Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Loudest, Angriest Person Decides What Is True

Half of America doesn’t care what is true and what is false, they only care which they are supposed to believe. It’s a game between opposing sides and truth doesn’t matter to them. They don't care if Bill O'Reilly is a liar. They like him for being loud and angry, and that's enough.

When scientists tell us terrible things will happen if we don’t lower our fossil fuel use, Republicans simply fire the scientists. Cut off their mikes. Ban them from talking to anyone.

It doesn’t matter what is true. It only matters that their side is louder. That their side has bigger angrier bullies. That they have more oil billions powering their microphones. (It's a nasty but efficient mindset and easy to program people to believe.)

So they can shout down anyone telling the truth the way Bill O’Reilly does on FoxNews

or GOPTV as it was meant to be called when it was invented in the Nixon White House.

Smells like team spirit, doesn’t it?

Truth used to belong to the loud, the more violent, the one willing to murder anyone who disagrees with them. That was in the bad old days.

Welcome back to the Dark Ages.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Evaders, Seceders, Confederates and Outlaws

The Houston Chronicle reports on a meeting of Texas secessionists who got a surprise visit from local police, Texas Rangers and FBI. No mention of Walker, Texas Ranger being among them.

Ron Paul, the libertarian Republican congressman (and father of the moppet-haired presidential candidate) thinks it’s a great idea to secede from the United States.

Unlike these characters in Texas, the big secessionists are the large corporations who only secede their money. They don’t secede completely. They live here. They own properties here, and run companies here, and their companies use our roads and other public systems paid for by taxpayers. They enjoy all the things US citizens enjoy, but they have the option of not paying for those things, at least not at the rate working people do. Some corporations don’t pay any taxes at all. They keep one hand in their pocket. Their other hand is always out for government contracts and subsidies.

A CNN piece on corporate tax evaders.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' lists the top ten corporate tax evaders and corporate welfare recipients.

Flip The Debt is running a meter on the billions these tax cheats are making off with.

Some little known facts about the biggest corporate freeloaders.

The other Walker isn’t a Texas Ranger, he’s a governor. His secessionist trick is to secede taxpayers’ money, which is intended to pay for Wisconsin state government, infrastructure, education and the general welfare of Wisconsin’s citizens, and to pay it instead to out-of-state corporations like Koch International and to wealthier Wisconsinites (most of whom winter in the South each year) in the form of tax breaks and refunds. Wisconsin does owe for the things that have been done and billed but Walker has decided he can simply not pay for things he doesn’t like. Wisconsin has become an a la carte state where paying the bill is optional. Nobody writes about this more entertainingly than Charlie Pierce.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, February 23, 2015

Letter to George Will

(George Will gave some advice to Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker about the stupidity of science denial. Which prompted me to write this letter.)

Mr. Will,

I sympathize with your situation, having to advise a Republican frontrunner to acknowledge science and reality. It must be embarrassing.

John McCain corrected a woman in the crowd during his campaign who said Obama was a Muslim. Then it seemed the only rational thing to do.

The problem is the Republican Party has spent the years since then catering to this same ignorant prejudice. Actually they’ve been doing it longer, if you consider Lee Atwater's and Roger Ailes' and Pat Buchanan’s not so subtle dog whistle bigotry. This past week we also have Giuliani’s ugly, ignorant remarks.

Why cater to ignorance? Because it’s worked for you. It’s elected right wing Republicans, each one further right than the last, each one more out of touch with reality. Each one more cynical and dishonest and nutty.

And this has made your party the cynical dishonest nutty bigoted party. It wins elections for you.

Well (and I realize it’s totally wrong to use this analogy) this kind of nutty cynical dishonest bigotry also helped Hitler win elections.

If it works it becomes compulsory? That seems to be the rationale Republicans have imported from the business world. It’s wrong and dangerous in both places. It’s endangering the climate our food supply is based on, it’s endangering our democracy, it’s endangering our economy, it’s endangering our future.

You have a lot of work to do unwinding this.

Of course, if you think it’s more important to carry water for the Republicans in next year’s election… if that’s more important to you and the other commentators on the right, God help us.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Insurance Industry Has Been Asleep

Scientific American is reporting on catastrophic flood projections in NY this century.

Wired magazine is describing similar catastrophic flooding in Miami.

Other coastal cities will experience similar catastrophe worldwide.

Two Questions:

Why hasn’t the insurance industry factored this enormous future cost into the premiums paid in coastal cities?

How and when will the insurance industry offload this enormous cost onto the public?

The insurance industry is supposed to inform its risk calculations with the best science. They didn’t.


Because the major insurers have for a few decades (at least since the merger mania during Reagan) considered themselves financial companies, not insurance companies. For this reason they’ve been more focused on the huge profits from fossil fuel investments during peak oil than on the huge costs that fossil fuel will precipitate through climate change as our major port facilities and coastal properties are flooded.

They’re all insured, by the way.

But major financial companies are too big to fail, so we will pay for their greed and the mistakes greed caused them to make. If, as purists say, capitalism and free markets are supposed to do our society’s thinking and planning, they’ve certainly failed us. They’ve all been asleep, selfish, self-centered, self-satisfied fools.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Your Weekly Reader

Kiss Up/ Kick Down (How to remove the poor)

A child told her mother she wanted to be a libertarian when she grew up. Her mother said she can’t be both. (A funny story about Ayn Rand)

Modern Christianity (How not to convert the unbeliever)

(How Republicans are harming the Christian brand)

Adventures in Republican Misogyny (The meat market of Republican thought)

O’Reilly’s make believe war journalism (Bill O'Reilly has an amazing imagination)

Ron Paul celebrates the New Confederacy (Secession and violating the Constitution are patriotic!)

The Giuliani Story (Giuliani explains how he cannot possibly be racist)

(Guiliani's Inspiring Tale of Patriotism)

“They’re all around us” (The strange secret club of vigilantes who are the guardians of Freedom)

(They even have a secret handshake)

We went to war to stamp this evil out in Europe and Asia. (It was called WW2. What do we do when it happens here?)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, February 13, 2015


Civilization, meaning everything in history that comes after we learned to farm, in fact all of history, is founded upon reliable climate, reliable rain and growing seasons. Climate change caused by the greed of fossil fuel billionaires fucks all of that.

Some places will be warmer, some colder, some will have longer growing seasons, some shorter, most will fluctuate meaning farmers will have to guess and hope even more than they do now (imagine the crop insurability problem then).

The changes will be dramatic. Some places will be too dry to support life. Some will be washed away in huge floods or flattened by huge storms. Things like this that happened in the Bible were interpreted as God’s punishment for wrongdoing––our wrongdoing this time is stupidly placing ourselves in the political grip of fossil fuel billionaires.

Think we can solve these problems by shipping grain from one lucky continent to another? Picture all of our functioning and extremely expensive port facilities under water and no longer functional.

Weird how the big insurers haven’t cottoned to this huge risk overhang. I think it’s because most big insurers think of themselves as investment companies investing the premiums they collect rather than insurers of risk, and right now at peak oil their biggest investments are with the oil companies. Colossally stupid. Stupid on top of stupid, which should help disprove the free market capitalist’s religion that says money is smarter than any of us. Money is mostly just greedy.

The greed of the top 1% may doom all of civilization, murdering millions. We should mind.

There is a local weatherman where I live who hosts “documentaries” that explain why Climate Change and Global Warming are stupid hoaxes. He says it’s hard enough to predict weather two weeks out, so it has to be impossible to predict what will happen in two decades. This sounds persuasive if you don’t think about it. Children are unpredictable too. We can’t predict what they’ll do tomorrow, but we have a pretty good idea what they’ll be up to over time, and we can be pretty sure in twenty years they’ll be twenty years older, with average luck. With average luck they'll live lives like ours, with better than average luck, better lives. Throw that average luck out and what happens?

Climate stability gives us average luck that we can build on. Climate instability takes that away: no predictability, no reliable averages to plan our complex civilization around. Climate scientists are warning us about the risks of enormous changes in our children's lifetimes. What changes exactly? It's hard to say, and that is the danger. Unreliable climate destroys civilizations and has ground many into dust over the centuries. Usually it happens slowly. Previously the climate changed slowly. Not this time.

The well paid attractive telegenic criminals who are distracting us from this enormous danger are being paid to distract us and dissuade us. 97% of all climate scientists agree, but we are being persuaded by smiling weathermen and ignorant politicians to ignore science.

These shills are being paid to help shore up a dirty 19th century industry that threatens us all. They are being paid to help us confuse Weather and Climate. Weather is if it’s raining outside. Weather is a discussion about whether to carry an umbrella tomorrow. It’s not deep stuff. Climate change is as deep as life and death for our nation, the happiness or misery of our descendants' lives, the arc of history itself.

Climate is the reason we have a prosperous nation. We are lucky to have a good, reliable, moderate and predictable climate. Climate Change is why there are dead civilizations buried under the sands of North Africa. Usually climate changes slowly. We are changing it radically and quickly and lethally unless we decide to stop changing it by changing the way we fuel our lives.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Systematic Looting of the American Dream

Who owns the shining new residential towers going up in New York and other major cities? Don't answer; you wouldn't know them. The dream home used to be a widely shared American Dream, but this is no longer the case. (Because of Citizens United our political system is now owned the same way by secretive billionaires, many of them foreign, using piles of hoarded cash to buy residency and public policy.)

Increasingly the American Dream of homeownership is reserved for billionaires. They have extremely expensive pieds a terre in places all over the world, where they may only live a few days a year thereby evading the usual obligations to pay for local infrastructure and public services. What do you want to bet their real estate fees and taxes, if any, are paid by their companies and deducted from their income taxes, again, if any. The top 1% have learned to levitate above ordinary concerns and obligations of citizenship. What they want, they buy. What they don't want to do, they buy out of.

And what has happened to middle class homeownership? The opposite. Going, going, gone. Homeownership has become a privilege of the few who own for a living and those who work for a living are increasingly excluded.

The daily sermon fed to us for years by the banking industry and by the Republican Party was that homeownership was next to godliness. It was a measure of how responsible and hardworking you were. Now they seem to be saying that working class homeowners are to blame for the recent financial collapse. Not true, in fact. Middle class homeowners are the playthings of the 1%. The investment schemes that benefit people who own for a living are devised to skim fees and penalties and ownership from people who work for a living.

With incomes down we see more working people looking for ways to make ends meet. Reverse mortgages are advertised as a simple way to balance the family budget. By looting the family’s wealth. What choice do some families have? Looting of this kind happens when there is an exploitable advantage. Incomes have lowered for most Americans since 1980, a gift of Reaganomics. That has made most Americans exploitable.

Where have we seen this systematic looting of value before? We used to read about mobsters who took over small companies and looted their value at the point of a gun. It was a crime back then.

But more recently we’ve seen this same model used by the great heroic Venture Capitalist. The gun isn’t necessary because the middle and working class household is already being made insecure and exploitable by the decline of working incomes.

The Venture Capitalist looks for decent companies who pay their employees decently and maybe have a fully funded retirement plan for them––companies that have been untouched by Reaganomics. What does this Venture Capitalist do? He charms the company’s owner, offers him a nice check, and then he buys the company. Before the check clears he sucks all the money out of the pension fund and uses it to pay the former owner. Then he lays off employees and pockets those savings. Then he has a balance sheet that shows all of this “profit” which he uses to sell the company at an inflated price.

I realize the Nazi analogy is completely forbidden today. But the Nazi miracle was financed in a similar way, by confiscation from Jews and liberals. Someday we may be able to see the criminality of what is going on, or at least its unfairness and dishonesty. But right now it is legal. And it is also sanctified by the sacred memory of Ronald Reagan who set this middle class decline in motion.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,