••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Friday, September 30, 2011

the onion

BREAKING: Capitol building being evacuated. 12 children held hostage by group of armed congressmen....

Congress Takes Group Of Schoolchildren Hostage http://onion.com/r1pM9h

BREAKING: Congress demanding $12 trillion ransom or "all the kids die" #CongressHostage

(TIME) The satirical newspaper began a series of tweets at 10:33 A.M. EDT on Thursday, which gave regular updates about a group of congressmen taking a group of children hostage. Subsequent tweets noted that two chaperones were also taken hostage and that one representative tried to shoot down a police helicopter. Yet another noted that Rep. Eric Cantor had purchased 6 handguns last month. The Onion's Twitter account used the hashtag #CongressHostage on their tweets, and updates were also posted on The Onion's Facebook page.
...
The story seems to be a purposely executed series of stories that took a great deal of planning. The site published an article about the "hostage situation" and even created a video, which features frightened children and the sound of a gunshot.

So what's the real humor here? The general opinion is mixed. Some Twitter users chuckled at the irony, since the media tends to use the dramatic term "held hostage" during tense Congressional negotiations. Others are decrying The Onion for being inappropriate and provoking fear among those who can't immediately detect satire. The A.V. Club's Scott Tobias noted that the rush to believe what we read is the true message. "Thinking the real satire behind #CongressHostage is the response to it. Post 9/11, we've become a nation of feral cats," he wrote. Others compared the stunt to Orson Welles' 1938 radio drama "War of the Worlds," which tricked many listeners into believing an alien invasion was taking place.

Government officials aren't taking the satire lightly. “It has come to our attention that recent Twitter feeds are reporting false information concerning current conditions at the U.S. Capitol. Conditions at the U.S. Capitol are currently normal,” said a statement from Kimberly Schneider, spokesperson for the Capitol Police. And according to Politico, the Capitol was actually mostly empty today, as Congress was out to observe the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana.
but the GOP won't let him get confirmed...

(CNN) Ford sparked a diplomatic firestorm in July when he traveled to the restive city of Hama to express support for demonstrators. He was welcomed with flowers by local residents who had suffered a brutal crackdown by government forces. President Bashar al-Assad's government called the trip an attempt to foment dissent.

Since then, Ford has continued to be seen by some as serving as a traditional diplomat and more as a provocateur.

A crowd tried to assault Ford and embassy colleagues "as they went about doing the normal work of any embassy," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

"The mob was violent; it tried, unsuccessfully, to attack embassy personnel while they were inside several embassy vehicles, seriously damaging the vehicles in the process," Toner said.


(Reuters) - Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hurled rocks and tomatoes at U.S. ambassador Robert Ford's convoy as he visited an opposition figure in Damascus on Thursday in an attack the U.S. said was "wholly unjustified."

Ford and his party were not injured, the U.S. State Department said, but several embassy vehicles were damaged and the ambassador had to lock himself in an office to await help from Syrian security.

Syria, which has been irked by Ford's meetings with opposition figures, accused Washington of inciting violence and meddling in its affairs. Washington demanded that Syria take steps to protect U.S. diplomats.


(wikipedia) In December 2010, after the Senate had failed to act on Ford's nomination, President Obama used a recess appointment to secure Ford the position.[1] If the Senate fails to confirm Ford's appointment he will be required to leave office at the end of this Session of Congress.

Ford is a recipient of several Department of State awards, including the 2005 James Clement Dunn Award for outstanding work at the mid-level in the Foreign Service as well as three Superior Honor Awards and two Meritorious Honor Awards.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

npr

Picture this: An alternate-reality, suspended-in-space American metropolis where steampunk contraptions — like propeller-driven dirigibles, squeaky trolley wires and clunky robotic creatures — operate against a backdrop of clanging liberty bells; red, white and blue powder kegs; and jingoistic posters warning: "Patriots! Arm Thyself Against the Foreigners and Anarchists!"

OK. So you can't quite picture it. No sweat. It's the surrealistic setting of Bioshock: Infinite, a video game — sequel to the critically acclaimed Bioshock — scheduled for release from Irrational Games in 2012.

The storyline is imaginative, assimilating eclectic influences. But one salient characteristic is unmistakable: The pro-Uncle Sam, protectionist feel of the game reflects the mood of many present-day American nationalists. [more]
nyt

A study released on Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a research group, showed that the average annual premium for family coverage through an employer reached $15,073 in 2011 — 9 percent higher than in the previous year. And even higher premiums could be on the way, particularly in New York, where some companies are asking for double-digit increases for about 1.3 million New Yorkers in individual or small-group plans, setting up a battle with state regulators.

The higher premiums are particularly unwelcome at a time when the economy is sputtering and unemployment is hovering at about 9 percent. Many businesses cite the cost of coverage as a factor in their decision not to hire, and health insurance has become increasingly unaffordable for more Americans. The cost of family coverage has about doubled since 2001, compared with a 34 percent gain in wages. [more]
another argument for a public option....
npr
just another dumb climate story

if you can make more than i can out of the EPA's IG's nitpicking report, more power to you!

the main thing i got out of NPR's story was this:

In 2010, a survey of more than 1,000 of the world's most cited and published climate scientists found that 97 percent believe climate change is very likely caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

but the deniers [denialists?] will almost certainly zero in on the imprecision of "likely."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

thinkprogress



Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) was supposed to be the Tea Party’s messiah. He thinks Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional. He rebels against climate science. And he would eliminate all national banking and consumer protection laws. There’s just one problem. Perry also signed a law that treats undocumented immigrant children as human beings — something Perry’s base vehemently opposes.

So leading conservatives spent most of yesterday proclaiming their new savior: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Before the GOP anoints Christie as their new Chosen One, however, they might want to take a moment to consider the New Jersey governor’s eminently reasonable record on immigration. Simply put, Chris Christie makes Rick Perry look like Tom Tancredo.... [more]
thinkprogress
...
1) Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country – 24.6 percent – and the number of uninsured that has grown by 35 percent during Governor Rick Perry’s 11-year tenure.

2) Overall health care quality for Texas is poorer than in every other state, especially when it comes to preventive, acute, and chronic care, as well as care for diabetes.

3) Texas places 39th among the states in the percentage of adults over 50 who receive recommended screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies.

4) A fifth of Texas’ pregnant women receive no prenatal care in their first trimester.

5) 16.8 percent of children are uninsured, more than all but one other state, and only half of Texas children have a medical provider who knows them and coordinates their care. More than a third of them have not received recommended medical and preventive care within the year, and immunization rates are low as well.

6) Texas also ranks last in the country in the percent of children who receive needed mental health care.

7) The state cut two-thirds of the funding for women’s health clinics and underfunded Medicaid by almost $4 billion, in addition to cutting hospital reimbursements.

8) Perry vetoed a bill in 2001 that would have expanded Medicaid services and added cancer screenings such as Pap smears to women’s health services. In 2003, Texas tightened the eligibility requirements for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and as a result, 237,000 children were kicked off its rolls, said Garnet Coleman, a Democratic state representative from Houston who has served in the Texas Legislature for 20 years and is a member of the House Public Health Committee. [more]
thinkprogress
...
The rest of the rise can be attributed to the usual suspects: the development and dissemination of new technologies and medical services which are often used inefficiently, the aging of the population, unhealthy lifestyles, a growing prevalence of high-cost diseases, lack of information technology, administrative costs and defensive medicine — factors that have increased employer health costs by 9.2 percent in 2005, 11.2 percent in 2004 and 13.9 percent in 2003. Thankfully, the health care law begins to tackle all of these problems through the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the tax on high-cost plans and delivery reforms that begin to change the provider reimbursement system. [more]


Political cartoon from 1934

Thumbnail

The Corporation (complete,

 23 chapters)

Monday, September 26, 2011

one of the greatest!

Wangari Muta Maathai
(1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011)



RIP
nyt
...
Kancha Sherpa has heard of global warming. Most in this town have, thanks to workshops sponsored by the government and various nonprofit groups. But his Buddhist beliefs are strong, so he's skeptical of any emission-caused event that might create such a dramatic change. He explains that the melting is more likely caused by the gods angered at the large number of yaks killed for food in the mountains and the number of people trampling the sacred ground. [more]

Sunday, September 25, 2011

whaddaya mean 'WOULD'?
they already DID!

SEATTLE (AP) — President Barack Obama charged Sunday that the GOP vision of government would "fundamentally cripple America," as he tried out his newly combative message on the liberal West Coast.

Aiming to renew the ardor of Democratic loyalists who have grown increasingly disenchanted with him, the president mixed frontal attacks on Republicans with words of encouragement intended to buck up the faithful as the 2012 campaign revs up.

"From the moment I took office what we've seen is a constant ideological pushback against any kind of sensible reforms that would make our economy work better and give people more opportunity," the president said.... [more]


WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said Sunday that the U.S. should consider military action against Pakistan if it continues to support terrorist attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.

"The sovereign nation of Pakistan is engaging in hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan that must cease, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told "Fox News Sunday."

He said if experts decided that the U.S. needs to "elevate its response," he was confident there would be strong bipartisan support in Congress for such action.

Graham did not call for military action but said "all options" should be considered. He said assistance to Pakistan should be reconfigured and that the U.S. should no longer designate an amount of aid for Pakistan but have a more "transactional relationship" with the country.

"They're killing American soldiers," he said. "If they continue to embrace terrorism as a part of their national strategy, we're going to have to put all options on the table, including defending our troops." [more]
if you all pay your own way, senator, you can arm your gop colleagues and take them over there with you, with my blessing! just don't come crying to the american people that you need more money, 'cause your party blew the surplus for short-term political gain 10 years ago, leaving the govt unable to deal with today's crisis!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

miss taken



the REAL miracle is her makeup.
algarve daily news

Six Italian scientists and a former government official are on trial for manslaughter over the earthquake in 2009 which killed 309 people.

Prosecutors allege that they gave a statement which was falsely reassuring before the earthquake hit. The seven defendants were members of a government panel, the Serious Risks Commission, tasked with assessing the risks after hundreds of low-level tremors had rattled the medieval city in the months before the earthquake struck.

The prosecutors accuse the seven of "negligence and imprudence... of having provided an approximate, generic and ineffective assessment of seismic activity risks as well as incomplete, imprecise and contradictory information".

The defence argues that there is no way to predict major earthquakes even in a seismically active area.

L’Aquila suffered a 6.3 magnitude quake which devastated the city. The week before it struck, the scientists issued a statement said there was "no reason to believe that a series of low-level tremors was a precursor to a larger event". They also stated that it was not possible to predict whether a strong quake would occur.

The defendants face up to 15 years in jail. Lawyers for civil plaintiffs - who include the local council - are seeking damages of €50m euros. The trial has been adjourned until 1 October.

china daily

CANBERRA, September 23 (Xinhua) -- The prosecution of the six Italian scientists for manslaughter over Italy's L'Aquila earthquake in 2009 is likely to silence experts from openly communicate with the public in the future, Australian experts warned on Friday.

Six leading Italian scientists and one government official are standing trial for manslaughter for alleged negligence that led to the deaths of over 300 people when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the Italian city of L'Aquila in March 2009.

Dr Kevin McCue, a spokesperson for the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society, said the case does not make sense because it is not possible to predict earthquakes.

According to Professor Paul Somerville, Deputy Director of Risk Frontiers at Australia's Macquarie University, the prosecution of the scientists, especially if it is successful, is likely to imperil the very need that this incident has highlighted: for open and clear communication between the scientists and the public.

"In a further irony, no action has yet been taken against the engineers who designed modern buildings that collapsed and caused fatalities, or the government officials who were responsible for enforcing building code compliance," he told Xinhua in an email note.

"It has occurred to some observers that the local government officials may be scapegoating the scientists to avoid prosecution themselves."

The defendants in the Italian trial were members of a panel that had met six days before the April 6 quake, to assess risks after hundreds of tremors had shaken the medieval university city. At that meeting, a committee analyzed data from the low-magnitude tremors and determined that the activity was not a prelude to a major earthquake.

However, Professor Somerville defended the scientists saying that the government's objective in holding the meeting was to debunk unreliable but alarming earthquake predictions that were being made by L'Aquila resident Giampaolo Giuliani, who is not a seismologist.

"The scientists were distracted in this direction instead of focusing on information about earthquake risk that the citizens needed," he said.

"Further, it appears that the scientists found themselves answering questions (during the meeting) about deterministic prediction of earthquakes (which they acknowledge is not currently possible) instead of probabilistic forecasting of earthquakes ( which they can do)."

Dr McCue also pointed out that an Italian civil servant was sued in 1985 for advising people to leave their homes following a swarm of earthquake, and that fear of being sued could scare off seismologists from developing earthquake hazard maps and advising on building codes, unless they are indemnified by the government.

"Given the limited knowledge we do our best, but maybe that's not enough for the public. And if they are willing to sue us, then we won't be doing it at all," McCue said.

Following the announcement of the trial in May, Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) published a letter of support for the scientists, signed by over 5,000 researchers worldwide, including 77 Australians.

The letter said the scientific community involved in earthquake science urges the Italian government, local authorities and decision makers in general, to be proactive in establishing and carrying out local and national programs to support earthquake preparedness and risk mitigation, rather than prosecuting scientists for failing to do something they cannot do yet, as to predict earthquakes.

given the enormous absurdity of prosecuting scientists for failing to do the impossible, i feel like i might be getting too picky if i quibble about a journalistic inaccuracy, but i feel i have no choice, since that has become one of the main missions of the blogosphere, so here goes:

the seventh paragraph of the otherwise excellent china daily piece contains these words: "...a committee analyzed data from the low-magnitude tremors and determined that the activity was not a prelude to a major earthquake."

the fifth paragraph of the portuguese article includes this sentence: "The week before it struck, the scientists issued a statement said there was 'no reason to believe that a series of low-level tremors was a precursor to a larger event'."

that's not the same thing. if algarve daily news has correctly quoted the scientists' statement, then the china daily interpretation is incorrect.

in fairness, i have to point out the missing word "that" after the word "statement" in the algarve sentence.

i guess neither of them is perfect. but then, nobody is.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

huffpo

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A week after the Agriculture Department announced wider testing for potentially deadly E. coli in meat, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Tuesday that regulations were overburdening food producers.
...
Bachmann's backing of the food industry view that regulations are a problem follows high-profile recalls of peanuts, eggs and other tainted food products. The most recent multistate alert focused on cantaloupes amid a listeria outbreak blamed for at least four deaths in New Mexico. Officials said this week that tainted cantaloupes had sickened at least 35 people in 10 states.
...
Congress passed a sweeping food safety bill at the end of last year with strong support from the Obama administration. Bachmann was among those who voted against it.

Small-scale food producers often argue that their products are safer because they are produced in smaller, less-mechanized batches. Experts counter that unsafe food can be produced anywhere. [more]
but what a GREAT makeup job, eh?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

reuters

Elizabeth Warren, a prominent consumer advocate and former official in President Barack Obama's administration, narrowly leads Republican Senator Scott Brown in a poll released on Tuesday, days after announcing her run for his Senate seat from Massachusetts.
my solution
what you've all been waiting for

pass a truly progressive flat tax: set a very high standard deduction, about $100,000 per family (and per corporation) if done this year; have congress annually set single rate to balance budget according to CBO estimate (using undistributed net profit as taxable business income); eliminate all loopholes, including per-person exemption, capital gains tax, dividend income rate, etc; treat inheritance as regular income but with bigger exemption for non-liquid assets; end payroll tax, have congress require itself to use general revenue to keep trust funds solvent. also, reinstate glass-steagall to motivate banks to start lending again; freeze foreclosures till housing market returns to normal; start a green infrastructure jobs corps to hire and train workers to clean up hazardous waste sites and install wind and solar generators on all federal land and buildings; don't use military force unless absolutely necessary and all reasonable alternatives have been exhausted.

tweak as needed.

comments and criticisms welcomed.
job creators?
what creates jobs?
jobs create jobs!


think about it....
raw story
64 bit papyrus
blue mass group
mother jones

Thursday, September 15, 2011

reuters
It takes a crisis to make the politically impossible possible. Under the pressure of a financial crisis the authorities take whatever steps are necessary to hold the system together, but they only do the minimum and that is soon perceived by the financial markets as inadequate. That is how one crisis leads to another. So Europe is condemned to a seemingly unending series of crises. Measures that would have worked if they had they been adopted earlier turn out to be inadequate by the time they become politically possible. This is the key to understanding the euro crisis.
—George Soros, "Does the euro have a future?"
[boldface mine]
if that also applies to the environmental crisis, how can we possibly solve it?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

RWNJs
ok! now we get down to ground!

james delingpole's 365 ways to drive a liberal crazy #254 has at last revealed (as if we didn't know) what the authoritarian right wing really believes in: big lies, elitism, and violence (all of which the right projects onto the left). take a look here:
Pick a fight with a liberal on:
FAIRNESS.
The top 5 percent of taxpayers contribute 60 percent of government revenue; the top 10 percent of taxpayers contribute 75 percent of revenue; another two-fifths make up the rest. Half the U.S. population is now exempt from paying tax. 2012 may turn out to be the first presidential election in American history where non-taxpaying voters outnumber taxpaying voters. At this point, remind the liberal: "Still, I guess the imbalance will find a way of working itself out in the end. Your side thinks it can go on taking more and more of our money. Our side has most of the guns and ammunition."
see the implied threat at the end? that's no joke.

and the justification for that threat is that "your side" [which means us] is taking "more and more of our money" [which means their money]. that big lie is based on the false statistics cited earlier, culminating in the assertion that "Half the U.S. population is now exempt from paying tax."

in reality, 40% of federal revenue in FY 2010 came from social security and social insurance taxes. all wage earners pay those taxes, not just the richer half of americans, and they are the most regressive taxes of all because of the income cap on social security tax.

you may be interested in wikipedia's article on right-wing authoritarianism, which includes this:
Authoritarians are generally more favorable to punishment and control than personal freedom and diversity. For example, they are more willing to suspend constitutional guarantees of liberty such as the Bill of Rights. They are more likely to advocate strict, punitive sentences for criminals, and they report that they obtain personal satisfaction from punishing such people. They tend to be ethnocentric and prejudiced against racial and ethnic minorities, and homosexuals.

In roleplaying situations, authoritarians tend to seek dominance over others by being competitive and destructive instead of cooperative. In a study by Altemeyer, 68 authoritarians played a three hour simulation of the Earth's future entitled the Global change game. Unlike a comparison game played by individuals with low RWA scores, which resulted in world peace and widespread international cooperation, the simulation by authoritarians became highly militarized and eventually entered the stage of nuclear war. By the end of the high RWA game, the entire population of the earth was declared dead.
a related article on authoritarian personality contains these tidbits:
The focus of RWA research is political preferences as measured through surveys, that suggest three tendencies as noted in attitudinal clusters. These are: 1) submission to legitimated authorities; 2) aggression towards sanctioned targeted minority groups; and 3) adherence to values and beliefs perceived as endorsed by followed leadership. McCrae & Costa (1997) report that the big 5 dimension of openness to experience is negatively correlated to RWA....

More recently, Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, and Sulloway (2003) have proposed that Authoritarianism, RWA and other similar constructs of political conservatism are a form of motivated social cognition. These researchers propose that conservatism has similar characteristics as to authoritarianism, with resistance to change, and justification for inequality as the core components. In addition, conservative individuals have needs to manage uncertainty and threat with both situational motives (e.g., striving for security and dominance in social hierarchies) and dispositional motives (e.g., terror management and self-esteem).
of course, i've taken quotes out of context, and there are objections to the conclusions of those researchers, so i suggest you investigate fully before making up your mind.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

nyt
By MOTOKO RICH
The dismal state of the economy is the main reason many companies are reluctant to hire workers, and few executives are saying that President Obama’s jobs plan — while welcome — will change their minds any time soon.

That sentiment was echoed across numerous industries by executives in companies big and small on Friday, underscoring the challenge for the Obama administration as it tries to encourage hiring and perk up the moribund economy.

The plan failed to generate any optimism on Wall Street as the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average each fell about 2.7 percent.

As President Obama faced an uphill battle in Congress to win support even for portions of the plan, many employers dismissed the notion that any particular tax break or incentive would be persuasive. Instead, they said they tended to hire more workers or expand when the economy improved.

Companies are focused on jittery consumer confidence, an unstable stock market, perceived obstacles to business expansion like government regulation and, above all, swings in demand for their products. [more]

right! tax cuts and incentives don't make them hire. they hire when they need more workers to fill rising orders for their products.

but the prez is hoping a new fiscal policy will put more cash in the hands of workers who will spend it, creating the demand that will lead to more hiring.

it may be a long, hard slog, but monetary policy won't do it. ben bernanke admits that, and he's a milton friedman monetarist.

unfortunately, even fiscal policy might not be enough without a foreclosure freeze and reenactment of glass-steagall.

RWNJs

ok, i admit it: i'm getting a real kick out of what the human events crowd thinks drives libs crazy. today's eml [#253]* in the 365 ways series portrays cons as willing to make asses of themselves in order to
Relish the liberals' tension and discomfort as they agonize over how best to confront you over your disgracefully lax parenting. It really is about as fun as fun gets.
well, if that's their idea of fun, chacun à son goût!

* 10/16 update: had to remove link. unfortunately, eagle publishing, which appears to be behind this "human events" crap, doesn't seem to know how to set up a permanent link to an item in an archive, so today you would have seen #288 not #253, which suggests you buy
...realistic fake cigarettes which puff out dust at the end so it looks like your kid is really smoking. Tell them not to be too obvious about it, but next time you find yourself at a social engagement where kids mix with grown ups, get them to wander around "smoking" nonchalantly as if it's something they do all the time. For maximum impact, you could even have them come up to you and say, "Dad/Mom. You got a cigarette?" "Sure son," you can reply, retrieving a fake cigarette from a real pack and "lighting" it for them. The important thing is to make absolutely no comment and act as if this is all the most normal behavior in the world.
"not...too obvious about it"? hoo, boy! anyway, the last long quote preceded the first, and it's one way james delingpole has "fun" driving libs crazy.

i suspect his real aim is to get us off guard by making RWNJs look so stupid we underestimate them, and we must NEVER underestimate them!
RWNJs
right-wing solutions for unemployment

#1 blame unions

#2 blame liberals

#3 blame government

#4 blame public schools

#5 blame teachers

#6 fire teachers

#7 blame all govt workers

#8 take away govt workers' collective bargaining rights

#9 make govt workers pay for their own health insurance

#10 fire govt workers

#11 yaddayaddayadda...

Thursday, September 08, 2011

RWNJs

here's the text of today's eml [#251] from 365 ways to drive a liberal crazy:

When employing the word "progressive," always use air quotes.

Explain to a liberal that you cannot fathom what is remotely "progressive" about the kind of ideology which seeks to reduce U.S. per capita income to levels last seen in the 1860s.

see? he's absolutely right! there is nothing progressive about it! it's totally "conservative"!