dr. Jacques Roy was arrested in Texas and faces life in prison as well as fines of more than $250,000 if convicted.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Doctor Roy and his assistant, who was also charged, sent “recruiters” door-to-door in the Dallas area to get people to sign bogus medical forms that were then used in the alleged scam. The pair even went as far as to pay homeless people $50 each to sign the forms, according to the DOJ accusations.

Washington— Federal law enforcement officials announced what they called the largest healthcare fraud case in the nation’s history, indicting a Dallas area physician for allegedly bilking Medicare for nearly $375 million in billings for nonexistent home healthcare services.

Top Justice Department officials, working for several years to stem a rampant rise in healthcare fraud around the country, also revealed Tuesday that 78 home health agencies that were working with the physician, Dr. Jacques Roy, will be suspended from the Medicare program for up to 18 months.

FBI agents in Texas arrested Roy, of Rockwall, Texas, a physician for 28 years, and asked a federal judge in Dallas to keep him in custody until trial, citing his vast “bank accounts, a sailboat, vehicles and multiple pieces of property” as indications he may attempt to flee.

Facing life in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as restitution of the vast sum of money he allegedly cost the federal government, Roy is to appear in court in Dallas later Tuesday.

Under the alleged fraud scheme, the doctor and his office manager in DeSoto, Texas, Teri Sivils, who was also charged, allegedly sent healthcare “recruiters” door-to-door asking residents to sign forms that contained the doctor’s electronic signature and stated that he had seen the residents professionally for medical services he never provided.

They also allegedly dispatched more “recruiters” to a homeless shelter in Dallas, paying $50 to every street person they coaxed from a nearby parking lot and signed him up on the bogus forms.

The long-running ruse allegedly began in 2006 and over five years collected more Medicare beneficiaries than any other medical practice in the United States.

Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., in testimony Tuesday before a House appropriations subcommittee, said the Department of Justice is making healthcare fraud a centerpiece of its enforcement efforts. He said that in the last fiscal year alone, they had recovered nearly $4.1 billion in funds “that were stolen or taken improperly from federal healthcare programs.”

From "Open Secrets"

Contributor Occupation Date Amount Recipient
ROCKWALL,TX 75087 SELF EMPLOYED/PHYSICIAN 12/21/10 $300 Texas Medical Assn
ROCKWALL,TX 75087 JACQUES ROY/PHYSICIAN 1/10/10 $500 Tea Party Express/Our Country Deserves B
ROCKWALL,TX 75087 JACQUES ROY/PHYSICIAN 10/6/09 $250 Tea Party Express/Our Country Deserves B
ROCKWALL,TX 75087 JACQUES ROY/PHYSICIAN 10/16/09 $200 Tea Party Express/Our Country Deserves B
ROCKWALL,TX 75087 JACQUES ROY/PHYSICIAN 11/6/09 $200 Tea Party Express/Our Country Deserves B
ROCKWALL,TX 75087 JACQUES ROY/PHYSICIAN 8/31/09 $200 Tea Party Express/Our Country Deserves B

Gee-whiz, are you surprised?? No wonder these folks say Medicare is corrupt -- they are the corruptors. They steal from us all, then say we should not have that sort of coverage -- because THEY steal from us.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What Ails Europe?

This from Paul Krugman. Please follow link to original

Op-Ed Columnist
What Ails Europe?
Published: February 26, 2012


Things are terrible here, as unemployment soars past 13 percent. Things are even worse in Greece, Ireland, and arguably in Spain, and Europe as a whole appears to be sliding back into recession.

Why has Europe become the sick man of the world economy? Everyone knows the answer. Unfortunately, most of what people know isn’t true — and false stories about European woes are warping our economic discourse.

Read an opinion piece about Europe — or, all too often, a supposedly factual news report — and you’ll probably encounter one of two stories, which I think of as the Republican narrative and the German narrative. Neither story fits the facts.

The Republican story — it’s one of the central themes of Mitt Romney’s campaign — is that Europe is in trouble because it has done too much to help the poor and unlucky, that we’re watching the death throes of the welfare state. This story is, by the way, a perennial right-wing favorite: back in 1991, when Sweden was suffering from a banking crisis brought on by deregulation (sound familiar?), the Cato Institute published a triumphant report on how this proved the failure of the whole welfare state model.

Did I mention that Sweden, which still has a very generous welfare state, is currently a star performer, with economic growth faster than that of any other wealthy nation?

But let’s do this systematically. Look at the 15 European nations currently using the euro (leaving Malta and Cyprus aside), and rank them by the percentage of G.D.P. they spent on social programs before the crisis. Do the troubled GIPSI nations (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy) stand out for having unusually large welfare states? No, they don’t; only Italy was in the top five, and even so its welfare state was smaller than Germany’s.

So excessively large welfare states didn’t cause the troubles.

Next up, the German story, which is that it’s all about fiscal irresponsibility. This story seems to fit Greece, but nobody else. Italy ran deficits in the years before the crisis, but they were only slightly larger than Germany’s (Italy’s large debt is a legacy from irresponsible policies many years ago). Portugal’s deficits were significantly smaller, while Spain and Ireland actually ran surpluses.

Oh, and countries that aren’t on the euro seem able to run large deficits and carry large debts without facing any crises. Britain and the United States can borrow long-term at interest rates of around 2 percent; Japan, which is far more deeply in debt than any country in Europe, Greece included, pays only 1 percent.

In other words, the Hellenization of our economic discourse, in which we’re all just a year or two of deficits from becoming another Greece, is completely off base.

So what does ail Europe? The truth is that the story is mostly monetary. By introducing a single currency without the institutions needed to make that currency work, Europe effectively reinvented the defects of the gold standard — defects that played a major role in causing and perpetuating the Great Depression.

More specifically, the creation of the euro fostered a false sense of security among private investors, unleashing huge, unsustainable flows of capital into nations all around Europe’s periphery. As a consequence of these inflows, costs and prices rose, manufacturing became uncompetitive, and nations that had roughly balanced trade in 1999 began running large trade deficits instead. Then the music stopped.

If the peripheral nations still had their own currencies, they could and would use devaluation to quickly restore competitiveness. But they don’t, which means that they are in for a long period of mass unemployment and slow, grinding deflation. Their debt crises are mainly a byproduct of this sad prospect, because depressed economies lead to budget deficits and deflation magnifies the burden of debt.

Now, understanding the nature of Europe’s troubles offers only limited benefits to the Europeans themselves. The afflicted nations, in particular, have nothing but bad choices: either they suffer the pains of deflation or they take the drastic step of leaving the euro, which won’t be politically feasible until or unless all else fails (a point Greece seems to be approaching). Germany could help by reversing its own austerity policies and accepting higher inflation, but it won’t.

For the rest of us, however, getting Europe right makes a huge difference, because false stories about Europe are being used to push policies that would be cruel, destructive, or both. The next time you hear people invoking the European example to demand that we destroy our social safety net or slash spending in the face of a deeply depressed economy, here’s what you need to know: they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Cruise ship Costa Allegra adrift off Seychelles

It's a case of the "agains". From the same company as recent capsized cruise vessel. Perhaps there are some issues with their "corporate culture" (you think?).

This from BBC News -- please follow link to original

Cruise ship Costa Allegra adrift off Seychelles

An Italian cruise ship with more than 1,000 people on board is without power in the Indian Ocean following a fire. No one has been injured.

The Costa Allegra is adrift in the dark more than 200 miles southwest of the Seychelles, near Alphonse Island.

Tug boats are on their way to the liner but will not reach it until around 1500 GMT on Tuesday.

The ship is from the same fleet as the Costa Concordia, which capsized off the Italian coast in January, killing 32.

Costa Cruises said in a statement that the fire broke out in the electric generators' room. It did not spread and there were no injuries or casualties.

Inspections of the state of the engine room are on-going, the company says.
Ship immobilised

The liner has sent out a distress signal, Costa Cruises says, and all passengers and crew not involved in fighting the fire assembled at the muster stations.

There are no electric lights on board the ship as the batteries are being used to keep essential machinery going.

The Italian authorities have directed three merchant ships and two fishing vessels towards the stricken liner.

The authorities in the Seychelles say they have sent two tug boats and a coastguard ship to the scene.

The closest vessel to the ship - a French fishing boat - is likely to reach the Allegra at around 2300 GMT, ahead of the tug boats.

A plane from the Seychelles flew over the cruise ship and confirmed that there was "no danger for the people on board," according to Commander Cosimo Nicastro of the Italian coast guard.

Cmdr Nicastro told the BBC that it took the crew a few hours to extinguish the fire.

Although the ship is in the middle of the Indian Ocean, there are "no problems for the passengers".

However the ship probably needs to be towed to a Seychelles port, he said.
Seychelles map

There are 636 passengers and 413 crew on board the Costa Allegra, which left Madagascar on Saturday.

It was due to arrive in the Seychelles on Tuesday.

Further destinations on its itinerary include Alexandria and Naples in the Mediterranean.

Somali pirates are known to operate in the area where the ship is adrift, though they have never seized a cruise liner.

A facility on Costa Cruises' website allowing people to track the Allegra's position says that "data transmission is temporarily suspended".

The Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio on 13 January.

The Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, has been accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before all those aboard were evacuated. He denies any wrongdoing

Going Swimmingly?

Now, I don't always agree with him, but "Financial Armageddon" has culled some interesting statistics about our current "recovery". There are times I wish this stuff is a mistake -- I'm afraid it's not.

Please follow link to original

Americans are cutting spending on...

pets --

"Dog Owners Seeking Discounts as Petsmart Confronts Bite: Retail" (Bloomberg)

Liz Harper’s dog once dined on bowls of Mars Inc.’s Royal Canin tailored to the Boxer breed and packed with the heart-healthy amino acid L-carnitine. She’d wash it down with Bowser Beer, a dog drink brewed from malt barley and salt-free chicken stock. Today, Billie Holiday has to settle for kibble from the local Target Corp. (TGT) store.

“It’s probably worse than toxic waste, but she loves it,” said Harper, a 36-year-old attorney from Pelham, New York. “It’s cheap and way easier to buy than anything else. She’s a dog -- she eats out of the garbage can and drinks out of the sewer. She doesn’t need organic dog food.”

Harper is among a growing proportion of pet owners who are seeking bargains and shunning more opulent items such as $600 Swarovski crystal dog collars, according to researchers Packaged Facts and Mintel. The $87 billion pet-product market, once deemed recession-proof, is starting to show cracks as owners struggle to make ends meet.

Nearly four out of 10 U.S. pet owners in a September Packaged Facts survey said they’re spending less on pet products, up from 27 percent in February 2010. Three-quarters of them are looking for deals, particularly on non-food items like apparel and toys. The U.S. is the world’s largest pet product market, according to researcher Euromonitor International.

“The totally discretionary stuff is increasingly being cast aside,” said Lee Linthicum, head of food research at Euromonitor. “People still want to spend a fair bit of money on their pets, but they are reevaluating their priorities.” --

health care --

"Americans Cut Down On Checking For Colon Cancer During Recession" (Huffington Post)

The recession pushed many Americans to cut back on a vital service, one that could have cost some their lives.

Americans between the ages of 50 to 64 got 500,000 fewer colonoscopies, or screenings aimed at detecting colon cancer, during the recession, compared to the two years before, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of North Carolina's medical school.

The cut back may have had adverse affects on Americans’ health; another recent study found that removing polyps detected by colonoscopies can cut the risk of dying from colon cancer in half.

The study on the prevalence of screenings during the recession also found that regardless of the economic climate, cost is often a barrier for patients looking to get screened. Patients with out-of-pocket costs that were $300 or more were less likely to get screened then those with costs that were $50 or less, Spencer Dorn, one of the study's authors told the Wall Street Journal, and that gap grew during the recession.

The downturn has pushed many Americans to cut back on health care across the board. High unemployment during the recession and into the recovery has meant that many Americans scaled back on going to the doctor and hospital, either because they don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance or because they have limited funds, according to health companies cited by Dow Jones. --

meat --

"Price Becomes Even Bigger Factor for Meat Shoppers" (Supermarket News)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Price has always played a major role in the consumer's final decision when shopping supermarket meat departments, and that role appears to be growing, according to the seventh annual Power of Meat study, presented here today at the 2012 Annual Meat Conference, a joint production of the American Meat Institute and the Food Marketing Institute.

Most importantly, price per pound solidified its number-one ranking as the most important consumer decision factor, but total package cost is now the second most important factor that shoppers consider, making it more important than product appearance for the first time in the study's history.

“It's all about price. We've got some incredibly savvy consumers out there, and they're really cautious about what they are doing with their dollar today,” noted presenter Micheal Uetz, principal of Chicago-based Midan Marketing.

A large segment of shoppers continue to do “a tremendous amount of planning” both before they get to the store and while they are shopping, in an effort to get the best deals, Uetz said. The recession and the sluggish recovery has honed their shopping skills, and they are now able to dial up or dial down money saving measures quickly. --

and driving --

"U.S. Motorists Drive Fewer Miles in 2011" (Detroit News)

Washington— Americans hit the brakes on travel in 2011, as travel on U.S. roads fell to its lowest level since 2003, government data shows.

Last year, U.S. drivers logged 35.7 billion fewer miles over 2010 — down 1.2 percent — to 2.963 trillion miles, the Federal Highway Administration reported.

That's the fewest number of miles since Americans drove 2.890 trillion miles in 2003.

Stubbornly, high gas prices and an economic slowdown since 2008 have convinced some Americans not to drive as much. --

but other than that, things are going swimmingly for the U.S. consumer.

Yeah, right.

"Tribal Solidarity"

Here's a very interesting post from Digby at "Hullabaloo" - follow link to original.

I guess these folks really DO know history -- they just don't give a damn.

Tribal solidarity

by digby

This post by Chris Mooney about his new book called The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science—and Reality is an interesting insight into something that baffles all of us:

I can still remember when I first realized how na├»ve I was in thinking—hoping—that laying out the “facts” would suffice to change politicized minds, and especially Republican ones. It was a typically wonkish, liberal revelation: One based on statistics and data. Only this time, the data were showing, rather awkwardly, that people ignore data and evidence—and often, knowledge and education only make the problem worse.

Someone had sent me a 2008 Pew report documenting the intense partisan divide in the U.S. over the reality of global warming. It’s a divide that, maddeningly for scientists, has shown a paradoxical tendency to widen even as the basic facts about global warming have become more firmly established.

Buried in the Pew report was a little chart showing the relationship between one’s political party affiliation, one’s acceptance that humans are causing global warming, and one’s level of education. And here’s the mind-blowing surprise: For Republicans, having a college degree didn’t appear to make one any more open to what scientists have to say. On the contrary, better-educated Republicans were more skeptical of modern climate science than their less educated brethren. Only 19 percent of college-educated Republicans agreed that the planet is warming due to human actions, versus 31 percent of non-college-educated Republicans.

For Democrats and Independents, the opposite was the case. More education correlated with being more accepting of climate science—among Democrats, dramatically so. The difference in acceptance between more and less educated Democrats was 23 percentage points.

This was my first encounter with what I now like to call the “smart idiots” effect: The fact that politically sophisticated or knowledgeable people are often more biased, and less persuadable, than the ignorant. It’s a reality that generates endless frustration for many scientists—and indeed, for many well-educated, reasonable people...

It turns out that educated conservatives are more likely to believe all kinds of unscientific nonsense because they absorb a lot of partisan news and have a tendency to tribal identification. Well, hell:

Thus, they are more likely to know what they’re supposed to think about the issues—what people like them think—and to be familiar with the arguments or reasons for holding these views. If challenged, they can then recall and reiterate these arguments. They’ve made them a part of their identities, a part of their brains, and in doing so, they’ve drawn a strong emotional connection between certain “facts” or claims, and their deeply held political values. And they’re ready to argue.

What this suggests, critically, is that sophisticated conservatives may be very different from unsophisticated or less-informed ones. Paradoxically, we would expect less informed conservatives to be easier to persuade, and more responsive to new and challenging information.

In fact, there is even research suggesting that the most rigid and inflexible breed of conservatives—so-called authoritarians—do not really become their ideological selves until they actually learn something about politics first. A kind of “authoritarian activation” needs to occur, and it happens through the development of political “expertise.” Consuming a lot of political information seems to help authoritarians feel who they are—whereupon they become more accepting of inequality, more dogmatically traditionalist, and more resistant to change.

And, it turns out, educated liberals are different and tend to be open to new information and more flexible of mind. They have other problems, of course, not addressed in this study. (Oy, do they...)

Ultimately, this is about tribalism, feeling part of a group, being validated by it and thinking and behaving in ways that preserve your place in it. We all do it to some extent; we're social animals and we usually have a strong need to belong to a larger group. But how we process information is important and something that good political strategists understand instinctively.

The simple rule is this: if you want to persuade liberals of something, bring out the charts and spreadsheets. If you want to persuade conservatives of something, make them identify emotionally with what you want them to believe. And by the way, there's no such thing as "independents" who can be persuaded of anything. 90% of them are conservatives or liberals who either don't know it or won't wear the label and the rest are too clueless and capricious to be persuaded of anything.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gee -- folks do not know any history -- do they?

I guess folks today do not know any history. they do not remember when Roman Catholics, AKA: Papists, were looked upon much like Muslims are seen today. the great fear of electing a RC President, like JFK, was that he would take his cues from Rome.

There has only been ONE Roman Catholic President (Kennedy), not one Jew, and of course, no Muslims, Women, Wiccans, Atheists, etc. (of course some of our first group of Presidents may well have been Atheists -- they were "Deists", and some did not believe in organized religion -- but, that's another story).

Now Ricky Santorum, the Republican LEADER in the quest for the Presidential nomination has said that John F Kennedy's seminal speech on the separation of church and state made him sick.

He assumes folks do not know the historical context. He assumes no one will emphasize his membership in Opus Dei, or the fact he follows the "Catholic Party Line".

It no longer seems to bother Protestants -- NOW. If there ever is a split between Evangelicals and Catholics (I'm sorry, WHEN) I'd bet they won't be as friendly.

I vividly recall a bulletin from a Lutheran Fellowship group back when I was in College. This was Central New York back around 1958. One sentence still stands out: "Such enemies of civilization as Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and THE POPE".

In other words fear of the authority of the Pope was so pervasive, that a Catholic could not be elected as President of ALL the people.

The current romance with religious extremism, tied in with its manipulation by our corporate masters, may well destroy whatever is left of our Republic, our Democratic Republic.

Now, it has struck me that those same Corporate Masters truly understand where Earth currently stands. With Global Warming, Overpopulation, a looming Water Crisis, Dying Oceans, etc., etc., etc., perhaps they just want us to destroy each other. Kill most of us off so that we get back to a sustainable ecology. After all, if they allow stuff to follow its natural course -- some of THEM might die also. Can't have that -- right?

Outlandish religious "laws" and "rules" also help train us for the soon to be unveiled Neo-Feudal-System. Those "laws" teach unquestioning obedience.

I truly understand this is deep into tinfoil hat territory, and yet I still do not understand why really smart (at least I once thought them smart) folks insist on this breakneck dash to destruction.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Please go to "Daily Kos"

Please go to Daily Kos, and read his "Saturday hate mail-a-palooza: Fighting the Third Leicht!" -- it's a must read. Granted I think it is a bit below average for hate mail, but still, for many liberals who tend to poo-pooh this stuff -- it really is all over the place. These folks actually BELIEVE this crap with all their little hearts.

Follow link to original

Court filing: Bevilacqua ordered shredding of memo identifying suspected abusers

More proof the hierarchy of "The Most Holy Roman Catholic Church" is composed of frightened little men, willing to lie about pedophilia, and more than willing to throw their subordinates "under the bus".

This should, no MUST be posted far and wide -- REMEMBER, these evil little MEN are leading the charge against women's rights. Leading the charge against contraception, abortion, and every other form of equal rights for women.

How ANY woman, any mother, can support these evil little men is beyond me.

If your kids are in Catholic School -- TAKE THEM OUT. Support BETTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS. If you go to mass, or give to Catholic Charities -- STOP! Tell them why. That's what I did years ago, after the pedophilia scandal broke. I asked them about it, and never got any sort of response.

I was born Roman Catholic. My mother was a devout Catholic. Before her death, as she read more and more about the church, she damned them all.

You do the same. It's the ONLY human thing to do.

Please follow link to original.

Court filing: Bevilacqua ordered shredding of memo identifying suspected abusers

By John P. Martin

Inquirer Staff Writer

Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua ordered aides to shred a 1994 memo that identified 35 Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests suspected of sexually abusing children, according to a new court filing.

The order, outlined in a handwritten note locked away for years at the archdiocese's Center City offices, was disclosed Friday by lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former church administrator facing trial next month.

They say the shredding directive proves what Lynn has long claimed: that a church conspiracy to conceal clergy sex abuse was orchestrated at levels far above him.

"It is beyond doubt that Msgr. Lynn was completely unaware of this act of obstruction," attorneys Jeffrey Lindy and Thomas Bergstrom wrote.

Their motion asks Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina to dismiss the conspiracy and endangerment charges against Lynn, or to bar prosecutors from introducing Bevilacqua's videotaped testimony at trial.

The cardinal died Jan. 31.

The revelation is likely to further cloud Bevilacqua's complicated legacy in the handling of clergy sex abuse and could shape what happens at the historic trial, the first for a cleric accused of covering up sex abuse. Jury selection began this week. Opening statements are March 26.

Prosecutors say that Lynn, as the secretary for clergy, recommended priests for assignments despite knowing or suspecting that they would sexually abuse children. Facing trial with him are two former parish priests accused of molesting a boy in the 1990s, the Rev. James J. Brennan and Edward Avery.

In their motion, Lynn's lawyers argue that the new documents show he was one of the few church officials trying to confront the issue of abuse.

After becoming secretary for clergy in 1992, they say, Lynn began combing the secret personnel files of hundreds of priests to gauge the scope of misconduct involving children. He did it, his lawyers said, because he "felt it was the right thing to do."

The result was his February 1994 memo that identified 35 priests suspected of abuse or pedophilia. Lynn allegedly gave it to his superior, Msgr. James Molloy, the assistant vicar for administration, who shared his duties documenting abuse complaints.

Bevilacqua discussed the memo in a March 15, 1994, meeting with Molloy and Bishop Edward P. Cullen, then the cardinal's top aide, the filing says. After the meeting, Bevilacqua allegedly ordered Molloy to shred the memo.

One week later, Molloy allegedly destroyed four copies, with the Rev. Joseph Cistone as a witness. "This action was taken on the basis of a directive I received from Cardinal Bevilacqua," say Molloy's handwritten notes.

But Molloy apparently had second thoughts. Without telling anyone, he took a copy of the memo, and his notes, and placed them in a portable, locked safe.

According to the motion, that safe remained untouched and unnoticed until 2006, when archdiocesan officials found it and hired a locksmith to open it. It's unclear why the records inside were only recently turned over to Lynn's lawyers and prosecutors, although church lawyers have said they have been reviewing thousands of files to comply with trial subpoenas.

Bevilacqua had cited the 35 priests before. In February 2002 - as the abuse scandal was roiling Catholics across the country - he said the archdiocese had turned over information on 35 suspected abusive priests to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. He did not mention any memo from eight years earlier or his order to shred it.

During 10 appearances before a grand jury in 2003 and 2004, Bevilacqua denied knowing details or playing a significant role in the handling of sex-abuse complaints, saying he delegated those duties to Lynn.

"I saw no evidence at any time that we did any cover-up," he testified.

Prosecutors have not disputed that a conspiracy to protect abusive priests stretched beyond Lynn. Last month, one assistant district attorney called the archdiocese "an unindicted coconspirator" in the case.

Lynn's lawyers argue that Bevilacqua's testimony may have been perjury and that it colors the current case. "Had this recent grand jury been aware of the cardinal's successful efforts in 'deep-sixing' a significant document prepared by Msgr. Lynn, its view of him as a potential defendant may have been entirely different," they wrote. "It is clear . . . that Msgr. Lynn has been 'hung out to dry.' "

Lynn's lawyers also contend that Cistone, now the bishop of Saginaw, Mich., and Cullen, the retired bishop of Allentown, misled the grand jury by not acknowledging the memo or the cardinal's order to shred it. Neither responded Friday to messages left at their dioceses.

Molloy left his post as an administrator in the mid-1990s and died in 2006, after the first grand jury report vilifying the archdiocese. He never openly discussed Lynn's 1994 memo, but might have foreshadowed it in a story published after his death.

In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Molloy described reaching a point when "I couldn't be sure that I could trust my superiors to do the right thing." So, he said, he became diligent about documenting his actions.

"I wanted my memos to be there if the archdiocese's decisions were eventually put on the judicial scales," Molloy said then. "This way, anyone could come along in the future and say, this was right or this wrong. But they could never say it wasn't all written down."

Roy Clark - The Guitar Wizard! 1971

Flatt and Scruggs - Mountain Dew

Earl Scruggs And Lester Flatt - Cripple Creek

Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs - " Orange Blossom Special "

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Most Dangerous Man in Publishing

A very important man died Tuesday - here's a portion of a piece about him. Please follow link to read the rest.

The Most Dangerous Man in Publishing
Feb 23, 2012 7:48 AM EST
Barney Rosset, the man who brought Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot' and Miller's 'Tropic of Cancer' to America, died on Tuesday. Here is Louisa Thomas’s profile from 2008.

On a nondescript block south of New York's Union Square, up a dreary staircase and through a black-barred gate, there is a long, narrow room that might be mistaken for a very small museum of literary counterculture. On one wall hangs two rows of iconic posters: Paul Davis's print of Che Guevara's proud head; a photograph of the authors Jean Genet, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg marching at the 1968 Democratic National Convention; a portrait of Bobby Kennedy. Loose-leaf binders of correspondence with groundbreaking authors line floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Beside the bookcases, Samuel Beckett peers out of a black-and-white photograph with a fierce crow's gaze. Next to him in the picture stands a shorter, milder-looking man named Barney Rosset.

Rosset's publishing house, Grove Press, was a tiny company operating out of the ground floor of Rosset's brownstone when it published an obscure play called "Waiting for Godot" in 1954. By the time Beckett had won the Nobel Prize in 1969, Grove had become a force that challenged and changed literature and American culture in deep and lasting ways. Its impact is still evident—from the Che Guevara posters adorning college dorms to the canonical status of the house's once controversial authors. Rosset is less well known—but late in his life he is achieving some wider recognition. Last month, a black-tie crowd gave Rosset a standing ovation when the National Book Foundation awarded him the Literarian Award for "outstanding service" to American letters. This fall, Rosset was also the subject of a documentary, "Obscene," directed by Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O'Connor, which featured a host of literary luminaries, former colleagues and footage from a particularly hilarious interview with Al Goldstein, the porn king. High literature and low—Rosset pushed and published it all. ............................................. follow link

Trinity Broadcast Network Hit With Two Lawsuits

I guess it's just a case of "Christians being Christians" - follow link to original

Trinity Broadcast Network Hit With Two Lawsuits -- By Vikki Vargas, James Hourani

The founders of the Trinity Broadcasting Network claim the Costa Mesa based network is the largest Christian broadcasting network in the world.

But Paul and Jan Crouch are facing accusations of financial misconduct from members of their own family.

In one lawsuit, Joseph McVeigh said his niece Brittany Koper, the Crouches' granddaughter, was promoted to head TBN’s finances. A move, the lawsuit claims, that was intended to keep the company’s financial skeletons in the closet.

McVeigh’s lawsuit claims that TBN spent $50 million on a private jet for the Crouches. It names numerous homes owned around the world and claims that TBN bought a $100,000 motorhome to be used by Jan Crouch’s dogs.

Brittany Koper filed another lawsuit that accuses TBN attorneys of sexual misconduct. The suit accuses one attorney of "grabbing her breasts" and "slapping her buttocks."

Fingers have been pointed at all parties as the two lawsuits begin to emerge.

An attorney for TBN calls the lawsuits a "diversion."

He told NBC4 that Koper embezzled "a large amount of money" when she worked for her grandparents, and that she gave McVeigh, her uncle, a loan that no one knew about.

In his words, the lawsuits are “contrived, baseless, sad and tragic.”

Ghana coach says witchcraft is reason for team split

Just read this. these are the guys who play for the INTERNATIONAL TEAM -- the one they send out to play others all over the world -- the cream of the crop.

O.K. -- this is 2012. The 21st century. These folks are still using WITCHCRAFT.

Then I stop to think --- a hell of a lot of well educated (or so they claim) citizens of various and sundry "1st world" nations believe in, pray to, use equally insane mumbo-jumbo in important situations.

Think about it -- how different is Tim Tebow's "tebowing" from using whatever for protection, good fortune, or to thank some spirit or another for good fortune.

I guess it's just a form of "fundamentalism" -- different religion. Well, at least they are not strapping on vests of bombs and blowing themselves up for the "greater glory of God"

Anyway, this from BBC Sports - please follow link to original

Ghana coach says witchcraft is reason for team split
By Michael Oti Adjei BBC Sport, Accra

Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic has revealed deep divisions within the squad, saying some players used witchcraft against their own team-mates.

The Serbian made his claim in a leaked report on the Black Stars' failure at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, where they were beaten by eventual winners Zambia in the semi-finals.

"We all need to help in changing some players' mentality about using 'black power' to destroy themselves, and also make sure we instil discipline and respect for each other," the coach said.

In a report delivered to the Ghana Football Association's (GFA) executive committee, Stevanovic added: "After losing to Zambia, there arose so many accusations amongst the players.
Continue reading the main story

“Some players played to achieve personal fame, prominence and excellence”

Kwesi Nyantakyi GFA President

"I have learnt great lessons from African football and also about Ghanaian players' behaviour on and off the field.

The coach did not name any specific players in that part of the report and the GFA is refusing to comment on the matter, saying it does not discuss any issues arising from leaked documents.

"It has always happened, but players have used it to protect themselves and normally in search of luck," Sarfo Gyami, who was a member of the Ghana side at the 1992 Nations Cup, told BBC Sport.

"I have never heard of a situation when players have used it against their own colleagues. That is a very bad situation."

The image of Ghana's team during the Nations Cup was one of unity, with videos and pictures being beamed from the camp in Franceville of players holding late night prayer and singing sessions as a sign of their strong bond.

But both Stevanovic and GFA president Kwesi Nyantakyi say there were deep divisions.

"During the competition we observed that some players played to achieve personal fame, prominence and excellence to the detriment of the team," Nyantakyi said at a press conference earlier this week.

"We also had complaints from some senior players, accusing some of the junior ones of disrespect."

Stevanovic's position is under serious threat, with the GFA reviewing his contract and due to make a decision on his future in two weeks.

However, he will lead the squad when they play Chile in the United States on Thursday.

#11 - no acquiring institution

FDIC Approves the Payout of the Insured Deposits of Home Savings of America, Little Falls, Minnesota
Including two branches in Orange County, California, and one in Walnut Creek, California

February 24, 2012
Media Contact:
Greg Hernandez (202) 898-6984
Cell: (202) 340-4922

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) approved the payout of the insured deposits of Home Savings of America, Little Falls, Minnesota. The bank was closed today by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which appointed the FDIC as receiver.

The FDIC was unable to find another financial institution to take over the banking operations of Home Savings of America. The FDIC will mail directly to depositors of Home Savings of America, checks for the amount of their insured money.

Customers with questions about today's transaction, including those with accounts in excess of $250,000, should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-523-8089. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Pacific Standard Time (PST); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., PST; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., PST; on Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., PST; and thereafter from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., PST. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at

Beginning Monday, depositors of Home Savings of America with more than $250,000 at the bank may visit the FDIC's Web page "Is My Account Fully Insured?" at to determine their insurance coverage.

As of December 31, 2011, Home Savings of America had $434.1 million in total assets and $432.2 million in total deposits. The amount of uninsured deposits will be determined once the FDIC obtains additional information from those customers.

The FDIC as receiver will retain all the assets from Home Savings of America for later disposition. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $38.8 million. Home Savings of America is the eleventh FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the second in Minnesota. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Patriot Bank Minnesota, Forest Lake, on January 27, 2012.

#10 -- 2nd in Ga.

Ameris Bank, Moultrie, Georgia, Assumes All of the Deposits of Central Bank of Georgia, Ellaville, Georgia

February 24, 2012
Media Contact:
Greg Hernandez (202) 898-6984
Cell: (202) 340-4922

Central Bank of Georgia, Ellaville, Georgia, was closed today by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Ameris Bank, Moultrie, Georgia, to assume all of the deposits of Central Bank of Georgia.

The five branches of Central Bank of Georgia will reopen during their normal business hours beginning Saturday as branches of Ameris Bank. Depositors of Central Bank of Georgia will automatically become depositors of Ameris Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage up to applicable limits. Customers of Central Bank of Georgia should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Ameris Bank that it has completed systems changes to allow other Ameris Bank branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Central Bank of Georgia can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of December 31, 2011, Central Bank of Georgia had approximately $278.9 million in total assets and $266.6 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Ameris Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

The FDIC and Ameris Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on $192.8 million of Central Bank of Georgia's assets. Ameris Bank will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit:

Customers with questions about today's transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-523-0640. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., EST; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., EST; on Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., EST; and thereafter from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., EST. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $67.5 million. Compared to other alternatives, Ameris Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Central Bank of Georgia is the tenth FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the second in Georgia. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was The First State Bank, Stockbridge, on January 20, 2012.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

50 million abortions have been carried out since 1973, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Since at least 40 million people are unemployed, that’s probably just as well.

This from Ted Rall - please follow link to original

Pundits Babble, While The World Burns -- we have lots of Neros.

No one really knows what is going to happen to Europe. The right wing in the USA is continuing its War On Women. "Religionists" all over the world are becoming more and more radical. In the USA, Roman Catholics (AKA: The Pedophile Brand) and Fundamentalist Protestants are allied against ALL LGBT folks, women, and (even though they deny it) children.

It's as if Martin Luther never existed.

Insane right wing, "unfettered capitalism" is all the rage among the RICH.

European "leaders" have embraced "austerity" as if NATIONS, and CITIZENS do not exist.

Germany has finally found a way to conquer Europe -- I happen to think it won't work this time either. I also think it will leave Europe in ruins -- just as every other German attempt to take over has.

Population is a runaway train. Climate change is a runaway train. The approaching CLEAN water shortage may well become a runaway train VERY, VERY soon.

Looks like we have a bunch of runaway trains -- hope they are not all on the same track -- I fear they are.

Pundits pontificate, economists of different "schools" have arguments -- and it will soon look like discussions about pins and angels.

Various and sundry "legislators" in various parts of the world refuse to look at ANY form of REALITY.

The "religious" speak of one or another "apocalypse" -- it seems ANY change will bring about an "apocalypse". I think they are hoping it happens. For some reason these fools seem to think it will happen to YOU - not them.

Greed, stupidity, misguided self interest, corruption, reign supreme. People who know better, lie. They know they are lying, and continue to do so. Some folks misrepresent EVERYTHING -- as long as it allows THEM to make a good living.

I think I'll put up some more music today.

Oh yeah -- NONE of them give a DAMN about PEOPLE. It's only about "guiding" them so the people can act/vote/believe stuff that goes against their self interest. Gee -- how's this crap going to end?

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Pride and Joy (Studio version)

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Tightrope

Stevie Ray Vaughan (Live Austin City Limits)