Sunday, December 19, 2010

custom blocks


Shipping in time for Christmas is still possible (Monday), everywhere except the west coast (two-day still available for an extra charge).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Last week to order before Christmas

Apologies for barraging you once again, dear forty faithful readers primarily in other countries, during this final holiday madness. Enter coupon code "BernieSanders" for 10% off any of these items (and more!) that are ready to ship immediately:













Tuesday, December 14, 2010

wikileaks documentary, Bush/Obama's Socialism for billionaires, cont.

• The sanctimonious Obama administration on Sunday raised its head out of its own ass just long enough to acknowledge Bernie Sanders, before plunging the rest of us and the future of the Democratic party down the "fiscal responsibility" rabbit hole and into Third World America, as promised.

Still it's a fair question: what did Bernie's speech on Friday actually accomplish? If you mean, that is, something besides demonstrating in no uncertain terms, and despite near total mainstream media blackout, an enormous untapped well of popular hunger for more Progressive legislation, and a glaringly obvious gap between that majority hunger and the ongoing "failure of leadership" on the part of the Obama administration to use the world's best bully pulpit to turn ideas with potentially overwhelming broad popular support into actual legislation. Ideas that would have the added benefit, needless to say, of producing the real-world results of fulfilling both the alleged spirit and substance of Obama's campaign promises, as opposed to what we got.

Gibbs says the votes "aren't there"...Well, when the President expends more effort playing basketball than fighting for his base that's hardly a surprise. It's also just plain unacceptable. Right now American people (especially in the south) are so confused they think Obama is trying to take away Pell Grants and raise taxes on the middle class. Trust me, I talk to them everyday. Unless you make the Republicans show themselves for who they truly are, even if it means shutting down the government, yes–there is no hope anything but the ongoing disastrous rightward drift. They are just that much better at messaging than you. But then, you refuse to participate at all, so that's hardly a surprise. Such "pure soul" "post-partisan" "post-political" "Republican-lite" governing continues to be responsible for untold suffering, mounting exponentially every year, both domestic and worldwide.

And Obama has just all-but-assured the future death-by-a-thousand-private-cuts of Social Security. Obviously, we need stronger medicine to break the downward spiral. You can support Bernie Sanders, and thank him for being a fighter, here.

At the same time, Al Franken's decision is something Progressives may be able to respect. And for that, the President owes Al Franken an enormous gratitude. Perhaps he could begin by keeping his own word.

Update: Bail Granted!

This new documentary (also available in ten-minute segs on you-tube), provides some important historical context for wikileaks. Help it go viral.

I ask you to imagine how much different our world would be if WikiLeaks had existed 10 years ago. Take a look at this photo. That's Mr. Bush about to be handed a "secret" document on August 6th, 2001. Its heading read: "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US." And on those pages it said the FBI had discovered "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings." Mr. Bush decided to ignore it and went fishing for the next four weeks.

But if that document had been leaked, how would you or I have reacted? What would Congress or the FAA have done? Was there not a greater chance that someone, somewhere would have done something if all of us knew about bin Laden's impending attack using hijacked planes?

But back then only a few people had access to that document. Because the secret was kept, a flight school instructor in San Diego who noticed that two Saudi students took no interest in takeoffs or landings, did nothing. Had he read about the bin Laden threat in the paper, might he have called the FBI? (Please read this essay by former FBI Agent Coleen Rowley, Time's 2002 co-Person of the Year, about her belief that had WikiLeaks been around in 2001, 9/11 might have been prevented.)

Or what if the public in 2003 had been able to read "secret" memos from Dick Cheney as he pressured the CIA to give him the "facts" he wanted in order to build his false case for war? If a WikiLeaks had revealed at that time that there were, in fact, no weapons of mass destruction, do you think that the war would have been launched -- or rather, wouldn't there have been calls for Cheney's arrest?

Openness, transparency -- these are among the few weapons the citizenry has to protect itself from the powerful and the corrupt. What if within days of August 4th, 1964 -- after the Pentagon had made up the lie that our ship was attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin -- there had been a WikiLeaks to tell the American people that the whole thing was made up? I guess 58,000 of our soldiers (and 2 million Vietnamese) might be alive today.

Instead, secrets killed them.

For those of you who think it's wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he's being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please -- never, ever believe the "official story." And regardless of Assange's guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself. I have joined with filmmakers Ken Loach and John Pilger and writer Jemima Khan in putting up the bail money -- and we hope the judge will accept this and grant his release today.

From here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


• I thought Democratic Presidents were supposed to give a shit about the environment. Guess not.

• A devastating review of Hardt and Negri's multidude, redux.

• The movement for a primary challenge to Obama grows (from the real left, where Democrats used to stand up and fight), on facebook and elsewhere.

• Did I mention Bernie Sanders.

• Lots of new items are being listed throughout the night and coming week to my etsy shop, and ready to ship immediately. Enter coupon code "BernieSanders" for a 10% blog-reader discount.


Full video of Bernie Sanders' historic speech on Friday

The following should be required viewing for every US citizen (beginning at the 54 minute mark):

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Bill Clinton press conference stunt

What a disgrace. They're feeling the heat, though. Perhaps realizing they haven't begun to tap the kind of energy one 69-year-old Senator with an actual conscience is capable of arousing, the DCCC just sent out an email hitting Republicans (in all the no-brain obvious, centrist DLC ways). Both parties remain the enemy of the working class, needless to say (and the Democrats all the more despicable because they alone actually could–if they had the courage to–be better).

NYTimes on the adorable Bernie Sanders here.

Bernie Sanders bumperstickers

Made by yours truly in honor of yesterday's historic speech. I ordered a few extra if anybody wants one.


This is a good and interesting article on wikileaks (via the new mag, Idiom).

Sanders nearly 9 hour defense of America today: This is what real fighting for the working class look like

Update: More highlights captured here.

Let Sanders know you appreciate him. It's important.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Go Bernie Sanders, Go!

Bernie has been speaking on the floor of the Senate (live link) for 8 hours straight and still going strong. Historic, beautiful, moving speech and civics lesson, from a Senator who has earned his ire and done his homework. Watch live (at the above link) and send your
message of support/talking suggestions
right now!

Follow on Twitter (currently trending #1).

Liveblogging here.

From Facebook:
Bernie Sanders: You can call what I am doing today whatever you want, you it call it a filibuster, you can call it a very long speech. I'm not here to set any great records or to make a spectacle. I am simply here today to take as long as I can to explain to the American people the fact that we have got to do a lot better than this agreement provides.
(from the Senate floor)

From DFA:
Saying he was prepared to speak "as long as possible" against a tax deal between the White House and congressional Republicans, Bernie today took to the Senate floor to make the case against deepening the deficit and widening the income gap in America by extending Bush-era tax breaks for the very wealthy.

As I hit send on this email right now at 4pm Eastern, Senator Bernie Sanders has been speaking for 6 hours -- becuase he knows he has your full support and stands on the side of the majority of Americans. Assuming that by the time you get this email, Bernie is still at it, you can watch him lead his unconventional filibuster live right now.

Bernie's message today is clear. You have the power to stop this bad deal.

Senator Sanders has received thousands of calls in his office against the compromise. He's spoken to other Senators and they are getting it too. Even better, they're listening. Now, on the Senate floor, Senator Sanders is calling on all Americans to turn it up -- don't stop -- keeping calling until we get a better deal.

But don't just focus on the Senate.

The U.S. House of Representatives needs to hear from you too. Yesterday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that House Democrats will not vote on the compromise without further changes and a better deal for working people, senior citizens, and the unemployed. But House Democrats are under great pressure to cave. They need to know we have their back. That's why we launched a "Thank You and Stand Strong" statement of support yesterday.

We've alerted the Speakers office of the overwhelming response we've had -- over 40,000 signatures in under 24 hours -- and it's already making an impact. But it's not enough. Can we hit 75,000 signatures before we deliver all the signatures on Monday?


Our strategy is working. Democrats are standing up and fighting for real change. They are working to defend the middle class and restore fiscal sanity. And they are doing it, becuase they are standing up for us. You. Me. And every American. This is why we vote for, contribute to, and fully support progressive Democrats.

Thank you for everything you're doing to move America forward.


Charles Chamberlain, Political Director
Democracy for America

P.S. Because no one says it better than Bernie, I've included his message to DFA members from the beginning of the week below.


Matthew -

President Obama is right about one thing -- Republicans in Congress are holding the middle class hostage.

We have a $13.8 trillion national debt, a collapsing middle class and the most unequal distribution of wealth of any major country. With all this in mind, Republicans in Congress say they will block tax cuts to the middle class and block unemployment benefits to more than two million families unless the President gives huge tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires.

Their behavior is morally bankrupt. It is reprehensible.

But instead of challenging the Republicans for their absurd demands and their outrageous tactics, the President gave them virtually everything they wanted.

I cannot and will not support this deal. I will do everything I can to uphold the promise made to the American people to end the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

Join me and my friends at Democracy for America today and sign our pledge calling on Congress to reject this deal.

One of the most underreported parts of this deal is a cut to the Social Security payroll tax. In just one year, over $120 billion of revenue will be cut from Social Security under the President's compromise plan, weakening the program and virtually guaranteeing benefit cuts in the future.

Make no mistake about it. Social Security has not added one dime to the national debt and this cut will only embolden Republican attempts to privatize the program and increase the age of retirement. Social Security is a vital safety net for all Americans and a cornerstone of our commitment to protect the middle class.

We are not alone in standing against this compromise. Republicans are holding the middle class hostage and the American people know it. I come from a small state and yesterday my office received more than 1,000 calls on this issue, with over 90% of them in opposition to this deal.

Last night, thousands of DFA members joined me on DFA Live where we had a lively discussion on this issue. One thing was clear to me during that call -- DFA members nationwide want Democrats to stop this deal and fight for the middle class, working people, senior citizens and the unemployed while making sure that millionaires and billionaires are not given massive tax breaks.

Make sure Congress gets the message -- Join the fight now and sign the petition opposing this so-called "compromise."

Thank you,


Bernie Sanders
United States Senator from Vermont

Thank you, Sanders.

The first 12 minutes:

MSNBC, the one and only cable news show on the job:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Exact items all ready to ship...

That's genuine French stinky cheese...$1.50 at Amazing Savings, and past due even better! We bought ten of them.

GreenRiverWoods.Etsy.Com, or contact me directly for a discount.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

So much smarter than Jon Stewart


The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Unrequited Gov
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Pay attention kids, because this is really serious (via ATR).

You know this because even the rosy-tinted glasses at Daily Kos are being pulled from the face.

I Can Really Use Your Tax Cut

Face Grain Countertop Butcher Block/Cutting Board -A Real Steal

From GreenRiverWoods

Face Grain Countertop Butcher Block/Cutting Board -A Real Steal
Face Grain Countertop Butcher Block/Cutting Board -A Real Steal Face Grain Countertop Butcher Block/Cutting Board -A Real Steal Face Grain Countertop Butcher Block/Cutting Board -A Real Steal Face Grain Countertop Butcher Block/Cutting Board -A Real Steal Face Grain Countertop Butcher Block/Cutting Board -A Real Steal
Are you a decades-long recipient of the continuing Bush/Obama tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires? This item may be just for you. Free shipping.

Stunning conversation piece board features not one but *two* contoured natural "wane" edges, faces dappled with "noble rot" spalting figure and streaked with subtle colors–blue flame of the ambrosia beetle, black wandering dead man's fingers, rose, slate, and straw. One side even has a beautiful natural gash, inlaid with bark and perfect for storing crumbs, or garlic.

Board is substantially hefty with no glue joints, so you can be assured that there is absolutely no risk of any glue joint failure. Of course it may still crack, or split, or warp and woof, like any other piece of cellular wood, if not properly cared for. And this glorious pattern only appears in face grain, so it will scar easily, and will also dull your knives. But scars add character (until they force you to refinish the board, but that is easy). Also let's face it, you may only use this as a unique serving platter for one special wedding or event and then forget about it. Or better still, you may wish to consider buying another one after each and every use, or having several on hand to begin with.

I found this lovely hunk of wood under my woodworking bench, in my woodworking shop. No doubt I had once purchased it with my own hard-earned cash for $2.50/BF from my good friend at my local sustainable hardwood milling operation. So I sanded it carefully by hand, with a random orbital sander, before oiling and taking pictures of it. Board contains approximately 1.5 board feet and measures 25 1/2" by 11 1/2" by 1 3/8" at its widest points.

Here's what I will do with the money:

• Insulate the attic of our 1928 bungalow, with eco-friendly blown-in insulation for the winter (already fast upon us).

• Buy a solar hot water panel kit and install it myself on said bungalow.

• Purchase and install by ourselves a mid-range quality wood stove and double-insulated stove pipe up through the original chimney, which is no longer safe because it was built before Portland Cement became widely available and all the lime has washed out, plus then it was shingled over.

• Buy one bottle of mid-grade single malt scotch and drink a modest toast to you, and to Etsy.

Please note: For those not eligible for top tier tax credits, I have many boards and blocks priced for you as well (and have successfully shipped hundreds of items around the country, including genuine end grain butcher blocks and wholesale orders).

I am currently taking custom orders for February and March, but also have some inventory not listed on Etsy (slated for galleries and shows, but that can be flexible). Priority two-day USian shipping on items already built still gives you plenty of time for the Holidays.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Last post on the BP oil blowout, cont.

Everything is dead within 80 miles, four inches of oil coat the ocean floor, etc. Don't expect to read about it on The Oil Drum, or for BP to ever pay as much as half of its already criminally modest and deflated fines.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Protests! The example of older, wiser countries...happening now!

You say "austerity" and we say...Fuck YOU!

Or with more sophistication:
"When they say 'cutback' we say Feuerbach!" And more.



(source, and more)

Robert Kuttner comes out swinging

...and agrees about a primary challenge:
Let's stop pretending. Barack Obama is a disaster as a crisis president. He has taken an economic collapse that was the result of Republican ideology and Republican policies, and made it the Democrats' fault. And the more that he is pummeled, the more he bends over.

So what exactly are our prospects and alternatives?

Absent radically different policies, an economic depression will continue indefinitely. This is not a "Great Recession" in the New York Times' cute pun. It's a depression, made up of persistently high unemployment, reduced consumer purchasing power, damaged banks, and business unwillingness to invest, just like the 1930s. Unemployment is not quite as severe, but measured properly it is around 18 percent. And unlike in the 1930s, we don't have a strong Democratic president using activist government to dig our way out.

With Congress deadlocked, the second best course in these circumstances is to offer progressive policies that will cure the depression, and beat the stuffings out of the Republicans for blocking them. But that is simply not going to happen because that is not who Obama is. His style is not to draw bright lines, but to blur them.

Absent that kind of leadership, the Republicans going onto 2012 will succeed in blaming the continuing crisis on Obama and the Democrats. Obama is rapidly becoming our Herbert Hoover.

Absent such challenge, it's not difficult to see where this Obama-turned-Republican is leading (and it does not suggest much future for people like us, in our income bracket, living in this country). Which is an incredibly painful, serious thought.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Continuing the slide...

It's too bad Derrida is gone. He would surely have some interesting things to say about the importance of the space for the secret, the promise of diplomacy vs. it's current lamentable all-too-often corruption and hypocrisy, etc.

So I certainly have reservations regarding the dogmatism/non-discretion of the so-called hacker "ethic, etc." but Wikileaks is alive and well: right here (and mirrored on 507 sites worldwide, here).

It all makes for some very interesting reading...

I think this is fairly wise.

Anyway guess I'll never be handed a job with the state department, at Columbia University or with USAID...OH FUCKING WELL!

Update: Payback's a bitch. Well, sort of.

Obama needs a challenge. I vote for Russ Feingold.

Cockburn is usually deep in fantasy-land, but this one I like:

As the dust clears from the electoral battlefield, the corporate press is unanimous: the people have spoken, and their verdict is that President Obama must "move to the center." Onto the butcher block must go entitlements—Medicare, Social Security. The sky darkens with vultures eager to pick the people's bones.

In fact, election day delivered no such verdict. The American people spoke, and their message was confused. When exit pollsters questioned 17,000 voters across the nation as to who should take the blame for the country's economic problems, 35 percent said Wall Street, 29 percent said Bush and 24 percent said Obama. Just over half of the respondents (57 percent) said that their votes in House races had nothing to do with the Tea Party. The other half was split on the Tea Party, pro (22 percent) or con (17 percent). More than 60 percent said the all-important issue is the economy; 86 percent said they are worried about economic conditions. On whether government should lay out money to create jobs or slash expenditures to reduce the deficit, there's also a near-even split.

The American people want a government that doesn't govern, a budget that will simultaneously balance and create jobs, and spending cuts across the board that leave the defense budget intact. Collectively, the election made plain, they haven't a clear notion of which way to march.

Obama must carry a substantial part of the blame for this. He delivered no clear message, no clarion call. For two years he gave labor nothing; he gave his most loyal constituency—black America—nothing. When the "One Nation" rally mustered in Washington on October 2, there was no stentorian message of support from Obama for the event, sponsored by the NAACP and the AFL-CIO. Among the vast throngs who gathered for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's politically inconsequential "sanity rally" on October 30, how many were young people who had voted for Obama in 2008, their passionate expectations now mutilated on the battlefields of Obamian realpolitik?

As Obama reviews his options, which way will he head? He's already supplied the answer. He'll try to broker deals to reach "common ground" with the Republicans, the strategy that destroyed those first two years of opportunity.

What do the next two years hold? Already there are desperate urgings from progressives for Obama to hold the line. Already there are the omens of a steady stream of concessions by Obama to the right. There's hardly any countervailing pressure for him to do otherwise. The president has no fixed principles of political economy, and who is at his elbow in the White House? Not the labor secretary, Hilda Solis. Not that splendid radical Elizabeth Warren, whose Consumer Financial Protection Bureau the Republicans are already scheduling for destruction. Next to Obama is Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the bankers' lapdog, whom the president holds in high esteem.

In the months ahead, as Obama parleys amiably with the right on budgetary discipline and deficit reduction, the anger of the progressive left will mount. At some point a champion of the left will step forward to challenge him in the primaries. This futile charade will expire at the 2012 Democratic National Convention amid the rallying cry of "unity."

The White House deserves the menace of a convincing threat now, not some desperate intra–Democratic Party challenge late next year by Michael Moore or, yet again, Dennis Kucinich.

There is a champion of the left with sound appeal to the sane populist right. He was felled on November 2, and he should rise again before his reputation fades. His name is Russ Feingold, currently a Democrat and the junior senator from Wisconsin. I urge him to decline any job proffered by the Obama administration and not to consider running as a challenger inside the Democratic Party. I urge him, not too long after he leaves the Senate, to bruit the possibility of a presidential run as an independent; then, not too far into 2011, to embark on such a course.

Why would he be running? Unlike Teddy Kennedy challenging Jimmy Carter in 1979, Feingold would have a swift answer. To fight against the Republicans and the White House in defense of the causes he has publicly supported across a lifetime. He has opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His was the single Senate vote against the Patriot Act; his was a consistent vote against the constitutional abuses of both the Bush and Obama administrations. He opposed NAFTA and the bank bailouts. He is for economic justice and full employment. He is the implacable foe of corporate control of the electoral process. The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in January was aimed in part at his landmark campaign finance reform bill.

A Wisconsin voter wrote me in the wake of the election, "Feingold likely lost because his opponent's ads, including billboards with pictures of him and Obama, as well as TV and radio ads, and last-minute phone bursts, convinced many voters that he has been a party-line Democratic insider all these years." What an irony! Feingold has always been of an independent cast of mind, and it surely would not be a trauma for him to bolt the party. Ralph Nader, having rendered his remarkable service to the country, having endured torrents of undeserved abuse from progressives, should hand the torch to Feingold as a worthy heir to that great hero of Wisconsin, Robert La Follette.

The left must abandon the doomed ritual of squeaking timid reproaches to Obama, only to have the counselors at Obama's elbow contemptuously dismiss them, as did Rahm Emanuel, who correctly divined their near-zero capacity for effective challenge. Two more years, then four more years, of the same downward slide, courtesy of bipartisanship and "working together"? No way. Run, Russ, Run!

Liberated from The Nation (with permission).



Four Democrats and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) joined Republicans in voting nay. The Senate also rejected a bill by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that would have extended all the cuts, but not for anybody making more than $1 million.

That's in the Democratic-majority Senate. Millionaires, clearly getting a return on their investment. (Where' the Tea Party outrage now, David Koch?)

If you are lucky enough to have a job and feel like punishing someone, here's where to do that.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Once again: I'm going to miss him

Weakileaks, parrhesia

James Moore:
There is a very simple reason WikiLeaks has sent a furious storm of outrage across the globe and it has very little to do with diplomatic impropriety. It is this: The public is uninformed because of inadequate journalism....Very few publishers or broadcasters post reporters to foreign datelines and give them time to develop relationships that lead to information. Consequently, journalism is atrophying from the extremities inward and the small heart it has will soon become even more endangered.

Actual journalistic coverage of the story (should be required viewing) is here.

And more.

Update: Another way to look at this:
While WikiLeaks made the trove available with the intention of exposing United States duplicity, what struck many readers was that American diplomacy looked rather impressive. The day-by-day record showed diplomats trying their hardest behind closed doors to defuse some of the world’s thorniest conflicts, but also assembling a Plan B.

“When dysfunctional does not begin to describe our political system and institutions,” Prof. Stephen Kotkin of Princeton concluded after sampling the cables last week, “something in the government is really working — the State Department — far better than anyone thought.” (via)

: Much more from Jeff Jarvis:
Of course, we need secrets in society. In issues of security and criminal investigation as well as the privacy of citizens and some matters of operating the state -- such as diplomacy -- sunlight can damage. If government limited secrecy to that standard -- necessity -- there would be nothing for WikiLeaks to leak.

But as we can see from what has been leaked, there is much we should know -- actions taken in our name -- that government holds from us. We also know that the revelation of these secrets has not been devastating. America's and Germany's relationship has not collapsed because one undiplomatic diplomat called Angela Merkel uncreative. WikiLeaks head Julian Assange told the Guardian that in four years, "there has been no credible allegation, even by organizations like the Pentagon, that even a single person has come to harm as a result of our activities."

So perhaps the lesson of WikiLeaks should be that the open air is less fearsome than we'd thought. That should lead to less secrecy. After all, the only sure defense against leaks is transparency.

But that is not what's happening. In the U.S., the White House announced a new security initiative to clamp down on information. The White House even warned government workers not to look at WikiLeaks documents online because they were still officially secret, which betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the definition of secret as something people do not know. I fear that one legacy of WikiLeaks' work will be that officials will communicate less in writing and more by phone, diminishing the written record for journalism and history.


[T]oday, in the internet age, power shifts from those who hold secrets to those who create openness. That is our emerging reality.

Business, be warned: You are next.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

face grains for $200, good grief

The best corrective to all these overpriced "artists" on Etsy, most of whom have quite clearly got way too much time on their hands, remains: Regretsy. Highly recommended (again, I know). Enjoy.

Are you sure this is what you voted for, asshats.

Robert Reich is calling it "National Fiscal Hypocrisy Week." He neglects to mention the idiotic federal pay freeze (no, that doesn't include Goldman Sachs) or that struggling homeowners will now only get 1/4 of the money promised to help them refinance.

I believe the appropriate offensive cartoon would show Obama being forced to eat shit off the ground, at Rethuglican feet while The Owners laugh at everyone. Or maybe Obama is helping them, gratefully, spoon-feed it to us.

National Fiscal Hypocrisy Week "may extend into next week as well."

Update: Somebody cut a deal with Republicans and The Chamber. Too bad there was no reason to compromise on such no-brainer legislation to begin with (nor any need to bargain the middle class away for the dozen other good bills still being Rethuglican/Chamber blocked for no good reason).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Velkomin, as Icelanders would say, to Leakistan

Interesting future, we may be looking at.

Deficit Idiocy

This country will continue to go down the tubes until we TAX THE RICH like we used to do, as a country whose spirit was opposed to aristocracy. That's just a simple fact.

Robert Kuttner, right on as usual:
The tactical problem is that the Republicans and Democrats aren't playing the same game. So if the Democrats meet the Republicans half way, the Republicans only demand that they do it again. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is identified as media enemy number one because she rejects this nonsense.

The tactical asymmetry connects to the substantive problem -- the fact that the solution to what ails the economy is somewhere to the left of most Democrats, not midway between, say, President Obama and Mitch McConnell. The economy will be fixed only with more public investment, more progressive taxation, and more regulation, but partisan compromise dictates less of each.

Our President, unfortunately, has played right into this trap, with creations such as the bipartisan panel on fiscal reform and responsibility, which will very likely come out with a plan to narrow the federal deficit by slashing what's left of public investment. The whole tilt of this commission is somewhere between conservative Democrat and far-right Republican.

Obama started out as a wishful post-partisan. His post-partisanship, in the face of Republican obstructionism, handed the mid-term election to his enemies. Now he is still trying to be post-partisan, but in even worse terrain.


To get a sense of what the Commission's two chairmen, Wall Street Democrat Erskine Bowles and wacko Republican Alan Simpson, would like to do, consider the proposal that they have been circulating. This would begin cutting the deficit in just 10 months, whether or not the economy is in recovery. The plan would gratuitously cut Social Security benefits, not raise taxes on the wealthy, and use spending cuts for about two-thirds of the proposed deficit reduction.

For an antidote to this economically insane medicine, have a look at the counterproposal written by three progressive think tanks, which proposes recovery first. A similar manifesto, by the Citizens Budget Commission, has just been released as an explicit alternative to the official commission's expected report. (Disclosure: I am involved with both efforts.)


The latest incarnation of the bipartisan delusion is an organization calling itself "No Labels." This is not an anti-designer consumer protest, but a political organization advertising the conceit that there is something virtuous per se about being post-partisan, never mind the content.[...]

Spare me! Is Joe Lieberman, one of the great hacks of American politics, anybody's idea of a fresh thinker?

Come to think of it, what exactly is Galston's "third force" a third way between?

The original Third Way, Sweden, was advertised as somewhere between communism and capitalism. More recent third-way organizations, like the Democratic Leadership Council, have positioned themselves midway between Democratic liberals and business conservatives. As the presidential Democratic Party keeps moving right-of-center, the third way people now position themselves in between neutered Democrats and far-right resurgent Republicans.

You can see where this leads. But it sure is popular with financiers and the elite press.


...the next phase of American politics will be Republican faux-populist loonies versus fat-cat post-partisans.

I keep thinking of Yeats. "The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity." A real progressive, with courage and convictions, could expose these people as false messiahs.

Excerpted probably too heavily from the full article published here

According to Digby, all this deficit hysteria is just Republicans trying to avoid the debate of whether we should tax the rich again, or do more to create jobs. Part of their whole purely opportunist sabotage efforts. (Too bad we have what appears to be a gullible President with little courage to be brave and disliked, and so the entirely predictable Republican strategy continues working.)

And just for kicks, here is some vintage Robert Kuttner, also showing Sean Hannity to be the complete ass that he is:


Good show on democracynow this morning. Also what Digby says.

Decision Sponge

No wonder Bill Clinton recommends Decision Points (it makes Bush look like a "butt-boy to the rich, insignificant in every manner and offering nothing" as one Hunter S. Thompson put it in some of his final words (original seems to have been disappeared)):
There are hardly any decision points at all. The path to each decision is so short and irresistible, more like an electric pulse than like a weighing of options, that the reader is hard-pressed to explain what happened. Suddenly, it’s over, and there’s no looking back. The decision to go to war “was an accretion,” Richard Haass, the director of policy-planning at the State Department until the invasion of Iraq, told me. “A decision was not made—a decision happened, and you can’t say when or how.”


Here is another feature of the non-decision: once his own belief became known to him, Bush immediately caricatured opposing views and impugned the motives of those who held them. If there was an honest and legitimate argument on the other side, then the President would have to defend his non-decision, taking it out of the redoubt of personal belief and into the messy empirical realm of contingency and uncertainty. So critics of his stem-cell ban are dismissed as scientists eager for more government cash, or advocacy groups looking to “raise large amounts of money,” or Democrats who saw “a political winner.”

On the policy of torturing captured Al Qaeda suspects, Bush writes that he refused to approve two techniques requested by the Central Intelligence Agency but gave the O.K. to waterboarding. George Tenet, the C.I.A. director, asked permission to use waterboarding on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational mastermind behind September 11th. “I thought about my meeting with Danny Pearl’s widow, who was pregnant with his son when he was murdered,” Bush writes. (Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, was reportedly beheaded by K.S.M.) “I thought about the 2,973 people stolen from their families by al Qaeda on 9/11. And I thought about my duty to protect the country from another act of terror. ‘Damn right,’ I said.” By Bush’s own account, revenge was among his chief motives in sanctioning torture. “I had asked the most senior legal officers in the U.S. government to review the interrogation methods, and they had assured me they did not constitute torture.” The President had been told what he wanted to hear by loyal subordinates, but, his memoirs make clear, he did not consider the moral and practical consequences of authorizing what most people who were not senior legal officers in the Bush Administration would describe as torture. One crucial consequence—the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib—receives a single page (most of which is about Bush’s reasons for not firing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld).


“George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream,” a new study by Dan P. McAdams, a psychology professor at Northwestern (Oxford; $29.95), argues that September 11th offered a geopolitical version of what the personal conversion experience had given Bush: a story of redemption and mission—in this case, one that could be extended to the country and the world. Nine days after the “day of fire,” Bush addressed a joint session of Congress: “In our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. . . . We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.” McAdams traces Bush’s resolve over the Iraq war to this “redemptive dream”: “Psychological research shows that powerful narratives in people’s lives make it nearly impossible, in many cases, to consider ideas, opinions, possibilities, and facts that run counter to the story.” By this interpretation, 9/11 shut and sealed the door to Presidential decision-making. Bush’s account of the most consequential episode of his Presidency, the war in Iraq, does not undermine the hypothesis.

“I had tried to address the threat from Saddam Hussein without war,” Bush writes. The accounts of numerous Administration officials and journalists say otherwise: by the summer of 2002, war in Iraq was inevitable. The timing and the manner of this non-decision decision make for the cloudiest story in the book.


Bush ends “Decision Points” with the sanguine thought that history’s verdict on his Presidency will come only after his death. During his years in office, two wars turned into needless disasters, and the freedom agenda created such deep cynicism around the world that the word itself was spoiled. In America, the gap between the rich few and the vast majority widened dramatically, contributing to a historic financial crisis and an ongoing recession; the poisoning of the atmosphere continued unabated; and the Constitution had less and less say over the exercise of executive power. Whatever the judgments of historians, these will remain foregone conclusions

Ouch. Read more

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fox Snooze now just posting Onion headlines

Someone in the "fair and balanced" funhouse is having a chuckle and just shrugging, "because we can."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Full Employment Now!

Since The Fed's mandate is all the talk of the day (or was it yesterday, and who keeps track when it never amounts to anything?) this recent essay in n+1 (much like others) has not yet gotten the sustained attention it deserves.

From the people who brought you the idea for the bumper-sticker that reads:

Logically-Speaking, Most Americans Must
Either Love Their Government
or Really Hate Capitalism.

Which somehow I doubt anyone in Shelton-Laurel will get. Can it be shortened?

Monday, November 22, 2010

United States: thy enemy is Republican

This is why I canvassed for two days for Democrats (despite the fact the Democratic party has become more progressive in rhetoric than it has in action the six and a half years I've been blogging about the need for such change):
On one side, Republicans oppose just about everything that might reduce structural deficits: they demand that the Bush tax cuts be made permanent while demagoguing efforts to limit the rise in Medicare costs, which are essential to any attempts to get the budget under control. On the other, the G.O.P. opposes anything that might help sustain demand in a depressed economy — even aid to small businesses, which the party claims to love.

Right now, in particular, Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment benefits — an action that will both cause immense hardship and drain purchasing power from an already sputtering economy. But there’s no point appealing to the better angels of their nature; America just doesn’t work that way anymore.

And opposition for the sake of opposition isn’t limited to economic policy. Politics, they used to tell us, stops at the water’s edge — but that was then.

These days, national security experts are tearing their hair out over the decision of Senate Republicans to block a desperately needed new strategic arms treaty. And everyone knows that these Republicans oppose the treaty, not because of legitimate objections, but simply because it’s an Obama administration initiative; if sabotaging the president endangers the nation, so be it.

How does this end? Mr. Obama is still talking about bipartisan outreach, and maybe if he caves in sufficiently he can avoid a federal shutdown this spring. But any respite would be only temporary; again, the G.O.P. is just not interested in helping a Democrat govern.

My sense is that most Americans still don’t understand this reality. They still imagine that when push comes to shove, our politicians will come together to do what’s necessary. But that was another country.

Upcoming markets...for those in Asheville

For those neither local nor wishing to support the local college women's soccer team (or teen ministry!), there is still time to order something custom, handmade and built to last for decades, before Christmas. Barely.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Last summer in Europe..some wood-related photos

Sun-bleached old workbench, Moustiers Sainte-Marie
Olive wood...


Wine cellar?

Rocks may hit you on the head

I have more recent pictures of beautiful wooden doors than I care to admit, from France, Italy and Switzerland.

When the social situation in the U.S. deteriorates for another twenty years and we move to France this is what I'll do, he told himself...

Below, this old chess set from olive wood was tempting to bargain for (in need of some repair):
I abstained, as we stopped the car at every brocante in provence between Moustier and Nîmes.

Possibly the oldest-looking confessional in existence
Calvin's chair, non-reclining
This is fancy

In hindsight this seems less than perfectly safe