Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What to Say?

What to Say? by Get The Flick
What to Say?, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

Wild skies for summertime in Georgia. I'll enjoy them while they last. From yesterday...

Don Brown
June 26, 2012

Find 27 Minutes

Sometime today, find 27 minutes of free time to watch this video. I’d suggest (for old people) you watch it instead of the evening news. At the end of those 27 minutes, you’ll be far better educated than if you had watched the evening news. For young people, watch this instead of Tosh 2.0, The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. Just find the time somewhere.

And when you are done -- if you think it worthy -- send it to at least one other person.

Don Brown
June 26, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Stale Air

I had given up on Terry Gross. She had gone off on some tangent or another, probably one too many poets or reflective recluses droning on about their childhood. I like Ms. Gross. She’s almost always so civil. But really, the subject matter was killing me.

And then I ran out of podcasts. It happens most Monday mornings (because shows have the weekend off). So I punched the button on the 35 segments of Fresh Air I hadn’t listened to.

Perhaps I was a bit hasty.

Assessing Consumer Concerns About The Meat Industry

"On Thursday's show, Philpott also addresses the FDA's proposed new rules calling for the regulation of factory farm antibiotics, the USDA's proposed new rules to let poultry inspectors oversea their own kill lines, and the business practices within the meat industry that have turned it into an industry "that profits not by putting out an excellent product, but rather by relentlessly slashing costs.""

I’m kind of assuming my readers caught the fact that they’re calling self inspection “regulation”. That’s because this one story pushed so many of my buttons that I want to move on.

Regulatory “capture”. The FDA is proposing the rules that the industry wants including making the “regulations” “voluntary”. You’ll hear echos of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Hopefully it will remind you that Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture told farmers to “Get big or get out”. Some small farmers didn’t get the hint of course. (Anybody remember “Farm Aid”?) And then there’s the section on immigrants without union representation being exploited by corporations in industrialized food processing. The fact that half of you are thinking of a modern-day chicken processing plant and the other half of my readers are thinking of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is precisely the point. (Click on the link youngsters. It’s about east Europeans working in Chicago’s meatpacking industry a century ago instead of Guatemalans working in a Georgia poultry plant. Otherwise, the song remains the same.)

Hey! Anybody remember the meatpacker’s unions? Yes, the show touches on that subject also. You should listen to it. Tell Terry Gross I apologize while you're there.

Don Brown
June 25, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

King Krugman

After all this time, you’d think my admiration for Paul Krugman would wane. At the very least, you would think that there would be nothing an economist could say that would interest an ex-air traffic controller about a subject like prisons. And you’d be wrong.

Prisons, Privatization, Patronage

"They are, instead, living off government contracts. There isn’t any market here, and there is, therefore, no reason to expect any magical gains in efficiency."

"So let’s see: Privatized prisons save money by employing fewer guards and other workers, and by paying them badly. And then we get horror stories about how these prisons are run. What a surprise!

So what’s really behind the drive to privatize prisons, and just about everything else?"

Yes, “everything else” does include air traffic control. In the United States of America -- and the world.

Paul Krugman is the voice of our time.

As human beings, we must be greater than our job. Money is important. It cannot be our purpose -- our reason for existence. Our country must be greater than our corporations. The reason for the United States’ existence is not to increase next quarter’s profit. It’s Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness -- not profit.

Don Brown
June 22, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Selling the Silver

Seriously, I have to go cut the yard. Read it on your own.

New York to Repeat Chicago’s Parking Meter Catastrophe

It’s Matt Taibbi. He speaks plainly. I don’t need to elaborate.

Don Brown
June 21, 2012

It’s the TV, Stupid

Along the lines of Al Gore that I’ve quoted before...

”In the world of television, the massive flows of information are largely in only one direction, which makes it virtually impossible for individuals to take part in what passes for a national conversation. Individuals receive, but they cannot send. They hear, but they do not speak. The "well-informed citizenry" is in danger of becoming the "well-amused audience."

...I was listening to Fareed Zakari via a podcast this morning.

"So today's cleverest dictators have evolved. They allow a certain amount of dissent, as an escape valve."

"Another example - Putin's Russia has usually allowed the print media a great deal of freedom, on the theory that what a few tens of thousands of people read in Moscow and St. Petersburg doesn't matter. But the regime has taken over television news completely, so mass opinion is carefully controlled out of the Kremlin."

Stop and think about centers of power now. I’m not talking about morality here. I’m talking about power. Unions used to be powerful. Dictators personify power. Is there a medium, an industry in the United States more powerful than the media? The State? The military? We have civilian control of the military. The President is still the Commander-in-Chief. Watch the figures and see how much money will be spent on this year’s Presidential election. If you thought the amounts were obscene last time, wait for post-Citizens United. And where is the vast majority of that money going to be spent? That’s right. On TV. From Frugal Dad

Media Consolidation Infographic

Source: Frugal dad

What created this powerful monster? Repeat after me children -- Deregulation.

Don Brown
June 21, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Krugman Has Cats?!!!

I can’t believe it! I hate cats. And he uses an IBM computer. Oh the shame. I’ll have to find a new hero.

Except I like his wife. She’s right about bullies. I know a little something about that. And he’s right about being right. It’s bad enough (for the people that are wrong) that he’s right but for him to point out that they are wrong...Lord have mercy, people hate it when you do that. They’ll maintain that they are right at all costs. At the cost of your job, your home, even the country’s economy.

PBS is running a whole week of Krugman interviews. You’ll find out more than you ever wanted to know about Krugman I suspect. You might even learn a little about economics.

Watch Krugman's Solution to Fiscal Stimulus? It Involves Aliens on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Don Brown
June 20, 2012

What’s In a VP?

As you might remember, Lyndon Johnson was a Vice-President that became President. (I’ll write about that political calculation later.) So was Harry Truman. So was Teddy Roosevelt. Who Mitt Romney picks as a VP will be important. Don’t let anybody tell you different.

I think I first heard part of Joe Biden’s speech on The Rachel Maddow Show. I let it go, thinking it was bound to get a lot of play on the air. To my knowledge, it didn’t. It should have. If you have the time, give it a listen. It’s depressing. It’s hard. But it’s amazing.

I’m entirely comfortable with the thought that Joe Biden could be President -- a good one -- if (God forbid) anything happens to Barack Obama. After watching this speech, I bet you will be too.

Don Brown
June 20, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Take Two -- 6-17-12

Take Two -- 6-17-12 by Get The Flick
Take Two -- 6-17-12, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

I know, I know. I had to drive all the way to the other side of Atlanta today. Two hours each way. And now I've got to go out again. This counts as "busy" when you're retired. Enjoy the pictures and I'll get around to writing. Pray for rain. That helps make time for writing.

The colors are just unreal aren't they? No retouching. No magic. It's straight out of the camera.

Don Brown
June 18, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Early Service 6-17-12

Early Service 6-17-12 by Get The Flick
Early Service 6-17-12, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

Yeah, I wasn't expecting anything better than yesterday's sunrise either. But, the good Lord willing, I'll be there tomorrow to see if it will be even better. I'm not sure it can get any better. But I'll be there.

Don Brown
June 17, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tonal Transition

Tonal Transition by Get The Flick
Tonal Transition, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

I feel bad that I haven't written a blog this week since Monday. Just a lot going on (for a retired guy.) For some reason (like I don't have enough to do) I started writing a little on Flickr (about photography). Between that, my sick dog and being a Democrat, I'm just busy. On the upside, I finished pressure washing the driveway. Yeah!

Don Brown
June 15, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

It’s About Power

I’m almost finished with The Passage of Power. I’m sure I’ll have more to say but, why wait? Here’s a really good interview with Robert Caro from The Guardian. In it, he dispels the illusion that his books are biographies by talking about his first book on Robert Moses.

Robert Caro: a life with LBJ and the pursuit of power

""I started writing “The Power Broker” because I was a reporter and I felt I wasn't explaining how power worked, urban power in New York City. Neither did anybody else. There was nothing to read on it. Here was this guy who was never elected to anything and he had more power than politicians, so I started that book as an examination of that. I was trying to find out where he got his power and how he used it to shape New York. There's not enough understanding of the realities of power. In a democracy, supposedly we hold power by what we do at the ballot box, so therefore the more we know about political power the better our choices should be and the better, in theory, our democracy should be.""

It’s about power -- and then the men that wield it.

The Power Broker
The Path to Power
The Passage of Power

I recommend you read them all.

Don Brown
June 11, 2012

Sunday, June 10, 2012

First, You Have to...

First, You Have to... by Get The Flick
First, You Have to..., a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

This is from my idiot camera. You know, one of those little put-in-your-pocket cameras that you're supposed to be able to whoop out and get the picture-of-your-life-without-thinking-about-it cameras.

It's not that simple, of course. But they are amazing little cameras if you take the time to learn a little about how they work. I -- of course -- explain how you can do that. For anyone that might be interested.

Click on the picture. Then click back a few days once you get on Flickr. My good camera is in the shop so you get free lessons on taking good pictures with an idiot camera until it gets back.

Don Brown
June 10, 2012

Friday, June 08, 2012

Remember Molly?

I was browsing through Krugman’s blog tonight when this:

Good Golly, Miss Molly

Reminded me of this:

Good Golly Miss Molly

If you don’t know about Molly Ivins, you’ve missed one of America’s treasures. You can read everything that I’ve written about her or -- if time is limited -- read just this one.

"What we have here is the same thing that happened after the famous S&L deregulation in the 1980s — privatized profit and socialized risk. You may recall that little adventure in deregulation — the universal panacea according to the right — cost the taxpayers half a trillion dollars.

Fannie and Freddie were created by Congress as private companies to encourage home ownership and — in theory, on paper — the taxpayers aren't responsible if they go bust ... but they're literally too big to fail."

Miss Molly wrote that in 2004. She left us in 2007 -- before Wall Street crashed (again) in 2008.

Don Brown
June 8, 2012

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Vote for Governor Cancer

Say what? I really don't have to say much. I'll let Rachel Maddow do the talking. I steered you to Al Gore's The Assault on Reason years ago .

"I authorized the plan and was astonished when three weeks later my lead had increased by exactly 8.5%. Though pleased, of course, for my own campaign, I had a sense of foreboding for what this revealed about our democracy. Clearly, at least to some degree, the "consent of the governed" was becoming a commodity to be purchased by the highest bidder."

I've warned you that what we like to think is harmless advertising is really powerful propaganda .

One day after Scott Walker and his billionaires bought the Wisconsin recall election, California voters voted for cancer. Have a listen. And remember, propaganda is powerful. With enough money, you can get people to vote almost any way you want.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

You did remember to think about the IQ chart I posted, right?

Don Brown
June 7, 2012

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Wisconsin -- Walker Becomes Reagan

If you've been paying attention, you know the reason for the title. If you haven't been paying attention, you're too late. Your fate awaits. Go backwards in this blog and read.

Rachel Maddow has been up to speed on this longer and louder than anyone I know. It is fitting she provides the summation. Sorry for the commercial. Fast forward to the 4-minute mark of you're in a hurry.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I have linked the ten organizations listed on Rachel's chart. They all link to Wikipedia except one -- American Future Fund -- and that links to OpenSecrets.org. You should know about that site by now too.

1. American Action Network

2. United States Chamber of Commerce

3. American Crossroads

4. Crossroads GPS

5. Service Employees International Union

6. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

7. National Education Association

8. American Future Fund

9. Americans for Job Security

10. National Association of Realtors

Don Brown
June 6, 2012

Saturday, June 02, 2012

How Are We Going to Do This?

I'm curious. If we're going to descend into chaos -- if we're going to split up, fight it out, descend into a civil war -- how are we going to split? How are we going to do this?

Is it going to be the South vs. the North again? How about West vs. East? Or the Center vs. the Coasts? City vs. Country? I'm really curious. We'll leave the question on how the world is going to spilt itself up for another time.

There is no good news this morning . Europe is descending into a Depression . Our growth is slowing and Europe's problems might become ours. I spent the morning listening to how even the Supreme Court is spilt .

The central piece of all this -- the linchpin -- is the economy. And, unfortunately for the economy, it's an election year. You might as well join me in watching the most depressing video I've seen yet. You'll have to jump over to the BBC to watch it .

To me, it's extraordinary. A venture capitalist and a politician dismiss an economist's argument -- even as the policies they are promoting are failing them. The government is following the policies they are promoting. Those policies have led to a double-dip recession . And yet, they still refuse to listen to a guy that is trying to throw them a lifeline.

Think of how this translates into American. I'm pretty sure the Obama Administration would jump at the chance for a stimulus package. (In case you haven't kept up, check the current 10-year T-bill . 1.49%. Free money .) The Republicans (i.e the Conservatives and venture capitalists) are not going to do it. See above. Even better (worse), a worsening economy hurts Obama's election chances. The needed stimulus isn't going to happen. Hello President Romney -- our first venture vulture capitalist President. Hello Second Great Depression (if it even waits that long.) Hello chaos.

So, I ask again, how are we going to do this? Did you know that Wisconsin is considered the most politically divided State in the Union? Seriously. I Googled it and came up with this.

How Did Wisconsin Become the Most Politically Divisive Place in America?

"From the beginning, Walker, who declined to comment for this article, seemed cognizant that his move to end collective bargaining placed him at the forefront of a national conservative strategy. His attack on public-employee unions was lauded by Mitt Romney, John Boehner and Karl Rove, and he has received significant financial support from the billionaire conservative donors Charles and David Koch. In a widely publicized prank phone call with Ian Murphy, a blogger impersonating David Koch, Walker described a dinner he held for his cabinet at his Executive Residence on Feb. 10, the night before he announced the collective-bargaining measure. “It was kind of the last hurrah, before we dropped the bomb,” he said to the faux-Koch. At the dinner, Walker held up a photograph of Ronald Reagan and told his cabinet that what they were about to do recalled Reagan’s breaking of the air-traffic-controllers’ union strike in 1981. “This is our time to change the course of history,” Walker said."

That's just to get your attention. You should read the article . June 5th is going to be a big day in America. If I was you, I'd call everybody I know that lives in Wisconsin and tell them to vote.

Don Brown
June 2, 2012