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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Watch A Debate, Get A Job

A little more than 80 million people watched last night's Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump debate, somewhat less than the 100 million estimates bandied about beforehand by an excited media. That slightly beat a 1980 Reagan-Carter debate, when, I'd add, there were about half as many people living in the US.

By contrast, 530 million people worldwide watched the moon landing and more than 1 billion watched a cricket match in February between India and Pakistan.

All third party candidates were excluded from last night's debate, drastically reducing the points of view those 80 million were exposed to. Viewers last night heard slightly different degrees of Capitalism and Imperialism from two rich people.


So-called "startups" account for about 1.9 percent of new jobs in New Mexico, which is only seeing the creation of about 2,000 jobs per year anyway, according to Albuquerque Business First, the local business journal.

A lot of taxpayer money is being spent on enabling these few startups. The university and the community college both have startup incubators, where taxpayer money goes to fund research that is then privatized so that it doesn't contribute to western civilization except to profit a couple of people.

There may be eventual "spinoff" benefits from startups. They may help the economy become more diversified and New Mexico workers become better able to advance our economy and our society in different ways, but for us to find out how it would require a political class more interested in the public good and an academic class more interested in something besides having nice houses on Nob Hill and where to find the best tasting cappuccinos in a big hurry. As it is now we don't even think of these things as a whole. Only how they make money. For a few people.

Remember that as long as we live in houses, eat food, drive cars, use electricity, gas and water and produce trash, most jobs will necessarily be traditional jobs. Our human needs dictate what jobs there are. Tech and all that is a minor thing but we don't know it because it gets all the media attention. Most people do traditional jobs and we ignore them and their pay and benefits.

And the traditional jobs will once again be enough to keep the economy peculating along and growing when workers get paid more for them, that is, when income distribution is more fair like it was in the few decades after the second world war when the US became the global economic powerhouse it is and after the Democrats of that time allowed and encouraged a healthy labor movement, which is the exact opposite of what today's Democrats are doing.

When people are doing well, confident in the future, secure, when their pay isn't forever stagnant and their benefits aren't always being taken away, society is much healthier. If you want to know why Obama will be the first president in history not to oversee a single year of 3 percent economic growth, and why people are turning the demagogues like Donald Trump, don't look at Trump or the media, look at the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, Martin Heinrich, Michelle Grisham, Tom Udall, Ben Lujan and the Democrats in the New Mexico house and senate. Then look at yourself. You voted for them.

I don't blame you. You went on the information you had. But you were sold a bill of goods. Start thinking about what brought Trump about and don't let these Democrats fear monger you any more just so they can turn around and sell you out.


If I have to see this every time I close my eyes you should too dammit.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

So Why Do They Rebel...Or As You Say, Riot?

Cell Phone Video Shows Charlotte, NC Cop Planting Gun Next To Police Shooting Victim Keith Scott

Media has been breathlessly reporting violence during street protests in Charlotte, NC, over the latest police execution of a Black man. We'll see if they pick up on this cell phone video that shows a cop planting evidence.

If you've been paying half attention you know this happens repeatedly, much of it now being exposed by cell phone video and people who are becoming more adept at shooting it and using editing software to highlight details. One well known case was when North Charleston, SC cop Michael Slager was shown planting a taser next to Walter Scott after he murdered Scott in cold blood while he was running away.

While an inordinate percentage of police violence victims are Black it's by no means limited to Blacks. Police forces weren't formed to give out tickets. The police predate automobiles. The police came about to round up property that ran away from slaveowners, to break strikes, to protect business property. The police are and always have been the enforcers of class war from above.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Newsweek: Democratic Party Doomed

On the subject of millennials disapproval of Hillary Clinton Newsweek columnist Emmett Rensin writes:

"Hillary Clinton does not support single-payer health care; Young voters do. Hillary Clinton is among the more hawkish members of the Democratic Party; Young voters are not. Hillary Clinton is a capitalist, and even within a capitalist party, she is in both perception and in practice unusually comfortable with capitalism’s worst practices. Millennials, by contrast, reject the entire economic system by a bare majority."

Democratic Party members and liberal pundits berate millennials for not casting aside their beliefs in order to stop Donald Trump, but ignore the fact that Trump's support comes from older voters who abandoned the Democratic Party because it abandoned them.

They raise the specter of Ralph Nader costing Al Gore the 2000 election and ignore the fact that hundreds of thousands of Florida registered Democrats voted for George W Bush.

People talk about the Republican Party being doomed, but Rensin thinks the Democratic Party is the one that's in trouble. On that he may be underestimating how craven Democratic elected officials can be. Hillary changed her tune on a number of important issues to fend off Bernie Sanders, the TPP trade treaty for example. No one believes her, but she's Hillary. Democratic politicians generally are better liars than Hillary. Their supporters have little idea of what their elected representatives do once in office yet believe in their hearts that they're representing their economic interests.

Millennials, who have developed their own news sources and widely share their knowledge across social media, are more well informed than that, and Democrats who want to keep their fancy offices, their status, their hefty paychecks and gold plated benefits and retirement plans will eventually start paying millennials and their beliefs more attention and will start singing if not a different tune in a slightly less offensive key.

George Galloway

The inimitable George Galloway is back, hosting a program called Sputnik on RT, the Russian government owned CNN-type network. On his show the outspoken British politician and long time friend of the Palestinians and other victims of western imperialism, who was again voted out of the parliament in 2015 and is universally despised and derided by UK establishment figures including on the Left, interviews oppositional figures and comments on current UK politics.

RT, originally Russia Today, doesn't fare much better than Galloway even in its Wikipedia article which slams it for having a pro Russian editorial posture, although in reality RT does nothing that CNN, CBS, NBC and the rest of the US networks and print media do willingly for the US government and for free. It gives the Russian side of things, and less insidiously than the US media does when it uncritically promotes US foreign policy propaganda while it poses as being neutral. Remember the US media's drum beat coverage that helped lead us into the Iraq War Iraq war, the non existent weapons of mass destruction the US media told us existed, etc.?

RT has gained some reach in the US by giving a platform to people like Galloway, Larry King,  Thom Hartman, Ed Schultz and Pulitzer Prize winning former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, whose views the US media doesn't care to hear. Galloway started off in the UK's Labour Party but was tossed out of it by Tony Blair for criticizing Blair and the Labour leadership when they were taking Labour to the right like top Democrats have done to the Democratic Party in the US. He later joined the small Respect Party and ws elected to parliament again. Galloway is also known for his contentious interviews on mainstream media outlets like this one with SKY News, the Rupert Murdoch owned UK equivalent of the Rupert Murdoch owned Fox News in the US. The first 27 seconds of this clip is classic Galloway.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Register To Vote By Text?

In another indication of how modern technology is making life more convenient and wonderful you can now register to vote on your cell telephone.

Fight For The Future, one of the activist groups that's engaged in the ongoing battle to keep the internet free and open to everyone, sent me an email today with a link to a new system that lets you to register to vote by exchanging a series of text messages with a computer.

After you enter your phone number into this form, it sends you a text message and from then on it's all by text messages. It doesn't have to be a smart phone either.

I have to say it didn't work for me and they emailed me a registration form to print out and send in.

I moved recently and it might be that my updated registration information isn't on file at the "national data base" they checked. Maybe there are glitches that need to be worked out. When I did find my registration at the New Mexico secretary of states' office with a handy link Fight For The Future provided it says I'm registered at my current address.

The New Mexico secretary of state is keeping track of my voting history. I moved to New Mexico in 2000 and apparently didn't start voting here until 2004. I was driving over the road then and was only "home," a rented house outside of Moriarty, every couple months. I had a post office box out there and would sometimes come through New Mexico in the middle of the night and stop and get my mail but I rarely took time off as I was able to create time off for myself when I needed it by manipulating the dispatch system a little bit and I usually did that in southern California. For example, if I was delivering a load in California on a Friday and wanted to stay in California for a few days, I'd deliver the load but not tell my company about it until I knew that all the loads that were leaving California had been taken by other drivers. That meant I had to sit and wait until at least Monday morning, so it was off the the beach or the laundromat in Long Beach where I could park the truck on the Pacific Coast Highway or my favorite restaurants, malls, movie theaters and so on where I knew of places I could park the truck. And places where I could steal a free wifi signal; if you park outside a lawyers office, for instance. A lot of them are not very security conscious and you don't need a password to pick up their wifi signal. But many businesses are like that. Just drive around an industrial park with your computer on and eventually it will pick up an unsecured internet wifi signal.

The secretary of state link that shows your registration, by the way, also lists every kind of district you're in -- state house and senate, school board, water conservation, US house, etc., and your precinct number, which are all usually a mystery to me.

The battle to save the internet, incidentally, is a constant and ongoing struggle as corporations and the political class are constantly coming up with schemes to commercialize the internet and allow deep pocket corporations to push aside the web traffic of the little guy, activist groups and any kind of insurgency not to mention local garden clubs. They want most of all to be able to create fast and slow lanes. I.e., if you pay a fee your web site gets seen. If not it would be hard to find it.

As it is now, every web site from AT&T to my blog to Boeing to a community forum in Bangladesh all have equal access to the internet and travel over the internet at the same speed and download at the same speed. If our politicians and their Capitalist masters have their way a big company could pay to have their web site hog up all the internet space and little "free" sites would be difficult to find and download, or could even be eliminated altogether if they didn't pay or if the controlling authority didn't like their politics.

Find out more at Fight For The Future.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Energy Investment

This little pie chart shows where investment is going in energy sources through 2015, according to the IEA, International Energy Association.

Despite oil and gas still taking up half the pie, an accompanying article says a shift toward environmentally friendly energy sources is  actually occurring fast enough to keep global temperature rise below the 2 degree goal set by the Paris Climate Accords. That's good news for life on earth, bad news for some environmental groups' fundraising.

The article notes the shifts in investment from oil and gas to Renewables are due to a large degree because of government policies, whereas in places like China, where growth is the only goal, nuclear and coal are still getting big investments.

I saw a link to this chart in another article discussing the long term economic consequences of the decline in oil and gas prices and investment in those commodities, of which New Mexico lawmakers are well aware as they have a large budget deficit because of it. But the article says that although consumer spending ticks up when oil and gas prices drop, it's offset by the layoffs in those industries, so the economy doesn't really benefit overall.

Now, if we could take those trillions of cash American corporations have stashed offshore to avoid paying taxes on it and use it to lower the price of solar electricity, wind and thermal power, the economy would take off. Instead, our lovely Democratic congress members and Hillary Clinton want to declare a "tax holiday" for those corporations and are working on a deal to let them bring that money back to the USA and pay almost no taxes on it, and then lower the tax rate on them permanently. Democrats are doing this. This is happening under the radar, out of the light of day, down in the sewers where the cockroaches stay.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Foreign Policy Press

The airstrikes by the US and its allies that killed 52 Syrian soldiers over the weekend and started the unraveling of the cease fire have quickly been replaced  in the headlines by news of an aid convoy being bombed and by Angelina Jolie's divorce from Brad Pitt.

The airstrikes, however, may have been ordered by officers in the US military who were opposed to the cease fire, some outside the mainstream media are speculating. If that's true -- and several US top brass are on record as "having reservations" about the cease fire deal made by US and Russian politicians -- it would be something akin to a mutiny, an ominous development in an already ominous set of recent developments.

The US has ground troops in Syria. Russia and China have ground troops in Syria. US provocations in the South China Sea against China continue and US provocations against Russia continue in Eastern Europe as the buildup of US and NATO troops on Russia's borders continues largely out of the public eye. Another 4,000 NATO troops were deployed to Poland over the weekend, joining thousands recently stationed along Russia's borders along with their armament and missiles. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton met yesterday with the puppet president of Ukraine who was installed after the US engineered 2014 coup against Ukraine's elected president.

Another ominous aspect of all this is that the foreign policy press, the reporters who cover the state department and are covering the US war against Syria, are nothing more than cheerleaders for the US state department and military. I've been following some of them on Twitter where they can share the views that have to disguise when they write their articles. In their Twitter comments back and forth they reflexively blame Russia and Syria for things when their government blames Russia and Syria for things. They've internationalized the US propaganda line.

I quickly found this tweet by Steve LeVine of Quartz, forwarded by his colleague Laura Rozen of Middle East Monitor. He accepts as undisputed truth the US government lines that the bombing of Syrian troops was accidental and that Russia bombed the aid convoy, even though there's no evidence for either assertion and LeVine has no way of knowing what happened in either instance.

As a former reporter I can tell you that that's pretty routine, really. Reporters do that for a couple of reasons. One is to keep their sources happy. Their "sources" are the people who will answer their phone calls and who will give them the inside details when they are under deadline pressure and who will give them a headline story now and then in the very competitive field of journalism, which even though its competitive is also a community.

Another reason reporters toe a common storyline is that they are a social group. They hang out out together. They see each other day in and day out at press conferences and news events and sit and shoot the bs for hours and hours waiting for an official to show up for press briefings and things like that. After work they go the bars together, sleep together, develop friendships and romances and so on. Almost no one wants to be an outlier from their social group. In their Twitter comments the foreign policy press even criticize "the media" for how it covers things like the presidential campaign. In other words, they somehow see themselves as being different from other reporters, not of them. From the way they talk to each other it's obvious that they see their peer group as being the foreign policy establishment, government officials, think tank employees, and military brass and military spokespeople.

Meanwhile common Middle Easterners keep dying by the thousands and the nuclear armed superpowers edge closer and closer to war.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Stiglitz: Euro No Good

Stiglitz and Tom Clark - Paul Hertfield photo
Economist Jopeph Stiglitz is giving interviews in promoting his recently released book The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe in which he talks about the flawed economic fundamentals at the heart of the project that united Europe under a common currency and sought to integrate the European economies in one big border free economic zone. The experiment has failed, the former chief economist at the World Bank and a Nobel prize winner in economics says, because it caused capital to flow from poorer countries like Greece and Spain to richer countries like Germany, and because it increased inequality, which brings down upon an economy its own set of unfavorable consequences.

But the book is really an attack on Neoliberalism, the Thatcher/Reagan economic philosophy behind the Eurozone and behind trade deals like TPP and NAFTA and that guides current US economic policy and that the US political class, Democrat and Republican, have adopted, as Stiglitz concedes in an interview with Tom Clark at the UK's Prospect magazine.

If you'd like to listen to Stiglitz talking about all this the London School of Economics podcast interviewed him recently - podcasts are available in so many formats it's best to just search for it. If you go to Google News and search for Stiglitz many articles and interviews in print come up.

Stiglitz, who also served in the Bill Clinton administration, was originally behind Neoliberalism but he and a few other prominent economists, including Christine LeGarde who now heads up the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, have soured on it, and despite this and the fact that it has led to permanent economic stagnation -- what almost every economists is now calling "the new normal" -- Neoliberalism remains entrenched.

But the Capitalist class and its political enforcers will have to do something about Neoliberalism sooner if not later because the economic inequality and economic stagnation Neoliberalism has caused has also led to the rise of what they fear most, populism, in the US in the form of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and in Europe in the rise of UKIP Party in the UK and the National Front in France and in every other European country in some often frightening neo-Nazi form.

The Capitalist class and its political handmaids now have two choices; to ditch Neoliberalism or try to oppress populism. In the US, where the federal government including the Obama Administration has given multi-millions of dollars worth of of military equipment to local police forces and where every police department including Albuquerque's now trots out multiple SWAT teams, army tanks and legions of police on overtime in military assault costumes at the slightest hint of unrest or peaceful protest, and where protest movements like Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter and the recent pipeline protests in the plains states have been met or put down with law enforcement violence, the route favored by our leaders so far has been oppression.

The presidential election now underway is inconsequential in this regard. Voters have a choice between a proven cold blooded killer who is 100 percent behind the Capitalist class -- Hillary Clinton -- and a con man -- Donald Trump -- who would do everything he's told to do but not nearly as effectively, or ruthlessly, I'd say. But oppression can't work forever, and the question is, if our rulers continue down the same path what form the decline and demise of the current system will take, being that the US population lacks a political  consciousness that would allow it to form some kind of alternative system and that the political class knows nothing but the Neoliberal/Reaganomics/Clintonism that it's been doing for more than 30 years now.

Former Republican Governor Meets Real World

Former Kansas Republican governor Bill Graves just stepped down after 13 years running the American Trucking Association, the owners' industry and lobbying group, and in an interview with a trucking industry publication gently asserted that Republicans need to stop lying and that the US has to double its spending on infrastructure or the economy just can't grow. Many in the trucking industry, owners and drivers, are conservatives so it's no surprise that a comment after the article said that if gub'mint didn't spend all its money on welfare it'd have enough to fix them roads and bridges.

So would we end up with better government policy if more politicians, like Graves, had to work in the real world for awhile? No. Graves' Wikipedia article says he was a "moderate" Republican governor who often tangled with his party's conservative wing. It also says his parents ran a trucking company. They most likely weren't the Chamber of Commerce types, or typical American Trucking Association member types, who reflexively oppose any taxes, any spending, any wage increases, any anything. Trucking owners and drivers work in the real world and it doesn't make them want to look at welfare statistics that show that half as many people receive welfare as used to before Bill and Hillary Clinton "reformed" welfare.

Kansas, once the heart of "prairie populism," is now a very conservative state and has led the nation in things like restricting abortion. Tomas Frank's watermark 2004 book "What's The Matter With Kansas: How Conservatives Won The Heart Of America," after all, used Kansas as its prime example. The problem lies with the messaging. Republicans found out how to make it appeal to the emotions. They understand that we're irrational beings.

Democrats got beat at the PR game and instead of figuring out how to fight back just gave up. Many of them, like the Democrats we have in New Mexico, have switched sides and become fiscal conservatives.

Meanwhile the ride to Holbrook and back gets bumpier every night. The recent monsoon season took a severe toll on the roads. Some of the "whoop-de-doos" as you come off of overpasses are truly frightening now, and dangerous. They still fix the potholes but they do it cheaper every time. They replace overpasses now and then. I don't want to think about how they're cutting costs on those.