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Sat May 09, 2015 at 08:48 AM PDT

Some Thoughts on Ben Carson

by Publius2008

"I do have a lot of experience in solving problems - complex surgical problems - that have never been done by anybody before."

This is Ben Carson's rationale for suggesting that though he lacks any political experience, he is qualified to be the president of the country.

Can you fix my car?

Can you build my home?

Can you plumb my sink?

Why do successful people in one sphere think this qualifies them not only to opine on political matters, but actually think they are qualified to be politicians?

Why do elites think they know best when all evidence indicates they are wrong and are destroying this country and this planet?

Just some thoughts.


Listen to his speech to Congress in 2002 in support of attacking Iraq.

Click the link at 46:15.

That is all.


No one's talking about this, but it has huge potential.  The FCC has nullified state regulations which limit local internet service--City's provision of high speed internet to their citizens, for instance.  Internet service providers had unleashed cadres of lobbyists upon state legislatures to enact legislation that preempts local laws.  This has meant that cities could not regulate their ISPs and otherwise compete with them by installing their own systems.

The change means Cities that wish to provide competition to local monopolies may now do so--but it appears they need to petition the FCC independently to do it.

IOW, thanks to huge and organic movement of the people to pressure the FCC (and the Obama administration) to require net neutrality, we may also get meaningful internet competition or, indeed, free local wireless service if localities so desire.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been in office barely a year, and already forces of entropy are roaming the streets, turning their backs on the law, defying civil authority and trying to unravel the social fabric.
So begins the brilliantly ironical NYT op-ed of today regarding the NY Petulance Department.  Or as the NYT characterizes it the Dept. of "sullen insubordination."
No, not squeegee-men or turnstile-jumpers. We’re talking about the cops.

And they end ballsy:

If the Police Department’s current commanders cannot get the cops to do their jobs, Mr. de Blasio should consider replacing them.  He should invite the Justice Department to determine if the police are guilty of civil rights violations in withdrawing policing from minority communities.  He should remind the police that they are public employees, under oath to uphold city and state laws.

In the day of the 30 second campaign ad, people tend to think that voting is like buying deodorant.  I am not going to play that game.  It's time for some hard truth and some learning.  Time to learn to be a citizen and not a consumer.  

The consumer candidate is there for you.  His name is triple chin.  If you vote for him, unless you are a banker or otherwise rich, you vote against your interest when you vote for him.

In the 21st century, when you cast your vote, you have to ask why?  Because if you don't, you're liable to vote for someone whose base desire is to steal your home, make you turn to debt, not provide your kids a decent education and not to provide you the health care you need and to make you think long an hard about accessing it before you do.

You may well note these candidates by the way they play on your fear rather than what will help you and your family.  But in the 21st century, know that when you vote your fears rather than your hopes, it is you who will suffer for it.  And it will not help your hate.

The message of the neo-liberals and the anti-neoliberals will be the same in this century.  If you are a fool, you will be taken for one.  The difference is the former want to keep you foolish, fearful consumers and the latter ask you to think, plan and be citizens.  Time to stop being fools.


The US government agreed to shut down several miles of airspace surrounding Ferguson, Missouri, even though the main purpose was to keep news helicopters away during the protests, according to audio recordings obtained by The Associated Press. (Nov. 2)

This should provoke some thought:

The ongoing clashes between residents of Ferguson, MO and heavily armed police forces—which are equipped with M16 rifles and armored vehicles—have drawn attention to the increasing militarization of police in the United States. Here are the cases for and against outfitting local law enforcement with military-grade weapons:


    Same tactics used successfully in Afghanistan, Iraq
    Modern law enforcement simply cannot do their job properly by relying on handguns, tasers, and tear gas alone
    A real shot in arm for nation’s ailing weapons industry
    Look on driver’s face when tank pulls up beside Mini Cooper always fun
    Local photojournalists now able to capture fog of war at home
    Nice surprise treat for veterans to see weapons they used in war pop up on their hometown streets
    Never a bad idea to put a more powerful gun in someone’s hand
    Actually going to seem pretty quaint when compared with police armaments 20 years from now


    Most police officers have proven fully capable of violently subduing protesters without any military-grade weapons
    It actually very hard to recite Miranda rights while holding 40-pound grenade launcher
    There no longer any middle ground between community watch and military
    Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles only get 5 miles per gallon
    Jesus, just look at this shit
    Military-style helmets limit peripheral vision while firing indiscriminately into crowd
    Could potentially be abused if put in lesser hands than America’s historically honest and virtuous police departments
    Takes away that personal touch of beating a suspect to death with bare hands

Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 08:31 AM PDT

Good Piece By Thomas Frank

by Publius2008

Just thought I'd let you on a good article by Thomas Frank ("What's The Matter With Kansas,"  Baffler) suggesting:   "Jon Stewart is not enough: The curse of centrism, and why the Tea Party keeps rolling “Daily Show” Democrats.  It's easy to take shots and laugh at the know-nothing right. But our smirks let complicit Democrats off the hook."

Let me explain what I mean by reminding you of one of the most disturbing news stories to come across the wires in the last month. In a much-reported study, the Russell Sage Foundation discovered that median household wealth in this country fell by 36 percent in the 10-year period ending last year. Wealth for people at the top, as other news stories remind us, has continued to soar. These things are a consequence of the Great Recession, of course, but they are also a reminder of the grand narrative of our time: The lot of average Americans constantly seems to be growing worse. The Great Depression of the 1930s was awful, but it set America on the path toward a period of shared prosperity. Our bout of hard times has had the opposite effect. It has accelerated the unraveling of the middle class itself.

Now, you can blame the risible, Ayn Rand-reading Tea Party types for this if you like, and you can also blame the George W. Bush Administration. They both deserve it. But sooner or later you will also have to acknowledge that there are two parties in this country, not just one; that the Democrats held significant power during the period in question, including (for much of it) the presidency itself; and that even when they are not in the White House, these Democrats nevertheless retain the capacity to persuade and to organize. For a party of the left, dreadful news like this should be rocket fuel. For the Dems, however, it hasn’t been. Why is that? Well, for one thing, because a good number of those Democrats have not really objected to the economic policies that have worked these awful changes over the years. They may believe in the theory of evolution—hell, they may savor the same Jon Stewart jokes that you do —but a lot of them also believe in the conventional economic wisdom of the day. They don’t really care that union power has evaporated and that Wall Street got itself de-supervised and that oligopolies now dominate the economy. But they do care—ever so much!—about deficits and being fiscally responsible.

* * *

But somehow, given all this knowledge, the party of professionals and experts can’t figure out how to beat these guys once and for all and turn the economic narrative around. Instead, they gawk and laugh and fuel the right’s well-known persecution complex. And even though conservative economic ideas are the obvious culprits for what has happened to average Americans—even though conservatives have burned their bridges to the fastest-growing segments of the population—the right is still able to mount wave after wave of fake uprisings, successfully persuading a big part of the country that they are the only ones who will really do something to rein in what they like to call “crony capitalism.” For chrissake, the cover of today’s New York Times Magazine presents the market-minded Rand Paul as some kind of heir to the punk rock movement. It is crazy-making to acknowledge that, after all the disasters that these people have rained down on us, they might still control the House of Representatives, but they do—and they have a pretty good shot at winning control of the Senate this fall.

Amidst articles by Pat Buchanan, etc., I found this:

"Seven Reasons Police Brutality Is Systemic, Not Anecdotal by."  Pretty excellent summary.

Here are the seven: 1.  Many departments don’t provide adequate training in nonviolent solutions; 2.  Standards for what constitutes brutality vary widely; 3. Consequences for misconduct are minimal; 4. Settlements are shifted to taxpayers; 5. Minorities are unfairly targeted; 6. Police are increasingly militarized; 7. Police themselves say misconduct is remarkably widespread.

Here are highlights:

In Chicago, the numbers are even more skewed: There were 10,000 abuse complaints filed against the Chicago PD between 2002 and 2004, and just 19 of them ”resulted in meaningful disciplinary action.” On a national level, upwards of 95 percent of police misconduct cases referred for federal prosecution are declined by prosecutors because, as reported in USA Today, juries “are conditioned to believe cops, and victims’ credibility is often challenged.” Failure to remedy this police/civilian double standard cultivates an abuse-friendly legal environment.
During President Obama’s gun control push, he argued that “weapons of war have no place on our streets;” but as Radley Balko has amply documented in his 2013 book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, local police are often equipped with weapons powerful enough to conquer a small country. Police use of highly armed SWAT teams has risen by 1,500 percent in the last two decades, and many police departments have cultivated an “us vs. them” mentality toward the public they ostensibly serve. Although possession of these weapons does not cause misconduct, as the old saying goes, when you have a hammer everything begins to look like a nail.
Here’s the real clincher. A Department of Justice study revealed that a whopping 84 percent of police officers report that they’ve seen colleagues use excessive force on civilians, and 61 percent admit they don’t always report “even serious criminal violations that involve abuse of authority by fellow officers. . . . The good news is that the first step toward preventing police brutality is well-documented and fairly simple: Keep police constantly on camera. A 2012 study in Rialto, Calif. found that when officers were required to wear cameras recording all their interactions with citizens, “public complaints against officers plunged 88% compared with the previous 12 months. Officers’ use of force fell by 60%.”

Part Two of Frontline's State of Secrets aired tonite.  Here are my thoughts:

1. It is clear that the policy to gather all information is fundamental and spans all administrations at least from GWB to the present.  Indeed, one could call it "existential" as Hayden did in a somewhat oblique manner.  It will not end by committee report or even passage of law.  It will be forced underground.  Until and unless the intelligence agencies are broken up and public scrutiny is applied to their replacements.

2.  I think the country is learning and will learn better that "information" only takes you so far. Motive, the human heart are not knowable by data alone.  You need real intelligence--street level relationships--to really understand those.  Google will fail its advertisers in this regard.  The NSA will fail (and has failed) the public in preventing terrorism by this method.  It will lead to a tower of babel, much information, inadequately and poorly understood, because it fails to understand human nature or the human heart.  The efforts at predicting precisely human behavior, long sought by advertisers and now by the neo-liberal state generally will fail.  And we should assist this failure with every opportunity we have and every step we take.  At bottom, it is our freedom and our very humanity that is at stake.

3.  Finally, one is left with the look in the eye of the early whistleblowers--which I would describe as a combination of shell shock and disillusionment perhaps of a different generation.  The Watergate generation, that actually believed that corruption could be corrected and not quite believing the sacrifice they were made to make to do the right thing.  And compare with the new generation, Snowden, Manning, Assange, which isn't quite so shellshocked or disillusioned because not illusioned in the first place--zen-like as Frontline put it--fully understanding the consequences of their actions and the rather complete sacrifice it will take in advance and accepting it.


First, it's not about secrets.  It's that we're fools.  Treated like fools, act like fools.

The underlying theme of this is that it isn't about Snowden, it isn't about Drake or Binney or any of them.  It's not even about a secret.  Risen told you.  Comey told you.  Damn, Ashcroft told you.  And we simply wouldn't listen.  We simply trusted.  Surely it either didn't happen as reported or it had been fixed.

Well, it had been fixed.  Fixed so that even when some in the Office of Legal Counsel  said no, when the attorney general and two dozen top attorney generals said no and threatened mass resignation, it went ahead.  Hayden holds ex partes with the FISC judge (Kollar something--shouldn't be a judge or otherwise associated with the law in any way imho) on two Saturdays and she reimplements the very program some in the OLC and the attorney general found illegal.

Obama promises transparency and accountability and comporting with the law and fundamental rights  He then signs off on keeping the program.  He and Holder nearly harass Thomas Drake to death and then drop the charges just before the trial.  Holder should not be the AG.

Lessons:  never, ever trust politicians.  They lie to us much more readily than they tell the truth. We are to be used.  They don't care about protecting us.  They care about their power and their fear and manipulating ours.  


Today on NPR's All Things Considered Tim Geithner, former Treasury secretary, while shilling his new book, Stress Test, made an analogy to his handling of the bank bailout:

It's like you're in the cockpit of the plane — your engine's burning, smoke's filling the cabin, it's filled with a bunch of people that are fighting with each other about who's responsible, you have terrorists on the plane and people want you to come out of the cockpit and put them in jail. And you have to land the plane. That terrifying core objective in a crisis is to make sure you first put out the fire.

Was bailing out the TBTF banks like landing a burning plane?  Or was he putting out a fire on the plane?  Which was it?  Let's suppose it's both.

In other words, did the government essentially have to give the TBTF banks all the money they wanted, no strings attached, or the entire nation would have gone down in burning flame?  

Well, no.  Here's why.  When you land a plane to protect its passengers, you don't actually supply the terrorists–apparently he is referring to the TBTF banks, a good analogy actually--more ammunition and fuel and tell them to go take some other planes.  You don't spend a good deal of time negotiating how and where you are going to land with them.  And if you are going to negotiate with the terrorists, you don't get nothing in return.  You don't give them the very equipment to bomb the plane you just saved once it lands.  You don't let them take the wheel.  Lastly, you don't give them immunity after you safely land the plane–if indeed you really did.

Geithner failed the stress test.  But it is we who will suffer the repercussions of it for many years to come.

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