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A LiveJournal community was talking about "liberal media bias" on US television news. See, I think that reputation is overblown by a few cultural conservatives and pro-lifers. Here's a comment I left. I'm slanting it a little, sure, maybe a little hyperbole, but point out where you think I'm wrong:

or don't, and skip the rage )
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Dade Behring is a cause célèbre for Romney’s and Bain’s critics, and it illustrates the leverage problem clearly. In 1994, Bain bought Dade International, a medical-diagnostics company, then added the medical-diagnostics division of DuPont in 1996 and a German medical-testing company called Behring in 1997. Former Dade president Bob Brightfelt says the operation started well: the Bain managers were “pretty smart guys,” he recalls, and they did well cutting out overlap, and exploiting synergies.

Then brutal cost cutting began. Bain cut R&D spending to an average of 8 percent of sales, a little more than half what its competitors were doing. Cindy Hewitt, Dade’s human-resources manager, remembers how the firm closed a Puerto Rico plant in 1998, a year after harvesting $7.1 million in local tax breaks aimed at job creation, and relocated some staff to Miami, then the company’s most profitable plant. Based on re­a­ssur­ances she had received from her superiors, she told those uprooting themselves from Puerto Rico that their jobs in Miami were safe for now—but then Bain closed the Miami plant. “Whether you want to call it misled, or lied, or manipulated, I do not believe they provided full information about what discussions were under way,” she says. “I would never want to be part of even unintentionally treating people so poorly.”

Bain engaged in startling penny-pinching with the laid-off employees. Their contracts stipulated that if they left early they would have to pay back the costs of relocating to Miami—but in spite of all that Dade had done to them, it refused to release the employees from this clause. “They said they would go after them for that money if they left before Bain was finished with them,” Hewitt recalls. Not only that, but the company declined to give workers their severance pay in lump sums to help them fund their return home.
Then it got worse.

“We have criticized offshore tax havens for their secrecy and lack of transparency,” said Senator Carl Levin. “But look what is going on in our own backyard.”


One cannot properly understand Wall Street’s size and power without appreciating the central role of offshore tax havens. There is absolutely no evidence that Bain has done anything illegal, but private equity is one channel for this secrecy-shrouded foreign money to enter the United States, and a filing for Mitt Romney’s first $37 million Bain Capital Fund, of 1984, provides a rare window into this. One foreign investor, of $2 million, was the newspaper tycoon, tax evader, and fraudster Robert Maxwell, who fell from his yacht, and drowned, off of the Canary Islands in 1991 in strange circumstances, after looting his company’s pension fund. The Bain filing also names Eduardo Poma, a member of one of the “14 families” oligarchy that has controlled most of El Salvador’s wealth for decades; oddly, Poma is listed as sharing a Miami address with two anonymous companies that invested $1.5 million between them. The filings also show a Geneva-based trustee overseeing a trust that invested $2.5 million, a Bahamas corporation that put in $3 million, and three corporations in the tax haven of Panama, historically a favored destination for Latin-American dirty money—“one of the filthiest money-laundering sinks in the world,” as a U.S. Customs official once put it.


Many Americans might react with a shrug to the idea of shady foreign money such as Robert Maxwell’s being invested here. But, says Rebecca Wilkins, of the Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Citizens for Tax Justice, “It is shocking that a presidential candidate should think that is O.K.”
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This was kind of interesting. Krugman on a British chat show.
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So, how would you describe your political beliefs?

I'm a communist.

You mean, you're a Marxist, you subscribe to his theory of economic history.

No, no, I don't really believe in that. Not as such.

You mean you're a state socialist?

No, not a Stalinist.

You're a Maoist, Trotskyist, what?

No, I'm not a Stalinist, Trotskyist, Maoist, or even much of a Leninist. I'm not even a proper Marxist.

So, what kind of "communist" are you?

I'm a Milton Friedman commnunist.

Do you begin to get it now? I live in a country where I'm called a Leninist for supporting a progressive income tax, where I'm called a Nazi for believing in socialized medicine! Where if I say, like Harry Truman, that poor voters should vote their interests, because the rich bitches certainly are--

Now, now, watch your language. Don't get so excited. It's all right.

--if I say you should vote your interests, I'm told, "Son, you just don't understand." And what is supposed to be wrong with being upset about all this anyway? Are you on drugs?

Are you?

Are you doped up right now? Why are you so insistently calm? Why are you calm as they rob the small landholder in this country? Are they giving you your cut?

If I speak out against the fleecing of America by corrupt politicians and the special interests who fund them, I'm called anti-American. I believe with Milton goddamn Friedman that instead of just giving people food stamps and free schools, we should give them money. Money to be able to buy in, to own land, to raise themselves up, to become the equal of their "betters." And for that, I'm not called a communist, nor a Nazi, no, I'm called crazy. So fine, I'm a crazy Nazi Commie. That's my political affiliation. That's what a Harry Truman Democrat is in today's America.

We've made such a religion out of laissez-faire free market economics, that it's not enough to be free-marketers by our parents' standards! No, that would be the sin of moderation! No, we have to keep moving further and further into the right, past the right and into the crazy! Shut down the government agency that pays my salary! Why not! Rob the poor to give kickbacks to the rich! Abandon every useful state institution built by liberal and conservative alike, and by implication call your own grandparents Communists, foreign to "America," and traitors!

Wait, I don't understand. Is that what you're advocating, or--?

Idiot! It is the false religion of nouveau right-wingism, ersatz conservatism, that destroys the petit-bourgeois, the small landholder, in this country.

Well. A lot of people's grandparents really did believe in conservatism, and hate the government. People kept moving west to get away from the government where they were. It's a libertarian country.

Poppycock! They were trying to get to where they could own land, trying to get away from local private elites. Sure, a few cranks hated all authority, but they were freaks! They didn't build this country, or establish its institutions: its state colleges, its research institutes for agriculture and medicine, its public schools, all the things that made us a rich, powerful country! Did Wall Street build those? Did Wall Street even build the military and police that protect it now?

Well, as creators of wealth...


Wall Street creates wealth.

No it doesn't. It invests in things so that money can be funneled off to investors. It doesn't do the real work of technological development, and the funding it actually provides to the actual inventors and manufacturers and service industries could be extracted from the wealthy in taxes and paid as grants to people who want to start businesses. Less wealth would flow to the upper crust, and that would be good for building a broader "ownership society" and a broader base of demand. Private investment would still exist, but alongside redistribution. And eventually beneficiaries of redistribution could invest themselves.

I don't know. I don't see how that works.

Pfft! Anyway, yes, some of your grandparents would have considered themselves conservative, and some more would be somewhat socially conservative now. But that doesn't mean they would sign on to the economic program of radical laissez-faire!

You really like those foreign words.

You speak English. Are you in England?

Just because someone would oppose transgender equality today doesn't mean they weren't economically progressive in their own time! You want to be a social traditionalist? Fine! But don't let that be an excuse for supporting people who are trying to rob you of opportunity!

Anyway, yeah, I'm a Harry Truman Democrat. But these days, you can call me...



I wrote this a few days ago and put it up on "private." Showing it now because I see where Paul Krugman (himself a moderate who somehow became the "intellectual voice of the left") pointed out that Milton Friedman would be considered a left-socialist in the present climate. Maybe even in Europe, though Krugman didn't say that explicitly.
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This sort of goes with my last post.

"We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate."
Grover Norquist, quoted by David Frum

All the Republicans want is an empty suit & a rubber stamp. That’s why they love Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush & Sarah Palin so much. They don’t have ideas of their own, they just agree with all the bad ideas that come from the board rooms of corporations & “conservative think tanks”. The Republicans just want someone who can bring a tear to their eye while saying “God Bless America” and then smile and sign on the dotted line when it’s time for new laws that screw over the 99%.
on tumblr
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Mitt Rmoney, professional capitalist, calls a government-managed bankruptcy which gave a worker's association a majority stake in the firm, "crony capitalism;" thinks the outside creditors should have been protected over the people who, you know, worked there full-time and gave their lives to the firm.


Hey, R-money, maybe Bain Capital should have managed the bankruptcy, instead? Oh, that's right, you couldn't get the capital, because your company's owners pocket its profit instead of maintaining cash reserves. Why would we take financial advice from someone who sees businesses and their workers as a thing to be bled for the enrichment of his frat-boy--what's the word?, oh yeah--cronies!?
foolsguinea: (no one is illegal)
Guest worker permits in Nueva México; it's about time. Look, the Utahns have already done it; you want to be shown up by a bunch of whitebreads like that?

Israeli Intel: Iran Hasn’t Decided On Nuclear Weapons
So... we've been assassinating their scientists why? To stop power plants?

Good grief. That actually would make some insane troll kind of sense. Keep Iran on petroleum, they make less money exporting it, it undermines the régime...except the persecution only strengthens their resolve, oops.

Not sure about that analysis, but kind of an interesting take. I agree that "it's time to get over the hostage crisis" (and funny in a stick-in-the-eye kind of way that any Yanks still think they're the injured party considering the previous 25 years under the Shah).
I find this line telling: "Recording industry revenue, a healthy $56.7 billion in 1999, according to IbisWorld, clocked in at about $30 billion in 2011."

Half as much in nominal dollars--not at all healthy growth, no, but considering that that's going from bubble to post-crash, not exactly the end of an industry. I think they should be glad they are making anything close to what they used to make. Yes, I'm a jerk.
foolsguinea: (white)
"Americans became so used to the comforts and unilateral power of empire in the latter part of the 20th century that a significant segment of the population developed its own alternative worldview. This is an outlook and set of "principles" that are not based on facts and actual needs, but rather reflect fantasies - and a retreat to the comfort of a revisionist history of the nation, the world and even evolution."


Takes a bit to get into it, but this article indicts charter schools as a betrayal of the purposes of public schools:

On that peculiarly Yank concern with constitutional "originalism."
Originalists do not think that their field is in crisis. They should. ... originalism has fragmented into an enormous number of different theories.

In most scholarly fields, fragmentation is not a problem. .... But the stated purpose of originalism is to produce unique and indisputable answers to legal questions in order to eliminate the possibility of judicial discretion. The proliferation of originalisms, and the certainty that none of them will vanquish its rivals, together with the concession in many of the sophisticated variants that interpretive discretion is unavoidable, make this enterprise a forlorn one. Multiple originalisms, then, are problematic for the same reason that multiple popes are problematic. Some writers have concluded that there is no longer any practical difference between originalism and nonoriginalism. Pamela Karlan analogizes originalism to a product whose name has come to refer to an entire category of products regardless of their source, like aspirin or cellophane. She argues that “it would be better if arguments over interpretive theory stopped trying to invoke this now-meaningless brand name.”
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Maureen Dowd is not favorably impressed by Newt Gingrich. She says he's not as smart as he thinks he is. The line I find really interesting is this:
"Gingrich, a radical precursor to the modern Tea Party when he staged what conservatives considered the second American Revolution in the House in the ’90s...."

Is that what that was? Because if we're calling that a revolution, surely it was a mere counterrevolution to the New Deal, itself following a revolutionary war for workers' rights:

"They say in Harlan County there are no neutrals there."


I went looking for a vid of "Which Side Are You On?" and I found this one I'd missed before, from last December. Note that this is from before the Occupy Wall Street General Assembly got started this fall.


This following is from "Zeriel" on the Straight Dope MB:
I'll happily note [a professional trader] knows more about the technical aspects of some portions of financial trading. That doesn't make his analysis of the global situation or the crash timeline any more correct--as I said, this last little lecture series is pretty much just cementing my opinion of the idiocy of the people making these decisions. To me it's dead simple--it's morally equivalent to a family man maxing out his credit card at the casino because he's won a few times at the craps table and thinks he has a system.


I talk about my dad a lot in these discussions. Smart guy, but all horse sense. Decided that being a general store owner was his dream when he was a kid, did eight years in the Navy and two 'Nam tours to get the cash up, never asked anyone for a loan until he bought a house with 50% down, never carried a balance on his credit cards.

He's doing pretty well, has a house and a business and two cars completely paid off, owes no money to nobody.

He owns the only place to get groceries, fresh meat, and produce within 15 miles, in a poor Appalachia community where most everyone is on some kind of assistance.

If working hard at shitty jobs that are essential to the community paid as well as I keep hearing it does, he'd be Warren Buffet.

Instead he's busting his ass at 80-hour-weeks while in his 60s, and he's going to be doing it until he dies because his stock portfolios got killed twice in the last decade or so, mainly due to stupid decisions being made by people who make more money in a year than he's ever seen in his life (otherwise known as "market risk").

I've never know him to vote for a non-Republican (his truck STILL has a "Don't blame me, I voted Republican!" bumper sticker) but he's a supporter of OWS nowadays. THAT, more than anything else, should scare the hell out of some people.
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Cyclical crises are on-going episodes in the capitalist system, occurring and about once a decade and usually last 18 months to two years. There were world recessions in the early 1980s, the early 1990s, and the early 21st century.

Structural crises are deeper; their resolution requires a fundamental restructuring of the system. Earlier world structural crises of the 1890s, the 1930s and the 1970s were resolved through a reorganisation of the system that produced new models of capitalism. "Resolved" does not mean that the problems faced by a majority of humanity under capitalism were resolved but that the reorganisation of the capitalist system in each case overcame the constraints to a resumption of capital accumulation on a world scale. The crisis of the 1890s was resolved in the cores of world capitalism through the export of capital and a new round of imperialist expansion. The Great Depression of the 1930s was resolved through the turn to variants of social democracy in both the North and the South - welfare, populist, or developmentalist capitalism that involved redistribution, the creation of public sectors, and state regulation of the market.

To understand the current conjuncture we need to go back to the 1970s. The globalisation stage of world capitalism we are now in itself evolved out the response of distinct agents to these previous episodes of crisis, in particular, to the 1970s crisis of social democracy, or more technically stated, of Fordism-Keynesianism, or of redistributive capitalism. In the wake of that crisis capital went global as a strategy of the emergent Transnational Capitalist Class and its political representatives to reconstitute its class power by breaking free of nation-state constraints to accumulation. These constraints - the so-called "class compromise" - had been imposed on capital through decades of mass struggles around the world by nationally-contained popular and working classes. During the 1980s and 1990s, however, globally-oriented elites captured state power in most countries around the world and utilised that power to push capitalist globalisation through the neo-liberal model.

Globalisation and neo-liberal policies opened up vast new opportunities for transnational accumulation in the 1980s and 1990s. The revolution in computer and information technology and other technological advances helped emergent transnational capital to achieve major gains in productivity and to restructure, "flexibilise," and shed labour worldwide. This, in turn, undercut wages and the social wage and facilitated a transfer of income to capital and to high consumption sectors around the world that provided new market segments fuelling growth. In sum, globalisation made possible a major extensive and intensive expansion of the system and unleashed a frenzied new round of accumulation worldwide that offset the 1970s crisis of declining profits and investment opportunities.

It's a different world than where you come from.
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Robin Hood Tax, USA version
This article repeats the claim that, "In order to be effective, the tax would need to be implemented in most major industrial countries where trading is done," a claim that the UK advocates of the Robin Hood Tax thought it important to contradict. Sometimes you have to do a thing yourself and not worry so much about others.

To me the biggest problem with the argument of strict constructionists who try to define the Constitution as favoring the bigger, broader Republic of the 21st Century is that the Founders were very blatantly normal oligarchs of their day. They no more than anyone in the UK or the Netherlands would have seen rights as applicable to all, and even in Haiti, with the most egalitarian 18th Century revolution that concept never appears. So the claim that some dead slaveowner defined rights in the 18th Century as we do in the 21st Century is blatant nonsense and itself starts verging into religious territory, treating the Founders as creators of Yanquistani Hadith.

In fact, to extend the analogy, the people who slavishly follow the concepts of the 18th Century want the Constitution to be the Quran, with the Federalist Papers the Hadith, and trusting in the Heritage Foundation as the Ulama expounding unto the faithful the words of the Righteous Ones who waged treason and got away with it. However, oddly, the reality that none of these men when in actual governance every followed any of the rules they themselves created in their own lifetime when principle would have required them to is entirely irrelevant.
foolsguinea: (ooh!)

You can pick your version. For relatively straight renditions, I especially like the Billy Bragg rewrite, but the Rebel Diaz rap brings tears to my eyes.

I was not raised in a union family; my introduction to this song was the Natalie Merchant track, on a folk album she cut.

Now, I'm not a great fan of this song. Given my upbringing, Woody Guthrie's "Jesus Christ" means a lot more to me as a song. But it has some power to it, and tonight I was thinking about reactions to #OWS and this came to mind. Maybe we need a new version for the present struggle. Some will say the labor organization themes are outdated, but maybe it's loss of belief in solidarity that's caused the present trouble.

I think we are living through another 1848. And I know that the 1848 revolutions failed, and this one may as well.

So I think we need something like this song. WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

(ETA: It's pretty straight punk, but the bass riffs on the Die Commandantes cut are delicious.)
foolsguinea: (ooh!)

Now, I know that solar panels are expensive, but nature has been using solar power for hundreds of millions of years. I think the most expensive element involved is phosphorus. Screw solar panels, let's reverse-engineer photosynthesis.

Heck, I'll do it just to make the post office money!

Only 1%? I keep thinking it's higher.

foolsguinea: (sun)
My mom showed me this link, { } and asked if I would write a letter, because she doesn't like to write. And I thought about it, and here's what I got:

I'm sending this to an ambassador in a country not my own because my own country poisoned its relations with Iran long ago.

I don't think anything I say does a bit of good.

But for Muslims and Christians to kill each other only serves the pagan god of war. You kill a Christian for being Christian, and Christians and Jews in my country turn more against Muslims, and things get more hostile, and we get even more noxious behavior from governments.

Can we hang up the old wars of the Crusade finally?

Sunni, Shi'i, Sufi, Ahmadi, and so forth; Baha'i, Zoroastrian, Christian, Mandaean, Jew, Sikh--should these traditions be at war with each other? Could they instead be cooperating to diminish lawlessness and godlessness?

There was an English scholar who once said that two men who believe in God but disagree on religion are closer together than a theist and an atheist. All of us have imperfect knowledge of the divine. The lines between sects are as the lines between opinions in the same congregation.

Would you kill a fellow Muslim, who prays next to you, because he imagines Paradise differently, or skips prayers once in a while? Is your own knowledge so perfect? Is even an Ayatollah's?

So why kill People of the Book? However rude, however misguided, they are merely your brothers in the worship of one true God, but in imperfection--as we all are imperfect.
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OK, I know I kind of crawled up my own butt for the last month, but how did I not know that Jack Layton died 32 days ago? Did I know and forget?

I've been in a pretty nasty place with regard to my political beliefs. Last night I was thinking about how peace without justice is not enough, but I've lost my faith in justice, so all I have is animosity. I need a new moral model. Maybe I should try to be more like Jack.
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Farm Labor Organizing Committee page

~ ~ ~

"Our nation & political system: stuck on stupid."

~ ~ ~

Bad city planning kills.

~ ~ ~

Write to your representatives in Congress & tell them not to be stupid.

No reason we need to downgrade the country's credit because of a 45-year-old campaign to dismantle the Great Society. Time to accept the welfare state and move on, bro. You're just going to transfer more money from taxpayers to bondholders with this grandstanding.


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