Robert Ingersol’s Christmas List

Robert Ingersol was a 19th century free thinker/atheist/secular humanist, his writings are as vital today as they were over a century ago.

If I had the power to produce exactly what I want for next Christmas, I would have all the kings and emperors resign and allow the people to govern themselves.

I would have all the nobility crop their titles and give their lands back to the people. I would have the Pope throw away his tiara, take off his sacred vestments, and admit that he is not acting for God—is not infallible—but is just an ordinary Italian. I would have all the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests and clergymen admit that they know nothing about theology, nothing about hell or heaven, nothing about the destiny of the human race, nothing about devils or ghosts, gods or angels. I would have them tell all their “flocks” to think for themselves, to be manly men and womanly women, and to do all in their power to increase the sum of human happiness.

I would have all the professors in colleges, all the teachers in schools of every kind, including those in Sunday schools, agree that they would teach only what they know, that they would not palm off guesses as demonstrated truths.

I would like to see all the politicians changed to statesmen,—to men who long to make their country great and free,—to men who care more for public good than private gain—men who long to be of use.
I would like to see all the editors of papers and magazines agree to print the truth and nothing but the truth, to avoid all slander and misrepresentation, and to let the private affairs of the people alone.

I would like to see drunkenness and prohibition both abolished.

I would like to see corporal punishment done away with in every home, in every school, in every asylum, reformatory, and prison. Cruelty hardens and degrades, kindness reforms and ennobles.

I would like to see the millionaires unite and form a trust for the public good.

I would like to see a fair division of profits between capital and labor, so that the toiler could save enough to mingle a little June with the December of his life.

I would like to see an international court established in which to settle disputes between nations, so that armies could be disbanded and the great navies allowed to rust and rot in perfect peace.

I would like to see the whole world free—free from injustice—free from superstition.

This will do for next Christmas. The following Christmas, I may want more.

The Arena, Boston, December 1897.

Reasonably Yours!

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Obama Isn’t Spineless, He’s Conservative:

I’ve been saying Obama is a conservative since the spring of 1988.  I always thought he was cut more from the cloth of Ronald Reagan than FDR.  More an ad-man than an actual community organizing activist, mouthing empty slogans that could be selling almost any product, but that were selling mushy headed sentimental liberals on his, “niceness”.

When what we needed was a fire breathing, truth telling left wing progressive ready to kick ass and take names as well as tell the truth about conservative misrule.

From Infoshop: http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20101224211102962

Reflections on Chutzpah, Theirs and Ours

By Paul Street
ZNet
Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chutzpah
Oh boy – so now he’s really gone and done it.  President Barack Obama has (as widely predicted) “caved-in” to  Republican demands for the preservation of George W. Bush’s arch-plutocratic, deficit-driving tax cuts for the wealthy few (at a cost of $900 billion to the federal treasury) in a tax “deal” that accommodates Republicans (and their wealthy paymasters) on the federal estate tax and cuts payments into Social Security.
(Democratic congressman Gary Ackerman rightly calls the “tax deal” the GOP’s “Wet Dream Act”).1 Adding insult to injury, Obama has (with what the New York Times calls “uncharacteristic emotion”2) accused those on his left (not hard to be) of being “unrealistic” and of “playing politics” with the American peoples’ lives because of their (he thinks) dysfunctional “purist” and selfish desire to see him fight against – instead of compromise with – concentrated wealth.. How dare we insist that he use his office and bully pulpit to resist those who held unemployment benefits and “middle class tax cuts” hostage to the a plutocratic agenda? “In this case,” Obama proclaimed, “the hostage was the American people, and I was not willing to see them get harmed.” 3

Many liberals and progressives are “enraged.” “Disappointed” in Obama’s continuing business-friendly direction, they accuse him of “moral collapse” and criticize his “spineless” failure to “act on the courage of his [supposedly progressive] convictions.” But “collapse” from what previous real progressive convictions? Obama (who first achieved public notoriety by cutting a deal with the far-right Federalist Society to become the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review[4]) isn’t being cowardly in his tax “deal for the American people” (well, for plutocrats) anymore than he’s been spineless while advancing an auto-restructuring plan that raided union pension funds and rewarded capital flight,  pushing through a health “reform” bill that only insurance and drug companies could love, undermining serious global carbon emission reduction efforts at Copenhagen, prosecuting whistleblowers and harassing antiwar activists, and prosecuting and expanding criminal overt and covert wars in South Asia and around the world.5 No, he’s acting boldly and with chutzpah in accord with his longstanding: “deeply conservative” instincts, and giving the finger and occasional smack to “the left” along the way. Yes, chutzpah – the sort of thing you might expect from a guy who could make a speech in defense of war while (absurdly) receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.6

Here is yet one more opportunity for frustrated left and liberal Obama supporters/ex-supporters to consider the early and ominous wisdom of the eminent left political scientist Adolph Reed Jr.’s take on an unnamed Obama at the beginning of the future president’s political career in early 1996:
“In Chicago, for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices: one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable credentials and vacuous to repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program – the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle class reform in favoring form over substances.  I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics here, as in Haiti and wherever the International Monetary Fund has sway.”7
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Pharma’s New Sales Pitch to Women: If You Aren’t Horny, It’s ‘Sexual Dysfunction’ — Try These Pills

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/story/149318/pharma%27s_new_sales_pitch_to_women%3A_if_you_aren%27t_horny%2C_it%27s_%27sexual_dysfunction%27_–_try_these_pills

12/23/2010

How drug companies plan to profit from Female Sexual Dysfunction.

“We’re hoping to be able to expedite the process … of disease development … ” — Drug company manager Darby Stephens

The woman looking confidently into the camera lens must be in her late twenties or early thirties, her long black hair falling over strong shoulders, a slip of striped blue material tied into a bow around her neck. Her red lips and good looks are striking, but it’s her words that are most captivating. Her name is Darby Stephens, and she’s a research manager at a California-based drug company called Vivus. The company is testing a drug for women said to suffer from a new condition called female sexual dysfunction or FSD. As Darby Stephens explains in an extremely candid on-camera interview for a documentary, FSD is so new that the drug company itself has had to help work out what the condition actually is: ‘In order for us to develop drugs, we need to better and more clearly define what the disease is,’ she said.

The frankness of the comments may be unusual, but the marketing activity being described is becoming commonplace. Pharmaceutical companies now assist in shaping the very diseases their drugs are targeting. Through its close ties to the medical profession and its influence over public debate, the industry is now helping to determine whether we see our sexual problems as every day difficulties or medical dysfunctions, and whether female sex drugs become a permanent feature in the bedrooms of our future.

The Californian company where Darby Stephens was manager of clinical research had started testing a pharmaceutical cream for women to rub on their genitals, to see whether it could enhance blood flow and boost their level of sexual arousal.

First you have to have a disease

Before the drug testing could go into full swing, however, there was a problem that needed to be addressed. As Stephens tells it, in order to get a drug formally approved and have insurance companies pay for its use, it has to be shown to work against a specific medical condition: ‘The whole thing is kind of complicated because you have to have a disease before you can treat it.’

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/story/149318/pharma%27s_new_sales_pitch_to_women%3A_if_you_aren%27t_horny%2C_it%27s_%27sexual_dysfunction%27_–_try_these_pills

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Canadian Edition

Merry Xmas

Private Sector Education = Fail

During the reign of the Ayn Rand Free Marketeers we had Alan Greenspan, who made these huge predictions that were almost always wrong about the ability of the “Market” to regulate itself.

The “Market” is made up of crooks, liars and thieves.  A better argument could be made for allowing the Mafia to self-regulate.

Then there is the efficiency argument based on mainly having non-union workers who are paid less.  Except they never mention how the people at the top are paid far more as are the “share holders”, who are almost never the workers.

One of the more disturbing trends since the 1950s has been the right wing assault on public education, that has been going on since Brown vs The Topeka Board of Education. There was never, not in a single district any where, racially based separate but equal education.  What we had was educational apartheid, and the neo-Confederates liked it just fine.

The neo-Confederate efforts to defund education started with integration.  And the good liberals with their niceness and politeness didn’t want to stoop as low as those nasty right wingers because fighting them would have meant being like them rather than trying to understand them.

As early as the 1960s you had the grand daddy of many of today’s “conservative” organizations, The John Birch Society, ranting about John Dewey’s and Francis Bellamy’s “socialism” because of their role in creating public education in America.

Add to this the Christo-Nazi movement, which views education to be about indoctrination rather than teaching students to think, and you have a toxic movement undermining American Education.

The elite are always well educated, the working people… not so much…

But prior to the 1970s we had access to cheap publicly funded higher education.

After the 1960s, well more factually from the end of WW II when the GI Bill brought many thousand working class people to the campuses, there has been a constant effort to defund public higher education.

Conservatives believe in education for the wealthy elites and training for everyone else.  I should add with a good dose of indoctrination.

I have watched with disgust as the Washington Post, the paper that brought us the Watergate Scandal has prostituted itself in support of Kaplan “University”.  The Post seems to have recused itself of its proper role as a journalistic institution, confused itself with being a content provider around which advertising can be wrapped.

And like a long dead fish wrapped in a Washington Post, that plan stinks.

It turns out most students would be better off attending publicly funded junior colleges and colleges.  The big pitch of these for profit schools is they will help one obtain a career that doesn’t involve lifting heavy objects or standing for long hours on a concrete floor getting abused by shoppers.

Unfortunately these schools don’t give a shit about the people they are fleecing and encouraging to go into debt.  Often times the degree or certificate one gets from one of these institutions is of little or no value in moving up the economic scale as those who went to traditional public or private schools tend to view those degrees as inferior to even Associate degrees from traditional junior colleges.

What we have is a combined attack on funding of public education K-Bachelor’s degree (that is regulated) combined with a selling of private sector, for profit education that is unregulated.

The core ideology of the right wing conservative movement is elitist and classist.  The wealthy exist to rule in glory those not of the elite exist to slave for a pittance and generate yet more wealth for the already obscenely wealthy.

Three articles worth reading at Huffington Post:

At Kaplan University, ‘Guerrilla Registration’ Leaves Students Deep In Debt

Kaplan Tarnishes Washington Post Legacy

As one might expect from an unregulated business selling a dubious produce many purchasing that product wind up defaulting on the money they borrowed to purchase it.

46 Percent Of Federal Loans Paid To For-Profit Institutions Will Go Into Default

12/23/2010

A whopping 46.3 percent of federal loans distributed to students at for-profit colleges in 2008 would go into default, according to new Education Department data.

This figure is significantly larger than the rate of default on student loans overall, which in 2008 amounted to 15.8 percent.

The staggering percentage of defaulted loans at proprietary institutions may garner support for federal efforts to regulate such colleges and provide a boost for the DoE’s proposed “gainful employment” rule, which would screen for-profit institutions according to their students’ ability to repay loans. Essentially, the rule would test the likelihood that students will graduate and then become gainfully employed.

If approved, “gainful employment” would mandate a two-part test for colleges, including an analysis of their students’ debt to income ratio and a determination of whether those students are paying down principals on loans.

Colleges that fail the tests will not be allowed to receive tuition in the form of federal aid — which is the source of up to 90 percent of most proprietary institutions’ current revenue.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/23/46-percent-default-rate-o_n_800283.html

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Christmas in Italy Anarchist Style

At some point or other the Masters of the Universe, the fat cats are going to be forced to admit they really fucked up big time.

People are angry and think maybe we should have austerity for those who fucked up, like the Masters of the Universe instead of the hard working people who actually produce stuff and do the McJobs.

From yesterday’s New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/23/world/europe/23italy.html?ref=world

Italian Students Protest University Reforms

By RACHEL DONADIO and GAIA PIANIGIANI
Published: December 22, 2010

ROME — Tens of thousands of students took to the streets on Wednesday to protest planned changes in the university system but stayed away from the historic center here, much of which had been cordoned off by the police to avoid a repeat of last week’s violent demonstrations.

The protest turned out to be peaceful, allaying widespread fears, as thousands marched from the city’s main university, La Sapienza, steering clear of the historic center but blocking traffic on a main highway.

Other protests in Palermo and Milan turned violent, with skirmishes between demonstrators and the police. In Turin, students occupied a landmark building.

In Rome, some protesters carried fake presents labeled with politically minded holiday wishes — “Social welfare for students and temporary workers,” one read — to oppose what they said were cuts to Italy’s famously dysfunctional universities.

In the previous protests, held on the same day Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi narrowly survived a confidence vote, the police used tear gas on demonstrators who smashed shop windows and burned cars in the worst violence in downtown Rome in years. The center-right government blamed the left for the violence and warned of a return to 1970s-style political violence.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/23/world/europe/23italy.html?ref=world

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/23/parcel-bombs-switzerland-chile-embassies

Bombs explode at Switzerland and Chile embassies in Italy

John Hooper in Rome

12/23/2010

Two people were seriously hurt yesterday in postal bomb attacks on diplomatic missions in Rome.

Italy‘s interior minister, Roberto Maroni, linked the blasts to a similar spate of bombings last month in Athens.

The two victims were both working in embassy postrooms when packages blew up in their hands. Doctors who attended the two non-diplomatic employees said their injuries suggested that the explosive devices had been packed with metal.

The first blast took place at the Swiss embassy. A couple of hours later, there was another at the Chilean mission.

Last night an Italian anarchist group, the FAI or Informal Anarchist Federation, claimed responsibility for the blasts.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/23/parcel-bombs-switzerland-chile-embassies

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ACLU placed on Tennessee terror map for letter to schools

I guess the Christo-Fascist  think the ACLU is part of their delusional “War on Christmas”.

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/aclu-terror-map-letter-schools/

By Daniel Tencer
Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 — 6:40 pm

The ACLU of Tennessee says it ended up on a map of potential terrorist threats after it sent a letter to school superintendents asking them to be “inclusive” in their holiday celebrations.

The civil rights group says it found itself on the Tennessee Fusion Center’s map identified under the category “terrorism events and other suspicious activity,” with the explanation “ACLU cautions Tennessee schools about observing ‘one religious holiday.'”

“It is deeply disturbing that Tennessee’s fusion center is tracking First Amendment-protected activity,” Hedy Weinberg, executive director of ACLU-Tennessee, said in a statement. “Equating a group’s attempts to protect religious freedom in Tennessee with suspicious activity related to terrorism is outrageous. Religious freedom is a founding principle in our Constitution—not fodder for overzealous law enforcement.”

State fusion centers were set up after 9/11 to help states collect and share information on potential security threats. The ACLU has previously warned of “the potential dangers of fusion centers, including their ambiguous lines of authority, excessive secrecy, troubling private-sector and military roles and a bent toward collection of information about innocent activities and data mining.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/aclu-terror-map-letter-schools/