Friday, September 30, 2011

#OccupyWallStreet in one sentence?

"This recession has scarred generations of Americans for the foreseeable future and yet few in power are really rattled about it." --Rortybomb

My only fear is this won't begin a long term process to #occupyWallStreetViaMainStreet which in my mind means long term political organizing to elect people at the local level, long term union organizing to give workers a voice and more bargaining power vs. the CEO's, and long term direct action efforts on issues related to social justice and global warming/energy crisis.

Warren Buffett on the Buffett Rule


"There's been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Proposed Roads To Freedom By Bertrand Russell

Proposed Roads To Freedom By Bertrand Russell

The great majority of men and women, in ordinary times, pass through life without ever contemplating or criticising, as a whole, either their own conditions or those of the world at large. They find themselves born into a certain place in society, and they accept what each day brings forth, without any effort of thought beyond what the immediate present requires. Almost as instinctively as the beasts of the field, they seek the satisfaction of the needs of the moment, without much forethought, and without considering that by sufficient effort the whole conditions of their lives could be changed. A certain percentage, guided by personal ambition, make the effort of thought and will which is necessary to place themselves among the more fortunate members of the community; but very few among these are seriously concerned to secure for all the advantages which they seek for themselves. It is only a few rare and exceptional men who have that kind of love toward mankind at large that makes them unable to endure patiently the general mass of evil and suffering, regardless of any relation it may have to their own lives.

Quote of the day

I’ve got nothing against hostility generally, but unfocused hostility based on misunderstandings I find displeasing. Directed, intentional hostility only!  --LizardBreath 09.28.11 at 5:31 pm

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Job Killing Regulations


Atlanta-to-Griffin rail line getting second look

A commuter rail line linking Atlanta with Griffin, Ga., that appeared to be out of contention for funding through a proposed regional transportation sales tax may get a new life.

The committee of metro-Atlanta mayors and county commissioners that has been assembling a list of highway and transit improvements to submit to voters in 10 counties next year will reconsider the commuter rail project on Wednesday.

An amendment to the $6.1 billion project list proposed by Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, a member of the regional “roundtable” developing the list, would set aside $350 million to build the rail line.

The roundtable had rejected the Atlanta-to-Griffin line last summer as too expensive. But Bell’s amendment, seconded by Union City, Ga., Mayor Ralph Moore, contends the work could be done for more than $900 million below original estimates by scaling back the scope of the project.

“As the first investment in the corridor between Atlanta and Savannah, this is the only project of significant regional and state impact,” Bell wrote in the form he submitted requesting the amendment. “This will be the only rail investment south of I-20, has strong support in the corridor inside and outside Atlanta, and meets every roundtable criteria.”

Supporters, including commuter rail advocates, complained vigorously when a five-member subcommittee of the roundtable recommended a project list that did not include the commuter rail line.

Under the 2010 state law that established the roundtable process and next year’s referendum, the full 22-member roundtable has until Oct. 15 to finalize the project list that will appear on the ballot.

Bell’s amendment recommends a series of cuts to the list to offset the $350 million that would go to the rail line. The largest would involve reducing the funds that would go toward a planned light rail line from Midtown Atlanta to the Cumberland Mall area by $85.7 million and cutting the proposed Clifton Corridor rail line by $70 million.

Women, math, and stereotype threat


'Governments don't rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world. And it doesn't care about this rescue package'

Trader on the BBC says Eurozone Market will crash

Monday, September 26, 2011

Local political organizing and social media...

The new chairman of the Henry County Democratic committee called me a while back and asked me to give him some ideas about how to harness online tools in the most productive manner so that the Henry County Democratic Committee is getting its message out to people, getting people the info they are looking for, and is building up a network of contacts online that can then be harnessed during campaign season for GOTV efforts.

I'm really really behind in getting back to him and have talked to a few people in terms of things to mention to him.  

I need to get him something concrete and I have a pile of homework so I want to outsource to everybody online to give me a few more ideas of things to bring up with him.

What are some helpful and not so helpful approaches for harnessing social media in a productive manner?  What are things that you've found have worked for organizations/campaigns in the past?  What are things that haven't worked?

Basic do's and don'ts.  

Even if you've never been on a county committee or don't even know a thing about social networking you might have some good ideas about information you want, how best to get you that info (facebook, email, twitter???), and other things that might help you get/stay/feel invovled?

I'm going to go work on my calculus.  Give me some ideas!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

7 Things to Know - 24 September

If you only have time for one, read the Charles Blow opinion piece.

via Juan Matute:

1.  As the Republicant Party drifts further to the right, the position mantra of George Bush's "Compassionate Conservatism" has been abandoned.  This column speaks to that:

2.  We go through life, and accept things from science as pretty irrefutable, that is until they are refuted.   We have all lived with the premise that the speed of light is the ultimate event of science that is the fastest thing around.  Well, hang on, that is now under review:

3.  Time to really upset your day, and pass this on to you.  This piece elaborates on the extremists' goals in hijacking the GOP to the point of doing away with the Democracy of the Constitution and installing an oligarchy or plutocracy,     To them, the one-man-one-vote concept is ....well, they don't even bring that concept up.  Their concept is that voting should only be allowed by people who own property, and are not poor, and....well, go on and throw up now:

4.  The Republicant "debates" are interesting from the standpoint of several things, mostly about how things are said, or not said, but not much of what is said.  Substance is not their game.  Many GOP operatives cringe every time the crowd reacts with cruelty on live TV.  I keep wondering why Porky Newt hangs around, and I've figured it out that he's aspiring to a VP slot, that's gotta be it.  Anyway Gail Collins opines on the dismal display of talent:

5.  Charles Blow talks about a program in West Harlem that teaches, protects, houses, and trains children to be productive and good citizens.   The military pays about $800,000 for one Sparrow missile.  Those missiles are popped off at a good clip in and around the 10-year war.  Some hit a target, some don't.  When that $800,000 weapon blows up, it's done for....gone.....nothing left.   What you say we don't make those missiles any more by stopping the 10-year military complex war games, and take that same expenditure and fund stuff like the Broadway Housing Communities and the Dorothy Day Apartments.  The return on investment is much better, so much better:

6.  All of you present and retired teachers will understand this next piece.  One has to wonder, if given the adequate resources (class size, resources, and realistic budgets) things would improve.  For now, this is just another example of a shitty day in the shadow of neglect of all our schools:

7.  Reform is not necessarily replacing something with a better system.  Case in point:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

News from around the web 9.22.11

Outsourcing my "morning reads" post to my friend Juan Matute whose news distribution email blast is very useful resource to stay up to date.  

If you want to get added to his news distribution email list shoot me a line at and I'll get him your contact info..

1.  The LA Times editorial is for Rick Perry's perusal, that is unless the swaggering Texan has closed his mind out of cranial austerity budgeting to accommodate limited resources:,0,4611857.story

2.  Reaganomics and its effect on us now:

3.  The Rich, Tax Cuts, Corporations, and Job Creation.  By the way, John Boehner keeps referring to the wealthy, scions, and captains of industry as the "job creators".  Should this term "job creation" also include the people who desperately need money (the unemployed and poor)?   If they had the money in their hands, somebody out there would immediately want to sell them what they have the money to buy.   Right now, corporations are sitting on a boatload of cash, but they are not doing any job creation.  Do you suppose that if they had more loopholes or tax breaks that this would inspire them to create jobs - no, no, no.   Not until someone is out there with the money to buy will there be any inspiration of manufacture to sell.  So, really who is creating the job?  The guy with all the money now, and not doing anything, or the guy out there who has postponed buying or can't buy because he has no money?  The chicken or the egg?:

4.  A while back, the federal government took charge of General Motors to save it.  Has anyone checked in on them lately, GM is doing quite well; making better vehicles, and employing thousands.   Ownership is back in private hands now.   Cries of "Socialism" and a bunch of nasty slogans were heaped on the Obama administration for what it did.  Do we hear any of that now?   No.  Not a peep:

5.  Elizabeth Warren is out campaigning for a Senate seat in Massachusetts.  This woman scares the pants off of the Wall Street financiers because of the way she makes common sense in explaining their rip off schemes.  Now she is taking her clear and populist message to the voters, and her opponents will be flummoxed in figuring how to counter her.  Yes, Flummoxed, I say!!:

6.  Let's see where this issue in Virginia, and a few other states, related to states enacting legislation that does not require them to obey a federal mandate goes.  It happened before and it ended in a bloody conflict called the Civil War:

7.  This NY Times editorial cuts to the chase and succinctly lays out the high and main points of Obama's American Jobs Act:

8.  California state taxes, as this writer applies the Warren Buffett rule, is not the same.   However, I beg to differ.  If reform of state taxes is in order, which it is, start with eliminating the two-tier tax system of Prop.13:,0,5846608,print.column


Monday, September 19, 2011

Drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in U.S.

An increase in female representation in local government increases reporting of crimes against women

Economic drag of cuts to government spending...

Goldman Sachs (no link) has a nice chart showing just how much fiscal policy has been a drag on the economy since the second half of last year, and also shows that the Obama jobs plan, even if enacted in full, would only be enough to put it in neutral:

Republicans blame Obama for the sky being blue...

There is no doubt that certainty is generally preferable to uncertainty, in the economy as in most aspects of life. A stable currency, for example, makes it easier for businesses to plan ahead, and encourages new investment. But there is no evidence that uncertainty has increased during the Obama presidency, or that, if it has, the president’s policies are responsible for it. Plenty of mystery remains about how health-care reform will turn out, for example, but having a plan -- whether it’s a good one or not -- surely creates less uncertainty than the intolerable situation employers faced beforehand: a broken system and no plan to fix it.

The charge of “creating uncertainty” is a way to blame Obama for the U.S.’s economic trials without having to explain the connection. In fact, if anyone in the political world is responsible for creating uncertainty, it is the Republicans. Look at last month’s debt-ceiling imbroglio, which left the world wondering whether the United States would even honor its debts -- something that was never uncertain before. The decision to turn a routine vote to raise the debt ceiling into a high- stakes game of chicken was made by the Republican House leadership.

Now, you may feel that irresponsible government spending has imperiled the country’s future to the extent that radical confrontation was a reasonable or even a wise policy. (We don’t feel that way, but you might.) Even so, the Republicans’ debt- ceiling gambit hardly reflected any great fear of “uncertainty.” Indeed, the unsurprising result was increased volatility in global markets and a lower investment grade for U.S. bonds -- the result of increased uncertainty about those bonds being paid off.

Obama the Silent Tax Cutter

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A personal ask to help stop the September 21st execution of Troy Davis!

Today was a global day of solidarity for Troy Davis.  

Its being reported that there were 300 events across the United States and around the globe, including in New York, Washington D.C., Paris and Oslo.  Reuters is reporting that the march that I attended here in Atlanta had about 2000 marchers.   

Catching this NYT's article (Digital Age Drives Rally to Save Troy Davis From Execution - reminded me that this day isn't over with until I pass along this "ask" of my social networks, blog readers, and friends.  

Then take a moment to send out one or two emails personal emails to friends, post to Facebook, blog, and whatever else you use, to pass along the petition and raise awareness about this case.  It may seem trivial, useless, redundant, or simplistic but its not.  Often the loudest impacts both online and off come when those who may be disinclined to comment or impose "politics" on others take the step of pointing out an injustice and asking others to act.  

Some of you may say, "but I did that yesterday!"  Good, now do it once more.

For those who don't know the case, Davis is set to be executed by the state of Georgia on September 21st for a crime he may not have committed.  In an opinion column published on Thursday in the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper, former FBI Director William Sessions called for Davis' sentence to be commuted to life in prison, saying the case was "permeated in doubt."  

...serious questions about Davis’ guilt, highlighted by witness recantations, allegations of police coercion and a lack of relevant physical evidence, continue to plague his conviction. Last summer, an extraordinary hearing ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to answer these questions instead left us with more doubt.

At Davis’ evidentiary hearing, witnesses called by Davis recanted trial testimony and made allegations of police pressure. Others testified that an alternative suspect had confessed to them that he committed the crime. One eyewitness testified, for the first time, that he saw this other suspect, a relative of his, commit the crime. Police witnesses for the state of Georgia alternatively asserted that the original trial testimony was the true version of events and that it was elicited without coercion.

Some of these same witnesses also had testified at Davis’ trial but have since recanted their trial testimony. The judge at the evidentiary hearing found their recantations to be unreliable and, therefore, found Davis was unable to “clearly establish” his innocence. The problem is that the testimony of these same witnesses, whom the judge had determined were less believable, had been essential to the original conviction and death sentence.

What the hearing demonstrated most conclusively was that the evidence in this case — consisting almost entirely of conflicting stories, testimonies and statements — is inadequate to the task of convincingly establishing either Davis’ guilt or his innocence. Without DNA or other forms of physical or scientific evidence that can be objectively measured and tested, it is possible that doubts about guilt in this case will never be resolved.

However, when it comes to the sentence of death, there should be no room for doubt. I believe there is no more serious crime than the murder of a law enforcement officer who was putting his or her life on the line to protect innocent bystanders. However, justice is not done for Officer Mark Allen MacPhail Sr. if the wrong man is punished.

No matter what your position on the death penalty is, the idea that an innocent man may be murdered by the state in the name of justice should cause you to shudder.  

I'm merely asking you to take a small next step into action.  Sign the petition.  Send one or two personal emails to friends.  By all means send out that BCC "mass mail" too, but drop a line to a friend, it'll have more of an impact.  

Then go plaster your social network--Facebook, Blog, Twitter--with a request that others sign the petition and that they ask their friends to do the same.  Now is not a time to be silent.


"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."    --Martin Luther King, Jr. 

p.s. For your conservative friends who are passionately outspoken on their distrust of governments ability to do anything right--be it provide health care or even the most basic public services--ask them to take that outspoken rancor, distrust, and passion and direct it at this case and the question of whether government can be trusted to know if its about to murder an innocent man or not.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The National Labor Relations Board doing its job isn't a Soviet plot to end capitalism...

If your boss says, “I’m cutting your hours because you won’t have sex with me,” he’s broken sexual harassment law. If your boss says, “I’m cutting your hours because you’re active with the union,” he’s broken labor law. It’s retaliation, and it’s illegal    

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Elizabeth Warren campaign--A poisoned chalice handed her by the Democratic party hackocracy.

I think Yves Smith was dead on yesterday in her comments on the Warren campaign:

As readers probably know, we believe that Warren has decided to drink a poisoned chalice handed her by the Democratic party hackocracy. The notion of a Senate bid was dangled before her as a bright shiny toy to get her to leave the her role as de facto head of the CFPB gracefully. And she is showing Stockholm-syndrome-style loyalty to the people who used her, offered weak to no support as she was abused by Republican Congresscritters and then fired by the Obama Administration.

Having her fight the uphill battle of trying to claim the Scott Brown seat is a no-lose proposition for the party. If she 

, they’ve reversed the embarrassment of losing a Senate seat in a blue state. And if she fails, her bid will have pulled out-of-state, financial services industry dollars into the likely-to-be-a-Republican-win-anyhow Scott Brown race, depriving Republican candidates of funding that might tip other races. Brown has already been soliciting based on the Warren threat even before this announcement.

Warren bears all the 

 of being advised badly. Remember, for them, she is just another fee generating, presentable product in an tough race. It was to their benefit to tell her whatever it took to get her to run. Seasoned local observers said her six week listening campaign didn’t help her prospects; she should have fished or cut bait sooner. Her ties to Harvard are a weak point; elitism plays badly in much of the state. Yet her team is full of operatives who hew from similar backgrounds.

Even with favorable pre-bid media coverage (the Republicans have not yet pulled out their knives in Massachusetts, and she has the tail wind of sympathetic national coverage from her exodus from the CFPB), Brown leads by nine points. Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who controls a substantial voting machine and kneecapped a past progressive gubernatorial candidate, is a Scott Brown fan.

Moreover, her association with the Obama Administration is likely to prove more toxic as the campaign advances. The race for the Anthony Weiner seat is proving how Obama’s devil-take-the-hindmost calculus serves him at the expense of other Democratic candidates. His selling proposition has been reduced to being less awful than the rabid choices on offer from the GOP. That means he can continue to sell out the traditional Democratic base at little apparent cost (although he runs the risk of being defeated by low turnout among supporters-by-default).

By contrast, the disenchantment with Obama’s continued sellout is affecting local races. Even though every district has its own quirks, and New York’s 9th Congressional district is particularly quirky, the special election for Anthony Weiner’s seat is showing Democratic voters to be in a particularly sour mood.(Update 12:40 AM: the election was just called for Republican Bob Turner, at 53% versus 46% for David Weprin, this in a district with a 3:1 Democrat advantage in voter registration). Warren may come to regret her “standing shoulder to shoulder with the President” remark.

But more important than the difficulty of the campaign is whether this is a fight worth fighting. While the Democrats win no matter what, the calculus is vastly less favorable for Warren. She seems to ignore the cost, not just to her, but to her agenda, if she loses. It will be 

 for opponents of banking reform to argue that her inability to win in a liberal state is proof her ideas have thin public support. And if she wins? She seems to be operating on the premise that she can be a celebrity Senator, be appointed to important committees, and have impact out of proportion to her standing as a freshman Senator. The ne plus ultra of celebrity Senators, Hillary Clinton, would seem to disprove that thesis. Hillary had to devote considerable effort to brown nosing her colleagues in order to win acceptance, including getting coffee for the men.

Ultimately, what good is running as a protest candidate for a body like the Senate? A real outsider, socialist Bernie Sanders who has no reason to be loyal to the Democrats, initially was a critical backer of Audit the Fed. He later played a Quisling role by (at Administration behest) proposing that the audit be limited to specific window during the financial crisis. Warren is relying on Democratic party backing; she will be expected to carry the President’s water in the Senate at least a fair portion of the time. That alone is too high a price to pay. Her best hope for independence is if he loses, but she is even less likely to win if Obama is turfed out.

For someone who is such a clear-headed analyst and communicator, Warren’s thinking about her future seems incredibly muddled. I wish her the best, but I do not see any happy outcomes from her decision to run for the Senate.

Rep. Steve King: "You Don't Hand People More Food Stamps And Think It Stimulates The Economy"

Wait, no... no I think you don't but the rest of us looking at the economic data do. 

File under another example of why i'm voting for Romney in the GOP primary

Via TPM; New PPP poll shows Mitt Romney holds a lead over Rick Perry among Republicans who believe Global Warming is real. Unfortunately, only 27% do.

The reality based community in the GOP needs help as they are outnumbered.  Because of that fact, and RomneyCare which is a pretty successful reform that ObamaCare is based off of, i'm going to be voting and involved locally for Romney in the Primary.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Affordable Care Act Reforms Could Reduce the Number of Underinsured U.S. Adults by 70 Percent

Hmmm, ObamaCare: improving the lives of millions AND causing upper middle class white nannystate GOP suburbanites with government health care subsidies--do you have employee provided health care?-- go into tantrums about being "forced" to buy health insurance they already buy; thats a double win in my book!

Yes thats the ObamaCare cowritten by Heritage Foundation health care experts, the health insurance industry, and other conservatives in response to the Clinton Health Care Reform efforts; the ObamaCare based off of RomneyCare; yeah that ObamaCare.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Marx and the prediction of single parent households

Karl Marx's critics may fixate on things he got wrong (what social scientist worth their salt doesn't over his career?); but he got a whole lot right about how capitalism would evolve over time.

This line in the Communist Manifesto struck me as foreseeing the rise of single parent households:

On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based?  On capital, on private gain.  In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie.  But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among proletarians, and in public prostitution.  

Or am I misreading him here?

Georgia Supreme Court Seeks Olens's Opinion on Atlanta's Secret Vote

As previously covered by APN, at issue is whether the Open Meetings Act requires agencies to list in the minutes who voted against a proposal or abstained in the case of a non-roll call vote.

Councilwoman Felicia Moore (District 9) conducted a vote at lunch at the February 2010 Council Retreat over whether to limit public comment at Committee Meetings, but the minutes do not state who voted which way.
OCGA 50-14-1(e)(2) states that in the case of a non-roll call vote, "It shall be presumed that the action taken was approved by each person in attendance unless the minutes reflect the name of the persons voting against the proposal or abstaining."

Lower courts, including Fulton County Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher and a Court of Appeals panel, ruled that this section does not require the listing of the names of those voting nay or abstaining, but merely requires citizens to presume the vote is unanimous if the minutes do not list any names.

APN's Editor has argued that the Court should look at the intent of the law, that is, open and transparent government, when interpreting the clause.
Case law states that statutes should be construed in terms of their plain language, unless such a construction leads to an absurd or irrational result.

APN's Editor has argued that it is an absurd or irrational result, that citizens should have to assume a vote is unanimous when the vote is split.
In a recent Appellant's Brief filed by the City of Atlanta on August 22, 2011, the City of Atlanta argued that the vote was not a secret vote because it was taken at an open meeting.

"In an interpretation of the Act allows for the presumption of unanimity in non roll-call votes, where the vote may not have actually been unanimous, would not have the effect of allowing closed-door meetings or secret votes.  This is illustrated by the fact that in this case, the vote at issue was taken in a meeting which was open to the public during which anyone could have witnessed the details of how the City Council voted," the City states in its Brief.
However, this only highlights the absurdity of their interpretation of the statute: If a citizen attends the lunch at the Retreat, they can know who the seven yeas and eight nays are; however, if a citizen reads the minutes, by law they "shall" assume the vote was unanimous.  So, who is right?  The effects of the City of Atlanta's interpretation is to create a Tower of Babel where a fraction of the City believes, under legal mandate, that all fifteen Council Members voted nay, and where another fraction of the City, who witnessed the vote, believes the vote was seven to eight.

The Attorney General's office has stressed in its statements about the case that there clearly is some ambiguity in the way the current statute is written; that case law says that the Open Meetings Act is remedial in nature and should be broadly construed; and that when there are doubts of interpretation regarding a statute, that they should be resolved in favor of openness.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

You might be a capitalist if...

I'm still trying to flesh this out in a more substantive way but I think one of the aspects of Marx that is misunderstood by people is what the bourgeoisie vs. proletariat dynamic looks like.  

I think the emphasis--especially in the neoliberal age of financialization--should be put on the different dynamics of the social relations that people have as they go about their day to day lives.

I think a lot of people take the position---"we'll i've got stocks and a 401k.  I'm an investor; I'm a capitalist!" 

Um.  No, you aren't.

A quick rule of thumb.  You might be a capitalist if...  you want to invest in some shares of a bank, so you get your assistant to put in a call to the CEO of Bank of America and he quickly calls you back to make a deal.