Who Hijacked Our Country

Thursday, February 26, 2015

FCC Adopts Net Neutrality Rules

All Right!!!

Believe it or not, the FCC has actually ruled in favor of hundreds of millions of Internet users, at the expense of higher windfall profits for a few telecom CEOs.  Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner Cable et al have spent jillions of dollars on lobbying/bribery, all for naught.  At least they can write it off as a business expense.

The five FCC commissioners voted 3 to 2 — along party lines, needless to say — to reclassify Internet Service Providers as a public utility, like a phone company.  This reclassification will enable the FCC to enforce Net Neutrality, i.e. prohibiting ISPs from segregating the Internet into expensive fast lanes for some users and a slow lane for everyone else.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said:

“We are here to ensure that there is only one Internet, where applications, new products, ideas and points of view have an equal chance of being seen and heard.  We are here because we want to enable those with deep pockets as well as those with empty pockets the same opportunities to succeed.”

Why, that there sounds like Comminism!!!

The two Republican FCC commissioners sided up with the oligarchs (shocking!).  Commissioner Ajit Pai dutifully recited his corporate-dictated talking points:

“The Internet has become a powerful force for freedom, here and around the world.  So it is sad to witness this morning the FCC’s unprecedented attempts to replace that freedom with government control. It shouldn't be this way.”

Suck it up Asshole.

And now for a rant.  This whole ongoing Net Neutrality debate — aside from “Net Neutrality” being the most bland sleep-inducing phrase Ever — has been one of the media's worst examples of False Equivalency.  During the Republicans' government extortion/shutdown fiasco, the mainstream media bent over backwards to appear unbiased.  Instead of just coming out and saying the GOP was using blackmail and extortion to achieve what it couldn't achieve through the legislative process, news reports would say “there's a lot of finger-pointing going on,” “both sides are blaming each other for the shutdown,” etc.

And this same False Equivalency is rearing its head again.  For weeks the media has been saying that if the FCC enforces open access to the Internet for everyone, it'll be “a victory for proponents of Net Neutrality.”  WTF?  “Proponents of Net Neutrality?!?”  Oh, you mean, the 99.9% of us who don't want to be segregated into a fast or slow lane.  “Proponents of Net Neutrality?”

Maybe the next time a notorious serial killer gets caught, the media can call it “a victory for people who don't want to get murdered.”

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Conservatives Don't Want a Coherent anti-ISIS Strategy from Obama — “Just Military Porn Talk”

On last night's The Daily Show, Jon Stewart  nailed conservatives for their unrelenting/unfocused attacks on Obama's foreign policy.  As he put it:  “No details, no strategy — just military porn talk.”

And then, mimicking Donald Trump, he said:

“The president’s gotta go balls deep into ISIS in every orifice possible all night long until it screams with surrender — like most things that have spent the night with me — it’ll wish it had never been f*cking born.”

Jon Stewart also explained why the hysterical nonstop blubberings of rightwing demagogues have more traction with the public than the level-headed coherent factual approach favored by liberals and moderates:

“It’s what the medical community calls MSNBC-itis.  It’s a condition where one uses facts and research to refute opponents, delivered whilst bespectacled, in a tone suggesting you can’t believe you have to explain this to these f*cking idiots — again. Symptoms include: cancellation.”

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

One Result of Sanctions against Russia: Fewer Migrant Workers to do Manual Labor

A Day Without a Mexican (which I never saw) is a satirical movie about California grinding to a halt because every Mexican has suddenly/mysteriously disappeared.  No gardeners, busboys, farm laborers, nannies...

This phenomenon is happening in Russia now, because of the weakening Ruble, which is largely the result of Western sanctions against Russia.  Three million migrant workers from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have been working legally in Russia; plus an unknown number that's under the radar. About half of the gross domestic products of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan consist of their immigrant workers' earnings sent home from Russia.

And now, because of Russia's crumbling economy, a lot of these immigrants are returning home. 

A Day Without an Uzbek: After a recent snowstorm in St. Petersburg, Russians were slipping and falling all over the place because there was nobody clearing the streets and shoveling the sidewalks.  Most of the street sweepers — as well as cab drivers and restaurant workers — were from Central Asia, and now they've left.  The head of a street cleaning company said:

“Almost 30 percent of the workers who left to spend New Year's as usual with their families in Uzbekistan or Tajikistan have not come back.”

Some major construction projects — which employ a large number of migrant workers — are also in jeopardy.

I guess these Central Asian immigrants are doing all the lowly distasteful jobs that Russians won't do.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pussy Riot: “I Can't Breathe”

Gotta Love Pussy Riot. Whether you're Vladimir Putin or a rogue NYPD officer, Pussy Riot will cut you no slack.  Their newest song — and video — is titled “I Can't Breathe.”  The track features Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, plus Richard Hell, Andrew Wyatt and Nick Zinner (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs).  The creators of the video said:

“It's for Eric and for all those from Russia to America and around the globe who suffer from state terror — killed, choked, perished because of war and state-sponsored violence of all kinds — for political prisoners and those on the streets fighting for change.”

In an interview with Pitchfork, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said:

“In December 2014, we were recording an anti-war song cycle in studios in New York, and when the protests started there demanding a trial for the police officer who strangled Eric Garner, it didn’t take us too much time to decide to join in.  We have to demand responsibility from our governments and we can never stop reminding government bureaucrats that they exist for our sake, and not the other way around. We gave those protests our support, even though we live in Russia, because police violence and death have no nationality.”

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

More ALEC Stealth Legislation: The Fun Never Stops

Just when you think ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) couldn't possibly have any more hidden corporate agendas to push, they find yet another one.  Their M.O. is to circumvent the legislative process by mass-mailing jillions of already-written bills (or “model legislation” as they like to call it) to rightwing state legislators all over the country.  These targeted legislators — hereafter referred to as ALEC prostitutes — will then “introduce” these bills to the legislature, as written; as ordered by their ALEC johns.  In red states, and some swing states, these bills are voted into law en masse.  And the ALEC cancer continues to spread throughout the country.

Stand Your Ground laws, voter suppression laws, laws requiring laid-off workers to pass a drug test before they can qualify for unemployment insurance, Ag Gag laws which shield factory farms from any kind of outside scrutiny, laws that are designed to sabotage renewable energy development — these are just a few of the state laws that have been mass-produced through the above-mentioned ALEC M.O.

And now the latest corporate giveaway from the ALEC stealthbags:  state laws that prohibit municipalities from providing broadband Internet access.  We wouldn't want Comcast and Verizon to suffer from any sort of competition now, would we?

The linked article includes a petition asking the FCC to preempt these ALEC-funded state laws so that cities will be allowed to provide their residents with Internet access.  Please sign.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Out with Parking Spaces, In with More Bus Lanes and Bike Lanes

It's about F&#$in' time!!!

In Seattle, hundreds of parking spaces have been eliminated to make way for more bike lanes, right turn lanes, new streetcar lines and more bus lanes.  This trend is expected to increase over the coming years, with God knows how many hundreds of parking spaces being eliminated.


I sympathize with longtime residents whose friends — or care-givers, for that matter — will no longer be able to stop and pick them up in front of their home.  And that quick errand to the dry cleaner or the mini-mart will probably go the way of the Model T.  But these changes need to happen.

And this isn't happening only in progressive trendy cities like Seattle.  Even Houston now has a protected bike-way that runs through the entire downtown.  Houston!?!  The last time I was in Houston — about fifteen years ago — it was so sprawled-out and car-centric, it made Los Angeles look pedestrian-friendly.

For generations we've been brainwashed into thinking that freeways, millions of downtown parking spaces, parking lots the size of Luxembourg (with free parking for employees and customers) — are all simply the result of the invisible hand of the marketplace.  The chips just happened to fall where they fell.  Mass transit, on the other hand, is nothing but a huge bloated nanny-state giveaway to those parasites who can't afford a car.

A vice president of People For Bikes cuts through the above “conventional wisdom” with:

“Parking is really an inefficient use of public space when you think about it rationally, logically, without emotion. You’re storing a personal item in the public right of way.” 

And this trend is not “anti-business.”  According to the business-funded group Commute Seattle, downtown parking garages are suffering from a 40% vacancy rate.  Their executive director said:  “Property managers are looking at this as an opportunity, by increasing the occupancy rates in the garages.”

And a new company called Zirx is offering a valet service in the area near Amazon's newest headquarters.  While you're circling endlessly for a parking space — white knuckles clutching the steering wheel, steam coming out of your ears — a Zirx valet will take your car to a nearby garage.  The Zirx company slogan is “Never Park Again.”

 Now THERE is the invisible hand of the marketplace.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Are Federal Marijuana Laws Unconstitutional?

U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller is considering this argument.  Within thirty days she'll decide whether to hear a case based on this reasoning. The case she's considering involves nine men who have been charged with growing marijuana on private and public land in northern California.  Judge Mueller asked the attorneys who are prosecuting this case:

“If I were persuaded by the defense's argument, if I bought their argument, what would you lose here?”

Good question.

The pot growers' defense lawyers are arguing that classifying marijuana as a Schedule One drug — meaning it's one of the most dangerous drugs in the world and it has no medical value whatsoever — is unconstitutional, since twenty-three states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

Defense attorney Zenia Gilg said that therefore:  “It's impossible to say that there is no accepted medical use.”

The prosecuting attorney countered that too few doctors believe marijuana has any medical value.  WTF???  Then who, pray tell, is writing all these thousands of medical prescriptions for marijuana???

I hope Judge Mueller takes this case.  These questions need to be asked.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Better Call Saul

I have the most embarrassing confession to make:  I never watched Breaking Bad.  Never saw a single episode.  [cowers in shame]  And I don't even have any excuses.  I haven't been in solitary confinement at Gitmo for the past five years; haven't been living in a cave in the Himalayas.

When AMC premiered this new show called Breaking Bad, whenever that was, the description just didn't call me.  By the time I started hearing and reading that Breaking Bad was the most brilliant riveting kickass TV series EVER, the series had already had so many episodes, I figured it would take me forever to catch up on all the plots, who's who, who did what to who, etc.  So I didn't bother.  That ship had already sailed.  The train had left the station.

I've loved these first two episodes of Better Call Saul a prequel to Breaking Bad.  Reviews have been pretty mixed.  It's just a gimmick to keep Breaking Bad viewers tuning in; it can't possibly last; series spinoffs usually fail; etc.

No doubt I've missed a lot of inside references to Breaking Bad on these first two Better Call Saul episodes, but that's OK if I don't know what I'm missing.

Bob Odenkirk who plays Saul was also in Nebraska, and he played the sheriff in Fargo (the TV series, not the movie).

Anyway, check out Better Call Saul Monday, 10 p.m. on AMC.  AMC has always been one of my favorite channels, but lately they've been sinking into an endless orgy of zombie shows and Breaking Bad reruns, IMHO.  I'm glad they have another cool show on.  And in April, Mad Men will return for its final banzai mini-microscopic season.


Sunday, February 08, 2015

DECLASSIFY redacted 28-page section of 9/11 Report Already

WTF are we waiting for?  Are there even two sides to this?  I don't see any possible drawbacks to declassifying the 28-page section of the 9/11 Commission Report titled “Finding, Discussions and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters.”

I don't necessarily believe — or disbelieve — any of the conspiracy theories about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  But if the 9/11 Truthers are just a bunch of tinfoil hat wackos, then prove it by declassifying this information.  There's been constant speculation about Saudi Arabia's role — if any — in the 9/11 attacks.  Let's find out.

Former Florida Senator Bob Graham, one of the authors of the 9/11 Commission Report, is in favor of releasing this information.  He said it's “highly improbable” that the 9/11 hijackers acted without funding from a sovereign government, and that the redaction of the section of the 9/11 report that addresses this issue “protects the government most responsible for that network of support...This may seem stale to some, but it's as current as the headlines we see today.”

The Saudi government also wants this information declassified.  A Saudi prince said:

“The idea that the Saudi government funded, organized or even knew about September 11th is malicious and blatantly false.  Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages.”

Release this information already.  Yes, we CAN handle the truth.

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Friday, February 06, 2015

How DARE the president compare the Islamic State to the Christian Crusades?!?

At yesterday's National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama had the nerve, the unmitigated gall, to compare the Islamic State's atrocities to the Christian Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition.

After rightly condemning the terrorist tactics of the Islamic State, President Obama proceeded to insult the very concept of Manifest Destiny and American Exceptionalism:

“And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ...Part of what I want to touch on today is the degree to which we’ve seen the professions of faith used both as an instrument of great good, but also twisted and misused in the name of evil.”

That does it!

Is our Kenyan-born Muslim Socialist president even aware of the horrors being committed by the Islamic State???

The crazed jihadists of the Islamic State have committed excruciating tortures on innocent people, tortures that have never ever been imagined before.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

NYPD: “Thank God for Albuquerque”

If it's true that southern states have an expression “Thank God for Mississippi,” then the police departments of Ferguson and New York City must be grateful for the Albuquerque Police Department.  (Motto:  “We'll show those Mafia pussies how it's done!”)

The Albuquerque Police Department sounds similar to what the LAPD was like during the Rodney King beating and the ensuing coverup and the coverup of the coverup, the coverup to cover up the coverup of the coverup, etc.  (The LAPD has now become a model of what police departments should be, according to something I read recently.)

For just a hint of what Albuquerque residents are faced with:  the Albuquerque Police Department's per capita kill rate is eight times the NYPD's kill rate.

Please read and bookmark these two articles from The New Yorker and Rolling Stone. You'll be horrified; sickened; furious.  And visiting Albuquerque will probably not be on your bucket list.

Supposedly the Justice Department is “about to” crack down on the Albuquerque Police Department, but local residents are skeptical; they've heard it all before.

My guess is, if the Justice Department doesn't actually do something about the Albuquerque PD, Albuquerque residents will rise up and do whatever they have to do to take back their city.


Sunday, February 01, 2015

“Allegiance” — Totally Original New Network TV Series. NOT!!!!!

“Allegiance” is an upcoming NBC series about the family conflicts and internal dilemmas of Russian spies living in the United States.  Wow!!!  What a novel idea for a TV series.

This is groundbreaking!  Nobody has ever thought of anything like this before.

I have nothing against this new TV show.  I might even check it out this Thursday.  Maybe there's room for more than one TV program about Russian spies living in the U.S. and trying to blend in.

But I'll be mighty pissed off if Allegiance becomes a huge hit while The Americans (FX, Wednesdays at 10 p.m.) — “the best TV program you're not watching” — continues to get excellent critical reviews and rock-bottom Nielsen ratings.

Just saying.

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