Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Grand Bargain Hoax

The Campaign to Fix the Debt, the $40 million dollar astroturf “supergroup” that CMD exposed on the cover of the Nation magazine, and other Billionaires, have shifted into high gear in an effort to leverage the debt ceiling crisis into cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Via Mark Fiore and PR Watch.

Friday, October 11, 2013

New York City | This Must Be The Place

Is there anything that some of the wealthiest 1% of Americans aren't doing to ruin this country?

According to one of my favorite Talking Heads, David Byrne, New York City is in danger of losing what remains of its creative soul as the wealthiest one percent usurp the cultural resources that once made the city "a repository of ideas and information".

As quoted by David in Rolling Stone Magazine -

"The cultural part of the city – the mind – has been usurped by the top one percent."

As the "arty types" have had increasing difficulty finding jobs, the rich financiers have taken over.

Byrne notes their monetary contributions to civic institutions such as museums and symphony halls. "But it's like funding your own clubhouse," he writes. "It doesn't exactly do much for the rest of us or for the general health of the city. At least, we might sigh, they do that, as they don't pay taxes – that we know."

But, David Byrne isn't the only NYC creative artist that can be found complaining about the problem.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

About The Government Shutdown

The criminals running the show and playing their games have no sympathy for ordinary Americans.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Inequality for All | Robert Reich

Just watched Robert Reich's documentary, Inequality for All, at the Camelview theater in Scottsdale.

Before I give my own personal review of this movie, let me state Dr. Reich's objective in creating this documentary beforehand. According an excerpt from the film's website -

We’re in the biggest economic slump since the Great Depression, and we can’t seem to get out of it. Why? Because, exactly as in the 1920s, so much of the nation’s income and wealth are going to the top, that the vast middle class doesn’t have the purchasing power to keep the economy going.

Until we can take a step back and understand the big picture, we can’t do anything to get ourselves out of this mess. Our democracy as we know it depends on it. I’m an educator. I love the classroom. But I also write books, appear on television and on the radio, and do everything else I can do to help people understand the economic truth. It’s my life’s work and it’s more important than ever.

One of the best ways to help people understand the challenges we face, is with a movie that can grab an audience and move them to action. And this movie will do exactly that.

With that in mind, this documentary did exactly what Dr. Reich said it would do.

It explained the big picture of our country's current economic crisis, how we got here, what's causing the widening inequality in America, and provides a generalized optimistic point of view that the 99% of us can overcome the serious threat that our democracy faces from the 1%.

You can't help but like Dr. Reich, especially since he's on the side of the people. He's a captivating and knowledgeable educator, with a self-deprecating sense of humor, but serious about his mission. He's an unfailing optimist and great motivator for positive change, and this film will show that.

Not that it's a bad thing, but be aware, Inequality for All also serves as a personal narrative about Dr. Reich. The film includes many personal introspects into Dr. Reich's life, from his youth through his time serving as Secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration, and his legacy since.

Dr. Reich also didn't venture into any specifics on how to fix our economic problems and the widening inequality gap, instead deferring potential solutions to the young people that he's trying to motivate. His basis for optimism is America's prior history with inequality at the beginning of the 20th Century (Progressive Era), and the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s. We've done it before, so we can do it again.

I liked the documentary. If there was one negative to it, it was Dr. Reich's one-sided view of the Clinton Administration's accomplishments, citing many of its positive contributions to the economy without including President Clinton's political failings, which contributed to causing the Great Recession and what's happened since. However, you can't fault the guy for trying to do his old friend/boss a solid.

Because I keep up with these things on a daily basis, am already familiar with Dr. Reich's work, and already understand the big picture, I would give Inequality for All a rating of 6/10. I found it to be more of a documentary about the author himself, instead of a film that provides any specifics into fixing our decaying economic and political systems. I failed to read the film's objective beforehand.

In essence, what the good professor is saying through this documentary is basically the same thing that I've been saying for years myself - that the only way to change things is for the people to band together as one voice, and act out against these injustices. He's confidently optimistic that we will.

Unfortunately though, like my other hero points out, I think that we're still too fat and happy.

Until Americans can get our heads out of the cellphones that make us pancakes and rub our balls, nothing is going to change. And it doesn't seem as though inequality has inflicted enough pain upon the middle class just yet. We need our balls to be squeezed in order for change to occur.

To be fair about my rating, if you're not someone who frequently keeps up with these type of things, then you'll probably find Inequality for All an enlightening, educating, motivating, and enjoyably entertaining film, and probably rate it higher. Go see it and decide for yourself. Here's the trailer -

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Costs of Extreme Inequality

I just finished reading Joseph E. Stiglitz's investigative tome about the increasing rise of inequality in America, The Price of Inequality. Professor Stiglitz was the economist credited for first coining the phrase "The 1 Percent", in regards to describing the upper 1% of wealthiest Americans topping of the economic pyramid. Occupy Wall Street coined the term "The 99 Percent" to refer to the rest of us.

If there is just one book that 100% of Americans should read in order to gain a better understanding the causes behind our increasing economic inequality in easy-to-read, non-economist terminology, The Price of Inequality is it. It's a clear, concise, and a well-referenced explanation about how today's divided society endangers our future. Get out there and read it! It's even available at your library.

Of course, Professor Stiglitz wouldn't produce a book describing and documenting the 1% problem without also providing potential solutions to help fix the problem, and to create a more equal society.

But it's been just over a year since this book was published and I haven't noticed our political leaders doing anything to reverse the widening gap. As a matter of fact, Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley (pdf), and Annie Lowrey at Economix Blog, say that economic inequality is getting even worse.

Professor Stiglitz even described it himself earlier this year that the problem has also worsened since he published his book. So, like Professor Stiglitz says, "is there hope?"

Personally, I'm not too optimistic. Like the recently-released documentary Four Horsemen describes, perhaps we've reached a point of no return, and that our society is destined for revolution and change. Here's the trailer. You can watch the entire documentary online at Renegade Economist.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Join Together With The Band

You know, I'm just some everyday American, an average Joe. But even I can see that America has a serious problem on it's hands with the ever-increasing polarization of wealth.

I don't have all of the answers to fix the serious problem I see with the 99% of Americans continuing to be marginalized by the moneyed-interests of the other 1% of Americans sitting at the top of the economic pyramid. I don't know how to specifically change things, but I do know that I'm upset with the deteriorating democratic situation for most Americans.

What I also know, is that we've reached a point where if we majority of Americans don't join forces to fight against this growing unfairness and economic inequality in America, then we're doomed to be continually marginalized forever.

But how do we find people to believe in? How can we tell who's on our side? Many of us Progressives believed in Barack Obama and his promises of "hope and change" only to be disappointed when things remained the same (or deteriorated) after his elections, and the criminals remained in charge.

We've spent the last 5-years of our lives expecting things to change for the better only to watch the 1% gain even more wealth and power, while our political representation has disappeared, our standard of living has declined, and our Constitutional rights have eroded even further.

It's obvious to me that our political (and judicial) system has been captured by the 1%.

So what do we do? Do we keep voting for corrupted politicians who serve the corporate interests, that both the GOP and Democratic parties keep throwing at us, or do we seek to find "new and improved" leaders to represent us that aren't part of the corrupted political establishment? Where do we find such leadership? Who can we trust to serve our interests without compromise, and to affect change?

Again, I don't know. But what I do know is that first - We Need To Unite!

And someone much politically smarter than me thinks the same.

According to the New York Times, Richard L. Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., has a bold new plan to reverse organized labor’s long slide in America: let millions of nonunion workers — and perhaps environmental, immigrant and other advocacy groups — join the labor federation.

That sounds like a great solution to me, or at least the beginning of change.

According to that same article, Mr. Trumka says he believes that if unions are having a difficult time increasing their ranks, they can at least restore their clout by building a broad coalition to advance a worker-friendly political and economic agenda. And according to me, who's to say that clout can't be used to serve the agenda of the majority of Americans?

Maybe we should put our faith in Mr. Trumka. WHO knows? We 99% could band together as one.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Has It Been Twenty Years Already?

It seems pretty obvious to me that Nobel Peace Prize recipient, President Obama, has made up his mind and is going to "humanitarianly" bomb Syria, and probably lead America into another corporate-sponsored political war, regardless of what the vast majority of Americans want.

I mean, like who's going to stop him? The military has all of the flamethrowers and other weaponry to get what they want, and they can always find some marginalized rube in need of a job or some other mistakenly-patriotic citizen to carry out their dastardly deeds for them. The only thing we can control are our own individual actions.

Regardless, I'm writing this because I couldn't live with myself if I didn't try to warn young people of enlistment age beforehand not to let themselves get sucked into enabling these military-industrial-complex crimes. But all I could come up with is some douchebag statement like "Just Say No!".

So, I think I'll leave it to George Carlin, who described these political wars better than anyone else.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Painfully Progressive Politics

If you've read any of my previous blog posts or my Tweets, then you'll realize that I side with "people", not businesses or corporations, and that I write and share others' information in pointing out what the late George Carlin described as - "the American okey-doke".

My social and political views tend to be on the Progressive side, but I'm also a cynic.

Cynics understand that human beings are born inherently selfish, and that we often fail in the ability to control our emotions, especially our negative emotions (e.g. fear, greed, anger, hate). When push comes to shove, we'll almost always put our own personal agenda ahead of what's good for everyone.

That's how we roll. It takes a great deal of awareness and effort to control our emotions, requiring that we consistently think about them before reacting. Most of us can't do that. That's what I write about, and that's probably why I have few followers.

I'm sure that my "rocking the boat" writing style annoys some people, but I only communicate in that way in order to motivate others to think for themselves and question things. I want other "humans" to use some of that uncontrollable "anger" to get on board the boat with me.

Because, in this digital age where access to information is immediately available twenty-fours hours every day, it bothers me that some Americans are still blindly following the herd and believing all the bullshit they're being handed, regardless of the facts that can be found at their fingertips.

As such, the few people who do follow me probably assume that because I'm a Progressive, I'm going to automatically side with whatever bullshit the Democratic Party is trying to push. In an ideal world, I probably would. But the political world of today is NOT IDEAL for ordinary Americans.

Judged by what has occurred in the American political and judicial system over the past 10-15 years, its become apparent to me that corporations control both the political and judicial processes.

It should be obvious to everyone by now that both the GOP and Democratic parties work on behalf of the corporations that fund their elections. The only differences between them are in their rhetoric and their methods. Their actions in supporting the corporate state are equivalent.

So, it pains me when I meet fellow Progressives who still believe that the Democratic Party is working on behalf of the "people". They're still foolishly believing in President Obama and his party's rhetoric, and still supporting them, even though their actions have consistently served corporate interests and the country's wealthiest 1% at the expense of the rest of us.

Why? Is it because they're blind followers, or because they can't control their negative emotions?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Is Political Fear-Mongering Cyclical?

What happened 60 years ago in America that's just as relevant today, as it was back then. Except back then the fear-mongering buzzword was Communism. The buzzword now is Terrorism.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Chris Hedges | Reality Asserts Itself

The most-revealing news reports and captivating interviews often come from sources not owned by the corporations controlling mainstream media. This Real News Network interview is one example.

If you want to gain a better understanding of the serious problems facing not only America, but those of the entire human race, and what you can do to help solve those problems, then make sure to take some time out of your busy schedule to watch this seven-part interview of Chris Hedges by Paul Jay.

This is the best interview explaining our current system of societal corporatocracy that I've seen yet.

Here's [Part-1] of the full interview -


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Richard Wolff | The Failure of Detroit

Detroit's bankruptcy "is an example of a failed economic system," says economist Richard Wolff, professor emeritus of economics at University of Massachusetts. "There are so many other cities in Detroit's situation, that if the courts decide that it is legal to take away the pension that has been promised to and paid for by these workers, you have [legalized] theft. It is class war, redistributing income from the bottom to the top."

Source: Democracy Now! - Richard Wolff: Detroit a "Spectacular Failure" of System that Redistributes Pay From Bottom to Top"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

You're Screwed | Kimmel Kartoon

Well, let's look on the bright side. There's always Elysium. C'mon now, everybody sing along!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Barrett Brown Controversy

As I've alluded to in my previous post concerning reported unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens and unfettered data collection by private contractors at the behest of the NSA, the FBI and other government agencies, the United States seems to be turning into one big police state, where ordinary citizens come to be considered the enemy, and where a corporatized Government begins to rule over the people instead of being ruled by the people.

Reportedly, 70% of U.S. spending on intelligence is currently going to private contractors. And like I've said before, who knows what private contractors can, and might, do with that collected information?

This Democracy Now! interview with Peter Ludlow, professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, whose article in The Nation, "The Strange Case of Barrett Brown", effectively describes the serious problems and conflicts of interest associated with allowing those private corporations to take over the responsibilities of Government in providing "secret" intelligence gathering and surveillance.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Corporation | A Documentary

Provoking, witty, stylish and sweepingly informative, the documentary The Corporation explores the nature and spectacular rise of the dominant institution of our time.

Part film and part movement, The Corporation is transforming audiences and dazzling critics with its insightful and compelling analysis. Taking its status as a legal "person" to the logical conclusion, the film puts the corporation on the psychiatrist's couch to ask "What kind of person is it?"

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Story of Citizens United v FEC

How is it that corporations have been able to take control our Democracy? Watch this.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dawn Porter, 'Gideon's Army' Filmmaker

Dawn Porter, a filmmaker, discusses her new HBO documentary "Gideon's Army" with Bloomberg Law's Spencer Mazyckwhich.

The film follows a group of passionate young public defenders in the Deep South who contend with long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads to represent low-income individuals. Hopefully the film will soon become available to PBS.

They Did The Wild Life Boogie

A little social ditty about the new age robber barons and their political lap dogs.

Mickey Carroll - They Did The Wild and MickeyCaroll.com

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Day the Cold War Came Home

Political fear mongering. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Here's the story of Gordon Kahn, as told by his son, Tony. Gordon Kahn was an American author and screenwriter who, during the McCarthy era, was investigated by House Committee on Un-American Activities and was blacklisted, faced imprisonment, and was persecuted for years simply for having "the wrong political ideas".

Monday, June 10, 2013

Collecting DNA Against Our Will

While everyone in the country is focusing on NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden's report that the Government, along with the help of a private corporation, is snooping into our privacy and collecting our communications, something potentially more important is almost totally being ignored.

Just like their 2010 decision to grant corporations the same rights as people, the Supreme Court has once again dropped the ball in defending it's citizenry.

In another landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled the police can collect DNA samples from people they arrest even before they are convicted of a crime, and based solely upon the concept of "probable cause". Police only have to "think" that we've committed a crime.

So now, not only will the Government have this big database containing our fingerprints, our financial transactions, our employment history, probably most of our medical history, anything they've watched us do on public and private street cameras, drone surveillance, and any information they've secretly collected from our telephone and online conversations, they're now going to have a giant collection of our individual DNA.

So, while I'm sympathetic towards victims of crimes and fully support most law enforcement efforts to catch violent criminals, there comes a point where the ends DO NOT justify the means.

We've reached that point.

Proponents for loose laws for DNA collection say that DNA is just like fingerprint collection and that there's no potential for abuse. But, that's far from the truth.

First of all, allowing the police to simply collect our DNA without first being convicted of a crime in a court of law is fraught with potential for abuse. Consider this recent news report alleging police abuse in Arizona as an example. Police officers abusing their powers occurs every day throughout America. Giving them the power to collect our DNA solely based upon probable cause is a serious mistake.

Secondly, there are all sorts of avenues for corporate DNA abuse. As history has shown, corporations control all branches of our Government. Their main goals are to privatize operations, and then get our Government leaders to support their profit-driven agenda. And they've been extremely successful.

So, while Government leaders "say" that our DNA is safe from abuse, how can they guarantee what the private corporations they've contracted with to perform any collection, evaluation, and storage, do with our DNA? Trust them to be honest and self-regulate?

Who's going to enforce the rules that keep those private contractors from selling our DNA to others like the pharmaceutical industry, the biomedical industry, private medical researchers, or any other enterprise that discovers new technologies that can exploit DNA for profit? The same politicians who supported privatization and whom also control the regulatory agencies? Get real.

And it's not like similar type abuses haven't happened before. Unlike simple fingerprints, our DNA, our genetic material, can be used for molecular cloning purposes, and who knows what else?, without our knowledge or approval.

To help us understand the seriousness of this decision, Democracy Now! hosted a debate between Michael Risher of the American Civil Liberties Union and Mai Fernandez of the National Center for Victims of Crime. Mr. Fisher makes a great argument, and one that I agree with.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tax Havens 101: The High Cost Of Going Offshore

What are offshore tax havens, who uses them, and how do they work? And guess who gets stuck paying for the lost tax revenue from corporate offshoring?

Source: ICIJ - Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Call Me An Independent

After yesterday's budget plan in which the President pulled a Neville Chamberlain by offering up our Social Security benefits as a bargaining chip to the Grand Old Party of hate, I'm now fully convinced that all three branches of Government are owned and controlled by large corporations, and the 0.1% of the population sitting atop of the economic pyramid.

So, after being a registered Democrat for many years, today I re-registered as an Independent voter. I finally figured-out that the Democrats hold us in contempt just like the Republicans do, except they're not as in-your-face with it, and try to do it more covertly. But, they all work for the corporations paying for their election into office.

Not that becoming an Independent will do me any good, since I don't really believe the 99 percent of Americans filling in the rest of the economic pyramid have any say in how our Government operates, it's just my way of saying "fuck you" to a corrupted political system.

Personally, the only person I trust in the Legislature is Senator Bernie Sanders.

He seems to be the only one willing to tell us the truth about what's happening in Congress, to stick up for the average American, and is someone who actually does exactly what he says he's going to do without compromising his principles. I mean, I thought that's what being an American is all about?

Bernie Sanders on the Independent in Politics from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

UN Accused of Failing to Protect Whistleblowers

James Wasserstrom, a United Nations whistleblower retaliated against for reporting corruption within the multilateral organization’s mission in Kosovo – and who subsequently underwent an intense legal battle – made his case yesterday in New York City at a press conference. Before members of the media, he emphasized the negative message that his case’s meager settlement sends to future UN whistleblowers.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Democracy vs. Dollarocracy

Can the United States rightly call itself a democracy? As long as Paul Ryan and "Fix the Debt" types are able to push extreme austerity measures, Nation writer John Nichols says, we're looking more like a "dollarocracy," where "the ideas that rise to the top are those that are best-financed." In a democracy, Nichols explains, people have a right to say "No" to bad ideas—but in a dollaracracy, all they get is bad ideas.

IMO, dollarocracy is just another term for corporatocracy. While I agree with most of what Mr. Nichols is saying, I hope the American people see beyond what he says in this video. Of course, he's right that the focus of any debt-relief should be on corporate crime and corporate welfare reform.

But social welfare (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) reform should never have been considered as part of the debt problem. Our national debt is a problem derived from corporate bailouts, corporate welfare, corporate crime, and spending on the military-industrial complex.

That's where all of any cuts should be directed to reduce the debt. Can't you see it?

Social welfare cuts are just a scheme introduced by the criminals who call themselves Republicans on behalf of the 1%, in a sinister plan to convince gullible American citizens to pay for their crimes. They shouldn't even be part of the conversation about balancing the budget, let alone a bargaining chip for compromise by the Democrats.

Don't be foolish enough to buy into the GOP bullshit and become one of their enablers.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Uprising | A Documentary

Produced by an Academy Award-winning team including the Executive Producer of Taxi to the Dark Side and the Editor of Inside Job, Uprising tells the inside story of the Egyptian revolution from the perspective of its principal leaders and organizers, including four Nobel Peace Prize nominees.

Their success in forcing the downfall of a brutal dictatorship has changed the face of the Middle East and provided hope for millions of oppressed people across the world. Above all, it is a story of profound hope, of courage rewarded, of a people who beat back a police state and threw off the shackles of decades of degradation and oppression.

According to Daniel Gold of the N.Y. Times - Uprising is a concise commemoration of a new society’s birth pains. Playing at the Phoenix Film Festival in early April, here's the trailer -

Source: Uprising Film

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Lottery Of Birth | A Documentary

So, you think you're free. And your values, beliefs and choice of film are all down to you, right? You might even go so far as to assert that you are your own person.

The Lottery of Birth is a documentary that's going to make you think about those freedoms again. Drawing on the best minds in philosophy, history, physics and economics, it employs decades of evidence to deftly interrogate who we are.

Soon after we're born, we discover the virtue of doing what we're told - it's the only way to get along in society. But this film brings into devastating clarity what happens when we switch off and obey: the defense of 'just following orders' sounds as hollow now in the mouths of bankers and tabloid journalists as it has at any other point in history.

In a world rocked by scandals across our banks, media and government, what we really need is a hero or two - and this documentary delivers heroes in spades. Physicist Vandana Shiva, journalist George Monbiot and the late, great historian Howard Zinn all dazzle with their ability to see things differently and their invectives against apathy.

Whether you're into ethics, economics or simply being a better person than you were born to be, you can't afford to miss this film. Now playing at the Sun Valley Film Festival, here's the trailer -

Source: Creating Freedom

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Trickle-Up Process

I think we all know by now that the economic theory known as the "Trickle-Down Effect" is complete and utter bullshit, causes economic inequality, and could also be described as "corporate welfare".

So, wouldn't it benefit our society as a whole to take away that taxpayer-funded corporate welfare from the criminals and put it to good use towards testing the value of the "Trickle-Up Effect"?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wealth Inequality in America

Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is not what we think it is.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Whistleblower John Kiriakou Sentenced to Prison

A retired CIA agent who blew the whistle on the agency’s Bush-era torture program has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. John Kiriakou becomes the first CIA official to be jailed for any reason relating to the torture program.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

7 Brides For 7 Corporations

Last Monday, January 21, 2013 was the third anniversary of the Supreme Court's favorable ruling for Citizens United against the Federal election Commission that has opened the floodgates for a truly pornographic amount of money into our political process.

Days before the third anniversary of the Citizens United v. SEC Supreme Court case ruling, Occupy Wall Street organized an extravagant piece of political street theater: a wedding ceremony in which seven brides were to marry seven Corporations in a ceremony across the street from the New York Stock exchange. A "Citizens United" wedding.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Daily Show: Bank Wankers

Banking crimes, same old story. HSBC - another bank called too big to prosecute.

Source: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart