Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How It Is: Reigning Fool Actions Spell End of US Civilization (Bush+Mubarak/Qdaffy, TEPCO To Build Nuclear Reactors in TX (As Good A Location As Any?)

Has the Party to celebrate the victory of the Stoopids started yet? Don't wanna be late.

Workers flee Japan nuclear plant as smoke rises

Nuclear Apocalypse in Japan: Lifting the Veil of Nuclear Catastrophe and Cover-up

A World In Denial About Nuclear Risks

What will it take for our world to recognize the dangers that nuclear scientists and even Albert Einstein were warning about at the “dawn” of the nuclear age?

Amy Goodman reminds us of the prophetic statement by Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett who tried to find words to describe the horror he was seeing in Hiroshima in 1945 after the bomb fell. “It looks as if a monster steamroller had passed over it and squashed it out of existence. I write these facts … as a warning to the world.”

The world heard his warning, but seems to have ignored it. In fact, what followed has been decades of nuclear proliferation, the spread of nuclear power plants and the escalation of the arms race with new higher tech weaponry.

But here's the best if you want to know the truly honorable way Warren Buffett has made most of his money:

Warren Buffet: Japan’s Crisis Creates A ‘Buying Opportunity’

[Once again I'd like to plead for donations to this effort to keep you informed. Last evening I noticed two FBI sites in Alexandria, Virginia, who have been reading this blog for some strange reason. As I'm used to being monitored by the CIA/NSA sites, it seems that the pressure may have increased to get rid of those who are in the business of exposing injustice. Yes. I am constantly under some type of pressure - mostly financial now. Thanks to all who have supported me in the past!] And even better rewards of easy money-making from the Wall Streeters:

The Cost of Securitization Frauds: Suicides Increasing*

The Human Cost of Slashonomics - Katrina vanden Heuvel

The War on (Elizabeth) Warren ('s Job As Financial Regulator)

Last week, at a House hearing on financial institutions and consumer credit, Republicans lined up to grill and attack Elizabeth Warren, the law professor and bankruptcy expert who is in charge of setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Ostensibly, they believed that Ms. Warren had overstepped her legal authority by helping state attorneys general put together a proposed settlement with mortgage servicers, which are charged with a number of abuses. But the accusations made no sense. Since when is it illegal for a federal official to talk with state officials, giving them the benefit of her expertise? Anyway, everyone knew that the real purpose of the attack on Ms. Warren was to ensure that neither she nor anyone with similar views ends up actually protecting consumers.

And Republicans were clearly also hoping that if they threw enough mud, some of it would stick. For people like Ms. Warren — people who warned that we were heading for a debt crisis before it happened — threaten, by their very existence, attempts by conservatives to sustain their antiregulation dogma. Such people must therefore be demonized, using whatever tools are at hand.

Let me expand on that for a moment. When the 2008 financial crisis struck, many observers — myself included — thought that it would force opponents of financial regulation to rethink their position. After all, conservatives hailed the debt boom of the Bush years as a triumph of free-market finance right up to the moment it turned into a disastrous bust.

But we underestimated the speed and determination with which opponents of regulation would rewrite history. Almost instantly, that free-market boom was retroactively reinterpreted; it became a disaster brought on by, you guessed it, excessive government intervention.

There remained, however, the inconvenient fact that some of those calling for stronger regulation have a track record that gives them a lot of credibility. And few have as much credibility as Ms. Warren.

Household debt doubled as a share of personal income over the 30 years preceding the crisis, and these days high levels of debt are widely seen as a major barrier to recovery. But only a handful of people appreciated the dangers posed by rising debt as the rise was happening. And Ms. Warren was among the foresighted few. More than a decade ago, when politicians of both parties were celebrating the wonders of modern banking and widening access to consumer credit, she was already warning that high debt levels could bring widespread financial disaster in the face of an economic downturn.

Later, she took the lead in pushing for consumer protection as an integral part of financial reform, arguing that many debt problems were created when lenders pushed borrowers into taking on obligations they didn’t understand. And she was right. As the late Edward Gramlich of the Federal Reserve — another unheeded expert, who tried in vain to get Alan Greenspan to rein in predatory lending — asked in 2007, “Why are the most risky loan products sold to the least sophisticated borrowers?” And he continued, “The question answers itself — the least sophisticated borrowers are probably duped into taking these products.”

Given Ms. Warren’s prescience and her role in shaping financial reform legislation — not to mention her effective performance running the Congressional panel exercising oversight over federal financial bailouts — it was only natural that she be appointed to get the new consumer protection agency up and running. And it’s hard to think of anyone better qualified to head the agency once it goes into action.

The fact that she’s so well qualified is, of course, the reason she’s being attacked so fiercely. Nothing could be worse, from the point of view of bankers and the politicians who serve them, than to have consumers protected by someone who knows what she’s doing and has the personal credibility to stand up to pressure.

The interesting question now is whether the Obama administration will see the war on Elizabeth Warren for what it is: a second chance to change public perceptions.

In retrospect, the financial crisis of 2008 was a missed opportunity. Yes, the White House succeeded in passing significant new financial regulation. But for whatever reason, it failed to change the terms of debate: bankers and the disaster they wrought have faded from view, and Republicans are back to denouncing the evils of regulation as if the crisis never happened.

By the sheer craziness of their attacks on Ms. Warren, however, Republicans are offering the administration a perfect opportunity to revive the debate over financial reform, not to mention highlighting exactly who’s really in Wall Street’s pocket these days. And that’s an opportunity the White House should welcome.

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I believe the attack on Libya occurring simultaneously with the time we should be spending thinking seriously about not building new nuclear plants (in light of the still unresolved nuclear disaster in Japan) spells the end of our U.S. civilization as very few of the uneducated but ruling citizens can follow more than one train of thought at a time. And we in the U.S. have proved ourselves decidedly unable to be thought of seriously as intelligent enough in the world community to influence public policies in the future.

Read all about Brad Friedman's interview with Greg Palast on Obama's plans for TEPCO (right, the company that built Japan's failing nuclear plant) to build nuclear plants in Texas. Oh well. Maybe Dumbya will be in the neighborhood then.

My KPFK Interview With Greg Palast on the Plan for TEPCO to Build Nuclear Reactors in Texas

And We're At It Again! More War! More War! More War! (Casualties at 11)
Intelligent commentary about the details can be found at the Brad Blog:

Choosing an interesting way to 'celebrate' the 8th anniversary of the launching of Tomahawk cruise missiles into Iraq kicking off our invasion there on March 19th, 2003, the U.S. Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama approved the launching of Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya on the anniversary today, as a five-nation coalition began to carry out a U.N.-approved No Fly Zone mandate over yet another oil rich Middle Eastern nation.

In response, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), General Electric, The Shaw Group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the rest of the nuclear energy lobby sent a thank you note to Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi, as the world media quickly turned their attention en masse to the new military action in the Middle East and away from the still-pending nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.

In related sarcastic and fake news, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R-Koch) tore off all of his clothes and danced naked with glee in celebration, by himself, in the middle of the capital rotunda in Madison. No media were there to capture the moment.

Meanwhile, in news that is neither sarcastic nor fake, but seemingly impossible upon everything else, a giant 100-mile oil slick has been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana near the site of last year's BP deepwater oil drilling disaster. And yet with all of that, CNN has still not announced plans to scale back the 150 staff contingent they are set to deploy to cover next month's Royal Wedding in the UK.

In still more, let's call it irony, over a 100 demonstrators, including "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, were arrested at the White House Saturday, protesting all the wars we were in prior to today, as well as against the reportedly deplorable conditions of detainment for 23-year old Army Private Bradley Manning, accused of leaking classified war documents and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Many of the same protesters were arrested in a similar protest at the White House in December, also for failing to obey orders as they handcuffed themselves to the White House fence, though few media bothered to cover that demonstration either. Another rally is set for tomorrow in support of Manning, also sure to be ignored, at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia where he has been held in solitary confinement, reportedly, 23 out of 24 hours of each day for the last nine months.

. . . from Al Jazeera's coverage of same news, an official at Japan's health ministry says, about their preparedness for this nuclear crisis - in a country which is more prepared than any for earthquakes and related disasters: "It is true that we had not foreseen a disaster of these proportions. We had not practised or trained for something this bad. We must admit that we were not fully prepared." Keep that in mind the next time U.S. officials arguing for nuclear power tell you how prepared we are to deal with any mishaps and natural disasters.

Also last night, "small amounts" of radiation contamination were reported to have been found in milk and spinach produced near the crippled plant, and then "traces of radioactive iodine" were detected in tap water in Tokyo, 180 miles to the south, and elsewhere in the country.

All the while, the largest full moon in 18 years smiled down, perhaps even laughing, on a planet in chaos . . .

Russ Baker's troops over at WhoWhatWhy have done our current US civilization a good turn by publishing Sam Smith's remembrances. Mine coincide.

One of the ways that bad policies, ideas, and values spread is because the system, especially the media, portrays them as normal. One of the ways one knows this to be untrue is to be old enough to remember when life was different.

I’ve been jotting down things of a political, social and economic nature that have been happening lately for the first time or in record quantity since I covered my first Washington story 54 years ago. Here are a few of the things that are new with me:

- The most radical and irrational Republican Party. To be sure, there had been Joe McCarthy but among those who eventually put him down were normal conservatives who found him embarrassing. Those people don’t seem to exist anymore in the GOP.

- The most conservative Democratic president. In an earlier time, there would have been a name for Obama: Republican.

- People who would have formerly been considered political jokes are now talking about running for president, such as Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump. To be sure there was a Pogo for President movement and comedian Pat Paulsen’s campaign, but neither had a PAC.

- An unprecedented level of political nastiness. I can’t, for example, remember a segregationist politician calling for blacks to be shot and killed by helicopter like “feral hogs” as recently proposed for immigrants by a Kansas legislator.

- A record bipartisan contempt for civil liberties. Never has a Democratic president or a Republican Party been so eclectically contemptuous of constitutional rights. As William Shirer, author of a great book Nazism, pointed out, “You don’t need a totalitarian dictatorship like Hitler’s to get by with murder . . . You can do it in a democracy as long as the Congress and the people Congress is supposed to represent don’t give a damn.”

- A decline in the respect for facts. In America’s political debate, facts are now treated like just another ad hominem argument to be dismissed with colorful rhetoric. And numbers are considered simply another form of adjective.

- A Democratic administration without a single cabinet member one can truly admire.

- A Democratic Congress with only a tiny handful of party members who might have supported either the New Deal or the Great Society. But you can’t save the republic just relying on Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich and Anthony Weiner.

- A stunningly vacuous cultural leadership and a weird willingness to let Jon Stewart take care of it all for us.

- Massive passivity by, rather than reaction from, the nation’s young.

- The extraordinary level of bipartisan contempt (depending on who is in which office) for the constitutional powers of the Congress and states.

- The sense one has of Obama seeing himself as a CEO rather than a political leader of multi-faceted democratic institutions. And our treatment as either consumers or employees.

- The level of mind-blowing bureaucratic complexity of new policies such as the healthcare legislation, which no one has truly figured out.

- The willingness to replace legal argument with euphemisms to accomplish violations of the Constitution and international law.

- The bipartisan indifference and ineffectiveness regarding the ecological crises around us, all the more striking because the evidence of ecological danger is now far stronger than when the modern environmental movement started four decades ago.

- The unprecedented willingness by Democrats – from Obama on down – to dismantle great programs of the New Deal and the Great Society.

- A loss of privacy unlike any time I have experienced.

- A record number of people on food stamps.

- A record collapse in housing prices.

- The first decline in family net worth since the 1950s.

- Record high average temperatures.

That’s just for starters.

Rumproast, one of my favorite blogs has been thoughtful enough to document Paul Krugman's slapback of Alan Greenspan's latest reinvention of himself as the MAESTRO again (can you believe it?). The nerve of these fools on the right wing has no boundaries - other than the ones that exist when they believe the rest of us have none for abuse (or memory).

After the economy imploded in 2008, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve and erstwhile Ayn Rand boy-toy Alan Greenspan was hauled before Congress to explain what went wrong with the credit default swap shell game. He said:

Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief.

Greenspan has now recovered from that shock sufficiently to author a screed blaming gubmint activism for the sluggish pace of the economic recovery. This was too much for Professor Krugman:

Greenspan writes in characteristic form: other people may have their models, but he’s the wise oracle who knows the deep mysteries of human behavior, who can discern patterns based on his ineffable knowledge of economic psychology and history. Sorry, but he doesn’t get to do that any more. 2011 is not 2006. Greenspan is an ex-Maestro; his reputation is pushing up the daisies, it’s gone to meet its maker, it’s joined the choir invisible. He’s no longer the Man Who Knows; he’s the man who presided over an economy careening to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression — and who saw no evil, heard no evil, refused to do anything about subprime, insisted that derivatives made the financial system more stable, denied not only that there was a national housing bubble but that such a bubble was even possible. If he wants to redeem himself through hard and serious reflection about how he got it so wrong, fine — and I’d be interested in listening. If he thinks he can still lecture us from his pedestal of wisdom, he’s wasting our time.
In other words, STFU. Well said, Professor Krugman. Posted by Betty Cracker on 03/21/11

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*The number of violent acts involving the death of a family member as foreclosure closes in on them appears to be rising significantly. I do not have resources to conduct an actual study, but as a lightening rod for stories and information about the foreclosure crisis, I regularly receive news of events that are not reported or not widely reported. With unrelenting momentum, these deaths are being reported to me with greater and greater frequency. I receive the reports from lawyers who represent the family in fighting the foreclosure, family members and of course those who scour local newspapers for local reports. Where the number of such reports was about once per month when I started the blog, it is now about 3 times per week. Some of that is of course related to the fact that the blog is bigger and more well known. But it appears to me that the shock and trauma of foreclosure is having a psychological effect, a demoralizing effect on our entire society. Considering that nearly all the foreclosures are of questionable legality, and that the nearly all the mortgages, notes and other documents are of at least questionable validity, and that the transactions were procured by fraud, deceit and trickery, we should be widening the scope of our inquiry into the effects of these pernicious acts on our society as a whole.

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2 comments:

Dave Dubya said...

One thing for certain: We will never run out of things to be pissed off about. Like:

Last Friday Google took down my blog without notice.

Talk about a Kafkaesque experience. No warning, no explanation, no accusation even. I guess a lot of blogger world goes down because of misidentification as spammers. They also have a very Kafkaesque system of hoops and loops to jump through for a review.

I get a sick sense of foreshadowing from this that all politically incorrect blogs and information sources may meet the same fate when net neutrality is lost and corporatist government clamps down.

I'll take my davedubya.com elsewhere; Wordpress looks pretty good in comparison. I'm glad I saved all my posts and links.

Suzan said...

OMG! I knew it.

And they call me paranoid.

There is really no mistaking what all that loss of liberty (since the Bush Putsch in 2000) has meant.

Terrorists?

We know who they are.

And who they've been all along.

Glad you saved everything, sweetie.

Now, could you instruct me in same?

Love ya,

S