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What America Is Today: Wearing A Flag Lapel Pin While Torturing

Today, the NYTimes Editorial Board opines:

Once upon a time, it was the United States that urged all nations to obey the letter and the spirit of international treaties and protect human rights and liberties. American leaders denounced secret prisons where people were held without charges, tortured and killed. And the people in much of the world, if not their governments, respected the United States for its values.

The Bush administration has dishonored that history and squandered that respect. As an article on this newspaper’s front page last week laid out in disturbing detail, President Bush and his aides have not only condoned torture and abuse at secret prisons, but they have conducted a systematic campaign to mislead Congress, the American people and the world about those policies.

And then asks:

For the rest of the nation, there is an immediate question: Is this really who we are?

Indeed America is not simply a Nation that tortures. It is a Nation that insists that an American flag lapel pin be worn while we torture.

Patriotism? No, jingoism. Fascism.

CATO libertarians say energy deregulation does not work

In an Op-Ed that was published in the Wall Street Journal last month (and is available in full to non-subscribers on CATO’s website) two CATO economists specialised in deregulation and energy markets provide a breath of fresh air in the debates on energy.

Their point is to criticize the poorly thought out deregulation in various US States over the past 15 years, and they explain clearly how energy markets work (something which is rare enough in the mainstream media), and what the consequences of various bits of deregulation are on market behavior and thus on electricity prices.

Their conclusions are so unexpected that other libertarians felt compelled to criticize them violently (and the authors felt the need to defend their libertarian credentials… Follow me below the fold for the gory details.

As a first point, they take the time to explain one of the most basic consequences of electricity deregulation: marginal pricing:

Under the old regulatory regime, electricity generators received their costs plus an allowed return on capital. If generators’ costs differed, they received differing revenues. Prices were then established by a “weighted average” of all producer costs. Under deregulation, however, generators receive revenues based on the price charged by the most expensive generator whose output is necessary to meet demand in each hour.

While some may find such pricing to be odd, it is found in all commodity markets. Potatoes, for example, sell at the same price even though the cost of production varies across farmers. The supermarket does not price potatoes based on the “weighted average” of their acquisition costs, and producers do not sell at cost plus a modest mark-up. They sell at what the market will bear, and the market will bear the highest cost source of potatoes necessary to meet consumer demand.

Thus, in a regulatory regime, rising natural gas prices affect electricity prices only according to the percentage of electricity generated by natural gas (about 18.7% of supply nationwide in 2005). But in deregulated markets, all generators get revenues based on the price charged by the most expensive (often natural gas) plant in operation.

Does this mean that consumers are always worse off under market (marginal-cost) prices rather than regulated (weighted average) prices? Well, regulation certainly delivers lower prices than the market during shortages. But regulation delivers higher prices during times of relative abundance.

Their description is absolutely correct, and so is their conclusion, which is a fundamental insight about deregulation and abundance.

They also provide the logic behind deregulation: in the 90s, natural gas was very cheap and abundant, and thus spot prices (a proxy for marginal price in a mostly regulated market) were lower than prices charged by the traditional generators. Massive investment in what were then highly competitite gas-fired plants led to a huge increase in gas-fired power generation capacity, and in low market prices, thus in a push for users to get access to those cheaper prices.

Deregulation took place, as Van Doren and Taylor point out, but in an imperfect manner, as end-user (retail) prices were kept regulated – and high. The goal then was to protect the old style generators, which had relatively high production costs and not the consumers. The gas-power plant investors were happy, because, with their low marginal costs, they benefitted from such regulated tariffs even more thna the “old style” utilities. This led to the “gas bubble” – massive investment in gas-fired plants:

It’s hard to say if there is a direct link between that boom and the subsequent increase in gas prices, but increase they did:

Which means that suddenly the situation was reversed: marginal costs went through the roof, and regulated prices were suddenly insufficient to cover the production costs of the gas-based generators. This (together with market rigging by some players) caused the California crisis and the belated realisation that deregulated markets did not push prices only down – something that Van Doren and Taylor note explicitly: “free market reformers promised rate reductions they had no business promising.”

Their conclusion is worth flagging again:

regulation certainly delivers lower prices than the market during shortages. But regulation delivers higher prices during times of relative abundance.

The two authors are consistent, at least, and their logic is to say that high prices lead to high profits for some actors and thus eventually to entry of new players to balance the market back, in a classic boom-and-bust scenario.

They consider that the temporary price spikes in that regime are acceptable to consumers in that they get lower prices on average. While this certainly neglects the political price to be paid for headlines blasting electricity prices occasionally 10 or 100 times higher than usual, it also forgets to underline what these price peaks are about: they are necessary, at times when supply is insufficient, to cause demand destruction, i.e. people giving up using electricity because they can no longer afford it, even for a short while. Electricity being the vital good that we know, this explains why the peaks are so high, but it also means that markets balance because some – mostly poor – people “choose” to give up electricity for a while because they won’t pay that price and cannot afford it. Balance is created by denial of service to some, via prices.

Thus the authors are certainly libertarian, in accepting that electricity be allocated, at times of insufficient supply, in accordance with ability or willingness to pay rather than any other criteria, such as social or medical needs (oh sure, they’ll usually accept that special cases can be made to protect the most vulnerable people – the old, the sick, etc… but won’t acknowledge that their preferred method of allocation specifically targets these, in practice).

And, of course, their underlying assumption is that we’ll always come back eventually to periods of abundance. There is no physical or practical limit to the boom-and-bust cycle. Resources will be mobilized because it’s profitable to do so, and will be used up to the level that balances the market. Depletion does not exist in their world – it has no price, anyway.

But if you’re trying to find ways to organise your power sector for the next 30 years, and are told that one mechanism delivers lower prices in times of abundance (of generation capacity, thus of coal and gas), and another lower prices in times of more constrained supply (by, say, depletion, or worries about carbon emissions, or worries about security of supply of the fuels used), whatshould be your preference?

That question is implicitly asked in that article. They also implicitly answer it by ignoring such risks. I obviously take a different view.

:: ::

But that gets us to a second, even more interesting point made by the two authors. That deregulation was further hampered, in the US, by the regulators’ bizarre passion for unbundling:

In sum, allowing markets to dictate electricity prices is a good thing for consumers, even if they are sometimes higher than under regulation. Unfortunately – and here is the fly in the ointment – price deregulation has been accompanied by rules encouraging the legal separation of generation from transmission and the purchase of wholesale power through organized spot markets.

This was published a few days before the EU Commission made its big announcements about the necessity of unbundling, and how it was the real step that would deliver more competitive energy markets in Europe, and here we had CATO, hard core libertarians, writing black and white that it’s a stupid idea that is actually detrimental to deregulation!

And they provide several (of course valid) arguments:

First, vertical integration is an efficient response to the so-called “holdup” problem. Investors in generating plants worry that, because the assets are costly, dedicated and immobile, they can be “held up” by transmission line owners. Investors in transmission lines fear being held up by generators. Vertical integration ends the fight.

Second, transmission and generation are substitutes for one another – and the right amount of investment in either is an economic, not an engineering, puzzle. Efficient investment in both may not be possible through decentralized arrangements (prices and contracts) between separately owned assets. In contrast, an organization that owns both generation and transmission assets is more likely to invest optimally in both.

Third and finally, vertical integration minimizes risk in the real-time operation of the system. The better coordinated are generation and transmission, the less chance there is of cascading blackouts and other problems. Coordination is far easier when there is one actor rather than hundreds.

These considerations largely explain why 10 of the 11 published studies on this issue conclude that vertical integration is the most efficient corporate organizational form for electricity providers. Unfortunately, the debate about utility restructuring has almost completely ignored those studies – assuming rather that vertical integration serves no useful purpose other than facilitating the market power of incumbent electricity providers.

Coordination, coherence of investment in complementary sub-sectors of the industry, security of operation – vertical integration has a lot of real world advantages that are being forgotten – or seen as “unfair” competitive advantage for the industrial giants of the sector that have so far managed all aspects of the electricity infrastructure.

And the CATO economists drive their criticism further:

Interestingly enough, the deregulators are trying to create a world that would probably never arise in a totally free electricity market. In a world of deregulated vertically integrated firms, both producers and consumers would almost certainly resist spot market relationships.

During gluts, firms would not recover the cost of capital; and during shortages, electricity consumers would be vulnerable to economic extortion, as competitive entry and rivalry can’t happen overnight. Both firms and consumers would likely prefer long-term contracts, an arrangement that meets consumers’ interest in price protection and firms’ interest in cost recovery.

Accordingly, the equilibrium relationship between firms and consumers in a totally unregulated world might resemble that of the old regulatory regime, albeit an equilibrium achieved through contract. The only (unanswerable) question is how different the specifics of such hypothetical contracts would be from current regulatory practices.

As most participants in the industry know, most players, producers and consumers, small and large, crave stability and consistency. The industry is complex enough to manage as it is without having to worry on a constant basis about access to the grid, or access to fuels, or availability of the end product – thus long term contracts are the rule. End consumers want the certainty that they will have power when they turn the switch, and understandable (i.e. simple) prices. Producers want to be sure that prices over the long term will be sufficient to cover the investments they have to make upfront. They also want to ensure that they are able to respond to demand variations in a effective way, with the requisite technical coordination between producers and network managers on an ongoing and trustful basis.

Which means, as the CATO writers conclude, that in a really, really free market, players would end up with something that would look amazingly similar to a fully regulated market, based on long term contracts and smoothed out price formulas.

So why bother with deregulation? To be sure that the choice they make is actually that one? As they point out, deregulation has been botched, incoherent and/or inconsistent every single time it has been tried, for various reasons. The time spent to get to a perfect “free market” has actual costs in real life, and it is worth asking if they are worth paying.

Re-regulate. Even CATO points that way.

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Get your Motor Running!


Steppenwolf:  Born to be Wild

Time to wake up!


Chambers Brothers:  Time has Come Today


The Band:  The Weight


Iron Butterfly:  In a Gadda da Vida (Part I)

Please do not recommend a Pony Party when you see one.  There will be another along in six hours (Sunday posting times:  9, 3, and 9 Eastern).

Blandness Girl

I remember a time about 25 years ago when it was possible to find unisex toys quite easily and more people were motivated to do so.  The assumption I made was that things would gradually get less oppressive for women, minorities and children and that society would progress.  After all, the Cold War was coming to a close, and the Berlin wall was taken down in this era.  We had not had a recent major war and the worst shadow was Reagan, but that didn’t seem insurmountable.  I had highest hopes for feminism and environmentalism and wasn’t ashamed to be linked with either movement, despite the demonism of “Liberals” by the right.  I guess I was aware of the nascent danger posed by the “Silent Majority” bullshit and the “Christian Coalition” concept.

However, I did not anticipate that things would get worse, much worse, in the arena of children’s toys.  I work with children, which is an excuse to play with children’s toys, and I have helped develop them when I was in research. 

The toy aisles are segregated once again, from the dollar stores to that big toystore downtown with life-sized elephants.  Boy colors are black, blue and maybe red and girls live in a pink, purple and turquoise universe.  If a boy wants a “doll” it had damn well be an action figure, particularly a military one, with “accessories” such as tanks and guns. 

& now we keep hearing about poison toys – lead, mercury, magnets to swallow.  & the contagion has spread all over the world as unscrupulous manufacturers have the toys made where labor is cheaper.  It’s kind of revealing when the manufacturer has English-as-a-Second language, as this doll found in Paris at Oberkampf Market reveals.  (see also Silenced Majority Portal

Dsc05196(Oberkampf Mkt, Paris)

Sunday Morning News

This is an Anarchy Thread

This happened while you slept. Or maybe not as you could have been out partying all night.

US

For Schools, Lottery Payoffs Fall Short of Promises
By RON STODGHILL and RON NIXON
Published: October 7, 2007
Last year, North Carolina’s governor, Mike Easley, finally delivered on his promise to start a lottery, making his state the most recent of the 42 states and the District of Columbia to cash in on legalized gambling.

Bush, Texas at odds over death case
WASHINGTON – To put it bluntly, Texas wants President Bush to get out of the way of the state’s plan to execute a Mexican for the brutal killing of two teenage girls.
Bush, who presided over 152 executions as governor of Texas, wants to halt the execution of Jose Ernesto Medellin in what has become a confusing test of presidential power that the Supreme Court, which hears the case this week, ultimately will sort out.

George “Hang Em High” Bush suddenly believes in the International Court of Justice. 

Iraq Embassy Cost Rises $144 Million Amid Project Delays
Planning, Workmanship Cited as Problems

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 7, 2007; Page A01

The massive U.S. embassy under construction in Baghdad could cost $144 million more than projected and will open months behind schedule because of poor planning, shoddy workmanship, internal disputes and last-minute changes sought by State Department officials, according to U.S. officials and a department document provided to Congress.

U.S. working to let in more immigrants
The administration is quietly relaxing visa regulations because farmworkers are in critically short supply.
By Nicole Gaouette, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 7, 2007
WASHINGTON — With a nationwide farmworker shortage threatening to leave unharvested fruits and vegetables rotting in fields, the Bush administration has begun quietly rewriting federal regulations to eliminate barriers that restrict how foreign laborers can legally be brought into the country.

Asia

Pakistan Supreme Court weighs election
By MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press Writer
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Gen. Pervez Musharraf won an overwhemingly majority in a presidential election boycotted by nearly the entire opposition Saturday, and attention shifted to Supreme Court deliberations on whether he can claim victory.

Greying Japan looks to robot suits for help
TOKYO (AFP) – As Japan greys, who will look after the elderly? Maybe one day their aging children — in robot suits — if technology under development comes out of the laboratory and into the home.

Among the array of futuristic products for the senior citizens or their caregivers on display at a trade fair this week in Tokyo was a power assist suit that makes it easier to lift an elderly person out of a wheelchair or bed.


Europe

Danish clash sparks mass arrests
Police in Denmark have arrested more than 400 people in clashes in the capital, Copenhagen.

They used teargas against thousands of young demonstrators protesting against the closure of a youth centre (Ungdomshuset) earlier in the year.

Russian Police Detain Five Foreign Rights Activists
By VOA News
07 October 2007
Police in the Russian city of Nizhny-Novgorod have detained five international human rights activists who were due to attend a conference marking the first anniversary of the killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Authorities detained the activists from Britain, Spain and Germany Saturday – one day before the conference commemorating Politkovskaya’s murder.


Africa

Michelin families leave Algeria
French tyre company Michelin has said it is evacuating families of French nationals working for the firm in Algeria because of security concerns.


The Fun Stuff

Impressive info on intrepid instructors who initiate illicit intercourse
It was just after the music school’s graduation ceremony. Reiko, an attractive 26-year-old instructor, confesses that was when she commenced an “adult relationship” with a former student.

“I knew he was in love with me,” she tells Shukan Taishu (10/15). “On his graduation day I felt so sad — like I was losing a younger brother.”

‘Naked Lunch’ may be banned in Maine
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

GREENVILLE, Maine — “Naked Lunch” just doesn’t sound appetizing to some people.

A sandwich called the Skinny Dip, featuring sliced prime rib in a baguette roll, has been offered free of charge anyone willing to plunge naked from The Black Frog Restaurant’s dock into a lake.

Since the free sandwich offer was introduced three years ago, owner Leigh Turner has found plenty of takers. “We’ve had two or three a week,” he said.

Mr. Jindal, Meet Mr. Crow

Ah, it’s deja vu all over again. Clear case of racism in Jena. After a lot of hard work, individual blogs run by people of color, sometimes under nasty threats, cover this story enough for it to be taken up by the traditional media (usually badly, but that’s the way it goes). Add to that, these blogs, along with grassroots organizations, through the intertubes and radio, organize an astonishing march in Jena, a march for civil rights, for equal protection under the law.

And the unjust charges which would have put Mychal Bell away for way too many years are reduced by the racist DA.

Does anyone think this would have happened without protest, without media coverage of this injustice? Because I don’t. But seems Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal has a different view, a — shall we say — “old-fashioned” view.

Thanks to NOLA blogger oyster over at Your Righthand Thief — well, actually, thanks to one of his commenters, N. La. Lady, Mr. Jindal seems to be living in an older America, say, the Jim Crow era.

While the peaceful protest was going on in Jena, Mr. Jindal was stumping in Shreveport, speaking to students at LSUS. His reaction to the peaceful protest?

When asked about the impact of racial conflict in Louisiana, his response was déjà vu – unpleasantly reminiscent of the words and attitudes of southern politicians of not so long ago. When asked to comment on the demonstration in Jena, he said, “We don’t need anybody to divide us. We certainly don’t need outside agitators to cause problems.”

This comment attributed to Jindal was posted a while back over at Your Righthand Thief, but several commenters wanted more proof that this had been said — thinking that of course this kind of language would have made the news … wouldn’t it?

Turns out Tannie Lewis Bradley wrote an op-ed piece at the Shreveport Times, which is where the quote above originated, giving further credence to this story.

Outside agitators. Hmm, where have I heard this before?

Perhaps from Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail — yeah, come to think of it he had something to say about that phrase:

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds

Two different views here. I prefer Mr. King’s view to Mr. Jindal’s. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Mr. Jindal used the words “outside agitator.” And I don’t think he needed to consult The Racist Codebook to do so. It’s a state of mind, a view point that is crystal clear. Anyone who followed this case knows that without “outside agitators,” Mychal Bell would have been tried as an adult and put away for a long long time.

The courts realized this, even the DA realized this – belatedly. And they finally bowed to justice only because of this outside agitation.

Mr. Jindal — meet Mr. Jim Crow. I’m sure you’ll have a lot to talk about. And I hope we all talk a lot about you, too. I don’t live in Louisiana. But I live in the United States. And I agree with Martin Luther King when it comes to the “interrelatedness of all communities and states,” especially when it comes to justice.

Demonization of Liberals & Normalizing Fascism

Ann Coulter, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”

I am motivated to edit and repost this diary for several reasons.

The first reason is something that I’ve thought about Ann Coulter ever since I became aware of her rhetoric, some of which is outlined in Coulter on Today: Nuking Iran warms Conservatives hearts.

Normalizing fascism

is the political, business and media agenda of America in our times.  While even the most serious and deeply thoughtful voices on the actual left cannot get a single minute of national television time, the airwaves remain chock full of the COUlters, Malkins, Savages etc.  There can only be one reason, a deliberate and coordinated effort to normalize, to “mainstream”  fascist opinions and attitudes. Such obvious and deliberate imbalances can only serve that purpose, thus that purpose must be deliberate.


The second reason is this.

Source

In terms of what I (Troutfishing) have discovered within the United States Pentagon recently, researching for MRFF, I am fully convinced that religious war IS one of the intended goals of the Bush Administration and its fundamentalist allies in the US military.

In addition, Troutfishing’s newest diary, Found: The Fundamentalist Handbook For Subverting US Military

This story will further underline the extent to which fundamentalist Christian right “para church” ministries with apocalyptic theological views have penetrated the United States military in a pattern, we’ll shortly be demonstrating, that goes from the Pentagon on down to the base level, in which evangelical organizations, under the Campus Crusade for Christ, teach Biblical literalism and “Rapture” theology, and they have been invited onto the US military’s basic training facilities to run “religious education” programs and evangelize recruits. 

Which brings me to my last reasons, which are that it’s rather convenient for those that want war with Iran to only point out how the President of Iran denies the Holocaust, when liberals are and have been demonized in attempts to normalize fascism in my opinion, and when those that want war with Iran are the most general ones who most deny the genocide of American Indians.

Are my opinions too extreme? Wait to read to the end, and don’t take it from me. Take it from Dr. James Luther Adams, a man who “was not a man to use the word fascist lightly. He was in Germany in 1935 and 1936 and worked with the underground anti-Nazi church, known as The Confessing Church, led by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.” Read on.

To start, let’s once again put Apocalyptic Christianity into a historical perspective, because as Troutfishing so well states, ” I am fully convinced religious war IS one of the intended goals of the Bush Administration and its fundamentalist allies in the US military.”

Native American Holocaust – Sex, Race and Holy War. Excerpts from the book: American Holocaust by David Stannard Oxford University Press, 1992

From the moment of its birth Christianity had envisioned the end of the world. Saints and theologians differed on many details about the end, but few disagreements were as intense as those concerned with the nature and timing of the events involved. There were those who believed that as the end drew near conditions on earth would grow progressively dire, evil would increase, love would diminish, the final tribulations would be unleashed-and then suddenly the Son of Man would appear: he would overcome Satan, judge mankind, and bring an end to history. Others had what is generally thought to be a more optimistic view: before reaching the final grand conclusion, they claimed, there would be a long reign of peace, justice, abundance, and bliss; the Jews would be converted, while the heathens would be either converted or annihilated; and, in certain versions of the prophecy, this Messianic Age of Gold would be ushered in by a Last World Emperor-a human saviour-who would prepare the way for the final cataclysmic but glorious struggle between Good and Evil, whereupon history would end with the triumphant Second Coming.

Trail Of Tears: Moving Beyond The Myth Of America 

The Apocalyptic Christians are looking forward to the possible coming strike on Iran



with glee.

I said it once and I am saying it again, Send Hagee To Hell: Don’t Let Bush Bomb Iran!

Hagee and his blind flock want human beings to be eliminated, because they are convinced they are being motivated by Satan. Think about it.

John Hagee:


Christian Zionists lobby for US attack on Iran

And the liberal agenda is they are pro-abortion. They’re pro-homosexual. They’re pro-gay marriage – they want men to marry men and women to marry women – and their difference with me is not really what I’m doing with Israel. Their hostility to me is poisoned by their liberalism.
They take a liberal position that poisons their view of what we could be doing for Israel.


Are there more generalized demonizations of liberals within the genre of fundamentalist Christianity?

The liberal media is not only the devil’s best device for corrupting human society; it’s his most diabolical device.

I believe Satan is behind all liberal movements.

Liberals Must Die.com


Liberal Democrat’s Satanic Overlord

These liberals, from Nancy Pelosi’s home, consider morality and religion dangerous. They openly protest and fight against efforts to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and suicide.
 

-snip-

Who but Satan could run a city and a political party that fights against morality, and specifically considers efforts to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and suicide “fascist” and dangerous?

Ship of fools: Johann Hari sets sail with America’s swashbuckling neocons


“A few of these prominent liberals who are trying to demoralize the country,” she says. “Just take a couple of these anti-war people off to the gas chamber for treason to show, if you try to bring down America at a time of war, that’s what you’ll get.”
She squints at the sun and smiles. “Then things’ll change.”

‘The Surge Won’t Work, But Concentration Camps Might Do The Trick’

Make no mistake: those means were cruel. I have stated previously that I endorse cruel things in war â?” to eschew them is folly. The British achieved victory over the Boers by taking their women and children away to concentration camps, by laying waste to the countryside, and by dotting the veld with small garrisons in blockhouses at regular intervals.


Read these two excerpts and draw your own conclusions, remembering thatNazi War Criminals came to the U.S. after WWII.Temporarily, substitute the word “Liberal” for the word “Jew” in an effort to draw correlations from past to present. To accentuate, I mean temporarily. These are amongst the most evil words ever spoken. They are from the time of the Jewish Holocaust. Mussolini’s “Doctrine of Fascism” is included afterwards. If the rhetoric of now weren’t so comparable to the rhetoric of then and even glorifying it, then I wouldn’t think it would be appropriate. It is appropriate to today on American soil in a comparison of the rhetoric only.
There are instances, such as the Rwandan Genocide, in which it is completely comparable. I can’t accentuate enough the spirit of respect and appropriate context in which it must be compared.

Continuing, Hagee states indirectly that it is not “Jews” (who are “The apple of God’s eye,” he said) who are “poisoned,” it is “liberals” who are “poisoned.” Hagee and those like him are against the ideas of liberalism, and have demonized people with liberal philosophies. The Jewish people overall, he and his blind flock believes, need to be “saved” now, but will be redeemed later. Brace yourself as you read “The Decent Jew” by the Nazi Hanns Oberlindober from the year 1937and the “Doctrine of Fascism” by Mussolini himself from the year 1932 (bold and underline mine).

Kingdom Coming:

The Rise of Christian Nationalism. Michelle Goldberg. p. 73

“The Decent Jew.” By the Nazi Hanns Oberlindober. 1937.

To the following source:

The “Decent” Jew A Letter to an Englishman, 1937

Despite the sensitivity of the democrats to the world’s moaning and groaning, the warmongering incitement of the so-called world press and the agonized howls of those of your nature and religion, the National Socialist people’s and state leadership has only done its simple duty to the German people, namely to investigate and determine the results and consequences that the “good Germans” and “decent Jews” have left behind for the German people, and to ensure that there will never again be a time of unlimited or concealed Jewish domination.

I say Jewish domination intentionally, for there is no more dreadful tyranny than when world Jews enslave their host people through their willing, bribed, and obedient democratic lackeys.

Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and the economic sphere.

Thomas Jefferson:

If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it.

There’s a fire to put out.

(Bold mine)

The Christian Right and the Rise of American Fascism

Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, told us that when we were his age, he was then close to 80, we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”

The warning, given to me 25 years ago, came at the moment Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists began speaking about a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government. Its stated goal was to use the United States to create a global, Christian empire. It was hard, at the time, to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously, especially given the buffoonish quality of those who expounded it. But Adams warned us against the blindness caused by intellectual snobbery. The Nazis, he said, were not going to return with swastikas and brown shirts. Their ideological inheritors had found a mask for fascism in the pages of the Bible.

– snip –

He saw in the Christian Right, long before we did, disturbing similarities with the German Christian Church and the Nazi Party, similarities that he said would, in the event of prolonged social instability or a national crisis, see American fascists, under the guise of religion, rise to dismantle the open society.
He despaired of liberals, who he said, as in Nazi Germany, mouthed silly platitudes about dialogue and inclusiveness that made them ineffectual and impotent. Liberals, he said, did not understand the power and allure of evil nor the cold reality of how the world worked…


     

Source

President Bush, without so much as issuing a press statement, on May 9 signed a directive that granted near dictatorial powers to the office of the president in the event of a national emergency declared by the president.

The “National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive,” with the dual designation of NSPD-51, as a National Security Presidential Directive, and HSPD-20, as a Homeland Security Presidential Directive, establishes under the office of president a new National Continuity Coordinator.

That job, as the document describes, is to make plans for “National Essential Functions” of all federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, as well as private sector organizations to continue functioning under the president’s directives in the event of a national emergency.

With today’s Congress, Nixon would not have resigned

Carl Bernstein was part of a 35-year retrospective on Watergate today as part of the 2007 Society of Professional Journalists National Convention. The Capitol Hill newspaper, The Hill, reports Carl Bernstein thinks Watergate would have played very differently if it happened today.

Why?

Because, Congressional oversight is more lax now than during Watergate.

“The difference with today is that the system did its job. The press did its job. The court did its job. The Senate committee did its job,” Bernstein said Saturday. “There’s been great reporting on this president. But there’s been no oversight. We have a Democratic Congress now and there’s still no oversight.

Bernstein also said that “35 years of ideological warfare” could also change how the public would react to such a scandal.

“We live in a very different atmosphere today,” Bernstein said. “With Watergate, eventually the people of this country looked around and decided Nixon was a criminal president. I’m not sure the same chain of events would have taken place today.”

If we had today’s Congress during the Nixon presidency, then I doubt Richard Nixon would have even resigned. Shoot. It is doubtful even Vice President Spiro Agnew would have been forced to resign. Image, if you will, this scene on February 2, 1973. Nixon is before a joint session of Congress for the State of the Union address, and then…

Welcome to 2007 with the same gang of Nixon minions running the U.S. government. Somewhere, Richard M. Nixon is smiling.

Act Surprised: Private Insurers Abuse Bush Medicare Drug Plan

Once again, privatization of what should be government’s responsibility proves that privatization is really about avoiding any responsibility.

The New York Times reports:

Tens of thousands of Medicare recipients have been victims of deceptive sales tactics and had claims improperly denied by private insurers that run the system’s huge new drug benefit program and offer other private insurance options encouraged by the Bush administration, a review of scores of federal audits has found.

Shocking, yes. Private insurers play parlor games with people’s lives, because their only concern is profit. This is about so much more than the mere outrage of these specific vultures preying on the vulnerable. This is, once again, the Conservative ideology revealed for what it is: greed, cruelty, and social blight.

The problems, described in 91 audit reports reviewed by The New York Times, include the improper termination of coverage for people with H.I.V. and AIDS, huge backlogs of claims and complaints, and a failure to answer telephone calls from consumers, doctors and drugstores.

Nothing to add, there. Except maybe a question: is improperly denying coverage to people with H.I.V and AIDS a crime against humanity? Are war crimes, alone, deserving of that appelation?

Since March, 11 companies have been fined by Medicare. Among them are three of the largest Medicare insurers- UnitedHealth, Humana and WellPoint.

The audits document widespread violations of patients’ rights and consumer protection standards. Some violations could directly affect the health of patients – for example, by delaying access to urgently needed medications.

But rest assured- HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt says the plan is saving seniors money. Presumably those who haven’t died, because they were denied the drugs they needed.

Industry execs make the excuses you would expect, but the Times lists the companies and the reasons they were cited.

David A. Lipschutz, of the non-profit California Health Advocates, gets to the bottom line- the bottom line. Explaining that the system still encourages predatory practices:

“Every enrollee in a private Medicare plan is a potential source of substantial profits,” Mr. Lipschutz said.

Exactly. Because large for-profit insurers are only in it for the profits. This needs be emphasized, again and again, because it is the moral black hole at the center of Republicanism: the Republican Party is the champion of Big Business, not people. And to their masters the Republicans will sacrifice as many people as is necessary.

Speeding like a space brain one more fucking time toniiight!

::

hey mates

sup!

KM

“Much of the Amazon basin is burning”

I don’t know about you but where I am, the weather is positively balmy. So warm in fact that this year’s crop of McIntosh apples is two weeks ahead of schedule (and growers are worried it may turn to mush if the nights don’t start turning cold soon) and local grape growers (for making wine, an unheard of occupation in these parts, when I was growing up) are reporting a bumper harvest. People bask in the warm sunshine, but you can hear it in conversations: the “new” weather (it’s been trending this way, the last few years) is kind of unsettling, like some strange, still-faint background noise that disturbs at some subliminal level. You step outside your door in the morning and the thought crosses your mind: July in October, what the fuck? Oh the trees are turning, sure (lots of maples around here) but the colours seem… faded. Just like last year. And the year before that. Geez, the last time I really saw the mountains blazing was in the nineties. Early nineties even. Not enough cold nights, they say… Some mornings it’s positively eerie.
  But it isn’t happening only here. That’s the really creepy part. And when you bother to look, what’s going on elsewhere is downright hair-raising.

/

South America chokes as Amazon burns
By Daniel Howden and Jules Steven in La Paz
05 October 2007

Vast areas of Brazil and Paraguay and much of Bolivia are choking under thick layers of smoke as fires rage out of control in the Amazon rainforest, forcing the cancellation of flights.

Satellite images yesterday showed huge clouds of smoke and much of the Amazon basin burning as fires, originally set by ranchers to clear land, have raged into the forest itself.

Did you just choke on your morning coffee? Yeah, that’s what happened to me too. Quick, what’s the date on this? October 5th 2007? Damn. That was yesterday  . How come I haven’t heard of this? How come it wasn’t on the news? How come no Breaking News diaries on DKos about it? How come the goddamned Democratic candidates all campaigning for President don’t mention it ??????

Yeah, it’s nice and warm where I am. Some even like the change and are hoping for more. But for others, elsewhere on the planet, not so much:

Burning smoke has blocked out the sun and local communities have begun to complain of respiratory disorders.

Roberto Smeraldi, head of Friends of the Earth Brazil, said the situation was out of control: “We have a strong concentration of fires, corresponding to more than 10,000 points of fire across a large area of about two million sq km in the southern Brazilian Amazon and Bolivia.

(…)

“(This year’s fires) are mainly, I would say more than 90 per cent, the result of expanding cattle ranching.” The first rains have arrived but they are weaker than usual in most areas and have been useless against the fires.

In the past three years Brazil’s National Development Bank and the World Bank have poured funds into the southern Amazon“, fuelling the expansion of the cattle industry. (..) “It is taxpayers’ money fuelling these fires,”” said Mr Smeraldi.

(…)

“These fires are the suicide note of mankind,”” said Hylton Murray Philipson, from the London-based charity Rainforest Concern. ” While politicians talk about defining moments, destruction will continue until we begin to attribute real value to the standing forest.

Think about that. Resist the incredulous, knee-jerk reaction. No. Take a deep breath and let it sink in. ‘Cause it’s not just the Amazon. It’s happening now. All over. Everywhere.

The planet is shifting gears on us. And we, collectively, aren’t paying attention. Those of us in the driver’s seat are asleep at the wheel, and the rest are all squabbling over their toys in the back seat. While the vessel we’re riding in is careening wildly. It is indestructible, by the way. It can hit a wall, drive over a cliff, sink under water, even burn, and emerge unscathed. A massive orb of rock and iron, that will continue on its stately path, rotating across the field of stars for all eternity (or what we humans concieve as such). We are the ones committing slow-motion suicide. And the worst of it is that those who aspire to lead us know what’s going down. Hell yes, they know all that, and a lot more besides. Oh, and some of them talk a good game. But I don’t trust them. Because they are DOING NOTHING other than talking. And all for short-term political gain. Because their polls and focus-groups and  millionnaire consultants all tell them that the people don’t really care that much.

Because these are not leaders. These are merely your bargain-basement, business-as-usual, snake-oil salesmen politicians, only out to secure the next election. For themselves. And I’m not pointing fingers here. It’s just as painfully deplorable up here in Canada, where our Neanderthal Right Wing government has just hamstrung our three pathetic, feeble, spineless “opposition” Parties (sound familar, dear neighours?) by threatening them with (gasp!) an election!

That’s why I am so desperate for you next door to get a true leader to run for President, i.e., for better or for worse, as even we recalcitrant Canucks know all too well, de-facto King of the World. That leader was at the U.N. last week, urging the politicians to wake the hell up. And This is what it looked like. And we need him as much as you do. Because up here too, it would instantly change the paradygm, by making climate change the top of mind issue in the next elections (which Harper won’t wait past the end of this year to hold, while his “opponents” are on the ropes, ’cause he wants him some Majority Government, so he can hog-tie the rest of us and sabotage international talks on climate and keep us in Afghanistan forever, and pour even more taxpayers’ money into the filthy Tar Sands of Alberta).

So please, please, you progressives here on this blog, please help your fellow Americans to wake up to what’s happening world-wide. Before it is too late. Create the conditions for change to happen. DEMAND THAT YOUR CANDIDATE RUN ON CLIMATE . Uh, okay… Good luck with that. Seriously. Get the most qualified, knowledgeable, experienced, inspiring, hell, the most goddamned obvious person out there to run for President. The rest of us, beyond your borders, we looks toward you, we catches your eye. Please, all of you. It’s now or never.

Peace on Earth to all peoples.

(crossposted at Dailykos)

A Symbol for the Saffron Revolution

A symbol for the Saffron Revolution

heart burma 2500 wc t

This red and yellow glyph, composed of a dot and a heart, is so simple to draw that even toddlers can make it.

Red symbolizes life and love, and is the color of Buddhist monk’s robes.
Yellow represents the Sun and the shaved head of a monk.

What do you create when you put them together? You can see a heart on its side, a letter B for Burma, and the posture of a monk in seated meditation. When you draw many of these symbols together, you create a group in meditation.

Click on the images to get your own fair-use copies and other progressive grahics.
Please draw it and send it everywhere!

This graphic is available on gear at
http://cafepress.com…
Profits go to http://www.dvb.no/ – $25 sent already!

Update –  You will love the Burma photos here:
http://www.pbase.com…

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