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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 67,813

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2014: Seize the Moment - by Senator Bernie Sanders

2014: Seize the Moment

by Senator Bernie Sanders

The Congress has just ended one of the worst and least productive sessions in the history of our country. At a time when the problems facing us are monumental, Congress is dysfunctional and more and more people (especially the young) are, understandably, giving up on the political process. The people are hurting. They look to Washington for help. Nothing is happening.

In my view, the main cause of congressional dysfunction is an extreme right-wing Republican party whose main goal is to protect the wealthy and powerful. There is no tax break for the rich or large corporations that they don't like. There is no program which protects working families -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, affordable housing, etc. -- that they don't want to cut.

But the Democrats (with whom I caucus as an Independent) are most certainly not without fault. In the Senate, they have tolerated Republican obstructionism for much too long and allowed major legislation to fail for lack of 60 votes. They have failed to bring forth a strong and consistent agenda which addresses the economic crises facing the vast majority of our struggling population, and have not rallied the people in support of that agenda.


Clearly, if we are going to save the middle class and protect our planet, we need to change the political dynamics of the nation. We can no longer allow the billionaires and their think tanks or the corporate media to set the agenda. We need to educate, organize and mobilize the working families of our country to stand up for their rights. We need to make government work for all the people, not just the 1 percent.


The rest:

New Yorker - First Cover 2014


This is the first cover of 2014. I drew the first of 2013 after chaperoning my daughter’s school class to a production of “The Nutcracker” and hearing about the Newtown shooting shortly after the school bus pulled into the parking lot. Like the other parents, I followed the story, listening to the radio and, hands shaking, scrolling through the news reports on my iPhone, all the while making sure my daughter heard about none of it. Now, a year out, it’s absolutely shameful that the certainty with which we all believed national gun-control legislation would be enacted has been met with nothing. Just this morning, I heard one of the Newtown families interviewed on the radio—they’d lost their only daughter that day—and they spoke of the foundation they’d established in her name, invoking the chilling phrase “so that no other parent would have to go through what they had.” And all they had left of her were their memories, and their pictures.


There Are Not Enough Jobs.

Get The Economy To Capacity. Then Cut Long-Term Unemployment Benefits.
Posted by Matt Bruenig on December 30, 2013

If it was the case that unemployed people are just refusing to take jobs, then you would see a great deal more reported job openings. The number of unemployed people would be high and the number of job openings would be high as well. In that case, you might force the two to come together by trying to starve out the unemployed, as the conservatives support. But when jobs are scarce because of a weak economy, starving out the unemployed won’t put them in jobs that simply do not exist.


KRUGMAN: The Fiscal Fever (Unlike The Fever Of The Tea Party) Has Finally Broken

KRUGMAN (12/30/13): In 2012 President Obama, ever hopeful that reason would prevail, predicted that his re-election would finally break the G.O.P.’s “fever.” It didn’t.

But the intransigence of the right wasn’t the only disease troubling America’s body politic in 2012. We were also suffering from fiscal fever: the insistence by virtually the entire political and media establishment that budget deficits were our most important and urgent economic problem, even though the federal government could borrow at incredibly low interest rates. Instead of talking about mass unemployment and soaring inequality, Washington was almost exclusively focused on the alleged need to slash spending (which would worsen the jobs crisis) and hack away at the social safety net (which would worsen inequality).

So the good news is that this fever, unlike the fever of the Tea Party, has finally broken.

True, the fiscal scolds are still out there, and still getting worshipful treatment from some news organizations. As the Columbia Journalism Review recently noted, many reporters retain the habit of “treating deficit-cutting as a non-ideological objective while portraying other points of view as partisan or political.” But the scolds are no longer able to define the bounds of respectable opinion. For example, when the usual suspects recently piled on Senator Elizabeth Warren over her call for an expansion of Social Security, they clearly ended up enhancing her stature.


More (and right on target):

'I Can't Be Gay In North East Louisiana.' A ULM Student's Powerful Message To Phil Robertson


By Anonymous

Bob Mann recently wrote a post from the perspective of a young lesbian girl that really painted an accurate picture of LGBTQ life in Ouachita Parish. But I couldn’t share it on my Facebook.

It was too gay.

“It’s fine for you to stand up for the queers,” my grandparents will say, “but God help you if you’re one of them.”

I am, it appears to be, the last gay man still in the closet to his family. That’s why this post is anonymous. That’s why my sexual orientation is blank on Facebook. That’s why I use gender-neutral pronouns when talking about my significant other.

I can’t be gay in Northeast Louisiana. I came out to my parents, and they’ve shoved me back into the closet.

“The family isn’t ready to hear that,” they said.

The family isn’t ready. Well, I suppose in all fairness it did take some getting used to myself.

I live in West Monroe, and I’m a Mass Communications student at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM). I moved here because it’s more progressive than my hometown, also in Northeast Louisiana. I mean, it has two gay bars. Look out San Francisco.

But West Monroe is also home to the most famous anti-gay person in the world: Phil Robertson. I’ve never met Phil. But I was raised by a Phil Robertson.

My Phil Robertson told me that I was an asshole for being so selfish to come out of the closet to my mother.

My Phil Robertson told me that my boyfriend will never be welcomed to his house, as if he were diseased.

My Phil Robertson threatened my life because I had the audacity to be who I am.

I’m 21 now. I first realized I was gay when I was 13. I’ve known that I liked boys since I was eight. And I will never forget the day that I decided I wasn’t going to be gay.

I was in Sunday school, and I’d been daydreaming about moving off to San Francisco, because my dad had told me “it was full of faggots.” It sounded like the place for me.

Then it came to be my turn to read the Bible. And I read the verse aloud.

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

That didn’t quite click with me, so I asked what it meant. And my Sunday school teacher said, “It means that being gay is a sin.” I felt sick. It was fine if my dad hated gays, but now God does, too?

My future caved in around dreams of sunny California and San Francisco, until all I could see were the fires in the pit of hell.

I was 13 years old.

So, I became straight because I didn’t want to go to hell, and any time I strayed from the path of heterosexuality, I prayed to God to heal me of my sickness. And, then, after a while, I still liked boys. So, I prayed harder. I prayed more. I cried. Until eventually, I stopped believing in God altogether.

If there was a God, surely he heard my prayers. So, he either is wanting me to be a sinner or he doesn’t exist. Either way, it’s not a god I wish to believe in.

I was 16 when I lost my faith. I was also 16 when I met my first boyfriend. It was like being James Bond in Podunk, Louisiana. We’d sneak off to the soybean fields just so we could be together. It was all a magical experience of holding hands under blankets and secret signals for “I love you.” Ah, to be 16 again.

I had my first kiss, my first time and my first heartbreak. I was being the most abnormal person in school, but I was finally living what I thought was a normal life. I was being me. Even though “me” involved leading a double life.

Long story-short: I regained my faith. In fact, I’ve been considering becoming a minister. I am very much still a gay man. And I believe God has called me to minister to other gay people to let them know that God loves them just the way they are. I’m to undo the hurt caused by the Church—the same hurt caused to me.

Gay people, more often than not, throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to religion. But we have a good reason. We’ve been scarred. Religion has damaged us. And I try to share with them the light I have seen in the Episcopal Church. But every time I get close to a breakthrough, something happens that brings out the worst in people.

One year it was Chick-fil-a. This year it’s Phil Robertson.

Thanks to Phil, I now know where everyone in my family stands on the issue of whether or not I’m a human being.

I even saw a “friend” of mine post something about how gay people can’t be Christians. Wow. Not only will they keep us from having equal rights, but they’ll keep us from equal salvation. We can’t just be second-class citizens. We have second-class souls.

I drive through town, much like the girl in Bob’s story, and I see everyone talking about how right Phil is. How they have Christian values by excluding about 15 percent of the population from their religion.

Phil claims to love everyone, and I have to believe that he has the best of intentions for saying what he said. But he must realize the damage that those words do to people like me.

He encouraged – hopefully unintentionally – a two-week-long “fag bashing” in Monroe and around the world. He made me feel unsafe in my own home. I can’t count how many times I heard “faggot” over the Christmas visit home.

All of this is in a state that still has laws against, and still arrests people for, having homosexual relations.

I remember hearing about Matthew Sheppard. I remember learning about Harvey Milk. I’ve never been under any impression that northeast Louisiana is safe for gays.

And people say Phil is being persecuted for his beliefs.

You don’t know persecution until you’re a 12-year-old boy sitting in a church pew when your preacher encourages everyone to vote to make gay marriage illegal because they think you don’t deserve the same joy of raising a family due to your depravity.

You don’t know persecution until you’re told that God doesn’t love you because of how He made you; when Christian fundamentalists are tied up to the back of pick-ups and dragged down a back road because they believe the Bible. When you know that, then you can talk about persecution.

I try really hard to not get angry over this. But it’s hard for me not to see red when I think about my grandparents, whom I love, who will never be able to be a part of my life because of their own ignorance. I doubt my parents come to my wedding one day. All because my love is different than their love.

But my love isn’t different. It isn’t unholy. It isn’t wrong because a man with a beard said so in a GQ article.

My love is real. And it’s not going away.


NSA reportedly intercepting laptops purchased online to install spy malware

If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops. The NSA calls this method interdiction. At these so-called “load stations,” agents carefully open the package in order to load malware onto the electronics, or even install hardware components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. All subsequent steps can then be conducted from the comfort of a remote computer.

These minor disruptions in the parcel shipping business rank among the “most productive operations” conducted by the NSA hackers, one top secret document relates in enthusiastic terms. This method, the presentation continues, allows TAO to obtain access to networks “around the world.”


Picky, picky, picky.---Central Park mugger rejects flip phone

Central Park mugger rejects flip phone

A gun-toting mugger in Central Park was so disappointed by his victim’s cheap flip phone that he handed it back.

“Once he saw my phone, he looked at it like, ‘What the f–k is this?’ and gave it back to me,” recalled Kevin Cook, 25, of Brooklyn.

“It’s like a 3-year-old generation Windows phone,” said Cook, a New York Sports Club salesman who was walking with a pal near the West Drive in the 60s at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

“I guess he didn’t think he could get anything for it,” Cooke added. “It’s kind of humorous.”


Year in crazy, part two - by Tom Tomorrow: "The Moral Of 'Green Eggs & Ham' Is Clear"


As God Is His Witness, Ted Cruz Will Never Be Canadian Again

“Because I was a U.S. citizen at birth, because I left Calgary when I was 4 and have lived my entire life since then in the U.S., and because I have never taken affirmative steps to claim Canadian citizenship, I assumed that was the end of the matter,” Cruz said in a statement in August.

Cruz told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley at the time he would attempt to renounce his Canadian citizenship.

“Serving as a U.S. senator, I think it’s appropriate that I be only an American,” he said.

Read more at http://wonkette.com/537718/as-god-is-his-witness-ted-cruz-will-never-be-canadian-again#LMU7vEmX7YLpO92j.99

Overthrow the Speculators-The revolution must be local-We will have to save ourselves (Chris Hedges)

Chris Hedges
Overthrow the Speculators
Posted on Dec 29, 2013
By Chris Hedges

Money, as Karl Marx lamented, plays the largest part in determining the course of history. Once speculators are able to concentrate wealth into their hands they have, throughout history, emasculated government, turned the press into lap dogs and courtiers, corrupted the courts and hollowed out public institutions, including universities, to justify their looting and greed. Today’s speculators have created grotesque financial mechanisms, from usurious interest rates on loans to legalized accounting fraud, to plunge the masses into crippling forms of debt peonage. They steal staggering sums of public funds, such as the $85 billion of mortgage-backed securities and bonds, many of them toxic, that they unload each month on the Federal Reserve in return for cash. And when the public attempts to finance public-works projects they extract billions of dollars through wildly inflated interest rates.

Speculators at megabanks or investment firms such as Goldman Sachs are not, in a strict sense, capitalists. They do not make money from the means of production. Rather, they ignore or rewrite the law—ostensibly put in place to protect the vulnerable from the powerful—to steal from everyone, including their shareholders. They are parasites. They feed off the carcass of industrial capitalism. They produce nothing. They make nothing. They just manipulate money. Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged.

We can wrest back control of our economy, and finally our political system, from corporate speculators only by building local movements that decentralize economic power through the creation of hundreds of publicly owned state, county and city banks.


We won’t be saved by anyone in Washington. We will have to save ourselves. We will have to transform our communities, cities and states into places where the consent of the governed is no longer a joke. We will have to take back power, which in a corporate state is financial power, from the venal class of speculators who hold us hostage. In open defiance we will have to build our own independent institutions. Of course the speculators will fight back. And they will fight dirty—they know the consequences of this revolt. Public banks are not just about the economy. They are about liberty.

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