Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Noam Chomsky: On The Depression And Revisionist History

I'm going to leave a link for those who want to read the entire article, which appears to have been from a recent Chomsky lecture. But this paragraph I found priceless.

... I left home for graduate studies at Harvard, where I had my first extensive experience with the elite intellectual world. On arrival, I went to the standard faculty-run party for incoming students and was regaled by a very distinguished philosopher with an account of the Depression - which, he assured me, had not taken place. It was a liberal fabrication. There were no rag-pickers coming to our door in desperation in the early '30s, no women workers being beaten by security forces while on strike at a textile factory that I passed on a trolley with my mother when I was about five, none of my unemployed working class relatives. A few businessmen might have suffered, but there was nothing beyond that.

I guess that means I never saw the more recent problems, either, like a solid crowded city block of dudes waiting for a few day-labor employers to drive up in their pickups. It didn't happen. I never saw it. Ever. -- MJ

Monday, April 26, 2010

Goldman Sachs Con Artists Belong In Jail

By Manifesto Joe

At Goldman Sachs, the internal e-mails belie the company's denials. McClatchy Newspapers reported yesterday that:

WASHINGTON -- In an internal e-mail released Saturday, Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein wrote in November 2007 that the firm "didn't dodge the mortgage mess," but "made more than we lost" by betting against the U.S. housing market.

Blankfein's e-mail, which a Senate investigations panel released with three other subpoenaed company documents, appears to contradict Goldman's denials that it profited from the subprime mortgage meltdown by secretly betting that housing prices would fall. At the same time, Goldman was selling tens of billions of dollars in risky mortgage securities.

Goldman has said that its contrary bets were largely on behalf of its clients.

The release of the documents sets the stage for a confrontation on Tuesday, when Blankfein and six other present and former Goldman executives are scheduled to testify to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which will begin revealing the results of a yearlong investigation.

Here's a link to the entire McClatchy article.

More from the story:

The disclosure comes a little more than a week after the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Goldman for civil fraud, accusing the firm and one of its vice presidents of allowing a long-time hedge fund client to help select the securities for a deal without telling the investors that the client planned to bet against the securities.

In America, the accused are innocent until proved guilty. Right now, this is just a civil case. But it looks more and more like certain officers of this corporation deliberately defrauded investors.

It would be such a pleasure to see these assholes doing the perp walk, on their way to someplace like The Tombs or Riker's Island, with bond set in the amounts that they defrauded from investors.

But alas, this is America, so I won't be holding my breath. Here, people that rich are especially innocent until proved guilty.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Modest Proposal Of Barter For The Republican Party

By Manifesto Joe

I've been reading about a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Nevada, and one who's being taken seriously (She's challenging Harry Reid), who suggests that one could use livestock to barter with your doctor for health care. Like, bring a chicken to your doctor.

Since we're talking about using livestock in the place of currency, I have a modest proposal for the Republican Party. Would they accept my pit bull terrier as a campaign contribution?

My pit bull terrier

I haven't asked him whether he's a Republican. But he's smarter than most of the Tea Party demonstrators, and he could be meaner in a fight. He's also housebroken.

One big problem is that he eats a lot. (Chicken is his favorite, by the way.) And, he's grown since this picture was taken. And, of course, they would have to pay for his rabies shots upon acceptance. And then there's the expense of obedience school ...

RNC, I await your response.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Teabonics: You Can't Fix Stupid, And Sadly, You Can't Keep It From Voting, Either

By Manifesto Joe

I hadn't heard about "teabonics" until the other day. There are Web sites dedicated to this new dialect of American right-wing culture.

Let's go linking:

No Amensty!

Even the copy desk at the Daily News saw this error!

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a socilist. (Or is it socialest?)

One of the big regrets of my life is that I didn't dedicate myself to larnin' a furrin lanaguage. I knows just enough Spanish to get myself into major trouble in Piedras Negras.

This hyar is clearly a fite for feedom. If I ever becomes a rich banker, I wants to charge them deadbeats a fee!

And now for something completely different...

I've been awfully busy lately. I have a night-shift job with a news organization, and it's demanding. But I try to keep up with things. The other day on one of the talking-heads TV shows on one of the cable news networks, they had a biker-looking dude who was there as a representative and spokesman of the Tea Party people.

He started his point by talking about middle-class Americans. He described these "typical" Americans as, say, a household bringing in $100,000 a year.

Hold the phone there, biker dude. Chain mail must be more profitable than I ever thought.

According to the U.S Census Bureau, the median household income in America is $52,000 a year. This man was describing a typical U.S. household as one making nearly twice that. Shit, if I were bringing that much dinero into my household, I would have absolutely no complaints and would pay my taxes gladly, hoping to get commensurate services.

This was a very revealing moment. What this is all about is ME ME ME. The profile of the typical Tea Party asshole is a white male, upper middle-class Republican, with just enough "education" to be dangerous. ("A little bit of education is a dangerous thing.") I suspect that this "education" generally consists of a lot of business administration courses. I had a couple of those during my 6-year acquaintance with the liberal arts, and if there's a place to be indoctrinated into right-wing, "free-market" misconceptions, that's where to find it.

Another revealing thing is that these people have no fundamental opposition to Social Security or Medicare. Either they or their parents have benefited from these "socilist" programs. But once more, this is obviously about ME ME ME.

These people have been vocal enough, and have shown up at enough rallies, to get themselves taken seriously by the MSM. Go back to the top and check out these links. These are the fortunate anthropoids of America. They have done just well enough, through dumbass luck, usually, to be dupes for the real elite. They are stupid enough to be the foot soldiers for people who have money stashed away in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

Such imbeciles have been overcome before. I seriously pray that it can happen again.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nostalgia For 'Good' Demagogues: Remembering Huey P. Long

Demagogues are always dangerous. But once upon a time in America, at least they would sometimes fight for the well-being of ordinary struggling citizens. Louisiana Gov. and Sen. Huey P. Long (1893-1935) comes to mind.

If only Sarah Palin had done half as much for Alaska before becoming a national figure.

Standard Oil is running the state again, Kingfish. America needs you, not Sarah Palin. -- MJ

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Michael Steele's Speech, And 29 Dead Miners, Illustrate What's Warped About U.S. Conservative Ideology

By Manifesto Joe

Forget the silliness about the bondage bar and other misspent donor money. I heard some of Michael Steele's speech yesterday to Republicans at the New Orleans conference, and he embodies everything that is screwed up about their way of thinking. You know, the kind of thinking that creates mining disasters.

What I heard was the good old American dream thing, which Mr. Steele has dredged up many times. He's made a career of it. I guess there's nothing really wrong with that, if your life has been like the plot line of a Horatio Alger novel. His life appears to have been thusly charmed. I'm sure he's worked hard, and of course he had to overcome the stigma of racism. But his personal journey seems to have left him with no understanding of what reality is like for most Americans, and perhaps especially fellow African-Americans.

The reason people come to America from all over the world, Steele told the Republican audience, is that this is supposed to be the one great place on Earth where the tentacles of big government are restrained. It's the place where people are free to become what they are capable of, through hard work and talent.

Nowhere to be heard on any Republican lectern are the many talented, hardworking folks out there who one day found themselves stuck in the middle of the pack, in large part because there simply isn't room at the top for everyone who fits that description.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, Mr. Steele, but folks like that still have to worry about things like keeping (or even having) health insurance, being laid off and left with a meager, unreliable public subsistence in the meantime, having your IRAs and 401(k) tank because of Wall Street malfeasance, etc., etc.

And then, there are those 29 dead West Virginia miners -- dead because they were all but forced to work in unsafe mining conditions, by a lack of area jobs, for an owner who has dedicated his life to busting unions and bitterly fighting government regulations that might have spared some lives.

Mr. Steele did all the perfunctory government-bashing in his speech. At no point did he seem to even think of those dead miners, who perished as a direct result of eight years of anti-government governing by the Il Doofus administration.

A government with proper and right regulatory powers could have saved lives. Instead, a fatcat named Don Blankenship, whom I'm certain agrees with every word of Steele's speech, can now waddle around and oink as though he has no miners' blood on his hands.

As you can see from this video link, Blankenship is an example of what results when you elevate swine to high stations in life. He acts mighty tough, with his bodyguard and all. He talks about a cameraman getting "shot." Blankenship wouldn't have to do it himself; he's got hired guns for that purpose, no doubt. I'd like to see fat boy up against one of the younger men in his coal mines. That's an asskicking I would enjoy seeing.

Granted, I've known people who ended up doing jobs like coal mining. The following was less true in earlier times, but people who end up in such jobs nowadays usually aren't the sharpest pencils in the box. Even in the region of West Virginia that they are from, the best and brightest tend to perform well at the poor-to-mediocre schools in such places, then probably get out of Coaltown to go to a university and eventually some job that won't give them black lung.

Even they, the best and the brightest from such circumstances, generally start out in life with so many handicaps that they often do well just to make it into the middle of the pack. And, where they are from, they are the lucky ones. Brains and decent health both come to us at the whim of genetics. Those who lack one or the other -- there but for the grace of God go any of us.

When I hear someone talking the sort of talk I was hearing from Mr. Steele yesterday, I instinctively check to see if I've still got my wallet.

And if Don Blankenship were in a room with me, I'd keep my hand on it every second until he and everyone around him left.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sign Of The Times: Company Has Gotten Rich Helping Employers Fight Jobless Claims

By Manifesto Joe

A St. Louis-based company has gotten rich, and is getting richer, one of the old-fashioned ways: They profit off other people's misfortunes.

The Talx Corp. reportedly handles over 30 percent of the nation's unemployment claims, with a list of corporate clients that, The New York Times says, "reads like a roster of Fortune 500 firms."

How does this company handle jobless claims? Well, it helps the erstwhile employer fight every one it possibly can, for a fee. It's like the hired gun in Shane, famously played by Jack Palance, who is brought to town by the cattle baron to kill off a few homesteaders, with the expectation that the rest will soon turn yellow and leave the valley.

Here's a link to the entire NYT online report.

Of course, they don't prevent everybody from getting unemployment benefits. But Talx is paid to shoot first and ask questions later. They make a basic policy of contesting anything and everything, creating disastrous delays. In a certain number of cases, the would-be claimants do indeed become discouraged by the legal roadblocks, and just quit. A certain percentage of the "homesteaders" do turn yellow, and that is just what the Talx Corp.'s clients in Corporate America are betting on.

Even when the claimants doggedly hang on and eventually get their bare subsistence in benefits, the delays can bring on catastrophes. Check out the part of the NYT article on one former Walmart employee. He eventually won, but the legal maneuvering cost him plenty. He had to give up his apartment and move in with his sister.

So, how do Talx employees sleep at night, knowing, as they surely must, that they are deliberately undermining a crucial strand of the already-meager U.S. social safety net?

The NYT reporter wouldn't ask that, of course, even if the company had authorized anyone to talk to the paper. But I've often wondered that about folks like, say, insurance adjusters as well. I assume that they are paid well enough to afford plenty of Ambien and/or single-malt Scotch.

With a big recession upon us, the tide may be turning. Talx has been raking it in this way for eight years, but the courts and a few states led by Wisconsin have taken action to curb some of the abuses.

In hard times, the American people need a populist champion to step up and lead the fight against this amoral corporate hired gun.

Shane, come back.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.