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20score

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Kevin O’Leary, Face of the Enemy? (It's great that 3.5 billion have as much wealth as 85 people.)

(Repost, with possibly a better title.)

Oxfam released a report on January 20, 2014 highlighting the income inequality gap and its associated problems. One fact from the report stands out as especially glaring. “The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.” This put some perspective on a problem that doesn’t get a lot attention in the main stream media. The full report can be read here.

While there was mostly outrage to this particular statistic, in some of the more callus corners of the planet the reaction was a little more surprising. While Ben Stein and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News agreed this was a moral issue and implied it may be wrong in some sense, they refused to say there was any connection to so much wealth being controlled by so few, and the destitution of so many. A problem with no obvious cause, and no ready solution. This take allows for a conscience to be soothed, while blocking the most obvious forms of correction, such as reversing the policies that made this inequality gap so vast in the first place. But so far, the prize for, as Keith Olbermann used to say, “The Worst Person in the World” would go to Kevin O’Leary, billionaire and horrible person. His reaction - “This is fantastic news. Of course, I applaud it. What could be wrong with this?... It inspires everybody to get some motivation to look up to the 1 per cent and say I want to become one of those people, I’m going to fight hard to get up to the top.” As if billions would stop starving and being lazy if they only knew they could be rich instead. That would be much better.

Society has a history of rallying around their heroes and rallying against their villains. Well, there is a villain ready-made to represent the worst of the incredibly wealthy, and his name is Kevin O’Leary. Greed, stupidity, cruelty, selfishness, you name it, and if it’s a bad quality representative of the worst of the powerful, Mr. O’Leary possesses it. If he had the power, he once said, he would throw union members in jail. This is a very bad thing for the wealthy if someone as easily detestable as Kevin O’Leary becomes the face the 1%. Because eventually something’s going to break and the scales will readjust. What form that readjustment will take is up to the powerful. Will it be peaceful or violent? Slow or abrupt? Sooner rather than later? We don’t know yet. But if the trends continue in the future as they have for the past few decades, it doesn’t bode well for those who have rigged the game in their favor.

When the economy gets bad enough and income inequality is obvious to those who are suffering, the people eventually demand action. In the United States during the Progressive Era and the 1930s, the action was relatively peaceful and political in nature. (With of course a smattering of strikers being killed and beaten by Pinkertons, National Guard and police in both eras, such as a 1902 coal strike in Pana, Illinois where 14 miners were killed and the 1937 Little Steel strike where police killed 10.) This of course is not always the case. The economy in Russia in the early 20th century was dismal and led (with other causes also playing a part) to revolutions in 1905 and 1917, which were much bloodier than what happened in the United States during the same time period. And the French Revolution is infamous for its bloodiness, also brought about by the many living without.


Hopefully the economy will become fairer in a peaceful, calm manner because people have woken up to the reality of what’s been happening. They will organize and demand political changes that brought about the emergence of the middle class during the 1930s and 1940s. We already know what to do; it’s just a matter of political will. That is by far the most preferred and likely outcome.

But if greed overtakes sense, (like it often does) and the few keep taking from the many the system will break violently. I really hope we’re smarter than that. But if we’re not, at least Kevin O’Leary will make us feel better about it.



http://crooksandliars.com/2014/01/kevin-oleary-extreme-income-inequality-0

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/oxfam-warns-davos-of-pernicious-impact-of-the-widening-wealth-gap-9070714.html

Kevin O’Leary Against the World. (You Say you Want a Revolution.)

Oxfam released a report on January 20, 2014 highlighting the income inequality gap and its associated problems. One fact from the report stands out as especially glaring. “The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.” This put some perspective on a problem that doesn’t get a lot attention in the main stream media. The full report can be read here.

While there was mostly outrage to this particular statistic, in some of the more callus corners of the planet the reaction was a little more surprising. While Ben Stein and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News agreed this was a moral issue and implied it may be wrong in some sense, they refused to say there was any connection to so much wealth being controlled by so few, and the destitution of so many. A problem with no obvious cause, and no ready solution. This take allows for a conscience to be soothed, while blocking the most obvious forms of correction, such as reversing the policies that made this inequality gap so vast in the first place. But so far, the prize for, as Keith Olbermann used to say, “The Worst Person in the World” would go to Kevin O’Leary, billionaire and horrible person. His reaction - “This is fantastic news. Of course, I applaud it. What could be wrong with this?... It inspires everybody to get some motivation to look up to the 1 per cent and say I want to become one of those people, I’m going to fight hard to get up to the top.” As if billions would stop starving and being lazy if they only knew they could be rich instead. That would be much better.

Society has a history of rallying around their heroes and rallying against their villains. Well, there is a villain ready-made to represent the worst of the incredibly wealthy, and his name is Kevin O’Leary. Greed, stupidity, cruelty, selfishness, you name it, and if it’s a bad quality representative of the worst of the powerful, Mr. O’Leary possesses it. If he had the power, he once said, he would throw union members in jail. This is a very bad thing for the wealthy if someone as easily detestable as Kevin O’Leary becomes the face the 1%. Because eventually something’s going to break and the scales will readjust. What form that readjustment will take is up to the powerful. Will it be peaceful or violent? Slow or abrupt? Sooner rather than later? We don’t know yet. But if the trends continue in the future as they have for the past few decades, it doesn’t bode well for those who have rigged the game in their favor.

When the economy gets bad enough and income inequality is obvious to those who are suffering, the people eventually demand action. In the United States during the Progressive Era and the 1930s, the action was relatively peaceful and political in nature. (With of course a smattering of strikers being killed and beaten by Pinkertons, National Guard and police in both eras, such as a 1902 coal strike in Pana, Illinois where 14 miners were killed and the 1937 Little Steel strike where police killed 10.) This of course is not always the case. The economy in Russia in the early 20th century was dismal and led (with other causes also playing a part) to revolutions in 1905 and 1917, which were much bloodier than what happened in the United States during the same time period. And the French Revolution is infamous for its bloodiness, also brought about by the many living without.


Hopefully the economy will become fairer in a peaceful, calm manner because people have woken up to the reality of what’s been happening. They will organize and demand political changes that brought about the emergence of the middle class during the 1930s and 1940s. We already know what to do; it’s just a matter of political will. That is by far the most preferred and likely outcome.

But if greed overtakes sense, (like it often does ) and the few keep taking from the many the system will break violently. I really hope we’re smarter than that. But if we’re not, at least Kevin O’Leary will make us feel better about it.

One Small Step. Should Scare the Hell Out of You.

(This is a repost from four years ago, when Democrats generally agreed that ubiquitous spying was a bad thing. The article is even more relevant today.)

From observation to restriction. Your every move, your every purchase, your every email can be and is being tracked. Sometimes by the government, sometimes by a corporation; and the line between the two entities becomes less distinct every day. The potential for abuse is tempting to those who want power, and the tendency toward apathy is great for those who want a false sense of security. But the problem isn’t with the technology; it’s with the laws. The technology is here and improving every day, to rail against the inevitable would be as futile as using a bucket to hold back the tide. There has always been the possibility and even a propensity for abuse, (in some) even in the pre-industrial world. But we can thank those like Jefferson and Madison who insisted that individuals have a right to remain unmolested, as long as they were innocent of any crime, and for the fact that we were not spied upon at all hours of the day in the past. It’s time to stop taking those rights for granted while letting them slip away.

We already have the PATRIOT ACT, National Security Letters, and AT&T turning over our records with no warrant. Now the Justice Department wants to be able to track anyone’s movements with no warrant. Why are these things so important when the system put in place in 1978 already favored law enforcement? Why are they necessary if they won’t really be used? When set against economic injustice, environmental devastation and wars, the assault on civil liberties may seem to pale in comparison. But without true civil liberties, our ability to address those other problems is non-existent. Once it is accepted by the citizens that it’s okay for the government to watch us all the time, as long as “I have nothing to hide” we will have set ourselves up to have a society where the word ‘freedom’ will have no real meaning.

There are many people rightly upset by the continued assault on unions and the middle class in general, myself included. At a time when our insurance companies should have been permanently reined in, they are swelling their profits and their power. Legal bribery of our politicians has been expanded at a time when it needed to be eliminated. Legal raiding of our treasury is obvious enough to sicken any who care, and we have a massive portion of our country fighting against their own interests. And to me these things are linked to potential future abuses that are possible by limiting long established rights. And with wealth being held by a smaller and smaller portion of the population, there will naturally be some who will insist on tighter controls. (The Stasi and the KGB didn’t need to spy on all people at all times, just enough of the population to let people know it was dangerous to step out of line. With advances in technology, almost total surveillance is possible.)

We have all seen first hand how quickly circumstances can change and how easily people can be manipulated. That alone should prod people into action. Some of the same people who ridiculed the burning of the Beatles albums in the 60’s, participated in the burning of the Dixie Chicks CD’s in 2003. In a matter of months, the media was able to convince about half the nation of a complete falsehood - that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Support for torture increased, just by changing its name. Many people were, and still are, ready to cede the power of the Legislative and Judicial branches to the President, and were/are claiming, against all evidence, that doing so is the Most American position.
The only thing to be lost by insisting we have common sense limits on what the government can be privy to, is more freedom. By ignoring the slow encroachment of government and corporations melding, and ignoring erosion of the need for probable cause before surveillance, we risk losing the most important thing there is about being American.

Years ago someone explained to me that he thought society was analogous to a rock suspended over the ground by a rope. The ground represented authoritarianism and that was where society had a natural predisposition to fall. But there were people who were on the other end of that rope that made it there job to keep society as just as possible. The more people on that rope, the better.

We need to heed the warnings from years ago, from Orwell, Huxley and others and realize the future is already here.




http://www.wider.unu.edu/events/past-events/2006-events/en_GB/05-12-2006/

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gjCPfFdmocBeGyr_-lqmLC_3CfcAD9DQS4Q84

http://people.reed.edu/~gronkep/TortureWhitePaperV2.pdf

http://www.aclu.org/national-security/internal-report-finds-flagrant-national-security-letter-abuse-fbi

http://atlanticreview.org/archives/726-More-Americans-Believe-that-Saddam-Was-Directly-Involved-in-911.html

Spying for Freedom! It’s Total Information American Goodness!

Spying has been with us for thousands of years. It predates the Hittites and has helped establish, maintain and even bring down empires. Joshua spied for Moses, which means one can say, “It’s in the Bible!” and be completely correct. It doesn’t get any more righteous than that! Obviously, a little spying is a necessary good for all governments. It just follows, that if a little spying is good, then complete, total spying is the best of all possible worlds! It’s practically a one way ticket to heaven.

I was critical of Total Information Awareness (by another name) at first, but have since seen the error of my ways. Sure, metadata can tell just as much or more about someone than listening to the actual phone calls. And maybe spying on everyone, all the time may seem like over-kill to stop something that kills fewer people than lightning. And giving our information to corporations so that they can harm people trying to hold them to account may look to some like the priorities of our government are misplaced. And sure, by spying on reporters we are kind of nullifying the First Amendment, and looking more and more like Eastern Europe used to all the time. And maybe it does look like those in power who are supporting the National Security State are really doing it for money, both by directly giving to security companies, and by spying for economic reasons. We are also treating whistleblowers like the traitors, which I used to believe was morally reprehensible. But not anymore! I have seen the light, and boy do I feel fine!

The point is that it’s the right thing to do, because our side is doing it. Just like those who can tell you that science is wrong about evolution and global warming, so too can the supporters of absolute surveillance tell you that it is not the minutia of facts and logic that matter, it’s that if the outcome is virtuous, the rest is inconsequential. Plus… Paulbots, libertarians and such! (Being on the same side as Cheney felt a little strange at first, but now I just embrace it as part of the Brotherhood of Man. If we could all jump on the Spy Bandwagon, we would all feel connected. Even if it’s just through the NSA.)

Have the champions of the NSA/Obama, and the detractors of Snowden apologized yet?

They damn well should. (Been busy with family/job demands, so I’m out of touch. Please excuse me if this is common knowledge.)

This refers to those in the media, politicians and those on DU who have embarrassed themselves, and the party. (I expected the Republicans to act like authoritarians and reactionaries.)

Last time I looked, the most common charge against those who stood for principle over party was, Paulbot! Or something similar. By using their own logic - that those who stood against ubiquitous spying were in line with everything Rand Paul stood for – they must be Cheneybots.

Have embraced torture, etc? Or have they embraced what’s right?

Just want to be enlightened.

Dispensationalists, Theocrats, Racists and Dominionists in the Military. (Tied to Syria, BTW.)

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation does great work trying to keep our military, secular organizations, as they are meant to be. People in the armed forces should be able to worship or not worship as they please, not be compelled to worship as a superior pleases. Like many fanatics, certain religious fundamentalists in the military believe they cannot be free if they aren’t allowed to force their religious beliefs on others. Because Mikey Weinstein is doing the right thing by protecting service men and women from unwanted and unconstitutional coercion, he is being attacked on Fox News, right-wing radio and by crazies across the country. In my opinion, we owe him a debt of gratitude.

Here are some horrifying letters he has received, read theatrically:

Please click on the link and give a listen to a few letters. (Or as much as you can take.) I don’t think most people are aware of what’s going on in this regard.

http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/2013/07/mrff-hate-mail-readings-chapter-1-of-more-to-come/

“If results don’t matter, who cares who we bomb?”

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior fellow at the Capital Management Foundation - a think tank consisting of former government officials and corporate leaders throughout the banking and defense industries - told us of their trepidation regarding the bombing of Syria and the NSA spying.

“We like the idea of getting involved a war, any war, but we don’t like the questions being asked by some people in the public and the media. Not to mention those in Congress. ‘Who are we helping?’ 'What’s the purpose of the bombing?’ ‘Wouldn’t other methods like peace talks, sanctions and the freezing of assets be smarter and cheaper?’ What kind of BS is that, I ask you?”

Walking through the halls of the Capital Management Foundation, one gets the feeling that, here the real levers of power are being manipulated. “See, we have a tried and true method for military actions. We focus on a terrible tragedy real or fictional, but real is better of course, get people emotionally outraged, then tie that emotion to a military action. Critical thinking stops and we now have support for what we wanted to do. Works every time. And even if we don’t have big numbers, there’s about a thirty percent jump in approval numbers once we’re in.” Taking a break from the conversation, our source signed two considerably large checks. One to the House Republicans and one to the House Democrats. ‘Have our guys divvy this up accordingly,’ he whispered to an associate.

“Now, where were we? Oh yes, you see we have the tragedy, but now we’re getting questions. Too many questions. We already spent the profits of this campaign, so to speak, so we need a target, soon. We can do this anywhere, doesn’t have to be Syria. My idea is to find another outrage in the region and bomb there. But, just between you and me, I’m getting push-back. ‘Just use the NSA information,’ they say. ‘What’s the point on spying on everyone all the time if we don’t use it? Well, except for drugs, and taxes, and stopping protests, and feeding Chevron data, and the rest. Why not blackmail?’ Of course I think we should use the NSA data for blackmail. That’s a given, but I think we can find a better target. If results don’t matter, who cares who we bomb? But, they always tease me for being the eternal optimist. I know it sounds trite, but I really care about our money. I really do.”

20score

We Need New Democratic Leadership in the House. Pelosi Should Go.

Her vote against the Iraq War in 2002 was courageous and admirable. But, as the new Speaker when she said about Bush, “I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table,” it was terrible news for those who wanted justice for the administration’s numerous crimes. (And also wanted the accountability that would have reined in future administrations.) Now Nancy Pelosi has voted to let the NSA continue the massive spying, completely unrestrained. That is antithesis of what a free country does. And it is inexcusable.

What that vote guarantees: Total, massive surveillance of all citizens. More mixing of Corporations and State. A preemptive squashing of any Occupy-type movements in the future. The likelihood of serious labor movements being watched and suppressed. And on and on.

There has been a definite downward trend in her voting pattern over the last decade. We need Democrats that stand up for democratic principles. With Harry Reid folding on every issue that comes up in the Senate, we need other leaders that lead in the right direction.

http://americablog.com/2013/07/amash-conyers-anti-nsa-amendment-lost-by-12-votes-205-217.html

And for where this is spying is headed. A judge says Big Energy should have your metadata, too:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130722/16172623890/court-give-chevron-access-to-nine-years-americans-email-metadata.shtml

Defend that, please.

Greedy Mother-Fuckers, Leading the Quasi-Fascists, Followed by Morons Who Believe Everything

they are told.

Sound harsh? Tough shit. It’s nothing compared to the country these people are creating for the rest of us. I’m talking about those who ship American factories overseas by the tens of thousands to exploit cheep labor in the third world and shrink the middle class in their own country. They should be in prison for the horrible conditions they force upon those working in places like Columbia and Bangladesh, all while rationalizing their criminal greed. They should be tried and imprisoned for what they’ve done to our working and middle classes. And they should have to forfeit their profits to feed and house those they have stolen from.

They are willing to start wars based on lies for bigger profits.They buy our politicians like others buy appliances. The massive spying is not about terrorists, it’s about money. With Iraq and Afghanistan wars ending the military-industrial complex needs to be fed. We’re talking hundreds of billions a year, spread out between the federal, states and local governments. Drones to spy on us, from the type that can stay in the air for months spying on entire cities, to the insect size drones that that can entire our houses undetected. From the license plate readers on cop cars that track drivers’ movements and store the data forever; to the massive collection of all our electronic communications. Big Brother really is here and it’s going to get progressively worse every year until we rein this in. The technology will come and can’t be stopped, the only thing that can stop this is for the citizens to say, ‘enough!’ and demand the laws change.

They’ve bought our democracy/republic and no one should be okay with that. We need a government that actually works for us and not just those with deep pockets. It’s time for public funding of campaigns, before it’s too late.

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

John Kenneth Galbraith

Of Labels, Libtards, Libertarians and Paulbots.

Always battled with myself on whether I was more angry about the Iraq War, or the insulting lies that got us there. Same with destroying the environment. Is it worse to wipe out other species and set our own species on a course for extinction, or is the greater crime the fact that so many are too dumb or too weak to see/admit what’s happening?

Okay, it’s not really a battle - but the dumb and childish still irritate the hell out of me. Adults, at least a many of them, handle any reality they don’t care for, in a far worse manner than any eight year old that finds out there is no Santa Claus. And it’s not just the religious fanatics either; although they are the worst. Those who look down people who believe in the science of global warming, come to mind. Those who believe strongly their race or culture is superior to all others. Authoritarians and a good portion of those who fall for propaganda are some of the most resistant to facts and have the most infantile reactions when facing unpleasant truths.

What’s ironic, and also obvious, is that those who hold strong opinions that are contrary to the facts, are also unlikely to be able to defend those opinions in an honest debate. They don’t know enough. So they label people, name call and insult. “It’s like 10 degrees outside, libtard! So much for global warming!”

During the nation’s year long debate about health care in 2009, those who wanted to keep the status quo labeled those who were for a public option as communists, socialists and Nazis. Not knowing the definition to any of those terms, proven by the fact they were used interchangeably. They got angry, labeled people and insulted. This pattern returns again and again throughout history. Whenever their beliefs, religion, party, king, or morals are challenged, those resistant to reality have reacted badly.

The same thing is now happening with some on the left, and it’s hard to deny. If someone believes that a big-brother type government is really the best thing for the country and believes we should make sure the monitoring of everything we do continues forever… then convince us. Tell us all, calmly, that just being alive makes us a suspect. Prove to us that privacy has no place in a free country. Persuade us that the threat of terrorism - even though statistically dying from lightning is more likely – is a good enough reason to rid ourselves of the most basic rights we have.

Truth is, they can’t. If the people that are trashing Snowden and Greenwald had any case at all, they would bring it to the forefront. They have nothing, and I suspect on some level they realize that fact. That’s why the labels of libertarian and Paulbot are thrown around with no honest debate even attempted.

It’s either dishonesty, slow wits, or a childish aversion to facts.

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