Category Archives: I Hate You

The Lost Legacy of Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair - Public Domain image via Wikipedia

If you’ve ever read The Jungle, which exposed us to the nightmare working conditions of the meat-packing industry in early 20th Century America, there is a scene that is horrifying in many, many ways, where a man falls into a sausage grinder and apparently becomes part of the packing-plant’s product. Well, I don’t know of any workers becoming a part of our sausage or hummus, but with company executives pushing both cost-cutting measures and the skirting of safety regulations (because it’s cheaper to pay a fine than to make workers safe, let alone reasonably-paid) the machines they work on are still killing them.

And though the article about the death of Michael Raper above does not say it, apparently there was a safety violation involved, though the fine was only $7,000.

Is that outrageous to anyone else?

A Principled Left Should Tell You What To Go Do With Yourself.

Over at Common Dreams, there is a piece titled “Why a Principled Left Should Support the Benghazi Inquiry” by Ajamu Baraka.

And if you thought that didn’t bode well, here’s the subtitle:

The GOP want to destroy Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in one fell swoop, but there’s a deeper issue to investigate that deserves public scrutiny: How the US/Nato invasion of Libya unleashed widespread violence across North Africa and beyond.

So basically let me sum this up for you. You can’t understand Boko Haram without understanding how the operation against Qaddafi’s Libya and the weapons we provided the rebels energized all sorts of crazy radicals in Africa. Oh, but Boko Haram is older than that operation. Also, there are emails that may indicate the administration mislead the public, if by “mislead” you mean “pre-emptively PR spin to counter any possible assertion that the attack was a direct result of U.S. policies,” which I guess is true because nothing is completely a result of U.S. policies. Also, if by “the administration” you mean “one guy in the administration.” Oh, and if by “emails” you mean “an email.”

He also says that… oh fuck this, I’ll just quote him.

The response from the Democrats has been predictable. Democrats already lined-up behind a Clinton campaign understand that no matter what comes out this inquiry, Benghazi has the potential to become a permanent yoke that wears down the Clinton candidacy. But in another bizarre display of political and ideological subordination to the Democrat Party and its rightist elite, elements of the left have also expressed opposition to this inquiry.

One would think that those on the left would support this inquiry, as limited and partisan as it will be, on the democratic principle that the people have a right to know what occurred before, during and in the aftermath of the attack. But even more importantly, by demanding a more comprehensive examination of all the activity of the U.S. in Libya in the aftermath of the destruction of that state, including the mission of the CIA in Benghazi, the left can and should raise serious questions that expose the dangerous strategy of empowering anti-democratic, right-wing forces, from al Qaeda-connected jihadists in Syria to neo-fascists in Ukraine.

Holy fucking shit I can not believe a Lefty human being living in the U.S. over the age of 40 actually wrote that. Limited? Really? Like Ken Starr was limited to investigating Whitewater, then spent YEARS digging into every orifice the Clintons had in order to come up with SOMETHING they could use against him? Partisan? You’d better fucking believe it’s partisan. The only difference now is this has race mixed into it, something you’d think Mr. Baraka would understand, since he’s done a whole lot of work talking about racism in the U.S.. He honestly tries to convince us in this essay that he thinks this is aimed at Hillary Clinton, but not at Barack Obama. Then he flips it around again.

I welcome the hearings and could not care less about the implications for the candidacy of Hilary Clinton or the reputation of Barack Obama.

Neither do I.

I am more interested in curbing the right-ward militarist trajectory of U.S. policy.

You’re a little late for that, and if you think that trajectory is going to be changed by a Tea Party-driven investigation centered in the Republican Majority in the U.S. House, you’re out of your goddamn mind.

As an African American the plight of the more than 200 school girls captured by Boko Haram holds a special outrage for me. But I am also outraged by the murder of people defending their rights to self-determination at the hands of U.S.-supported thugs in Odessa Ukraine, outraged by the fact that people are daily terrorized by the constant buzz of U.S. drones that kill women and children in wedding parties and individuals who may “act” like they might be so-called terrorists, outraged that people can call themselves moral and even progressive and support the brutal Israeli occupation and de-humanization of Palestinians.

Yeah, you’re a goddamn clear-eyed humanitarian. Except for the continued inability of minorities in the U.S. to get the benefits they need, especially in states that (in a shocking coincidence) not only have shitty Medicaid benefits, they also refused the Medicaid expansion and are suppressing the shit out of minority voters! By the way: before someone accuses me of valuing the lives of people in the U.S. over people outside of it, read on, there’s a little lesson for you at the end here.

And I am outraged knowing that U.S. policy-makers don’t give a damn about the school girls in Nigeria because their real objective is to use the threat of Boko Haram in the Northern part of the country to justify the real goal of occupying the oil fields in the South and to block the Chinese in Nigeria.

You display a stunning ignorance as to why this is happening, even as you’re so outraged by it.

Exposing the whole sordid story of the destruction of Libya and the role of Al-Qaeda as the “boots on the ground” for U.S. geo-strategic objectives in North Africa and the Middle East represents the only strategy that an independent and principled left could pursue in wake of the fact that the hearings are going to occur. Anything other than that is capitulation, something that the left has routinely done over the last six years, and some of us still struggle against in the hope that one day the “responsible” left will eschew the privileges that stem from its objective collaboration with the interests and world-view of neo-liberal white power and re-ground itself in authentic radical principles and the world-wide struggle against Western domination.

Let me say this in the clearest, most concise manner possible.

ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL.

The Benghazi hearings are about electing Republicans and defeating Democrats. Period. The overthrow of Qaddafi was as much about local politics in the EU as anything else (a big part of it being an attempt to bail out BP because of their massive losses in the US after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which was destroying pension holdings in the UK). We pulled out of Viet Nam because a domestic political shift made it politically untenable to remain there. Same for Iraq. Same for Afghanistan. If you want to make a long-term change in the behavior of people towards something that’s far away from them, find the intersection between the effects that thing produces and how they live their lives and hammer on that. You do not do it – ever – by giving political cover to your enemies.

All that the Left would do by supporting the Benghazi investigations is help the GOP to continue bashing anyone to the left of Ted Cruz. Assisting the party that is actively encouraging the disenfranchisement of your base is not the way to win in politics unless you are attempting to start a revolution. If that’s what you’re trying to do, you’re a horrible human being because you’re (from a position of authority and privilege yourself) saying that you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, and by eggs you mean people who have virtually no power or voice in this world. Way to go!

Finally in the spirit of the title, I’d just like to say this:
bagofdicks

Meet the New Ken Starr

Brace Yourselves
<em>Updated below</em>

So the House Majority has decided it’s time to go for the throat, and that Benghazi is the issue that will be on point. The following from is a puff piece describing the Chairman of said committee:

For once, Rep. Trey Gowdy had no questions to ask. It was Sep. 19, 2013, well into a full day of House Oversight Committee hearings on the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. The morning had been spent on the facts gathered, then and later, by the State Department. After that the panel heard from the family members of victims—from people like Patricia Smith, whose 34-year old son Sean had been killed in the attack.

“When you were testifying, I couldn’t help but think about this dichotomy of death,” said Gowdy. “That sometimes, it walks slowly to the front of your life—it gives you time to get your affairs in order, you’ve had a good life, you have time to say goodbye to the people you love. It just walks slowly and knocks gently on the front door. And then sometimes it kick downs the door.”

Patricia Smith was transfixed. She had not come to Congress expecting to hear low country poetry about her son. But here it was, spooling out on C-Span, and here came more of it. “I can’t offer you closure,” said Gowdy. “What I hope we can offer you is the truth. Facts. Justice. And let you do with that what you need to do as you walk down that road called grief.” He insisted, “From church, to the grocery store, to Costco—frankly, to the golf course—I am asked about Benghazi.”

Smith finally interjected, forgetting to use her microphone: “Get answers, please!” Gowdy said that he would. It was the most compelling moment of a day that the White House was largely able to ignore. And it was resonant in a way that Chairman Darrell Issa’s post-game response—to tweet a photo of empty Democratic chairs in the room, as if the other party had taken a respite to spit on some graves—was not.

So what we have here is a man who is eminently conversant with wielding style in the courtroom. Substance, not so much.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) slammed House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for creating a select committee to investigate the deaths of four American officials in Benghazi. In an e-mail to supporters Friday, Warren called the committee “shameful” and “no-holds-barred political theater,” accusing the GOP of exploiting a tragedy for political gain. And for Warren, it’s a bit personal.

In the email, Warren notes that she is particularly concerned about Boehner’s selection of Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to chair committee. She recalls testifying before Gowdy in 2011 when she was setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “I know a little bit about the way Trey Gowdy pursues oversight,” she writes. “I was on the other end of it when I was setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and I was called to testify before the House.”

Warren says Gowdy lacked basic knowledge of the new agency and was a grand-stander, pushing empty political points rather than conducting a serious investigation. She goes out of her way to make Gowdy appear foolish, quoting a Huffington Post account of the hearing that describes Gowdy as mistakenly suggesting that Warren had written rules that were, in fact, direct quotes from a bill passed by Congress.

Despite claims that this will solely focus on Benghazi, I’m betting this is going to be the Whitewater/White House Travel Office/Vince Foster/Lewinski/Where’s Waldo investigation all over again, and the Beltway media is already salivating. I still have a copy of the Starr report somewhere (it is as salacious in its details as it can be), and the playbook that produced it was essentially one sentence: “keep pushing until you find any mistake, and then beat them to death with it.” We may find that not having any sex scandals to focus on may turn out to be Obama’s detriment. People can empathize with being horny, but most people’s eyes glaze over when confronted with the multi-layered process of producing government communications (let alone government policy).

God damn, but I feel for Senator/Secretary* Clinton. You should not have to face this kind of rabid crazy twice in one lifetime.

Update: Rep. Gowdy is even more of a jerk than I thought. Remember the GOP attacking the Park Service for closing the monuments? Yeah, that was him.

* Not sure what the protocol on former titles is, or which takes precedence

This Is Some Bullshit.

From Russia Today:

The federal agency for mass media control has started to test software to automatically monitor online media for the use of obscene language, both in articles and in user comments.

A spokesman for the Roskomnadzor agency, Vadim Ampelonskiy, told the mass circulation daily Izvestia that the system was expected to be launched before the end of the year. The cost of the project is estimated at 25 million rubles or about $694,000. Technicians are making lists of keywords for the searches as they manually monitor the Russian language sector of the internet.

The current version of the software only scans text, but in the future it will be also work with audio and video files, Ampelonskiy said.

The monitoring of the internet for obscene language has become necessary as in April 2013 President Vladimir Putin signed into force a federal law banning the use of obscene language in mass media under threat of fines up to 200,000 rubles ($5,500). Breaking the law will result in an official warning to the media outlet and two such warning within 12 months could mean the outlet’s government license is revoked.The law applies both to text prepared by editorial teams and to user comments if they are publicly accessible.

I’d love to be proven wrong (only because I like learning and becoming less incorrect), but by the time a society gets around to petty bullshit like this, free political speech is a distant memory (if it was ever present at all).

A Question of “Quasi-Theft”

So it seems we have a moment here of vigilante eminent domain in the service of getting a cover story for the New York Times Magazine:

“I won’t try to make it sound like I didn’t struggle with it,” he said of the ethical blurriness of the situation. “It’s not the kind of thing you want to do with every story.”

He added, however, that he was legally in the clear, as one cannot own somebody else’s speech, and Mr. McCormick’s transcript features the words of Elvie Thomas. (“You’re not allowed to sit on these things for half a century, not when the culture has decided they matter,” Mr. Sullivan writes in the article, referring to the transcript.)

Yeah, whatever, Sullivan. You’re a douchebag for affirming the social convention that theft and betrayal are OK, as long as it’s done to those weaker than you. To be blunt, when you start saying that someone else “should” think something is as important as (and in the same way that) you do, especially in matters of history, perhaps you’re taking it too personally, and it’s more about you than the history.

Here’s the daughter’s Tumblr post, if you’re into reblogging it.

Phishing for Stupid Students

So in a serious case of “why was I right about this and not about something fun,” student loans are building up into the next (make that current now) big speculative bubble. As with any trend, there is spam sent attempting to capitalize on it. My notes are in italics.

Greetings, dear Rhuffman

That’s not a name, that’s a login id.

What’s the profit of higher education in Colledge?

College? Colander? Coleridge? WTF?

Is the diploma with higher qualification worth time and money spent for study? The difference in income is incredible…

Only one qualification? Difference between what and what??

Specialists with degree will always have higher salary and higher rating in labor market

Generalists, however, are screwed.

Difference in lifetime incomes of people with different education level was analyzed within the state program “Lifetime Earnings Soar with Education”

That was an about.com webpage, not a state program. Thanks for showing us your only source for this, though.

So do I need to read the rest of this now?

Sigh.

It was found out that specialists with degree or diploma have wages several times higher than employees without such a diploma.
Here are some simple and clear examples showing what income education brings
These are real numbers, which you can expect earning, if you contact us.

And, of course, if you pass this letter on to seven friends. If you don’t, then C’thulu will come to you in the night and eat your face.

HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA – High school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million in lifetime income.
BANCHELORS DEGREE – Those with a bachelor’s degree, $2.1 million over a lifetime
MASTERS DEGREE – People with a master’s degree earn $2.5 million
DOCTORAL DEGREE – Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life:
PROFESSIONAL DEGREE – Those with MD or JD professional degrees (medicine, law) do best with an average of $4.4 million dollars in lifetime earnings:

Okay, why is the colon at the end there? Never mind. From the source linked above:

The report titled “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings” (.pdf) reveals that over an adult’s working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor’s degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master’s degree, $2.5 million.

Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life, while those with professional degrees do best at $4.4 million.

So what are your thoughts on plagiarism in higher education?

The fact is that you have a wealth of experience in your sphere but no diploma confirming this. Do you want to change your life and social status? We can help you! In a month we will send you a diploma confirming your higher professional level.
Invest your money in diploma today, pay once and get profit for many years after.

That was the bait, and now for the hook…

Buy your diploma by calling us on: USA: 1-6-035-092-001 and Outside USA: +1-312-260-7939 and expand the horizons of your future.

That is how it ended, which is sloppy. NEVER let the last thing your mark sees be something anomalous; you should always leave someone you’re trying to fleece with something that feels familiar and right, such as a sincerely yours, [respectable name] [respectable title].

So what’s odd here? Why would a number inside the U.S. be broken up that way? To hide it from search engine results. I guess they got lazy with the second one (not that moving dashes around is industrious, but).

Anyhow, now that I’m done looking at the fail of the scam, I just want to express my deepest, fondest wish that if anyone finds the people perpetuating this scheme (which will only add to the pain and misery of the student debt bubble, which has been made even worse by the fact that ALL student loans can not be voided by either bankruptcy or death, not just federal ones – so do not get any student loan but a federally subsidized one, PERIOD), please smash the bones of their limbs with hammers. If you have an extra hammer, give a call. I’ll come help.

Much appreciated!