Friday, February 17, 2012

Cutting the Crap

Have you heard about the special face armor that Chicago police will be wearing this spring at the G-8/NATO summits? Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is afraid that Occupiers will fight back against oligarchic bullshit by hurling some shit of their own. They may even retaliate against pepper spray attacks by splashing urine into the faces of the fuzz! --
Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields demanded the new shields to prevent officers from being blinded by bags of urine and feces thrown at them by “anarchists” and other hard-core protesters....
“We have 9,500 patrol officers. Every one of them needs a new shield because every one of them has the old one and it’s completely ineffective. It’s a very thin plexi-glass. If you press on it with your thumb, it would crack. If you threw a rock at it, it will pop off. Water can seep right through. Any liquid can seep right through,” Shields said.
“Rioters known to attend NATO and G-8 meetings have been known to throw bags of urine and bags of feces at police. Chicago Police officers need a shield that can adapt to what is being thrown at them.”
Wow. It seems we just cannot escape from nightmare scenarios of flying feces. Rick "Google-It" Santorum's SuperPac is running an ad in which Mitt Romney shoots brown stuff from a rifle at the poor hapless sweater-vested Rick. It is supposed to be mud, but I don't buy it. It looks suspiciously like projectile doggie doo to me, the kind that poor Seamus suffered from during his nightmare ride on the top of the Romney hellwagon. You decide -- check it out here.

If anybody needs protection from all the crap, it's us -- you know, the regular people. We're the ones who need face shields, brain armor against all the propaganda. The effluent flies fast and furious, it clogs up the toilet of political discourse, and it tends to stick. There is just way too much of it to cut through every single day, but let's give it a try anyway.

First of all is the fiasco of fraudclosure fecklessness. It leaked out today that this is indeed just one more bailout for the banks, and that the penalties they will pay, such as they are, in reality will be coming from taxpayers and investors. This is solidly crappy. Since when is it legal for a rapist to force his victim to serve his sentence?  Or say that you go to court, you win a judgment, but the loser is then allowed to freeze your bank account instead of the other way around? That is pretty much what the newest bailout does. Read more about it here and here. (H/T to readers Neil and Denis).

Oh, and that bipartishit payroll tax holiday stinks too. Instead of taxing the rich to help the poor middle class as Obama pretended to promise, they'll be taxing the middle class to throw a crumb to the middle class. The length of time you can collect unemployment benefits will be reduced. Applicants may have to undergo drug testing, even though statistics show that only about 2% of the newly jobless have a substance abuse problem. (You need to feel guilt-ridden and demonized to collect on an insurance policy that you paid into, because this way, the lie that it's an "entitlement" is more easily swallowed by voters. Divide and conquer!) In certain locales, you will be required to work for no pay in order to collect on your own insurance. Federal employees will be forced to contribute more to their pension plans. (another example of divide and conquer: placate the red-state masses by making the unions pay!)  Congress will actually auction off the public airwaves to the highest bidders. In exchange for partially funding the FICA holiday,  the telecoms may well be given carte blance to screw us into perpetuity, via rate hikes and monopolies. Privatization continues apace.

But what, inquiring minds want to know, about the Buffett Rule?  You know, the Rule that Obama has made the centerpiece of his An America Built to Last re-election campaign. This latest hurling of jingoistic bullshit says that everybody should have a fair shot, and do their fair share. The Rule is personified by Warren Buffett's secretary, who pays a higher effective tax rate than her billionaire boss. Obama was so sincere about it that he even used her as a prop in the First Lady's box during the State of the Union speech.

Well, not so fast. It turns out that the Buffett Rule is merely an aspirational thing. Obama did not even include it in his own budget! From Annie Lowrey of the New York Times:
But the White House says it is a “guideline,” rather than a legislative initiative. And it says it prefers not to establish the Buffett Rule without a broader overhaul of the tax code, though it would support a Congressional effort to carry it out alone.
“This is the guiding principle of tax reform,” said Jason Furman, principal deputy director of the White House’s National Economic Council. “To some degree, it’s a specific policy, where we set a floor, a minimum rate. And to some degree, it is a statement of principle of how you would like to design the tax system.”
So, in effect, Obama punted it over to the same Congress which he purports to disdain because of its chronic gridlock. This is pure unadulterated presidential bullshit, and I am surprised this story is not getting more outraged play. Timothy Geithner, meanwhile, says an overhaul of the corporate tax code will take "years." 

One more calling out of crap and I'm done. Remember how Team Obama defended their slinking into SuperPac territory this week by saying the Republicans are outpacing them in campaign money? The January results are in, and Obama raked in a record $29.1 million. In only one month. Romney has yet to post his figures, but they are expected to be much less. And this does not, of course, take into account the millions the president is raising during a two-day marathon fundraiser on the West Coast, nor the back-to-back Wall Street cash orgies planned on March 1. Obama, apparently, is playing the age card as part of his plea to wealthy donors:
Obama was concluding a three-day swing of California and Washington that included eight fundraisers, where he was expected to raise more than $8 million.
Obama repeatedly tells his audiences that this election will be more difficult.
"And that's not going to be easy because, first of all, I'm older and I'm grayer," he told about 70 high-dollar contributors in San Francisco on Thursday night.
It's nice to know that Obama is an equal opportunity bullshit artist, anyway. Gullibility knows no class boundaries.


Denis Neville said...

Unraveling of Social Security begins with this “bipartishit” payroll tax cut.

Yet another Obama DINO “brown” snow job.

It is nothing but a stealth attack on Social Security by robbing the Social Security Trust Fund. By underfunding the SS Trust Fund, it goes into the red for the first time.

Sen Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) slammed both Obama and Biden, saying, “I’m dismayed that a Democrat President and Vice President are willing to sign a deal that will begin the unraveling of Social Security.” Social Security is funded by its own independent tax (FICA) source and has added “not one dime to the deficits or the national debt.” Now the best argument of Social Security's defenders is gone. "With this bill, we can no longer say that. We can no longer say that Social Security doesn't contribute to the deficit," Harkin said. "[Social Security] has been the hallmark and the underpinning of the party that I've been proud to belong to. Cutting the payroll tax is a bad idea, terrible idea. I'm embarrassed that it's being proposed by a Democratic president and a Democratic vice president."

In 2013, the re-elected Obama will propose cutting Social Security because "it's running out of money." Republicans, with their eyes on the prize given them by the DINO president owned by Wall Street, will once again call for privatizing Social Security so as to open another avenue corruption at our expense.

Obama talks like a Democrat, and governs like a Republican.

Suzan said...

Older and grayer than whom?

And if he means himself (ahem), who ain't?

Maybe that will be his new campaign theme (and will have a treasured seat in his box).

Of course, it's good to see his concern for those in need.

For the first time!

Valerie said...

I think the masks and shields are to hide the identities of the police. Can you imagine how the Anthony Balogna's of the NYPD are going to act if they can hurt protesters anonymously?

I haven't heard of any protesters hurling excrement at the police anywhere. Does anyone know where this "fear" comes from? Or have they just thought up this example because it is repulsive and then are going to associate it with the Occupy protesters.

Anonymous said...

Another Great post as usual.
Try and get over the idea of a two party system. These "public" servants are looking out for their own interest, and nothing else. It's called collapse and wht I see is looting.Isn't this a replay of history? All of you probably have seen it but may I suggest watching a brief explanation by Richard Heinburg-The End of Growth.

Anonymous said...

better link:

Kat said...

Fear not! The Buffet rule may have been downgraded to a "guideline" but it will live on as a campaign talking point. And on and on and on.
Great Krugman comment yesterday, Karen, BTW. Enough of the divide and conquer.

Zee said...


This is somewhat off topic but the recent exchange between @Anne Lavoie and @James F. Traynor on the subject of civil unrest in the wake of the 2012 elections intrigued me. So I tried to investigate the number of riots or other civil unrest that took place during the Great Depression in the United States, when things were much worse than they are now.

Specifically, I was looking for anything resembling a coherent history of widespread violence across the United States during The Great Depression. Thus far, I’ve found none.

I only have one book on The Great Depression-- The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes--and there is no mention of riots or unrest therein.

Resorting to Google, I was again surprised at how little there was to find from credible, well-documented sources.

The Wikipedia article on The Great Depression in the United States makes no mention of riots, violence or civil unrest beyond a couple of strikes:

However, Wikipedia does have an article specific to rioting and civil unrest in Omaha, Nebraska during The Great Depression, in which four violent incidents occurred between 1932 and 1935:

A timeline of The Great Depression from the PBS television show The American Experience mentions only five specific, violent incidents from 1929 to 1942. There is a general remark that in 1931 ‘"Food riots" begin to break out in parts of the U.S.’

There is a YouTube video circulating widely on the Internet that shows large, violent riots that purportedly took place in eight cities across the U.S. during The Great Depression. However, there is no mention of dates, circumstances, numbers of people injured or killed, etc. The film footage could have come from anywhere. This information is interesting, but is it credible?

Finally, there is an interesting history of multiple, violent “eviction riots” across the United States during The Great Depression. However, the article is skimpy on citations, and I know nothing about The Economic Populist --the online forum on which the article appeared--or its reputation for credibility.

If any of you out there have further information on this topic, I would be very interested.

But thus far in my research, I am coming to the conclusion that, yes, there was violence and unrest during The Great Depression, but it was isolated and spread out over a decade. At no point were we on the verge of “cvl wr.”

And at that time unemployment was more than double what it is today, Are we really looking seriously at the prospect of widespread civil unrest in the near future? I think not.

Zee said...


This link is rather interesting on the history of labor violence during The Great Depression, though I'm not sure that it changes my overall opinion:

Look under the section titled The New Deal

Will said...

Forget about the new & improved shit shields; I'm in love with those adorable robin's egg blue UN Peacekeeper-style helmets. It'll give innocent protesters something calm & soothing to focus on while they're getting their heads beaten in.

Jay - Ottawa said...

“ … I am surprised this story is not getting more outraged play.”

Me too.

There are so many blows like this against the 99%. Not to mention the US Constitution. Surely, every subgroup within the 99% has suffered serious damage by now. And yet popular reaction remains virtually nil except for relatively few writers relegated to the margins of the MSM and far corners of the blogosphere.

Yes, yes, I hear you reminding me about OWS. Will its cries ever carry beyond the choir of those who were already aroused?

As a follow up to his current research, maybe Zee could give us a report on protest fatigue. Here’s a working title: “Why does John Q. Public have flies on his teeth as special interests carve deep into his backside with nary a twitch of the body politic?”

Time here for a distinction between the BS artist who merely slings it, and the illusionist who lifts the gold from your pocket while he points to the future. As Denis so well points out above, our Grand Illusionist in the White House has advanced another major con, i.e., the continued payroll tax holiday is really a disemboweling of the Social Security Kitty and the advance work for its funeral.

Are the streets of America not wide enough to contain the crowds? Where's a community organizer when you need one?

Neil said...


Levittown gas riots of 1979 - with photo

"On Sunday, June 24, 1979 Levittowners took to the streets when a truck protest turned riotous. It began as a peaceful protest against the exorbitant costs of diesel fuel. A truckers' convoy joined a small group of Levittown citizens who were protesting gasoline prices and shortages at Five Points in Levittown, PA. Five points is a traffic intersection which in 1979 had (6) gas stations. The frustrations of long lines of motorists waiting for limited supplies of gasoline were fueled by the arrival of the truck convoy. The truck air horn s blasting their protest drew a supportive crowd which quickly swelled to over 1000 people. As more people arrived at Five Points, so did more police. A trucker refused to move his rig from the center of the intersection. He stood on top of his cab playing to the crowd until he was dragged away by the police. Some crowd members threw bottles at the police and started bonfires. The crowd refused to disperse and grew angrier as dogs were used to help bring order. By the end of the evening, twenty-five people were arrested. Levittowners believed that when news of the incident became nationwide the government and the oil companies ended the fuel crisis. Days later, supplies increased and prices dropped nationwide."

"I remember this. I lived there then. 9th grade. I had friends who were there. I love this picture: the hair styles, the clothes, the long haired, twenty something, white guys with up raised fists. And the signs. "Rationalize or nationalize" and "Cheaper crude or more food". That is priceless."

Gas Riots of June 24-25 1979, Levittown PA (Wikipedia),_Pennsylvania

"The community's otherwise placid exterior was again disturbed during the so-called suburban gas riots of June 1979 in the wake of the Camp David Peace Accords, which resulted in a second embargo by Arab oil-producing nations. The unrest occurred June 24–25, 1979, as lines swelled and tempers flared in the heart of Levittown at an intersection known as Five Points, a location surrounded by six service stations, two of which were severely damaged by vandalism in the riots. The two days of riots made national headlines and were mentioned (although not directly by name) in the draft of an address to the nation that was to have been delivered by President Jimmy Carter on July 5, 1979."

The White House, Washington, July 3, 1979
Memorandum for the President, draft 4 of the Thursday night speech

Jimmy Carter: Undelivered Energy Speech
originally scheduled for delivery on July 5, 1979

"Most citizens are facing the difficulties responsibly. But then we read of (people) being shoved and punched in (a) gasoline line.** We see reports of riots and shootings in strikes over diesel fuel. We see a political system seemingly paralyzed by petty squabbling, so preoccupied with protecting special interests that the overall interest of the United States goes unserved. And we ask ourselves: Is this the shape of our future? Is this the kind of country we have become? Is this what it is going to be like from now on? The answer is NO."

Duke University Press, Article by David M. Anderson
Levittown Is Burning! The 1979 Levittown, Pennsylvania, Gas Line Riot and the Decline of the Blue-Collar American Dream

Denis Neville said...

On the subject of civil unrest…

The Atlantic’s Arthur Rizer and Joseph Hartman, “How the War on Terror Has Militarized the Police,”

“Americans should remain mindful bringing military-style training to domestic law enforcement has real consequences. When police officers are dressed like soldiers, armed like soldiers, and trained like soldiers, it's not surprising that they are beginning to act like soldiers…”

Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, who oversaw Seattle’s crackdown on WTO protesters, recognizing the dangers of police militarization, wrote about the paramilitary bureaucracy and the culture it engenders and the need for radical structural reform.

“Assuming the necessity of radical structural reform, how do we proceed? By building a progressive police organization, created by rank-and-file officers, “civilian” employees and community representatives…It will not be easy. In fact, failure is assured if we lack the political will to win the support of police chiefs and their elected bosses, if we are unable to influence or neutralize police unions, if we don’t have the courage to move beyond the endless justifications for maintaining the status quo. But imagine the community and its cops united in the effort to responsibly “police” the Occupy movement. Picture thousands of people gathered to press grievances against their government and the corporations, under the watchful, sympathetic protection of their partners in blue.”

“It is ironic that those police officers who are busting up the Occupy protesters are themselves victims of the same social ills the demonstrators are combating: corporate greed; the slackening of essential regulatory systems; and the abject failure of all three branches of government to safeguard civil liberties and to protect, if not provide, basic human needs like health, housing, education and more. With cities and states struggling to balance the budget while continuing to deliver public safety, many cops are finding themselves out of work. And, as many Occupy protesters have pointed out, even as police officers help to safeguard the power and profits of the 1 percent, police officers are part of the 99 percent.”

De-militarization of the police? Now that so many local police departments are so heavily influenced by billions of dollars for equipment and training from the Feds, it seems unlikely.

"The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering—a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons—a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting—three hundred million people all with the same face." – George Orwell, 1984

Zee said...


Thanks for the information on the Levittown gas riots. I have no recollection of these incidents, though I should have. They appear to have had national attention and impact, and I was working in Ithaca, NY in June, 1979, maybe only 200 miles from Levittown. Either I’m getting old, or I was just too absorbed in my career at the time to take full notice.

I’m not saying that widespread violence could never occur in this country, only that it likely would take something even greater than The Great Depression to trigger it.

Which, I suppose, could yet happen. Our President and congresscritters seem unable to learn the lessons of 2008, and they, the investment banks and major corporations are all back to their old tricks. “Repeal Dodd-Frank,” my arse!

BTW, I skimmed the “Energy Speech” that Jimmy Carter never gave. On the same theme of “Lessons We Haven’t Learned,” we haven’t come very far along with Carter’s dream of energy independence, either.

With gas nearing $4/gallon well before the usual summer spike, it will be interesting to see how the public reacts as vacation time approaches.

The full link to “the speech that never was” is:

Neil said...


The 1979 Levittown gas riot showed that violence can work to get the attention of the government and achieve a positive result for the people.

According to the Wikipedia story, "Levittowners believed that when news of the incident became nationwide the government and the oil companies ended the fuel crisis. Days later, supplies increased and prices dropped nationwide.",_Pennsylvania

So this riot that may have accomplished something: Lower gasoline prices and increased supply. President Carter may have scrapped his energy speech planned for July 5, 1979 and instead took action to address the concerns of the rioters, the price and availability of gasoline. This goes to the belief held by some that gas prices are manipulated by TPTB, and what followed may support this belief.

The cost of regular gas in 1979 was about 86 cents a gallon. An increase to $1 a gallon sparked the riots. This was the first time gas reached the $1 a gallon level and appears to have been a tipping point.

The 1979 energy crisis was followed by an oil glut in the 1980’s, suggesting price manipulation. The 1979 crisis occurred in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. After 1980, oil prices began a 20-year decline down to a 60 percent price drop in the 1990s. At the first link below there is a photo of a gas coupon printed but not issued during the 1979 crisis, which appears to have the image of George Washington from the one dollar bill.

This story is familiar to me because I was raised and lived just a couple miles from the Five Points traffic intersection. At the time of the riot I was working across town in the car business, and I recall the long lines for gas. The car business needed readily available gas just to survive, as you can imagine. We had an account with a gas station across the street. After the station dispensed its daily ration of gas and closed for the day, we brought our cars to full up after the lines were gone.

Working people in the Levittown area, which is 20 miles north of Philadelphia, have been hard hit by the loss of manufacturing jobs. The area was previously called America's Ruhr Valley, after the German manufacturing region. A nearby U.S. Steel plant, the Fairless Works, once employed ten thousand workers. In 1974 the pay for a laborer was $6.05 per hour, three times the minimum wage of $2.00 per hour. Those jobs and the steel plant are gone today.

Zee said...


I think you're correct when you say

"The 1979 Levittown gas riot showed that violence can work to get the attention of the government and achieve a positive result for the people.

The Levittown riot certainly seemed to have an immediate effect, which, as you also say, suggests that the price could be manipulated quickly in response to the unrest.

@Denis Neville--

Thanks for the thoughtful post on the militarization of our police forces. I, too, doubt that this is a trend that can be reversed.

Neil said...


Part of the success of the 1979 Levittown gas riot may have been the use of a formidable weapon - big rig trucks used to block traffic. The police likely had no effective way to resist or counter the threat posed by large trucks, short of calling in the national guard and risking all-out war.

Here are some other riots of note:

Riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4, 1968 while supporting sanitation workers in Memphis. "Despite the urging of many leaders, the assassination led to a nationwide wave of riots in more than 100 cities. After the assassination, the city of Memphis quickly settled the strike on favorable terms to the sanitation workers.",_Jr.#Riots

Riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention: "Rioting took place between demonstrators and the Chicago Police Department, who were assisted by the Illinois National Guard. The disturbances were well publicized by the mass media, with some journalists and reporters being caught up in the violence. Network newsmen Mike Wallace and Dan Rather were both roughed up by the Chicago police while inside the halls of the Democratic Convention."

The 1992 Los Angeles riots: "The 1992 Los Angeles Riots or South Central Riots, also known as the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest were sparked on April 29, 1992, when a jury acquitted three white and one Hispanic Los Angeles Police Department officers accused in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King following a high-speed pursuit. Thousands of people in the Los Angeles area rioted over the six days following the verdict."

Then there was a theory cited by Malcolm X "By any means necessary"

"By any means necessary is a translation of a phrase coined by the French intellectual Jean Paul Sartre in his play Dirty Hands. It entered the popular culture through a speech given by Malcolm X in the last year of his life. It is generally considered to leave open all available tactics for the desired ends, including violence; however, the "necessary" qualifier adds a caveat—if violence is not necessary, then presumably, it should not be used."

There is a photo of Malcolm X on Wikipedia of a famous political poster from the 1960s, depicting Malcolm X peering through window shades while holding an M1 carbine, with the slogan "Liberate our minds by any means necessary."

As for the six day 1992 LA riots, the people waited for the legal system to work, and it did not, the cops were acquitted. So it appears there was some justification for the riots under the "By any means necessary" criteria. At the time of the acquittal an angry President George H.W. Bush condemned the jurors and the verdict.

"Even as the rioting continued, President George Bush and Attorney General William Barr began the process of bringing federal charges against the four LAPD officers accused in the King case. On the day after the Simi Valley verdict, Bush issued a statement declaring that the verdict "has left us all with a deep sense of personal frustration and anguish." In a May 1 televised address to the nation, Bush all but promised a federal prosecution of the officers." according to Doug Linder of the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law.

We could be nearing the point of civil unrest again, as it does not appear that the banksters will be held responsible for their crimes against the American people.

Valerie said...

Very interesting 5 minute FOX video that echoes a lot that is said on this blog

It certainly supports @Anne's vote.

Zee said...


I agree with you that the Levittown riot had an immediate, national effect. But gasoline shortages and high prices were problems that captured national attention and served to unify Americans in their anger.

And from the 1992 Los Angeles riot,

“A later federal trial for civil rights violations ended with two of the officers found guilty and sent to prison and the other two officers acquitted.”

However, I can't help but feel that black America was more a loser than a winner in the wake of the riots that ensued following the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Consider the following:

Washington, DC: “By the time the city was considered pacified on Sunday, April 8, twelve had been killed (mostly in burning homes), 1,097 injured, and over 6,100 arrested. Additionally, some 1,200 buildings had been burned, including over 900 stores. Damages reached $27 million...

The riots utterly devastated Washington's inner city economy. With the destruction or closing of businesses, thousands of jobs were lost...Made uneasy by the violence, city residents of all races accelerated their departure for suburban areas, depressing property values. Crime in the burned out neighborhoods rose sharply, further discouraging investment.

On some blocks, only rubble remained for decades.

Baltimore: “By the time the riot was over, 6 people would be dead, 700 injured, 4,500 arrested and over 1,000 fires set. More than a thousand businesses had been looted or burned, many of which never reopened...

Louisville: “Police made 472 arrests related to the riots. Two African-American teenagers had died, and $200,000 in damage had been done.

The disturbances had a longer-lasting effect. Most white business owners quickly pulled out or were forced out of Parkland and surrounding areas. Most white residents also left the West End, which had been almost entirely white north of Broadway, from subdivision until the 1960s. The riot would have effects that shaped the image which whites would hold of Louisville's West End, that it was predominantly black and crime-ridden.”

Chicago: “In Chicago, more than 48 hours of rioting left 11 Chicago citizens dead, 48 wounded by police gunfire, 90 policemen injured, and 2,150 people arrested. Two miles of Lawndale on West Madison Street were left in a state of rubble.”

The Wikipedia article on the Chicago riots goes on to state (presumably of the death toll for all the riots) “Of the 39 people who died, 34 were black.”

Mostly black people dead, mostly black neighborhoods devastated for years to come.

The devastation certainly got America's attention, but not in a good way.

The MLK assassination riots of 1968 mostly reinforced—in an election year—the fear and prejudice that was already on the minds of white America following the race riots of the early to mid-sixities

This paved the way for Richard Nixon's election on a “law and order” platform. Hubert Humphrey, who appears to have been a good and decent man, would have been immeasurably better for the economic advancement of black America.

So was violence an immediate “help” to black people in the wake of Martin Luther King's assassination? I'm inclined to say “no.”

I guess what I'm saying in my usual long-winded way is that violence can get results, but those results may be dependent upon the degree to which said violence is perceived by the government and TPTB as reflective of national sentiments of which they need to be afraid.

The Levittown riots were unifying and scared TPTB. The MLK assassination riots—and the earlier race riots of the sixties were exploited by TPTB to keep Americans divided, and angry and fearful of one another.

Zee said...


The link provided by @Valerie was truncated a bit, at least on my computer, so I had to hunt a bit.

Here's the link in full:

As @Valerie says, well worth watching!