Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Martial law

Police fear riots if Barack Obama loses US election

US police fear riots could break out if John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, wins the election next month.
By Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles

Police departments say they cannot rule out disorder and are mobilising extra forces and putting SWAT teams on standby.

In Oakland, near San Francisco, police will have tactical squads, SWAT teams and officers trained in riot control on standby.

"We always try to prepare for the worst," said Oakland police department spokesman Jeff Thomason.

"This election is going to mark in history a change in the presidency: you're going to have a woman in the presidency or an African American as president. I think everybody around here is voting for Obama, so if he gets in the White House everybody's going to be happy.

"But we'll have our SWAT teams on standby and traffic teams here, so if something goes off we'll organise and take care of the problem."

There have also been internet rumours about plans for protests or civil disobedience by supporters of Democratic candidate Barack Obama if he is beaten by Republican rival John McCain on November 4.

He said Oakland was prepared to deal with unrest as Oakland Raiders fans rioted in 2003 following their Super Bowl loss.

Other cities that have experienced unrest include Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia and are also planning to deploy extra officers on election day.

James Carville, a strategist for former President Bill Clinton and advisor to his wife Hillary's 2008 presidential campaign, hinted Democrat supporters could be angry if Mr Obama lost, given his lead in the polls.

"If Obama goes in and he has a consistent five-point lead and loses the election, it would be very, very, very dramatic out there," he told CNN.


Clusterfuck Nation by Jim Kunstler

Easthampton Burning?

     In the typhoon of commentary that's blown around the world a step behind the financial tsunami that's wrecking everything, two little words have been curiously absent: "fraud" and "swindle." But aren't they really at the core of what has happened? Wall Street took the whole world "for a ride" and now a handful of Wall Street's erstwhile princelings have shifted ceremoniously into US Government service to "fix" the problem with a "toolbox" containing a notional two trillion dollars. This strange exercise in financial kabuki theater will shut down sometime between the election and inauguration day, when the inaugurate finds himself president of the Economic Smoking Wreckage of the United States. What will happen?
      I have thought for some time that things could get dangerously out of hand in America, despite our exceptionalist notion that we are immune to the common plot-lines of history. For starters, inauguration night will seem more like Halloween, as those two little words fly in to haunt the new president. So, a large and looming question is: who will be appointed the next attorney general of the US (to replace the human sash-weight currently occupying the office), and how soon will the federal marshals be scouring the wainscoted hallways of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, not to mention a thousand Greenwich, Connecticut, hedge fund boiler rooms, with man-sized nets?
     A story-line is already emerging to the effect that these birds really didn't quite know what they were doing in grinding out that multi-trillion dollar basket of alphabet securities sausage (a theme on Sunday's "60-Minutes" broadcast). Nobody will buy that line of bullshit, though -- and certainly not in the courtroom where, for instance, Mr. Hank Paulson will have to answer why his own firm of Goldman Sachs set up a special unit to short its own issues. It will be edifying to see how they answer.
     In the meantime, however, millions of Joe-the-Plumber types will have gotten their pink slips, slipped helplessly into foreclosure, watched the repo men hot-wire their Ford pickups, and eaten down the kitchen cupboard to a single box of Kellogg's All-Bran (which had been sitting there for eleven years infested with weevils). They will be watching the official proceedings in the federal courtrooms with jaundiced eyes as they hunch in their tent cities, in the rain, sipping amateur-brand raisin wine bartered for a few snared rock doves. How long before the hardier ones among them venture out to Easthampton with long knives and matches?
    It will bring little satisfaction though, and the disappointment could lead to a more inchoate outbreak of civil disorder that would be more like a free-for-all of vengeance and grievance. There will be a great outcry for the new government to "do something!" Perhaps that will finally bring the troops home from Iraq -- only for them to find that the Homeland has become Iraq....
     If the financial system completes its self-destruction -- and that's looking more and more like a real possibility -- there will be several pretty awful consequences. One is that the United States will be forced to declare bankruptcy by repudiating its own debt. All those who took refuge in US Treasury bonds and bills will be like folks who sought shelter from a tornado in their out-house. That would go hand-in-hand with a massive currency inflation that is likely to follow the current phase of compressive liquidating deflation -- in which every possible asset is being sold off for less than its face value. That process is self-limiting due to the finite supply of real salable assets. The trillions of dollars injected into system while this is happening must eventually snap-back as people shed the last fungible article and compete for necessary commodities like food and fuel with dollars that are suddenly plentiful but worthless. At some point, the government may have to summon up a new currency. I don't think it will be anything like the "Amero" which the paranoid fringe incessantly mutters about as part of their fantasy in which the US, Mexico, and Canada all join up to become one country. But any "new dollar" would probably have to be backed by gold.
     As we discover ourselves to be a much poorer nation, one of my correspondents put it: "the bogus risk-swapping economy must be replaced by a net value-added economy." That means actually making things, growing things, and rebuilding things, and that can only begin to happen if we do not stupidly sucker ourselves into a war with other nations who are liable to be extremely ticked off at us for destroying the global economy, but also competing with us for a dwindling supply of resources that are not equitably distributed around the world.
      This means especially oil. I hope you're enjoying the temporarily cheap prices at the gas pumps, because this is purely a function of the compressive deleveraging that is going on right now, as contracts and positions held in energy markets are being dumped by everybody and his uncle to raise cash to meet margin calls. My guess is that oil and its byproducts will become much more difficult to get in the months ahead -- not just more expensive, but literally not available.


Al Franken hopes to have the last laugh in Minnesota

Franken, Coleman

The comedian has proved to be a serious contender for GOP Sen. Norm Coleman's seat.

By P.J. Huffstutter
Reporting from Minneapolis -- The comedian's opening act warmed up the crowd, whose laughter echoed inside the cavernous lobby of the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center. Then the headliner stepped onto the stage, took the microphone in hand . . . and didn't tell a joke.

Lately, Minnesotans have been seeing a more serious side of comedian Al Franken, one of the original writers for "Saturday Night Live" and author of the book "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot." Nearly two years ago, Franken moved back here to his childhood home and launched his Democratic campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.
At first many were unsure whether to take him seriously, and few gave him much of a chance. Indeed, polls last spring showed Coleman leading by as much as 22 points.

But now, Franken has pulled slightly ahead of Coleman, and the two are embroiled in one of the most prominent and expensive Senate races of this election season.

The candidates themselves have spent more than $30 million combined on their runs for the seat -- paying for ads that paint Coleman as a flip-flopper on issues and a strong fan of President Bush and that portray Franken as an inexperienced candidate with questionable tax problems and a penchant for vulgar satire.

Obama Ties McCain to Republican Philosophy


DENVER — With the final week of campaigning ahead, Senator Barack Obama redoubled his efforts to tie Senator John McCain to the Bush administration by seizing on Mr. McCain's remark Sunday that he shared a "common philosophy" with the president.

"I guess that was John McCain finally giving us a little straight talk, and owning up to the fact that he and George Bush actually have a whole lot in common," Mr. Obama said at a rally here. "Here's the thing, we know what the Bush-McCain philosophy looks like. It's a philosophy that says we should give more and more to millionaires and billionaires and hope that it trickles down on everyone else."

As Mr. Obama returned to the city where he accepted the Democratic nomination two months ago, he drew tens of thousands of people to an outdoor plaza as he sought to solidify his support in a critical western battleground. He is set to present a new closing argument to voters on Monday in Ohio.


Comedy or tragedy

This column will change your life

by Oliver Burkeman

There are numerous books that promise to help you "think like a genius", or like Einstein, or even - if Einstein isn't good enough - How To Think Like History's 10 Most Revolutionary Minds. But they're beset with problems. Some try to teach a "secret formula", even though following someone else's five-step system is surely antithetical to genius. Some confuse correlation with causation: Thomas Jefferson was an early riser, and he basically invented the US, so you should get up early, too! Others are plain odd. In How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Gelb recommends doing an "ambiguity dance" to express feelings about uncertainty. I can't imagine Leonardo doing an ambiguity dance. Though if he had done, maybe he'd have come up with a flying machine that actually worked, the loser.

"Genius" is a slippery word, anyway. The American neuroscientist Gregory Berns uses a different term as the title of his new book on thinking differently: Iconoclast. Looking at original thinking as "iconoclastic" - as disruptive of the usual ways we're conditioned to see the world - turns out to be much more useful. It may even help you think a bit more like Leonardo.

Berns' starting point is that the brain "is fundamentally a lazy piece of meat": it needs energy to operate, and has evolved to use it as efficiently as possible. So when it perceives the outside world, or imagines things, the average brain uses as many short cuts as it can - past experience, other people's opinions - to avoid the taxing effort of perceiving or imagining afresh. It's literally harder work to perceive what you're not expecting to perceive, which is why airport security screeners who watch thousands of harmless bags roll by will at times fail to notice even a very prominent gun.


Michael Moore: No More Socialism for the Rich!

The following is an excerpted transcript from Michael Moore's appearance on CNN's Larry King Live

Larry King: He is many things, but dull isn't one of them. Michael Moore, the academy winning documentary filmmaker. The latest film is "Slacker Uprising: A Look at the Youth Vote." His latest book is "Mike's Election Guide '08". He is a supporter, as you might imagine, of Barack Obama.

He comes to us from Traverse City, Michigan. And I understand you have some friends with you tonight calling themselves Plumbers for Obama.

You want to explain this? Where are you?

Michael Moore: I'm in a senior citizens house here in Northern Michigan. These guys behind me, they don't just call themselves Plumbers for Obama, they actually are Plumbers for Obama. And they they're licensed plumbers and they're going around helping out people who are in need of plumbing help, who maybe are of modest income, modest means. And so they want to show that real plumbers are for Obama. The average, you know, plumber makes maybe $40,000 to $60,000 a year, if he's lucky. And they're all going to benefit greatly from the Obama tax break that they're going to get if Obama is elected.

King: What do you make of the "Joe the Plumber" thing with McCain?

Moore: Well, I think it's part of the same illusion that the Republicans have been presenting for the last eight years. They say one thing, but the reality is, you know, something else, whether it's weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or whether it's now playing up "Joe the Plumber."

The Republicans, their whole tax plan is to punish the plumbers and everybody else who has a job like this in this country. And yet they somehow have taken this guy -- I feel kind of sorry for this guy, too. He probably didn't expect to be in the limelight like this. And but it's not really about him as an individual. And I don't think people should be getting down on him just because he isn't a licensed plumber or his name isn't Joe or anything else that's come out. I just think that that's kind of irrelevant.

The only relevant thing is that McCain is going to make sure that the wealthy get another incredible tax break while everybody else suffers. And Obama is going to make sure that the guys like this who are working behind me tonight here in Northern Michigan, they're going to get a tax break. They're going to get relief. They're going to get help.

King: What do you make of this, Michael?

Moore: It's one of the tenets of John McCainism and George Bushism. I mean that's exactly what they've done in the last month. I mean the complete irony of this, that they have spread the wealth around to more wealthy people. They have bailed out wealthy people who were playing a high stakes game of risk and failed. They were using money that didn't exist, that wasn't theirs, to try to make more money.

Actually, when these guys behind me here if they were to ever write a check for money that they didn't have in the bank and actually use that check to buy something with it, they'd be arrested. It's called check kiting.

But that isn't what happens to Wall Street. That's not what happens to the CEOs and the hedge fund people. They get away with this. It's these people, McCain, his campaign, they stand for socialism for the rich. Obama and the Democrats stand for giving these guys and other people like them a break.


Ron Howard's Call To Action

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Every USA Church, Synagogue Gets Militant Islam DVD

Received by over 325,000 rabbis and pastors

Over 325,000 rabbis, priests and pastors in every Jewish and Christian congregation in America just received the award-winning documentary Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West on DVD, according to the publisher of a new periodical for clerical leaders, The Judeo-Christian View, which included the film inside the first issue.
The publication -- signed by dozens of rabbis and pastors who concur that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's policies on same-sex unions and partial birth abortion tend to inflame U.S. tensions with Islamists and are at odds with their ancient Biblical faiths -- went out by U.S. mail and is heading online ( www.thejudeo-christianview.com) to another 10 million congregational leaders and laity as part of an ambitious subscription strategy. The new "multimedia opinion journal" also includes an "interfaith video sermon" on DVD and online that discusses Obama's support for repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, which shields states from forced recognition of same-sex marriages originating in Massachusetts, California and now, Connecticut pursuant to a state Supreme Court ruling on October 10.
Clerical signers include: Rabbi Herzel Kranz from The Jewish Center of Silver Spring, Maryland; Rev. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Father Frank Pavone, Roman Catholic head of Priests for Life; Rev. Rosemary Schindler, San Francisco Board of the Anti-Defamation League and member of the Oscar Schindler family (of Schindler's List); Dr. James M. Hutchens, Brigadier General and Deputy Chief of US Army Chaplains (Ret.); Rev. Ben Kinchlow, former co-host of The 700 Club; Dr. Bruce Fong, president, Michigan Theological Seminary; Dr. Kenneth L. Hutcherson, Antioch Bible Church, Kirkland, Washington; Dr. Erwin Lutzer, senior pastor of Moody Memorial Church, Chicago; and Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Rabbinical Alliance of America of Torah Loyal Jews and The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the U.S. and Canada.
The publication links Jewish Scriptures (e.g., Leviticus 18:21) on child sacrifice to graphic video descriptions of partial birth abortion -- a late-term procedure that involves piercing the skull and vacuuming the brain of the fetus, something Sen. John McCain would ban, but Obama would expand via taxpayer funding and the proposed "Freedom of Choice Act," which eliminates all current U.S. restrictions on late-term abortion. The document's signatories contend Obama's policy to liberalize abortion, "combined with his effort to kill a bill that would protect babies who survive abortions, tends to gut the USA's moral standing to condemn jihadic use of Muslim children as suicide bombers; both are horrific cases of child sacrifice that support a Culture of Death and demonstrate utter contempt for the Judeo-Christian Culture of Life."

The Exit from Fascism Is Open

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

When you lose your illusions you see yourself and your own actions clearly. We need to see our present circumstances as they are and not as we want them to be. We have an opportunity to take back our country but that window of opportunity will close rapidly. We need to return to the form of government experienced by our Founders. We need to stop talking about freedom and set tasks that return control of government to the people at the most local level and change our economy from one that has us hemorrhaging jobs and money to one that keeps money local.

Each of these goals takes us to freedom; not just words but the reality. And despite appearances to the contrary, the establishment of a real freedom has never been more possible.

To accomplish that we need to build coalition from all ideological viewpoints. Without coalition we will not be able to come together as a people who govern themselves at that most local, community level. It is possible; we need to lose our illusions. The government we see today does not work and it cannot be fixed. All hierarchal systems are subject to the same problems.

When people are remote from you they seem alien and therefore less human. This was true with all people. Those they do not know they are willing to abuse and manipulate.

All movements experience the same problems, left to right, Patriot, Progressive, Libertarian, Liberal, Ron Paul, Environmental, Conservative, Free Market, Election Reform, Peace, have been created from frustrations with the present systemic conversion and corruption. All of us have spent to much time spinning our wheels, engaging in action that did not advance the agenda for freedom or justice. We need to change that, starting now.

A people who govern themselves must first free themselves, starting with their prejudices, misconceptions and illusions. We cannot free America; each of us must do that for ourselves, but we can give Americans the tools to do so.

Only by coming together and seeing the truth can we bring America back from the precipice. The community is our exit from fascism.

The next captain

Republicans fear long exile in the wilderness

In America's conservative heartland the talk now is not just of a win for Obama. With the Democrats poised for gains in the Senate and the House, moderate Republicans fear a wipeout that would leave their party in the grip of evangelicals increasingly out of touch with the public. Could the country be on the brink of change as deep as that ushered in by Reagan?

Voting for a Republican president runs in the blood of places like Gainesville. The pretty little town of 15,000 sits in north Texas ranch country and it is safe to say that Barack Obama has few fans here. Certainly Jim Farquhar, who works in the justice system, has taken to heart warnings that Obama has links with dangerous radicals, such as former 1960s militant Bill Ayers.

'Obama scares me. He has all these friendships. You just don't know how that might effect him once he gets into office,' Farquhar said as he stood outside Gainsville's sturdy old courthouse. 'I'm voting for John McCain.'

Such worries are increasingly not shared by many other Americans. Weeks of relentless attacks on Obama by McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin have not succeeded in denting Obama's lead. Instead it has strengthened. Across America, battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania are falling into Obama's column and southern states such as Virginia and North Carolina are going from red to blue. Some Democratic insiders are even whispering about the prospect of a landslide.

The flipside of that is a potentially devastating Republican loss. If current polling holds true, the party may be reduced to its core support in the solid red heartland that runs through Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia and other southern and western states. That would trigger a profound crisis for a party that just three years ago was basking in the afterglow of a convincing presidential win and dreaming of creating a 'permanent majority'.

Now that same Republican party could face a prolonged period in the political wilderness, working out how to appeal to an American public that seems prepared to send a pro-life, black senator from Chicago to the White House and reject a conservative Republican war hero.


My Own Private Sarah Palin Love Doll

By Susannah Breslin

"This Is not Sarah Palin Inflatable Love Doll" made by Topco.Today, I received my Sarah Palin inflatable love doll in the mail. I'd heard about the "This Is Not Sarah Palin Inflatable Love Doll" a few weeks ago, and when Topco Sales marketing director Desiree Duffie offered to send me one, who was I to say no? This morning, I missed the FedEx delivery; thankfully, he left the box behind a potted plant. In my apartment, I removed the product from the packaging. From the cover, a busty brunette with an updo, wearing glasses and a blue business suit with the front falling open, stared back at me. "Cross party lines with your own inflatable running mate!" the copy read. On the back, a list of key points informed: "She makes sexism sexy." When I removed the deflated doll, I found the inflatable Palin doesn't look much like the real one. And it takes forever to inflate. But one question remained: Why is America so sexually obsessed with Sarah Palin?

From male fanatics to Alec Baldwin's come-on, an adult video spoof to Palin-inspired erotica, the ways in which the public sexualizes the Republican vice presidential candidate are never-ending. Some blame her for sexualizing herself -- her look is nothing if not sexy librarian goes to Washington -- while others blame misogyny; Feministing is conducting a "Palin Sexism Watch" and has declared the Palin love doll: "So disgusting." But is it? These days, this blog and its sister sites in the blogosphere are as obsessed with Palin as a man would have to be to order an inflatable version of her. Because of the complicated message the so-called VIPILF sends out, politics and sex -- and sexual politics -- are at the fore like never before, and for the first time in a long time, the debate isn't about male sexuality (Spitzer, Clinton, Vitter), it's about female sexuality.