Saturday, October 15, 2011

Parsing 99%

It's becoming increasingly common to discuss the 99%/Occupy movement in terms of economics; I don't think this gets to the point of the nub's gist. Ask everyone you know and all of those you meet what they think of this:

Ann Coulter
99% of them will deplore the remark. Or send these same folks to the 99% tumblr and then have them read this:

99% will find the implied "they are all a bunch of liars" appalling.

Or take this, Obama sends 100 soldiers to battle or train to battle troops against the Lord's Resistance Army. Right or wrong, 99% of the people, who know what and who the LRA is, will find this from Rush Limbough appalling:

"So that's a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda," Limbaugh said. "No, I'm not kidding." 
Or the stories of stock brokers, jobbers, and related con men who see a reduction of their salaries from 500k to 300k as "demoralizing." Again 99% of the world would be appalled.

The 99% aren't protesting economic  policies per se, they, we, want a world that reflects the values, desires, and needs of 99% of society instead of the 1% of profound dickheads who either have more money than sense and the sociopaths who support them.

Out of The Closet

As we know, the past 30 years have seen an orgy of job destruction, income reduction, and oligarchical domination in the private sector that has, in the past few years, fallen on the essential public workers, teachers, firemen, police, and etc. We all also know that there is some committee or another meeting to come up with cuts and tax increases to balance the budget.

What to expect? More of the same:

Both Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who heads the Senate counterpart, sent letters to the super committee Friday urging, if not downright begging, the 12 deficit deciders not to touch the Pentagon's discretionary budget, although Levin suggested the panel propose a commission to look into finding savings in the military retirement and health care systems.
That's right, cut people not things. After all what did people ever do for you?

This Is Not Rational

When I was a Boy Scout, one of my fellows was a nearly perfect example of the current crop of maniacs who called themselves conservatives.  Unable to make a coherent argument, he would mocked, misunderstood, and misrepresented whatever it was he didn't like. In one instance, one recall fairly vividly, he was trying to make fun of automotive recall efforts and ended up making vroom vroom noises and saying something like I sure the engines can't fall out of Corvairs. It was so bizarre, now his doppelganger is running for president:

So apparently we don't have to save those job and we don't have to rehire teachers because kids should show up to school and find no teachers there.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mayor Blumberg Beclowns Himself

So he called off the eviction of the OWS 99% folks but, just to remind us all that he is a billionaire on
his radio show this morning, Bloomberg was clearly trying to strike an equitable and impartial note. “The protestors, in all fairness, have been very peaceful there,” he said. But he then went on to cite the concerns of the people living in the neighborhood of Zuccotti Park, adding, “The longer this goes on, the worse it is for our economy.”
Yes, it those peacefully protesting Johnnies who are causing the 25% effective un and underemployment in these United States, long may laughter be its best medicine.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Call Bullshit

The Heritage Foundation claims that
a reduction in the corporate income tax rate to 25 percent shows impressive growth for the U.S. economy.[3] For example:
  • The number of jobs in the U.S. would grow on average by 581,000 annually from 2011 to 2020, with 531,000 on average being created in the private sector each year;
  • U.S. real gross domestic product would rise on average by $132 billion per year;
  • A typical family of four’s after-tax income would rise on average by $2,484 per year;
  • U.S. capital stock would grow by an average of $240 billion more per year; and
  • Gross private domestic investment would increase by $57.2 billion per year.[4]
Reducing the corporate rate would make investing in the U.S.—by both domestic and international firms—more attractive. The lower rate provides an incentive for foreign corporations to make investments in the U.S.
According to a
report by the Congressional Research Service, using different methodology, found that the U.S. had an effective corporate tax rate of 27.1 percent in 2008. Other industrialized countries had an average 27.7 percent effective rate, using a weighted approach that adjusted for the size of the economy, and a 23.3 percent rate with an unweighted approach.
A 2.1 percent decrease is going to lead to a 132 billion per year increase in GDP forever and 1/2 a million jobs per year for 9 years straight? Seriously? Corporations are so greedy that because of a loss of 2.1% of their after tax income they deny themselves and the world 9x5ook new jobs and customers per year plus 132millionXinfinity dollars.

Why it's almost like they think people are too stupid to walk and chew gum. We are not all, after all, the current or former Governor of Texas.

People Not Things

Over to Crooked Timber, Clay Shirky concludes:
What puzzles me is why we should want to avoid those [agency denying] phrases in the first place. What is it about communications tools that seems to arouse more anxiety about our usual, agency-encapsulating shorthand than other kinds of technologies? 
 He sneers at the childishness of worrying about including agents when writing about technology:
Consider, as an example plucked from the communal corpus just now, the Henckels 8-Inch Bread knife, as reviewed on Amazon
Very nice knife, cuts the bread without any effort and looks good doing it.
…or this, also googled up an instant ago, from the story of ships operated by the Furness Bermuda Cruise Line
During the 1920s, Forts Hamilton, Victoria and St George carried the
Now you might expect the people worried about tools and agency to be all over stuff like this: “The knife cuts the bread?! Humans cut the bread, thank you very much. And ships carrying passengers? What’s this, Thomas The Yacht Engine?”

Really? The ships do carry the passengers but they are the product of human ingenuity and etc. Everyone knows that, the verb carry doesn't offer any hint of agency. Neither does the verb cut. As  matter of fact, nobody anywhere thinks that ships build and steer themselves of that knives cut with out some animating force, usually a person. Oddly enough, he more or less admits all this

However, as he makes clear, when it comes to the recent events in North Africa and the Middle East, people, like Clay Shirky want to give some credit for causing those events to the tools used. When, on a more serious note, he argues:
Some of this may be about the newness of the Arab Spring, but agency anxiety seems to attach to communications tools more generally—in The Social Life of Media Peter Burke and Asa Briggs attack Elizabeth Eisenstein’s The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, specifically on the grounds that her reference to agency is inappropriate.

And yet, despite their commitment to keeping agency firmly lodged in the human, even Messrs. Burke and Briggs end up concluding (a little glumly, to my eye) that:
…in thinking about the way in which printed matter encouraged political consciousness, while a more acute political consciousness led in turn to a rise in the consumption of printed matter, it is difficult to avoid a phrase like ‘the logic of print’ (pg. 88)
The thing is that, as Burke and Briggs make clear in the first half of the paragraph Shirky cites, it's not printed matter in the abstract that encouraged the development of a more acute political consciousness; it was the content. The content wasn't created by the printing press. Right now, for example, you can read an endless number of stories about the forbiden love of women and werewolves or vampires and zombies. Romance novels, improbable and often physically impossible tales of daring do, skullduggary, moralizing true crime, mendacious memoirs and etc in their millions pour from the presses and happy are the consumers thereof. It is difficult, but not -- of course --  impossible, to imagine that the latest Soukie Stackhouse potboiler is raising the political consciousness of its many readers.

There is no logic of print that led to the printing and dissemination of Luther's Theses, Sieyes's "What is the Third Estate," or the French Underground's "Combat" anymore than it was Twitter that toppled the leadership in Algeria.  It was rather the people who printed and disseminated them who offered the opportunity for those who wanted to read. In Algeria it was he who immolated himself and those tweeted and sat. There is no logic of print that led to the literate public reading and sharing with illiterates this content. There is no logic of print that requires making the kind of careful, logical argument that aids an individual in developing skills in logic and argument making. There is no mighty power of the twitter that caused the tweets.

That whole process was the result of  people acting in what they perceived as their own best interests. Twitter and etc didn't grant, create, or condition human agency, their creators provided a tool to be used in what people perceived to be their own best interests. It is, to quote Briggs and Burke, "absurd to deny the creative role of individuals  . . . in the politics and in the communication systems . . . or to overlook the place" of other older forms of communication in bringing about revolutions, reformations, and related whatnottery.

There is no logic of the internal combustion engine that required moving factory  jobs from Detroit and Buffalo to the wilds of northern Mexico where because the man with the stick bothers labor leaders but not drug dealers and polluters costs are low and lives are cheap. The internal combustion engine, the Interstate Highway system, free trade agreements, law enforcement priorities and the like are all the result of humanity or some set of somebodies acting in its or their perceived self interest or, for that matter, because of simple curiosity, the joy of creation, or the desire to get laid, or simple nihilism to name but a few motivations. It was the greed and power of some set of sombodies to do all that "rightsizing" and "off-shoring" because that's what they wanted. Like it or not we, they, or some combination thereof are responsible for the mess the world is in.

Why avoid those phrases which grant to the latest shiny technology a role in creating, as opposed to humanity using it or them to create, the world as it is? Because those agency obscuring and reality distorting phrases make it easier to think about a world in which things happen dependent on technological advances as opposed to a world in which powerful groups and individuals or groups and individuals excluded from power manipulate or seek to manipulate political, social, and economic processes to what they perceived to be their own best interests.

Why else?

To Market To Market Jiggity Jig

Ya know, Neoliberals are vicious and want to destroy the world:
Private buyers would want those degree-awarding powers for use overseas for “online and distance education”, Mr Stanfield said. “They would think there is a huge market in that, particularly in Asia and the Gulf.”
The firm buying a stake would see the degree-awarding powers as an intellectual property right, Mr Stanfield said. “What private equity wants to do is take that current IP right and brand and do more with it…”
Asked whether whole or partial buyouts by private buyers were likely in the near future, he said: “I would expect to see something within the next six months, maybe sooner…”
This in England Stanfield is talking about, so this guy is arguing for a rapid-fire sale of institutions that are what they are because of state support whose worth, value, and cost are impossible to determine sold to the highest, or possibly lowest, bidder. What the hell, let's just sell the state to Root, Brown, and Kellog and end the pretense.

Lawlessness And Disorder Conservatives

In a recent speech, Joe Biden made the point that as the number of police went down, because of the collapsed economy, crimes went up, and he used this fact, for fact it seems to be, to support the jobs bill, which the Republicans refused to debate and Conservatives excoriated,  because it would have kept many more cops on the beat.  Whether or not the correlations between fewer cops and more crime is evidence of causation is, it seems to me, open to debate. But surely the notion that an increased police presence and its ability, which is to say reduced civil liberties protection via Constitutional originalism, to deal with crimes large and small has been a key bullet in the arsenal of Right's creation of the security/police state. Biden's use of their argument has enraged the Right and, because argument making is hard, they take to burbling nonsense, which is too say Jonah Goldberg is still dumb:
 What I find amazing about this, is that Biden had the numbers [of increased rapes and murders] ready. That means this is no gaffe, but this is a staff-prepared talking point. Unless of course you think Joe Biden just happened to have the crimes stats for Flint at his fingertips for totally unrelated reasons.
 Why yes, it is shocking and laughable that when explaining the content of a jobs bill that has significant funding for police, fire, and other municipal workers, that Biden would make a speech pointing out the benefits society accrues from the police, fire, and other municipal services.

Small wonder the world sucks.

Did He Watch The Movie?

Over to the NRO's Corner online, Mark Krikorian claims, relying on The World Accoding to Garp, Romney will never, ever make the mistake of implementing a sucessful and popular program like he did with MA's health insurance law because he has been "pre-disastered." After moving into the house, Garp and family suffer from 2 affairs, one dead son, oral sex based castration, one son with one eye, culminating in mom's and Garp's assassinations.Too dumb to live.

On the plus side, if he right and Romney gets elected: Socialism111!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kings of America

Paul Krugman on the hyperwealthy lamenting their hyperwealth because it's only 300k and not 500k
It would all be hilariously funny if these people weren’t destroying the world.
Elvis Costello on, I think, the same set of idiocy, in the Greek sense:

Also too for no reason:

And, for no good reason, the 80s revisited:

Closing Time

Some years ago, Aristotle argued that there is a 

reason the rich and the poor are regarded in an especial sense as parts of a state. Again, because the rich are generally few in number, while the poor are many, they appear to be antagonistic, and as the one or the other prevails they form the government. Hence arises the common opinion that there are two kinds of government- democracy and oligarchy.
It's important to note, that Aristotle insisted the the rich and their riches were beneficial only to the extent that "the wealthy . . .  minister to the state with their property." By which he means that wealth is a means to the end of creating a thriving city-state; should, he suggests, the wealthy use their wealth to further enrich themselves they are, in the Greek sense, idiots and, consequently, a destructive force. 

With the collapse, or apparent collapse, of this democracy's commitment to the poor, it would seem, in Aristotelian terms that we are entering a period of oligarchy.  I offer you, consequently, mad man Jack London's Ernest Everhard and various versions of Woody Guthrie's genius:



comedic relief


Warren Report Video Edition

Here is Elizabeth Warren in her own words:

Here is some more:

Here's a positive, I think, satiric take:

Here is what the creatures of oligarchy want you to hear:

What I find odd is that the editors think that by highlighting her commitment to doing what she thinks is right they are proving that she is wrong for public office even as their preferred candidate, Scott Brown, defends what he has done by to continue the ruination of the working class in this country because he thinks he's right in every particular. As by the way, when I wrote that sentence, I had no idea what Scott Brown said or how he voted but using the amazing predictive skills I have honed over the years of listening to apologists for the oligarchy, I assumed that he made an ass of himself and, what do you know, I was right.

Inside Baseball

Josh Marshall goes all inside basebally to explain Perry's drop in the polls:
But stepping back from all the particulars, it seems to me that a key reason for Perry's burn up on reentry into the atmosphere after his rapid ascent in August is that his key political handlers -- and presumably Perry himself -- simply didn't grasp that the dynamics of national politics are just very different from those of Texas.
Ah brave new media with such people in it. How about this: Rick Perry is a moron and his policy positions are idiotic and moronic. The percentage of American voters willing to risk  their future to another moron with idiotic policies from Texas is vanishingly small. When Perry's policies weren't idiotic they were centrist Democratic policies and the percentage of Republicans willing to vote for centrist Democratic, which is to say workable if insufficient, policies is vanishingly small. As a consequence Perry's popularity dissipated. QED.

Why is it that pundits, new media or old, think that the key to explaining things is to pretend that there is some kind of a circle of seriousness and knowledge that they inhabit while others don't. It'd be one thing if Marshall or any of them were right more than they were wrong but the fact is they mostly don't know what they are talking about. Except Krugman and his political judgements are reliably utopian.  Perry and his advisers thought that the time was right for another Texas moron with idiotic policies; they where wrong.

Monday, October 10, 2011

On Notice

You know that thing Stephan Colbert does when he puts a person, place, thing, or concept on notice and it ends up dead to him? Watch

I find this especially helpful with "left" neoliberal bloggers and the funny pages. So, and you know who you are, shape out or die a metaphorical death.

Also on notice my video embedding skills.