Saturday, February 23, 2013

Taking a Vacqation from blogging.

I'm taking a couple of months off.  I just can not say the same things over and over.  Many of the things being proposed are insane.  the Republicans are totally insane - totally, and Obama is a Republican   --  a "liberal republican", but still a Republican.

Can't say the same stuff every single day. 

I've lost my spirit. 

If anything interesting happens  --  perhaps I'll return sooner  --  but, I doubt it.

Be well.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Swiss Myths

This from Dr. Krugman's blog.  Once again, holding some of the claims made by "conservative experts" to light. 

I guess those folks lie even when their mouths are NOT moving.

Please follow link to original

Oh, my. Aaron Carroll is rightly very, very annoyed at Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Arik Roy for saying that Obamacare should be replaced with a free-market system, like Switzerland’s. As he points out, the Swiss system is nothing like their description. In particular, they denounce community rating — but Switzerland has community rating!
Actually, though, it’s even worse than Carroll lets on, for two reasons.
One is that Obamacare in fact looks a lot like, you guessed it, the Swiss system — so much so that back in 2009 I described it as a plan to Swissfy America. After all the screaming about the awfulness of Obamacare, it’s pretty rich to hold up as a role model a very similar system.
But wait, there’s more: the Swiss system is more privatized than other European systems — and guess what, it has higher costs, indeed second only to America’s:
Maybe Holtz-Eakin doesn’t know anything about this — but wasn’t Roy supposed to be a conservative expert in this field? Are they really unaware of the basics here? Or do they just expect their readers to be easily fooled?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Martin Wolf Misses the Real Reason the Eurozone’s Unhappy Marriage Has Not Broken Up Yet

This from "Naked Capitalism" - please follow link to original.

The normally astute and blunt Martin Wolf is either having an uncharacteristic bout of circumspection or is managing to miss an important, arguably determining reason why the Eurozone persists in inflicting destructive austerity on much of its population.
As his current column shows, Wolf is under no illusion as to the success of the Eurozone experiment and reminds readers it could still fail:
The currency union is supposed to be an irrevocable monetary marriage. Even if it is a bad marriage, the union may still survive longer than many thought because the costs of divorce are so high. But a bad romance is still fragile, however large the costs of breaking up. The eurozone is a bad marriage. Can it become a good one?…
If all members of the eurozone would rejoin happily today, they would be extreme masochists. It is debatable whether even Germany is really better off inside: yes, it has become a champion exporter and runs large external surpluses, but real wages and incomes have been repressed. Meanwhile, the political fabric frays in crisis-hit countries. Anger at home and friction abroad plague both creditors and debtors.
What, then, needs to happen to turn this bad marriage into a good one? The answer has two elements: manage a return to economic health as quickly as possible, and introduce reforms that make a repeat of the disaster improbable. The two are related: the more plausible longer-term health becomes, the quicker should be today’s recovery.
Wolf then proceeds to tell us that the Eurozone continues to be a resolute practitioner of austerity policies. Readers may recall that there was a huge kerfluffle in the economics-related media when the IMF admitted it was all wrong, that the fiscal multipliers in the Eurozone had turned out to be larger than one. In econ-speak that means you can’t starve your way back to health. Cutting fiscal deficits results in an even greater economic contraction, resulting in even worse debt to GDP ratios. But the rest of the European officialdom seems to be in shoot-the-messenger mode. Per Wolf:
In a recent letter to ministers, Olli Rehn, the European Commission’s vice-president in charge of economics and monetary affairs, condemned the International Monetary Fund’s recent doubts on fiscal multipliers as not “helpful”. This, I take it, is an indication of heightened sensitivities. Instead of listening to the advice of a wise marriage counsellor, the authorities have rejected it outright.
Wolf says the way out is more debt writedowns and restructurings, internal rebalancing, and financing national deficits as the rebalancing is in process. At this remove, I don’t see how this happens. Germany still wants to have its cake and eat it too. It does not want to give up running surpluses with the rest of the Eurozone and keep financing its trade partners. The fact that it insists on irreconcilable objectives is putting the periphery into a depression which will eventually infect Germany.
Wolf argues that the reason the Eurozone has not broken up despite pursuing such destructive policies is that a breakup would be worse. The question might be for whom. Greece has been the test case. Even though a Greek departure would not have significant economic ramifications for the rest of the Eurozone, the fear is that it would lead to contagion, since if Greece left, it would demonstrate to other periphery countries that it could be done too.
And one has to wonder why Greece has not left. By all accounts, the country is falling apart. Many medicines are in inadequate supply, sheets in hospitals are being re-used, and barter is becoming common as the economy is breaking down. Things are now so desperate that infrastructure is being damaged as desperate citizens try to pilfer metals. From Greek Reporter:
The thieves are accused of stealing industrial cable, power-line transformers and other metal objects – triggering blackouts and massive train delays. The profile of the metal thief is also changing, authorities say, from gypsies and immigrants living on the margins of society to mainstream Greeks who have fallen on hard times. A group of men were caught trying to take apart an entire bridge and droves of immigrants can be seen pushing shopping carts around Greek neighborhoods looking in recycling bins…
Athens’ nine-year-old light rail system has been a prime magnet for metal robbers, with at least five major disruptions reported in the past six months due to cable theft that forced passengers to hop on and off trains as diesel replacements were needed. The trend has had lethal consequences: In early January, the body of a 35-year-old man was found near Athens beside the tracks of a suburban rail system that services the capital΄s airport. He had been electrocuted while cutting live cables, police said.
It is hard to imagine how an exit could make matters any worse. Greece would get the Eurozone boot off its neck, be able to deficit spend to get its idle resources back to work, and depreciate its currency to make its goods more attractive on world markets.
So why are the periphery countries suffering this level of unproductive pain? Because the countries aren’t making the decisions. It’s powerful local politicians who are selling out their countries, working in cahoots with Eurozone technocrats. And I can assure you none of them are sharing in the suffering of periphery country workers.
This is the plague of our modern social order: detached and corrupt leaders, whether intellectually, monetarily, or both. The old code of noblesse oblige, which at lead required the elites to have some concern about what happened to the lower orders, is a dead letter. It’s curious that someone as incisive as Wolf is unwilling to factor the behavior of the ruling classes into his assessment. Perhaps, as Michael Thomas said of Punch Sulzberger, he is dining with people he should be dining on.
I have been ignoring the condition of the European economy recently  --  perhaps because conditions in the U.S.A. seem to be improving.  In addition, there is little about the TOTAL failure of austerity in much of our "mainstream" press.  I hope to get "on the ball" again.

Monday, February 18, 2013

From "Echidne Of The Snakes"

Hello again.  I took a day off, and now it looks like I'm taking two days off.  In the meantime, I just read "Echidne Of The Snakes" and found some very interesting things there.  Perhaps it would be good if you went there and read them. 

First a sample.  Next, please follow link to original.

I must scratch my head over these Republican boys' antics.  Here's the recent joke column at the National Review by Michael Walsh:

Nevertheless, you’re on to something I’ve been advocating for years now. And that is the repeal of all four of the so-called “Progressive Era” amendments, including the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th, which were passed between 1911 and 1920.
The income-tax amendment was a self-evident attack on capitalism and led to the explosive growth of the federal government we currently enjoy today. (Without it, there’d be no need for a Balanced Budget Amendment.) Direct elections of senators has given us, among other wonders, the elevation of John F. Kerry to, now, secretary of state. Prohibition was directly responsible for the rise of organized crime and its unholy alliance with the big-city Democratic machines. And women’s suffrage . . . well, let’s just observe that without it Barack Obama could never have become president. Time for the ladies to take one for the team.
Who’s with me?

A party which is currently known best for supporting rapists' fatherhood rights and for demanding vaginal ultrasounds before abortions and for trying to block the VAWA then comes out with public jokes about how women's suffrage should be abolished?

They couldn't be clearer about their views if they erected a banner over their headquarters saying No GURLZ Allowed.  Well, that was overly nice of me.  The banner would say something like "bitches are dumb, women are inferior, and egg Americans rule."

But I think Michael Walsh is dumb.  Or rather blind and deaf and living in a little locker-room bubble rather than in the real world.  Because what his joking tells us is that he thinks it would be easier to ban women from voting than to change those things about his party platform which are against most women's interests.  But perhaps the Republicans have figured out that if they have the money boys and the fundies, all they need are the misogynists, and this might be part of the courting of those haters.

To put things into some perspective, I have never read a Democratic pundit or politician proposing the abolition of male suffrage, even though that, too, would benefit one party.  That the Republicans have done the reverse several times tells us something.

Next she has a post about the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia.  READ THAT!!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Weekend Visit To "Some Assembly Required"

This from this weekends "Some Assembly Required"  --  read, research, weep.

Through Thick To Thin: While the extent of Arctic sea ice has been dropping steadily, the volume has been plummeting. 'Collapse' is the word used. It dropped 36% in the last decade and 80% since 1980. Put the coffee down and think about this for a minute.  This is not the story of the day, or week, or month, or even year, but may well be the defining story of the decade because it will accelerate the total disintegration of the Greenland ice sheet and the rapid release of vast amounts of carbon from the permafrost, and trigger the release of methane from... etc. etc. etc. We are headed toward a permanent change, with extreme and prolonged weather events such as drought, flooding, cold spells and heat waves.  “It is almost certainly too late to save the Arctic’s summer sea ice from near-total destruction. Let’s hope the same isn’t true for the biosphere.”

Unarmed & Dangerous: The Canadian government views protests against the oil and gas industry as a threat to national security. The national police and the Intelligence Service are guarding against “attacks” of civil disobedience by environmental activists such as blocking roads and buildings. People taking part in protests risk being mistaken for terrorists and treated accordingly. 

Ah, The Smell Of Napalm... According to a Wal-Mart executive, the retail giant's February sales to date are a “total disaster.” Their explanation is that the payroll-tax increases have lowered their customers' disposable income. Serious? Well, Wally makes up 2.3% of the nation’s GDP.

The White People's Party:Did you know that Romney-Ryan did not get a single vote in91 NYC precincts and 59 precincts in Philadelphia. Did you know they did not challenge these outcomes? They did much better in the South, where change is suspect and government is seen as an intrusive force. Except when its telling women to put duct tape on their nipples.

Teaching Point: If you don't understand the enormous show of militarized police terrorizing southern California and didn't understand why they had to burn down the cabin with the Bad Guy in it, go back to sleep. 

Remember, the police armed and dangerous and they have matches.

Go there   --  read the rest.

Friday, February 15, 2013

#3 in 2013

Liberty Bank and Trust Company, New Orleans, Louisiana, Assumes All of the Deposits of Covenant Bank, Chicago, Illinois

February 15, 2013
Media Contact:
LaJuan Williams-Young
Office: 202-898-3876

Covenant Bank, Chicago, Illinois, was closed today by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – Division of Banking, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Liberty Bank and Trust Company, New Orleans, Louisiana, to assume all of the deposits of Covenant Bank.
The sole branch of Covenant Bank will reopen during normal business hours as a branch of Liberty Bank and Trust Company. Depositors of Covenant Bank will automatically become depositors of Liberty Bank and Trust Company. 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 Covenant Bank should continue to use their current branch until they receive notice from Liberty Bank and Trust Company that systems conversions have been completed to allow full-service banking at all branches of Liberty Bank and Trust Company.
This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Covenant Bank 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, 2012, Covenant Bank had approximately $58.4 million in total assets and $54.2 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Liberty Bank and Trust Company agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.
Customers with questions about today's transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-830-4732. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Central Standard Time (CST); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., CST; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., CST; on Monday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., CST; and thereafter from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., CST. 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 $21.8 million. Compared to other alternatives, Liberty Bank and Trust Company's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Covenant Bank is the 3rd FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the first in Illinois. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Citizens First National Bank, Princeton, on November 2, 2012.

Count Basie Orchestra featuring Count Basie piano & bass duet 1960.

Thad Jones, Snookey Young, Sonny Cohn, Joe Newman, trumpets.
Billy Mitchell, Frank Wess, Marshall Royal,Frank Foster,Charlie Fowlkes,saxophones.
Al Grey, Henry Coker, Benny Powell, trombones,
Count Basie,piano,
Freddie Green,guitar,
Eddie Jones,bass,
Sonny Payne,drums.

Jessica Williams, jazz pianist, plays "Nice Work if you can get it"

Jessica Williams, jazz pianist, plays "Nutty" by Thelonious Monk

Eliane Elias, Jack Dejohnette e Marc Johnson - Bye, Bye, Blackbird - Heineken C

It's Easy To Remember - Keith Jarrett

So far, no banks eaten.

4:54 PM CST  --  so far no banks have failed today.  Only 2 this year.  Will check again later.

Rubio and the Zombies By PAUL KRUGMAN

Here's Dr. Krugman's latest column  --  please follow link to original

The State of the Union address was not, I’m sorry to say, very interesting. True, the president offered many good ideas. But we already know that almost none of those ideas will make it past a hostile House of Representatives.
On the other hand, the G.O.P. reply, delivered by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, was both interesting and revelatory. And I mean that in the worst way. For Mr. Rubio is a rising star, to such an extent that Time magazine put him on its cover, calling him “The Republican Savior.” What we learned Tuesday, however, was that zombie economic ideas have eaten his brain.
In case you’re wondering, a zombie idea is a proposition that has been thoroughly refuted by analysis and evidence, and should be dead — but won’t stay dead because it serves a political purpose, appeals to prejudices, or both. The classic zombie idea in U.S. political discourse is the notion that tax cuts for the wealthy pay for themselves, but there are many more. And, as I said, when it comes to economics it appears that Mr. Rubio’s mind is zombie-infested.
Start with the big question: How did we get into the mess we’re in?
The financial crisis of 2008 and its painful aftermath, which we’re still dealing with, were a huge slap in the face for free-market fundamentalists. Circa 2005, the usual suspects — conservative publications, analysts at right-wing think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute, and so on — insisted that deregulated financial markets were doing just fine, and dismissed warnings about a housing bubble as liberal whining. Then the nonexistent bubble burst, and the financial system proved dangerously fragile; only huge government bailouts prevented a total collapse.
Instead of learning from this experience, however, many on the right have chosen to rewrite history. Back then, they thought things were great, and their only complaint was that the government was getting in the way of even more mortgage lending; now they claim that government policies, somehow dictated by liberals even though the G.O.P. controlled both Congress and the White House, were promoting excessive borrowing and causing all the problems.
Every piece of this revisionist history has been refuted in detail. No, the government didn’t force banks to lend to Those People; no, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn’t cause the housing bubble (they were doing relatively little lending during the peak bubble years); no, government-sponsored lenders weren’t responsible for the surge in risky mortgages (private mortgage issuers accounted for the vast majority of the riskiest loans).
But the zombie keeps shambling on — and here’s Mr. Rubio Tuesday night: “This idea — that our problems were caused by a government that was too small  — it’s just not true. In fact, a major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government policies.” Yep, it’s the full zombie.
What about responding to the crisis? Four years ago, right-wing economic analysts insisted that deficit spending would destroy jobs, because government borrowing would divert funds that would otherwise have gone into business investment, and also insisted that this borrowing would send interest rates soaring. The right thing, they claimed, was to balance the budget, even in a depressed economy.
Now, this argument was obviously fallacious from the beginning. As people like me tried to point out, the whole reason our economy was depressed was that businesses weren’t willing to invest as much as consumers were trying to save. So government borrowing would not, in fact, drive up interest rates — and trying to balance the budget would simply deepen the depression.
Sure enough, interest rates, far from soaring, are at historic lows — and countries that slashed spending have also seen sharp job losses. You rarely get this clear a test of competing economic ideas, and the right’s ideas failed.
But the zombie still shambles on. And here’s Mr. Rubio: “Every dollar our government borrows is money that isn’t being invested to create jobs. And the uncertainty created by the debt is one reason why many businesses aren’t hiring.” Zombies 2, Reality 0.
In fairness to Mr. Rubio, what he’s saying isn’t any different from what everyone else in his party is saying. But that, of course, is what’s so scary.
For here we are, more than five years into the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, and one of our two great political parties has seen its economic doctrine crash and burn twice: first in the run-up to crisis, then again in the aftermath. Yet that party has learned nothing; it apparently believes that all will be well if it just keeps repeating the old slogans, but louder.
It’s a disturbing picture, and one that bodes ill for our nation’s future.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Stardust - Clark Terry 1967.

piano Teddy Wilson, drums Louise Bellson and Bob Cranshaw bass

Clark Terry Joe Pass Oscar Peterson etc.. the all star cast plays pennies from heaven

Clark Terry: flugelhorn
Milt Jackson: vibes
Ronnie Scott: tenor sax
Joe Pass: guitar
Oscar Peterson: piano
Niels Pedersen: bass
Bobby Durham: drums

Oscar Peterson Jam - Ali & Frazer

Caldonia - Woody Herman Big Band 1964

The Biggest Republican Lie

The latest from Robert Reich.  Please follow link to original

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) says Senate Republicans will unanimously support a balanced-budget amendment, to be unveiled Wednesday as the core of the GOP’s fiscal agenda.
There’s no chance of passage so why are Republicans pushing it now? “Just because something may not pass doesn’t mean that the American people don’t expect us to stand up and be counted for the things that we believe in,” says McConnnell.
The more honest explanation is that a fight over a balanced-budget amendment could get the GOP back on the same page — reuniting Republican government-haters with the Party’s fiscal conservatives. And it could change the subject away from  social issues — women’s reproductive rights, immigration, gay marriage – that have split the Party and cost it many votes.
It also gives the Party something to be for, in contrast to the upcoming fights in which its members will be voting against compromises to avoid the next fiscal cliff, continue funding the government, and raising the debt ceiling.
Perhaps most importantly, it advances the Republican’s biggest economic lie – that the budget deficit is “the transcendent issue of our time,” in McConnell’s words, and that balancing the budget will solve America’s economic problems.
Big lies can do great damage in a democracy. This one could help Republicans in their coming showdowns. But it could keep the economy in first gear for years, right up through the 2014 midterm elections, maybe all the way to the next presidential election.
Perhaps this has occurred to McConnell and other Republicans.
Here’s the truth: After the housing bubble burst, American consumers had to pull in their belts so tightly that consumption plummeted – which in turn fueled unemployment. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity in the U.S. No business can keep people employed without enough customers, and none will hire people back until consumers return.
That meant government had to step in as consumer of last resort – which it did, but not enough to make up for the gaping shortfall in consumer demand.
The result has been one of the most anemic recoveries on record. In the three years after the Great Recession ended, economic growth averaged only 2.2 percent per year. In the last quarter of 2012 the economy contracted. Almost no one believes it will grow much more than 2 percent this year.
In the wake of the previous ten recessions the U.S. economy grew twice as fast on average — 4.6 percent per year. It used to be that the deeper the recession, the faster the bounce back. The Great Depression bottomed out in 1933. In 1934, the economy grew more than 8 percent; in 1935, 8.2 percent; in 1936, almost 14 percent.  
Not this time. Unemployment is still sky high. The current official rate of 7.9 percent doesn’t include 8 million people (5.6 percent of the workforce) working part-time who’d rather be working full time. Nor those too discouraged even to look for work. The ratio of workers to non-workers in the adult population is lower than any time in the last thirty years – and that’s hardly explained by boomer retirements.
Wages continue to drop because the only way many Americans can find (or keep) jobs is by settling for lower pay. Most new jobs created since the depth of the Great Recession pay less than the jobs that were lost. That’s why the real median wage is now 8 percent below what it was in 2000 
Republicans who say the budget deficit is responsible for this are living on another planet. Consumers still don’t have the jobs and wages, nor ability to borrow, they had before the recession. So their belts are still tight. To make matters worse, the temporary cut in Social Security taxes ended January 1, subtracting an additional $1,000 from the typical American paycheck. Sales taxes are increasing in many states.
Under these circumstances, government deficits are not a problem. To the contrary, they’re now essential. (Yes, we have to bring down the long-term deficit, but that’s mostly a matter of reining in rising healthcare costs – which, incidentally, are beginning to slow.)
If Republicans paid attention they’d see how fast the deficit is already shrinking. It was 8.7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in 2011. The Congressional Budget Office forecasts it will shrivel to 5.3 percent by the end of 2013 if we go over the fiscal cliff on March 1 — and some $85 billion is cut from this year’s federal budget. Even if March’s fiscal cliff is avoided, the CBO expects the deficit to shrink to 5.5 percent of the GDP, in light of deficit reduction already scheduled to occur.
This is not something to celebrate. It translates into a significant drop in demand, with nothing to pick up the slack.
Look what happened in the fourth quarter of 2012. The economy contracted, largely because of a precipitous drop in defense spending. That may have been an anomaly; no one expects the economy to contract in the first quarter of 2013. But you’d be foolish to rule out a recession later this year.
The budget deficit and cumulative debt are not the “transcendent issue of our time.” The transcendent issue is jobs and wages. Cutting the budget deficit now will only result in higher unemployment, lower wages, and more suffering.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Marco Rubio Has Learned Nothing

This from Dr. Paul Krugman's blog  --  follow link to original. 

Once again, vindication of the vote for the lesser of two evils policy.  If folks still think they can "heighten the contradiction" they are wrong.  Look at what electing Nixon ultimately did  --  it led to Ronnie Raygun, Bush, Bush, neo-cons and neo-libs.  In other words  --  a move to the hard right, where what we now think of as "left wing" is the conservative view from the 1960's.

Don't forget, "lesser of two evils" always means we can move toward a more representative and humane government in the future.

Because his party has learned nothing.
OK, back up: this morning the papers and the web are full of nuance-sniffing, as people try to find omens in the SOTU and the GOP response. I don’t think I can add anything useful to all that. But there was one important point in Marco Rubio’s remarks that I don’t think has been highlighted. It’s true, as Andy Rosenthal says, that Rubio mainly reminded us that Republicans don’t like government or taxes; surprise! But he also reminded us that Republicans don’t like reality.
Here’s the passage:
This idea – that our problems were caused by a government that was too small – it’s just not true. In fact, a major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government policies.
OK, leave on one side the caricature of Obama, with the usual mirror-image fallacy (we want smaller government, therefore liberals just want bigger government, never mind what it does); there we go with the “Barney Frank did it” story. Deregulation, the explosive growth of virtually unregulated shadow banking, lax lending standards by loan originators who sold their loans off as soon as they were made, had nothing to do with it — it was all the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie, and Freddie.
Look, this is one of the most thoroughly researched topics out there, and every piece of the government-did-it thesis has been refuted; see Mike Konczal for a summary. No, the CRA wasn’t responsible for the epidemic of bad lending; no, Fannie and Freddie didn’t cause the housing bubble; no, the “high-risk” loans of the GSEs weren’t remotely as risky as subprime.
This really isn’t about the GSEs, it’s about the BSEs — the Blame Someone Else crowd. Faced with overwhelming, catastrophic evidence that their faith in unregulated financial markets was wrong, they have responded by rewriting history to defend their prejudices.
This strikes me as a bigger deal than whether Rubio slurped his water; he and his party are now committed to the belief that their pre-crisis doctrine was perfect, that there are no lessons from the worst financial crisis in three generations except that we should have even less regulation. And given another shot at power, they’ll test that thesis by giving the bankers a chance to do it all over again.

The State Of The Union

We did not listen to The State Of The Union address last night.  In fact, we watched a movie.

Why, you ask?

Well, let me put it this way  --  as a long term "recovering person" I long ago was taught one of Al-Anon's basic truths, "don't listen to what the drunk says - look at what the drunk does".

As a current member of "Obamanon", I say, "Do not listen to what Obama says  --  look at what Obama does".  So far, I see him as a kinder, gentler, version of our "Wall Street Overlords", a kinder gentler version of the "Corporate State" that both parties seem to represent.  The lesser of two evils.

Let us hope he proves me wrong.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Stolz, Amerikaner zu sein"

Until recently I would have "conversations" with a now ex-friend about immigration.  She always maintained that the immigration of today was going to destroy the USA - if not "western civilization" - because today's immigrants were not interested in becoming "American".  She said they would not, could not, had no interest in , "assimilation".

As the child of immigrants I found this prejudice upsetting.  Leading to anger, and the eventual dissolution of the "friendship".

I claimed her version of the current "immigration story" describes every immigrant group that entered the USA.  I also maintained that years ago the situation was much worse  --  with entire towns of folks who barely spoke English.  Heck, I knew a man who grew up in a Finnish community in UP Michigan that had FINNISH SCHOOLS  --  this in the 20th century.

This little article from "The Economist" illustrates this very well.  Please follow link to original

THE debate around immigration in America often touches on language. The fear of nativist Americans is that immigrants do not learn (and maybe do not want to learn) English. If many of them speak the same language (say, Spanish) and cluster geographically (in, say, Los Angeles or San Antonio) they threaten to make America de facto bilingual. If this happens, so goes the concern, they will inevitably make demands for more legal recognition of other languages, threatening English's status as a unifying force behind America's motto, e pluribus unum, "out of many, one".
Americans know that this is an immigrant country. So why, in this narrative, did previous waves of immigration not threaten English, while today's does? In the traditional story, immigrants back in the good old days wanted to, and did in fact, learn English. But this is not really so.
Immigrant languages probably persisted longer in America a century ago than they do today. And one language in particular persisted in large, coherent pockets in America for more than half a century: German. German immigration to America peaked from around 1840 to 1880. Like most immigrants, Germans came to towns where their co-nationals had settled, so they built up big communities in cities like Milwaukee, Cincinnati and St. Louis.
So what did this immigrant community look like? Hard-working English learners who quickly dissolved in the great melting pot? Hardly. This fascinating short paper by Miranda Wilkerson and Joseph Salmons looks at just one town in southeastern Wisconsin, called Hustisford. They focus on the year 1910; German-speaking plunged fairly quickly in America after the first world war (1914-1918), for the obvious reasons. But before the war, German monolingual communities persisted for many decades after immigrants' arrivals.
Almost a quarter of Hustisford's population (over ten years old) was monolingual in German in 1910. Of that share, a third were born in America. Of the German monolinguals born abroad, a majority had been in America for more than 30 years, having immigrated during the height of the German wave. In other words, in small-town America a century ago, it was perfectly possible to grow up, or to live there for decades after immigrating, without learning English.
Was this because Germans were isolated, in pockets in town or perhaps on the outskirts? No; Ms Wilkerson and Mr Salmons' map shows them interspersed among Anglo-Americans. Were they simply undissolved lumps in an Anglo-American pot, though? No again: the scholars find many mixed households, and English and Irish names among the parishioners at German churches. Perhaps the Germans still felt somehow really German, not American? Here, the story is nuanced; German-Americans were certainly proud of their German heritage, but a 1917 cover of Die Deutsche Hausfrau, a ladies' magazine, featured prominent flags and the lyrics to the "Star-Spangled Banner"—in German translation. This was just before America's entry into the war.
German was the single biggest and most concentrated foreign language on American soil after independence—until today. Almost five decades of immigration from Spanish-speaking countries has recreated something like the German situation. Some people, like the late Samuel Huntington, a political scientist, feel that America's "Anglo-American core" is threatened like never before. But for many reasons (hard to rank in importance), it is nearly impossible today to grow up in America without learning English. One study of more than 5,000 children in the Miami and San Diego areas (thick with Spanish-speakers) found that 94.7% of Latino middle-schoolers who had been born in America spoke English well. The authors concluded that "knowledge of English is near universal, and preference for that language is dominant among most immigrant nationalities. On the other hand, only a minority remain fluent in the parental languages."
As with most stories of "the good old days", the stories of the "good old immigrants" who learned English in contrast to today's layabouts are just that: stories. Their point is emotional, not educational. The purpose is to elicit fear of change, through reminiscence for an age that never existed.

Jimmy Giuffre Trio - Careful [1959]

Jimmy Giuffre - Clarinet & Tenor Sax
Jim Hall - Guitar
Buddy Clark - Bass

Shorty Rogers And His Giants - Martians Go Home

Shorty Rogers trumpet - Jimmy Giuffre clarinet - Pete Jolly piano - Curtis Counce bass - Shelly Manne drums

Monday, February 11, 2013

Later Miles Davis

Over the years, I have listened to a lot of Miles Davis music.  When the complete Columbia recordings came out, I scraped together my nickels and pennies and bought it.  Seventy something CD's.  In addition I have all of his Prestige recordings on another 400 CD changer.  That one is just "Jazz"  --  a lot of 'Trane, Louis, Basie, Jazz Messengers, Jimmy Smith, the complete Ella Songbooks CD's.  Just about everything and everyone (Lucky Thompson, MJQ, Stuff Smith,  Joe Pass, Ellington, Jack McDuff, Charles Earland, Lou Donaldson, Freddie Hubbard, Blue Mitchell, Hank Mobley, Rollins, Stitt, Sonny Criss, Hamp Hawes, Jesica Williams, and -- well, you get the idea.).  It's a lot of stuff

The Columbia recordings are on a 400 CD changer I call "collections".  The complete JATP CD's, a 100 CD set of be-bop, ten CD sets of Django, Lester, Louis, a 7 CD Wynton series, etc., etc. 

As I hear more and more of the later Miles, I'm beginning to think it's music to forget him by.  Much of it is dated.  Quite a bit seems unmusical.  It's not like free jazz, nor does it sound like some of the more avant garde stuff like some by Albert Ayler.  I'm beginning to think later Miles will end up damaging his reputation.

I suspect my opinions are in a small minority.  I also realize he was not really playing Jazz at that point.  It just seems it was music for that moment.  That SPECIFIC moment.

You can listen to Bird, Diz, a lot of the other boppers, and their music is not as dated  --  even though it's 25-35 years older.  Some of Miles "classic" group stuff seems less dated than a lot of his late stuff.

Anyway, I'm just rambling here.  If ANYONE has any opinions, or can "set me straight"  --  I'm all ears.  Perhaps I'm just not listening to this stuff with an open mind  --  but, I can appreciate Cecil Taylor more than I do some of the late Miles on Columbia.

Pope Benedict Stepping Down in Shocking Abdication Not since the 15th century has a pope resigned his throne. Speculation abounds regarding the pope's unusual decision. Was it the sex-abuse scandal?

The Pope is resigning.  This has not happened since  - well, since about 600+ years.  I don't think it's because he wants to spend more time with his family. 

He says he's "infirm", others seem to think ANOTHER shoe will fall (how many "shoes" does the R.C. Church have?).  Heck, now even Cardinals are saying the record is "disgusting".

This version of "Il Papa" was supposed to be tough, traditional, smart, and above reproach.  His lack of diplomatic skills hurt the R.C. Church's relations with Jews, Muslims, and Protestants  --  a winning trifecta if I ever saw one. 

I suspect he spent too much time IN CHARGE!!   ----   you know how some Germans get when they have unlimited power. 

Anyway, this is from Alternet  --  follow link to original
This article has been updated.
Pope Benedict XVI today stunned the Roman Catholic Church -- and the world -- with his announcement that he would turn in his sceptre, effective February 28. To find a precedent for Benedict's action, one needs to go back through six centuries of history to Pope Gregory XII's resignation in 1416.
In a statement issued today in Latin, the pope wrote: "... in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."
The Church's Child-Abuse Scandal
Citing age and infirmity as his reason for leaving the papacy, Benedict's action comes just weeks after he opened his celebrated Twitter account -- and less than a month after the decades-old child abuse scandal drew nearer to the pope's door, with revelations published in the Los Angeles Times earlier this month that Cardinal Roger Mahony, then Archbishop of Los Angeles, sought to evade the law in cases involving the sexual abuse of children by the priests in his charge by sending them to treatment facilities in states that did not require health professionals to report the crimes to authorities.
At the time that Mahony was covering up the crimes of his priests, Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that oversaw such matters.
In archdiocese documents released under a court order earlier this month, Mahony is revealed to have taken actions deliberately contrived to avoid legal prosecution of priests who had sexually abused -- and even raped -- children. The documents were so damaging that Mahony, now retired and once thought to be a contender for the papacy, was publicly rebuked by the current Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez, and stripped of any public duties, an unprecedented censure of a cardinal archbishop by his successor.
Amid the cache of church records, released as part of a settlement between the archdiocese and 500 sex-abuse victims, are several letters to Ratzinger from Mahoney, in which the California prelate reports to the Vatican his reasons for various actions (such as defrocking) taken against the offending priests. The records amount to some 30,000 pages, so their full contents have yet to be pored through by investigators and journalists.
What is clear, though, is that Mahony repeatedly failed to act on concerns about the sexual abuse of children by priests that brought to him by pastors and church officials throughout the diocese, and that when he did, his actions were designed to avoid criminal prosecutions of the predator priests. And it is also clear that in his Vatican office, Ratzinger was the recipient of letters from Mahony informing the Holy See of what actions he had taken.
For instance, in a 2003 letter to Ratzinger, Mahony says of Father Lynn R. Caffoe that between the priest and one boy, there were 100 "instances of masturbatory and copulative acts," according to an account in the Los Angeles Daily News.
But Mahony never reported Caffoe's alleged crimes to police, and Ratzinger apparently never instructed him to.
Other cases include that of Father Peter Garcia, who, according to the L.A. Times, "sexually abused up to 20 boys, including one he allegedly tied up and raped, according to church records." The children he abused were often undocumented immigrants, whom he threatened to have deported should they not comply with his demands.
 Mahony ordered Garcia to a New Mexico therapeutic facility, and ordered him to stay away from California "for the foreseeable future." Garcia died in 2009 without ever having been prosecuted.
Responding to the pope's stunning announcement that he would step down, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, also known as SNAP, issued the following statement:
Pope Benedict followed the same script church officials have used for years, speaking of abuse in oblique terms and only when forced to do so, ignoring the cover ups, using past tense (as if to pretend clergy sex crimes and cover ups are not still happening now).  Instead of taking sweeping, proactive steps to deter wrongdoing, he offered only belated verbal apologies and ineffective symbolic gestures.
He publicly spoke about the crisis more than his predecessor but that alone is no achievement. That’s simply because disclosures of cover-up at the highest levels became widely documented during his tenure.
Although Benedict survived repeated calls for his resignation because of his role in allowing the child-abuse scandal to flourish and his failure to protect children, the cache of documents in the Los Angeles case may turn out to be something of a tipping point.
The Enforcer
While Prefect for the Doctrine of the Congregation of the Faith, Ratzinger had little time for the investigation of law-evading bishops, he did find considerable energy for the inquisition of a prelate who dared to allow Dignity, a Catholic gay organization, to meet in his cathedral. After conducting an investigation and sending henchmen to interrogate Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen for 13 hours, the man who became Pope Benedict wrote the following to the bishop in 1983 (emphasis added):
A final question of pastoral practice pertains to ministry to homosexual men and women. The Archdiocese should withdraw all support from any group, which does not unequivocally accept the teaching of the Magisterium concerning the intrinsic evil of homosexual activity. This teaching has been set forth in this Congregation's Declaration on Sexual Ethics and more recently in the document, Educational Guidance in Human Love, issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 1983.
For this and other doctrinal sins, Hunthausen was prohibited from running his own archdiocese for several years -- a stinging act of humiliation. The archbishop's other sins including allowing divorced people to marry in his church, and allowing women and girls to participate in sacraments from which they are banned.
As the Vatican's enforcer, Ratzinger was known for his strong hand, especially in his punishments for any church figure who ran afoul of the church's misogynist, homophobic and authoritarian doctrines. Liberation theologians received especially harsh treatment, and feminist nuns who posited that abortion could sometimes be a moral choice were threatened with explusion from their orders.
As pope, Ratzinger roiled the Muslim world -- quite deliberately, I thought -- with a speech in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor's declaration that the Prophet Muhammed had brought nothing new to the Abrahamic faiths except for the notion that his should be spread by the sword. Predictably, riots ensued.
In visits to Africa, where Christianity remains locked in a fierce battle with Islam, Pope Benedict fared better, attracting large crowds last year in Benin as he preached a message against corruption. (Honestly, the church really needs to anoint a patron saint of irony.)
Yet, as John Allen wrote in the National Catholic Reporter, Benedict also preached against the Africanization of the faith -- in a country where voodoo is enjoying a resurgence, and ignoring the fact that Catholicism itself was born of a syncretization of European paganism with the rabbinical Judaism of Jesus.
The Legacy
Compared to that of his predecessor, Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), the papacy of Benedict XVI has been pale and dour by comparison. While JPII was every bit as authoritarian, misogynist, homophobic and negligent of his bishops' wrongdoing, he possessed a charm that inspired people across the globe -- a quality that bypassed Benedict.
Because of the rigging done to the College of Cardinals by Benedict's predessessor, the next pope will likely be no less authoritarian, no less women-hating, no less gay-bashing and no more reform-minded. But despite Benedict's insistance on a European-style expression of the faith, it is likely that the next pope will come from outside Europe, perhaps even from Africa.
Proof, perhaps, that there is something new under the sun, after all.

The Ignorance Caucus By PAUL KRUGMAN

Here is the latest column from Dr. Krugman.  Please follow link to original

Last week Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, gave what his office told us would be a major policy speech. And we should be grateful for the heads-up about the speech’s majorness. Otherwise, a read of the speech might have suggested that he was offering nothing more than a meager, warmed-over selection of stale ideas.
To be sure, Mr. Cantor tried to sound interested in serious policy discussion. But he didn’t succeed — and that was no accident. For these days his party dislikes the whole idea of applying critical thinking and evidence to policy questions. And no, that’s not a caricature: Last year the Texas G.O.P. explicitly condemned efforts to teach “critical thinking skills,” because, it said, such efforts “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”
And such is the influence of what we might call the ignorance caucus that even when giving a speech intended to demonstrate his openness to new ideas, Mr. Cantor felt obliged to give that caucus a shout-out, calling for a complete end to federal funding of social science research. Because it’s surely a waste of money seeking to understand the society we’re trying to change.
Want other examples of the ignorance caucus at work? Start with health care, an area in which Mr. Cantor tried not to sound anti-intellectual; he lavished praise on medical research just before attacking federal support for social science. (By the way, how much money are we talking about? Well, the entire National Science Foundation budget for social and economic sciences amounts to a whopping 0.01 percent of the budget deficit.)
But Mr. Cantor’s support for medical research is curiously limited. He’s all for developing new treatments, but he and his colleagues have adamantly opposed “comparative effectiveness research,” which seeks to determine how well such treatments work.
What they fear, of course, is that the people running Medicare and other government programs might use the results of such research to determine what they’re willing to pay for. Instead, they want to turn Medicare into a voucher system and let individuals make decisions about treatment. But even if you think that’s a good idea (it isn’t), how are individuals supposed to make good medical choices if we ensure that they have no idea what health benefits, if any, to expect from their choices?
Still, the desire to perpetuate ignorance on matters medical is nothing compared with the desire to kill climate research, where Mr. Cantor’s colleagues — particularly, as it happens, in his home state of Virginia — have engaged in furious witch hunts against scientists who find evidence they don’t like. True, the state has finally agreed to study the growing risk of coastal flooding; Norfolk is among the American cities most vulnerable to climate change. But Republicans in the State Legislature have specifically prohibited the use of the words “sea-level rise.
And there are many other examples, like the way House Republicans tried to suppress a Congressional Research Service report casting doubt on claims about the magical growth effects of tax cuts for the wealthy.
Do actions like this have important effects? Well, consider the agonized discussions of gun policy that followed the Newtown massacre. It would be helpful to these discussions if we had a good grasp of the facts about firearms and violence. But we don’t, because back in the 1990s conservative politicians, acting on behalf of the National Rifle Association, bullied federal agencies into ceasing just about all research into the issue. Willful ignorance matters.
O.K., at this point the conventions of punditry call for saying something to demonstrate my evenhandedness, something along the lines of “Democrats do it too.” But while Democrats, being human, often read evidence selectively and choose to believe things that make them comfortable, there really isn’t anything equivalent to Republicans’ active hostility to collecting evidence in the first place.
The truth is that America’s partisan divide runs much deeper than even pessimists are usually willing to admit; the parties aren’t just divided on values and policy views, they’re divided over epistemology. One side believes, at least in principle, in letting its policy views be shaped by facts; the other believes in suppressing the facts if they contradict its fixed beliefs.
In her parting shot on leaving the State Department, Hillary Clinton said of her Republican critics, “They just will not live in an evidence-based world.” She was referring specifically to the Benghazi controversy, but her point applies much more generally. And for all the talk of reforming and reinventing the G.O.P., the ignorance caucus retains a firm grip on the party’s heart and mind.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Assange to Maher: Americans should know how easily their government can kill them

This from "Raw Story"  --  please follow link to original

Friday night on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Maher’s first guest was Julian Assange, founder of the website Wikileaks and the author of the book Cypherpunks. Assange was appearing by video from the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he is living as a virtual prisoner for fear of extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted on charges of sexual assault.
Assange, said Maher, is afraid that if he gets extradited to Sweden, he will then get turned over to the U.S., where officials are angry with the Wikileaks founder for leaking thousands of secret documents and diplomatic communiques to the world.
Maher asked Assange why the Swedish government is so eager to cooperate with the U.S. government.
Assange replied that the Swedish government has changed, that once it was quite liberal under the leadership of Prime Minister Olaf Palme, who was assassinated in 1986. Sweden has made a dramatic turn to the right since then.
Maher asked how Assange and the Wikileaks team get their information, whether theft or hacking is involved. Assange explained that the technology at Wikileaks is set up so that informants can leave information or documents without ever leaving their name or any means by which they could be traced.
“If you really want to keep sources safe,” he said, “You want to make sure that no one, even inside your organization, can say what’s going on. So even if you were penetrated by intelligence agencies, you can’t ‘out’ your own sources.”
He spoke about an incident in which 8 FBI agents flew to Iceland to illegally interrogate a suspected Wikileaks associate. The Icelandic government found out that the U.S. agency was operating illegally in Iceland and ordered the FBI to leave. This is part, he said, of a massive investigation of Wikileaks by 12 different agencies of the U.S. government, including the FBI, the Department of Justice, a grand jury empaneled in Virginia and more.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) tried to bring legislation to the Senate floor declaring all Wikileaks staff members “enemy combatants,” which would strip them of their right to trial like the detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Maher asked Assange why, in the face of such overwhelming condemnation from even so-called liberals like Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), we should be on Wikileaks’ side.
“Well, look, we’ve risen to a situation, or collapsed to a situation in the United States, now,” Assange answered, “where you can be killed by someone in the White House, from the president on down for some completely arbitrary reasons. You won’t know you’re on the ‘kill list’ until you’re dead.”
Lawyers, he said, are not allowed to represent people on the list, so if you have a suspicion that you’re on that list, you have no recourse.
“I can’t see a greater collapse than when the Executive can kill its own citizens,” said Assange,”arbitrarily, at will, in secret, without any of the decision making becoming public, without even the rules of procedure, without even the law behind it being public.”
That is why, he said, Wikileaks does what it does and will continue to do so.

Wind, Snow, Storms

When I was a kid we had snowstorms, hurricanes, trees down, etc.  --  and the power did not go out.  As a teenager we were surprised by a hurricane out in Riverhead Long Island, and the power was out for a day or two.  While in college at Syracuse N.Y., I recall a three or more foot snow storm and we never lost power.  Snow, LOTS of snow was a fact of life up there.  It was expected that the power company was ready for it.

Now, every time it rains or blows it seems the power is out for WEEKS!

When your privately owned light and power companies were tightly regulated, before the current "free market" both service AND prices were better.  Reliability was also far better.

I recall arguing with someone on an e-mail list some years ago about public spending on infrastructure  --  I was calling for more public investment, tighter regulation, even higher taxes.  Other folks wanted the "miracle of the free market" to work its "magic".

I finally gave up when some fool wrote, "no one guaranteed you no infrastructure".  At that point, I realized they were morons, wild-eyed-libertarians (libertarian  --  a Republican on CRACK), just plain in denial, or all of the above.

It seems there's no sense talking to these folks.  They will not be happy until we descend into total third world status  --  and they can blame it on "those" people, or the "libtards", or perhaps all the "takers" out there.  They will NEVER look at THEMSELVES.  They will NEVER admit THEY might be WRONG.

Once again, I'm happy I'm going to be 74 soon - all y'all can have fun living in "The Former United States Of America"   ---   bless your hearts.

The white South’s last defeat Hysteria, aggression and gerrymandering are a fading demographic's last hope to maintain political control By Michael Lind

This from Salon  --  please follow link to original

In understanding the polarization and paralysis that afflict national politics in the United States, it is a mistake to think in terms of left and right. The appropriate directions are North and South. To be specific, the long, drawn-out, agonizing identity crisis of white Southerners is having effects that reverberate throughout our federal union. The transmission mechanism is the Republican Party, an originally Northern party that has now replaced the Southern wing of the Democratic Party as the vehicle for the dwindling white Southern tribe.
As someone whose white Southern ancestors go back to the 17th century in the Chesapeake Bay region, I have some insight into the psychology of the tribe. The salient fact to bear in mind is that the historical experience of the white South in many ways is the opposite of the experience of the rest of the country.
Mainstream American history, from the point of view of the white majority in the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast, is a story of military successes. The British are defeated, ensuring national independence. The Confederates are defeated, ensuring national unity. And in the 20th century the Axis and Soviet empires are defeated, ensuring (it is hoped) a free world.
The white Southern narrative — at least in the dominant Southern conservative version — is one of defeat after defeat. First the attempt of white Southerners to create a new nation in which they can be the majority was defeated by the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Doomed to be a perpetual minority in a continental American nation-state, white Southerners managed for a century to create their own state-within-a-state, in which they could collectively lord it over the other major group in the region, African-Americans. But Southern apartheid was shattered by the second defeat, the Civil Rights revolution, which like the Civil War and Reconstruction was symbolized by the dispatching of federal troops to the South. The American patriotism of the white Southerner is therefore deeply problematic. Some opt for jingoistic hyper-Americanism (the lady protesteth too much, methinks) while a shrinking but significant minority prefer the Stars and Bars to the Stars and Stripes.
The other great national narrative holds that the U.S. is a nation of immigration, a “new nation,” a melting pot made up of immigrants from many lands. While the melting pot story involves a good deal of idealization, it is based on demographic fact in the large areas of the North where old-stock Anglo-Americans are commingled with German-Americans, Polish-Americans and Irish-Americans, along with more recent immigrant diasporas from Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
But even before the recent wave of immigration from sources other than Europe, the melting pot never included most of the white South. From the early 19th century until the late 20th, the South attracted relatively few immigrants. Who wanted to move to a backward, rural, apartheid society dominated by an oligarchy of a few rich families? Apart from several encapsulated minorities — Cajuns in Louisiana, Germans in central Texas — most white Southerners remained descendants of colonial-era immigrants from the British Isles, chiefly English and Scots-Irish. And while Irish and German Catholics and Jews diversified the religious landscape of the North, the South was dominated by British-derived Protestant sects like the Episcopalians, Baptists and Methodists from Virginia to Oklahoma and Texas.
Two maps illustrate the demographic distinctiveness of the white South. The first shows the close correlation of evangelical Protestantism with the states of the former Confederacy. The second map is even more revealing.  It shows the concentration of individuals who identified themselves to census takers as non-hyphenated “Americans.”
It is clear from the map that most self-described unhyphenated “Americans” are, in fact, whites of British descent — many if not most of them descendants of the Scots-Irish diaspora that emigrated from Ulster to the British colonies in the 1700s.  The point is that many white Southerners do not think of themselves as having any “ethnicity” at all. Others — German-Americans, Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Chinese-Americans — are hyphenated Americans. White Southerners tend to see themselves as “pure” Americans, “real” Americans, “normal” Americans. Long after Mayflower descendants were submerged by waves of  European migration in New England, large regions of the white South remain the last places in the country where local majorities can trace their family ancestry back to before 1776 in British America.
As difficult as it may be, outsiders should try to imagine the world as viewed by conservative white Southerners, who think they are the real Americans — that is, old-stock British-Americans — and the adherents of the true religion, evangelical Protestantism. In this perspective, the rest of the country was taken over by invading hordes of Germans, Irish and other European tribes in the first half of the 19th century, leaving the South, largely unaffected by European immigration, as the last besieged pocket of old-stock British-Americans, sharing parts of their territory with subjugated and segregated African-Americans.
This local British-American ethno-racial hegemony in the South was eroded somewhat by the migration of Northeasterners and Midwesterners to the Sun Belt following World War II and the advent of air-conditioning. And now, predominantly nonwhite immigration from Latin America and Asia threatens to make white Southerners of British Protestant descent a minority in their own region. Texas and Florida are already majority-minority states. It is only a matter of time before the same is true of every state in the South. Southern whites will go from being a minority in the nation as a whole to a minority in the South itself.
If Southern culture had a tradition of assimilating immigrants, then cultural “Southernness” could be detached from any particular ethnicity or race. One could be an assimilated Chinese-American good old boy or a Mexican-American redneck.  To some degree, that is happening. And Southern whites and Southern blacks have always shared many elements of a common regional culture.
But it is difficult, if not impossible, for many white Southerners to disentangle regional culture (Southern) from race (white) and ethnicity (British Protestant). The historical memory of white Southerners is not of ethnic coexistence and melting-pot pluralism but of ethnic homogeneity and racial privilege. Small wonder that going from the status of local Herrenvolk to local minority in only a generation or two is causing much of the white South to freak out.
The demographic demise of the white South is going to be traumatic for the nation as a whole. A century ago, when European immigration made old-stock Yankee Protestants a minority in much of the Northeast and Midwest, one response was hysterical Anglo-American nativism. In a 1921 essay in Good Housekeeping titled “Whose Country Is This?,” then Vice President Calvin Coolidge, an old-stock Yankee from Vermont, explained:  “Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend. The Nordics propagate themselves successfully. With other races, the outcome shows deterioration on both sides.” Patrician Yankees promoted immigration restriction to prevent “inferior” European races from further contaminating America. Some eminent Americans of New England descent, including Henry James, T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, all of them nasty anti-Semites, took the extreme step of expatriating themselves. James and Eliot became British subjects and Pound made anti-American broadcasts for Mussolini during World War II.
Just as white Southerners today are gerrymandering congressional districts and contemplating gerrymandering the Electoral College to compensate for their dwindling numbers, so the outnumbered Yankees of the North sought to dilute the political influence of European “ethnics” in the early 1900s.  When the 1920 census revealed that largely European urbanites outnumbered mostly old-stock Anglo-American rural voters, Congress failed to reapportion itself for a decade, because of the determination of small-town Anglo-Americans to minimize the power of “white ethnics.”
By the 1970s, the social divisions among old-stock Anglo-Americans and the “white ethnics” had faded to the point that most white Americans in the North had ancestors from several Western European nationalities. Similarly, the trans-racial melting pot in the U.S. will probably blur or erase many of today’s racial differences by the middle of the 21st century.
But the old-stock Yankees in the Northeast and Midwest did not accept their diminished status in their own regions without decades of hysteria and aggression and political gerrymandering. The third and final defeat of the white South, its demographic defeat, is likely to be equally prolonged and turbulent. Fasten your seat belts.

We have an ex-friend who believes this latest wave of immigrants will NEVER assimilate, and will, of course, "bring down Western Civilization".  This person believes this with all her heart and soul. 

As the child of immigrants (an illegal one at that), I tried to point out how this has ALWAYS been the stance of anti-immigration, nativist folks.  She, of course, said "that's different".  It seems that the anti-immigrant sentiment today is tied in with race  --  "black", "brown", "yellow", etc., etc., people, who do exactly what every other immigrant group has done in their attempts to survive here, are now somehow "evil" and "anti-American".  Having faced variations of that attitude over the years, no matter how well "hidden" folks tried to keep it, I first reasoned with her, then argued with her, then walked away.

We are now, in my mind at least, ex-friends.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Still only two bank failures in 2013.  Perhaps, now that we seem to have restored some stability to our smaller banks, we can go about the business of breaking up some of the "TBTF" ones.  Wouldn't that be nice?

I Can't Get Started - Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio

Dr John- Iko Iko

So God made a banker Commentary: A commercial for the next Super Bowl?

This from "Market Watch"  --  please follow link to original

And on the eighth day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need someone who can flip this for a quick buck.”
So God made a banker.
God said, “I need someone who doesn’t grow anything or make anything but who will borrow money from the public at 0% interest and then lend it back to the public at 2% or 5% or 10% and pay himself a bonus for doing so.”
So God made a banker.
God said, “I need someone who will take money from the people who work and save, and use that money to create a dotcom bubble and a housing bubble and a stock bubble and an oil bubble and a commodities bubble and a bond bubble and another stock bubble, and then sell it to people in Poughkeepsie and Spokane and Bakersfield, and pay himself another bonus.”
So God made a banker.
God said, “I need someone to build homes in the swamps and deserts using shoddy materials and other people’s money, and then use these homes as collateral for a Ponzi scheme he can sell to pensioners in California and Michigan and Sweden. I need someone who will then foreclose on those homes, kick out the occupants, and switch off the air conditioning and the plumbing, and watch the houses turn back into dirt. And then pay himself another bonus.”
God said, “I need someone to lend money to people with bad credit at 30% interest in order to get his stock price up, and then, just before the loans turn bad, cash out his stock and walk away. And who, when asked later, will, with a tearful eye, say the government made him do it.”
God said, “And I need somebody who will tell everyone else to stand on their own two feet, but who will then run to the government for a bailout as soon as he gets into trouble — and who will then use that bailout money to help elect a Congress that will look the other way. And then pay himself another bonus.”
So God made a banker

A Visit To "Some Assembly Required"

We now visit "Some Assembly Required" - I know it's been a while, but you surely have been going there on your own  --  right?  Anyway:

Once More, With Clarity For All: "The Big Lie is that 'Social Security is going broke, causing huge deficits that will burden our children.' Social Security is not going broke. It has nothing to do with the deficit. The workers pay for it themselves. They can always pay for it themselves. If the costs of retirement rise as they are expected to, the cost of Social Security will rise.... about eighty cents per week per year. This is not a burden on the young. It is money they will get back with interest when they need it most. It is in fact the best deal that workers have ever had. Tell the people. "

God Will Know His Own: A Lutheran minister in Connecticut has publicly apologized for praying with Jews, Muslims and non-Lutherans at a vigil for Sandy Hook victims. It's a sin.

A Sound Policy: Michigan Republicans, knowing it to be hopeless but needing to mark their territory, have introduced yet another law requiring women undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound before having an abortion. Tennessee's cavemen have introduced a similar bill. In Iowa, nine Republican troglodytes want to define 'person' to apply from the moment of conception, and to make abortion at any point an act of murder. They say it will clear up any confusion and simplify prosecution of everyone involved.

There's a lot more  --  go there

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Exercise for today

And the word for today is: "Scientology"  --  look it up.  Then, please tell me how much less, or more, believable it is than Christianity, Mormonism, the Muslim religion or the Jewish religion.  Next, you must question all you believe.  Then, throw out ALL religion  --  even the ones I did not mention.  If you want enlightenment, look for it as a sentient being, as an individual.  If you want to meditate, go right ahead.  Do whatever you want  --  dance naked around some trees at the full moon  --  just do not tie it in with any "religion".  Do not drink ANYONE'S "kool-aid".

End of exercise.


Do you remember George Bush?  Do you remember his "ownership society"?  Do you remember his Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan telling all of us there was NO "housing bubble"?

Now, do you recall how folks who bought early actually sold their homes a couple of years later and made enough to have a real down payment?  Do you recall how they told their friends, neighbors, relatives?  Do you remember the "seminars", TV infomercials, courses, on how to own your first home, stop paying rent, build equity, etc? 

Now, can you see how folks who we now say should never have bought a house did?  Remember when it was actually CHEAPER to buy a home than pay rent?

With the "ownership society" being touted from the very highest office in the land, with the never ending increase in home values, with this seemingly foolproof method of dragging yourself out of near poverty into the middle class, can you understand why so many folks took the risk?  Heck, if it failed, they thought they would be no worse off than before.

Please remember, places like Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Texas, home of The Texas Rangers, once owned by George W. Bush, was PROUDLY called AMERIQUEST FIELD, and owner Angelo Mozillo was a HERO for "helping" poor folks own their own homes.

Does ANYONE remember that?

So, when the shit hit all the different various fans, why were the banks and brokerage houses "helped" (bailed out) and the VICTIMS of all these frauds demonized, left by the side of the road, thrown under the bus?  Why weren't the victims helped  --  directly?  Why weren't the banks and brokers forced to EAT that bad paper?

You, of course, know the answer  --  if you don't, just think about it  --  and that's all you have to know about the composition of our Government and how it works.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jackie McLean-Rene

Jackie McLEAN "Bluesnik" (1961)

From the ambum "Bluesnik". Jackie McLean (A sax), Freddie Hubbard (tpt), Kenny Drew (pno), Doug Watkins (db), Pete La Roca (dr).

LEE MORGAN, Midtown Blues (McLean)

3rd track from "Lee-Way" album. Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on April 28, 1960. Originally released on Blue Note (84034). Lee Morgan (trumpet); Jackie McClean (alto saxophone); Bobby Timmons (piano); Paul Chambers (bass); Art Blakey (drums).

Lee Morgan - Search For The New Land

Year: 1964
Label: Blue Note

Grant Green - guitar
Herbie Hancock - piano
Billy Higgins - drums
Lee Morgan - trumpet
Wayne Shorter - tenor sax
Reggie Workman - bass

Art Pepper And Zoot Sims "The Girl From Ipanema"

Zoot Sims - Georgia On My Mind

Zoot Sims - I Wish I Were Twins
Zoot Sims-tenor saxophone
Jimmy Rowles-piano
Frank Tate-bass
Akira Tana-drums.

Some Wednesday Thoughts

Once again I've been looking for stuff to put up, for things to comment on.   There's too much.  There are too many VSP's (Very Serious People)  here and there, spitting out falsehoods, lies, inaccurate "cures" for our economic ills.

I have an idea  --  double all Social Security payouts, institute medicare for all, end the cap on payroll deductions for SS and medicare.  then cut all mortgage payments by 2/3rds, and free up THE CONSUMER - the REAL "job maker", to begin consuming again.  Cap ALL credit card interest rates at 14.5% and make the regular rate 7.0% across the board. 

I suspect the corporations who are hoarding cash will free it up as demand rises.

Of course we will not do anything like that  --  because when the economy really starts rolling we then have to raise taxes on EVERYONE. 

I forgot one thing  --  stop all the truly illegal, anti-worker, anti-union, activity.  Make workers, once again, real members of our economy.  Fund education so poor kids can get educations   ---  like they did in the 1960's.  It's only fear of an educated electorate that keeps us an uneducated rabble.  The rich must remember what a rabble ALWAYS does.

Lest I forget  --  take over ALL student loans, and cap their interest rate at 2%.


Went to see Wynton Marsalis and The Lincoln Center Orchestra (jazz) Tues evening.

If you have a chance  --  go see them.  Even if you don't like jazz  --  go, open up, listen.  You will experience American music at its best.  Wonderful musicians, great arrangements, all led by a wonderful trumpet player, teacher, person of jazz.

Not much more I can say.  Listen to the music.  Maybe even listen to some of the stuff I have up here, things I've put up  over the years  --  then, go to youtube, find more  --  it's simply amazing what you can hear.

You might even want to go out and buy (YES - BUY) some CD's, go to some clubs, actually support the music  --  next thing you know, you might meet interesting people, broaden your horizons  --  and HAVE FUN (you do remember FUN, don't you?).

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Signs of The Apocalypse

SCIENTOLOGY had an AD during the Super Bowl.  Now, that non-religion advertises during major sporting events  --  just like beer, pretzels, trucks, chips Coke, Pepsi, or baby powder.  Are they now trying to become "mainstream"?

God (if there is a God) help us.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Charlie Parker - Dizzy Gillespie - Leap Frog [from 1950 album Bird And Diz]

Dizzy Gillespie - The Champ

Hey Pete! Let's eat more meat - Dizzy Gillespie

"Into The Faddisphere" - The Jon Faddis Quartet (Live In Bern, 1990)

Anti-Gay Homophobic Pastors and Politicians who turn out to be gay

Lest we forget:

More on "The Gun Issue"

As some of you may know, I'm a "lefty" who tends to be more like a 1960's - 70's left wing Democrat than one of today's "liberals".  I am an environmentalist, a freethinker, a life long fisher woman, a shooter, a believer in greater freedom, while at the same time supporting anti-discrimination laws, equal employment laws.  I support abortion rights (if you don't like abortion  --  don't have one), freedom of and from religion, and equality before the law.  I see The U.S.A. as a secular country that welcomes all.  I oppose "special rights" for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc., etc.  I think ALL churches must pay tax, and ALL Priests, Ministers, Pastors, Imans, etc. must be subject to the same laws all the rest of us follow.

I do not think ANY group has the right to avoid laws that govern the rest of us because their religion, or custom is a thousand years behind the times.

Right now, we should have single payer health insurance, Social Security should be increased by 70%, unemployment insurance extended  --  until........... .  Basically corporations are NOT people, banks MUST be broken up, and the federal reserve should void all mortgages  --  clean the slate and start over. 

Now, I've been reading stuff from both/all sides of the "gun controversy".  In my opinion both sides are often full of shit.  The anti-gun folks often show how little they know about guns, how irrational their fears are, and how unrealistic they are.

As Jefferson said, “Those who hammer their guns into plows, will plow for those who do not.”

There are a lot of famous statements about "pacifism"  --  usually the anti-gun, anti-war, anti-whatever folks repeat, "Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dali Lama" over and over.

They neglect to mention that Gandhi supported Hitler during WWII, succeeded largely because the British Empire was exhausted and broke, and found him easier to deal with than other folks who supported violence.

MLK was an alternative to groups supporting violence, and between 1964 and 1967 lots and lots of cities in the USA burned.  We were also fighting a war in Asia that was becoming VERY unpopular.  Something had to be done  --  King was the best alternative our government had  --  even though our wonderful FBI did everything possible to connect him to "Communism", and had all sorts of spies in all Civil Rights organizations.

Lately I've seen some insane anti-gun rhetoric  --  folks saying that ALL gun owners are "inbred, mouth-breathing, insecure morons", or saying stuff that has no relationship to the reality of any particular weapon.  Most of the "assault weapons" are .223 caliber  --  that is they are high velocity .22's.  Others (like AK's) are usually 7.62x39  --  or 30 caliber "shorts".  The .308 NATO cartridge is a 7.62x51 (the "39" or "51" refers to the length of the cartridge  --  longer, more powder, more power possible).  For years many have argued the  5.56x45 (223) is underpowered for combat  --  at the same time, both the press and anti-gun
 folks want to describe it as some infernal killing machine.  As a sporting rifle it's used for "varmint" shooting.  Even the AK's 7.62x39 is seen by many as underpowered for deer.

The action is quite efficient IF the rifle is kept clean.  It has spawned many different "wildcat" cartridges that are useful for game like deer.  Not that common  --  but out there.  The .223 is owned by many as a self defense weapon, a home defense weapon.  In many cities, towns, and villages where the budget has been cut to nothing there aren't enough police to cover the area.  If you have a problem  --  you are on your own.  The AR15 is an easily handled, low recoil, effective, home defense weapon.  There's no strange "magic" there.

As far as GLOCKS go  ---  they are pistols, available in 9mm, 40S&W, 45ACP (45 Automatic Colt Pistol), and .357Sig.  Pistols from Beretta, Sig Sauer, Ruger, HK, Taurus, Springfield, and others are also available - often very similar.  Shooting a pistol or revolver takes some skill.  They are semi-automatic (one trigger pull, one shot) and require you to practice to be a passable marksman.  Again, an awful lot of folks attach some sort of "magical" properties to the name Glock  --  because it has a polymer frame, but the rest is steel.

You cannot just buy the pistol and become a "killing machine"  --  in fact, until you are willing to learn how to shoot it  --  it can be rather difficult, with lot's of failures to load or eject.

An awful lot of anti-gun "lefties" complain about police brutality, police homophobia, failure to respond, and the general right-wing attitude of many police officers  --  at the same time, they REFUSE to even learn how to defend themselves.  They complain about every aspect of the government, yet still trust it to defend them from the GOVERNMENT.  How's that work?

An entire population willing to defend their rights might not be able to win a battle against a modern army  --  but, as we have seen, they can win the war.

Now, the rabid-right-wing folks seem to think you cannot be a"liberal" and support either gun rights or The Constitution.  They will even say that "the only good liberal is a dead liberal".  Pastors sometimes even preach death to LGBT folks from their pulpits.  Many are not willing to even TALK to folks they THINK are "libtards".  Some even talk about an "uprising".  They fetishize guns and everything to do with them.

Almost all are NOT "dangerous"  --  a few are.  They are as extreme as the anti-gun folks are.  Many seem to want "open carry" everywhere, at all times, etc., etc., etc.

Between these two extremes there is no compromise.

Please remember The Second Amendment of The Constitution says the right to bear arms SHALL not be infringed.  Simple, straightforward.

I happen to think a lot of the current violence has to do with our nasty society.  Good jobs are gone.  People work more and harder than they did 30-40 years ago.  Vacations are a thing of the past for many folks.  A lot are hanging on by their fingernails.  A bad job review, a layoff can mean homelessness, hungry children, domestic stress and violence.  We ignore that.  We ignore inhumane conditions, growing inequality, loss of mobility, loss of freedom.  Then, when violence erupts, we blame it on the gun, knife, hammer, etc.

The gun issue is a "weapon of mass distraction".