Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sentencing

Character, Defined

CHICAGO (New York Times Online) J. Dennis Hastert, once among this nation’s most powerful politicians, was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Wednesday for illegally structuring bank transactions in an effort to cover up his sexual abuse of young members of a wrestling team he coached decades ago... “The defendant is a serial child molester,” said [Federal District Court] Judge Thomas M. Durkin... in a tough rebuke of the former speaker before issuing his sentence.
 ...

A long list of supporters — from Mr. Hastert’s wife Jean to Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader — sent letters of support for Mr. Hastert to Judge Durkin. “He doesn’t deserve what he is going through,” Mr. DeLay wrote.
_____________________________________

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Kid Can Dream

Role Model

http://www.clowncrack.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Sistory-in-the-Making.jpg
________________________________

MEHR, MIT GELD:


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Every Day Is A Blinding Toad

It Gets A Little Closer

The Weasel Knows Now: There Is No Way Out; It Is Trapped On His Head.
(Original Photo:  Shannon Stapleton / Reuters)
Do Not Open Your Mouth When Feasting On The Body Of Your Enemy
(Original Photo: James Keivom / New York Daily News)
______________________________

In other news, NASA has released a new HD video of the Aurora Borealis taken from the International Space Station, as it orbits Planet Trump -- or Clintonia, depending on how November goes.

One item of note -- and I would get down on your knees and thank whatever This Universe Is About for this -- it seems much less likely that Grand Turtlebear Greg Stillson of the Church Of I Kill You ! will be made Sainted Leader.

 _______________________________

MEHR, MIT DER SCRUB:  From Greg Palast, writing about stuff:
Francesca Rheannon, whom you may know as the host of Writers’ Voice radio, did the civic thing by volunteering to work the polls in a town east of New York City.
“I just got off my 17 hour shift as an election official.  In my election district, out of 166 Democratic voters, 39 were forced to file affidavit ballots.  The last [election] I worked in, exactly ONE voter needed an affidavit ballot.”
That’s nearly one of four voters. Why?  Their names had gone missing from the voter rolls.
An affidavit ballot (called a “provisional” ballot in most other states) is a kind of placebo ballot.  You get to pretend to vote – but the chance it will actually be counted is …well, good luck.  If your name is wrongly removed, kiss your vote – affidavit or not—goodbye.
Rheannon’s experience was hardly unique.  In Brooklyn alone, over 125,000 names were quietly scrubbed from the voter rolls in the five months leading up to the primary.
To put it in prospective, the number of voters purged equals about half of the number who got to vote.  Scott Stringer, the New York City Comptroller will now audit the Elections Board--now that the election is over.  Hey thanks, Scott.
Neal Rosenstein, the lead voting rights attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group, which plans legal action, notes that part of the problem is that partisan hacks sit on the Elections board in New York—hacks from both parties.
Brooklyn is under the control of the Kings County Democratic Party, one of the last of the big city machines.  Would they attack their opponents’ voter registrations?  I don’t have to guess:  in my wasted younger days, I was in the Brooklyn County elections office with the hacks where we were assigned by the Party to challenge voters’ signatures en masse.  (I wouldn’t and nearly lost my state job.)
Am I saying the machine “fixed” the election for Hillary Clinton?  Without further investigation, it would be irresponsible for me to pronounce judgment.  Some of the purged may have moved, some have died.  But those who waited in line only to fill out affidavit ballots are unlikely to be deceased.
If the Machine had been aware of the mass purge underway, would they have stopped it?  As they say in Brooklyn, Fahgeddabouddit.
- See more at: http://www.gregpalast.com/new-york-voting-fiasco-just-the-warm-up-for-the-november-game/#sthash.6Euo4H9q.dpufFrancesca Rheannon, whom you may know as the host of Writers’ Voice radio, did the civic thing by volunteering to work the polls in a town east of New York City.
[A polling station worker in Brooklyn immediately after the New York Democratic primary noted], “I just got off my 17 hour shift as an election official. In my election district, out of 166 Democratic voters, 39 were forced to file affidavit ballots. The last [election] I worked in, exactly ONE voter needed an affidavit ballot.”
That’s nearly one of four voters. Why? Their names [were] missing from the voter rolls.
An affidavit ballot (called a “provisional” ballot in most other states) is a kind of placebo ballot. You get to pretend to vote – but the chance it will actually be counted is …well, good luck. If your name is wrongly removed, kiss your vote – affidavit or not—goodbye.
... In Brooklyn alone, over 125,000 names were quietly scrubbed from the voter rolls in the five months leading up to the primary. To put it in prospective, the number of voters purged equals about half of the number who got to vote...
Brooklyn is under the control of the Kings County Democratic Party, one of the last of the big city machines. Would they attack their opponents’ voter registrations? I don’t have to guess: in my wasted younger days, I was in the Brooklyn County elections office with the hacks where we were assigned by the Party to challenge voters’ signatures en masse. (I wouldn’t and nearly lost my state job.)
Am I saying the machine “fixed” the election for Hillary Clinton? Without further investigation, it would be irresponsible for me to pronounce judgment. Some of the purged may have moved, some have died. But those who waited in line only to fill out affidavit ballots are unlikely to be deceased.
__________________________________
Francesca Rheannon, whom you may know as the host of Writers’ Voice radio, did the civic thing by volunteering to work the polls in a town east of New York City.
“I just got off my 17 hour shift as an election official.  In my election district, out of 166 Democratic voters, 39 were forced to file affidavit ballots.  The last [election] I worked in, exactly ONE voter needed an affidavit ballot.”
- See more at: http://www.gregpalast.com/new-york-voting-fiasco-just-the-warm-up-for-the-november-game/#sthash.6Euo4H9q.dpuf
Francesca Rheannon, whom you may know as the host of Writers’ Voice radio, did the civic thing by volunteering to work the polls in a town east of New York City.
“I just got off my 17 hour shift as an election official.  In my election district, out of 166 Democratic voters, 39 were forced to file affidavit ballots.  The last [election] I worked in, exactly ONE voter needed an affidavit ballot.”
That’s nearly one of four voters. Why?  Their names had gone missing from the voter rolls.
An affidavit ballot (called a “provisional” ballot in most other states) is a kind of placebo ballot.  You get to pretend to vote – but the chance it will actually be counted is …well, good luck.  If your name is wrongly removed, kiss your vote – affidavit or not—goodbye.
Rheannon’s experience was hardly unique.  In Brooklyn alone, over 125,000 names were quietly scrubbed from the voter rolls in the five months leading up to the primary.
To put it in prospective, the number of voters purged equals about half of the number who got to vote.  Scott Stringer, the New York City Comptroller will now audit the Elections Board--now that the election is over.  Hey thanks, Scott.
Neal Rosenstein, the lead voting rights attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group, which plans legal action, notes that part of the problem is that partisan hacks sit on the Elections board in New York—hacks from both parties.
Brooklyn is under the control of the Kings County Democratic Party, one of the last of the big city machines.  Would they attack their opponents’ voter registrations?  I don’t have to guess:  in my wasted younger days, I was in the Brooklyn County elections office with the hacks where we were assigned by the Party to challenge voters’ signatures en masse.  (I wouldn’t and nearly lost my state job.)
Am I saying the machine “fixed” the election for Hillary Clinton?  Without further investigation, it would be irresponsible for me to pronounce judgment.  Some of the purged may have moved, some have died.  But those who waited in line only to fill out affidavit ballots are unlikely to be deceased.
If the Machine had been aware of the mass purge underway, would they have stopped it?  As they say in Brooklyn, Fahgeddabouddit.
- See more at: http://www.gregpalast.com/new-york-voting-fiasco-just-the-warm-up-for-the-november-game/#sthash.6Euo4H9q.dpuf
Francesca Rheannon, whom you may know as the host of Writers’ Voice radio, did the civic thing by volunteering to work the polls in a town east of New York City.
“I just got off my 17 hour shift as an election official.  In my election district, out of 166 Democratic voters, 39 were forced to file affidavit ballots.  The last [election] I worked in, exactly ONE voter needed an affidavit ballot.”
That’s nearly one of four voters. Why?  Their names had gone missing from the voter rolls.
An affidavit ballot (called a “provisional” ballot in most other states) is a kind of placebo ballot.  You get to pretend to vote – but the chance it will actually be counted is …well, good luck.  If your name is wrongly removed, kiss your vote – affidavit or not—goodbye.
Rheannon’s experience was hardly unique.  In Brooklyn alone, over 125,000 names were quietly scrubbed from the voter rolls in the five months leading up to the primary.
To put it in prospective, the number of voters purged equals about half of the number who got to vote.  Scott Stringer, the New York City Comptroller will now audit the Elections Board--now that the election is over.  Hey thanks, Scott.
Neal Rosenstein, the lead voting rights attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group, which plans legal action, notes that part of the problem is that partisan hacks sit on the Elections board in New York—hacks from both parties.
Brooklyn is under the control of the Kings County Democratic Party, one of the last of the big city machines.  Would they attack their opponents’ voter registrations?  I don’t have to guess:  in my wasted younger days, I was in the Brooklyn County elections office with the hacks where we were assigned by the Party to challenge voters’ signatures en masse.  (I wouldn’t and nearly lost my state job.)
Am I saying the machine “fixed” the election for Hillary Clinton?  Without further investigation, it would be irresponsible for me to pronounce judgment.  Some of the purged may have moved, some have died.  But those who waited in line only to fill out affidavit ballots are unlikely to be deceased.
If the Machine had been aware of the mass purge underway, would they have stopped it?  As they say in Brooklyn, Fahgeddabouddit.
- See more at: http://www.gregpalast.com/new-york-voting-fiasco-just-the-warm-up-for-the-november-game/#sthash.6Euo4H9q.dpuf

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mongo Misses Chuck Also, Too

Es Müss Sein



Because it is so.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Free Market Oligarchy, Free-Market Theocracy

In November, Choose One.

Hillary The Inevitable and Little Lloyd, 2014 (Photo: Shannon Stapelton / Reuters)

From NYRB, via the Soul Of America:
Why is Hillary Clinton refusing to release the transcripts of her Goldman Sachs speeches? After losing eight of the last nine contests to Bernie Sanders, Clinton is trying to reassure voters that she is a reform-minded politician who can be trusted. Yet she has repeatedly refused requests to make public the texts of the three speeches she gave to executives of the Goldman Sachs ... in the fall of 2013, for which she was paid a total of $675,000. First she said she would look into it; then she said that she would release the transcripts only if all the other presidential candidates of both parties released the paid speeches they had given ...

... Why was she giving these speeches at all -- and accepting such hefty payments for them -- given Goldman Sachs’s record during the Great Recession of 2007–2008?...  On the stump, Clinton’s criticisms of Wall Street can sound ... radical ... During a CNN debate with Bernie Sanders in March, Clinton said that ... “no bank is too big to fail, and no executive too powerful to jail” and that she has “the tools” to do it ...

Yet Clinton’s repeated dealings with Goldman Sachs and its top executives since the financial crisis -- including the 2013 speeches and more recent events involving the Clinton Foundation -- run counter to such claims. To understand the significance of these dealings we have to bring together two strands of history. One concerns Bill and Hillary Clinton’s long-running connections to Goldman, among their closest with any US corporation. The second concerns Goldman’s activities leading up to and during the Wall Street crash of 2007 - 2008, including its deceptive marketing of contaminated mortgage derivatives.
And, even the Right doesn't trust Grand Turtlebear Greg Stillson.

Mandatory Prayer In Schools; The Hour Of Power From The White House Bunker;
And Global 'Finance' Will Be Allowed A Free Hand
Cruz, in Mr. Haney from Green Acres voice, declared to one of the moderators, “The opening question [moderator Jerry Seib] asked — would you bailout the big banks again — nobody gave you an answer to that. I will give you an answer — absolutely not.”
What else would you expect a scoundrel to say who had secretly secured big sweetheart loans from Goldman and Citibank — by leveraging his retirement accounts –– to fund his 2012 U.S. Senate campaign. Loans which the Calgary Ted conveniently forgot to disclose to the Federal Election Commission. These are the very retirement accounts that he said he and his wife said he cashed in to fund his senate race. In other words, Ted lied.
At the same time Ted’s bulging 2016 campaign accounts and supporting Super-PACs are stuffed with big oil and gas money. He knows how to play the game.
_____________________________________

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, 
weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden.
-- Thomas Mann, 
"Doktor Faustus; Das Leven des deutschen Tonsetzers Adrian Leverkühn" (1947)
_____________________________________

MEHR, MIT "STUFF":  The discussion plaint passive-aggressive argelbargle continues. Yes of course I am aware of All Internet Conventions. Even the Secret ones the Kool Kids cooked up.
HILLCOL:  Are you serious? You think Clinton is an Oligarch?
DOG: Yes.
HILLCOL: You put her in the same category as someone in the Russian Mafia?
DOG:  If your definition of an Oligarch is someone who amasses and exercises power in such a way that the interests of the many are given lip service, and they claim to be acting in the spirit of FDR while the few become wealthier and more exclusive?  Fuck, Yes.
HILLCOL: That's bullshit.
DOG:  Okay -- it's bullshit. America and the world operates in the same way as the plot of It's A Wonderful Life. Mr Potter gets his just deserts and dies alone, while the rest of Bedford Falls is poor, but morally superior.
HILLCOL:  Here we go.
DOG: And in the fullness of time, Americans will get all they deserve. I agree with that, by the way. It frightens the hell out of me.
_____________________________________

UND NOCH IMMER MEHR, MIT SICHERHEITSTRUPPEN:  The Inevitable One steamrolled into Kiddietown late yesterday afternoon, for a very special, high-donor, mover and shaker dinner at the Fairmont hotel on Tinytown's famed Nob Hill, organized and hosted by the bashful Mr George Clooney and his lovely wife, Ehrgrud. 

Remind me never to see another one of his films -- which, with the exception of Good Night And Good Luck, aren't that good, anyway. His version of one of my favorite books, Joseph Kanon's The Good German, stunk. I mean, it smelled like someone tossed a twenty-pound Salmon into the backseat of a car with all its windows up, locked the doors , and walked away for a few weeks. And, Monuments Men? Very disappointing.

When Herr Obama appears at the same venue, one helicopter to provide security hovers above the Fairmont. The Prestident Of The Free Market World rates one helicopter -- The Ineviatble One had three -- especially after a smallish group of Sanders supporters gathered near the hotel, and traffic was snarled by the attendant many, many Polizei and guys in suits who suddenly appeared to counter the massive threat. 

Many of them must be schizophrenic, because they hold one-sided conversations with imaginary friends, or mutter angrily into their shirtcuffs. Don't try to give them money; it just makes them upset.

But, Saul Goodman. It was important those awful supporters of the Stupid Old Man not be allowed to spoil the festivities and treats available for People Who Matter. Wonder who from Goldman-Sachs attended?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Because This You Must Know

Wherein We Call Auntie Em Like We See Auntie Em

We Scare Share Because We Care

Courtesy of The Soul Of America, this Faux Campaign image appeared in a slightly different guise at EyeOfTheStorm blog, where cheese fills the void created by a sudden avoidance of law enforcement, in the service of all sentient beings. Tasty, too.

We here at Before Nine (all three of the people who read it, and the Superintelligent Parakeet) thought it "buried the needle" on the Droll-o-Meter, and summed up my own general feelings about one of the two major Democratic Party candydates for Pestident. Thought we'd pass it along.

I haven't said much about the Democratic campaign to become candydate, except to give a nod to Senator Sanders' effort. He says things that makes my Ancient Lefty's Heart™ rise, while at the same time I slump in Dog Abjectness because I know he's a foil and part of the Potemkin Village backdrop to the Kabuki theatre play that is national politics.

Hillary's campaign I acknowledge only because, distastefully, I have to -- summed up in my description of her as Hillary The Inevitable !

How inevitable?  If you watched Charlie Rose yesterday on CBS (he's got air time as occasional anchor of that network's 'Evening News', in addition to his regular gig on PBS with the syndicated Charlie Rose Show), then you saw Chukalicious go after Bernie with a meat cleaver on the national Tube. How far she'll go and how she'll enlist surrogates to do it for her was obvious. 
CHARLIE ROSE: We also asked Senator Sanders why he said Secretary Clinton should apologize to the families of Americans killed in the Iraq War. And he addressed why negative attacks between the two of them have intensified. [To Sanders.] The tenor of this campaign has changed when you're questioning the qualification of a person to be president. Whether their questioning your qualifications, which they say they haven't.
BERNIE SANDERS: All I'm saying—
ROSE: — or you’re questioning their qualifications?
SANDERS: You're right. You’re right. Okay? But what I want to say is when I see the headlines, “Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president,” you know what? We are going to respond.
ROSE: But don't you owe it to yourself and those people who may vote for you to know more than simply look at a headline? You looked at a headline and then responded questioning her qualifications.
SANDERS: Oh, Charlie, it's not a question of a headline. Here, something else. I mean, after we won in Wisconsin, I think the Clinton campaign —  that was our sixth victory in seven states. I think what they have said publicly is the tenor is going to change. They are going to go much more negative on us and they have. That's the fact.
ROSE: Take a listen to this. This is what you said. You said that Clinton should apologize for Iraq war deaths. Do you really —
SANDERS: For what?
ROSE: For Iraqi war deaths.
SANDERS: This is after I was asked to apologize for the tragedy in Sandy Hook. You know, put these things in the context.
ROSE: But, again, it's tit for tat.
SANDERS: It is tit for tat but I, you know, responding to attacks being made against me.
ROSE: I'm asking where the tenor of this campaign is going and is that going too far to say she bears responsibility for Iraqi war deaths?
SANDERS: Do I bear responsibility for the tragedy for the horrors of Sandy Hook? So, you know, let's get off that. Of course, she didn't bear responsibility. She voted for the war in Iraq. That was a very bad vote in my view. Do I hold her accountable? No.
American media seems to describe Sanders' campaign in dismissive terms, like a Gene McCarthy Children's Crusade (if that name confuses you, ask your parents or grandparents if they Got Clean For Gene). He's cast as the scrappy old man, tilting at windmills, offering Pie-In-The-Sky Socialist boilerplate -- and he's facing Hillary Rodham Clinton.  

However, please note -- the media is doing the same thing to Herr Trumpo. Not that the press savages Bernie in the same way they've gone after the Donald, but the similarities are enough to ponder. Not that we should weep big Crocodile tears for Trumpo; but a pattern of dismissive, Old-Man-Sanders-Got-No-Chance articles and 'Opinion' pieces, and talking head commentary on teevee is remarkable. 


But, of course; Hillary; beyond doubt:  She Is The Inevitable One, her time Come Round At Last, after being so cruelly shut out by Herr Obama eight years ago.  Eventually, Bernie will give up. Won't he? She is The Inevitable; can't he see that? Stupid Old Man.

Apparently, no. And he seems to be garnering votes from people who find Hillary ! distasteful (and, gosh -- even if this weren't an electoral process led, and paid for, by the interests of The Few, why would people do that?).  

She Who Comes At Last doesn't like this. So now, after Wisconsin, she went after the Old Man --  only, she's careful not to do it personally.  Charlie (who fluffs a lot of Very Bad People by softballing interviews with them) volunteered to be the hired dildo for that job.

Over at Soul Of America, the Knez of Egoslavia has mentioned his encounters with a Hillaryite Colleague (HC) in their workplace -- which I reproduce here, more or less in order and more or less in unfettered glory because I agree, and because the Superintelligent Parakeet told me to:
... my anti-Clinton is not pro-Sanders - I will not be crossing the street to vote for Sanders on April 26, nor do I advocate his candidacy. My interest in Sanders is based on my anti-Clintonism, anti-Democratic Partyism, the fuckers, and how Sanders makes Hillaryite Colleagues angry.

HC said, when did you become a Sanders' advocate? ... I'm not, I said, Sanders is a tool too, just answer the question. HC said, it depends on whether Biden entered the race. Me: >> Affectless stare <<  Fuck you, said HC. 

>> Affectless stare <<, nice, said my Hillaryite Colleague over a pint earlier in the evening. Sorry about my tone, I said. Fuck you, said HC. Look, I said, I am making an effort to not let things Clinton does that every politician does piss me off more with Clinton than it does with the others. You yourself said you didn't think Clinton should be held to a higher standard than anyone else. Fuck you, said HC.
My only real commentary about Bernie and Hillary ! on the Intertubes has been posted elsewhere -- in particular, dialogue from a running commentary with my own HC at my own workingplace. Reproducing it here (at least) satisfies the Parakeet, whom I do not want to make angry:
... I like Bernie's rhetoric, but he won't become the candidate of the DNC. It will be Hillary, the Business-As-Usual, stiff as a waterboard in public, the Faux Friend of the People. I'd be all right with a Bernie Presidency -- but the idea of Hillary and Oily Billy back in Der Weissen Haus frightens me, because **she claims to be a thing when she is in fact some other Thing**, and deep in our guts we all of us know it.

I don't want Trumpo; his election to Leader is not impossible, just not likely. To rapturously want Hillary as the Inevitable Fate of Murrika is to engage in Cognitive Dissonance on a scale so huge as to be incomprehensible. So I... agree -- not crossing the street to vote for Bernie = 'anti-Clintonism, anti-Democratic Partyism, the fuckers, and how Sanders makes Hillaryite Colleagues angry'.
Here at The Place Of Witless Labor™, my own conversation with my very own Hillaryite.
HILLCOL:- Hey; lookit this (brandishes copy of USA TODAY)
DOG: Oh; this is the part where Mrs. Clinton asks Senator Sanders how he would break up large financial institutions?
HILLCOL: What'dya mean, 'The part where'?
DOG: What Mrs. Clinton implies in her question is, Senator Sanders' intentions are nonsensical -- that JPMorgan-Chase, BofA, Wells-Fargo, Citigroup, Goldman-Sachs and Morgan-Stanley CAN'T be broken up, because they're too powerful. Or they shouldn't be broken up. Because Freedom.
HILLCOL: She's not sayin' that.
DOG: By inference, she's declaring the Senator's position on American investment banks to be illogical, specious, and too radical.
HILLCOL: (Pause) What?
DOG: [Affectless Stare]
HILLCOL: Sanders is just stupid.
DOG: [More Of Same]
HILLCOL: Fuck you. You think you're so smart. It's people like you who'll get Trump elected.
DOG: (Pauses; licks self)
Re: Bernie and Progressivism, "Oooo, That's A Bingo!" Making a similar point with my very own Hillcol this morning (that The Fix Is In and the Game Is Rigged), they were confused. They thought I was some kind of diehard Bernie person.
DOG: No. I think the political and financial system is bent and irredeemably corrupt. Bernie gets up and criticizes it because he's allowed to. He's allowed on stage because he makes Hillary look reasonable and centrist.
HILLCOL: (Pause) So you don't like Sanders either?
DOG: It's not about 'liking'. National elections are orchestrated to celebrate and perpetuate myths about society. It's really about how certain people are allowed to be candidates -- and the winner has a limited amount of power. Ask yourself: what are the myths? Who does the allowing? Who benefits, and how?
HILCOLL: But Clinton is a progressive. She's a *woman*, for god's sake. Is that why you don't like her?
DOG: You're missing my point.
HILCOLL: No I'm not. You're gonna throw your vote away. You're gonna get Trump elected.
DOG: I'd tell you that, on one level, it doesn't matter whether Trump or Clinton, or Sanders or Cruz, or Kasich or Elmer Fudd gets elected -- but I think that would blow your circuitry.
HILLCOL: What the fuck are you talking about?
DOG: Bingo.
And that's Jenga.
___________________________________________ 
MEHR: ES KOMMT AUS 2008:

As "Tough Hillary" emerges, this -- true now, as it was in The Olden Days.

 (Mr Fish, 2008)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Du Kannst Mit Mir Sagt, "Bow Wow"

Translatory

A new feature available on Before Nine: we can now be translated into a wide variety of languages, all courtesy of the Gogglemachine (or, Das Googlegerät). This satisfies our annual technology requirement in service to the Superintelligent Parakeet who reads this blog.

So, now, if you have nothing better to do you can read these moderately amusing Things in French, Hindustani, Arabic, or good-old meat-and-potatoes English. Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys of all nations -- welcome!

Oh, and Trumpo !  Grand Turtlebear Teddy (Church Of I Kill You!) , and Hillary The Inevitable !
___________________________

Monday, April 4, 2016

And No One Is Suprised Too, Also

Not Like You Didn't See This Coming Or Anything

#Occupy Protests, New York City 2013 -- So Long Ago And Far Away
[ WIRED - Monday, April 4, 2016 ] On Sunday, more than a hundred media outlets around the world, coordinated by the Washington, DC-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, released stories on the Panama Papers, a gargantuan collection of leaked documents exposing a widespread system of global tax evasion.

The leak includes more than 4.8 million emails, 3 million database files, and 2.1 million PDFs from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that, according to analysis of the leaked documents, appears to specialize in creating shell companies that its clients have used to hide their assets.

“This is pretty much every document from this firm over a 40-year period,” ICIJ director Gerard Ryle told WIRED in a phone call, arguing that at “about 2,000 times larger than the WikiLeaks state department cables,” it’s indeed the biggest leak in history.
... the leak represents an unprecedented story in itself: How an anonymous whistleblower was able to spirit out and surreptitiously send journalists a gargantuan collection of files, which were then analyzed by more than 400 reporters in secret over more than a year before a coordinated effort to go public.
Immigrant Family Near Refugee Camp Near Macedonian Border (Marko Djurica - Reuters)
[ REUTERS ] The documents detailed schemes involving an array of figures from friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin to relatives of the prime ministers of Britain, Iceland and Pakistan and as well as the president of Ukraine, journalists who received them said...

The Kremlin said the documents contained "nothing concrete and nothing new" while a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said his late father's reported links to an offshore company were a "private matter".

Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson could not immediately be reached for comment on the naming of his wife in connection with a secretive company in an offshore haven which brought opposition calls for him to resign. Pakistan denied any wrongdoing by the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after his daughter and son were linked to offshore companies...
______________________________________
  
MEHR, MIT "WIE ES IST, DAS MODERNE LEBENS":   

Man escapes car dangling on Malibu cliff, only to be hit by bus

[ REUTERS ] A man who nearly drove his sports utility vehicle over a cliff in the posh beach front community of Malibu managed to escape his dangling car unharmed, only to be hit by a passing bus as he stumbled away from the wreckage, police said.

The victim, who was not identified by authorities, was conscious and breathing after being hit by the tour bus and he was transported to a hospital for treatment after the accident Saturday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said on its Facebook page. 
_______________________________________

MEHR, MIT "WIR VERLANGEN EINE ERKLAERUNG, HERRN"

Iceland's Prime Minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, resigned today as a result of revelations in the so-called 'Panama Papers' that a shell company owned by his wife held approximately $4.1 million US in shares of Icelandic banks which had failed during the 2008 worldwide financial crisis.

Ironically, Gunnlaugsson (which we assume means "Son Of A Gun") was originally elected PM after the 'Great Recession' caused Iceland's over-leveraged banks to fail, and the right-wing government then in power was removed by a social movement that included numerous street protests -- much like those held yesterday in Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, which demanded Gunnlaugsson's resignation.

UND NOCH IMMER MEHR -- ER HAT VERMESSEN

Iceland's Prime Minister, Sigmundur Gunderfundersson, did an about face and told the People that no, he won't be resigning after all, and referred them all to Tommy ("Suck On This") Friedman. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Apex Of Civilization

"I Feel I Have Died And Gone To Heaven"

(Discourtesy courtesy of the rootin' tootin' Financial Times)

England is flirting with giving The Proles a taste of money. As the Earl of Grantham reminds Robert Crawley in the first season of Downton Abbey, "We all have parts to play." Ours, presumably, is to touch our caps as a sign of deference and gratitude as the Guvnor's Bentley, with its smoked windows, glides past. High and Low their estates He hath ordered them.
“I feel as though I have died and gone to heaven,” said Britain’s skills minister in a recent speech, as he prepares to preside over the fastest rise in the minimum wage in the country’s history.

The new policy, which starts on Friday, will see the wages for low-paid workers rise four times faster than average earnings this year.

The world will be watching. Governments in many developed countries are turning to minimum wage policies as they try to deal with inequality and anaemic wage growth.

The stagnation in wages in recent years has been blamed on the rise of global competition, the decline in collective bargaining, a slowdown in productivity growth and the way in which technology has “hollowed out” some middle-skilled jobs.
The majority of income and wealth continues flowing to the upper 0.01%. Businesses have effectively frozen wages for 'individual contributors' while increasing managerial and (in particular) "executive" salaries and bonuses. The wages of hourly workers have likewise been kept low, to increase profits and (one would assume) those nice salary and bonus packages for the predators competitors in corporate life. 

Globalization curtailed the power of unions or nearly destroyed them in places (like 'Murrika) where the manufacturing base was gutted. Hourly wage workers lost effective representation. Prices for goods and services continue to rise (my experience tells me, much more than the "less than two per cent inflation" claimed by the Federal Reserve), and not only for costs of living -- but of social mobility: the cost of a college education. The ability to afford a home. The ability to afford technology our culture requires -- not only to navigate within it, but to compete in it.

Middle Class families have some disposable income (and more goods and services, and social mobility for their offspring), but it continues to shrink. Meanwhile, those working for hourly wages are effectively being locked into a cycle of poverty and revolving-credit debt. 

Someone determined that hourly employees should receive a higher minimum wage ... so they can afford to pay more to the businesses selling them goods and services.  So, governments present Minimum Wage "experiments", or increases in Minimum Wages they already allow -- but these increases are only Cost Of Living Adjustments. They don't allow more leisure time, saving for college, or any real changes in the basic standard of living.  Meanwhile, The Rich Get Rich / And The Poor Get Children...
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Per the Financial Times' graphic, it would appear that New Zealand (member of the Commonwealth, mind) is the Bestest Place On Earth For The Peasantry™ , as it takes a workingman only eighteen minutes to 'earn' his reward. My god, man -- at that rate, he (or she; let us be fair) may receive -- rounding up -- 27 Big Macs per day if they wish!

While in the failing empire of 'Murrika, a working person may receive, by comparison, only 12 of these precious treats each day. Well, better luck in the next go; what?

And is there any more fair measure of the Good which wage-earning chaps might aspire to than the "Big Mac"? Only in a Golden-Age, From-The-Manor-House view would the merits of modern civilization be measured in the number of minutes one must labor in order to "earn" a mass-produced sandwich with questionable nutritional value.  You Proles live well, we are told, because you may feast upon theseAnd taste the irony, one would assume.

And people wonder why there is an excess of Bad Bad Crazy in the world.  Yes they do.
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MEHR, MIT LINK:  In the same vein, this should have it's own post -- but if you've ever wanted to take a short peek behind the curtain and see the machinery back there, read this carefully.
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Monday, March 28, 2016

In The Land Of Smiles

The Insufficiently Cheerful Shall Be Punished

Over at the Soul of America is a link to the Tomclarkblog, which had many photos (as it tends to) showing aspects of this world, and (if you've been good) a poem.

Because I'm a Dog with the digital equivalent of crayons, I get to play with these pictures because Photoshop Ist Meine Besser Freund, and because I can.  Don't like? Tell it to the Grand Theft Auto Deer.

And there are also a few other things I've found and brought back from the Intertubes for you.  Enjoy.

Herr Trumpo's appearance at a Based Ball game causes certain reactions from those in the immediate vicinity.  (Original photo:  Rick Scuteri / USA Today / Reuters)

Once upon a Tyme, when the world allowed their love.

"That's  'Yes, Mistress', slave !!" (Mr Fish)


Die Polizei are people, too, also, and workers . And a trip to the bathroom after being strapped into Tac gear isn't a picnic. And those Balaclava masks itch. (Original photo:  Christian Hartmann / Reuters)

Letting Pandas hang out with stuffed, fake bears presents certain existential issues.
(Original photo:  Joshua Paul / AP)

 Grand Theft Auto Deer vs. Gangbangers. 
The 'Bangers don't stand a chance:  Deer gonna Fuck You Up (NYT Online)

You will need to read Japanese, and upside down, to wrest the full Yucks from this picture.
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(Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP)

I meant to end with this image, which Mr Clark used to end his own post. He had opened it with photos of the partially sand-buried bodies of migrants from the Middle East, washed ashore on a beach near Tripoli, Libya -- this is a photo of a person in a small boat, rowing on Inva Lake near Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) in late February.

It's a reminder: even with all the most terrible things imaginable happening in the world, the Earth abides. We may be on our way out as a species; it may not abide for us. But scenes like this are part of the world we inhabit, now, and will continue, misty and calm, whether we're there to witness them or not.
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