Monday, February 28, 2011

To Review:

Who knew?

I started this year with a vow not to be so negative about events and the future, despite the fact that I was sick as a dog when the new year dawned.

This has been one of the ironies of the New Year. As I think has been clear, I have been quite ill with pneumonia since December. I thought the first course of antibiotics had cleared it up and that I was simply recovering slowly. When I went to the ER, however, I came to understand that it was not cleared up at all, that it had come back with a vengeance, and that despite all the hooey about TB and cancer that they were giving me, I was damned sick just the same. I've been on a multi-pronged course of treatment ever since. Saw the doctor today; he's concerned that my chest x-ray still shows a significant -- though dimininshed -- infection in my upper lung, and he's inclined to recommend bioscopy to see what's going on, especially to see if there's any blockage in the trachea that had not been noted previously. That's as may be. Oh, and he ordered up another TB skin test just to confirm for all and sundry that I am not walking around spreading tuberculosis far and wide. Bless his heart.

Meanwhile, events have moved very quickly and surprisingly in the wider world, so much so that what seemed to be such important matters only a couple of months ago hardly even register any more.

The Uprisings have become the focus of attention for nearly everyone.

As they should be. Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, all have been subject to widespread political and social unrest that is almost all based on principles of Dignity and Justice -- principles that have been utterly lacking in the course of these mostly young people's lives to date.

But before there were Uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, there were widespread anti-austerity protests throughout Europe, many of which are still going on. It started in Greece, but it spread swiftly from there to France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, the UK, Albania, Hungary, Poland, and on and on.

Calls for "Dignity and Justice" in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East combined with severe economic pressures brought on by an out of control financier class -- and oligarchs and plutocrats in general -- did not go unheard in this country.

Uprisings broke out here, too, with Wisconsin's continuing battle against the preening overreach of Scott Walker in the vanguard.

The struggle is just engaged. It's only just begun. But it seems to be the beginning of the end for a variety of oppressors far and wide, and the beginning of a New Community of, by and for the People, a spirit that is overdue for revival.

In this regard, the fascinations and problems of only a few months ago seem almost a self-indulgent fantasy now.

Power to the People. Power to the People, right on.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rude -- I like it

This is true:

From the Punk Patriot

OT: Random Notes

I don't get into "Who Shot Kennedy?" and 9/11 Conspiracy Theories and whatnot for a very simple reason: While the speculation is all very interesting, it is pure and unresolvable speculation in my view, argument, in essence, for it's own sake, that cannot lead us forward, back, or anywhere at all. I enjoy the speculation -- for its own sake -- but I don't believe the arguments put forth are the answer or even necessarily true.

For example, almost immediately after the 9/11 attacks, websites went up -- I remember one in particular in France -- that proposed that what we were being told was not what really happened at all (yes, well, that's fairly obvious, isn't it?) and that this conspiracy website had the real story. I immediately suspected a Black Op from one of the shadowy Black Budget operations our government (and other governments) so eagerly fund to... obscure the Truth, if there is any, and spread lies and propaganda all the while. Soon enough, all kinds of conspiratorial cornpone arose over the question of "What Really Happened" (including a website called on 9/11 and at every other time the inexplicable transpires. Truth? Well, there's probably some in there... yup. Sure. But we have a tough enough time decoding our Pravdas on the Potomac and on the Hudson (let alone wading through the contemptuous vomit and shit of the teevee "news") to pick out bits and fragments of Truth that show up on Conspiracy Day "news" sites.

As for 9/11, I know what I saw with my own eyes on the teevee and within the Federal employee working environment I was part of then. I know what I saw, felt, and did. Beyond that? Not a lot. I know I don't believe the Official Story, but who in their right mind would? The question is not whether the Government lies -- of course they do -- it's a question of whether there even is a Real Truth, beyond the lies, that is discoverable by you or by me. Maybe there is. But more than likely, you and I are just going down a Rabbit Hole. If that's your bliss, by all means, be my guest. Please report back! But don't expect me to go with you.

Conspiratism -- is that what it's called? -- reminds me a little bit of the British passion for such esoterica as "Ley Lines" on the landscape of Britian and the apparent geometric alignments of various things on Mars and other exotic places. The best known aspect of this sometimes obsessive interest in that which is not understood is the Face on Mars, about which a number of people were able to make lucrative careers for years.

Back in the day, one of the early websites I put up, even before Blogger came on the scene, was about Mars, and it included extensive speculation by scientists and laypeople about what might be transpiring there now, and what sort of history might have occurred in the past.

The Face figured, but not prominently. My interest lay more in the whole area around the Face, and in the nature of the landscape and Martian geology itself. Acidalia Planitia is not like anyplace you would find on Earth, and it was my position, regardless of the Face, that it should be explored and explained for its own sake.

Unfortunately, that has never happened to any great extent. I am little better informed about the nature of the landscape and highly evocative and curious geology of Acidalia Planitia on Mars today than I was 30 years ago. The obsessive interest in the Face and the various associated Cities and Forts and Alignments and whatnot and what they were and what weren't -- but not so much in what they are -- is part of the reason why.

In other words, these obsessions are distractions -- sometimes deliberately put before us, sometimes not -- that serve to obscure the truth.

Apparently the Distraction Formula is being applied with a vengeance with regard to the numerous uprisings and revolts taking place in North Africa and the Middle East as well as the Middle West of our own country, right along with all sorts of Conspiracy Theories. It really does seem to be a Formula for Dismissal of Popular Protest that every authoritarian/autocratic government and its minions engage in.

We saw it in stark operation in Egypt, during its recent revolt against the Mubarak Regime. And we see the same sort of denial and distraction and assertions of Conspiracies of All Kinds in Libya today.

But we also see it in Scott Walker's Wisconsin. He's distracting and asserting Conspiracies Most Foul by Outside Agitators, just like Mubarak and Gaddafi have done. The parallels are remarkable. That's why I say it is a Formula. But then, Walker's opponents have adopted some of the same Formula in attributing so much power over events in Wisconsin to the Koch Brothers -- Who Are Most Foul and Evil.

Almost immediately, we fall into a situation where there is no resolution because we are caught up almost entirely in minutiae. It isn't really about Scott Walker or the Koch Brothers, it's about what kind of nation we want and what we have to do to get there.

It's not about them in other words, it's about us.

All right, I've said my piece about that. Carry on.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Persistence is the Key

And it is part of what we didn't have during the Anti-Iraq-War demonstrations and uprisings until Herself, the now widely reviled and despised Cindy Sheehan, came along. (Cindy goes back almost to the beginning of the org I was then a part of, Dean for America, in California's Central Valley and Bay Area -- Cindy was concentrating on the Valley, though, and would come up all the time to meet and give talks long before her national presence emerged...)

As for persistence in the current imbroglio, right this minute I'm watching live the continuing protests in the Wisconsin in the Capitol Rotunda in Madison. The numbers may have diminished somewhat from their heights when time was, but there are still plenty of folks there, plenty of energy, and plenty of noise being made against Scott Walker and his Evility. That's what it takes.

This afternoon, I was at the MoveOn Solidary Rally at the California State Capitol, rush-organized at the last minute, and I half-thought that Oh, My, there would be fewer people in attendance than at the rally than on Tuesday this week. But no. In the end, there were somewhat more, perhaps 4,000-5,000 as opposed to the 2,500-3,000 who attended on Tuesday. It will be reported, though -- assuming it is reported -- as approximately the same number turning out, because the physical organization at the Capitol was somewhat different, and the crowd-size looked pretty much the same.

The difference, clearly apparent, was in the number of TeaBaggers attending in their Special Space over across the street, protected by horse police and patrol cars and what not from the taunts and mockery of the Union supporters. As opposed to Tuesday's "counter-protest", when there were a couple of tens of 'Baggers across the street, today there were as many as a hundred or so, and my, my did they ever mock and disparage. Hm. It was a wonder to behold. Such a wonder that the Union supporters could barely contain their laughter and eyerolling. The police seemed to expect some kind of altercation, too. Very odd.

Well, there wasn't one. I took some pictures and movies of the main rally and the 'Baggers. I've had some trouble uploading (especially videos), so I don't know how this is going to work. We'll give it a shot!

It was good to see some of the same people, but many new ones too... Whatever else happens, we must persist if we are to win, and we must win. On Wisconsin!

The rally in Madison as I was typing:

Notice comment that crowd is thinning. This will be a continuing issue.

Some of my own pics from today:

The USUncut people -- who were rallying down the street -- came to the Union rally at the Capitol. Yay.

There were a couple of Guy Fawkes Masked Avengers in the crowd. Heh.


Note on estimating crowd sizes: My estimates of the number of participants in the Solidarity Rallies at the California State Capitol this week are somewhat higher than others. Most of the other estimates I've seen are saying "a couple of thousand" turned out on Saturday and about the same number on Tuesday. I say 4,000-5,000 on Saturday, 2,500-3,000 on Tuesday. How come?

As you might suspect, I've been involved in numerous protest actions and rallies at the Capitol over the years, more than I can count! It's actually fairly easy to estimate crowd sizes because the West Front of the Capitol and the park that surrounds it is subdivided into sections, and over time, you learn how many people can be accommodated in each section. By observing how full each section is, it's pretty simple to estimate crowds.

The two rallies last week took place on the West Front, or West Steps, of the Capitol, but they utilized different sections of the front steps area. There is a broad terrace directly in front of the steps that holds about five thousand people when it's packed pretty tight. Just below that is another smaller terrace that will hold about 3,000-3,500, again packed tight. Below that is a lawn area bordered by sidewalks that extends almost to 10th Street. Packed tight, it will hold about 10,000.

So. The rally on Tuesday did not use the upper terrace at all. The rally took place on the lower terrace and the lawn. The lower terrace was pretty well packed, but not tight, and the lawn was not tightly packed at all. The crowd thinned to nearly nothing about half-way down the lawn. Ergo, my estimate was that there were about 1,500 on the terrace, and another 1,500 on the lawn. Simple.

The rally on Saturday was focused on the upper terrace, but only about half of it was used to accommodate the crowd. It was pretty well packed. Ergo, my estimate was about 2,500 on the upper terrace. The lower terrace was less packed, but there were quite a few people there, too. Another 1,500 or so. There weren't many on the lawn, but I would say there were at least 500 at the peak of the rally, plus another couple of hundred on the 10th Street sidewalk observing the 'Baggers and rolling their eyes at them. Ergo, total attendance in the 4,000-5,000 range.

I have seen and participated in rallies at the Capitol that attracted 25,000 (but were reported only as "thousands.") And there was one some time back that filled the whole Mall from the Capitol to the Tower Bridge -- 10 blocks -- that was estimated at 100,000, though I think it was probably half again as many.

Crowd estimation isn't exactly a science, but it's not really that hard to do.

Have We Reached The Tipping Point?

Last night, my local PBS station ran an episode of BBC's Newsnight from Thursday's broadcast in Britain in which Francis Fukuyama, among others, argued that the uprisings in the Arab World are a "1989 Moment" for Arabs and the world in general.

Comes now the tipping point that the Busheviks were forever yapping about forcing on the Middle East through wars and deception, brutality and connivance. This is it. We're in it. Now. Not through Bushevik force, but through the natural aspirations of miserable Peoples.

"A nation can be reborn as a citizenry." As Simon Schama puts it.

And who would have thought it would happen in the Middle East? Who would have thought the uprisings in the Middle East would trigger/inspire others to rise up as far away as Madison, WI?

"You have people whose dignity, like that vegetable seller who set the whole thing off in Tunisia, whose dignity is simply trashed by a state that's simply arrogant and unresponsive." says Francis Fukuyama.

Well. Yes. That's kind of how it goes. Ultimately, this tipping point and these uprisings are about Dignity, as I've said over and over again. And the absence of Dignity for the Common Man is not limited by any means to the authoritarian regimes long propped up by the United States in the Middle East. Not at all.

The Uprisings have been going on all over Europe due to the mindless imposition of Austerity measures demanded of governments by the various financiers who obviously rule governments world-wide in contravention of the People's Will. These Austerity measures the financiers are demanding -- putting the entire economic burden of the global financial collapse on the backs of the poor and marginal and the working class, while absolving and holding harmless the High and the Mighty -- have inspired revolts everywhere, most recently, again, in Greece, where the streets have frequently turned violent. By putting the economic burden entirely on those least able to absorb and pay it, the Powers That Be -- governments in collusion with the Financier/Rentier Class -- are playing with fire. By denying Dignity to the poor, the marginal, and the working class, they are mindlessly triggering the next phase of Revolution against them.

Lacking functioning crystal balls, we can't know at this point how these uprisings and the fall out from them will turn out. We don't even understand where these uprisings, revolutions and revolts are grounded. The universally expressed conceptions of Dignity and Justice simply don't register among the Powers That Be. They are not just nonsensical to those in the Palace, they are non-existent nonsense.

A Koch (or a Koch handmaiden like Scott Walker) has no idea what Dignity and Justice mean to a prole any more than the Sultan of Araby can possibly imagine what it means to a common Street Arab.

The notion is incomprehensible to the powerful -- whoever and wherever they are.

Of course, even with some of the insights we see on "Newsnight" or wherever -- and there are other segments of this show worth watching at the link provided above -- our media is essentially useless as the course of revolt and revolution unfolds around the world today. Not only can the media not keep up with the flow of events, its principal interest is in shaping and controlling those events for the benefit of themselves and their sponsors, be they government or corporate. They are finding they can't do it in these many cases.

Al Jazeera shows the way on reporting what's going on. They are still playing catch up, not leading at all. As for much of the rest of the media, they don't seem to have a clue, any more than than the propagansist state media of the Arab Autocracies has had any idea what is really going on.

Another view:

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Tour of the State Capitol in Madison with Harriet Blair Rowan

The Teaching Assistant's Association at the University of Wisconsin has been the core of organizing the protests and keeping them going all this time.

This Democracy Now! interview and tour of the Capitol in Madison with a senior at the University of Wisconsin is informative and inspirational.

Lift every voice and sing...

Go forth. Do likewise. Prosper.

Fighting the Power in Baghdad

From FDL

This is great.

Watch to the end. They actually break through the blast wall put up by the Authorities to prevent them from reaching the Green Zone.

They still have a "Green Zone" in Baghdad? Why?

More Solidarity Rallies

Saturday at Noon, at every capitol and city hall. Enter your zip code for a rally near you. Game on, m-effers.

In Any Event

It started quite a while ago, but I love all the people who claim that any event is a "distraction" from all other events. In the case of the Wisconsin Thing, it is a matter of the rights of labor "distracting" from the sale of public assets (presumably to the Kochs), and then of course, there's the matter of the sale of public assets "distracting" from the BadgerCare cuts. All this -- and more -- contained in the so-called Budget Repair Bill now stalled in the legislature due to Democratic State Senate defection, which, naturally is also a "distraction" from the important matters of good governance.

I wonder what the North Africa flare-ups and the protests in Yemen are to people who see everything as a matter of "distraction" from what's really important, you know.

As for the New Zealand Earthquake, I can't imagine they can even begin to comprehend it.

And there are just so many other things going on...

Were they never taught to walk and chew gum at the same time?

This tendency to claim all things "distract" from all others appears to be one of the core blogospheric quirks, and since that's one of my periodic topics, I mention it here.

"Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Some Nice Pictures of the Madison Protests

Together with some information on the mechanics of it.

Teaching Assistants from the University of Wisconsin have been crucial to the continuation of protests in and around the Capitol day after day. Despite the Labor gloss, this is really a protest led and maintained by Youth. And that's the way it has to be.

That's why Matt Wisniewski's video featuring Arcade Fire's "Rebellion -- (Lies)" is so important as both a document of what's been going on, but as a testament to who is doing it.


It's the only way.

The public employees' labor movement is cast in the role of supporter to the Youth Movement that is leading and perpetuating the protests in Madison, and -- let's face it -- around the world. Labor, the Middle Class, the Good Burghers, Bureaucrats, Teachers, Firefighters, and what have you, even Old Farts like me, have their place in the scheme of all the uprisings, but we're not in charge of it, not even remotely. This is a Movement of the Young, for their Dignity and for their Future.

Their future has been stolen by the plutocrats and the oligarchs, the Kochs and their many minions, the globalists and the cabals they underwrite. That future is gone unless they seize it back.

And that's what they are setting out to do throughout the Arab world, in Europe, and now in the United States.

It is a wonder to behold. I cannot predict the outcome, none of us can.

We are on the cusp of a general revolt. This is not -- yet -- a Revolution. The Revolution may come -- or it may not. If it does, there is no way to determine in advance how it will resolve or even if it will.

But there's something happening here. No doubt about that.

Rude -- I like it

I scarfed this up from American Everyman blog. It's pretty good! Worth the ten minutes or so to sit through.

There's more at

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Never thought I'd live to see the day


It's impossible not to be moved -- for me anyway -- by this "labor unrest" phase of American History. The People are getting some of their spirit back, some of their strength, some of their soul. It's an amazing and thrilling sight, it's wonderful to be part of it if only on the fringe and periphery.

Yes, something like this has happened before. Many times. But not recently. Not recently enough. Sustained and determined protest is what wins the day against the murderous plutocrats and oligarchs who rule us. And that, the sustained and determined protest, hasn't happened for a long time.

What it boils down to: Dignity.

"The Gods Who Walk Among Us"

This is one of the most appalling things so far in the Saga of Wisconsin:

Thanks to "aed" over at another site I was able to access the Buffalo Beast site before it crashed from all the traffic now that the call has been verified and the YouTubes of it have gone viral.

It's just amazing.

The Mother Jones site seems to be able to handle the traffic, and David Corn is (AFAIK) the one who first verified the call with Walker's office.

Just as a side note, The Buffalo Beast is a badass gonzo site calved off the notorious -- and wonderful! -- Exile, which in turn was shut down in Russia and re-emerged as The Exiled Online, starring Mark Ames and Yasha Levine. The Exile is where Matt Taibbi now of Rolling Stone was incubated.

You see.

Small world innit?

Let there be Gonzo for the Gods Who Walk Among Us.

Solidarity Rally at California State Capitol

Despite the fact that I'm not altogether sure that the Wisconsin public employee union leaders actually understand the danger Scott Walker's assault on reason represents, the Solidarity Movement is gaining steam.

Last evening, the Ché household (current and retired public employee union members all) attended a Solidarity Rally organized by SEIU at the California State Capitol. Ultimately, there were perhaps 2,500 to 3,000 attendees -- a relatively light turn out compared to some of the events staged there (I've seen 25,000 or even on one occasion 100,000 at the Capitol) but a significant turnout just the same. This was the core of union support in Sacramento and Northern California, and that means a lot over the long haul.

Some pictures and a video:

The 'Bagger "counter protest". Actually, their numbers almost doubled by the time the event was over.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bad Signs

The Libya Thing -- what an unholy nightmare. Much worse, apparently, than the Bahraini nightmare.

The Christchurch Earthquake (again) -- It's the second one in five months. Shock. And. Awe.

The Wisconsin Thing -- "The People United Will Never Be Defeated". Trouble is -- as always -- when the leadership sells them out, what are they going to do? As I pointed out earlier, potential Bad Signs were in reports that union leaders had conceded the "need" to cut pay, benefits, and retirement for public sector workers. Apparently, they did this long ago, but still the issue came back to the fore when the People United went ballistic over the end of collective bargaining contained in the measure Walker has ordered be passed. The problem is the advance concession by the leadership. That means the Rightists have already won. They won before there was a Public Uprising.

There are other disgusting and horrifying aspects of the budget measure Walker has ordered the legislature to pass, all of them having to do with giving the governor or the state government unilateral and unaccountable power to act to harm the interests of the majority of Wisconsinites to the advantage of a handful of plutocrats and oligarchs, most of them named Koch.

But from my perspective now, this war is already lost. What we have left is "show."

So it will be throughout the Midwest. But not just there. California will set the standard for handing over the keys to the Overlords once and for all.

And -- as always -- the Movement fractures. We have national Solidarity actions all this week organized by SEIU; but then this coming weekend, USUncut -- modeled on UKUncut actions in Britain -- will be holding their own demonstrations. These interests should be united, and they are not.

We are stumbling toward the Apocalypse.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Raise Your Fist High

Matt Wisniewski does it again. First time I saw this one, I wasn't so moved as I was when watching his first video of the protests (linked earlier, in fact, I was one of the earliest to pick it up and blog-link and spam it and the damn thing is viral now, GOOD!). I've seen the second one again, I'm just as moved. Word has it many people have trouble with the Vimeo link because the video just keeps stalling and buffering. So here's the Arcade Fire first Matt Wisniewski video on YouTube too.


From Kamal Abbas via Jonathan Schwartz, via Michael Moore, via Digby:

Workers unions of Egypt stand with workers in Wisconsin and the rest of America.

About Kamal Abbas and the Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services:

Kamal Abbas is General Coordinator of the CTUWS, an umbrella advocacy organization for independent unions in Egypt. The CTUWS, which was awarded the 1999 French Republic's Human Rights Prize, suffered repeated harassment and attack by the Mubarak regime, and played a leading role in its overthrow. Abbas, who witnessed friends killed by the regime during the 1989 Helwan steel strike and was himself arrested and threatened numerous times, has received extensive international recognition for his union and civil society leadership.

The People, united, will never be defeated.


The poster in the background shows photographs of some of the recent young victims of the Mubarak government. The writing says they are among the martyrs of the 25 January Revolution.

KAMAL ABBAS: I am speaking to you from a place very close to Tahrir Square in Cairo, "Liberation Square", which was the heart of the Revolution in Egypt. This is the place were many of our youth paid with their lives and blood in the struggle for our just rights.

From this place, I want you to know that we stand with you as you stood with us.

I want you to know that no power can challenge the will of the people when they believe in their rights. When they raise their voices loud and clear and struggle against exploitation.

No one believed that our revolution could succeed against the strongest dictatorship in the region. But in 18 days the revolution achieved the victory of the people. When the working class of Egypt joined the revolution on 9 and 10 February, the dictatorship was doomed and the victory of the people became inevitable.

We want you to know that we stand on your side. Stand firm and don't waiver. Don't give up on your rights. Victory always belongs to the people who stand firm and demand their just rights.

We and all the people of the world stand on your side and give you our full support.

As our just struggle for freedom, democracy and justice succeeded, your struggle will succeed. Victory belongs to you when you stand firm and remain steadfast in demanding your just rights.

We support you. we support the struggle of the peoples of Libya, Bahrain and Algeria, who are fighting for their just rights and falling martyrs in the face of the autocratic regimes. The peoples are determined to succeed no matter the sacrifices and they will be victorious.

Today is the day of the American workers. We salute you American workers! You will be victorious. Victory belongs to all the people of the world, who are fighting against exploitation, and for their just rights.

And so it goes.

Hard to believe that only a few days ago observers were wondering whether Americans could adopt even the mild forms of protest against the Overclass as has happened in Britain since the adoption of "austerity" measures by the Cameron Regime.

We're finding out, aren't we?

SEIU is running nation-wide Solidarity events this week. Get ya some. I know I will!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Read the Bill

Read the 144 page bill that Walker has ordered to be passed in Wisconsin.

For all of the assaults it makes on the rights of public employees, its worst aspect is its assault on the dignity the People of Wisconsin, not just public employees but everyone.

The bill is an abomination.

The People of Wisconsin, the Nation, and the World are right to oppose it and to oppose with every fiber of their being the monsters who seek to enact such measures.

On Wisconsin!

Concerning the Uprising in Madison

Yesterday, I was hearing something that really put me on edge. The "news" -- and Chris Matthews -- was saying that the union heads had "all agreed" to accept the pension and health care adjustments the governor was asking for. Consequently... the only sticking point remaining was public employee collective bargaining rights, which the governor boldly refused to negotiate on.

Oh. Dear.

It's obvious that the "news" -- such as it is -- has gotten this story wrong from the outset, quite deliberately so too. We're dealing with Propaganda Media all the time, and the Propaganda Line is essentially no different than the one Scott Walker has been putting out from his bunker in the Capitol at Madison: There's a huge budget deficit that can only be closed by extracting monetary concessions from public employees and by ending collective bargaining rights for public employees.

States are broke. Too bad, so sad. Workers must give up their pay, their benefits, and their rights, or...?

Well. They never say what will happen if workers refuse. It's a Mystery.

But the expectation is always that workers will not refuse -- at least not in the end -- because having a job at all is more important to them than all these fripperies of "benefits" and "rights."

That's the way it is being portrayed in Wisconsin on the Propaganda Media, and at least from reports, the "Union Heads" are caving to the demands of their Betters the way they and Democrats always do. Always.

Is that the truth? Is that what's going on? Are the unions going to cave? Will Scott Walker and his Koch Brothers sponsors get away with it? And if they do, will it set the pattern for restricting or undoing public sector worker rights throughout the land?

That is the obvious goal after all.

If the Union Heads are saying they will give up everything except collective bargaining rights -- without even insisting on negotiating the issue -- then the battle is already lost. They will give up everything in the end to preserve something for themselves (though not their Dignity.) They will concede. In essence they already have. That's how these things always go; it's happened over and over and over again, and that's a big reason why we're in this unholy mess as it is. There is no Line in the Sand, and Our Rulers know it. They will have their way, and the workers will just have to suck it up. They will have no choice.

Thus the literal thrill of what's going on in Madison -- at least on the surface -- may be masking, once again, truly nefarious machinations below the surface. Much the same seems to be going on in Tunis, Cairo and all over Europe where previous uprisings appear to have been at least partially successful, but really haven't been at all.

We'll see.

But that's my concern of the moment.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Egypt Says Hey!


I confess. I broke down when I saw this.

There's another shot of the same sign circulating on the web, but this one shows more of the face of the man who's holding the poster. That human touch...

Jacquelyn Gill's Video of AFSCME March at Wisconsin Capitol

Your basic protest action, demonstrated.

How did so many Americans forget so quickly?


While trying to do a whole bunch of other things, I've been catching glimpses of the protest from a live webcam outside the Capitol. The protesters have been marching around the Capitol since this morning, and their numbers have been growing and growing. There were tens of thousands when the video above was posted. Now there are MANY tens of thousands more.

Screen shot:

Estimates are 60,000 today.

They are calling for 100,000 to show up on Monday.

It looked like there were fewer than 1,000 TeaBaggers bussed in from --- who knows where --- to see Breitbart attempt to rouse the rabble. Didn't work. According to reports from the scene, the protesters "surrounded" the TeaBaggers and treated them with kindness and love. ;-) TeaBaggers packed it in an hour early.

On Wisconsin!

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Stand up, Badgers, sing!
"Forward" is our driving spirit,
Loyal voices ring.
On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Raise her glowing flame
Stand, Fellows, let us now
Salute her name!

Kochevism in Action

Wisconsin is widely acknowledged as the Test Case for the state-by-state Triumph of Kochevism and the Koch brothers Vision of Liberty -- for the Worthy. That would be Themselves first and foremost. Their friends and allies next. Their loyal servants like Scotty Walker. And then, if there is anything left over, their mindless loyalists -- such as the TeaBaggers assembling in Madison as I write.

I did not know how deeply the Koch Industries influence runs in Wisconsin. In fact, they have long had a heavy presence, and the election last November -- which many Wisconsin Dems sat out in protest or annoyance over the betrayal of the People from Congress and the White House since Obama's election -- was seen by them as the Main Chance to get what they want, screw you and everyone who doesn't like it.

From MotherJones: Scott Walker funded by the Koch Brothers

According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker's gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign's second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch's PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.

The Kochs also assisted Walker's current GOP allies in the fight against the public-sector unions. Last year, Republicans took control of the both houses of the Wisconsin state legislature, which has made Walker's assault on these unions possible. And according to data from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the Koch Industries PAC spent $6,500 in support of 16 Wisconsin Republican state legislative candidates, who each won his or her election.

Walker's plan to eviscerate collective bargaining rights for public employees is right out of the Koch brothers' playbook. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited (PDF) Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado; Mix said in a recent interview that he supports Governor Walker's collective-bargaining bill. In Wisconsin, this conservative, anti-union view is being placed into action by lawmakers in sync with the deep-pocketed donors who helped them obtain power. (Walker also opposes the state's Clean Energy Job Act, which would compel the state to increase its use of alternative energy.) At this moment—even with the Wisconsin uprising unresolved—the Koch brothers' investment in Walker appears to be paying off.

Oh but there's more: From Think Progress

But the greatest ally to Walker is the dirty energy company Koch Industries. In response to the growing protests in Madison, Koch fronts are busing in Tea Party protesters to support Walker and his union-busting campaign. Last night, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz reported on the involvement of Club for Growth and the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity in the pro-Walker protest scheduled tomorrow.


Koch Industries is a major player in Wisconsin: Koch owns a coal company subsidiary with facilities in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan; six timber plants throughout the state; and a large network of pipelines in Wisconsin. While Koch controls much of the infrastructure in the state, they have laid off workers to boost profits. At a time when Koch Industries owners David and Charles Koch awarded themselves an extra $11 billion of income from the company, Koch slashed jobs at their Green Bay plant:

Officials at Georgia-Pacific said the company is laying off 158 workers at its Day Street plant because out-of-date equipment at the facility is being replaced with newer, more-efficient equipment. The company said much of the new, papermaking equipment will be automated. [...] Malach tells FOX 11 that the layoffs are not because of a drop in demand. In fact, Malach said demand is high for the bath tissue and napkins manufactured at the plant.


According to the EPA, Koch businesses are huge polluters, emitting thousands of pounds of toxic pollutants. As soon as he got into office Walker started cutting environmental regulations and appointed a Republican known for her disregard for environmental regulations to lead the Department of Natural Resources. In addition, Walker has stated his opposition to clean energy jobs policies that might draw workers away from Koch-owned interests.

Moreover, other organizers for the pro-Walker protest are from groups associated with corporate and Koch interests. American Majority, a Virginia-based front group founded by organizers funded by millionaire investor Howie Rich, is on the ground contacting Wisconsin Tea Parties to support Walker in Madison. Austin James, an American Majority official who was caught teaching Tea Party members to spam profiles of liberal books with negative comments, is the contact for the Facebook page organizing the pro-Walker protest. Eric O’Keefe, a longtime conservative operative who helps lead American Majority, attends Koch strategy meetings.

Update: Koch's Americans for Prosperity group has launched a new website and petition called The new site attacks all collective bargaining, not just for public sector unions. Koch's front group also declares: "In fact, every state should adopt Governor Scott Walker's common sense reforms."

That's just a taste of what's out there regarding the intricate interplay between the Koch brothers and their willing stooges in office in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

The fight is engaged and as Christopher Fons put it at Global, it is The Fight of Their Lives.

It is also the fight of our lives. And we must win.

Live blogging the uproar:

On Wisconsin!

Friday, February 18, 2011

They Keep Fighting in Madison

The firefighters marched through the Capitol Rotunda yesterday to wild cheers and applause:

The protests are continuing today in and around the Capitol:

Today's live blogging feed from The Daily Page:

Are we witnessing the trigger event of the Next American Revolution?

Or is it just a bunch of selfish good-for-nothings like Walker says blowing off steam?

Unfortunately in America it has been really hard to tell for a very long time.

We'll find out, though.

On Wisconsin!


There are so many videos of the protests out there, but I really love this one:

Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill Protest from Matt Wisniewski on Vimeo.

This is what democracy looks like.

On Wisconsin!


Live video stream of the continuing protests in Madison. TeaBagger counter protest tomorrow noon to 3p. Will they have their guns?

Jesse Jackson is in town. La Palin is rumored to be planning a visitation to the TeaBaggers tomorrow. There is said to be a Secret Service advance team in Madison as well, but no one knows why. Carter? Clinton? Obama? Biden?

On Wisconsin!

---------------Test to see if the live vid will embed:

Stream videos at Ustream

They're chanting "Recall Walker!" in the Capitol. Wonderful!

Helicopter view of today's protest:

The People united will never be defeated!


From the Twitterverse:

12:35 Hummingbird13: btw there's going to be a counter rally tomorrow of teabaggers that are being bussed in, it's unclear yet whether they will be riding on camels or not

That's rude.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Meanwhile: Medical Update

Today's results are... ambiguous.

Pulmonologist says X-rays show marked improvement, however... there are signs of scarring. He's concerned as well that the pneumonia is not completely cleared up, so he's put me on another ten day antibiotics course. He says it could take yet another 10 days beyond that to kill it, given the way he (and I) believe I acquired it [Note to self: do not aspirate stomach contents!] But on the other hand he says there is no sign from smears and blood tests that I have TB, and he doesn't suspect it at all. He wanted another blood test and a chest X-ray in a month.

So this afternoon, I see the infectious disease specialist for the first time. He's quite bemused by the whole affair which tends to lighten the mood somewhat. He says there is no sign -- at all -- that I have TB, but he can't rule it out completely because the skin test was never "officially read." Yes, he says, I clearly have pneumonia, and yes, it is responding to treatment though it is stubborn as heck. Instead of waiting a month for another X-ray, he says that I should have one as soon as I complete the next course of antibiotics, then come back to see him and "we can discuss progress."

Naturally, the antibiotics that were ordered this morning are not ready at the pharmacy, so I may not be able to start taking them until tomorrow. The pharmacy is "behind." Yes, well. This is Kaiser, and anyone who uses them has their own horror stories. Not having a prescription ready is hardly the worst that can happen or has happened there.

Overall, truth to tell, I'm pretty pleased with outpatient care of my condition. It's a bit chaotic to be sure but manageable nonetheless.

For the time being, the IIED suit that I was preparing to take to my favorite plaintiff's attorney is on hold.... heh heh heh.


Note: While I may seem to be cavalier about all this, in fact I know it's nothing to make light of. Even if my healthcare coverage is through Kaiser Permanente, and it may not be the best, at least I have health care coverage, and if I choose to use an alternative urgent care or med clinic, I can afford to do so. That's not the case for many tens of millions of Americans. So I'm lucky compared to many. While I may not be happy at the way I was treated -- and not treated -- at the Kaiser ER a couple of weeks ago, I have seen with my own eyes ERs that do much worse, that cannot handle the crush of patients at all and that seem to thrive on neglecting patients rather than treating them.

There is something deeply wrong with the practice of heath care in America. It goes back many decades, and nothing that's been proposed to date is capable of really reaching, let alone dealing with, the underlying problem. Our heath care system is not set up to deal with patients as people/individuals. It's set up primarily to serve the interests of industry. Hospitals, doctors, administrators, nurses all are served first and foremost. Patients are, for the most part, an afterthought if that. Our health care system, in other words, is upside down, and it has been that way for decades. It's a sad thing to witness and experience, but it's really all we've got -- if we're lucky enough to have access to it apart from whatever happens in the ER.

I resist hospital care because I've seen again and again, and I've personally experienced, how truly appalling it can be for the patient. I know too much of what goes on, how neglect is built in to the hospital care system, and how recovery is essentially impossible in a hospital setting. I don't mind outpatient and clinic care because I have seen and personally experienced how it can be -- but isn't always -- better for the patient to obtain necessary healthcare as an outpatient. Mistakes can be and are made no matter what, but outpatient care is more oriented toward the patient -- even if treatment takes longer and is more complicated to obtain.

But the crying shame is that so many people don't have access to anything but the ER. And they will be lucky to get through that alive and not immediately bankrupted.

More Wisconsin -- Yay

Democrats walked out of the state Senate thus denying a quorum. No vote. Governor sent the State Patrol to round them up. Patrol refused. Ha! Dem Senate leader says Dems have left the state, are camping out in Illinois.


Live Twitter updates:

The thrill of it all...


One of the constantly repeated mantras of Our Overclass has been to call on "uncertainty" to explain everything -- including all their many crimes and abuses. "Uncertainty" is asserted as the reason for lack of lending by the banks, for the continuing high unemployment rate, for the stockpiling of enormous amounts of cash by obscenely profitable corporations, for the "necessity" of continuing to pay vast bonuses to the very individuals who crashed the economy several years ago, for the failure of foreclosure prevention programs, for the requirement by the Overclass that the plebes and proles be forced to pay for all the many programs under way to prop up the High and the Mighty, and to see social programs on behalf of the Underclass wither and die.

"Uncertainty" is said to be the underlying reason for the many known and unknown Imperial wars the United States is engaged in, for the rendering, disappearing and torturing of terrorism suspects, for the continued operation of the nation's many gulags at home and abroad, including Guantanamo, for the failure of courts to intervene in the ongoing assault by the Overclass on the political and civil rights and liberties of the American People.

"Uncertainty" rules. Everything.

But ask yourself. Are you ever "certain" of anything? Do you ever take a risk of any kind? If you don't, why not? And if you do, how have you survived?

The corporate (and general Rightist) fear of and invocation of "uncertainty" has become very nearly a religious experience for them. By invoking it as the primary cause of all the problems they -- and we -- face, they are essentially setting up a Golden Calf, an idol to worship.

There will be consequences. If they understood the uncertainty principle... ah, but the key is that they do not and cannot.

And that, my friends, is an opportunity for everyone else.

Thus, we might say, the uprisings we're seeing more and more of, and the complete inability of the High and the Mighty to control, or even predict, the outcome.



Don't even need a tinfoil hat for this one... ;-)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On Wisconsin

They're still fighting and occupying the Capitol. Bless their hearts.


And just for shits and giggles:

Some good coverage of what's going on here. Check out the videos.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cairo Comes to Madison.... Maybe

About 10,000 people are reported to be gathering at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison to protest the newly elected TeaBagger Governor's demand that public employees be denied collective bargaining rights over matters of working conditions, pensions and so on. The TeaBagger governor, some clown named Scott Walker, is trying to jam the measure through the 'Bagger dominated legislature, and all hell is breaking loose.

Even the Packers have come to the defense of the public sector workers.

Obviously, this is serious as a heart attack. Walker, for his part, appears to be vying to out-dick Ohio's Dickhead Governor Kasich, who is trying for the same sort of unilateral overhaul of public employee rights.

All I can say about these pissant moves is that California's Own Orange Waxy Man, Ahnut, tried to blame the budget deficit here on public employees, specifically unionized nurses and teachers, and he was, to put it gently, taken to school. He was dogged everywhere, up and down the state, by nurses and other public employees who shamed the living shit out of him.

And that's what's going to happen to these yahoos.

Whether it will trigger an American Uprising, who can say.

But the fuse is being lit.

Run for Your Lives, Children,We're All Going to Dieeeeee

Just for fun...

Price Shock

Haven't been to the supermarket since I've been sick, so I faced a good deal of price shock when I went to get some Valentines and other supplies at my local discount food market yesterday. Practically every item I buy regularly had gone up in price. Very few had remained stable, none had gone down.

Some of the price rises were significant, 40% or more, and in the case of head lettuce, the price had more than doubled. Bananas and some baked goods were about the only items that seemed to be about the same. Meat prices in general were about 20% more; dairy was pushing 30% more. Frozen items were all up 15% - 20% or more. Bread was, in some cases, 50% more; typically, it was about 30% more. Some snack crackers had doubled in price. Canned goods were mostly 10%-15% more.

I could go on.

I knew from the news that global commodity prices were being driven up by speculators and that the cost of basic supplies for poor and marginal households around the world had become a crushing -- and in many cases an impossible -- burden which has given rise to some of the "unrest" we're seeing so often repeated. The fact that I was seeing these price increases reflected in my own grocery bill is in no way comparable to the real hardships so many people are facing -- including right here at home -- thanks to speculators, weather anomalies, crop failures and so on.

Still, it's a shock.

Also, of course, gasoline prices are shooting up toward $4 a gallon again (at the closest station to us in California, regular gas was $3.49.9 yesterday; it's probably more today), driven in part by hedge funds and speculators as before. This time, however, they are moving more slowly and deliberately to extract whatever "surplus" they can from the American economy. Well, from the Underclass at least.

This tells me we are headed toward another crash, soon. I became convinced that it was the speculator-driven rise in oil and food prices that triggered the financial collapse in 2008 -- ordinary people could not keep up with the price rises, and they cut back suddenly. When they did, the financial house of cards built on ever greater levels of debt collapsed.

We're headed down the same path now. Ordinary people haven't even remotely recovered from the previous crash; in fact, millions and millions more are being forced into what looks like perpetual poverty year over year, and if the deficit hawks get their way (they will, of course), the pace of impoverishment will accelerate, and the numbers will be off the charts.

Those already in poverty at home and abroad cannot even hope to keep up. Their lives and livelihoods are already shattered, for many, permanently. The only real hope they have is to fight back much as those abroad have been doing all over Europe and the Middle East. There's no guarantee of success, and there are many risks to life and limb for those who choose to resist rather than succumb.

But there is no other way. The domestic and global aristos are not going to stop their pillage and plunder on their own. They cannot be sated with "voluntarily" delivered treasure. They know no moral restraint. Another crash will only slow them down temporarily. The only thing the People can do to bring this careening overclass to its senses (if it has any) is to rise up and make it impossible for them -- or at least extremely uncomfortable for them -- to continue on their global campaign of looting and destruction.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How To Do A Revolution

This Al Jazeera feature story on the mechanics of the Egyptian Revolution is really good. It's 25 minutes filled with passion and insight. Well worth the time to view and consider.

Reminds me just a bit of the minor uprising at Columbia University in 1968 that formed the basis of the plot for the movie "The Strawberry Statement."

The more things change, the more we find out the basics of Revolution don't.

Much has been made of Twitter and Facebook organization of the Egyptian Revolution, but it was only after the Mubarak Regime turned off the Internet and shut down cell phones that the People joined the Revolution en masse. It was back to personal and physical action (and incredible bravery) and communicating by mimeograph.

Simply amazing.

The Lessons of 1935

Hazy memories of the Great Depression are often in the forefront of consideration during this seemingly endless and profoundly destructive Great Recession. What would Roosevelt have done, and why isn't Obama doing that now? Why is he making things worse?

I've fallen into that pattern of thought myself from time to time, pointing out with malicious glee that Obama's economic policies are essentially the same as Hoover's -- which I know is not entirely accurate, but the point is to emphasize the contrast between how Hoover dealt with the Great Depression and how Roosevelt would deal with it, and then to note that Obama's economic policies are more aligned with Hoover's than with Roosevelt's.

It's time to revise and extend my remarks.

Things were not quite the way we think they were during the Great Depression. While Roosevelt's administration came up with all kinds of innovative programs and efforts to deal with the suffering of the People, these efforts were quite anemic considering the need.

Republicans and Conservodems fought even modest provisions for the poor and unemployed, and to a great extent, they won the day.

David Cushman Coyle is my source for much of what follows. He is described in the Virginia Quarterly Review as:

An esteemed engineer and economist, Cushman designed the Washington State Capital and sold over a million pamphlets espousing persuasive economic theories. He is best known for his books "The United States Political System and How it Works," "The United Nations and How It Works," and "Uncommon Sense."

He's also considered to be quite an eccentric, even a crank. Yet his insights into what was going on during the Depression, and his considerations about why conditions really weren't improving for the poor and working classes of the day resonate strongly today. Some of the very same factors were aligned against the poor and the working class during the '30s as we see today, and with very similar results.

The takeaway is that Roosevelt was more like Hoover than we know, and Congress was always loathe to tax the rich to pay for programs that would benefit the lower orders.


This is from Coyle in 1938; the essay is "Inefficient Efficiency":

Somewhere in the national picture there should be an understanding of the overhead efficiency or inefficiency of the whole system in which the engineers build their machines. Someone besides a simple mountaineer needs to observe that while industries improve their methods, industry as a whole flourishes only for a few years and then withers away, leaving the fine new machines idle and the personnel management with no one to manage. Why should Americans who are thrifty and have saved up a little money so often find themselves destitute? Why should factories stand unused? Why should a great oil field have twenty times as many expensive wells as are necessary for getting out the oil? Why should ten million workers go on for years without producing any valuable thing whatever?

The United States as a producing organization is about as efficient as a factory that has half its machines broken down and half its workers playing pinochle. How does it happen that a poor farmer, whose father made a bare living with a mule, can buy a tractor from Mr. Ford and raise his efficiency to the point where the sheriff takes the farm? There is an island on the Maine coast that supported a fine stone house in the old primitive days when lobster fishermen tended their traps in a dory, standing up and rowing patiently from one trap to the next. But now, in an age of motor boats and ten traps to a buoy, the house is falling to ruin, the farm has grown up to weeds, and the fisherman grows poorer year by year. It doesn't make sense.


In a certain sense, that same sort of thing is happening all over again.

We are right back where we started from; for some of the country, it's been like this for decade upon weary decade, but for most Americans, this sense of being trapped in an ongoing economic decline and debacle is something new. As workers are "shed" and manufacturing declines nationwide or is off-shored, as the public sector withers, as the safety net is shredded, the more the upper 1% flourishes -- as much of it did back in the day.

According to Coyle in 1935 [Harper's Magazine, January, 1935, subscription needed], the great public works programs of the Roosevelt Administration weren't actually doing what they were supposed to do -- jumpstart the economy from its stall and depression and most especially get the unemployment rate down. They weren't doing it because the way they were designed they couldn't do more than provide temporary, stop-gap employment for a declining percentage of workers. That deficiency was built in to the programs due to the concept of "self-liquidation." The programs had to be "self-liquidating." In other words they had to pay for themselves through fees and assessments on their "customers", ie: the poor and the working classes themselves, and on the municipalities and localities that benefited from infrastructure and other improvements provided by public works programs.

And they had to be "self-liquidating" because it was an article of faith that income taxes on the rich could not be raised to pay for what was necessary. Income taxes on the rich could not be raised at all.

Where have we heard that before?

This is not to say that the programs were useless. They just couldn't kill the Depression.

Coyle in Harpers, January, 1935:

By a partial relief of unemployment,
by creating an organization capable of
administering a public works program
of a more adequate type at some future
date, and by initiating two important
agencies for an intelligent treatment of
our national resources, the three billion
dollar fund has more than justified
itself. But it did not kill the depression.
The reasons for its failure to
accomplish its main objective were to
be found not in the administration of
the Act, but in a whole series of economic
misconceptions that were written
into the Act itself. The program
was foredoomed because the elements
of a successful attack on the depression
along this line were not well understood
at the time when the Act was under

The most vital error in the public
works program was the idea that self liquidating
public works are a "sound"
instrument of recovery.

In fact, they're not, as Coyle would show.

The theory of self-liquidation springs
from the general assumption on which
the policies of the previous Administration
were based-that expenses must
be chiefly borne by the people with
small incomes, so as to avoidthe necessity
of taxing further the people with
large incomes. A "sound self-liquidating"
project is one that is so arranged
that charges can be laid directly
upon the consumer, so that no expense
will fall on the Federal treasury (and
the income tax). The logic is quite
simple, except for the joker. Major
premise: the Government cannot spend
money indefinitely without getting any
back. (Silent axiom: the income tax
is unthinkable.) Minor premise: the
most direct way to get the money
back, without rousing any dangerous
thoughts about taxation, is by charging
fees to the consumer. Conclusion:
self-liquidating projects are the soundest
projects. The name "self-liquidating,"
like so many other relics of
the New Era, has that fine nutty flavor
that characterized the period. The
idea was that such projects paid for
themselves, because the people who
paid for them were not visible, to the
conservative eye. The consumer, however,
though microscopic in size, is all the business man has to live on.

A bit dense, to be sure, but strikingly familiar, no?

But not all public works can be
made self-liquidating. Schoolhouses
and streets can hardly be made "selfsupporting"
by stationing a policeman
to collect one cent from everybody who
passes a given point. However, there
is more than one way to levy upon the
consumer. Local projects can be paid
for by local taxes or assessments on real
estate, mainly borne directly by the
people with small incomes, or indirectly
by the same people through
higher rents and prices. Under the
late Administration this principle was
called "local self-help," and meant simply
that those taxing bodies that cannot
effectively levy income taxes ought
to be the ones to carry the costs of work
relief, rather than the Federal Government
which might possibly tax the
higher brackets.

There is a piquancy and sadness in these paragraphs, especially so given the current economic situation, and the apparent fact that policy-makers were stuck in the same or a similar frame of mind back then.

Coyle was well aware that the economic policies and the thinking behind those policies were doomed to fail because they could not do what was necessary to break or kill the Depression. In many ways, they would prolong it.

Coyle again:

But not all public works can be
either self-liquidating or local. About
ten per cent of the public works in the
past have been done directly by the
Federal Government. Here the problem
can be quite easily solved by the use
of special Federal sales taxes. Roads
can be financed by gasoline taxes.
Someone has suggested that grade crossings
can be financed by a combination
of taxes on railroad tickets and on automobiles.
Thus the consumer can be
made to take up the forgotten man's
burden, and any risk of having to think
the unthinkable can be avoided. This
was called, under the late Administration,
"broadening the base of taxation,"
and was considered a highly
satisfactory solution not only by conservative
Republicans but also by such
distinguished Democrats as Mr. Hearst.

Note the Hooverite concept of "broadening the base of taxation." And we are right back to that today. Don't raise taxes on the rich, broaden the base of taxation instead. This is practically a universal article of faith among the high and the mighty who rule us.

Broaden the base of taxation instead.

That was a prime objective of the Catfood Commission. Lowering tax rates at the upper end of the income scale has long been a core principle of our rulers. The way to do it, without further reducing revenues, is to decree that more people pay the income tax, and that other taxes (such as a value added tax) be assessed on all, on top of "broadened" income tax assessments. And we will soon see how it works in practice.

Lucky us.

These two concepts, that public works and other Depression fighting projects had to be self-liquidating, and that income taxes on the rich could not be raised to pay for programs and projects to fight the Depression stalled recovery in the 1930's and they're among the factors stalling recovery now.

Yes but, Social Security passed, and Unemployment Insurance was instituted. So there was that.

The American Dreamer

This is totally off topic, but I thought it was funny.

I woke up this morning laughing from a dream. In it, I had been discussing with a friend the topic of "overrated American writers." I nominated Eugene O'Neill first and always, since I have considered his works to be turgid and his characters to be poorly realized as long as I've been aware of his works. My friend nominated F. Scott Fitzgerald for his superficiality and vapidity bordering on terminal ennui. "I bet he's still alive," quoth I, "and writing for The New Yorker,"[America's most overrated magazine.] After a good guffaw, I toddled off to bed in the dream.

As I'm reading "The Golden Bough" in bed, a call comes through. I answer it. The voice on the other end is that of an answering service employee. She says, "I have been asked to inform you that F. Scott Fitzgerald has passed away. There is no further message." I say, "Oh no! That's terrible! I am so sorry to hear that!" The answering service person says, "Yes. Unfortunately, there is no further message at this time. Would you care to leave a message?" Somehow I know who the call is from: another friend who considers himself quite the authority on American popular culture in the '20's, the '30's and the '40's. I say, "Tell him I am devastated." The answering service person says, "I'm so sorry, sir. I will pass on the message." Click.

And I woke up laughing my damfool head off.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is dead. Who'd a thunk it?