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The Obama Whitehouse: Bush’s Third Term?
09.01.2009
06:43 pm
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In what reads like something out of High Castle-era Philip K. Dick, David Swanson describes what the American landscape might have looked like under a third Bush administration.  More warrantless spying, escalating military budgets, formalizing policies of preventive detention, Swanson’s list is long—and grim.  That’s just the set-up, though, to a far scarier punchline:

This dark fantasy of a third Bush term is also an accurate portrait of Obama’s first term to date.  In following Bush, Obama was given the opportunity either to restore the rule of law and the balance of powers or to firmly establish in place what were otherwise aberrant abuses of power.  Thus far, President Obama has, in all the areas mentioned above, chosen the latter course.  Everything described, from the continuation of crimes to the efforts to hide them away, from the corruption of corporate power to the assertion of the executive power to legislate, is Obama’s presidency in its first seven months.

David Swanson is the author, most recently, of Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.

Spotted via The Nation: Bush’s Third Term?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.01.2009
06:43 pm
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Could a Viable Third Party Emerge in the U.S.?
09.01.2009
05:14 pm
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Following on from yesterday’s essay about the seismic changes in Japanese politics, today Dangerous Mind pal, Charles Hugh Smith wonders if a Third Party voter’s revolution would be possible in America. His conclusions are thought provoking and may surprise you:

Here are the key ingredients of a viable new party:

1. The usual suspects which fund the Old Guard must not find a new home: that would be the unions and all the other Power Elites: the investment banks, the pharmaceuticals, the “Defense” industry, the trial lawyers, etc. Their money and their participation must be politely rejected lest they co-opt and thus destroy the new party.

2. A few break-away Old School politicians who could provide credible leadership while the party grew.

3. Consumer advocates—middle-class citizens of all ages who are tired of being lied to and manipulated, tired of being ripped off, etc.

4. Young activists who are willing to devote their energies to investigating and exposing all that the political and corporate/banking Elites strive to keep obscured and secret. When the corruption, cronyism and collusion have been exposed, year after year after year, then eventually the general public—poorer, more insecure and frustrated than ever—will finally let go of the comforting illusion that they share any real interests with either of the two corrupt parties of collusion.

5. Insiders willing to expose the machinery of collusion and cronyism. The Status Quo will move rapidly and violently to suppress whistleblowers, but without these courageous citizens then the full extent of the rot cannot be exposed.

If these parts slowly self-assemble, a viable national party could become possible. We should note that it took 15 years for the process to reach critical mass in Japan; there were many half-starts and disappointments along the way.

Could a Viable Third Party Emerge in the U.S.? by Charles Hugh Smith

Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.01.2009
05:14 pm
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Thank God It’s Thursday: Welcome to the 4 Day Work Week
09.01.2009
01:30 pm
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By the time that TIME magazine gets around to reporting on a “new trend” you can be sure it’s probably last year’s news, which is why this article—about the insanely popular 4-day work week in Utah—caught my eye:

In an era when most of us seem to be working more hours than ever (provided we’re still lucky enough to have jobs), 17,000 people in Utah have embarked on an unusual experiment. A year ago, the Beehive State became the first in the U.S. to mandate a four-day workweek for most state employees, closing offices on Fridays in an effort to reduce energy costs. The move is different from a furlough in that salaries were not cut; nor was the total amount of time employees work. They pack in 40 hours by starting earlier and staying later four days a week. But on that fifth (glorious) day, they don’t have to commute, and their offices don’t need to be heated, cooled or lit.

After 12 months, Utah’s experiment has been deemed so successful that a new acronym could catch on: TGIT (thank God it’s Thursday). The state found that its compressed workweek resulted in a 13% reduction in energy use and estimated that employees saved as much as $6 million in gasoline costs. Altogether, the initiative will cut the state’s greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 12,000 metric tons a year. And perhaps not surprisingly, 82% of state workers say they want to keep the new schedule. “It’s beneficial for the environment and beneficial for workers,” says Lori Wadsworth, a professor at Brigham Young University who helped survey state employees. “People loved it.”

The Four-Day Workweek Is Winning Fans

Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.01.2009
01:30 pm
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Japan’s Bloodless Coup
08.31.2009
10:32 am
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Dangerous Minds pal Charles Hugh Smith has posted an essential essay to read today at Of Two Minds if you want to understand the voter’s revolution that just occurred in Japan. The ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) is out, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is in and over 50 years of domestic and foreign policy is about to be turned on its head:

Transparency has no place in central planning. The major banks were crippled with massive bad debts, yet the planners moved glacially to force write-offs and renunciation of impaired debt. Even now, no one really knows how much uncollectable debt remains on the books in Japan, Inc.

One reason is cultural. Declaring a bank insolvent is a major loss of face for everyone involved. Thus the preferred solution was to keep “zombie banks” alive as a face-saving measure.

The tricks used were plentiful and clever. Say a commercial real estate loan went south and the borrower stopped paying. Hmm, that looks bad; why not loan the firm more money, as long as they agreed to use part of it to make some token payments which would allow the bank to keep the loan off the “in default” ledger?

Never mind the additional loans only made matters worse; face was saved and time was bought.

After 20 years of malaise, the citizenry’s patience finally ran out. Things are dire for the Japanese economy and nation: the birth rates have fallen dramatically, social security costs on the exploding elderly population are climbing, and an entire generation of younger workers has been relegated to dead-end part-time jobs at 7-11. Like other global manufacturers, to remain competitive Japan’s firms moved production to China and other parts of Asia; automation in Japanese factories eliminated many of the remaining domestic jobs.

Japan’s Bloodless Coup: Devolution of the Export/Central Planning Model

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.31.2009
10:32 am
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Wackpot Michelle Bachman Calls for Fasting and Prayer to Defeat Health Care for All US Citizens
08.27.2009
11:55 am
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imageShe’s baaaack… Minnesota congresswoman and escaped mental patient, Michelle Bachmann continues to bring the crazy. They should probably institute an IQ test for potential candidates for Congress to weed the complete crackpots out, but what can you do? This lady was duly elected by the people of her district, TWICE. I guess that dumb people need representation, too and I do hope that her fellow opponents of health care for all our citizens take her advice. From The Minnesota Independent:

 

 

 

Bachmann was joined by North Carolina

Uninsured US Citizen Posts Video About Health Care on Sarah Palin’s FaceBook Page
08.25.2009
11:33 am
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...and the predictable loony results.

Kenneth Thomas writes:

Hey Dangerous Minds - after frustrating discussions with family members about why health care reform is needed, I decided to make a 3-minute video describing how no reform equals a bad future for me and millions. Well, I posted the video to Sarah Palin’s FaceBook page, to try and show people the views of one, simple, hard-workin’ American and what I got was an anti-gay comment, skewed views on Christianity, and lots and lots of paranoid-driven misinformation. It’s a great example of how disinformation spreads like a virus that can’t be controlled after a while.

Nice work Kenneth!

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.25.2009
11:33 am
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Michael Moorcock: “Starship Stormtroopers”
08.25.2009
01:26 am
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Great 1978 essay from the Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review where sainted SF writer Michael Moorcock takes a heavy swing at right-wing science fiction writers and fans. Great stuff in here.

An anarchist is not a wild child, but a mature, realistic adult imposing laws upon the self and modifying them according to an experience of life, an interpretation of the world. A ‘rebel’, certainly, he or she does not assume ‘rebellious charm’ in order to placate authority (which is what the rebel heroes of all these genre stories do). There always comes the depressing point where Robin Hood doffs a respectful cap to King Richard, having clobbered the rival king. This sort of implicit paternalism is seen in high relief in the currently popular Star Wars series which also presents a somewhat disturbing anti-rationalism in its quasi-religious ‘Force’ which unites the Jedi Knights (are we back to Wellsian ‘samurai’ again?) and upon whose power they can draw, like some holy brotherhood, some band of Knights Templar. Star Wars is a pure example of the genre (in that it is a compendium of other people’s ideas) in its implicit structure—quasi-children, fighting for a paternalistic authority, win through in the end and stand bashfully before the princess while medals are placed around their necks.

Star Wars carries the paternalistic messages of almost all generic adventure fiction (may the Force never arrive on your doorstep at three o’clock in the morning) and has all the right characters. It raises ‘instinct’ above reason (a fundamental to Nazi doctrine) and promotes a kind of sentimental romanticism attractive to the young and idealistic while protective of existing institutions. It is the essence of a genre that it continues to promote certain implicit ideas even if the author is unconscious of them. In this case the audience also seems frequently unconscious of them.

(Link here.)

Posted by Jason Louv
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08.25.2009
01:26 am
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Dorian Cope: The Executions of Sacco and Vanzetti
08.24.2009
05:11 am
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Anarchist blogger Dorian Cope says:

Eighty-two years ago today on 23rd August 1927, Italian-born anarchists ?

Posted by Jason Louv
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08.24.2009
05:11 am
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The Health Care Debate Explained on the Back of a Napkin
08.22.2009
12:26 pm
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Dan Roam is an author and graphic designer living in San Francisco. His book is called The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures and this is how Dan (with Dr. Tony Jones, MD) visualizes the health care debate in terms simple enough for Republicans, Fox News viewers and even your crazy tea baggin’ birther uncle in Kentucky to understand it. First, he rightly characterizes the debate as one over insurance reform—what it really is—and not health care reform. Obama administration TAKE NOTE!

Dan Roam on Slide Share
The Back of the Napkin

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.22.2009
12:26 pm
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New Michael Moore Trailer for Capitalism, A Love Story
08.21.2009
04:23 pm
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I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Capitalism a Love Story. No fan of Capitalism and a big Moore fan, this looks like a treat for moi.

Capitalism, A Love Story

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.21.2009
04:23 pm
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