Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wait. What?

Study: Most Americans want wealth distribution similar to Sweden

92 percent prefer Swedish model to US model when given a choice

Americans generally underestimate the degree of income inequality in the United States, and if given a choice, would distribute wealth in a similar way to the social democracies of Scandinavia, a new study finds.

For decades, polls have shown that a plurality of Americans -- around 40 percent -- consider themselves conservative, while only around 20 percent self-identify as liberals. But a new study from two noted economists casts doubt on what values lie beneath those political labels.

According to research (PDF) carried out by Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University, and flagged by Paul Kedrosky at the Infectious Greed blog, 92 percent of Americans would choose to live in a society with far less income disparity than the US, choosing Sweden's model over that of the US.

What's more, the study's authors say that this applies to people of all income levels and all political leanings: The poor and the rich, Democrats and Republicans are all equally likely to choose the Swedish model.


This is what I've been saying for years, and it's a point I've made on numerous comment threads. Ignore the labels. Focus on policy. Most Americans are too ill-informed to understand what "conservative" and "liberal" even mean. They just hear what the Rupert Murdoch noise machine keeps repeating so they go along. This study is a case in point. Harvard Business School and Duke University are both widely respected institutions, so a study like this would seem newsworthy, but you won't hear about it from the corporate "news" media.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You Tell 'em, Richard. I stu-stu-stutter

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How About a Little Cheese with that Whine?

Obama Mocks Public Option Supporters

FDR famously said, "Don't tell me to do it, make me do it." (Or words to that effect.) By contrast, Obama is complaining because progressives ARE trying to make him do it. He has what every president dreams of: a mandate from the people. The electorate has spoken clearly, both by electing him by a strong majority and by making their desires known throughout the first two years of his presidency. It wasn't Republicans who stymied the health care debate; it was fellow Democrats. It wasn't Republicans who watered down Wall Street "reform;" it was Tim Geithner & Larry Summers -- people within his own administration. It's worth noting that these two guys -- Summers & Geithner -- were the ones who stymied Brooksley Born's efforts to regulate over-the-counter derivatives trading during the Clinton administration. And that, in turn, helped create the financial meltdown, yet they are STILL opposing regulation of over-the-counter derivatives trading. This is why the Democrats' approval ratings are in the toilet -- not because they're doing too much, but because they're doing too little.

In short, the president is whining because his supporters are actually paying attention for a change. Instead of complaining about progressives, he should be telling the GOP and the bluedogs, "I'm sorry, guys. It's what the people want."

Both parties are beholden to business interests, but the anti-masturbation, gun nut whackaloons that make up the Republican base are not in direct opposition to Wall Street, Big Oil, etc., whereas the book-reading, reality television non-watching, homo non-fearing citizens who comprise the Democratic base ARE in direct opposition to such interests. I suspect that privately, you would find Karl Rove & Dick Cheney mocking the evangelicals & slack-jawed yokels who comprise their base. In fact, I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that they did just that. Ah, yes. Here it is.

In his book, (David) Kuo wrote that White House staffers would roll their eyes at evangelicals, calling them "nuts" and "goofy."

But publicly, they embrace so-called "values voters" because it's politically expedient to do so.

The Democratic leadership, on the other hand, is OPENLY hostile to its base. Robert Gibbs, for example, was instrumental in undermining Howard Dean's candidacy, much more so than any Republican. And that was long before his recent whining about progressives.

The reason you don't see the unity among Democrats that you do among Republicans is that the neo-liberal DLC crowd is at odds with the old-school FDR Democrats.

"Good luck with the next asshole you hand the presidency to," you say? Democrats have a 20-year history of handing the presidency to assholes. One was named Clinton and one was named Obama. Oh, but they had that ever-important (D) behind their names and that makes all the difference. I guess a Democrat bombing the snot out of civilians and handing the reins of power to Wall Street is so much better than a Republican doing it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Richard Thompson Song, "Bad Again"

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

via Raw Story:

Walt Disney, Monsanto discovered among Blackwater’s hidden clients

Also on list: Royal Caribbean, Deutsche Bank, Chevron

Almost three years ago exactly -- Sept. 17, 2007 -- a cadre of guards from the security firm then known as Blackwater shot and killed 17 Iraqis at a public plaza in Baghdad.

The company, long in the public eye, has been known for brutal tactics and as a mercenary for the US State Department in countries where the US has boots on the ground. What hasn't been known, however, is that the same company was handling intelligence ops for publicly-traded US companies.

Atop the list is Monsanto, the biotech giant, who The Nation's Jeremy Scahill revealed Wednesday accepted a proposal through a Blackwater subsidiary which "offer[ed] to provide operatives to infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm."

Monsanto doesn't stand alone. Through a network of 30 subsidiaries and shell corporations, Blackwater-linked entities provided "intelligence, training and security services" to a cache of major multinational firms, including: Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents Scahill obtained.

Blackwater's owner and founder, Erik Prince -- who has himself been linked to the CIA -- helped train companies through two other firms he controlled: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center.

Not surprisingly, no one responded to requests for comment.

Monsanto topped the list of firms using Prince's services, Scahill writes.

"According to internal Total Intelligence communications, biotech giant Monsanto—the world's largest supplier of genetically modified seeds—hired the firm in 2008–09," the reporter writes. "The relationship between the two companies appears to have been solidified in January 2008 when Total Intelligence chair Cofer Black traveled to Zurich to meet with... Monsanto's security manager for global issues."

"After the meeting in Zurich, Black sent an e-mail to other Blackwater executives.... saying that Wilson "understands that we can span collection from internet, to reach out, to boots on the ground on legit basis protecting the Monsanto [brand] name.... Ahead of the curve info and insight/heads up is what he is looking for." Black added that Total Intelligence "would develop into acting as intel arm of Monsanto." Black also noted that Monsanto was concerned about animal rights activists and that they discussed how Blackwater "could have our person(s) actually join [activist] group(s) legally." Black wrote that initial payments to Total Intelligence would be paid out of Monsanto's "generous protection budget" but would eventually become a line item in the company's annual budget. He estimated the potential payments to Total Intelligence at between $100,000 and $500,000. According to documents, Monsanto paid Total Intelligence $127,000 in 2008 and $105,000 in 2009.

....In an... e-mail to The Nation, Wilson confirmed he met Black in Zurich and that Monsanto hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and worked with the company until early 2010. He denied that he and Black discussed infiltrating animal rights groups, stating "there was no such discussion." He claimed that Total Intelligence only provided Monsanto "with reports about the activities of groups or individuals that could pose a risk to company personnel or operations around the world which were developed by monitoring local media reports and other publicly available information. The subject matter ranged from information regarding terrorist incidents in Asia or kidnappings in Central America to scanning the content of activist blogs and websites." Wilson asserted that Black told him Total Intelligence was "a completely separate entity from Blackwater."

Walt Disney?

The Walt Disney Company hired Total Intelligence and TRC to do a "threat assessment" for potential film shoot locations in Morocco, with former CIA officials Black and Richer reaching out to their former Moroccan intel counterparts for information. The job provided a "good chance to impress Disney," one company executive wrote. How impressed Disney was is not clear; in 2009 the company paid Total Intelligence just $24,000.

How about Deutsche Bank?

Total Intelligence and TRC also provided intelligence assessments on China to Deutsche Bank. "The Chinese technical counterintelligence threat is one of the highest in the world," a TRC analyst wrote, adding, "Many four and five star hotel rooms and restaurants are live-monitored with both audio and video" by Chinese intelligence. He also said that computers, PDAs and other electronic devices left unattended in hotel rooms could be cloned. Cellphones using the Chinese networks, the analyst wrote, could have their microphones remotely activated, meaning they could operate as permanent listening devices. He concluded that Deutsche Bank reps should "bring no electronic equipment into China." Warning of the use of female Chinese agents, the analyst wrote, "If you don't have women coming onto you all the time at home, then you should be suspicious if they start coming onto you when you arrive in China." For these and other services, the bank paid Total Intelligence $70,000 in 2009.

Prince, now the owner of Blackwater successor Xe Services, now has his eyes on another target: the Democrats.

He's now writing a book alleging that officials in the Clinton and Obama administrations "approved of his most sensitive and controversial operations," according to a report by veteran intel reporter Jeff Stein published in The Washington Post earlier this month.

The Post's Jeff Stein cited two unnamed sources who say Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, is hurrying to sell his company before he can go public with a book that takes aim at the Democratic Party. One of the sources told Stein that Prince and his friends "think this will destroy the Democratic Party in the elections."

The source, who is described as having a "business relationship with Xe," said Prince had "given his people three weeks to complete the sale of the company and the book will be released then," in time for the November elections.

To read about the firm's work for Barclay's, and the company's network of "black op" subsidiaries, click here to read Scahill's full report.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Park 51 Controversy Not What It Seems

From the New York Observer:

Untangling the Bizarre CIA Links to the Ground Zero Mosque

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Jet Fuel?

It's a Beautiful World

Devo-Beautiful World
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