Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why the Jobs Report Symbolizes Obama's Problems With the Uninformed Electorate (Okay, Also the Informed (But That's A Different Story)) & Mindless Growth: A Civilization Killer


Paul Ryan on Chicago teachers strike: ‘We stand with Rahm Emanuel’

Bob Woodward: Still useless

W. Kamau Bell: Attacking Jon Stewart from the center


Zeitgeist Failure

Secularists are not atheists

How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless and the Middle Class Got Shafted

Shirley Chisholm, the Democrats’ forgotten hero


 P.S. I voted for Mrs. Chisholm in the N.C. primary!!!!!

My first vote. (You don't wanna know the year.)

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The rightwingnuts have stepped their Misinformation Campaign troops up several notches due to their past successes and are readying a plethora of new assaults in high gear on the ignorant and fearful from now to election time. Get ready.

Seen any good movies lately?

Coming out soon is “Won’t Back Down” with Maggie Gyllenhall playing a woman who is trying to get her child out of a failing school but just can’t thanks to big bad teacher unions who won’t allow the firing of teachers without a hearing. The film is produced by Walden Media, a company financed by right-wing billionaire Philip Anschutz.

Among the other things Anschutz has funded is Colorado for Family Values, the group behind the state’s 1992 anti-gay ballot measure and Enough is Enough, a “family values” organization headed by Donna Rice that opposes the evils of pornography.

I know I am excited to see right-wing billionaire funded propaganda influencing Democratic Party policy.
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Obama has quite a bit to answer for actually. To both ends of the spectrum. And the middle.

Rmoney, on the other hand, has all the wrong answers (just ask Limpbaugh, BecKKK or the Rover for further elaboration), which he brags about constantly and then changes them as instructed in a nanosecond's moment without losing that winner's smile.

So, we have a competition!

Will the truth be revealed?

Or will the populace once again be asked to split the difference?

And the middle class be terminally sold out as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Disability are all tossed on history's heap of failed ideas as they are deemed useless to the victors' intentions?

The Jobs Report and the Election

Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
08 September 12

resident Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention was long on uplifting rhetoric but short on specifics for what he'll do if reelected to reignite the American economy.
Yet today's jobs report provides a troubling reminder that the economy is still in bad shape. Employers added only 96,000 nonfarm jobs in August. True, the unemployment rate fell to 8.1% from July's 8.3%, But the size of the workforce continued to drop, according to a Labor Department report Friday.
Unfortunately for the President - and the rest of us - jobs gains have averaged only 94,000 over the last three months. That's down from an average of 95,000 in the second quarter. And well below the average gain of 225,000 in the first quarter of the year. And compared to last year, the trend is still in the wrong direction: a monthly average gain of 139,000 this year compared to last year's average monthly gain of 153,000.
Look, I desperately want Obama to win. But the one thing his speech last night lacked was the one thing that was the most important for him to offer - a plan for how to get the economy out of the doldrums.
Last week Mitt Romney offered only the standard Republican bromides: cut taxes on the rich, cut spending on programs everyone else depends on, and deregulate. They didn't work for George W. Bush and there's no reason to expect they'll work again.
But the President could have offered more than the rejoinder he did - suggesting, even in broad strokes, what he'll do in his second term to get the economy moving again. At least he might have identified the scourge of inequality as a culprit, for example, pointing out, as he did last December, that the economy can't advance when so much income and wealth are concentrated at the top that the vast middle class doesn't have the purchasing power to get it back on track.
Undeniably, we have more jobs today than we did at the trough of the Great Recession in 2009. But the recovery has been anemic - and it appears to be slowing. We're better off than we were then, but we're not as well off as we need to be by a long shot.
(Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, Beyond Outrage. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.)

And, of course, the real problem is unstoppable, mindless, resource-depleting growth. But don't tell that to the conquerors.

Growth Is the Problem

Chris Hedges

September 10, 2012

The ceaseless expansion of economic exploitation, the engine of global capitalism, has come to an end. The futile and myopic effort to resurrect this expansion—a fallacy embraced by most economists—means that we respond to illusion rather than reality. We invest our efforts into bringing back what is gone forever. This strange twilight moment, in which our experts and systems managers squander resources in attempting to re-create an expanding economic system that is moribund, will inevitably lead to systems collapse. The steady depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels, along with the accelerated pace of climate change, will combine with crippling levels of personal and national debt to thrust us into a global depression that will dwarf any in the history of capitalism. And very few of us are prepared.
“Our solution is our problem,” Richard Heinberg, the author of “The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality,” told me when I reached him by phone in California. “Its name is growth. But growth has become uneconomic. We are worse off because of growth. To achieve growth now means mounting debt, more pollution, an accelerated loss of biodiversity and the continued destabilization of the climate. But we are addicted to growth. If there is no growth there are insufficient tax revenues and jobs. If there is no growth existing debt levels become unsustainable. The elites see the current economic crisis as a temporary impediment. They are desperately trying to fix it. But this crisis signals an irreversible change for civilization itself. We cannot prevent it. We can only decide whether we will adapt to it or not.”
Heinberg, a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, argues that we cannot grasp the real state of the global economy by the usual metrics—GDP, unemployment, housing, durable goods, national deficits, personal income and consumer spending—although even these measures point to severe and chronic problems. Rather, he says, we have to examine the structural flaws that sit like time bombs embedded within the economic edifice.

U.S. household debt enabled the expansion of consumer spending during the boom years, he says, but consumer debt cannot continue to grow as house prices decline to realistic levels. Toxic assets litter the portfolios of the major banks, presaging another global financial meltdown. The Earth’s natural resources are being exhausted. And climate change, with its extreme weather conditions, is beginning to exact a heavy economic toll on countries, including the United States, through the destruction brought about by droughts, floods, wildfires and loss of crop yields.
Heinberg also highlights what he calls “the highly dysfunctional U.S. political system,” which is paralyzed and hostage to corporate power. It is unable to respond rationally to the crisis or solve “even the most trivial of problems.”
“The government at this point exacerbates nearly every crisis the nation faces,” he said. “Policy decisions do not emerge from deliberations between the public and elected leaders. They arise from unaccountable government agencies and private interest groups. The Republican Party has taken leave of reality. It exists in a hermetically sealed ideasphere where climate change is a hoax and economic problems can be solved by cutting spending and taxes. The Democrats, meanwhile, offer no realistic strategy for coping with the economic unraveling or climate change."
The collision course is set. It is now only a matter of time and our personal response.
“It could implode in a few weeks, in a few months or maybe in a few years,” Heinberg said, “but unless radical steps are taken to restructure the economy, it will implode. And when it does the financial system will seize up far more dramatically than in 2008. You will go to the bank or the ATM and there will be no money. Food will be scarce and expensive.
Unemployment will be rampant. And government services will break down. Living standards will plummet. ‘Austerity’ programs will become more draconian. Economic inequality will widen to create massive gaps between a tiny, oligarchic global elite and the masses. The collapse will also inevitably trigger the kind of instability and unrest, including riots, that we have seen in countries such as Greece. The elites, who understand and deeply fear the possibility of an unraveling, have been pillaging state resources to save their corrupt, insolvent banks, militarize their police forces and rewrite legal codes to criminalize dissent.”
If nations were able to respond rationally to the crisis they could forestall social collapse by reconfiguring their economies away from ceaseless growth and exploitation. It remains possible, at least in the industrialized world, to provide to most citizens the basics—food, water, housing, medical care, employment, education and public safety. This, however, as Heinberg points out, would require a radical reversal of the structures of power. It would necessitate a massive cancellation of debt, along with the slashing of bloated militaries, heavy regulation and restraints placed on the financial sector and high taxes imposed on oligarchic elites and corporations in order to reduce unsustainable levels of inequality.

While this economic reconfiguration would not mitigate the effects of climate change and the depletion of natural resources it would create the social stability needed to cope with a new post-growth regime. But Heinberg says he doubts a rational policy is forthcoming. He fears that as deterioration accelerates there will be a greater resolve on the part of the power elite to “cannibalize the resources of society in order to prop up megabanks and military establishments.”
Survival will be determined by localities. Communities will have to create collectives to grow their own food and provide for their security, education, financial systems and self-governance, efforts that Heinberg suspects will “be discouraged and perhaps criminalized by those in authority.” This process of decentralization will, he said, become “the signal economic and social trend of the 21st century.”

It will be, in effect, a repudiation of classic economic models such as free enterprise versus the planned economy or Keynesian stimulus versus austerity. The reconfiguration will arise not through ideologies, but through the necessities of survival forced on the poor and former members of the working and middle class who have joined the poor. This will inevitably create conflicts as decentralization weakens the power of the elites and the corporate state.
Read all of this essay here and weep for our children's children (if we're lucky and we have that long).

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