Saturday, April 26, 2014

More on TPP

I found another succinct description of the Trans-Pacific Partnership this morning that I can share. 
Research concludes that if you're making less than $87,000 per year (the current 90th percentile wage), the Trans-Pacific Partnership would mean a pay cut. But that's fine for corporations who want this treaty. 

TPP is a massive "trade" treaty between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. "Trade" is in quotes because only five of the treaty's 29 chapters actually deal with trade. Others set rules on investment, set limits on the ability of governments to regulate corporations, restrict a government's ability to spend its own tax dollars on goods made in that country (such as "Buy America" procurement policies) and other things well beyond the usual scope of what would be considered a trade agreement. This leads many to claim that the treaty is really about limiting the ability of governments to reign in the giant corporations. (For those not familiar with TPP, read all about it in's TPP section.)
Here's the source for the blip above. Bottom line is plain to see. Another gigantic boondoggle for rapacious, out-of-control capitalism, which, as is becoming increasingly apparent, will be the death of us all.

A Bad Deal

Traveling Salesman: Obama, having completely screwed up a chance to have a national single-payer health system as his legacy, is now trying to make his mark by forcing Asian nations to hand their sovereignty over to international cartels, by labeling anything that cuts into the potential profits of the world-wide corporate masters 'trade barriers'. Let's hope he fails at this at least as badly as he did with healthcare.  Source
 He's talking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Never heard of it? Well, that's by design. This article from the Washington Post will enlighten you. Suffice it to say, this is not a good deal for people. This is a great deal for corporations. This is not a good deal for the environment. This is a great deal for corporations. This is not a good deal for the working class. This is a great deal for corporations. This is not a good deal for global warming. This is a great deal for corporations.

Got the picture? And it's going to be foisted upon us by the servants of the corporations in due time. Count on it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Rousing Amen! to This

The Wheels On The Bus: the richest 85 people on the globe – who between them control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together – could squeeze onto a single London double-decker bus. The top 1% have $110 trillion in assets. That's 46% of all the wealth in the world. And that's not right. There is absolutely no way to morally justify such rapaciousness, not while a single child goes to bed hungry, anywhere in the world.
Numbers like this are so astonishing, they take your breath away. I might note that you can bet your bottom dollar this 85 richest in the world are contributing the lion's share of the desecration of the planet that will probably snuff out human life as we know it within a century. The only consolation, and it's a pretty small one at that, is that even all their money won't be able to stave off environmental calamity. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cliven Again

Well, all of a sudden the Fox News hero Cliven Bundy (the grazing fee jerk, you remember) has lost his luster. As he was bound to the minute they started to find out what's really in this guy's mind. Two articles elucidate: here and here. Sean Hannity, that prince of fools who trumpeted Bundy and his defiance of the feds just about all day on Wednesday, is now on record as saying: "“His comments are beyond repugnant to me. They are beyond despicable to me. They are beyond ignorant to me.” He cannot get away from this guy fast enough.

And what comments would these be? Well, Mr. Bundy's opinion on "the Negro" that were picked up by the NY Times. To wit:
They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton,” Bundy was quoted as saying to a group of supporters last Saturday. “And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.
So this hero of the right turns out to be a despicable ignorant racist, as you can be certain almost all right-wing nut cases are. Maybe now that this idiot has opened his mouth and removed all doubt about what and who he is, and now that all of his erstwhile supporters are jumping off his ship as fast as they can, it will make it easier for the taxpayers to get the $1 million this freeloader owes us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

BP Oil Spill Redux

Dead Sea Creatures on Gulf Beach -- BP Victims Four Years Later

Four years ago now--hard to believe--that BP's underwater broken oil well gushed almost 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. And the so-called "cleanup" spread 2 million gallons of toxic chemical oil dispersant into the water also. This article has the sordid details. The oil spill residue--and it's out there in millions of gallons on the sea floor--is still killing plant life, fish, birds, dolphins, turtles, and sickening crab, shrimp, and humans. It has permanently and seriously hurt the seafood industry in the Gulf states. It has brought some species to the brink of extinction. People in the affected area--Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida--are showing all manner of health problems connected with the oil and the supposedly harmless dispersant. The long and the short of it is this is a disaster that will be afflicting the environment and economy in the Gulf region for countless years to come.

But are you ready for the real bottom line?
Despite all of this ongoing evidence of BP's deleterious impact on the Gulf of Mexico region, President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency has decided to allow the oil giant back into Gulf waters to search for more oil leases.
What the hell is wrong with us?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ever Heard of Cliven Bundy?

I hadn't either, until he became nationwide news for defying the federal government over grazing fees on federal land in Nevada. This story will give you the facts. I can give them to you briefly, and I don't pretend to be anything but disdainful of Bundy and the fools that gathered around him. Bundy is a rich cattle rancher, who has been grazing his substantial herds of cattle on federal lands for years without paying the required grazing fees. Twenty years of this adds up to over a million bucks. But Bundy refused to pay. He actually said he did not recognize the "United States government." That he was obeying the laws of his state.

Well, there was a set-to of sorts. The feds seized Bundy's cows, thereby stirring up a confrontation between federal agents and Bundy with a gaggle of his Tea Party-type relatives and friends, some of them armed, and after some spiffy 5 o'clock news footage of shouting and sign-waving outraged citizens packing their heat and slinging their long guns, the feds retreated and later restored the cows too.

Jon Stewart carried out an elaborate mock of this idiot that you should watch. Give a look:

I'm interested in what this says about us as a country. Does it really depend on who's breaking the law to determine whether the law is enforced? Seems so. The feds say they feared for the safety of Bundy and his gang of right-wing nut cases. That's why they left. But that wasn't the case with the David Koresch Bible cult in Waco, was it? And do you think for a second, a millisecond, the feds would have retreated before anti-war protesters, occupy Wall Street types, or pro-environment activists?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Particularly Good Today

It's Monday and that means a new blog post by James Kuntsler, one of my don't miss bloggers--along with Chris Hedges at "TruthDig," Charles Kingsley Michaelson III at "Some Assembly Required," and anything Matt Taibbi has out there. I just thought I'd share with you the way he starts today's blog entry:
The wonder is that more Americans are not ticked off about the state of our country than whatever is happening ten thousand miles away. For instance, how come the US Department of Justice is not as avid to prosecute the pervasive racketeering in the US economy as the State Department is for provoking unnecessary wars in foreign lands on the other side of the planet, over matters that have little bearing on life here? This racketeering, by the way, amounts to a war against American citizens.
     I’m speaking especially of the US military racket, the banking and finance rackets, the health care racket and the college loan racket, all of which have evolved insidiously and elegantly to swindle the public in order to support a claque of American oligarchs. In other civilized lands, health care and college are considered the highest priority public goods (i.e. responsibilities of government), and national resources are applied to support them under the theory that bankrupting people for an appendectomy or a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering is not in the public interest. In our land, that would be considered “socialism.” Instead, we “socialize” the costs of supporting Too Big To Fail banks — so their employees can drive Beemers to their Hamptons summer house parties — and a military machine that goes around the world wrecking one country after another to support a parasitical class of contractors, lobbyists, and bought-off politicians in their northern Virginia McMansions.
This is an angry guy, an intelligent guy, a guy who has been for years pointing out the folly of the Americans and their self-destructive madness. He's not holding out much hope for change, and he sees a violent revolution in this country when things reach the breaking point. The idea scares me to death, as it should anybody, but like the total destruction of the planet's ecology by global warming, it begins to assume an air of inevitability. I fear I know too much of the history of human beings on this earth to feel otherwise.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why It's Jokelahoma, Reason #3,256

The headline of the story is quite enough to stop you in your tracks: "Oklahoma cities and towns are banned from raising the local minimum wage under a new state law."

Your mind goes "what??" Then you read it again. That's right, boys and girls, the state legislature of this benighted backwater of a place has forbidden any city or town within its borders from raising the pitifully inadequate minimum wage to any other (and probably still likely pitifully inadequate) level. At the same time, "the new law also bars localities from requiring that employees receive a certain number of sick or vacation days, either paid or unpaid."

Say what? I don't care what they call this--our bubble-brained governor says the law is being passed to save Oklahoma jobs so they won't move elsewhere if places in the state require inching employers towards treating their workers with humanity--this is nothing short of small-minded cruelty. And it's typical of the kind of thinking that dominates here. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I Fear We Won't be Growing Up

Growth is good? In most of the world economic growth is the magic elixir that everyone strives for, lots and lots of growth. Endless growth. Growth gained by using energy to turn resources into garbage. More energy, more cars, more TVs, more and more and more. Especially more CO2 emissions. Growth. Too bad that growth will doom us. Or has.  Source
Me? I think we've already crossed the Rubicon on climate change. Things are irreversible, and the generations behind us are the ones who are really going to have to suffer.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boston is the Rest of Us

 Boston is going bananas with preparation for next Monday's marathon. But you know what I think? Two things: first, there won't be any bombs in Boston at the marathon ever again; it was a one-time event, like 9/11, like Pearl Harbor, and the murder of Archduke Frances Ferdinand. And second, all this police presence and spy cameras everywhere, and agents lurking and who knows what else? That's all about how the "terrorists have won." (Remember when Bush was all about stopping that ever happening?)

Don't doubt for a minute that the terrorists have won. We're a nation gripped in terror. We're ruled by it. We've sacrificed just about everything precious on the promise of being kept safe: our civil liberties, our privacy rights, our freedom to be live normally. (You get inspected going into a ballpark!) We're a police/national security state, folks. Get used to it.

So all those hot-and-cold running cops, spys, and scared-to-death people in Boston? They're just the rest of us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


The Pulitzers were announced yesterday. And both the Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers won the award for public service. Although I've not actually encountered any yet, I am positive there are screeches of anguish arising from the right about honoring newspapers who dared reveal CIA secrets passed on to them by that "traitor" Edward Snowden. God, what is wrong with people? The government is going through everything we say, sign, keep, look at, read, and keeping this information all to their spooky selves . . . and it wasn't a public service to expose this to the light? Are you kidding? Snowden is looking at 30 years in prison--no way in hell he'll ever be found innocent--if he ever sets foot back in his country again. That's the price you pay for speaking out. Public service ain't free.

But those papers deserved the Pulitzer . . . and Snowden oughta be getting some kind of medal too.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Powderfinger's Back

Hey! I have returned. And back on the job of observing this insane world.

I've been on a little pleasure jaunt down to Texas. Family, baseball, good food, great music concert, old friend Frank Vicari--we go back to the 5th grade--who graciously put Stu and me up at his place for two nights in Dallas. What could be finer than all that? The Arcade Fire concert was dynamite, the biggest adventure trying to find a place to eat "on the way." We ended up at a literal trailer cookery called "Pollo Regio," where the pollo was muy bueno, but the general appointments and atmosphere left something to be desired. But the music was great, even though it was a really long trek from car to venue, which was a huge outdoor amphitheater called the 360. Susan and I had to ride a rickshaw bike and we rode the parking lot shuttle back. I really was bothered by the fact that walking any distance bothered the hell out of my left leg. I'm hoping it's still post-op stuff going on--one of the aneurisms was in the artery feeding the left leg--but I don't know. Whenever there's anything like this, you're always thinking: "Uh oh, are we going into permanent deterioration mode on this part of the body now?"

Wonderful time at the ballpark. Cousin Christine who took marvelous care of me on Sunday got to see her team, the Astros, beat the Rangers on Saturday, 6-5 in 10 innings. The game the night before, which went 12 innings and ended in a 1-0 Ranger win was a classic. Great game. Christine wanted me to meet her Aunt Kathryn and Uncle George on her mom's side. Actually Aunt Kathryn and I had met at her sister Leah's wedding who knows how many eons ago. But it was a real hoot. I think we sat there nearly two hours just having laughs and great conversation.

A lot more: the joy of spending time with two of my kids. My dear Susan. Always Susan. I even enjoyed the Amtrak train from Ft. Worth back here to Norman. A comfortable and reasonably on-time ride. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lookin' Good . . .

Verbatim from one of my favorite blogs, "Some Assembly Required."
More Is Less: Research suggests that vegetarian diets lead to generally poorer health, a poorer quality of life and a higher need for health care. The vegetarian diet also seems to carry elevated risks of cancer, allergies and mental health disorders. But you'll look fit and trim and still feel superior to the rest of us.
Love it!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Nothing but Chaff

My little sister Mary Ellen just recently found a job after being unemployed for 14 months. I don't need to tell you that if you're 56 years old this is a long time, a real long time. I sure worried about her, and I think she worried a whole lot more than she let on. But she's a trooper. When the good fortune of a job finally came along--not in the kind of work she had been doing for 20 years either--she just took it in stride. She's happy with the new work, and I cannot tell you how relieved I am for her. Because I know the real story. People like my sister are nothing but chaff in the current economy, and they are likely to stay that way for a very long time.

The facts of the case, her case being a precise fit, are that since 2007, the number of people who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks is up 191 percent. That, folks, translates to a bit fewer than 4 million people.

Well, aren't these people being taken care of, you say? Nope.
In Washington, the plight of the long-term jobless has largely faded from the policy conversation. At the moment, the federal government offers virtually no help to the 3.8 million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months. The maximum duration of unemployment insurance payments fell from as long as 73 weeks to 26 weeks in most states in January.
A jobless aid bill is expected to win final approval from the Democrat-controlled Senate early next week, but it is not expected to pass the Republican-controlled House as currently constructed. Source

Friday, April 4, 2014

Gish Gallop Lies

You can look it up in the Urban Dictionary. The Gish Gallop is a technique that “involves spewing so much bullshit in such a short span on that your opponent can’t address let alone counter all of it.” And this was the wonderful intro to piece I just read about the five things the right lies most shamelessly and most repeatedly about. They practice the Gish Gallop technique on all the rest of us. Constantly. You can probably guess what the five lies are, or at least come close. But to spare you having to scratch your head on the last one, I'll list them for you here.
  1. Creationism - Just check out this amazing list of the falsehoods creationists have foisted upon us, and you'll be astonished. These are the people the Gish Gallop was named for.
  2. Denial of Climate Change - Check this compilation of over 160 arguments made by the climate change deniers and why they are wrong.
  3. The Affordable Care Act - Large lies, small lies, but all of them numerous and unrelenting.
  4. Contraception Mandate - Kind of a subsection to the above, but large enough for its own category. Here's a list of a dozen major myths concerning this provision of the ACA.
  5. Gun Safety - "The gun lobby is dishonest to its core."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Revisiting Insanity

It's something we revisit often. In fact, it's getting to be an almost daily occurrence. News comes of something that's no surprise: some nut with a gun blows three people away, hurts a bunch more, and then kills himself at Ft. Hood, Texas. Yes, that's act II there. The first was worst, but now we've really stirred the pot and the crazies are out in force with their "solutions" and "explanations." We don't have to go any further than Fox news, do we?

Those geniuses, the "fair and balanced" joke that more Americans get their news from than any other source . . . well, it didn't take them long to discover the cause of the shooting. You guessed it: Obama. Why? Well, because everybody at Ft Hood is prevented by government policy--policy made by Bill Clinton and left in place by Obama--from walking around armed.

The people at Fox heartily approved of these sentiments voiced by the "Gateway Pundit," an infamous right-wing blogger who obviously has it all figured out:
‘The Obama administration is responsible for this mass shooting. They witnessed this before, they didn’t learn a thing. Gun-free zones are death zones. It is time to stand up to the lunacy.’" 
Got that? Policy that creates gun-free zones is lunacy. Obviously, the word means nothing anymore.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Who's on Welfare?

Well, let's have a look. I know the answer to the question, and I've known it for a long time because I've made it a point to be informed. Which 90 percent of the time means: if the masses believe it, don't even begin to think it's true. What's my sidebar quote say, the words of wisdom from Seneca: "Avoid whatever is approved of by the mob."? Well, it could just have well have said "Don't believe anything the mob believes."

Point of fact. The whole question of government assistance to those evil poor people. We all know about how they're bilking the rest of us honest, hard-working citizens, and living on our initiative and energy. Right?

Well, that's never been true, but it's never been not embraced by the vast majority of mallet-heads in this society.

Here's a video that talks about that and a lot more. If you want to get spun up on the latest thinking about the consequences of policy. Have a look.

And then share with your kids and friends.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

No April Fools Joke Today

Amazing world we live in. I am cursed. I don't have a one track mind. I find just a universe of things interesting . . . including the universe, of course. But this time the story is pretty earthbound. So much in fact, that it's lain buried under the earth for hundreds of years until just recently. Here's the gist of it:
Twenty-five skeletons were uncovered in London’s Charterhouse Square in Farringdon during Crossrail construction works in March 2013. It provided the first evidence of the location of London’s first Black Death emergency burial ground established in 1348.
As a historian, anything like this trips my trigger. And I keep hoping that the archeologists will get better and better at finding old stuff and unearthing it so we can learn more about where we've come from. (What I really wish is that the bottom of the ocean could be scoured for all the treasure of knowledge that lies there. But we're a long way from that.)

Here's a couple pictures that'll give you a real good idea of what this dig looks like.

Remarkable Find
Closer Look

Apparently this burial ground is of great historical importance to London, so a huge amount of research has been done on the skeletons. From their teeth, scientists have found "traces of the DNA of the Yersinia pestis bacterium." This was the bug responsible for the Black Death. They have also determined that the burials occurred in two phases: 1348-50 and in the early to mid-1400s.
The site of the burial is just outside the city walls, and the site is named after the Charterhouse that was built next to the burial site to pray for the dead that were buried there. That former monastery is still there, largely hidden behind high walls, and you can book occasional tours to have a look around inside.

Source: Here