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Privatizing the PO

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Rep Darrell Issa (R-CA) is trying to turn the Post Office over to Staples.

While slamming Democrats, [American Postal Workers Union president Mark] Dimondstein reserved special condemnation for Issa, the Republicans’ leading voice on postal reform. Noting that Issa had proposed eliminating Saturday postal service as part of a bill undoing veterans’ pension cuts, the union president called the congressman “a pure enemy of the Postal Service…”

This is, of course, a half-truth. In fact, Issa has shown himself to be an enemy of all public services, including free parks and libraries. He has consistently advocated the privatization of all govt functions, proposing that even police and military be replaced by private security firms and fire depts be paid for by subscription. So it really isn’t fair for the postal workers’ union to single him out. Still, it’s typical of the Issa wing of the party (the wing which is, after all, in control of the party) to attach an attack on a public union to a bill cutting veterans’ benefits. Sort of a Pub’s Dream Two-fer.

An Issa “spokesperson” (you can never get these guys to reply personally to any communication from the hoi-polloi) replied to the union’s criticism this way:

This false claim about privatization is being pushed by entrenched special interests who oppose common sense and bipartisan reforms in both House and Senate postal modernization bills.

“Special interests” may be accurately considered as a reference to unions since Issa defines “public interest” as anything a corporation wants, but the interesting word here is “false”. Whenever Issa and his people have claimed that some unpleasant fact reported about this peppy little stooge of the powerful was “false”, all the evidence proved it was true, which in turns mean this flat denial likely proves it’s exactly what this is all about.

The most obvious question here is: did Staples contribute to Issa’s campaign and if so how much? But Salon’s reporter, Josh Eidelson never asks – let alone answers – that question. Instead he delves deeply into Dianne Feinstein’s husband’s connections to Staples (to no very great effect) because he’s suspicious of La F’s refusal to support the union’s preferred bill (offered by Vermont senator Bernie Sanders), a bill he doesn’t bother to explain.

It seems that even “progressives” can’t bring themselves to directly attack extreme corporate puppets like Issa, who has never had a thought a corporation didn’t put in his head.

PS I don’t have to explain why privatizing the Post Office is a really bad idea, do I?

Extortion IS Corporate-Style Governing

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A lot of well-meaning but thoughtless people have been supporting the modern GOP because they believed, despite all evidence to the contrary, in the right-wing myth of corporate efficiency and competence. What all these people refused to acknowledge was that the reality beneath the appearance of corporate success had far less to do with competence than greed, far less to do with efficiency than ruthlessness.

Well they may still be in denial but if they’re paying attention at all they will have realized that we are seeing corporate-style governing this week in the extortion and blackmail the Republican Congress has loosed on the nation in a desperate attempt to get its own way. These are time-honored corporate strategies used by disparate corpos from Disney to IBM to Microsoft to Wal-mart to McDonald’s. Extortion, blackmail, and bribery are the three key components of American corporate success.

So it was no surprise when Robert Reich let it slip in his blog that this govt shutdown was planned and paid for by…tah dah!…the corporate BigWigs of th 0.1%.

The bullies are a faction inside the Republican Party – extremists who are threatening more reasonable Republicans with primary challenges if they don’t go along.

And where are the Tea Party extremists getting their dough? From even bigger bullies – a handful of hugely wealthy Americans who are sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into this extortion racket.

They include David and Charles Koch (and their front group, “Americans for Prosperity’);  Peter Thiel, leverage-buyout specialist John Childs, investor Howie Rich, Stephen Jackson of the Stevens Group, and executives of JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, (all behind the “Club for Growth”); and Crow Holdings’ Harlan Crow, shipping magnate Richard Uihlein, and investment banker Foster Friess; executives of MetLife and Philip Morris, and foundations controlled by the Scaife family (all bankrolling “FreedomWorks.”)

Their game plan is to not just to take over the Republican Party. It’s to take over America.

These are the standard tactics of a hostile takeover: threats and intimidation. Do what we want or we’ll burn down the store. I’d say the gloves are off. They’re not even pretending anymore.

Written by Mick

October 1, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Stop the Myth: The Right Isn’t Logical

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In the course of discussing Fox’s penchant for insisting that there’s a race war…against whites, naturally…Ellen Brodsky asks the kind of question I keep hearing from the left, a querulous confusion suffused by puzzlement.

Given Fox’s symbiosis with the Republican Party and given the GOP’s supposed desire to win back minority voters, it’s hard to understand what Fox thinks is to be gained from this outpouring of antipathy.

The unstated assumption is that both Fox and the Republican party aren’t really batshit crazy but are somehow actually responding to a perceived – however misperceived – sense of rational self-interest. The assumption, however, is unwarranted. They aren’t, either of them. Instead they are, and have been increasingly over the last three decades, responding not to any form of reason, however twisted, but to the dark, fevered emotions of the id, and a damaged id at that.

Psychologically, the profile of the right wing in America is the profile of a paranoid psychopath. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

August 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Dr Frankenstein Misunderstands His Own Monster

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Depending how you define it, success sometimes isn’t. In the wake of a narrowly-defined success, you can easily overlook the seeds of failure caused by all the factors you left out to create your “success”. Dr Frankenstein “created” life – a success – but utterly failed to understand that having done that, he would then lose control of it. The Frankenstein story is generally taken to be a cautionary tale about radical scientific advance but could be equally informative concerning the dangers of blind hubris in other fields.

Take Eddie Lampert, Sears’ CEO as an example of the “success” of the Greed Is Good, Selfishness Is Better school of corporate philosophy. Living up to it has made him extremely rich. It has also utterly destroyed Sears. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

July 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Who Counts? Not You

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OK, so you probably think that at least if you’re a dedicated cheerleader they won’t throw you under the bus even if you’re not their first priority. But you’re being naive.

Regardless of who wins the presidential election in November or what compromises Congress strikes in the lame-duck session to keep the economy from automatic tax increases and spending cuts, 160 million American wage earners will probably see their tax bills jump after Jan. 1.

That is when the temporary payroll tax holiday ends. Its expiration means less income in families’ pocketbooks — the tax increase would be about $95 billion in 2013 alone — at a time when the economy is little better than it was when the White House reached a deal on the tax break last year.

You don’t matter. The “deficit” they created matters. It’s your job to pay it off. This was never a priority, it was just a temporary gimme for show.

Independent analysts say that the expiration of the tax cut could shave as much as a percentage point off economic output in 2013, and cost the economy as many as one million jobs. That is because the typical American family had $1,000 in additional income from the lower tax.

But there is still little desire to make an extension part of the negotiations that are under way to avert the huge tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts, known as the fiscal cliff, that will start in January without a deal.

Nope. Nobody on either side gives a shit.

Many Republicans vehemently opposed its passage last year, as it would divert money from the Social Security program. Many Democrats fervently supported it last year but show no such enthusiasm now. Nancy Pelosi of California, the top House Democrat, has told reporters she thinks it should expire.

So don’t ever get your hopes up. No matter what happens, you’re never gonna be on anybody’s gift list.

Written by Mick

October 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm

The Crackpot Consensus

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One of the most challenging aspects of adjusting to the NAO’s is the fact that so many of them are, well, stupid. Todd Akin’s absurd belief that women have some sort of magical control over their bodies if only they’d decide to use it is just the tip of a very large, annoying, and dangerous iceberg. The Times’ Timothy Egan gives a chapter and verse or two that barely scratch the surface but make the point quite clearly: many of the most powerful people in the country, all of them major puppets of the oligarchs, have demonstrated again and again that they have great faith but zero actual knowledge. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

August 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

If It Was a Video Game, Nobody Would Believe It

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Written by Mick

October 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm

“I Was a Democrat Once”

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Shorter David Brooks:

I used to have a magic green jacket that turned me into a Democrat but then they got too Democraticky with all those taxes on rich people so I took off the jacket  and now I’m not but I like to pretend I am and I’m worried that after all their good work being loyal Bushistas, they’re threatening to turn into Democrats again and that makes me sad.

The end.

‘Shorter’ concept created by Daniel Davies and perfected by Elton Beard. We are aware of all Internet traditions.™

Written by Mick

July 27, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Anti-War Republicans? You Bet!

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Mike Thompson, Detroit Free Press


Written by Mick

July 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm

The Complicated & Sophisticated Paul

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At C&L, Heather takes Bill Kristol to task for his ham-handed defense of Rand Paul’s dopey Civil Rights speech.  First, Kristol:

He has a sort of sophisticated, complicated libertarian view of the Civil Rights Act. One of the ten provisions of the act applies to private businesses….but…there is something attractive about him. I mean, he’s plainspoken and seems like an honest and good-natured guy.

Heather is unimpressed.

Sorry Bill, but quite the opposite is true. His simplistic, purist views which have no basis in facts when it comes to their real world application are anything but “sophisticated and complicated”. He probably just reminds him a little too much of his girlfriend Palin, so of course he loves him.

But Heather, he’s right, you know. For a libertarian – or an alluvial deposit or the ficus in your foyer – Rand is complicated and sophisticated. For Kristol, too. Libertarians don’t get much more sophisticated than Rand Paul. Neither does that ficus.

As house plants go, Rand is a genius.

Written by Mick

May 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Posted in Civil Rights, Racism, Republicans

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Pubs Cave On Financial Filibuster

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Who could have predicted this?

Republican senators have agreed to stop filibustering debate on financial-regulatory reform legislation. After successfully blocking the bill for the third time in three days Wednesday, Republicans appeared ready to go another round. But when Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to throw a Senate sleepover by calling votes all night, the GOP backed down.

Practically everybody. And we did.

Remember when we were begging Harry to force the GOP to defend its insane, incoherent policies physically? On live teevee in front of the whole country? We said that all those fake filibusters would either a) collapse or b) make the voters realize just what shitheads the GOoPers are.

Harry said No. Remember? He woulodn’t do it. It wouldn’t work.

Guess who was right and who was wrong. Again.

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Written by Mick

April 29, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Another Great Idea From Our Brilliant GOP

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Lee Judge, Kansas City Star

Actually, if it meant the Dems were going to turn a corporate-friendly giveaway into a citizen-friendly public health service, I’d be all in favor. But I’m pretty sure that’s not what the Pubs have in mind.

Written by Mick

March 3, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Oh, So That’s Why They Fought Al So Hard

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There was always some question about whether there was anything that explained the long, pointless, childish GOP refusal to allow Sen Al Franken to be seated until every last legal option had been worn to a frazzle and the Minnesota electorate with it beyond the inherent stubbornness of bad losers to admit they lost. Well, maybe. Look at the first thing Franken did: submit a bill to embarrass a favorite Republican contributor/contractor and Cheney’s ex-corpo (yeah, right), Halliburton, by refusing to let them walk away scot-free from the Jamie Leigh Jones kidnapping and rape charges. The WaPo’s Katherine Parker is apparently having a problem understanding why they fell so easily into Franken’s trap. It’s a good question but the answer is ludicrously simple. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

October 24, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Posted in Media, Republicans

If the Republicans Are Committing Political Suicide and the Democrats Are Copying Everything They Do, That Means….

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By any measure, the Pubs are in deep shit. Digby thinks it’s “mystifying”.

There’s a lot about the new Republican Party that’s mystifying. “Disarray” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I suppose it’s a lot like it was back in 1964, although I think even then you could see the outlines of a comeback — which they did, four short years later with the election of Nixon, the sainted Kennedy’s bete noir.

But this time, it’s really hard to see how they can ever build a sustainable majority when they are doing things like [voting overwhelmingly against confirming Sonia Sotomayor].

Um, they can’t, not really. About all they can do is insist as loudly as possible that the Dems are in trouble and pretend the GOP is therefore in the process of making a comeback even if they’re, you know,  so NOT. Earlier this week Roy Edroso caught AEI’s Joel Kotkin making it up as he went along. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

July 29, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Against Optimism (Expanded)

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"Optimism" by John Slaby

“Optimism” by John Slaby

Rollicking, rampant, blind-as-a-bat optimism, anyway.

Look. Sometime around the Industrial Revolution business discovered the power of optimism and began to exploit it. From the bleariest, drunkest, shotgun-in-the-pickup-truck redneck Southern white trash to the snobbiest, most coked-up, Armani-only Upper East Side corporate-raider/investment banker dildo, Americans one and all believe in being optimistic.

  • We voted for Nixon because he promised “Peace with Honor” even though we knew he was a man who wouldn’t know the sting of honor from the slap of a wet turd. We elected him not once but twice knowing full well – or at least with no excuse for NOT knowing full well – that he was a paranoid, belligerent, lying jackass and always had been.
  • We voted for Ronnie Rayguns because he told us a fantasy about shining cities on hills and how it was “morning in America” because it suggested we had everything to look forward to and no history behind us that we needed to worry about. We elected him not once but twice despite knowing full well that he was incompetent, extremely ill-informed (trees pollute??!), and not so much a president as an actor playing one on tv.
  • We voted for George W Bush because he was charming and upbeat and told us we could be millionaires if only he was in charge, a guy we’d like to have a beer with who was incidentally passing out slices of pie from the sky. We elected him not once but twice knowing full well – or with little excuse for not knowing full well – that he was a liar, a failure, a coward, and an arrogant pissant who thought God had elected him instead of us.

Behind all these incredibly bad decisions lay a miasma of denial and optimism, the first required by the second since optimism in the face of a blatantly negative reality is impossible without a fervent denial of what’s right before your eyes.

But to say all that is only to begin to enumerate the folly of unjustified optimism. For example, there’s the global economic crisis created by a handful of Wall Street manipulators and Main Street frauds. This -

The bank’s [Goldman Sachs] unprecedented reach and power have enabled it to turn all of America into a giant pumpanddump scam, manipulating whole economic sectors for years at a time, moving the dice game as this or that market collapses, and all the time gorging itself on the unseen costs that are breaking families everywhere — high gas prices, rising consumercredit rates, halfeaten pension funds, mass layoffs, future taxes to pay off bailouts. All that money that you’re losing, it’s going somewhere, and in both a literal and a figurative sense, Goldman Sachs is where it’s going: The bank is a huge, highly sophisticated engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on Earth — pure profit for rich individuals.

They achieve this using the same playbook over and over again. The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased. They’ve been pulling this same stunt over and over since the 1920s — and now they’re preparing to do it again, creating what may be the biggest and most audacious bubble yet.

- would not have been possible were it not for an America drowning in optimism, the belief that better days are right around the corner. Who but a zealot optimist could have possibly believed so fervently in the Reagan Paradox that the less the govt collected in taxes, the more it would collect in taxes?

Optimism is the weapon that Goldman and the other Wall Street manipulators use to make a strapped America overplay its already overstretched finances. “Better days are coming. We can take on all this extra debt because when the economy turns up we’ll be making more money, enough to cover this new house.” They had us convinced.

But the economy did get better and our wages still didn’t rise. We weren’t making more money. In many cases we were actually making less because the fear of inflation that infects the rich like typhoid and the power of a fascist-style govt kowtowing to the rich and incipient corporate panic meant that inflationary fears trumped every other concern. And if we fought for higher wages, the rich moved their companies to low-wage low tax countries, dodged the taxes involved, and our jobs were gone. Forever. The optimism they fed us was gibberish, a lie, a con.

To an extent, the entire economic meltdown could only have taken place in a country so besotted with optimism that it could deny the chasm under its feet even as it was tumbling down the slope to the rocks below. The bubble was built on optimism – not at the top where they knew better – but throughout the rest of the body right down to the very bottom. We would never have tied ourselves into financial knots if we hadn’t persisted in being optimistic about the future, and if we hadn’t tied ourselves into financial knots with debt on top of debt, there would have been no imaginary profits to feed the bubble Goldman and others were blowing up.

And still we learn nothing. Taibbi points out in his Goldman take-down that they’re ginning up to do it all again, and we’re going to let them because we’re…what? You got it. Optimistic. Dig:

[I]nstead of credit derivatives or oil futures or mortgage-backed CDOs, the new game in town, the next bubble, is in carbon credits — a booming trillion dollar market that barely even exists yet, but will if the Democratic Party that [Goldman Sachs] gave $4,452,585 to in the last election manages to push into existence a groundbreaking new commodities bubble, disguised as an “environmental plan,” called cap-and-trade.

The new carboncredit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that’s been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won’t even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance.

Here’s how it works: If the bill passes, there will be limits for coal plants, utilities, natural-gas distributors and numerous other industries on the amount of carbon emissions (a.k.a. greenhouse gases) they can produce per year. If the companies go over their allotment, they will be able to buy “allocations” or credits from other companies that have managed to produce fewer emissions. President Obama conservatively estimates that about $646 billion worth of carbon credits will be auctioned in the first seven years; one of his top economic aides speculates that the real number might be twice or even three times that amount.

The feature of this plan that has special appeal to speculators is that the “cap” on carbon will be continually lowered by the government, which means that carbon credits will become more and more scarce with each passing year. Which means that this is a brand new commodities market where the main commodity to be traded is guaranteed to rise in price over time. The volume of this new market will be upwards of a trillion dollars annually; for comparison’s sake, the annual combined revenues of all electricity suppliers in the U.S. total $320 billion.

(emphasis added)

Wall Street makes its money on suckers like us by selling us optimistic fairy tales. Got a pollution problem? We can fix it and you can get rich at the same time. This is America. We can do anything!

Optimism is largely responsible for our being so deep in denial that we could consistently vote against our own best interests and even help destroy our own country and yet insist we did no such thing.

Fuck optimism. Give me a little healthy skepticism any day. If you’re staring at pie-in-the-sky instead of the ground under your feet, it’s a lot easier to walk off a cliff.

Yet instead of finally letting go of our childish and dangerous dependency on Happy Endings, we build entire sociological and psychological structures defending Optimism as “necessary for survival“.

We humans tend to be an optimistic bunch. In fact, it’s long been established by psychologists that most people tend to be irrationally positive. The optimism bias, as it’s called, accounts for the fact that we expect to live longer and be more successful than the average and we tend to underestimate the likelihood of getting a serious disease or a divorce. This tendency is adaptive—many researchers have claimed that a positive outlook motivates us to plan for our future and may even have an effect on our long-term physical health.

Optimism may be so necessary to our survival that it’s hardwired in our brains. A new study published in the journal Nature further confirms the idea that having a rosy outlook is a personality trait with deep, neurological roots. Researchers found that the brains of optimistic people actually light up differently on a scan than those who tend to be more pessimistic when they think about future events.

The disparity between positive and pessimistic minds is especially prominent in areas of the brain that have been linked to depression. “The same areas that malfunction in depression are very active when people think about positive events,” says Tali Sharot, a post-doctorate fellow at University College London, who conducted the research at New York University.

And in skeptical France, say, their brains are hardwired to be pessimistic? Crap.

Only in America is optimism made into a religion that supercedes everything but death and where we protect our divine right to remain children with guns. Hope has become an American fetish. America without optimism would be Europe. Ugh. Oscar Wilde said that the basis of all optimism is sheer terror. If that’s true, and it probably is, it makes us the most frightened country on Earth. Not good for an Imperial Superpower. It’s one thing to indulge your urge to defy growing up when all you can fuck up is yourself. It’s another to shove it down the throats of the rest of the world when you have the power to fuck up everything. At some point you need to become a responsible adult who considers reality instead of wetdreams to figure out policy.

What we are fighting now is a century-old training program. We have all been taught to believe and worse, act as if we have every right to ignore uncomfortable facts because, hey, somebody will figure it out and relieve us of the responsibility of fixing any of it. The Best Is Yet to Come! We’re No 1! Don’t Worry, Be Happy! Shop Til You Drop!

Enough already. Unjustified optimism has brought us to the brink of economic destruction. It’s time to put away childish things, y’all, and eat our damn green beans.

Written by Mick

July 15, 2009 at 7:32 pm

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