The River

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posting. You could try Matt's Waste of Your Time, a blog about writing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bought and paid for

by Jhoffa, commenting ont the Raw Story post "Video: Insurance lobby's secret plan to attack 'Sicko' and Michael Moore"

The smoking gun comes in at 3:37 in the second video.. He describes industry efforts on Capitol Hill to threaten Democrats (The same tactics could be used on anyone, really) with opposition come election time, even to the point of funding a contender, if they don't do as they're told.

Healthcare has grown completely out of proportion with any index you care to compare it to. GDP, inflation, income, you name it.. When you hear democrats or Republicans talking about more subsidies for healthcare, these are the guys who are getting that money. They offer nothing in return.

There was also an interesting expose recently (In The Atlantic, I believe) about the health care monopolies and doctors who open their own imaging centers, surgeries and other businesses and then refer patients to them needlessly.. They claim it is for legal protection, but it is quite obviously for the purpose of double, triple and more billing.

Drugs are another monopoly which is protected to the hilt, while the DOJ putzes around with such "anti-trust" nonsense like bids to provide IPhone service. Anything relating to the REAL monopolies in healthcare and Insurance is completely ignored.

Bad as it is, what you're seeing here is merely a symptom of an over arching problem - Corporate America has simply bought our system of government, lock, stock and barrel. They own both parties. Their money and influence virtually guarantees that nothing changes at the top, regardless of who you vote for.

This is why both parties, and the President himself, support a form of Mitt Romney Care. Basically, it forces 40+ million new "customers" into the clutches of the Healthcare/Insurance lobby. Since insurance is all about spreading risk (In a nutshell: It's a good idea to insure 4 or 5 librarians for every sky diver) the lobby is TERRIFIED that changing demographics and their own boundless greed will leave them holding the bag on an ever aging population, and the young and poor won't be there to help them pay for it.

Their answer is to force them into the fold and force them to bear the cost of insuring retiring boomers.

To anyone who responds that the answer to this problem is a "public option" to re-introduce market forces to the industry(s). The reply is: Perhaps that will help. But the outcome is far from certain!

What you don't want, and what the lobby will shoot for in a Hail Mary situation, is a "public option" that is so gamed and manipulated as to actually DRIVE PATRONS INTO PRIVATE INSURANCE, and actually work FOR THEM.. As opposed to against them and their profits.

Please note that even President Obama slipped up and admitted that, at the current rate, there will be money for (so called) entitlements, but nothing else.

In reality, there is PLENTY OF MONEY.. The "Nothing else" you hear them refer to is the American empire and soft colonialism. The cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would have alleviated this problem significantly.. But they don't want that. They want to make you pay these costs instead, and dump the surplus into the general fund to be spent on more empire.

There's no problem here that can't be solved. No wild equation that is impossible to work through. Both of our political parties would simply prefer to spend money hand over fist on their favored monopolies and the Empire than spend it on us.

They are bought and paid for. That is all there is to it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

California should pay its people in pot

By ‘Thomas Paine’
Online Journal Guest Writer

Jul 10, 2009, 00:21

California’s state finances have gone to pot, and that’s what it should use to pay its employees.

Right now the state is issuing IOUs to those who work for it. Sacramento says they are worth the paper they’re printed on, but most Californians know that’s true only if they are used to roll joints.

The state’s key available assets are in its farms and fields. . . . and in its prisons and legal system.

Medical marijuana is legal in California. Estimates put last year’s traffic in prescription-approved pot at around a billion dollars. If the state were properly organized to tax that and non-medical marijuana -- whose dollar volume is many times greater -- it might actually have enough money to pay its employees.

By legalizing marijuana, California could immediately free tens of thousands of prisoners at a savings of tens of millions of dollars. Those quick savings could be a down payment on the salaries of its employees (and cover the unemployment benefits that will be due prison builders and guards who will be laid off).

But they, in turn, could go to work GROWING marijuana. With its huge agricultural resources, California could immediately become the world hub of the legal marijuana trade. (Mendocino and other counties are already vying for this title).


Don't Ever Let nobody Drag Your Spirit Down -- Eric Bibb

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Contemplating Reality vs. Our Perceptions

By Jolly Roger, Reconstitution 2.0
Saturday, June 27th, 2009

This isn’t normally a place that comments on celebrities; the problems of our country, and the world, are too serious, and too menacing, for me to spend a lot of time on “Jon and Kate,” or Lindsay Lohan, or Britney Spears, or any of the other tools the MSM has used on us over the last few years to keep us away from what the moronic monkey was doing to us.

But I think that there are parallels in our reactions to the death of Michael Jackson and the situation our nation faces overall.

[Read the rest at Reconstitution]

Friday, June 26, 2009

Could it be more obvious?

I applaud the Iranian people expressing their desire for change. We certainly have that in common. I mean, take Obama. Please. You can have him, because he used that desire to become the new front man for the Oligarchy that has the real power and control. A mafia and their consigliere.

We also have in common that no matter what we do, short of complete refusal to allow the machinery to continue to operate, we will not get anything remotely close to change for the better. We'll get propaganda. We'll get continuing wars by whatever means -- media manipulation, fomented problems (election theft, currently), brain-washing storylines, and solutions that have already been decided upon -- new freedom-limiting laws, new wars, less tolerance for dissent.

Iran's election and three towers falling at free fall into their own footprints have much in common -- lots of behind the scenes activity directing events into a confluence that erupts into the media and your consciousness as the latest outrage by those Middle Eastern haters of freedom.

Predictably, the solution to Iran's internal problem, of which so far there is far less proof than the two stolen elections by the U.S. "Council of Experts" (2000) and by U.S. extremists (2004), is the same as has been the plan all along -- isolate them, i.e. soften them up before sending in the military.

Obama, Merkel Say Iran May Face Global Isolation

By Roger Runningen and Kate Andersen

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Iran’s government to halt the violent crackdown on demonstrators and said the Persian Gulf nation must be blocked from gaining a nuclear weapon.

Obama, speaking at a joint news conference with Merkel at the White House, called the Iranian government’s response to protests over the June 12 presidential elections “outrageous.”

“A government that treats its own citizens with that kind of ruthlessness and violence and that cannot deal with peaceful protesters who are trying to have their voices heard in an equally peaceful way I think has moved outside of universal norms,” Obama said.

Merkel said the Iranian people have a right “to have their votes be counted” and to see that the election results are substantiated.

Both leaders said Iran must not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon and that there will continue to be attempts to engage the government in Tehran on that issue. Obama repeated his warning that a nuclear weapon in Iran would trigger an arms race in the Middle East that would destabilize the region.

Merkel said the Iranian nuclear program “must be stopped.”


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kudos to

The web site that brought you the fat Osama and numerous other attempts to help you trust that your eyes aren't lying exposes embarassing, agenda-driven mistake by BBC on the Iran kerfuffle.

The site took BBC to task for labeling a photo of an Ahmadinejad rally as a Mousavi rally. And it notes the LA Times did the same thing with a slightly different photo of the same rally.

See the amazing details here. You won't believe your eyes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Your Tax Dollars At Work
-- by Dave Johnson

Hey, suckers, take a look at where your money is going: Goldman to make record bonus payout,

"Staff at Goldman Sachs staff can look forward to the biggest bonus payouts in the firm's 140-year history after a spectacular first half of the year..."

The bailouts were a wonderful corporate feast. They thank you.


Grand Theft Auto: How Stevie the Rat bankrupted GM
by Greg Palast
Monday, June 1, 2009

Screw the autoworkers.
They may be crying about General Motors' bankruptcy today. But dumping 40,000 of the last 60,000 union jobs into a mass grave won't spoil Jamie Dimon's day.

Dimon is the CEO of JP Morgan Chase bank. While GM workers are losing their retirement health benefits, their jobs, their life savings; while shareholders are getting zilch and many creditors getting hosed, a few privileged GM lenders – led by Morgan and Citibank – expect to get back 100% of their loans to GM, a stunning $6 billion.

The way these banks are getting their $6 billion bonanza is stone cold illegal.

I smell a rat.

Stevie the Rat, to be precise. Steven Rattner, Barack Obama's 'Car Czar' - the man who essentially ordered GM into bankruptcy this morning.

When a company goes bankrupt, everyone takes a hit: fair or not, workers lose some contract wages, stockholders get wiped out and creditors get fragments of what's left. That's the law. What workers don't lose are their pensions (including old-age health funds) already taken from their wages and held in their name.

But not this time. Stevie the Rat has a different plan for GM: grab the pension funds to pay off Morgan and Citi.

Here's the scheme: Rattner is demanding the bankruptcy court simply wipe away the money GM owes workers for their retirement health insurance. Cash in the insurance fund would be replaced by GM stock. The percentage may be 17% of GM's stock - or 25%. Whatever, 17% or 25% is worth, well ... just try paying for your dialysis with 50 shares of bankrupt auto stock.

Yet Citibank and Morgan, says Rattner, should get their whole enchilada - $6 billion right now and in cash - from a company that can't pay for auto parts or worker eye exams.

Preventive Detention for Pensions

So what's wrong with seizing workers' pension fund money in a bankruptcy? The answer, Mr. Obama, Mr. Law Professor, is that it's illegal.

In 1974, after a series of scandalous take-downs of pension and retirement funds during the Nixon era, Congress passed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. ERISA says you can't seize workers' pension funds (whether monthly payments or health insurance) any more than you can seize their private bank accounts. And that's because they are the same thing: workers give up wages in return for retirement benefits.

The law is darn explicit that grabbing pension money is a no-no. Company executives must hold these retirement funds as "fiduciaries." Here's the law, Professor Obama, as described on the government's own web site under the heading, "Health Plans and Benefits."

"The primary responsibility of fiduciaries is to run the plan solely in the interest of participants and beneficiaries and for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits."

Every business in America that runs short of cash would love to dip into retirement kitties, but it's not their money any more than a banker can seize your account when the bank's a little short. A plan's assets are for the plan's members only, not for Mr. Dimon nor Mr. Rubin.

Yet, in effect, the Obama Administration is demanding that money for an elderly auto worker's spleen should be siphoned off to feed the TARP babies. Workers go without lung transplants so Dimon and Rubin can pimp out their ride. This is another "Guantanamo" moment for the Obama Administration - channeling Nixon to endorse the preventive detention of retiree health insurance.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

We don't have a left and right party in this country anymore

We have a center-right party and a crazy party

--Bill Maher

"Shouldn't there be one party that unambiguously supports cutting military spending? Straight up in favor of gun control, gay marriage, higher taxes on the rich, universal healthcare, legalizing pot, and steep, direct taxing of polluters?"

"These aren't radical ideas. The majority of Americans are either already for them, or would be if they were properly argued and defended; and what we need is an actual progressive party to represent the millions of Americans who aren't being served by the Democrats."

via Raw Story

Friday, June 05, 2009

"Not even Jesus could reverse the decline in the US"

The world economy is not only showing few signs of recovery, but we are also looking at the end of the American century, according to German author and economist William Engdahl in an interview with Russia Today. That's courtesy of the Oligarchic grip on our government that Bagman Obama is facilitating.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Job cuts: the problem and the solution

American Express has taken a hit as the economy has soured. A report on NPR said that many cardholders had defaulted, due to the high number of job cuts. In responding to this problem, American Express has an answer: layoffs.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The phrase "resource war" is conspicuous by its absence

Pipelineistan goes Af-Pak

By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

As United States President Barack Obama heads into his second 100 days in office, let's head for the big picture ourselves, the ultimate global plot line, the tumultuous rush towards a new, polycentric world order. In its first 100 days, the Obama presidency introduced us to a brand new acronym, OCO - for Overseas Contingency Operations - formerly known as GWOT (as in "global war on terror").

Use either name, or anything else you want, and what you're really talking about is what's happening on the immense energy battlefield that extends from Iran to the Pacific Ocean. It's there that the liquid war for the control of Eurasia takes place.

Yep, it all comes down to black gold and "blue gold" (natural gas), hydrocarbon wealth beyond compare, and so it's time to trek backto that ever-flowing wonderland - Pipelineistan. It's time to dust off the acronyms, especially the SCO or Shanghai Cooperative Organization, the Asian response to NATO, and learn a few new ones like IPI and TAPI. Above all, it's time to check out the most recent moves on the giant chessboard of Eurasia, where Washington wants to be a crucial, if not dominant, player.

We've already seen Pipelineistan wars in Kosovo and Georgia, and we've followed Washington's favorite pipeline, the BTC, which was supposed to tilt the flow of energy westward, sending oil coursing past both Iran and Russia. Things didn't quite turn out that way, but we've got to move on, the New Great Game never stops. Now, it's time to grasp just what the Asian Energy Security Grid is all about, visit a surreal natural gas republic, and understand why that Grid is so deeply implicated in the Af-Pak war.

Every time I've visited Iran, energy analysts stress the total "interdependence of Asia and Persian Gulf geo-ecopolitics". What they mean is the ultimate importance to various great and regional powers of Asian integration via a sprawling mass of energy pipelines that will someday, somehow, link the Persian Gulf, Central Asia, South Asia, Russia and China. The major Iranian card in the Asian integration game is the gigantic South Pars natural gas field (which Iran shares with Qatar). It is estimated to hold at least 9% of the world's proven natural gas reserves.

As much as Washington may live in perpetual denial, Russia and Iran together control roughly 20% of the world's oil reserves and nearly 50% of its gas reserves. Think about that for a moment. It's little wonder that, for the leadership of both countries as well as China's, the idea of Asian integration, of the Grid, is sacrosanct.

If it ever gets built, a major node on that Grid will surely be the prospective US$7.6 billion Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, also known as the "peace pipeline". After years of wrangling, a nearly miraculous agreement for its construction was initialed in 2008. At least in this rare case, both Pakistan and India stood shoulder to shoulder in rejecting relentless pressure from the Bush administration to scotch the deal.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The flu-over

As a trained conspiracy theorists (logged over one million internet surfing hours a while back), I feel it's my duty to inform you that my nefarious activity alarms have been flashing for a few days now. What has really got it clanging is the low-flying "air force one" photo op over Manhattan. The story as reported makes no sense and is shrouded in classified directives and anonymous sources. However, through my fine grain conspiracy lens (obtained through an ad in the back of Rolling Stone), it clicks into focus as a Bush era operation to remind people of 9/11 (itself a Bush era operation). The kicker, of course, is the convenient timing, just as the media is buzzing with details and debate about the torture program emanating from the Bush White House.


This torture thing is getting dangerously out of hand (for the torturers), so another hit from Bush and Co. has been taken for a spin: a pandemic! Torture? Screw that, we're all gonna die! If the terrorists don't get you, the swine flu will! Do whatever it takes, oh government, just save us from the evil. Or the flu. Just don't torture pigs. Unless you have to.

(operational theories forthcoming, not here, elsewhere on the Internet)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Love Your Mother

Eleanor and I spent a good part of last weekend helping our friend Ginger with her Earth Day art project. We had a great time creating art for art's sake and the planet's sake, and enjoying the beauty of communal effort. The results speak for themselves, thanks to the video Ginger and her husband George created.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Saw Doctors -- Hay Wrap

A sweet and gentle song about farm life. Enjoy.