Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Is The US a Police State?

Title of a Counterpunch article by John Grant.

We are inundated in this country with propaganda boilerplate about being the greatest democracy in the world. No, we’re not a police state like our friends in Saudi Arabia or our former friends, and current enemies, in Iran. Our police agencies have figured out how to accomplish police state repression in a “softer,” more sophisticated manner.

Of course I made this argument a few times (1),(2), (3), particularly in my American Big Man series. I also tweeted about the most recent example that happened on the run up to the 9-11 10th anniversary commemoration.

One thing that I've thought about is the Posse Comitatus Act. Original:

Sec. 15. From and after the passage of this act it shall not be lawful to employ any part of the Army of the United States, as a posse comitatus, or otherwise, for the purpose of executing the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress ; and no money appropriated by this act shall be used to pay any of the expenses incurred in the employment of any troops in violation of this section and any person willfully violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be punished by fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or imprisonment not exceeding two years or by both such fine and imprisonment[5]

In 2006 the act was amended to allow the military to step in to restore public order. This was then reverted back in 2008. Now the reason I bring this up is due to Chief Ray Kelly's interview with 60 Minutes in which he admitted that the NYPD has the capability to bring down commercial aircraft. Despite his later denials, I believe him 100%. The NYPD is perhaps the most militarized police dept in the nation. It occurred to me that such militarization of the police is a direct end run around the Posse Comitatus Act. Instead of bringing the military into the domestic sphere merely extend the power of domestic police to include capabilities and equipment previously available only to the military. In the end you get the same result with a different name.

Many people are under the impression that the Posse Comitatus Act provides a blanket ban on the military in the domestic arena. But the Coast Guard, a part of the Navy can and does enforce domestic law. The Insurrection Act already provides for use of the military, and most importantly the Congress may authorize the use of the military to enforce domestic law at any time.

As I said on Twitter; I think a lot of people have an idea about what a police state is based on movies and from dictators in the middle east, etc. They fail to realize to recognize the purpose of a police state is population control. Particularly the control of dissident voices and actions within the population. it is the ability to track citizens against their wishes, and it usually accompanied by claims of security and safety. A soft police state is still a police state.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Multiculturalism Fails and What It Means to Corporate America

This from Diversity Inc. I usually find myself disagreeing with a lot of the commentary from that publication, but the cited article hits the nail on the head. I've been saying similar things about Europe for some time.

think multiculturalism, as practiced by countries in northern Europe and Great Britain, is a failure. Group performance, whether it be in a country or a corporation, requires clear values....In my opinion, multiculturalism is economically and politically detrimental. A society does not benefit by fostering enclaves of people who refuse to knit into the society as defined by its stated values. I know that some people will disagree with this, but I also feel that it is the nation’s right to purposefully work toward limiting the operations of those who do not wish to live by the stated values, and that citizenship must overtly include living by our standards as defined by the foundation documents.

I said something similar back in 2009:

This simply does not apply in Europe. The answer to "Who is French" is "I'm from here. I am a Gaul." That is the end of the conversation. No immmigrant, no matter how long they have been there can make such a claim. A Gaul can say to be French is to be, x,y and z and that's it. The Frenchman has every right to determine for himself what Frenchness IS and is not. And they can change that definition at will. Nobody else has the right to tell the French what French culture is. Equally the French cannot tell the Yoruba what Yoruba culture is and WHO is a Yoruba. Catch my point? ...

Self determination is the right of all people. That includes Europeans. I think it is foolish to simply talk about the recent Swiss vote as merely or solely about xenophobia (a term I think is way overused) or Islamophobia (another overused term). But one has to take into consideration the hostility that European concepts of freedom took with the Cartoon mess. You have to think of the Director who was killed over his movie on the abuses some women in Muslim countries undergo.

A lot of people did not like that I stood up for the self determination of Europeans. But this is about consistency. I simply cannot honestly call for self-determination of the African while saying that the European has no such right.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More Drones

I post on the rise of drone warfare because I seriously think that it is going to lead to a LOT of problems worldwide. Right now we, as in those in Europen and the US, do not have to think about these things but it is only a matter of time before the threat escalates whether by drones created by other countries or by hackers who break into the control systems of US and European drones to ill effect.

From a recent article in Counterpunch

Professions are supposed to operate within an ethical code and exercise independent judgment. Doctors have a duty to prevent harm. Biologists and chemists should urge their colleagues in physics to take a greater role as to where their knowhow is leading this tormented world of ours before the blowback spills over into even more lethally indefensible chemical and biological attacks.

I doubt that the attacks will become chemical. It could happen but I'm not looking at that. I think there is a larger danger whenever enemies decide to stop trying to target obvious and well secured targets like NYC. Of course it would make for great bragging rights but are rarely successful. There are far more vulnerable places where a remote control car or helicopter could be quite a problem, particularly with web enables devices.

Anyway I have said it before, when warfare becomes detached from actual human risk, then warfare becomes that much more dangerous to the target and more likely to be started by those with the automated systems.

Rep. Maxine Waters on Obama's CBC Speech

The California Democrat, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, says she found the president's language "a bit curious." She says Obama didn't address Hispanics in such a blunt manner and would never use that language in a speech to a gathering of gays or Jews.

Huffington Post Maxine Waters: Obama's Speech To Congressional Black Caucus Was 'A Bit Curious'

The commentary in question:

I'm going to press on for equality. (Applause.) I'm going to press on for the sake of our children. (Applause.) I'm going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don't have time to feel sorry for myself. I don't have time to complain. I am going to press on. (Applause.)

I expect all of you to march with me and press on. (Applause.) Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. (Applause.) Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We've got work to do, CBC. (Applause.)

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

I'm glad that I wasn't the only one who thought something was amiss with that commentary.The whole implied "crybaby" and "lazy" commentary was unnecessary and he knows it. And it's a part of a pattern.

We have Obama back on Father's day 2008 talking about how black men need to "shape up". On father's day. The one day where father's are supposed to be getting props. I've never seen Obama say squat about mothers who are not doing their jobs properly (or at all). Not even Michelle manages to shit on women on Mother's day. I won't even get into the nasty words that this administration has had in regards to it's liberal base.

Like I said a week or so ago, it's apparently cool for politicians to roll up in black events and tell us about the stuff we're doing that they don't approve of. Don't see that happening elsewhere. Usually the politician, you know, tells us what they will do to help us (whether they mean it or not).

Friday, September 23, 2011

About The Death Penalty

And so the execution of Troy Davis has come and gone. The black twitterverse and Facebook realm was alight with commentary about this execution and about the death penalty in general. I want to take the time out to discuss my opinions in regards to the death penalty.

The death penalty as "punishment" or "justice" has been around for about as long as humans have been on the planet. I would suppose that other species have death penalties but I don't know that they are actually capable of projecting the concept of "justice" into the future as a consequence of past behavior. Various means of implementing such punishment has come in many forms. The Guillotine being particularly famous but also including death by burning, drowning, stoning, etc.

What generally separates the death penalty in the past from today is that in the past such a punishment was meted out by the community and in front of the community. The consequences of actions that warranted death were generally known and approved of by the community and so there was often not a problem with implementing it. Witness stoning: Done by a community. Burnings: Community events. Also many times the bodies of those who have paid this price are left in public areas as reminders to the community that the community will deal will those who break the rules. It cannot be argued that such a participatory punishment and public reminder had a deterrent effect on those who were more amenable to visual re-enforcement.

A lot of these same societies also didn't have prisons the way we have them now. Personally I think it was due to the clear example of "community justice". Rather than pay to have people locked up somewhere punishment for crimes usually came in the form of servitude (Note that this is how many African-Americans got to the Americas). Those crimes that were deemed too horrible for such punishment ended up being executed. This was often for the safety of the community. You can't have someone who is determined to kill just wandering about.

Today though we house death row inmates away from the eyes of the public. Out of sight out of mind until perhaps the day of execution where there is a news report about it. The place where the condemned is strapped to a table (or chair) behind a partition. A few people, reporters, victim's family and perhaps some state officials get to watch the actual execution. The public can go their entire life not having actually seen the execution much less have to bother with actually participating in the act supposedly done on their behalf and safety. But that's not so strange for a modern society that is very removed from the facts of life. Rather than actually killing our meat for consumption we "outsource" it to farmers and we just have to walk into a store and pick up the end result. Never do we have to actually have our hand in the process. This disconnect from the actual process of execution and it's original intent in small communities (where everybody knows your name) is part of why we can question the practice.

This brings us to the common comment that the death penalty does not deter crime. Proponents of this line of thinking believe that since crimes that qualify for the death penalty still occur (or increase) that therefore there is no deterrent. The problem with this line of thinking is that I have not seen any research presented where they have actually found people who have not committed a crime because they knew the consequences. That is we simply do not know who among us has thought of committing a crime and thought 'you know what...shit's not worth it." For example, there are many people who have considered killing their boss. Some have ruminated on how it could be done and most of those are stopped by the realization that they are likely to get caught and killed (death penalty) and therefore they quit their job and go onto greener pastures. These persons are not included in the "deterrent" argument because they are not included in the research.

Furthermore; how many people who have been convicted of crimes like robbery with a weapon committed the felony with a gun with no bullets because they did not want to trigger harsher punishment? How many people were in a group committing a felony like assault but were put off when a member of a group actually kills the victim? How do we know that person was not aware that such an action has now put him or her in jeopardy of far worse punishment, like the death penalty, than the "simple" assault would have resulted in?

How many suspects who upon discovering that the crime they are being charged with is a capital offense then give up valuable information as to the actual person who committed the crime in question? Is that not an "effective use" of the death penalty?

Furthermore no amount of laws will stop a person who is hell bent on doing whatever it is he or she wants to do. There are plenty of laws against child pornography. Well known too. Still though men get caught with images of children on their computers and they KNOW that it is illegal. Should we scrap laws against possession of child pornography because a segment of the population isn't deterred?

There is a law against assault. Well known. No death penalty involved. Yet and still thousands of assaults happen every year. Perhaps we should scrap the punishment for that since clearly it's not stopping people from committing that crime.

I could go on and on like Badu but the point is clear, deterrence is about the general population and signalling those who may be considering crossing the line. No punishment or consequence will deter those who simply don't give a damn. And personally I don't want those who don' give a damn walking around.

The third argument I've seen put forth against the death penalty is the "redemption" argument. People change and therefore killing them is immoral. I think this argument holds little water. People who like to kill rarely show redemption until the full consequences of their actions are brought to bear. As a matter of fact I argue that in general people are not redemptive until they have consequences brought to bear. Still though I agree that people can change while in prison. I simply do not agree that such a change constitutes a valid argument against the death penalty. I think a person who has redeemed his or herself after the fact ought to come to grips with the idea that they still have caused harm to the community and that by accepting the consequences of that harm they serve as an example to the rest of the community that there is no escape from such consequences.

Let me pause here and state that this is against what most people who are Christian believe in. That is that man is redeemed by the blood of Christ who bore the death consequence of sin thereby allowing the sinner (criminal) a reprieve from these consequences. I refute this particular belief based on the the events at Calvary. When Christ was crucified he was hung with two thieves (I don't think theft should result in capital punishment). The thief on the cross made his last minute statement of belief and Jesus said something to the effect that the thief was "with him" in glory or heaven or whatever. That is that the thief was essentially forgiven and had secured himself a place in the afterlife. However; the thief STILL had to pay the earthly consequences for his actions. Jesus didn't up and say "In that case, my man... come up off this cross right here and sin no more. I got you."

So I think the Christian argument of redemption falls short even if it pulls at the heartstrings and concepts of righteousness.

Lastly we have the issue of racism. It was of particular interest to me that while folks were up in arms over Troy Davis they had little to say about the killer of James Byrd Jr. who was also executed that night. If one is entirely against the death penalty then my twitter timeline and Facebook feed ought to have been filled with equal amounts of dismay over the state execution of Byrd Jr's killer. it was not. The reason for this is that I don't think people are really that bothered by the death penalty. Only a handful of people, including myself raised major opposition to the summary execution of Osama Bin Ladin. Which is relevant because again, if the state has no business executing a murderer, then the US military had no grounds to execute OBL. Gotta be consistent folks.

But the racism angle is important. It is a fact that black men and women face harsher penalties for various crimes. It is a fact that the poor, which black men and women are disproportionately classified do not get the kind of representation in court that could result in far different sentencing (see OJ Simpson and DSK as recent examples of the wealth effect). Knowing this many oppose the death penalty because it is unfairly practiced. Of course the question then is the problem the death penalty or the racism? I say that the problem is the racism and that when you address the racism you then address the disparities in it's implementation. There are a number of things that can be done to accommodate the racism that people bring to the criminal justice system. And let me stress this because people make the mistake of saying the justice system is "racist".

Indeed there was a time when the justice system was specifically racist. There were actual laws on the books directed specifically at black folks. Laws specifically made to regulate black folks behavior and to decriminalize negative behavior towards them. Under such a system there was no doubt that the system itself was racist in fact and in intent. I challenge people to find such laws on the books today. The fact is that the racism we see in the justice system stems specifically from the persons within it. The DA's, the court appointed lawyers and the policeman on the street. But more than anything, the justice system is classist. The better represented you are the more likely you will successfully navigate the system. Success being the lightest possible punishment if any. Clearly those with money and access have more means to vigorously assert their rights and privileges, while those who do not have to depend on the whims of those holding the keys. That is, the laws are neutral, the implementation of them is subject to the machinations of the people. It's like the argument that people have about Taxes. Taxes aren't bad, it's what's done with them that's an issue.

There are those who will say I'm full of shit because prisons are full of black men and women. I only point out the class status of the majority of those persons, not to mention that by the numbers there are not only equal numbers of whites and blacks in the federal system (state is a whole other beast) but those persons represent a relatively small portion of the black population as a whole. And yes, I am aware of The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. I'm not saying that you don't have a process, starting roughly in early schooling, that makes a path to prison more probable. That is certainly and indisputably the case. It is simply my contention that the 'justice system is racist" is an easy out for the complex interplay of situations that lands one in prison. For example: Why was Troy Davis hanging out with people who beat up on homeless people? or apparently got into fights with people? Do you hang out with folks like that? No? That's why you're not in prison. Generally speaking, in America racist use the justice system for their own ends, like any other organized group.But that is getting off the point.

The point being I don't think it's proper to predicate one's objection to the death penalty on the basis of racism. Oppose racism simply because it infects everything it touches, but you don't cut off your arm because your finger has gangrene. I don't see many of these folks arguing for elimination of the police because they are racist.

Lastly we have the non-violence principle argument against the death penalty. I'll only buy that argument from people who take that non-violence seriously. And to take that seriously that means you offer no resistance, zero, nada, to anyone who seeks to harm you. That would also mean eliminating any firearms for police. I don't know too many people who are so principled in their attachment to non-violence that they are willing to not defend themselves against assault. If you are one of those persons then I will not argue about the death penalty because at least you are being consistent.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Saved By Washington

From Alternet

One prominent banker tells Suskind his colleagues expected much harsher treatment from the Obama administration in the administration of TARP and other decisions. "For Washington to not demand anything when it saved us, even stuff that we know is for our long-term good, was one of the stupidest moves in modern times ... I feel like I should go over and hug Tim. It's a shame we can't pay him, 'cause that's a guy who really earned a big-time bonus."

I believe the charge was "Black mascot for the Wall Street oligarchs"?

New Forests Company and Ugandan Govt. Toss People off Land

From the NY Times

According to a report released by the aid group Oxfam on Wednesday, the Ugandan government and a British forestry company forcibly expelled more than 20,000 people from their homes here in recent years, emblematic of a global scramble for arable land...

Across Africa, some of the world’s poorest people have been thrown off land to make way for foreign investors, often uprooting local farmers so that food can be grown on a commercial scale and shipped to richer countries overseas...

The case twists around an emerging multibillion-dollar market trading carbon-credits under the Kyoto Protocol, which contains mechanisms for outsourcing environmental protection to developing nations.

The company involved, New Forests Company, grows forests in African countries with the purpose of selling credits from the carbon-dioxide its trees soak up to polluters abroad. Its investors include the World Bank, through its private investment arm, and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ron Paul Makes the Case for Single Payer

I meant to post on this when I saw the commotion over the Republican Tea Party Express "debate". Ron Paul was asked a question about a hypothetical young man in his 20's who decides to forgo purchasing health insurance because he is healthy. This young man then ends up on a coma or some emergency situation. Should he be given medical care.

Many people balked at the shout from the crowd to "let'im die" as well as Paul's comment that "This is America where you have choice."

Putting the law aside in regards to emergency care in which anyone who enters any emergency room must be given medical attention regardless of insurance status. And also putting aside the clear mean-spiritedness of the crowd, Paul was being completely consistent with his libertarian views, in a room of "debaters" who change position depending on which way the southern winds are blowing. But there is something hypocritical of making a mockery of Paul while advancing a healthcare "overhaul" that attaches the entire US population to insurance. Let me explain.

The insurance industry is based on risk assessment. People are given a premium based in part on the likelihood that the insurance company will have to pay out. The more likely the company will have to pay out and the more they think they will have to pay out the more they will charge you for your coverage. If the risk is deemed to high they will simply decline to cover.

The second means for insurance companies to make money is to decline to pay for services. They will make claims such as the "effectiveness of the treatment" and other reasons for not covering a particular procedure or medicine. Even in cases where they will pay, often it is not the full cost of the procedure or medicine and the customer is left to pay the remainder. This is what is referred to as a deductible or co-pay. In some cases the co-pay is prohibitively large even though upwards of 80% of the cost is covered.

If you can't afford the premiums or the co-pay, that's not the insurance company's problem that's your problem. In the auto industry if you can't pay then you don't drive. In the health insurance industry you can't pay then you die I suppose. Yet mandating that we sign up with such an industry is what passes for reform.

Under the new healthcare reform, it is proposed that everybody gets insurance from some company (constitutionally iffy but that is a different convo). Companies reportedly cannot turn a person down based on previous conditions. That is they would not be able to deem a person too risky per the earlier discussion. However; since they must cover anyone, they may increase the premiums (and I suppose co-payments) on such persons so long as such rates are "reasonable". Furthermore these companies can still decline to cover procedures or medication they deem ineffective.

I'm not sure how many people caught Michael Moore's Sicko but, one "nice" scene was the person booted from a hospital after receiving medical care because they had no insurance. Many people balked at that scene but really how do you blame a hospital, which is a business, from not wanting to deal with customers that do not pay? Would you work for free...all the time?

It's not like these hospitals get free supplies. Not as if nurses and doctors are volunteering. Not like all the electricity they use is being given to them pro-bono. If a customer does not pay for services rendered these expenses don't up and disappear. So you know what happens? You and I pay via taxes for all those who are uninsured but use the services of hospitals. And when that money doesn't cover the business expenses of a hospital it gets closed. When that hospital closes everyone who depended on it for services and all those employed by it lose. This is the other side of the "let him die" story.

Now some may object to my use of the term "customer" but that is exactly what one is in a insurance based healthcare system. If one objects to this then the only rational solution is single payer healthcare. Under such a system the question posed to Ron Paul could not be asked. No one dies from lack of money for healthcare, because healthcare is "pre-paid" via taxes, be it income or sales or a combination of the two. If one is actually bothered by the whole "let him die" attitude, then one ought to be equally bothered by supporting a system by which a private company can decide whether you deserve to have whatever procedure and medication paid for.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Obama at the UN speaking on Libya:

But he said the successful overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi, with aid from a NATO bombing campaign, had demonstrated that the world should “not underestimate the aspirations and will of the Libyan people.”

Only the MOST DAFT would even begin to entertain the thought that the Libyan rebels could have done anything more than last a few days had NATO not decided that the events represented a golden opportunity to finally off Ghaddafi.

Troy Davis and the Failure of Integration

As I write this I have just heard that Troy Davis was denied clemency.

I am a habitual ABC News watcher. It's what I grew up on and as they say, old habits die hard. Good Morning America has gone through many changes over the years and is currently "headed up" by Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos. If anyone has been watching the program you'll note that there hasn't been a peep about Troy Davis by the GMA crew or it's black reporters including Ron Clairborn (If it has during the times I've missed please let me know).

This is in stark contrast to the coverage afforded the white girl in Italy who was charged and convicted of murder despite the fact that there was no forensic evidence that linked her to the murder weapon. If you recall, that story ran daily for a while and even after she was convicted reappeared every now and then as the family continued their quest to have their daughter freed from the Italian jail.

Troy Davis, right here in the United States was similarly convicted of a killing of which there was no forensic evidence to link him to the crime. Furthermore; the multiple witnesses that placed him at the scene or as being the trigger man have recanted their stories as well as providing testimony that they were coerced by the police. Clearly with this evidence, killing this man may be another case of an innocent person being killed by the state.

Whether or not the folks at GMA think that Troy Davis is guilty is not the point here. This is simply a matter of fair coverage. How do you explain the coverage given to a maybe innocent white woman in Italy due to lack of evidence, yet not a mention of Troy Davis? Why are we still discussing the wherabouts of a woman who took off to Aruba with a man she met on AdultFriendFinder (internet hook up site) and not a mention of Troy Davis? Is Robin Roberts bothered by this at all? I suppose not and I suppose that I shouldn't expect her to be after how she baited Chris Brown in an interview that was supposed to be about his new CD and not about whether he feels remorse about his actions towards Rhianna. Surely if Robin Roberts (or Ron Clairborn for that matter) had any conviction that the story ought at least be told and Roberts had the power to get it mentioned (would they have fired her if she demanded it? And would that have ended her broadcast career if they did? I doubt it.)

But this underscores the fundamental problem with integration. A problem that was spoken about by the ever spoken of Dr. King Jr. It merely puts black faces on screen, behind a desk, etc. with no fundamental shift in the ideology of society where black men convicted by the state "must have done it" or "done something to deserve it". Where black folks who should be at the tip of the spear for changing the systems in which they have gone into, play a roll no different from those of lesser melanin and kink.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I Suppose It's a Compliment Somewhere

From a NY Times article on NY Gov. Cuomo's car obsession:

first, to drive from his Westchester County home to a breakfast in Harlem honoring the African American Day Parade, where he gave a speech about gun violence, and then to Eisenhower Park

Perhaps I'm the only one who thinks that there are far more interesting, positive and inspiring than a speech on gun violence to give at a Parade celebrating a people/culture. It reminds me of the many times I've said to leave out the commentary about deadbeat dads and the like on Father's day since we have all year to discuss them. But I suppose if not even the POTUS can resist giving attention to the negativity in black communities, I can't expect Gov. Cuomo to do any different.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Follow Up on Jobs Bill

I recently posted on my major issue with the Jobs bill as proposed by the president. I pointed out, among other things the overly optimistic projections on how many jobs would be created by providing supporting evidence of past downward adjustments of employment data. Today we have a piece from Alternet that provides more evidence on the matter:

To illustrate just how wide this model can be off the jobs mark, Bloomberg shows that 824,000 jobs “disappeared” after a birth/death model adjustment in February 2010. That adjustment is important because if it was known that job creation was weaker by 824,000 jobs during 2009, additional job creation efforts could have been considered. At present job creation is stagnant and we won’t know what role the birth/death model has on today’s job numbers until 2012. But if history is any guide, job creation may again be overstated.

I have been regularly pointing to the writings of Paul Craig Roberts who has been pointing out the problems with current birth/death model and how it obscures real unemployment.

“We’ve got to have legislation that is supported by Democrats and Republicans,”

The title statement encapsulates everything wrong with the current Democratic party. You never start negotiations with "What do you want?"

NY Times Some Democrats Are Balking at Obama’s Jobs Bill

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thanks NATO

From the Wall Street Journal:

Now, rebels have been torching homes in the abandoned city 25 miles to the south. Since Thursday, The Wall Street Journal has witnessed the burning of more than a dozen homes in the city Col. Gadhafi once lavished with money and investment. On the gates of many vandalized homes, light-skinned rebels scrawled the words "slaves" and "negroes."

...But amid these diplomatic gains for the rebels, fears of retribution are gripping several segments of the population once viewed as closest to the regime like dark-skinned Libyans from the south and places like Tawergha. anti-black stuff happening in Libya. None at all.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Is it your Pan-Africanist duty to become a billionaire?

Headline is the title of an excellent piece by our brother Minister Faust:

a) Every social justice goal we have is much more easily attained when "we" (whoever "we" are) can pay people to work on the solutions full-time, rather than trying to squeeze in volunteer hours on the side while headed for burn-out. In other words, as Ralph Nader put it so perfectly when discussing his philosophical

In essence this is Garveyism. Garvey (and Delany before him) understood the financial base for any prospect of African liberation whether it be a continent and country or a community. The whole we-must-be-broke-or-we-aint-real ideology is not Pan-Africanism in the least bit. It is the attitude of the money holder (and getter) that is far more important than whether he or she has money. Take a read at the original Bro-log, also linked to the right.

Koch Brothers and FSU

From the Counterpunch article The Koch Whisperers:

The reverse speak of the Koch brand of academic freedom became crystal clear this year with the leak of a contract the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation had previously signed with Florida State University to provide a grant of $1.5 million in exchange for the right to vet and veto faculty hires for an economics program based on “political economy and free enterprise.”

On This Payroll Tax Thing Again

So I had this discussion online about my objection to the payroll tax break for small businesses that was offered by Obama in his address last week. I followed up with a link to a piece in the NY Times which underscored my point with interviews with actual small business owners saying the same thing I said which is that demand fuels employment not taxes (or lack thereof). This is an important thing to understand because it seems that too many Democrats have begun to believe the Republican line that the government is at fault because it taxes too much. In any case I was pointed to a piece on Media Matters (A Democratic Party front group if you ask me) in which they proclaimed Conservative Media Criticism Of Jobs Plan Only Off By Millions Of Jobs as a rebuttal to my position.

The first problem I had with the piece, particularly in reference to my argument was that are we considering the NY Times "conservative media" now? Last I heard the NY Times was a left leaning outlet that occasionally carries water for government interests. In any case I'll skip over the FOX news reference because, well, it's FOX and continue on to the meat of Media Matters argument:

Zandi: American Jobs Act Would Add Nearly 2 Million Jobs. UPI reported:

President Barack Obama's $447 billion job-creation plan would likely add 1.9 million payroll jobs and grow the U.S. economy 2 percent, a leading economist said.

The plan, which Obama outlined before a joint session of Congress Thursday, would likely cut the unemployment rate by a percentage point, Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi said as Obama prepared to tout the plan at Virginia's University of Richmond. [United Press International, 9/9/11]

Well it must be so if Zandi says so. Seriously though I will re-iterate that my objection is to the payroll tax break not the entire proposal. So that there will be "millions" of jobs created does not negate that objection.

Some other nice looking quotes:

We estimate that the American Jobs Act (AJA), if enacted, would give a significant boost to GDP and employment over the near-term.

The various tax cuts aimed at raising workers' after-tax income and encouraging hiring and investing, combined with the spending increases aimed at maintaining state & local employment and funding infrastructure modernization, would:

Boost the level of GDP by 1.3% by the end of 2012, and by 0.2% by the end of 2013.

Raise nonfarm establishment employment by 1.3 million by the end of 2012 and 0.8 million by the end of 2013, relative to the baseline.

The program works directly to raise employment through tax incentives and support to state & local governments for increasing hiring; it works indirectly through the positive boost to aggregate demand (and hence hiring) stimulated by the direct spending and the increase in household income resulting from lower employee payroll taxes and increased employment. [Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, 9/8/11]

Notice the opening line about "combined with". This is the crux here. No one. Not one of them has stated that the payroll tax decrease will make millions of jobs in and of itself. It is the spending increases to fund infrastructure, etc. that are going to create jobs (or keep jobs from being lost). This is in total support of my argument that it is the spending and not the tax breaks that is going to do the heavy lifting.

But lets forget my particular position for a second. All these economists, who I'm sure know far more about economics than I do, have had to revise projections and jobs reports. Here's one from June 2011:

After ADP Employer Services reported projections showing that employment increased by just 38,000 jobs in May (down from 177,000 in April), a number of economists have tempered their own expectations for the Labor Department's report.

Fox Business reports that High Frequency Economics decreased its projections from 175,000 to 75,000, while Goldman Sachs lowered its prediction from 150,000 to 100,000.

"As far as we can tell, employers have hugely overreacted to the surge in oil prices, which has slowed but not killed consumption; we expect better in the third quarter," Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics told the news source.

The ADP statistics, which are seen by many economists as a bellwether for the monthly Labor Department jobs report - which comes out June 3 - are particularly surprising because the firm had anticipated an increase of approximately 175,000 jobs.

175,000k to 38,000? Whoops!

How about this one from the Huffington Post:

The major U.S. stock indices fell at the open Friday morning and continued falling, on the heels of a employment report that showed the jobless rate tick up to 9.2 percent in June as non-farm payrolls gained only 18,000 jobs. The Labor Department's numbers fell far below economists' predictions of about 100,000 new jobs and made the previous month's disappointing report seem less like a fluke and more like a developing trend, delivering a sobering portrait of the nation's economic health and dashing hopes for future strength.

100,000 to 18,000? Oh WHOOOPS!

Lets take it back to 2010 shall we? Here's the Center for Economic and Policy Research:

For the second consecutive month, the economy created virtually no jobs, net of temporary Census jobs. The Labor Department reported that the economy lost 131,000 jobs in July, 12,000 less than the 143,000 drop in the number of temporary Census workers. The June numbers were revised down by 100,000 to show a gain of only 4,000 non-Census jobs.

Revised down by 100,000 jobs? Oh. My Bad.

Since three data points reveal a pattern I think it is safe to say that we should take economists wild predictions of "millions of jobs" with the appropriate grains of salt. Again, that's not saying that there won't be jobs created but, well, check the quotes again.

Then we have to get to the other problem with the job creation thing. Common economic models have it that the US economy must create between 100k and 250k jobs every month to simply keep pace with population growth. So every time you see a jobs report that falls below that number you do the math to see what's going on. Here's Paul Craig Roberts on that:

This Labor Day week-end’s job report, announced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday, September 2, says zero net new jobs were created in August, a number 250,000 less than the amount of monthly job creation necessary to make progress in reducing America’s high rate of unemployment.

So lets look at these predictions when we see what is needed simply to tread water. If these economists are correct and 1.3 non-farm jobs will be created by the end of 2012 and assuming hiring begins January 1 2012 that's 108,333 jobs each month, well below what is needed to maintain employment levels. This means that barring any other change unemployment must rise by the end of 2012.

Going back to my objection to the payroll tax break let's examine a piece by Gwendolin Mink who discusses the dire consequences for Social Security:

he proposed to extend and increase the ill-considered FICA tax cut he embraced last December — a tax cut that directly undermines the financial integrity of Social Security.According to the White House Fact Sheet on “The American Jobs Act” the FICA tax holiday for workers will be increased to a 50% reduction, lowering it to 3.1%. Under the 2010 tax deal, the payroll tax for workers was reduced from 6.2% to 4.2%. In addition to expanding the tax cut for workers, the President proposes to extend the FICA tax holiday to employers by cutting in half the employer’s share of the payroll tax through the first $5 million in payroll...The FICA/payroll tax goes into the Social Security Trust Fund. This is a dedicated fund currently worth $2.6 trillion, which has been built up over time through employee and employer contributions, along with accrued interest. Current and future Social Security beneficiaries receive benefits from this fund. No general revenues are involved, except for administrative and clerical costs.

Under the payroll tax cut initiated in the 2010 lame duck tax deal, the revenue loss to the Trust Fund from the payroll tax holiday is made up through compensatory payments into the Trust Fund from general revenues. The President proposes to continue this scheme — deepening a relationship between Social Security and general revenues (read deficit) that did not exist until the December 2010 tax deal. This will make Social Security increasingly vulnerable to demands for “reform.”

Ahh now we see why Social Security was even mentioned in this jobs speech. Can we say "set up"? Yes, yes we can.

Overall the Media Matters piece is simply reactionary publishing by what I consider a Democratic front group seeking to do battle with Republicans by playing the opposite game instead of doing actual research and analysis. I suppose that's why I don't bother with them too much anymore.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Icelandic Example

Deena Stryker reports on how Icelanders dealt with the criminal bankers and the government that enabled them:

What happened next was extraordinary. The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum.

Simple concept really. We didn't create the problem and we're not going to pay you to get out of it.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Hiring Only who Would Have Been Hired Anyway

Underscoring my argument that these tax breaks for small business hiring is a bad idea, the NY Times posts an article with quotes from actual business owners (disclosure: I have a small business and I'm also speaking from experience):

“You still need to have the business need to hire,” said Jeffery Braverman, owner of Nutsonline, an e-commerce company in Cranford, N.J., that sells nuts and dried fruit. While a $4,000 credit could offset the cost of the company’s lowest-cost health insurance plan, he said, it would not spur him to hire someone. “Business demand is what drives hiring,” he said.

Chesapeake Energy, one of the biggest explorers of oil and gas in shale fields across the country, for example, said it has 800 positions open, and has already received tax credits for hiring the long-term unemployed. But Michael Kehs, vice president for strategic affairs and public relations, said in an e-mail that the credit “does not drive our hiring.”

Roger Tung, the chief executive of Concert Pharmaceuticals, said the company, a privately held biotechnology firm with 45 employees, would save $150,000 a year from the proposed corporate payroll tax deductions.

But that is still not enough to cover the cost of hiring even one additional employee at the Lexington, Mass., company, Mr. Tung said, once benefits and other expenses besides salary are included. He can only hire, he said, when the economy improves and private investors become confident again.

All of these things I mentioned before. I'll repeat if your hiring and profits are determined by taxes, you won't be in business too long because your business plan sucks.

The Problem with the Jobs Speech

I had a large problem with the Jobs speech that Obama gave last night and it wasn't that Obama was practically yelling at Congress. Actually he did yell at one point but anyway. The problem I had was with the proposed changes to the payroll tax and other tax deductions aimed at small business.

The first problem is that even though these new proposals are touted as being "paid for", I don't think people understand that it is merely either a shift in revenue from small business to others or that some other constituency (apparently medicaid recipients) will have something taken from them.

The second problem is that why exactly is it necessary to give small business (or any profitable business for that matter) such a gift? Generally speaking businesses hire people when they anticipate high demand for their product or services that cannot be met by its current workforce. Demand for goods and services is dependent upon customers wanting and being able to partake in those goods and services. Why would a business hire people for non-existent customers? In other words, I don't see the point for giving a business a tax cut to hire somebody that they don't need because if that business needed that employee that business would have hired anyway. In other words, businesses don't need a government incentive to hire. Businesses already have a profit motive to hire.

I could see if the government was going to purchase goods and services from a company and due to that demand they went out and hired people. That would make sense. But to simply say we'll tax you less to hire people you don't need, doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

The third issue is that of the payroll tax or whatever it was that is allegedly taken from the employees cheque. Again while I understand the political motive to putting more money in the hands of the individual I don't see this making a big difference. Remember that this was done before. People who are in dire straights are not going to suddenly go splurge on luxury goods because their cheque has another $25 bucks in it. They are going to go and pay down debt. Those of us who are not in debt are the types who already have a saving habit and you can bet that most of us are going to put that money away as we see the increasing attacks on Social Security threaten our retirement.

I don't think the general population is going to really get back to spending, which isn't necessarily the best thing, until they are out from under the bad debt put on them by the bankers. The fallout from the mortgage scheme needs to be addressed. By addressing the way over sized mortgages a lot of families will have money freed up and would probably get the housing market as well as people like me who simply will not overpay for property go into the market and the spending that requires hits small businesses who will then have a reason to go hire people without government gimmicks.

The Kromanti Language of the Jamaican Maroons

"Show them who was in control. "

Walter Fountry's eyewitness account of the civil war in Libya:

In an interview inside his Northwest D.C. home last week, the noted civil rights leader, told the Afro that he watched French and Danish troops storm small villages late at night beheading, maiming and killing rebels and loyalists to show them who was in control...

The rebels told Fauntroy they had been told by the European forces to stay inside. According to Fauntroy, the European forces would tell the rebels, "'Look at what you did.' In other words, the French and Danish were ordering the bombings and killings, and giving credit to the rebels.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

0% of Thieving Bankers have had Contact with Police

The UK Guardian has reported that the police in the UK have discovered that:

It's not yet been widely recognised, but the hardcore of the rioters were, in fact, known criminals. Close to three-quarters of those aged 18 or over charged with riot offences already had a prior conviction. That is the legacy of a broken penal system – one whose record in preventing reoffending has been straightforwardly dreadful. In my view, the riots can be seen in part as an outburst of outrageous behaviour by the criminal classes – individuals and families familiar with the justice system who haven't been changed by their past punishments.

However the bankers who committed massive fraud against the public are reported to have had no prior contact with the police. To paraphrase the paragraph above: This is the legacy of a broken regulatory and penal system...In my view the bank frauds can be seen in part as an outburst of outrageous behaviour by the criminal classes -individuals and corporations familiar with the justice system who haven't been changed because there have been no past punishments.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

De-Industrialized America

Paul Craig Roberts says it all:

In a word, the US economy has been de-industrializing, moving from a developed to an underdeveloped economy, for the past two decades. It has been the case for many years that when the US economy manages to eke out new jobs, they are in non-tradable domestic services, such as health care and social assistance, waitresses and bartenders, retail clerks. Non-tradable employment consists of jobs that do not produce goods and services that could be exported to reduce the large US trade deficit.

You need to understand this if you want to understand what the US future is going to look like in the near future. I have to keep reminding people that college educated people are in the minority in the US. Jobs that *require* a university degree to do are even less than the number of "degreed people" out there. Generally speaking the "ideal" capitalist labour market is a pyramid with manual labour (manufacturing) at the base employing the most numbers of people and the number of people employed falls the higher you go to the point. What the US has done, slowly but surely is cut off the bottom part of the pyramid on the assumption that the remaining portion would be theirs to monopolize. The idea that the US would be the intellectual labour market of choice for the world. Of course, this racist and white supremacist ideology (that is what it is) assumed that other people and places were not able to develop intellectual capital and therefore the "West" would always be "the brain" of the world. As skilled workers in IT and other "intellectual" jobs are finding out, their cheap counterparts in other countries can program, account, design, etc just as well as they can, if not better now that the educational system in the US is falling apart.

It's not that people in manufacturing in the US weren't exploited. They were, but not to the extent that they are now. Back then people were apparently bright enough to figure out that paying these workers decent wages allowed them to consume. Consumption is it's own issue but we'll not deal with that here. Now these businesses do all they can to squeeze workers by pitting them against people in other lands who, having lived with next to nothing will gladly work for what for an American would be sub-poverty (as in live in a cardboard box under a freeway) wages. But hey...Americans get cheap shit at Walmart, Target and Dollar General.

And these companies are now so bold as to attempt to dictate to the US govt. what tax rate they are willing to pay to remit income they have stashed away in other countries. Can you imagine YOU telling the IRS that you won't pay your taxes until you come to an agreement as to how much YOU think you should pay. This underscores what we are seeing with "austerity" measures being enacted across the world as bankers do everything that they can to avoid taking actual losses by making sure that the governments they put into a bind make sure to pay their bills. But that's another topic for another day.

Drone Wars

I've written a few times about the increasing use of drones in military conflicts. To say that I am not happy about this course of action is to make an understatement. In times past, the danger of loss of many lives was THE single determining factor on whether a country (or group) not only went to war but for how long that war could last.

One could start a war with a group one thought was easy to defeat, but if the casualties mounted to a certain degree any sane leader would realize that depleting his country (and it's usually a he) of males was simply a bad idea. Groups always had to do the "is it worth the lives" calculus when deciding on whom to pick a fight with (or who to surrender to). Drones changes that entire equation. Since the drone operator does not put his or her (and expect more "her") life in direct risk for the goal, killing becomes easy and bullying other weaker people becomes far easier to do. Even if the enemy can shoot down the drone, it is a drone. Another one, possibly more advanced this time can and will replace it.

Think of that episode of Star Trek, TNG where Riker and crew are on a planet in which all the inhabitants have been killed off by military drones. Each time Riker and crew destroyed one another, more advanced one was created and sent after them. Are we not headed in that very direction? There is already much discussion about the automation of these drones in such a manner that they can pick and choose who and what to kill based on "algorythms" rather than "is this right/moral" or "can I look my wife and kids in the eye?" or other human constraints on wanton killing.

Now that the robot genie is out of the lantern it will not be put back in. The recent Counterpunch article on the expanded use of drones makes this clear:

During the four years from 2004 through 2007, the CIA carried out a total of only 12 drone strikes in Pakistan, all supposedly aimed at identifiable high-value targets of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates...

Under Panetta, the rate of drone strikes continued throughout 2009 at the same accelerated pace as in the second half of 2008. And in 2010 the number of strikes more than doubled from 53 in 2009 to 118...

During 2010, the CIA “drone war” in Pakistan killed as many as 1,000 people a year, compared with the roughly 2,000 a year officially estimated to have been killed by the SOF “night raids” in Afghanistan, according to a report in the Sep. 1 Washington Post.

Now consider the other aspect of the use of these drones...a lot of this is going on in a country in which we have not declared war. If there is no declaration of war, then all innocent people killed during these attacks are not "collateral damage" but are actually murder victims. Furthermore; these activities have shown that the idea of extra-judicial killing is simply non-existent now. If the president of the US declares that you are a terrorist (or Ghaddafi) he (or she at some point) can simply send in the drone and kill without so much as a peep from lawmakers or international bodies.

It is very clear that drone warfare has rapidly changed the face of international conflict, possibly more than suicide bombers have.

RE: What The Left Doesn't Understand

Meant to post a short comment on the piece that appeared in the NYT entitled What the Left Doesn’t Understand About Obama/ particularly this part:

The most common hallmark of the left’s magical thinking is a failure to recognize that Congress is a separate, coequal branch of government consisting of members whose goals may differ from the president’s. Congressional Republicans pursued a strategy of denying Obama support for any major element of his agenda, on the correct assumption that this would make it less popular and help the party win the 2010 elections. Only for roughly four months during Obama’s term did Democrats have the 60 Senate votes they needed to overcome a filibuster. Moreover, Republican opposition has proved immune even to persistent and successful attempts by Obama to mobilize public opinion. Americans overwhelmingly favor deficit reduction that includes both spending and taxes and favor higher taxes on the rich in particular. Obama even made a series of crusading speeches on this theme. The result? Nada.

Does the writer must really think that 'the left"(really left undefined and is actually made up of many constituencies) does not understand the different parts of government? I would say that given what I've seen come out of the mouths of their Republican peers, it would be those on the right who do not understand this concept. Anyway. "The Left" certainly did understand that congress is a co-equal part of government and that is why "the left" voted in a majority of Democrats into office. That 6 months represented a golden opportunity to do a lot of things and after the disaster that were the Bush years they should have gone for it. But that assumes that the Democrats are actually an "opposition party" as opposed to the upper lip of the same beast.

Secondly, in regards to the filibuster, the Democrats ought to have called the Republicans to task for that. To me these threats from the Republicans are like the the bank robber who comes in and puts his finger in his jacket to make it look like he has a gun and demands that you hand over the cash. One response is to do whatever the robber wants, in which case the robber gets away with robbing a bank with the threat of a weapon but never having to actually show and prove. The second thing is to aggravate the robber to get him to show that he actually has the weapon. Of course that tactic takes risk and someone might get killed. BUT the upside is that you know once and for all whether this robber actually has a weapon and he certainly will not attempt the "finger in the pocket" move again. But this is the problem with Democrats (again assuming they aren't the backside of the coin): They simply are not willing to risk pain. Once the enemy (or the opposition) finds your weak point, do expect them to hit it every time you enter the ring.

I'm not even going to get into the taking the public option off the table at the very beginning of the health care debate. That was simply inexcusable.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


Saw this post by the infamous Darth Kriss and rather than comment I'll just link to it because he's basically said what needs to be said:

. I mean look at them, they’re trying so hard too. It looks like she popped the lens out of a pair of Captain Crunch decoder glasses and put them on. And tell me the dude standing next to her doesn’t look like his other car is a Nissan Cube. And what’s up with him leaning over to whisper in her ear all “Drake-like”. Dude looks like his internal bass is set to -100....Seriously, this is a joke right. “Freestylin on you barbie hoes”? What’s next? “Cakin on you G.I. Joe niggas…” “Thuggin on you Transformer bammas”. What is this? Hasbro hip hop?

Read the rest

Zoe Saldana Please Sit Down.

From Fanshare:

It's trendy to hate Americans right now. Deep down, some people are enjoying the fact that the most powerful nation on Earth is struggling a little - and then they deny that's racist! And that frightens me."

Given that there is no American race (Native Americans not included) It is impossible for those who are "enjoying" the fact that the US is struggling to be engaging in racism. Stupid comment. Just stupid.