Happy New Year’s Eve… Resolutions? Feel Free to Share…

My big resolutions are to lose weight and get both my blood pressure and cholesterol under control.

Other resolutions are to find an income source, job, full or part time that doesn’t involve working some place where they actively abuse the employees.  Or that doesn’t involve selling something that is either a rip-off or a food product I am appalled they are selling at all.

In short I am looking for a job that isn’t totally soul killing.

I resolve to write more and get a book finished and published.

I resolve to play my guitar more, do more photography and start painting again.

To sell more stuff on e-Bay.

To avoid ruts by reading authors that are new to me, watching more non-mainstream films and by listening to new and different non-mainstream musical artists.

A few years ago, Tina and I heard the Dresden Dolls at Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Tour.

Just today Amazon suggested this really cool band:  Gogol Bordello…

Anyhow I will check the blog through out the evening and okay posts to this thread with resolutions and suggestions for the blog.

Suzan…

Friday Night Fun and Culture

New Year’s Eve and I’m in a darkly nostalgic mood…  In 1967 The Velvet Underground and Nico/Banana Album was the dark masterpiece out of New York City.  I have always thought it the best album of the year, better even than Sgt. Pepper.

And from their second album, released in 1968 when I was still dealing with the existential angst of whether or not to come out while living in a milieu where the ethos was summed up by the phrase, “If you live outside the law you must be honest.

Candy Says

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Neoliberalism: All the Taxes of Social Democracy, None of the Fun

From Info Shop News: http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20101231165559355

by Kevin Carson
Center for a Stateless Society
December 31, 2010

Tom Geoghegan (in Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?) defends the advantages of the European model of social democracy against the American neoliberal model. No doubt the usual suspects on the Right feel compelled to defend the honor of the American cowboy capitalism that’s prevailed since 1980 or so, as a meaningful approximation to the “free markets” they’re always going on about.

Those of us on the free market Left, of course, will point out that what the talking heads at CNBC and the Wall Street Journal editorial page call the “free market” is anything but.

But Geoghegan does a pretty good job of advancing that argument himself. His remarks at several places in the book suggest that American neoliberal capitalism is not only statist, but that — measured even in terms of the sheer size and cost of government — it’s just as statist as German social democracy.

For example, Americans are taxed about four-fifths as much as western Europeans. So do we have a social safety net, or social amenities like public transit or single-payer healthcare, on four-fifths the scale the Germans enjoy them?

Geoghegan is also impolite enough to notice that what passes as “free market reform” in the United States doesn’t involve actually reducing government spending or intervention in the economy. Nope — it just means taxing the public the same amount or more and then giving the money to crony capitalists. So instead of using tax money to fund a state-run prison system, you use it to pay Wackenhut on sweetheart terms which Wackenhut’s lobbyists had a big part in arranging.

Medicare and Medicaid actually pay more per capita for the half or so of total healthcare costs funded by the government than western European governments pay for the entire cost of a single-payer system. But it’s not “socialized medicine” as long as delivery of service is in the hands of a technically “private” corporation, even if the corporation’s still getting most of its money at the taxpayer teat.

Because that’s what “privatization” means, to the typical “free market” wonk at Heritage or AEI: Instead of taxing the public to organize a public service through government bureaucrats who operate as a legal monopoly, you tax the public and hire a private company to perform the service. A private company which — thanks to no-bid contracts and all sorts of legal protections — usually operates as a monopoly and has the same outrageous cost-maximizing incentives as a “defense” contractor or public utility. And the tax burden may well actually be greater, because rather than just paying a bunch of white collar civil servants with GS classfications, you’ve got to pay white collar corporate drones — plus the cowboy CEO’s salary and the shareholder dividends. Taxpayer-funded either way, but with “free market reform” you get two layers of parasites instead of just the one. Woo-hoo!

See, it’s only “socialism” if you give the money to poor folks. If you give the money to corporations, that’s “pro-business.” And “pro-business,” of course, means “free market.”

Look, I’m not a social democrat or a welfare statist. If you’re looking for someone to promote the German model in the U.S., it ain’t me. But if you call yourself a libertarian, don’t try to kid anybody that the American system is less statist than the German one just because more of the welfare queens wear three-piece suits. And don’t kid yourself that, given equal levels of statism, most Americans wouldn’t prefer the kind where they have guaranteed healthcare and six-week vacations. Come on, I would — after all, if we’re choosing between equal levels of statism, of course I’ll take the one that weighs less heavily on my own neck.

What I’d really rather have is less statism (i.e., none at all) and more freedom. But if you claim to be selling freedom, here’s a little marketing tip: offer something that’s more attractive to the customer, not less. And a system where the state robs us to benefit the Fortune 500 instead of single moms and the unemployed really isn’t more attractive. Unless, of course, you’re one of the people running a Fortune 500 corporation. Good luck if you see that as the libertarian base.

C4SS Research Associate Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: An Individualist Anarchist Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.

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Transocean refuses to co-operate with oil spill probe

In yet another act of contempt that serves to show why corporations should not be treated as people, Transoceanic, the owner of the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf last spring is refusing to honor subpoenas that would require it to testify before investigative boards.

Perhaps they should arrest the CEO and all involved and charge them with contempt.  You know the way they treated left wing dissenters in the 1950s.

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/transocean-refuses-cooperate-spill-probe/

By The Associated Press
Thursday, December 30th, 2010 — 5:34 pm

The owner of the rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico is refusing to honor subpoenas from a federal board that has challenged the company’s involvement in monitoring the testing of a key piece of equipment that failed to stop the oil spill disaster.

Transocean said the U.S. Chemical Safety Board does not have jurisdiction in the probe, so it doesn’t have a right to the documents and other items it seeks. The board told The Associated Press late Wednesday that it does have jurisdiction and it has asked the Justice Department to intervene to enforce the subpoenas.

Last week, the board demanded that the testing of the failed blowout preventer stop until Transocean and Cameron International are removed from any hands-on role in the examination. It said it’s a conflict of interest. The request is pending.

Testing at a NASA facility in New Orleans is on hold for the holidays anyway and isn’t expected to resume until Jan. 10, according to officials monitoring the tests and a status update distributed to interested parties.

Besides documents, the board said Transocean has also denied it access to witnesses — specifically a half-dozen of the rig company’s employees the board wants to question.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/transocean-refuses-cooperate-spill-probe/

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US foreclosures soar, housing prices slump

From World Socialist Web Site: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/fore-d31.shtml

By Patrick Martin
31 December 2010

The number of completed home foreclosures rose to 245,000 in the third quarter, according to a report from bank regulators that covers only two thirds of all US home mortgages, those held by national banks and savings & loan institutions.

The figure was reported in the quarterly mortgage report filed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Office of Thrift Supervision, which regulate banks and S&Ls respectively.

The overall number of foreclosures completed in the July-September period is likely well over 300,000, making it virtually certain that total foreclosures will top one million in 2010. The total number of foreclosures in process increased to 1.2 million, up 4.5 percent from the second quarter and up 10.1 percent from the third quarter of 2009.

Newly initiated foreclosures jumped to 382,000 in the third quarter, a rise of 31.2 percent compared to the second quarter and 3.7 percent above the third quarter of 2009. The larger number of initiated foreclosures compared to completed foreclosures means that the number of foreclosures can be expected to rise sharply in the coming year.

Continue reading at:  http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/fore-d31.shtml

New Orleans Fire Kills 8 Homeless Youths

I used to see the homeless kids of Hollywood who squatted the abandoned buildings damaged in the LA quake of 1994.  brutal lives of kids who were throwaways and runaways.

I reiterate, “No one in this fucking country should be able to own a multi-million dollar home while people are dying of exposure on the streets or in squats.

We need cheap, even free housing for the homeless, with things like phones and utilities so they don’t wind up dying in the streets.

From The Axis of Logic: http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_61913.shtml

The New Orleans fire and the conditions of youth in America

By Kate Randall
WSWS
Thursday, Dec 30, 2010

30 December 2010

Five young men and three young women perished in a fire in an abandoned warehouse early Tuesday morning in New Orleans after lighting a fire to keep warm in the freezing temperatures. Flames engulfed the structure. Before firefighters could extinguish the blaze they were all dead, their bodies burned beyond recognition.

“They were all amazing, beautiful, accomplished people,” Audrey Bean, 19, told the local Times-Picayune. Her friend, Gwendolyn Faye, 19, said the group had turned the warehouse—which had no utilities—into a home, with beds and cooking facilities. Rachel Park, 27, said those who died were artists, welders, musicians; some had plans to open a bicycle collective.

The deadly blaze—the worst in New Orleans in almost four decades—was one of six such fires across the metropolitan area that night. It serves as a grim exposure of the worsening plight of the homeless, and of the desperate conditions facing young people in particular.

Continue reading at:  http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_61913.shtml

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Rosie the Riveter Dies at 86

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/12/30/132484640/michigan-woman-who-inspired-wwii-rosie-poster-has-died?ft=1&f=1001

by Mark Memmott

12/30/2010

In 1941, a United Press International photographer snapped a photo that would help inspire the nation. As the Lansing State Journal writes, it captured a 17-year-old bandana-clad girl who was working at a metal-pressing plant near Ann Arbor.

That image heavily influenced a poster that “evoked female power and independence under the slogan ‘We Can Do It!,’ ” The Washington Post writes. It became one of the most-famous “Rosie the Riveter” illustrations of the war.

Geraldine Hoff Doyle of Lansing, who 40 years later didn’t realize that the photo of her played a role in the Rosie phenomena, died Sunday at a hospice in Lansing. She was 86.

Continue reading at:  http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/12/30/132484640/michigan-woman-who-inspired-wwii-rosie-poster-has-died?ft=1&f=1001

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Dead Soul Is a Debt Collector: Deceased Woman’s Name Was Robo-Signed on Thousands of Affidavits

From The Wall Street Journal:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204204004576049902142690400.html?mod=rss_whats_news_us

By JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG

12/31/2010

Martha Kunkle has come back to life.

She died in 1995. Yet her signature later appeared on thousands of affidavits submitted by one of the nation’s largest debt collectors, Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc., in lawsuits filed against borrowers.

Some regulators complain that the use of Ms. Kunkle’s name reflects an epidemic of mass-produced, sloppy and inaccurate documentation in the debt-collection industry. Lawsuits have surged as more borrowers fall behind on payments and collection firms turn to courts to get what they are owed.

After being sued for fraud, Portfolio Recovery Associates decided in early 2008 that any documents bearing Ms. Kunkle’s name had “defects” and shouldn’t be used when trying to collect debts, a company spokeswoman said.

Continue reading at:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204204004576049902142690400.html?mod=rss_whats_news_us

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Civil War Revisionists/Holocaust Deniers, Cut from the same Cloth

I a true blue Yankee born in upstate New York, land of the abolitionists.  John Brown’s body lies a moldering in the grave there in the North Country.

Our Volunteers fought and died to end slavery and restore the Union.

Therefore I was revolted and disgusted by people in the South’s attempts to gloss over the monstrous role the enslavement of people of African ancestry played in the Civil War.

This is akin to actions of the Holocaust Deniers.  Beyond the sharing of similar politics there is the little matter of racism.

I have heard Southerners refer to the Civil War as “The War of Northern Aggression.”  “War of Southern Treason”, would be more appropriate considering they deserted the Union and fired the first shots in the war.

Then there is the inherent dishonesty in their claim, “It wasn’t about slavery, it was about state’s rights.”  The only freaking state’s right the Civil War was about was the right of the rich white southern elite to own black people as slaves.  They actually cited the Bible as justification.

They still cite their weird pick and choose version of the Bible to rationalize all sorts of stupid bigotry and hatred.

From NewsDay: http://www.newsday.com/news/nation/slavery-paintings-coming-down-from-atlanta-office-1.2575724

Slavery paintings coming down from Atlanta office

By The Associated Press  RAY HENRY

December 29, 2010

ATLANTA – (AP) — Murals of slaves harvesting sugar cane on a Georgia plantation and picking and ginning cotton are coming off the walls of a state building on the order of a new agriculture commissioner.

The murals are part of a collection of eight works painted by George Beattie in 1956 depicting an idealized version of Georgia farming, from the corn grown by prehistoric American Indians to a 20th-century veterinary lab. In the Deep South, the history in between includes the forced use of slave labor.

“I don’t like those pictures,” said Republican Gary Black, the newly elected agriculture commissioner. “There are a lot of other people who don’t like them.”

Slavery was indisputably part of 19th-century farming in Georgia. By 1840, more than 280,000 slaves were living in the state, many as field hands. Just before the Civil War, slaves made up about 40 percent of the state’s population.

Continue reading at:  http://www.newsday.com/news/nation/slavery-paintings-coming-down-from-atlanta-office-1.2575724

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