Monday, August 29, 2011

I Got Nothing

Blame it on the heat, but my muse is on strike, and this morning my mind is a complete blank. Yes, even more so than usual. Here's an Onion video that sums it all up very well, complete with bullshit commercial for gas-guzzling, obsolete trash that nobody in their right mind would waste money on.

Open Salon readers can view the video here

Steve Jobs Resigns After Realizing Technology Has Gone As Far As It Can

Friday, August 26, 2011

One Picture... worth a thousand words.

Here, from the pen, (or the computer), of Skulz Fontaine, proprietor of the site called The Graphic Visigoth!, is a picture that captures it all better than anything I could ever write.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Remember Fukushima?

Hey folks, remember Fukushima? You know, that Japanese nuclear plant in partial meltdown, the one that has been dropped from the news in favor of political nonsense surrounding the Republican silly season?

Well, the problem hasn't gone away just because it's dropped off the mainstream media. In fact, there are signs that we haven't seen the worst of things yet. And the Japanese government is lying shamelessly to its own people about the extent of the radiation release. Aren't you glad we live in Amerika, where our government would never lie to us?

The only good news is that people are stepping up to conduct their own monitoring, and sharing the information. Check out this report by Safecast. Interesting, no?

But the radioactive chickens inevitably come home to roost, and it appears that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is about to resign. At least he's not required to fall on his sword. Oh, cheap shot, Possum, cheap shot.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Short-Selling Explained

This brief video offers a good explanation of just what short-selling is all about.

The relevance of that issue at the moment is that 4 European nations have just banned the practice, as there is evidence that it has been used in the very recent past to manipulate financial markets for the gain of certain rich elites. And of course, such manipulations do immense harm to all those of us who are not rich.

(Open Salon readers can watch the video here, or at my main site here)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A New Campaign For The 99ers

The problem we 99ers have is that we have become invisible. We get no attention from media or politicians, and ignoring us has become far cheaper and easier than helping us. Now, we cannot do anything about the cost of helping us. That is a fixed number, although it keeps creeping up as we grow in numbers.

So, the problem is that variable A (cost of helping us) is greater than variable Z, (cost of ignoring us).

We need to reverse that, so that Z, (cost of ignoring us), is greater than A, (cost of helping us).

And we cannot reduce the value of variable A, (cost of helping us).

Therefore the only way to achieve our goal is to increase the value of variable Z, the cost of ignoring us.

In summary,we have to make it prohibitively expensive to keep ignoring us. And, at least for now, we need to accomplish this without breaking the law.

So, here is a simple suggestion for a first little baby step in that direction.

I want to convince every 99er in America to re-apply for unemployment once a month. There is no rule against this, there is no prohibition whatsoever. We just fill out a new application every calendar month, telling the full and honest truth. And every month, the state unemployment machinery has to process all those applications, and send us a form letter saying "you have already received the full 99 weeks of blah blah blah, etc, etc".

The California EDD admits that there are 469,000+ of us in California alone. That means about 120,000 applications a week for them to process, deal with, and respond to.

There is also a secondary benefit to this idea. If and when something like HR 589 should ever be passed, all of us will still be active in the files of our state unemployment departments. Until today, Cal EDD hadn't heard from me in over a year. If HR 589 did pass, would they remember me?

Anyhow, I am truly fired up about this idea. It's something we can do, and do for free, and in most states we can do it online.

Monday, August 8, 2011

London Is Burning

Watching the live video from the London riots on Al Jazeera English, I was amazed at how many times a commentator said something to the effect that this was "difficult to understand". Anyone who feels that way, obviously has a job.

It's almost amusing to listen to the government Talking Heads like Nick Clegg declare indignantly that "there is no excuse", calling the rioters thugs, criminals, etc. While I'm not suggesting that the situations are equivalent, the similarity of the UK government's rhetoric to that being employed by the Syrian government is impossible to ignore.

Then again, they are not completely dissimilar. In both cases, there is an incumbent government which does not represent the people, but rather a rich elite. In both cases, that government employs force to repress the popular will.

So now, on the third day, the rioting has spread to Birmingham and Leeds. And the Cameron government is still frantically denying that this could possibly have any connection to the recent round of vicious cuts to public services, to the brutally high unemployment rate, to the whole ruthless package of "austerity measures".

While my sympathies are with the rioters, that doesn't mean I think what they're doing is at all clever. Burning down their own neighbourhood is dumb, and puts no pressure at all on those actually responsible for their misery. If they want to do some good, they need to march to the neighbourhoods where the rich people live, and burn down their houses.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Turning Points

It is commonly recognised that in a conventional war, there are turning points which are, at least in the clarity of 20-20 hindsight, fairly obvious.

Midway was the turning point of WWII in the Pacific, as Stalingrad was the turning point of the War in the East. At such decisive battles in a conventional war, one side suffers losses of men and material that tip the balance decisively and irrevocably in favor of the other side. At Midway, the IJN lost four fleet carriers. At Stalingrad, the Wehrmacht lost the entire 6th army, some three-quarters of a million men.

Insurgencies are more nebulous. They have no formal beginning, and in many cases, never a true ending either. FARC have been fighting in Colombia for 40 years now. The obvious exception is a successful revolution, in which the insurgents become the new government.

And yet insurgencies also have their turning points, though they can be far more difficult to recognise.

The turning point for the French war in Indochina was either Dien Bien Phu, in April/May of 1954, or the Destruction of Mobile Group 100 in June of that year.

The turning point for the US involvement in Vietnam was the Tet Offensive of 1968. Note carefully that in the strictly military sense, this offensive was a victory for the US, and a disaster for the Communists. Yet in the political arena, that outcome was completely reversed. And an insurgency is not primarily a military struggle, it is a political struggle. It is the failure of US leadership to grasp this basic fact which has prevented the US from ever conducting a successful counter-insurgency.

The destruction of a CH-47 Chinook on Friday, 30-35 miles outside Kabul, which apparently resulted in the deaths of 22 Seals, a dozen others, and the helicopter crew, is being claimed by the Taliban. While claims mean little in a situation of this sort, unless it was a major mechanical failure, they probably did shoot it down.

Is this a turning point?

Militarily, no. Politically, perhaps.

Again, note that this happened just outside of the capital of Kabul, not off somewhere along the Pakistani border. That fact alone magnifies the political impact of the event.

And if the Taliban have finally managed to obtain at least semi-modern shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, then all bets are off, and the whole equation has changed.

(Open Salon readers can watch the video here)

Print story (and the same video) here

Friday, August 5, 2011

US Credit Rating Reduced; Geithner Eats Crow

Standard and Poor has followed through on its threat, and reduced the credit rating of the US Government from AAA to AA+, at the same time as the other two major credit rating agencies confirmed their AAA ratings.

Here's the story, just broken at The Hill about an hour and a half ago. Note that they did this late on a Friday, so that it will tend to fall into the "black hole" of the weekly news cycle.

Oh my!

Now, here's another story, from back in April of this year, in which Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says there is "no risk" that the US will lose its top credit rating.

Ohhhhh, Timmy! What will you do now? Your record isn't looking very good, is it?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Possum's Budget Plan

Early in my working life, I learned that you should never go to your boss and point out a problem, unless you also have a proposed solution in hand.

Given that I'm totally against, with every fibre of my being, the proposed "give away the store" budget plan agreed to by our thoroughly emasculated Eunuch-in-chief, I felt I should offer my own counter-proposal.

So, without further ado, your favorite marsupial varmint presents, The Possum Budget Plan -

Raise the maximum tax rate to 95%.

Eliminate the capital gains tax, and tax all income the same.

Cut the Intelligence budget by 50% over three years; cutting 20% the first year, 35% the second year, and 50% in the third year.

Put an absolute end to "black budgets" for the intelligence community. Such practices are pernicious to democracy, and they have no place in a free state.

Cut the Pentagon budget by 50% over three years; cutting 20% the first year, 35% the second year, and 50% in the third year.

End all special appropriations for the Pentagon. No more off-budget special appropriations of $60 Billion whenever the generals ask for it. If they can't afford the war, then don't start the war.

Immediate forced retirement of 30% of all military officers of flag rank, (O-7 and above, i.e. generals and admirals), without the customary automatic promotion on retirement. No further promotions to O-7 or above except on a one-for-one basis as existing flag officers retire. (Explanation- The circa 400-ship US Navy of today has more admirals than it did in the days of the 600-ship Reagan navy. There is no need for that much useless, clueless brass. They just interfere with the captains and lieutenants who actually get things done in the military.)

End all federal subsidies to corporations. All of them, no exceptions. Agricultural subsidies to individuals can stay on the books.

Terminate the existence of the Most Favored Nation trading status.

Place an immediate 30% tariff on all imports, of everything, with no exceptions, unless Congress determines that certain imports need to have an even higher tariff.

Immediately and permanently terminate the H-1b visa program, and give all current H-1b visa holders 90 days to leave the country.

Compensate for the item above by instituting a massive government program to re-train American workers, with preference given to veterans, the unemployed, and those over 45 years of age.

Institute an immediate and absolute moratorium on all immigration until the U-7 unemployment rate in the USA has fallen below 3%.

Require the immigration service to conduct frequent raids on businesses that hire illegal aliens. Require that each single illegal alien employed by a business be considered separately for purposes of assessing fines and other legal penalties, rather than allowing a judge to lump them all together and impose but a single fine. In short, make it prohibitively expensive for anyone to employ illegal aliens.

Institute an immediate and absolute moratorium on all foreign aid, in any form, until the U-7 unemployment rate in the USA has fallen below 3%.

Permanently end all aid to Israel, and institute collection proceedings against Israel to recover the approximately $1 Trillion in US taxpayer money already embezzled by the Zionist mafia. We want our money back.

Declare AIPAC and its mouthpiece WINEP to be what they are, paid lobbying organs of a foreign power, and an arguably hostile foreign power, at that. Order the FBI to commence an immediate criminal investigation against AIPAC for massive political bribery and influence-buying.

Open a true investigation of the sinking of the USS Liberty, with no white-wash this time. File a case before the World Court to collect compensation from Israel for the next of kin of those US servicemen murdered by Israel in that sad incident.

Institute new Labor legislation at the Federal level to empower unions, to make it easier for employees to unionize, and to prevent union-busting by the state governments.

I think that would do the job of balancing the budget quite nicely.