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Hey Teabaggers: Rich Hollywood celebrities pay less in property taxes than you do!
03.08.2011
04:39 pm

Topics:
Class War
Economy
Politics
They hate us for our freedom

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There was a fascinating article in The Dever Post yesterday—it’s practically just a list—examining how certain extremely wealthy people pay very, very little in Colorado property taxes. Familiar names and faces like Tom Cruise, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Dick Ebersol of NBC and his wife actress Susan St. James and others pay far, far less in property taxes than most home-owning, God-fearing, rank and file tea-bagging Americans do. What’s a close-minded wingnut to make of this? It’s not what Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin want for America is it??? Or is it?

Hey, wait a minute, Brad Reed writes at Crooks & Liars, this could serve as an effective meme for making those amongst us who are totally impervious to “facts” and “reality” (I’m looking at you, teabaggers) understand how the rich often screw the rest of us over. It might even be a way of persuading the un-persuadable that they are actually acting against their own economic self-interests by their politically unsophisticated participation in far-right advocacy groups. From “How we can convince Tea Partiers to raise taxes on rich people”:

So The Denver Post has done us an extremely useful service today by highlighting just one of many ways that rich people in the United States get away with paying practically zero taxes. I think this could be useful because many of the rich people featured in the story happen to be Hollywood celebrities, who are often the bane of our conservative brethren on a great many issues. Let’s take a look:

Actors, captains of industry, an Ivy League astrologer, sports figures, politicians, energy giants, schoolteachers from Pasadena, Calif. All these are also considered farmers or ranchers for tax purposes in Colorado. They have secured low property taxes through agricultural designations on land they own even though they personally have little or nothing to do with producing food — the reason state legislators originally created a low property-tax rate for the agriculture sector.

In some cases, the properties where they have second, third or fourth homes were traditional working ranches before they were sold to the wealthy and became what, in real-estate lingo, are termed “gentleman ranches” or “recreational ranches.”

You can see where this is going, can’t you? And once you get into the gory details, things get really ugly:

Actor Tom Cruise owns five parcels of land on a scenic mesa northwest of Telluride that has become an enclave of high-end vacation homes. Sheep graze around the mansions for brief periods each year, according to the assessor’s office. Cruise pays just more than $400 in taxes for 248 acres for which he paid nearly $18 million between 1994 and 2002. He pays $11,380 in residential property taxes for the land where his $9.7 million home is located.

Yes, this is how poorly our tax systems across the country are designed: Tom Bleeping Cruise can get away with paying $400 a year in taxes for property that’s worth around $18 million, all because he occasionally allows sheep to walk through it.

Want another ugly detail? Check out this one:

David Tresemer, an astrologer and Harvard-educated psychologist, owns 191 acres and four structures that are listed as farm buildings or residences in the foothills west of Boulder where he operates the StarHouse. It is advertised as a spiritual and cultural space for celebrations of the seasons, the lunar cycles and rituals from ancient and indigenous cultures.

He pays $11.48 in taxes for 38 of the vacant acres and $3,699 for the remainder of the land with the buildings.

OK, even if Ma and Pa Tea Party are still Tom Cruise fans, there ain’t no way they’re happy that a Harvard-educated astrologer is paying just over $11 in taxes for 38 vacant acres of land. And remember, these are only two examples that demonstrate how the rich and their accountants have completely gamed the tax code to their advantage. A more thorough audit of other rich people in other states would no doubt unveil countless other horrors.

Hey, have you got time for another one? Sure you do:

Dick Ebersol and Susan Saint James own a 35-acre lot in the upscale West Meadows subdivision near Telluride. They purchased the land for $1.8 million in 1996 and pay $123 in property taxes on it annually because there is hay on it. They also own an $11 million home in the Mountain Village.

How many Fox News-watching slobs would feel good about themselves if they ever saw THAT story discussed on their favorite rightwing Republican propaganda network? It’ll never happen of course, but it’s worth daydreaming about…

Read more: In Colorado, some famous faces, names get ag-land tax breaks, too (The Denver Post)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘SHAME’: Angry Wisconsinites shut down GOP town hall meeting
03.08.2011
01:29 pm

Topics:
Class War
Current Events
Politics

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Wauwatosa, Wisconsin Town Hall Meeting, 3/7/11

“State reps Jim Sensenbrenner and Leah Vukmir, of the 5th Senate District, walked out on their unhappy constituents after about 30 minutes of threatening to do so because attendees wanted to discuss the political unrest in Wisconsin.”

As Wisconsin goes so will the nation…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Keep It Together! Mick Farren and The Deviants, LIVE, Hyde Park, 1969
03.07.2011
08:45 pm

Topics:
Heroes
History
Music
Politics

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Last week as I was reading Keep it together! Cosmic Boogie with The Deviants and The Pink Fairies Rich Deakin’s sprawling, exhaustively researched and extremely engaging biography of the ever shifting n’er do well personnel of the bands variously known as The Social Deviants, then just The Deviants, and eventually The Pink Fairies, I was annoyed to find that there was little video footage of the group—little? Try none! WTF?—on YouTube. What a difference a week makes because something amazing was posted there in the few days since I last looked.

I’ll let Mick Farren, one of the main characters in this rock and roll saga, take over. Quoting from Mick’s Doc 40 blog:

After waiting more than an unbelievable forty years to see the light of day or be seen by anyone, glorious grainy black and white footage of The Deviants in Hyde Park in September 1969 has finally been posted on YouTube by a crew called VideoHeads out of Amsterdam, led by the legendary Jack Henry Moore. It makes me very happy for a number of reasons, not least of which – after taking so much shit at the time as the allegedly “worst band in the world” – we actually kicked ass in front an estimated audience of 80 thousand in a manner that would have been wholly acceptable and even lauded some six or seven years later. Russell and Sandy are a rock solid foundation. Paul Rudolph’s guitar is mighty, and, as for me, when did you see jackknife shaman dancing the like which closes the show? Okay, so Rudolph and I engage, at one point, in some the atonal freeform bellowing that we called “mouth music”, but no one seems to have a problem with it. And we always attracted Hells Angels and crazy naked psychedelic women.

What you have up on YouTube right now is two sections of around nine minutes each, which – believe it or not – make two halves of one song – what the Pink Fairies would title “Uncle Harry’s Last Freakout”. I guess that was the real difference between the 1960s and 1970s. We could make a thrash last 17 minutes where the Clash or the Pistols would cut it off after three. And, by way of explanation for the opening harangue, the London Street Commune were staging a protest against homelessness by occupying the mansion at 144 Piccadilly at the other end of Park Lane. I’d been warned by the ranking cop at the park concert that my feet wouldn’t touch if I got into any kind of rant about the squatters who were about to be evicted in a massive police action. I just had to test the limits.

But don’t take my word for it. Here are some reminiscences from ukrockfestivals.com

“The most memorable bit for me was when The Deviants were playing and a semi-nude young lady got up on stage and began to dance. As she started to remove the rest of her clothes there was a huge cheer from the crowd. Then a Hells Angel also got on stage and took his leather jacket off to another great cheer but then he put the jacket over the young lady’s shoulders and guided her off the stage, this time to a chorus of boos from the disappointed audience. It was though, another wonderful afternoon in Hyde Park with great music and relaxed atmosphere.” – Steve Trusler

“I remember Al Stewart sitting down on a chair on stage and playing a mellow set of bedsitter folk songs. Quite a few people seemed to like him, but I found him rather wishy-washy (yawn). I remember that the Deviants were absolutely not wishy-washy ~ very aggressive and angry. I’ve heard them described as being the first real punk band. Works for me. But most of all I remember being entranced by the sublime musicality of the Soft Machine. A brilliant band. So totally outside. Imprinted on my memory is the sight of Robert Wyatt singing, and playing amazingly complex drum patterns, wearing just a pair of Y-fronts.” – Jeremy S.

Reading Keep it together!, I was listening daily to the music that Mick Farren has made over the years, primarily Ptooff! and the best of selection, People Call You Crazy: The Story of Mick Farren. Some of it’s pretty amazing stuff, but sadly unheard by many of the music fans who would appreciate it the most. The Deviants’ sound was quite obviously influenced by early Mothers of Invention, The Fugs and The MC5. It could be menacing and leering (“I’m Coming Home”), proto-punk protest (“Garbage”) and sometimes they just wanted to rock out with a Bo Diddley beat. Although I do like the Pink Fairies and also some of Twink’s solo material, I’m really mostly interested in the era when Farren was providing the radical, intellectual lyrics and fronting the group. The Deviants were the first British band who were true anarchists. “Street Fighting Man” was just fashionable pose, these guys lived and snorted their politics. Agitprop bands like The Clash, Crass and the Manic Street Preachers would most definitely tread in their ideological footsteps, whether conscious of it or not.

I also returned to Mick Farren’s autobiography, Give The Anarchist A Cigarette and spent some time looking over the issues of The International Times that are online. When I was in my teens, maybe 15 or 16, I found a whole stack of old issues of IT magazines (which Farren wrote for) in a used bookstore where I’d normally buy old National Lampoons, comics, Rolling Stone and Creem. How they got there, I will never know, but Mick Farren’s political rants and commie/anarchist screeds really resonated with me. Finding these underground papers demonstrated for me the existence of a world outside my hometown—an underground—that I had to become a part of myself. It was an amazing score for a kid like me, as you might imagine and I would read then over and over again. I’m sure that stack of mags had a lot to do with me picking up and leaving home when I was 17 and moving to London, where I lived in a succession of squats for a couple of years. Reading Keep It Together, I became much more aware of what a big influence Mick Farren had on me politically during my formative years and that influence, I think was major. Extremely important to me, thinking back on it. (Whenever I see that one of my own political rants makes it to Mick’s Doc 40 blog, I always get a kick out of it).

About that same time, I was a subscriber to The Trouser Press magazine, which Mick wrote a lot of each issue. Via that publication—which I would wait by the mailbox for each month, willing it to show up—he was probably the rock writer second only to the great Lester Bangs in turning me on to good music.

If ever there was a figure of 20th century counterculture who should be lionized and treated as a respected and revered elder statesman whilst he is still with us, it is the one and only Mister Mick Farren. Farren left sunny Los Angles to return to the UK late last year. People of Great Britain, a legend drinks amongst you! Where the hell is Mick Farren’s Guardian column already? Come on let’s pick up the pace.

“This is British amphetamine psychosis music and if you don’t like it you can f*ck off and listen to your Iron Butterfly albums”—Mick Farren

As intense as the MC5 and The Stooges and as irreverent as The Fugs, here are The Deviants, LIVE:
 

 
More of the Deviants LIVE after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
James Bond for International Women’s Day
03.07.2011
04:12 pm

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Current Events
Politics
Sex

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Daniel Craig as the international symbol of machismo, James Bond, goes through a dramatic transformation to help send a message about the inequalities that exist between men and women.

Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood and scripted by Jane Goldman, the video Equals was created for the Equals partnership, a coalition of charities brought together by Annie Lennox to celebrate the centenary of International Women’s Day on March 8th.

“Together we’re stepping up the call for an equal world. And we want you to join us.”

The voice-over is Dame Judi Dench reprising her role as “M.”
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The likely Republican presidential candidates are extremely weak
03.07.2011
03:58 pm

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Politics

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For a minute there, I thought that someone must’ve hacked into The Washington Post’s website and hijacked George Will’s latest column, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and the spotlight-chasing candidates of 2012.

Why do I say this? Because for once I actually agreed with something that George Will wrote. And if it wasn’t a hacker, does this mean that I woke up this morning in Bizarro World?

Let us not mince words. There are at most five plausible Republican presidents on the horizon - Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

So the Republican winnowing process is far advanced. But the nominee may emerge much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons.

He’s right. Mike Huckabee is a genial idiot & admitted Creationist. He’s got exactly zero chance of carrying a single blue state and probably well aware of this himself.

Newt Gingrich? Why waste even a second contemplating this loud-mouthed, oafish grifter’s chances at the Presidency? He’s impossible to take seriously

Sarah Palin? Next

Haley Barbour? Barbour could win a few Republican primaries in the South, but that’s about it. Think he could take a single blue state or much of anything above the Mason-Dixon Line? Haley Barbour against Obama? Child, please!

Tim Pawlenty doesn’t have an ounce of charisma, he inspires no one and he’s a horse’s ass to boot. I doubt he could win a primary anywhere outside of his own state, except for the presence of all the even shorter midgets who might join in the race. (You can picture Pawlenty doing the electoral math in his head: “These guys (and Palin) suck, but I suck less!”)

Jon Huntsman? Well, Huntsman’s not an idiot and he’d be by far the Republican most Democrats and independent voters sour on Obama could vote for without holding their noses. It should go without saying that this salient fact makes Huntsman a certified no-hoper! He’d never get through a GOP primary season. Not worth serious contemplation for this reason alone. What’s the point, then? There is none. Look for Huntsman to drop out first, unless he thinks he can pull a John Anderson.

Mitch Daniels? Daniels is very, very popular in his home-state and has a competent record for the most part. He received more votes for a re-election than any candidate ever in the state of Indiana. His national profile is still too low to be able to say much about him this early in the game (a plus). Regarding Mitt Romney, the teabaggers and evangelical Christians will never, ever warm to the guy. The more he tries to court them, the more unelectable he will become. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.

So did George Will sell his townhouse in Bizarro World or what? When even he can’t deny the obvious when it’s this… obviously obvious it doesn’t speak well to the GOP’s chances of taking the White House in 2012. It will be interesting to watch how other establishment Republicans and conservatives react to the anticipated field of such tepid GOP presidential candidates.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Shunda K: ‘The Most Wanted’ gay MC
03.07.2011
01:00 pm

Topics:
Music
Politics

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More forward thinking hip-hop, at last! This is the kind I really dig - addressing issues of sex and sexuality which (come on now, let’s be honest) hip-hop has never had a great track record for. Especially where women and gays are concerned.

Shunda K is one half of the out-spoken, lesbian, Christian rap group Yo Majesty. Hailing from Tampa, Florida, Y!M have developed a significant cult following throughout the world, signing to one of the UK biggest indie labels, Domino, and releasing their album Futuristically Speaking… Never Be Afraid in 2008. Their singles “Club Action”, “Don’t Let Go” and guest spot on Basement Jaxx’s “Twerk” have all proved big club hits, and taken the traditional Southern hip-hop sound into areas more electro-friendly and uptempo.
 
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The band are currently on a temporary hiatus, but Shunda has been busy, with guest spots on Peaches’ “Billionaire” and DJ Flore’s Raw album under her belt. This January she released her debut solo album The Most Wanted, preceded by the singles “Here I Am (ft Scream Club’s Cindy Wonderful)” and “I’m Da Best (ft Yo Majesty’s Shon B)” on Fanatic Records.

Yet again defying the traditional notions of what “Southern hip-hop” means, The Most Wanted keeps the dancefloor pressure at an uptempo maximum, with production from UK garage and funky artists like Deekline and French electro producers like Les Gourmets. Shunda K matches them step for step with a breakneck flow that covers God, gays, love, sex, spirituality, enlightenment, education and pussy. Yeah, lots of pussy. The album’s first video “Im Da Best” has just dropped, and sets the scene perfectly:
 

 
Shunda K - “Here I Am (ft Scream Club’s Cindy Wonderful)”
 


 
Shunda K - My Light (ft Tan)
 


 
The Most Wanted has got great reviews already, with MTV Iggy declaring “This is an exciting, deep, and original work of hip hop. Get on it.” Shunda K now stands as the world’s best known and respected gay hip-hop artist. Could she be the first gay rapper to cross over into the mainstream?

The Most Wanted is available here.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Gov. Walker job approval poll

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No comment.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Class War: Labor reporter Mike Elk talks Wisconsin
03.06.2011
10:17 pm

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Class War
Current Events
Heroes
History
Politics

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What should we expect as events unfold this week in Wisconsin? Labor reporter and activist Mike Elk (In These Times, Michael Moore.com) discusses what he saw on the ground at the protests and the rebirth of the labor movement in America. What is happening in Wisconsin is the most import domestic issue of this generation. If you don’t understand why, you need to think a little harder! As labor goes, so goes the nation. Follow Mike Elk on Twitter

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Michael Moore on the Class War: Wisconsin shows America how it’s done

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Michael Moore’s speech in Wisconsin is truly a MASTERPIECE of political oratory. You have to watch it, it’s absolutely riveting. One of the most vital statements of brutal political and economic fact that an American citizen has ever said with the eyes of the world upon them (and Moore’s never been shy in that department, has he?). To Michael Moore, I say “Bravo, sir.” And to the brave working (and retired!) people of Wisconsin and the Democrats on the lam fighting these over-reaching Republican goons on our behalf, you are the very, very best amongst us in a dark time in our nation’s history.

Heroes. Citizens.

Citizens. Heroes.

Talk about speaking truth to power, this is a knock-out. Moore’s words, the crowd, the moment. It’s stunning theater.

The fight in Wisconsin makes me prouder to be an American than I have ever been in my entire life. It makes me glad to be alive right now as the scales fall from the eyes of so many people at once all over the world.

The best part is that you know damned well that Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Palin and the rest of the gasbag rightwing punditocracy are going to pull this speech apart tomorrow. Translation: Every one of those fuckers will have to watch it. Brilliant!

I laughed, I cried and I felt REALLY REALLY HAPPY AND ENERGIZED. What a fantastic gesture for Michael Moore to make and it came at EXACTLY THE RIGHT TIME.

That speech was a profound shot of adrenaline. A part of history. A thing of great beauty.

Please watch forward his speech to everyone you know and have ever met or will meet in the future. Here’s how it starts out:

America is not broke.

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.

Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer “bailout” of 2008, now have more loot, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can’t bring yourself to call that a financial coup d’état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.

And I can see why. For us to admit that we have let a small group of men abscond with and hoard the bulk of the wealth that runs our economy, would mean that we’d have to accept the humiliating acknowledgment that we have indeed surrendered our precious Democracy to the moneyed elite. Wall Street, the banks and the Fortune 500 now run this Republic—and, until this past month, the rest of us have felt completely helpless, unable to find a way to do anything about it.

 
A commenter on YouTube quipped “Imagine if Obama gave a speech like that!” Worth pondering. I hope that the President at least watches this speech, that would be a start in the right direction!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Theater of Hate: How YOU can contact California’s anti-Muslim politicians

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By now, we’ve all probably seen the video of the anti-Muslim hate rally in Orange County, CA. These REPUBLICAN idiots should be ashamed of themselves, but chances are of course, that they feel completely self-satisfied about their actions. Why allow them this pleasure?

Each of these REPUBLICAN politicians who spoke at the anti-Muslim hate rally should resign, effective immediately, so as not to bring any more shame on the great state of California. Why not exercise YOUR right of free speech and let these folks know exactly how you feel about their disgusting behavior? Last time I checked, this was still America and these folks DESERVE SOME FREE SPEECH, don’t ya think?
 
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You can reach REPUBLICAN Congressman Ed Royce here (I just called both offices, it was fun!)

1110 E. Chapman Ave, Suite 207
Orange, CA 92866
T (714) 744-4130 F (714) 744-4056

2185 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
T (202) 225-4111 F (202) 226-03
 
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Villa Park Councilwoman Deborah Pauly, also a REPUBLICAN, said this at the hate rally: “I know quite a few marines who would be happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise.” Was she implying that our marines should be put in service of killing the people who were attending the charity event???

Vile Teabagger Deborah Pauly can be reached here:

Here is her Twitter account:
@YnotDebPauly

Email address:
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Facebook profile:
www.facebook.com/deborah.pauly

How I wish I had a phone number for her, but so far, no luck… Deborah Pauly is also the first pol in the OC to call for CA following Arizona’s plans for illegal immigrants!

You can contact her fellow members of the Villa Park city council here. Why not cc them on anything you send? Can’t hurt!
 
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Ethically-challenged wingnut asshat REPUBLICAN Representative Gary Miller has three offices, two in CA and one in Washington, DC.

Send your love to Rep. Miller at one (or all three) of the following addresses:

2349 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Phone: 202-225-3201
Fax: 202-226-6962

1800 E. Lambert Road
Suite 150
Brea, CA 92821

Phone: 714-257-1142
Fax: 714-257-9242

200 Civic Center
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Phone: 949-470-8484

Go get ‘em. They NEED to hear from you!
 
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Also among the non-elected protesters were Rabbi Dov Fischer of Young Israel of Orange County, Irvine Jewish activist Dee Sterling and Chapman University adjunct professor of law Karen Lugo. It was Karen Lugo (a pal of Michele Bachmann) who said “This is not about hate [...] We are not hatemongers. The word ‘Islamophobia’ is an effort to chill us. The Constitution was never meant to allow a tyranny of a minority.”

She’s a freakin’ LAW PROFESSOR and she makes a statement like that in this context! Lugo must have a severe irony deficiency, eh? (Or else she’s just a flaming idiot). Best of all? Lugo is a member on the California Advisory Committee to the US Civil Rights Commission!!!

Unfortunately, here’s that vile video again if you want to psych yourself up for the task:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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