Laughter

the human race has one really effective weapon


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Today’s Reads 006 (Michael Brown, Pt. 3)

Further coverage of the Michael Brown murder and related stories from across the Internet, including essays related to the Eric Garner murder in New York City:

  • Unorthodox police procedures emerge in grand jury documents (Washington Post)
    “An officer driving himself back? Wrong. An officer booking his own gun into evidence? Wrong,” said David Klinger, an expert on police shootings with the University of Missouri at St. Louis who is also a former police officer. “The appropriate investigative procedures were not followed.’’ A 2013 Justice Department manual on processing crime scenes, designed in conjunction with police departments across the country, addresses what experts said was perhaps the most serious breach of protocol after Brown was killed: Wilson washing the blood off his hands.
  • Ferguson Grand Jury Evidence Reveals Mistakes, Holes In Investigation (Huffington Post)
    Talking with police investigators and before the grand jury, Wilson claimed that Brown had grabbed at Wilson’s gun during the initial incident in the police car and that Brown’s hand was on the firearm when it misfired at least once. Wilson also told police that he thought Brown would overpower him and shoot him with his own gun. “I was not in control of the gun,” Wilson said. Eventually he regained control of the weapon and fired from within the car. Investigators could have helped to prove or disprove Wilson’s testimony by testing his service weapon for Brown’s fingerprints. But the gun was not tested for fingerprints. An investigator argued before the grand jury that the decision was made not to test the weapon because Wilson “never lost control of his gun.”
  • How Not to Use a Grand Jury (The New Yorker)
    But the goal of criminal law is to be fair—to treat similarly situated people similarly—as well as to reach just results. McCulloch gave Wilson’s case special treatment. He turned it over to the grand jury, a rarity itself, and then used the investigation as a document dump, an approach that is virtually without precedent in the law of Missouri or anywhere else. Buried underneath every scrap of evidence McCulloch could find, the grand jury threw up its hands and said that a crime could not be proved. This is the opposite of the customary ham-sandwich approach, in which the jurors are explicitly steered to the prosecutor’s preferred conclusion.
  • Darren Wilson’s Grand Jurors Were Told To Base Decision On Law Ruled Unconstitutional In 1985 (Addicting Info)
    You will not find another legal proceeding in which jurors and Grand jurors are simply handed a law, and then weeks later handed a correction to that law; and then the Grand jurors are simply left to figure out the difference in the laws by themselves. That is actually something you would do in a law class,” O’Donnell said. “Figure it out by yourself.”
  • Five ugly and uncanny parallels between lynchings and police killings in America (Daily Kos)
    In spite of extremely egregious circumstances surrounding all lynchings and many police killings, it is a rare occurrence for the killers to be held liable. While definitive stats are hard to come by, some estimate that over 95 percent of the perpetrators of lynchings or police killings never served a single day in jail. During the days of public lynchings, it was popular for entire families to come and view them. Photos, as seen in the exhibit, Without Sanctuary, were regularly taken of the lynched bodies on display and made into postcards that were sent all over the country. Little legal interest truly existed in bringing the perpetrators to justice. In modern America, even in extreme cases like the March, 2012 shooting death of high school football star Kendrec McDade, police claimed they heard McDade take multiple shots at them and even saw the flash of the bullets exiting his gun, but it turned out McDade was unarmed. Police were completely exonerated. The constant exoneration of police who kill unarmed African Americans lends itself to the belief that, like during the time of lynching, little true interest exists in bringing justice to the families of the victims.
  • The American Justice System Is Not Broken (Deadspin/The Concourse)
    America is a serial brutalizer of black and brown people. Brutalizing them is what it does. It does other things, too, yes, but brutalizing black and brown people is what it has done the most, and with the most zeal, and for the longest. The best argument you can make on behalf of the various systems and infrastructures the country uses against its black and brown citizens—the physical design of its cities, the methods it uses to allocate placement in elite institutions, the way it trains its police to treat citizens like enemy soldiers—might actually just be that they’re more restrained than those used against black and brown people abroad. America employs the enforcers of its power to beat, kill, and terrorize, deploys its judiciary to say that that’s OK, and has done this more times than anyone can hope to count. This is not a flaw in the design; this is the design.


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Today’s Reads 005 (Michael Brown, Pt. 2)

More coverage of the murder of Michael Brown and other related articles from across the Internet:

  • How Often are Unarmed Black Men Shot Down By Police? (Daily Kos)
    91% of the people killed by Police in Chicago in 2012 were Black? 87% in New York? 100% in Saginaw and Rockford?  I gotta admit even after focusing on this subject for over 30 years, since Ron Settles was killed, I find that kind of shocking. The report goes on to say that 47% of these killings (146 cases) occurred not because of the person brandishing a weapon (as noted above less then 30% of them HAD a weapon, or were even thought to have a weapon), it’s because the Officer or Citizen – “felt threatened” and were in “fear”.  In only 8% (25 cases) did the suspect fire or discharge a weapon that wounded or killed Police or others while Officers were on the scene.
  • The law may have spoken but the Ferguson verdict is not justice (The Guardian)
    So when it comes to the lethal use of force the police do not just constitute a special category, but a protected and elevated one. In this “nation of laws” those charged with enforcing the law evidently operate above it, while the judiciary exists not to mediate between the police and the public but to defend them from the public. And they employ these privileges with great prejudice. According to analysis by ProPublica, black kids are 21 times more likely than their white counterparts to be killed in police shootings. If white youths were killed by police at the same rate they would die at a rate of more than one a week.
  • Amid Conflicting Accounts, Trusting Darren Wilson (The New York Times)
    The officer’s testimony, delivered without the cross-examination of a trial in the earliest phase of the three-month inquiry, was the only direct account of the fatal encounter. It appeared to form the spine of a narrative that unfolded before the jurors over three months, buttressed, the prosecutors said, by the most credible witnesses, forensic evidence and three autopsies. But the gentle questioning of Officer Wilson revealed in the transcripts, and the sharp challenges prosecutors made to witnesses whose accounts seemed to contradict his narrative, have led some to question whether the process was as objective as Mr. McCulloch claims.
  • Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid (The Atlantic)
    “Property damage and looting” is a fairly accurate description of the emancipation of black people in 1865, who only five years earlier constituted some $4 billion in property. The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 is inseparable from the threat of riots. The housing bill of 1968—the most proactive civil-rights legislation on the books—is a direct response to the riots that swept American cities after King was killed. Violence, lingering on the outside, often backed nonviolence during the civil-rights movement. “We could go into meetings and say, ‘Well, either deal with us or you will have Malcolm X coming into here,'” said SNCC organizer Gloria Richardson. “They would get just hysterical. The police chief would say, ‘Oh no!'”
  • What do the newly released witness statements tell us about the Michael Brown shooting? (PBS News Hour)
    We read and analyzed more than 500 pages of witness testimony and compared each statement to those given by Wilson. Below is a chart comparing several key details of the officer’s report to the witness statements. Was Brown facing Wilson when he was shot, or was his back turned to him? Did Brown have his hands in the air, or were they reaching toward his waist?
  • Think riots have never caused change in America? Think again (Al Jazeera America)
    Many of those criticizing destructive behavior in Ferguson over the past week have cited the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s as the model for nonviolent, orderly resistance. Peaceful demonstrations — sometimes in the face of violent policing and provocation — were certainly a key feature of the civil rights era. So, too, were outbreaks of violence such as the 1965 Watts Riots in Los Angeles. While Dr. King never advocated violent and destructive behavior, he also said it would be “morally irresponsible” to condemn riots “without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society.” – “These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention,” King said in a 1968 speech. “And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.”


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Quote of the Day: “Why are beggars despised?”

Then the question arises, Why are beggars despised? – for they are despised, universally. I believe it is for the simple reason that they fail to earn a decent living. In practice nobody cares whether work is useful or useless, productive or parasitic; the sole thing demanded is that it shall be profitable. In all the modern talk about energy, efficiency, social service and the rest of it, what meaning is there except ‘Get money, get it legally, and get a lot of it’? Money has become the grand test of virtue. By this test beggars fail, and for this they are despised. If one could earn even ten pounds a week at begging, it would become a respectable profession immediately.

A beggar, looked at realistically, is simply a businessman, getting his living, like other business men, in the way that comes to hand. He has not, more than most modern people, sold his honour; he has merely made the mistake of choosing a trade at which it is impossible to grow rich.

George Orwell, from Down and Out in Paris and London (1933)


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Reality Check: Wealth (Re)Distribution in America

After reading that the Dow Jones industrial average had hit an all time high on Wednesday, I read this Mother Jones article about something called “speedup,” originally published July/August 2011 issue. Speedup is when a employer asks its employees to do more work for no additional pay or benefits. This phenomenon is, in part, one of the reasons big companies have made a speedy recovery since the economic crash of 2008. Employers squeeze extra productivity out of fewer employees, which improves their bottom line and drives profits up.

It’s the sort of statistic that allows economists and politicians to claim that our economy is on the rise and that we’re in a recovery. Profits are up and business is good, from a certain perspective. But if you think about it, speedup can only be good for the employers, not the employees. From Mother Jones:

 For 90 percent of American workers, incomes have stagnated or fallen for the past three decades, while they’ve ballooned at the top, and exploded at the very tippy-top: By 2008, the wealthiest 0.1 percent were making 6.4 times as much as they did in 1980 (adjusted for inflation). And just to further fuel your outrage, that 22 percent increase in profits? Most of it accrued to a single industry: finance.

In other words, all that extra work you’ve taken on—the late nights, the skipped lunch hours, the missed soccer games—paid off. For them.

Businesses are making money and increasing productivity by giving Americans more work, and Americans are only too happy to accept—after all, a demanding, backbreaking job with low pay is better than no job and no money. And if that first job isn’t enough, some of us will take a second job rather than fight for our wages at the first.

Then I found the above video and it made me a little sick. I’ve looked into the sources a little and believe they are reliable; if they are, America is much worse off than anyone wants to admit. Just ask yourself if you want any small group of people (the top 1% of wage earners) owning more than 50% of the country’s stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

Beyond the numbers there’s the lie this phenomenon exposes. We live in a culture that champions hard work and condemns laziness—but as a country we refuse to reward that hard work by increasing the standard of living for everyone. Instead, we make excuses for why executives should have even more money and we dismiss those who disagree as Marxists or communists or some other dirty term from the 1950s. We refuse to acknowledge that the rich already have more than they could possibly need, probably at the expense of the poor, and we defend them because some small part of us hopes that we might be that rich someday.

“Redistribution of wealth” is a dirty phrase in this country, but I think its plain that we’ve been redistributing our money for close to three decades now. The burden of extra work and lower wages has been saddled on the working class—and the working poor—so that our richest citizens can become even richer.

In the last thirty years, the money has always been redistributed—not down, but upwards.


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Why I Am Opposed to the War (Everywhere)

photo by Marvin Koner

photo by Marvin Koner

As Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the presidential inauguration coincide for just the second time in history, many people will sit down to hear or see clips from King’s legendary “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on 28 August 1963.

Due in part to its composition, King received the Nobel Peace Prize and Time magazine named him “Man of the Year.” It was so powerful and influential that it prompted the FBI to describe King as “the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security.” Attended by over 200,000 civil rights protesters, it is rightly called “one of the defining moments of the American Civil Rights Movement” and regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American and world history.

But King wrote numerous sermons and delivered many more powerful speeches calling for justice and equality among men and nations, some of them even more revolutionary than “I Have a Dream.” Among these is “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam.” Delivered as a sermon to the Ebenezer Baptist Church on 30 April 1967, it continues a line of thought King began with “Beyond Vietnam/A Time to Break Silence,” a speech he gave just a few weeks earlier in New York City, on 4 April 1967. That speech, which calls the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” did not meet with the universal applause that “I Have a Dream” enjoyed. According to Wikipedia:

King’s opposition [to Vietnam] cost him significant support among white allies, including President Johnson, union leaders and powerful publishers.”The press is being stacked against me”, King said, complaining of a double standard that applauded his non-violence at home, but deplored it when applied “toward little brown Vietnamese children.” Life magazine called the speech ‘demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi‘ and The Washington Post declared that King had ‘diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.’

King recognized a connection between capitalism, war, and inequality that was too radical for the public to consider, much less accept. In “Why I Am Opposed” he reminds us of the economic dimensions of the war: “it is estimated that we spend $500,000 to kill each enemy soldier [in Vietnam], while we spend only fifty-three dollars for each person classified as poor, and much of that fifty-three dollars goes for salaries to people that are not poor. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor, and attack it as such.” Accusations of communist sympathy were subsequently leveled against him.

Nearly 46 years later, this problem still runs rampant. The connections between capitalism, war, and poverty are perhaps stronger than ever. We could easily replace the word “Vietnam” in his speech with “Afghanistan” or “Iraq” and all meaning would be preserved. And so his speech remains a challenge to this country.

An edited version of “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam” was eventually released on album by Black Forum Records. At 22 minutes long, it is approximately half the length of the original sermon, but it preserves most—if not all—of King’s strongest points and most damning accusations. It also contains one of my favorite King quotes, which reminds us not to despair and that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

I’ve posted the edited and full-length versions of this speech below, via Youtube. You can read along by visiting Berkeley’s Library website, which contains a complete transcript. And since today is Inauguration Day, I’ve also posted a clip of Princeton professor Cornel West taken from C-SPAN’s coverage of the “Future without Poverty” panel at George Washington University. In it, West questions Obama’s use of King’s bible during his inauguration and reminds us of the revolutionary spirit King wielded. The same one that made him a target of the FBI and eventually cost him his life.

Edited Version:

Full Version:

Cornel West:

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. day.


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Land of the Rich

image taken from Wall Street Journal

image taken from Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal continues to cover the American Taxpayer Relief Act by focusing on how it will affect the most affluent Americans. Earlier this month, I linked to a WSJ article that claimed “most of the changes in the [Relief Act] affect high earners.” They made almost no effort to explain how the bill will affect tax payers making less than $113,700 and only briefly mentioned the expiration of the payroll tax credit.

In another article written by Laura Saunders and published by the WSJ on the 4th of January, the above graphic is provided to help contextualize the data. Notice that nobody makes less than $180,000 a year, and that the married couple with four kids makes over half a million dollars a year.

As one blogger noted, the median income in the United States right now is $50,000 a year. Last July, NPR reported that only 4.2% of American households make between $150,000 and $200,000—and roughly 4.5 million Americans make $200,000 or more. That adds up to just 3.9% of households. Nevertheless, Saunders leads her article with the claim that “the top 1% of taxpayers will bear the biggest burden.” She acknowledges that the poor will pay more as well, but then spends most of her article detailing how the rich will be affected, and how they might cope.

Obviously the WSJ knows its audience, and I understand wanting to cater to them. But Americans not represented by the above graphic may want to get their information from other sources, because the WSJ is apparently too distracted and disconnected to report on all aspects of the tax bill.


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White House Rejects Proposal for Death Star Construction

death_star_explodesUnder Barack Obama, an online petitioning platform has been added to the White House’s website allowing anyone with a computer the opportunity to petition Obama’s administration to take any action they wish. After drafting a petition, you’re given 30 days to obtain 25,000 signatures from other individuals who think you’ve got a good idea. Should you get that much support, your petition will receive an official response from the White House.

One such petition asked that a Death Star be constructed for the purpose of spurring job creation and strengthening our national defense. And by the miracle of social networking it received the 25,000 signatures required for a response. Someone using this kind of tool to play a practical joke or make a stupid proposal isn’t all that newsworthy or surprising, but the White House response is hilarious:

This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For

By Paul Shawcross

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser — roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

You can read the original petition and the full response by clicking this link.

Thanks to Reason and Politics for the heads up. It’s good to find a political story you can laugh about.


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Coloring the Tax Hike

american_dollarThe American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 is the first big political story of 2013. Reactions have been mixed, but I’ve noticed that many news reports have focused on how the bill will affect the wealthiest Americans. This despite the fact that 77 percent of the nation will see a tax hike this year. Think Progress has published a helpful “by the numbers” article that explains how the bill affects payers at different levels:

The first major tax increase for the wealthy in 20 years. Allowing the expiration of some of the Bush tax cuts amounts to the first major tax increase for the wealthiest Americans since the 1990s.

The Bush tax cuts expire for just 0.7 percent of taxpayers. The expiration will occur on income in excess of $400,000 (or $450,000 for a couple). This translates into “a little over 1 million Americans” according to the Tax Policy Center. The capital gains and dividend tax will also increase to 20 percent for wealthy earners.

The top 1 percent will pay an average of $73,633 more in taxes. Bloomberg News noted that, “among households with incomes between $500,000 and $1 million, taxes would go up by an average of $14,812.”

77 percent of households will see a tax hike. Due to the expiration of a cut in the payroll tax, most workers will see their taxes increase slightly in 2013. The expiration of the payroll tax cut will deal a significant blow to the economy.

Beside the news that this is the first significant tax increase for the rich in 20 years, that last bit of information is probably the biggest story to emerge from the bill. As the article says, the richest 0.7 percent of taxpayers amounts to only 1 million Americans or so.  Bloomberg notes that the majority of Americans will see a tax increase “because of the expiration of a payroll tax cut.” While they claim that the heaviest “burden” will fall on the richest tax payers, they also admit that the so-called burden “is concentrated at the very top of the income scale.”

The Wallstreet Journal paints a similar picture, but their report emphasizes the purported effect on the rich to an even greater degree:

But most of the changes in the bill affect high earners. All told, more than 90% of the tax increases in the bill would fall on households with income of $1 million or more, said economist Roberton Williams of the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group in Washington.

For a couple with one child and $1 million of income, including $250,000 of itemized deductions, the tax increase from higher rates and other provisions taking effect next year would run almost $37,000 over what they paid in 2012, according to estimates made by Dave Kautter, an official with the Kogod Tax Center at American University.

There’s no mention of the payroll tax cuts until more than halfway through the article:

For millions of wage earners, the most immediate effect of the bill would be the payroll-tax increase, which would reduce their take-home pay. For an individual earning the maximum 2013 cap of $113,700 or more, the increase would amount to nearly $200 per month.

There aren’t any numbers provided for people making less than $113,700, but at the end of the article they do they mention the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Apparently the rich get taxed and the poor get tax credits.

For someone making $1 million a year, $37,000 is less than four percent of their income. I’ve seen different numbers from different sources, but the middle class is seeing a roughly proportional—though not equal—increase in taxes because the payroll tax cut is expiring. The Associated Press reports that someone making $50,000 a year will pay approximately $1,000 more in taxes in 2013, or roughly two percent of their income. That same Associated Press report, which was used on numerous websites from NPR to Fox News, ends with the following quote from Robertson Williams: “If you’re rich, you’re almost certain to get a big tax increase.” That’s the idea these stories want to leave you with.

And it’s true, the rich are going to pay more in taxes. But the way these stories are reported clearly emphasizes—even exaggerates—this fact. They color the story so as to suggest that the wealthiest citizens will feel the effects of this tax hike the most. But neither the Associated Press nor the WSJ mention effective tax rates or the history of tax cuts for the country’s highest earners. And only Politifact noticed that President Obama broke his promise to close loopholes in corporate tax deductions for CEOs:

Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code, enacted in 1993, limits how much executive compensation can be deducted at publicly traded corporations to $1 million per executive. But the provision has an exception — corporations may deduct “performance-based” compensation. Critics say this amounts to a major loophole, because while shareholders must approve the compensation, they are not required to receive detailed accountings of the compensation plan.

report released in August 2012 by the liberal Economic Policy Institute estimates that tax-deductible executive compensation cost the federal treasury $30.4 billion between 2007 and 2010.

However, no legislation or administration rule revisions addressed the deductibility of CEO pay

In fact, I’ve not read a single comprehensive source that mentions any of this, and I have to believe readers would react differently to the WSJ’s numbers if they had this kind of information at hand.

Conducting a quick Google search or two, I found only one report that emphasized how middle and lower income families might be affected. Brief as it is, NPR published an interesting report by Tamara Keith that focuses on the benefits Bush’s tax breaks for such families:

“I remember when [Bush era tax cuts] went into place and being pleasantly surprised by how much more money we got back,” she says.

In part, that’s because the tax cuts doubled the tax credit for each child from $500 to $1,000. The cuts also created a new tax bracket for the lowest levels of income, which gives most families an $875 break. If these cuts were to expire, the Cartmill-Walling family’s after-tax income would drop by about $2,500.

“That’s a substantial amount of money,” says Cartmill. “Generally … what we do with our tax refund is we use that as kind of our savings in the bank for [if] the car breaks down or the water heater goes or whatever and we have a big expense all at once.”

Among middle income families, does paying more taxes generally mean less money for transportation, savings, paying bills, medicine, and food? That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable assumption. And what about the rich? Do more taxes mean they have to tighten their food budget? Or will they tighten their budgets in other places?

Whether or not this tax hike is a “burden” depends on how people are affected. Cutting back on food expenditures and cutting back on luxury expenditures are two different things. So as usual, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Worse than that, focusing on the numbers means omitting more important information, like how different groups were benefiting from lower tax rates. If anyone knows of an analysis that takes how people spend their tax money into account, please leave it in the comments. But until I see a credible report that shows the rich suffer from tax hikes the same way lower income families do, I refuse to believe that the rich are suffering an economic burden at all.


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Killer Mike, “Reagan”

ronaldreagan_largeI’ve watched the video for Killer Mike’s “Reagan” over and over again for the last two or three weeks (along with “Untitled”) and become obsessed with it. Both are great videos with even better songs and both are from R.A.P. Music, virtually the only 2012 album from the pop/rock/rap axis that I care about.* But the lyrics to “Reagan” in particular are some of the best I’ve heard in a long time in any genre, so I posted the video and some excerpts below. Check it out and pay close attention, then go buy the album. I came to it late, but R.A.P. Music is definitely one of the best albums released this year.

We should be indicted for bullshit we inciting
Hand the children death and pretend that it’s exciting
We are advertisements for agony and pain
We exploit the youth, we tell them to join a gang
We tell them dope stories, introduce them to the game
Just like Oliver North introduced us to cocaine
In the 80’s when the bricks came on military planes

But thanks to Reaganomics, prisons turned to profits
Cause free labor is the cornerstone of US economics
Cause slavery was abolished, unless you are in prison
You think I am bullshitting, then read the 13th Amendment
Involuntary servitude and slavery it prohibits
That’s why they giving drug offenders time in double digits
Ronald Reagan was an actor, not at all a factor
Just an employee of the country’s real masters
Just like the Bushes, Clinton and Obama
Just another talking head telling lies on teleprompters

I leave you with four words: I’m glad Reagan dead

*except for that Jason Molina 10″, but I haven’t heard that yet.


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A Sobering Reminder

I can’t pretend I’m unhappy with the results from this year’s presidential election. Of the two candidates who were mostly likely to win, Barack Obama was the one I most wanted in the White House. His opinion on gay marriage alone, as late changing as it was, was nearly enough to sway me to his side. Obamacare, the auto industry bailout, and his tax proposals also won my sympathies.

But there’s plenty about his first four years I’m unhappy with, and William Saletan at Slate has written an excellent article explaining why. In his address to republicans bemoaning the election results, Saletan offers this consolation: “Dear Republicans… Cheer up. The guy we just re-elected is a moderate Republican.”

Find that hard to believe? Keep reading:

Yes, Obama began his presidency with bailouts, stimulus, and borrowing. You know who started the bailouts? George W. Bush. Bush knew that under these exceptionally dire circumstances, bailouts had to be done. Stimulus had to be done, too, since the economy had frozen up. A third of the stimulus was tax cuts. Once the economy began to revive, Obama offered a $4-trillion debt reduction framework that would have cut $3 to $6 of spending for every $1 in tax hikes. That’s a higher ratio of cuts to hikes than Republican voters, in a Gallup poll, said they preferred. It’s way more conservative than the ratio George H. W. Bush accepted in 1990. In last year’s debt-ceiling talks, Obama offered cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in exchange for revenue that didn’t even come from higher tax rates. Now he’s proposing to lower corporate tax rates, and Republicans are whining that he hacked $716 billion out of Medicare. Some socialist.

There’s much more to Obama’s republican streak than that. Saletan mentions a few, but what he doesn’t mention counts equally as much to this voter: his policies on whistleblowing.

This is a time to celebrate. But we re-elected the president because he represents an alternative to the republican path. We should expect him to fulfill the promise of that image. I’m excited for the next four years, but I will be watching them with a critical (and fair) eye.