Monday, November 28, 2011

The Systematic Looting of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

By Olivia La Rosa -2008

We are now in the process of re-nationalizing two public corporations that were privatized long ago. These publicly-owned corporations began to be "securitized" in the mid-1970s. I was in banking then, and for the next twelve years. I saw it happen. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are a horrifying example of what happens when government functions are "privatized".

FM (short for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are short for Federal National Mortgage Association and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation were formed to support the home mortgage market.

Fannie Mae was created in 1938, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, at a time when millions of families could not become homeowners, or risked losing their homes, for lack of a consistent supply of mortgage funds across America.

In the mid-1970s, the character of these institutions changed because their charters changed. They were then in the beginning stages of privatization.


When I entered the banking business in 1971, each bank branch kept its own home loans on the books at the branch where the home loan was made.

When I entered the banking business in 1971, each bank branch kept its own home loans on the books at the branch where the home loan was made.

Yes, you read that twice. I did not want you to skim over it (for you skimmers).

When I went to the bank, I saw the loan officer who made my home loan twice a week. He knew what I looked like, and what my husband did for a living. He knew when we were going to have a child. He saw me every time I came into the bank and made a deposit.

In other words, this person was, if not a friend, an intimate acquaintance.

Now, lenders are completely divorced from the human being who is taking out the mortgage. And investors are lured by fictitious entities like "mortgage-backed securities" and the people who made a mint by "securitizing" the family home loan obligation. Clever Wall Street minds figured out a way to "securitize" the mortgage markets. When you hear the world "securitize", just run like heck. Do not invest in securitized instruments. At their most basic, they are scams designed to wring excess profit from financial instruments that do not usually yield excess profit by bundling together individual items and assigning risk factors to the pool of items. Usually, the risk factors are understated and the potential profit is overstated.

Examples of securitized investments include junk bonds and derivatives, both of which led to devastating losses for families in the last two decades. Now, we are witness to the biggest failure of securitization yet, and it will cause us to have to turn Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into public service institutions, which they should have been in the first place. Now, our grandchildren will be paying the bill for all those unrecoverable privatized profits.


Before you read this, please take a moment to reflect upon what you thought that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac meant before you read this article.

Freddie Mac Corporate Governance

We are committed to sound and effective corporate governance practices. We believe these practices are fundamental to maintaining a strong relationship with our stakeholders, reinforcing confidence in Freddie Mac's leadership, and achieving our mission to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the U.S. housing and mortgage markets. We review and update our governance practices from time to time to be consistent with our shareholders’ best interests and with applicable requirements.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Alfermedi Cert Petition 11-10-2011


By Ritika Singh

(item 2 shifts the burden of proof from the government to the detainee. –ed.)

Contains links to the oral argument summary, April 11, government’s reply brief, the petitioner’s brief, and the government’s opening brief. 

The abstract follows below.

Almerfedi Cert Petition

by Ritika Singh

Hussain Salem Mohammed Almerfedi, a Guantanamo habeas petitioner, has filed a cert petition that presents the following questions:

1. Whether the Authorization for Use of Military Force, Pub. L. No. 107-40, § 2(a), 115 Stat. 224 (2001) (“AUMF’), orBoumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008), permits detention on the basis of three facts that are themselves not incriminating.

2. Whether the AUMF or Boumediene authorizes a standard of proof under which, if the government puts forward somecredible evidence justifying the detainee’s detention, the detainee, to prevail, must rebut government’s evidence.

3. Whether the Court of Appeals’ manifest unwillingness to allow Guantanamo detainees to prevail in their habeas corpus cases calls for the exercise of this Court’s supervisory power.

For our readers who’d like to get a complete overview of the case, here are Ben’s thoughts on the D.C. Circuit opinion from June 10, the oral argument summary from April 11, the government’s reply brief, the petitioner’s brief, and the government’s opening brief.

D. Lagutaris, ed.

Bush tax cuts and the decline of U.S. as a serious world power

Commentary: Bush tax cuts and the decline of U.S. as a serious world power

By Dennis Jett | McClatchy Newspapers

The lame ducks had not even flown the coop before the assessments of the 111th Congress started to pour in. After months of partisan bickering and foot dragging, the achievements in the final days of the legislative session were truly impressive.

There are two feats that have been generally unrecognized by the Washington’s chattering class however. Both deserve acknowledgment because they will affect the country’s future more than anything else this session of Congress accomplished.

The legislators affected the course of history by ensuring two future events will occur — the reelection of President Obama and the decline of the United States as a serious world power. That may seem counter-intuitive given that the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said not too many weeks ago that ensuring the President did not get a second term was his highest priority.

McConnell only needed to glance at the potential Republican candidates for 2012 to discover why he had to forego that dream. While all the party’s presidential aspirants use their platforms on Fox News to ignite the Republican base, they repel pretty much everyone else. More ominous is the fact there will be little chance to oust the incumbent if the economy continues to improve. There is one statistic that will determine that &mash; the unemployment rate. If it is significantly lower than it is now, he will win. If it is not, he won’t.

McConnell could have refused to do anything to help the economy and prayed for a double dip recession severe enough to sweep his party into the White House. Republicans are about to take ownership of the other House, however, and can’t avoid some responsibility for prolonged economic stagnation without there being negative implications for the Republicans in Congress. “Just say no” would therefore be no more effective a strategy than it was in the war on drugs. So McConnell and company signed off on tax cuts that will probably stimulate the economy enough to determine the outcome of the election in the President’s favor.

The tax cuts will also ensure the decline of the United States. Republicans insisted that all those poor starving people with seven figure annual incomes and above could not possibly be asked to pay more. Given the generous provisions of the estate tax, apparently not even dead multimillionaires can be expected to ante up. To ensure tax cuts for such people, the Republicans held hostage the long-term unemployed and their favorite props for photo ops — 9/11 first responders.

The cuts that resulted will not only balloon the deficit, but will also require dismantling a good bit of government at the state and federal level. Education will be hollowed out and infrastructure left to decay as the United States becomes increasingly indebted to other countries and unable to compete in the global marketplace. Future debates on public policy will be forced to focus on how much to gut Social Security and Medicare.

Are the cuts justified by the weight of the tax burden? Studies done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development demonstrate otherwise. The 34 countries in the OECD comprise the developed democracies of what used to be called the First World and a few successful developing countries from those in the Third World.

These studies show taxes as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product in the U.S. are at their lowest level since at least 1965 and are the lowest in the OECD except for Mexico and Chile. At the same time, income inequality and poverty are higher in the U.S. than any other country in the OECD except Mexico and Turkey. As for the accusations that socialism is sweeping the land, only in Korea does the redistribution of income by government have a smaller effect.

The griping about taxes will continue nonetheless. The ability of Americans to have a rational discussion on the subject was long ago put to death by Ronald Reagan’s sound bites. Government became evil and greed became a virtue.

No country can be great if its citizens are unwilling to pay for it. No country will remain great if it neglects the health and education of those citizens who lack lobbyists. The tax cuts may have assured the President’s reelection, but they also ensure America will grow more separate and unequal, not unlike the proverbial banana republics. As a result the U.S. will slowly slip from the leader of the First World to an honorary member of the Third, unless Americans stop believing their exceptionalism stems only from their virtue and requires no sacrifice.


Dennis Jett, a former U.S. ambassador to Mozambique and Peru, is a professor of international affairs at Penn State's School of International Affairs.

McClatchy Newspapers did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy Newspapers or its editors.

Read more:

National Police Accountability Project

National Police Accountability Project

Investigations of police misconduct occur at a rate of .01 (that's 1 percent) of the number of claims filed. Resolutions of victim's claims occurs at 1/10th of that rate. ~Deb

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Don't Need No Doctor Festival

Rustle up some barbecue, grab a beer, then kick back with me and enjoy the "I Don't Need No Doctor Festival" on my birthday.

Ray Charles's inspirations have seared the pants off generations of humanity.  Then others who come later try their own interpretations, to our global delight.

Here's the list!

Ray Charles, the Man

Blues style *sweet*

Humble Pie *mindblowing*

The newest generation’s interpretation. Whoa. Extinguish all smoking materials.


Howling metal version.

Forgive me. I was mistaken. My most humble apologies.
W.A.S.P. performed the ultimate metal version.

Prepare to be surprised by John Mayer’s interpretation

An American Idol Treat Casey Abrams *trust me*

Return abruptly to awake-alive-alert with Lawrence Gowan of Styx.

And at last, my fav!
New Riders of the Purple Sage

Friday, November 25, 2011

We Are the 99.9%

by Paul Krugman

(Dr. Krugman lays some great one-liners on us in this article.-ed)

November 24, 2011

We Are the 99.9%

“We are the 99 percent” is a great slogan. It correctly defines the issue as being the middle class versus the elite (as opposed to the middle class versus the poor). And it also gets past the common but wrong establishment notion that rising inequality is mainly about the well educated doing better than the less educated; the big winners in this new Gilded Age have been a handful of very wealthy people, not college graduates in general.
If anything, however, the 99 percent slogan aims too low. A large fraction of the top 1 percent’s gains have actually gone to an even smaller group, the top 0.1 percent — the richest one-thousandth of the population.
And while Democrats, by and large, want that super-elite to make at least some contribution to long-term deficit reduction, Republicans want to cut the super-elite’s taxes even as they slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the name of fiscal discipline.
Before I get to those policy disputes, here are a few numbers.
The recent Congressional Budget Office report on inequality didn’t look inside the top 1 percent, but an earlier report, which only went up to 2005, did. According to that report, between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted, after-tax income of Americans in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. The equivalent number for the richest 0.1 percent rose 400 percent.
For the most part, these huge gains reflected a dramatic rise in the super-elite’s share of pretax income. But there were also large tax cuts favoring the wealthy. In particular, taxes on capital gains are much lower than they were in 1979 — and the richest one-thousandth of Americans account for half of all income from capital gains.
Given this history, why do Republicans advocate further tax cuts for the very rich even as they warn about deficits and demand drastic cuts in social insurance programs?
Well, aside from shouts of “class warfare!” whenever such questions are raised, the usual answer is that the super-elite are “job creators” — that is, that they make a special contribution to the economy. So what you need to know is that this is bad economics. In fact, it would be bad economics even if America had the idealized, perfect market economy of conservative fantasies.
After all, in an idealized market economy each worker would be paid exactly what he or she contributes to the economy by choosing to work, no more and no less. And this would be equally true for workers making $30,000 a year and executives making $30 million a year. There would be no reason to consider the contributions of the $30 million folks as deserving of special treatment.
But, you say, the rich pay taxes! Indeed, they do. And they could — and should, from the point of view of the 99.9 percent — be paying substantially more in taxes, not offered even more tax breaks, despite the alleged budget crisis, because of the wonderful things they supposedly do.
Still, don’t some of the very rich get that way by producing innovations that are worth far more to the world than the income they receive? Sure, but if you look at who really makes up the 0.1 percent, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that, by and large, the members of the super-elite are overpaid, not underpaid, for what they do.
For who are the 0.1 percent? Very few of them are Steve Jobs-type innovators; most of them are corporate bigwigs and financial wheeler-dealers. One recent analysis found that 43 percent of the super-elite are executives at nonfinancial companies, 18 percent are in finance and another 12 percent are lawyers or in real estate. And these are not, to put it mildly, professions in which there is a clear relationship between someone’s income and his economic contribution.
Executive pay, which has skyrocketed over the past generation, is famously set by boards of directors appointed by the very people whose pay they determine; poorly performing C.E.O.’s still get lavish paychecks, and even failed and fired executives often receive millions as they go out the door.
Meanwhile, the economic crisis showed that much of the apparent value created by modern finance was a mirage. As the Bank of England’s director for financial stability recently put it, seemingly high returns before the crisis simply reflected increased risk-taking — risk that was mostly borne not by the wheeler-dealers themselves but either by naïve investors or by taxpayers, who ended up holding the bag when it all went wrong. And as he waspishly noted, “If risk-making were a value-adding activity, Russian roulette players would contribute disproportionately to global welfare.”
So should the 99.9 percent hate the 0.1 percent? No, not at all. But they should ignore all the propaganda about “job creators” and demand that the super-elite pay substantially more in taxes.

Why Law School Makes Some People Sick

Apropos of this NYT Editorial on law school.

I did not pass the Bar the first time, so I am having another go at it. I recently met with a Bar tutor. I left our meeting sadder but wiser. Bar Examiners do not read your magnificent essays, the product of nineteen years of intense attention to your teachers and professors, development of high-quality analysis skills, and patiently-accumulated writing ability.

All the Bar Examiners want to know is: did number 6457 memorize most of the lingo for 14 areas of law we test? They have a checksheet. They skim the answers looking for key words. I know lots of people otherwise incapable of practicing law who could perform a memorization feat of that magnitude. Some of them are institutionalized.

These essays we must write should run from five to twelve pages each. The examinee is given an hour, and the equivalent of a blank piece of paper and pen, to come up with the elements of a, say, crime or tort or breach of contract, analyze each element against the facts of the case and argue both sides, then produce a sensible conclusion.

Here’s the trick that law school plays on the rational mind: Never does your conclusion matter. What matters is that the conclusion, either a or b, is supported by your analysis and argument.

Fresh from my graduation with Honors at UC Santa Barbara in May 2001, I drove up the coast directly to Hastings that August. I entered law school at the age of 51. Thing is, I was firm in my convictions and my morality at this age. I was never quite able to hide my bias towards conclusion B over conclusion A. I took an extra sentence or two to explain my reasons for supporting conclusion B over conclusion A. I took the time to support my answers with policy suggestions.

The Bar examiners don't care a fig about this.

11-18, The Day That Everything Changed

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Smart Meter Opt-Out Hearings Information

Please find following the Commission's webpage on the Opt-Out Program, which provides backgrounder, complete with document history, of this proceeding:

I encourage you to add yourself to the subscription list and consider being added to the service list. By being added to the service list, your comments will be officially included as part of the proceeding. (Note to Ms. X: I will share your comments with our Public Advisor's Office.)

Sheri Boles
Outreach Officer
Hello, Ms. X --

I understand your concerns; thank you for sharing them with me.

I've included below a link to our Public Advisor's webpage; I want to point out the section on "How your comments are processed" (I've also embedded the copy below, as I think it is very important):
How your comments are processed
The Commission has different processes in place for the various ways informal comments are made by the public. You might be interested to understand these differences.
* Written informal comments <> are circulated to appropriate decision-makers and if they pertain to a specific proceeding they become part of its official record, although they do not have the same weight as comments from parties to the proceeding <> .

* Public comments made at public participation hearings <> are transcribed and made part of the official record for that particular proceeding, although they do not have the same weight as comments from parties to the proceeding <> .

* Public comments made at Commission voting meetings <> are recorded on the webcast archives <> of the meetings posted on-line.
I've highlighted the key points to consider. I will be back in the office on Monday if you want to further discuss..

Sheri Boles

Ms. Demeanor November 23, 2011: Capitalism's Collateral Damage

By Olivia LaRosa

My comment regarding the article above:

Collateral Damage

As someone who has changed hearts and minds, may I add my 2 cents worth? Only a constant patient application of facts will work on someone who is not of an inherently authoritarian character. 

I was raised as a libertarian Republican. That ideology lasted exactly as long as it took me to enter the adult working world and find out that my dad was full of it. So I have approached this argument from all sides. 

Our natural allies are libertarian Republicans and libertarian capitalist "decline to state" voters. Kinda like Ron Paul, but without the fascist Xtian John Birch connections. Once these allies understand that:

a) there is no such thing as the "Invisible Hand" of God on the free markets
b) that free markets will never exist, because a power vacuum attracts predators

they begin to pay attention to actual events rather than "faith-based" capitalist polemics; they may come around in surprising ways. 

They come to realize that the collateral damage that globalized capitalism inflicts on people, places and things is too high a price to pay for its benefits.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shunned Bund Sale Fuels Debt Crisis Fears; European stocks fall on disappointing sale of Germany's bonds

Here's another Black Swan for ya. I almost feel like I am playing the old video game Carnival. In the first round, one shoots animated ducks as in a carnival shooting gallery. If I could find a programmer who wanted to mess with it, a change to shooting down Black Swans rather than ducks would be most helpful now.

Germany's bonds are sovereign debt. Holding notes against sovereign debt is supposed to be safe; Germany's sovereign debt is considered safer than safe. After all, it's managed by Germans.

Still, investors are so wary of the state of the Euro now that not enough of them bought German bonds. Only 3/4 were purchased.

European stocks took a big hit on this news.

This makes me even more frightened of global economic collapse than I was before tonight.


NB: I stole the headline from the Financial Times* because I liked the alliteration. Here's the link to the FT article. I have exceeded my limit of free articles for the month.

*Formerly known as the Financial Times of London. FT has a capitalist bias but it is not the same kind of rag that Murdoch made of the Wall Street Journal.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The White Party

By Olivia LaRosa

In the New York Times, Thomas B. Edsall states:

Regardless of the ultimate success of the Republican strategy, these trends guarantee that race and ethnicity will be dominant themes underlying the 2012 election, infusing the debate over deficits, taxes and government spending. In the 140 years from the end of Reconstruction to the present, no matter what the motives of those engaging in the debate, these divisive issues have worked to the advantage of economic elites and there is no reason to believe this will change.

The end of Reconstruction is one good date to choose for pinpointing a time when promoting racism worked for economic elites.

You can take your pick, actually. Here's for starters:

1676: Bacon's Rebellion. A thousand residents of the Virginia Colony rose up, including whites, "former indentured servants, poor whites, and slaves" led by planter Nathaniel Bacon. They rebelled against the policies of Governor Berkeley, who was friendly to the Native Americans.

According to Wikipedia, "Their alliance disturbed the ruling class, who responded by hardening the racial caste of slavery.[1][2] While the farmers did not succeed in their goal of driving Native Americans from Virginia, the rebellion did result in Berkeley being recalled to England."

Many dates could be chosen that illustrate the efficacy of promoting racism in serving the interests of economic elites.

How to "harden the racial caste of slavery"? Make free colonists of African descent into slaves! Thousands of free citizens of African descent lived in the Colonies for a hundred years before Bacon's Rebellion.
Perhaps in the middle of the 17th century, if you were one of several thousand Africans living in Virginia you certainly knew that your children would be free -- you might have that expectation. To suddenly find themselves involved in lifelong servitude, and then to realize that in fact their children might inherit the same status, that was a terrible blow, that was a terrible transformation.
- Peter Wood, historian

1619: Arrival of first Africans at Virginia Colony
They had been stolen from a Spanish slave ship, traded for food, and left in Virginia.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Three Black Swans #1

A Black Swan. I would like to see one...but not like this:
[t]he "black swan theory" refers only to unexpected events of large magnitude and consequence and their dominant role in history. Such events, considered extreme outliers, collectively play vastly larger roles than regular occurrences
I don't think that regular readers will need more than a moment to add these Three Black Swans together and agree that no one is going to be able to stop the collapse of the Euro, or the collapse of anything else that governments say that they want to maintain.

While the probably illegal earnest statesmanlike Supercommittee members decide not to decide, likely inflicting great harm on the US economy, real estate transactions in China have plummeted to unsafe lows, and Egyptians are out on the Square again, asking again for the democratic government they were promised. They are being killed for it, again.
[t]he absence of an agreement also threatens to significantly slow growth in an already ailing economy by raising taxes on almost everyone while reducing government spending on almost everything.

CAIRO — The cabinet offered its resignation on Monday to Egypt’s transitional military rulers as security forces carried out an increasingly lethal crackdown on three days of violent street protests, reviving the uncertainty about Egypt’s future that marked the earliest days of the Arab Spring.

Property deal slump exceeds Chinese stress test

PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS in China’s largest cities have fallen to dangerously low levels.
According to documents obtained earlier this year by the Financial Times, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) ordered domestic banks to weigh the impact of a 30 per cent decline in housing transactions in “stress tests” aimed at determining the health of the Chinese financial system. While Beijing has been trying to rein in sky-high property prices, a China property slump would have a big ripple effect on the global economy. Construction of property accounted for more than 13 per cent of China’s economy last year.
In April, the CBRC told banks to test their loan books against a 50 per cent fall in prices, and also a 30 per cent fall in transaction volumes. In October, however, property transactions fell 39 per cent year on year in China’s 15 biggest cities, according to government data. Nationwide, transactions dropped 11.6 per cent, up from a 7 per cent fall in September.

National Lawyers Guild Files FOIA Requests on Occupy Crackdown

I have a love/like relationship with the National Lawyers Guild. They aren't so sure about me. Ahem, anyways, I came into the Guild via Legal Observer Training rather than at law school. I wrote my Senior Thesis at UC Santa Barbara on the D2K protests at the Democratic Convention in August 2000 in Los Angeles, CA.

While attending the A16 protest in Washington DC, I first encountered NLG Legal Observers. They were walking in pairs. You couldn't miss them in their lime green baseball caps. As they approached, I greeted them thus, "I am sure happy to see you."

I formed the intention of writing my thesis on the D2K protest that day. When I learned that the Guild would offer Legal Observer Training before the protest, I jumped at the opportunity. Literally. It was a 180 mile round trip to the heart of LA from Santa Barbara.

When I went to law school I joined the Guild and spent a summer writing a Mass Defense Legal Manual in the National Office in NYC. I worked for a member of the San Francisco National Lawyers Guild Executive Board for six years.

I know and love the Guild. These are the people who, no matter what, will move mountains to protect your First Amendment Rights, right there in the street, as well as in the halls of law.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pneumonia: Don't Get It

X did his best to take care of me, but finally he became unhinged. I fled the home with what I could manage to load after booking a hotel room on April 19th. Why?  I had been ill with pneumonia for 12 days, but there was nowhere in the house where I could rest.

X made immense amounts of noise, and ran up and down the hallway several times an hour.  The mattress in the spare bedroom, where I had started sleeping as my illness worsened, was soaked.  The master suite bedroom featured the loud, irregular clanking of an overhead dryer vent.  To add insult to injury, the living room couch, my last resort, was not linked properly, so I fell into the inevitable hole between sections.

I started coughing up arterial blood on Sunday the 21st.

I waited until after I saw the doctor and got test results before I called X so he wouldn't get too upset. So I called him on Monday night and left a message.  He called back and said he was glad I finally got treatment. I could not do much more than make it into the kitchen for food.  I went to the grocery store a couple of times, in ten minute increments.

A few days later, he showed up and asked me what I was going to cook him for dinner.

It got lots worse after that.

We broke up on August 23, 2011.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    The World is Now Too Crazy Even for the Sociopaths: Man Who Fired Shots at the White House May Be a White Supremacist

    By Olivia LaRosa, November 16, 2011

    I know what you are thinking. It’s no surprise that a white supremacist would fire on President Obama’s house. But wait! There’s more! I got details on the story of the shots fired at the White House on November 11th.

    The New York Times today reported that the alleged shooter is now in custody. 1 “Oscar Ramiro Ortega Hernandez was arrested at a hotel near Indiana, Pa., about 12:35 p.m. by the Pennsylvania State Police…”

    The article described a tattoo on the neck of Mr. Ortega-Hernandez. It was one word. “Israel.”

    My hackles rose. The “Israel” tattoo on a man from a state, Idaho, noted for its high population of race haters and white supremacists, hmmm? It set off my Mammy Yokum, as my grandma would say. Then I thought, no, this guy has a Spanish last name. He wouldn’t be a white supremacist! And probably not a Jew either.

    Research yielded this frightening information, located on a database of hate symbols maintained by the Anti-Defamation League. It was within an article on the ORION acronym.

    The slogan "Our Race Is Our Nation" is used by a variety of groups. Christian Identity adherents like it because it is compatible with their belief that white people are descended from the ancient tribes of the Kingdom of Israel. (Emphasis added.)

    There is even an Identity Ku Klan Klan group, based in Alabama, known as the "Orion Knights of the Ku Klux Klan." It is also used among neo-Nazis and racist skinheads. The Canadian white supremacist group Heritage Front adopted the slogan as its official motto.

    I sighed. The poor Jews! They are a primary target of race haters.

    On top of that, the Jews are now assigned the blame for begetting the White Race, on top of all the other crap they have to take. As one of my Jewish friends put it, “You cannot just decide not to be Jewish. It sticks with you. Nu?” (He really didn’t say the last word.) He taught me to pronounce challah properly, though. It’s (from the throat)…hhhhhhala!

    So, I deduce that this must be the first time in history that a Latino White Supremacist who loves Israel because that’s where White People come from shoots at the White House when occupied by a half-White, half-Black man. The world is just getting too crazy, even for the crazies.

    But I bet my Jewish friends are happy that the suspect is not Jewish!

    Can't Occupy a Plaza? Then Help the Occupiers AND Local Business with Just One Action

    By Olivia LaRosa, Legal Observer, Occupy Oakland

    A friend asked me last night how I felt about the plight of downtown merchants who complained that their trade had dropped off since Occupy Oakland began. I had to think about that for a while, being an ardent patron of small local businesses.

    Are they part of the 99%? Heck yes! If you don’t have the time to stay at an Occupation, please consider going out of your way to patronize businesses near Occupations. This would work with small businesses out of range of an Occupation as well, if you do this.

    Tell these merchants, “I am here to support you and support the Occupation as well.”

    Please don’t worry about your safety! I promise you that Occupiers are pleasant people, fascinating to talk with, and never a danger to you or your family. I have been at scores of marches and rallies with people like them, mainly as a trained and seasoned Legal Observer for the National Lawyers Guild. Some of these gatherings were attended by more than 200,000 people. Families with small children, people in wheelchairs, and great-grandmas will be your company at any one of these events.

    Of course, there are always a few who are intent on property destruction, but that would happen with or without the presence of a group of individuals exercising their First Amendment right to peaceably petition the government with their grievances. Oakland should know. It’s a place where riots break out over the outcomes of sporting events.

    On the other hand, I have seen lots of unwarranted acts of property destruction and physical violence committed by those who are sworn to protect us. I spent last Sunday night and Monday morning at Occupy Oakland as a Legal Observer, after receiving an alert that the police were going to clear the Occupation again. For the first time, the police did not physically harm any protesters while going about their business. It was refreshing. Acting as a volunteer LO, my payoff is to feel that somehow I protected someone else from harm.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Yet Another OPD Sweep of Oscar Grant Plaza at Occupy Oakland

    November 14, 2011, 11:05PST

    by Olivia X. LaRosa

    I am an experienced Legal Observer, trained by the National Lawyers Guild. Word was the OPD was going to clear Oscar Grant Plaza at 4AM Monday morning. I arrived at 14th and Broadway shortly after 11PM Sunday night 13th November to find a festive but prepared bunch of Occupiers. Critical infrastructure was removed to protect it for re-assembly after the raid.

    These crowds are always peaceful, even if loud and playful, even if angry. The OPD, as of 5:45 AM, had not thrown or shot anything at people.

    (Update: no physical injuries to the Occupiers have been reported thus far. Witnessing the police state in action? Priceless. -ed 11/14/11 11:07PM)

    I think it was a psyop (some call it psych-ops or psych-out) because a helicopter showed up around 4AM, when the raid was rumored to begin, circling high at first. People had been in the intersection of Broadway and 14th since 2AM, rallying, chanting, and gathering their love for the confrontation ahead. That's 4 hours of tense waiting in the middle of the night when people would rather be sleeping.

    A second helicopter arrived sometime around 5AM and descended to shine a light on the Occupiers and drown out communication.

    By this time the OPD had created a perimeter of several blocks around Oscar Grant Plaza. At 15th St. a line of absurdly riot-gear-garbed OPD blocked the entrance to the street. How do I know? My van was parked on 15th St. They kept me from leaving for an hour. (1)

    I felt real fear, something that I have rarely felt at a left-wing protest. I felt fear on account of the inimical forces of the police state ready to tear-gas me, throw a flash-bang grenade at me, shoot me with a steel mesh bag filled with BBs (affectionately known as beanbag projectiles), or a 1" x 2" hard plastic slug deceptively described as a rubber bullet. I have a rubber bullet, collected at D2K. I witnessed several police riots there.

    The plastic slugs are now leaner and meaner. A young man walked up to me and lifted his shirt. You may find that odd. I didn't since I was in full Legal Observer regalia. He knew I had seen some things.

    I saw a deep purple bruise at his waist that extended six inches in each direction from the epicenter of impact. I took one look and said,"Damn, man."

    He then held out his hand to show me a plastic projectile about the size of an almond M&M. He said, "That's what hit me." That is not a non-lethal weapon. It isn't even a less-lethal weapon. It is a lethal weapon, and it is being used on American citizens.

    That's scary. man.

    I got to bed around 7AM and slept until 12:30PM when the phone rang. Of course, the caller hung up :)

    Please forward with my whole-hearted permission.

    ~ Via

    (1) I wheeled up in my chair, which I use to protect the damaged joints in my legs during protracted times outside my environment, especially at protests. I greeted the first officer, and turned to go to my van, parked three spaces down. He glared at me and said, "you can't go in now." I said, "but the car's right there." He said, "too bad, go around the block and come in the back, or wait." I said, "I'm handicapped. I can't go around the block." He stood his little tin-horn 12 x 12 inch ground, and I found a nice young couple to take me on that journey. Of course, OPD freaked out when I entered at the back of the block, but I was finally able to leave. I heard some discussion about what the tin-horn commando had done to a nice white lady in a wheelchair. It was double-plus-ungood for OPD because I was wearing my lovely fluorescent lime National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer Hat. Therefore they know that somehow they are going to experience regret.

    Ms. Demeanor November 14, 2011

    Today's Twaddle

    Ms. Demeanor wrote in response to this article,
    and earlier comments:

    From my research and experience, I maintain and can support the statement that girls are sexually abused at a much higher rate than boys. Clearly, this isn't a gay male affliction.  Rather, it's a straight male affliction.

    Please visit the website of Generation Five, a non-profit dedicated to wiping out sexual abuse in five generations. and support their work.

    a humble request from a grandma

    Dear Mrs. T.,

    My granddaughter [Katrina] had just turned 13 when she passed away after waging a valiant year-long battle against lymphoma. It took her life in July 2006.

    I cry as I write this. Her death left a gaping hole in my life that can never be filled. Nevertheless, I have finally found the strength to make this request. I am writing, because I could not articulate this request over the phone.

    I hope to recover some memories of [Katrina] with your cooperation. She has two younger brothers who will want to know more about the big sister they viewed as their “little mommie.” She was 5 years and 7 years older than her brothers, respectively.

    I would be gratified if you could ask your students to write about their memories of [Katrina.] Even a sentence would do. I want to collect this for her brothers and for all those who loved her. I made a website not long after her passing, [redacted] and hope to post some of the recollections there, with the permission of the authors. Authors should assume confidentiality unless they request that their names be published.

    The principal at the Middle School shared my sorrow and referred to her as a “neat kid” when we spoke soon afterward. Those who saw her during her illness always noted her bravery and cheerfulness.

    Over 200 mourners attended her funeral in the small town where she grew up.

    I hope that some of her classmates are still available. She would have entered 8th grade in August of 2006.

    Kindly allow me to start off with two anecdotes that may impart a sense of the importance of this matter to me.
    • We all miss [Katrina's] ever-ready quips. She made us giggle. I smile when I remember how she would roll her eyes before delivering a line.
    • When [Katrina] was four years old, she was playing "restaurant" with the family on Christmas Day, and was taking orders from great-grandparents on down. She "wrote" each order on a little pad. My father ordered a hamburger and asked for tomato. Krista pertly informed him, "You can't have tomatoes. I don't like them."
    • [Katrina] secretly wanted to marry Harry Potter. She read the whole series over and over, with more intensity each time, for at least two years. [Katrina] yearned to play the role of Hermione when she learned the "Harry Potter" filmmakers has begun casting. She was devastated to learn that they were only casting Britons, but she understood why.
    I read your profile on the THS website and am glad that you are the Principal. I served as the Elementary School Librarian at Valley Elementary for 3 years. It was my favorite job of all time.

    Best regards,

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    beware what you envy…and what demons it will arouse

    A Mr. Richard Fader from New Jersey writes:

    Dear Olivia LaRosaLaRosa,

    I have been exchanging Facebook messages with a nice person who has not been apprised of the highlights of my life since 1975. She recently said that she envied me being a grandma.

    I thought that I would be in heaven when I was a grandma. I have not been in heaven.  Oh, often, I have been in heaven when playing with my grandchildren.  It is a unique relationship.  I have never regretted the new life I helped to create way back when I didn’t know what I was doing. I have never regretted the abortion I had to have, either. I had two children already and I was their sole support. I couldn’t take off work to have another baby.  My husband had left us. There was no maternity leave.  I had already-living people to protect.

    My grandchildren are my heart. Everything I have consciously done since the birth of my granddaughter in 1993 has been with their long-term benefit in mind.

    When people envy me, they do not know that my daughter gave birth to my granddaughter with a man most categorize as seriously mentally ill. My daughter is not well herself.

    When my granddaughter was stricken with lymphoma, their first and constant reaction was not to save her life, but to make sure that I couldn’t stop them from letting her die.  She was just 13.

    Her brothers, my grandsons, were stricken in more ways than one can imagine. My granddaughter was 5 years older than they, and their little mother. She doted on them.

    I stay away now. I do not want anything bad to happen to those two grandsons.

    My son has an adorable little son named Julian. Julian is loaded with charisma. He is as sweet as can be. Even-tempered and as reasonable as a two-year-old can be.  He lives on the other side of the continent. I see him when I can.  His mama and daddy appreciate my presence in his life.

    Dear Mr. Fader,

    Well, it just goes to show ya…

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Major Points of Agreement at G20 Conference Miss the Main Point (Steady-State Economy)

    Written two years ago.  No world leader has yet mentioned working toward a steady-state economy.  

    By Olivia LaRosa
    November 16, 2008
    The Washington Post article, World Leaders Agree to Seek Major Reform, claims that the action plan they developed would “begin to reshape international financial institutions and reform worldwide regulatory and accounting rules.”  I wondered what was wrong with actually reshaping these institutions and rules, since they have so clearly brought a financial tsunami to most of the planet’s inhabitants.  “The leaders…agreed that the dramatic failure of market oversight in some advanced countries was among the root causes of the financial crisis.”  So, what should be done, according to the G20?
    Let’s examine these major points of agreement. 
    • China, Brazil, India and other such countries would gain power and responsibility as part of the restructuring of the international financial system.
    • European leaders won a commitment to new regulations and controls on banks, rating agencies, and exotic financial securities.
    • A “College of Supervisors,” a new regulatory body, will examine the books of major financial institutions that operate across national borders.  In this way, regulators can obtain a more complete picture of these banks’ operations.
    • Greater scrutiny of hedge funds
    • A clearinghouse system to standardize and limit risk on opaque and risky financial derivatives.
    • Allowing the IMF to conduct regular, vigorous reviews of national financial systems.
    • Curbs on executive pay schemes that reward excessive risk-taking.
    And finally, the IMF is calling for more growth stimulation.  “Dominque Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the IMF, called on nations to approve a fiscal stimulus equal to 2 percent of gross domestic product.”
    We do not need growth.  We need a steady-state economy.  Capitalism requires growth to survive, by definition.  The quest for constant growth is the CAUSE of the current global economic disaster.  Organisms and organizations that must grow or die consume their hosts eventually.  I see no real solutions presented here and I predict that these initiatives will fail to stop the global financial catastrophe. 
    And finally, shame on the US government for not even being brave enough to take responsibility for this disaster. 
    “The communique minced no words in outlining the causes of the crisis, blaming "weak underwriting standards, unsound risk-management practices, increasingly complex and opaque financial products and consequent excessive leverage." While many nations have blamed the United States for failing to monitor excesses in the securities markets, the communique diplomatically did not.
    “A British official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said U.S officials privately acknowledged their role in the crisis. ‘The U.S. threw up their hands and said that our subprime mortgage industry left a lot to be desired,’ the official said. ‘But there was determination not to have any finger-pointing.’”
    We threw up our hands about the subprime mortgage industry?  We, the “greatest nation”, the “shining city on the hill”, cannot even stand up and take responsibility for our catastrophic negligence, recklessness, and intent to funnel every dime to the top 1%? Obvious scapegoating of only one part of the systematic meltdown is making other nations happy?  Well, I am not happy.  I call on every single policy official and every single CEO and COO to acknowledge their complicity in this horror. 
    Every single person on the planet will be damaged somehow by their laissez-faire attitude.  They owe us an acknowledgment of their responsibility, and they owe us their support for an economic system that is not guaranteed to immiserate the world every few decades.

    Astrology for Fun

    A friend sent this to me in one of those amateur html formatted emails.  These are often embedded with malware.  The message was a chain letter, to boot! 

    Therefore, I stripped most of the html and pasted it into a cleanser program.  Some of these descriptions made me giggle.  I am a Sagittarian with Aquarius ascending and moon in Scorpio…fire, air, and water, mutable, for what it’s worth. My sweetie is a Scorpio with Aquarius ascending and moon in Cancer…water and air, fixed, for what it’s worth. I just want to know why Saggies are only worth 6 years of good luck, while Capricorns are worth 20 years!  *giggle* ~Liv

    -The Go-Getter (Dec 22 - Jan 19 )  Patient and wise. Practical and rigid.. Ambitious. Tends to be Good-looking. Humorous and funny. Can be a bit shy and reserved. Often pessimistic. Capricorn's tend to act before they think and can be Unfriendly at times. Hold grudges. Like competition. Get what they want. 20 years of good luck if you forward.
    - The Sweetheart (Jan 20 - Feb 18 )  Optimistic and honest. Sweet personality.. Very independent. Inventive and intelligent. Friendly and loyal. Can seem unemotional. Can be a bit rebellious. Very stubborn, but original and unique. Attractive on the inside and out. Eccentric personality. 11 years of luck if you forward.
      - The Dreamer (Feb 19 - Mar 20 ) Generous, kind, and thoughtful. Very creative and imaginative. May become secretive and vague. Sensitive. Doesn't like details. Dreamy and unrealistic. Sympathetic and loving. Kind. Unselfish... Good kisser. Beautiful. 8 years of good luck if you forward.
      -  The Daredevil (Mar 21 - April 19 ) Energetic. Adventurous and spontaneous. Confident and enthusiastic. Fun. Loves a challenge. EXTREMELY impatient. Sometimes selfish.. Short fuse. (Easily angered.) Lively, passionate, and sharp wit.. Outgoing. Lose interest quickly - easily bored. Egotistical. Courageous and assertive. Tends to be physical and athletic. 6 years of good luck if you forward..
      - The Enduring One (April 20 - May 20 )  Charming but aggressive. Can come off as boring, but they are not. Hard workers. Warm-hearted. Strong, has endurance. Solid beings that are stable and secure in their ways. Not looking for shortcuts. Patient and reliable. Make great friends and give good advice. Loving and kind.. Loves hard - passionate. Express themselves emotionally. Prone to ferocious temper-tantrums. Determined. Indulge themselves often. Very generous. 12 years of good Luck if you forward
    - The Chatterbox (May 21 - June 20 ) Smart and witty. Outgoing, very chatty. Lively, energetic. Adaptable but needs to express themselves. Argumentative and outspoken. Like change. Versatile. Busy, sometimes nervous and tense. Gossips . May seem superficial or inconsistent. Beautiful physically and mentally. 5 years of good luck if you forward.
    CANCER  - The Protector (June 21 - July 22 ) Moody, emotional. May be shy.. Very loving and caring. Pretty/handsome. Excellent partners for life.. Protective.. Inventive and imaginative. Cautious. Touchy-feely kind of person. Needs love from others. Easily hurt, but sympathetic. 16 years of good luck if you forward.
      - The Boss (July 23 - Aug 22 )  Very organized. Need order in their lives - like being in control. Like boundaries.. Tend to take over everything. Bossy. Like to help others. Social and outgoing. Extroverted. Generous, warm-hearted. Sensitive. Creative energy. Full of themselves. Loving. Doing the right thing is important to Leos. Attractive.. 13 years of good luck if you do forward.
      - The Perfectionist (Aug 23 - Sept 22 )  Dominant in relationships. Conservative. Always wants the last word. Argumentative. Worries. Very smart. Dislikes noise and chaos. Eager. Hardworking. Loyal. Beautiful. Easy to talk to. Hard to please. Harsh. Practical and very fussy. Often shy. Pessimistic. 7 years of good luck if you forward.
      - The Harmonizer (Sept 23 - Oct 22)  Nice to everyone they meet. Can't make up their mind. Have own unique appeal. Creative, energetic, and very social. Hates to be alone. Peaceful, generous. Very loving and beautiful. Flirtatious. Gives in too easily. Procrastinators. Very gullible. 9 years of good luck if you forward.
      - The Intense One (Oct 23 - Nov 21 ) Very energetic. Intelligent. Can be jealous and/or possessive. Hard-working. Great kisser. Can become obsessive or secretive.. Holds grudges. Attractive. Determined. Loves being in long relationships. Talkative. Romantic. Can be self-centered at times. Passionate and emotional. 4 years of good luck if you forward.
      -The Happy-Go-Lucky One (Nov 22 - Dec 21 )Good-natured optimist. Doesn't want to grow up (Peter Pan Syndrome). Indulges self . Boastful. Likes luxuries and gambling. Social and outgoing. Doesn't like responsibilities. Often fantasizes Impatient. Fun to be around. Having lots of friends. Flirtatious... Doesn't like rules. Sometimes hypocritical. Dislikes being confined - tight spaces or even tight clothes. Doesn't like being doubted. Beautiful inside and out. 6 years of good luck if you do forward..

    They Bomb; We Meditate! Save 11/11/11 for a Flash Mob Meditation.


    Flash Mob Meditation in 200+ cities around the World

    Santa Barbara, California, US, is the heart of the American Environmental Movement.  Rich liberal people got oil on their beaches, and they got mad in 1969 when an oil spill killed off the birds and fish who made their lives right. ~Olivia

    Santa Barbara, California, November 1, 2011.

    On November 11, 2011 thousands of people in over 200 cities will meditate in highly visible public places around the world, including the De La Guerra Plaza in Santa Barbara, City Hall in Austin, Texas, Occupy Wallstreet in NY, Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, the Coliseum in Rome, Sydney, Copenhagen, and San Paulo.

    On Friday the 11th, in De La Guerra Plaza, a group of sitting meditators will exude an inner peace, strength, & happiness intended to brighten the day of every observer. The mediation will last for an hour and will be closed with a sound bath of 11 minutes. Thousands of Santa Barbara residents and tourists will be exposed to a tidal wave of silence and bliss they may have never experienced before. The intention of the flash mob is to expose the world to meditation and expand positive vibrations to every walk of life.

    This movement, called MedMob, started in January 2011 when 60 people attended a meditation flash mob at the Texas State Capitol. It grew to 250 people the next month with 7 other cities joining and is now a worldwide movement with meditations in over 200 cities.

    The meditation in Santa Barbara starts at 11:11 am & everyone is invited to join, all experience levels, & all spiritual paths.

    This meditation movement is consistent with increasing developments in our society where people around the world realize the benefit of seeking for internal peace, balance, and fulfillment.

    Research has shown that meditation has a positive effect on our health and that meditating in big groups creates an electro magnetic wave that impacts the world around us.

    The vision of MedMob is to continue organizing global flash mob meditations until the entire world is invited to join- literally.

    The next coordinated international MedMob will be held on December 22nd, with many cities organizing MedMobs monthly and weekly.

    The following link is the link to the Santa Barbara event this Friday:

    if you have trouble with that link, try:

    Or go to the event MedMob Santa Barbara! on Facebook.

    The following link is an international picture album of September’s MedMob:

    AlterNet: Rush Limbaugh Admits the Media Is Conservative

    AlterNet: Rush Limbaugh Admits the Media Is Conservative

    About dang time, I'd say. Noam Chomsky eloquently warned of the dangers ahead as media became less and less diversely held. Professor Emeritus, MIT, Chomsky had two films made about the topic of media consolidation and control. The first, The Myth of the Liberal Media, is my preferred title, but Manufacturing Consent is easier to locate for viewing.

    The book and the films were released in the late 1980s. Noam Chomsky, ever prescient, foresaw the current concentration, and predicted the effect it would have on public discourse; all bad.

    Olivia LaRosa ed.

    Rush Limbaugh Admits the Media Is Conservative

    Diarist JohnKWilson at DailyKos makes a great find: Rush Limbaugh making the admission that liberal voices in the news are hard to find. The transcript from Rush's own website:

    if it weren't for MSNBC we wouldn't have any liberal sound bites. I've told Cookie I'm sick of it, ban MSNBC, and we can't, 'cause there's no other place to get liberal sound bites. There isn't any other place. I mean CNN is just insane over there. They emphasize their hosts, they have guests, but just roll tape on 'em and it's so boring. It's not worth putting anything from CNN on the air.

    If it weren't for MSNBC there wouldn't be any liberal sound bites. Now, that has to mean something. That has to mean that they're rare, that they're not everywhere. They may be everywhere in print, but, you know, left-wingers on the radio, genuine cuckoo's nest. You wouldn't even want to go there. I wouldn't play that stuff. MSNBC's it, and it's two shows or three shows. It's it is morning thing with Scarborough, it's the Larry O'Donnell show at night, and maybe occasionally something from Reverend Sharpton. (interruption) Well, yeah, sometimes Sergeant Schultz. Sergeant Schultz is out there walking amongst abandoned railroad cars looking for the future of America. I know there's Algore's channel, but that's nothing worth highlighting. It really says something. MSNBC is the only place in the media to get these liberals.

    When leading conservatives use the phrase "liberal media," they know they're lying. The politicians know it, the conservative media figures themselves know it, and everyone down the chain knows it as well except for the base voters that lap it all u

    To be fair, when the rubes hear the phrase "liberal media," it's more of a culture war thing they're dealing with. When NPR hosts talk about ants and balanced viewpoints in that quiet, trademarked, slightly condescending tone NPR has become famous for, that in and of itself is seen as culturally liberal. By contrast, when Limbaugh and Hannity use that growling, all-American aggressive tone of voice to say anything, it comes across as less liberal, regardless of the actual content of their words. That's why Ed Schultz sounds like a conservative and has appeal with more demographically conservative segments, even though what he actually says is very liberal. The New York Times style section alone is enough to give many conservatives shivers without even delving into the newspaper's actual politics. Culture wars have been intrinsically grafted onto political wars--and in very many wars are legitimate parts of political wars--such that large numbers of people can view the media as "liberal" without there actually being any politically liberal viewpoints in it.

    Still, when even Limbaugh admits that there aren't any legitimately liberal voices on the air outside of MSNBC, that's just the great Wizard of Oz peeking out behind his little curtain to reveal the reality of the situation.

    By David Atkins | Sourced from Hullabaloo

    Posted at November 10, 2011, 9:29 am

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Joe Frazier, RIP

    by Olivia LaRosa

    Wow. Smokin’ Joe lasted a long time, considerin’. I am only 7 years younger than he. My life has not been filled with lolllipops and roses, but Joe was Black, on top of being poor.  Racism survives because the 1% need us to hate one another because of the color differences of our skin. Let’s forget about racism and work together for peace and compassion. Give the psychos the Ajo Reservation (or maybe Pine Ridge) and allow them all to declare themselves Sovereigns. Give the people who live in the Ajo Reservation (or maybe Pine Ridge) a decent place to live with good work nearby.  Then everyone will be happy.

    Reject the racism the 1% heaps upon us! Please don’t think of me as white.  Think of me as pale olive, with chocolate sprinkles!  ~Olivia
    “Joe Frazier was born to Rubin and Dolly Frazier in Laurel Bay, Beaufort, South Carolina.[5] Joe said he was always close to his father (Rubin_, who carried Joe when he was a toddler "over the 10 acres of farmland us Fraziers owned, to the still where he made his bootleg corn liquor, and into town on Saturdays to buy the necessities that a family of 10 needed. (Joe, or) Billy Boy, as he was affectionately called, wasn't along just for the ride."[5]
    Rubin had his left hand and part of his forearm amputated a year before Joe was born. While Rubin and Dolly were in the car a friend named Arthur Smith, who was drunk at the time and was fond of meeting women, passed by and made a move for Dolly. He was refused. When Frazier's parents drove away, Smith fired several bullets, hitting Dolly once in the foot and Rubin several times in the arm, which was hanging outside the car. Arthur Smith went to jail for the shooting, but didn't stay long. As Joe's mother put it, "If you were a good workman, the white man took you out of jail and kept you busy on the farm."[6] His parents owned a farm "which had 10 acres, and two mules, Buck and Jenny, to work them." Frazier had said the land was what country folk called "white dirt, which is another way of saying it isn't worth a damn." The Frazier family couldn't grow peas or corn on it, they were only able to grow cotton and watermelon.[6]

    Dear Kin 1

    October 31, 2011
    Dear Kin,

    I am sorry that I have not been in touch for a long time. I had several illnesses in a row, but now I am feeling just fine, and hope you are too.

    I know that these cards will get to you late, because I have been moving. Hope you had a FUN Halloween!

    Do you know where Oakland, California is? It is on the San Francisco Bay, across the bay from San Francisco. You would have fun riding the public transit system here. It is called BART, which stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit.

    I am only a few miles from the University of California at Berkeley. I hope you are thinking about going to college. You are both way smart enough! I live here now.

    To get to San Francisco from Oakland on BART, the train goes UNDERNEATH the bay. You wouldn’t know it unless someone told you ahead of time, but it’s fun to think about being under a hundred feet of ocean while I come and go from San Francisco.

    I have two parakeets, Samba and Tango. They are lots of fun to watch. Now I know where the phrase “birdbrain” comes from. When they play, they seem to move from perch to perch for no reason that I can see. But they never seem unhappy with the results. If you watch birds outside, you may see some of the same kinds of behaviors.

    Parakeets are also known as “budgies.” It’s short for budgerigar, which is their name in aborigine Australian. I like budgies better. It’s a cute word to fit a cute bird. Anyway, who knows what parakeet means? Does it mean a sort-of-keet? Like paramedic means sort-of-doctor?

    Some people think that birds are boring pets. That’s because if you just have just one, he hasn’t much to do but sit there and wait for you to walk by the cage. Now that I have two birds, I would never have one, just by itself. They are “flock” animals, and need companionship.

    The boys enjoy singing along to the radio, and chatter when they hear human voices. They make it plain to me that they do not like a certain song by squawking. Otherwise they have lovely voices and aren’t very loud at all.

    Did you know that budgies can talk? Go look on YouTube if you aren’t quite sure that I am telling the truth.

    Budgies do not have much of a sense of smell. So, how do they tell if their food is good, you might wonder? Well, they have excellent eyesight, even seeing into the ultraviolet range. They can see whether their food is spoiled by looking at it. They can also tell if another parakeet is healthy because healthy parakeets are fluorescent! I want to get a “black light” so I can see that. Ultraviolet is outside the human range of sight otherwise.

    For three years, I had two cockatiels and two parakeets as pets. They formed a loving family. They are now living in a new home with several other kinds of birds, including a dove, a rooster, and a cockatoo!

    I will tell you about them some other time.

    Love always, Gamma Debbie

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Even Joepa turned a blind eye
    Most college football fans love Penn State head coach Joe Paterno.  He exudes fatherliness in all his endeavors, so much that they call him Joepa.
    Yet, when he had to decide whether to protect children, or save face, he made the wrong choice. 

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Matters of Principle

    Medea Benjamin puts the "jumping for joy" into perspective in this excellent article.

    What is disappointing is to read the comments at the end of this article - HuffPost people completely involved with utilitarianism and Obama-like pragmatism.  Dictator deposed, WMDs eliminated, country democratized, etc.  Apparently, they are trying to provide a progressive justification for the debacle that the Iraq war is and was.  Also, to provide further justification for US continued imperialism worldwide. 

    It is very seldom that war can be justified as a means to a moral end.  In the case of Iraq, to replace the brutality of Saddam Hussein by the same brutal means such as callous disregard for human life can not justify the end.  

    What we see here are people who conveniently refuse to know the difference between principle and pragmatism -- like our President.  

    It is as a matter of principle that war should not be conducted.  It is as a matter of principle that people should not be tortured.  It is as a matter of principle that there should be no covering up and inappropriate secrecy.  It is as a matter of principle that the Internet should not be imperialised.  It is as a matter of principle that ICBMs should not be used on cities.  It is a matter of principle that drones should not be used on individuals.  And so on.  Utilitarianism (the greatest good for the greatest number) and pragmatism can be used to justify anything.  With the setting aside of principle, comes the collapse of morality; with the collapse of morality, comes the collapse of politics, and so following on the collapse of our financial system, commercial system, society, culture, and of course economy.  

    What the Huffpost people should be saying is "never again. We have learned an important lesson and we will never do that again.  On principle."