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Friday, Apr 18th

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Best to Wear a Hat

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New unemployment claims fell again last week and are starting approach the levels we saw just before the Tea Party Sedition movement knocked a sizable hole in the economy. There were 28,000 Federal civilian employees drawing unemployment benefits last week which was 50,000 fewer than the week before. This adds to the $24b tab for the pointless government shutdown.

 

Federal employees will get back pay for their time off, plus the hourly employees will be getting overtime pay to catch up their work. Government contractors will doubtless be demanding compensation for the snafu conditions that occurred during our brief return to the Articles of Confederation when the Federal Government was basically voluntary.

 

The GDP grew at a 2.8% rate during the 3rd quarter, which is quite respectable for the Neo-Reagan Era. In the old days of the New Deal that level of growth would have been considered slow. However 0.8 points were attributed to inventory build up in anticipation of growth in the 4th quarter, and could cause a major pull back if that growth isn't realized.

 

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An Open Letter To A Failing Republican

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By Terry Sneller

As far back in human history as we can determine, there have primarily been two classes of people – the ruling and the ruled. Rarely have there been groups of organized humans where one group didn't dominate the others. The means of control have varied from raw physical power, to beads, to gold, to superstition/religion, to control of resources, to land/territory, to intimidation, etc. One common thread that runs through most means of control is fear.

In our contemporary period of history, the Nazis honed the fine art of control through their development of fear- based propaganda. Through the decades, those lessons of how to control and then manipulate masses of people were not ignored by right leaning individuals and groups in their obsessive and psychopathic/sociopathic pursuit of power. In fact, those methods have been masterfully studied, improved upon and adapted to today's expanded and expanding forms of communications.

Today, the ruling class in America has a vast economic power base that has been used to seize control of ALL major industries, - not only in the US, but in much of the world as well. They rarely do anything illegal, as they now have the power to make the laws they live by. In our country, they now not only control our financial institutions, but the political, military, government, and industrial realms as well. Through their highly effective use and control of what is referred to as the “Main Stream Media” and the various voting processes, a relatively small group of sociopathically insane, but excessively rich, individuals have been able to manipulate the thinking and votes of a large enough percentage of the public to achieve effective political control.

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An Evening with ... Anonymous

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My son and I recently attended a talk regarding Income Inequality at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Vancouver. I went because the speaker has had hundreds of his articles published in progressive websites like OpEdNews, and I always had thought of him as one of the good guys.

Now I don’t.

I’ve tried a number of different approaches to writing about the event and I thought it was best to keep the speaker anonymous for now and just let his statements speak for themselves.

What’s happening in the United States, the divisiveness, the polarization, again, is related to this fundamental economic problem. Because when so many people feel that they’re working so hard, they’re working harder than ever, but they’re not getting anywhere. They’re actually falling behind. They feel economically insecure.

When all of those people feel that the game is rigged against them, they get angry. They get frustrated. They’re very prone to demagogues on the left or the right - it doesn’t matter who want to point the finger of blame at immigrants or at the poor or at the rich, at corporations or at government or at the trade unions. There’s a lot of blame to go around.”

This was the first WTF moment.

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Life, Death, and Other Mindsets

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You're never too old to read a love letter.  It's not embarrassing, either.  It's downright invigorating.  Even at my age.  Or yours.

Age is just a state of mind, anyway.  In a year that's been filled with keen reminders of just how tenuous this whole business of breathing and remaining upright really is, Mark Twain comes unshakably to mind:  "Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

I'm not usually so accepting of such homilies and bromides, especially the ones bordering on such blind, positive-thinking alleyways and perky, overly-caffeinated boulevards -- but there you go.  The effects of reading last night's love letter, I suspect.

The love letter was called Young Frankenstein, first rolled out on its electrical scroll, way back in the Dark Ages (as some would say) of 1974.  Hard to believe almost four decades has slipped through consciousness since, the years as easy to misplace as handfuls of lake fog gathered just before dawn.

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2 or 3 Reasons to Not Vaporize Us - Yet

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Welcome to the sequel:  Monday, Part 2 -- The Non-Incredible Sameness of It All.

Oh, sure. We could mist up some, get all starry-eyed, get down on one knee, mutter a hazy, uncertain prayer, and utter our eternal gratitude, all because our elected representatives in Washington finally started doing (gasp!) their jobs.  Avoiding a national and worldwide financial meltdown was a side bonus, of course.

Somehow, I'm just not there, way off in Blissful Gratitude Land somewhere.  It just doesn't seem like that much of a bargain or blessing.

Of course, we're not currently engaged in hand-to-hand combat in the streets, with the prize being the dubious but life-sustaining reward of dining on weeks-old dumpster fare.  That's a Good Thing, that whole Avoiding Apocalypse business.  I'm glad House representatives are finally allowing the country to do as its laws say, and actually honor the debts they have approved all along.

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The "Special Relationship": How We Got Spying Wrong

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by Montag

'Have been musing about how the NSA and the GCHQ got so chummy, and this opinion piece also made me wonder about how our own system evolved over time in the way it did.  Based on the anecdotal evidence, it seems that the U.S. has always been dependent in some ways on the British scheme of intelligence, as structured in government.  We forget nowadays that, in the longer view, the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA are all fairly recent constructs--the FBI is a little more than 75 years old (although it grew out of the earlier BOI--Bureau of Investigations--created about 25 years previously).  The CIA is only about 65 years old, and the NSA, a mere stripling at 60 years old.

To a considerable degree, we've followed the British model of organization.  The FBI is the analog of MI5, the CIA that of MI6 (thus purportedly separating domestic and foreign intelligence pursuits), with GCHQ originally handling signals intelligence and cryptography for both the military and civilian government, as the NSA has done for much of its existence (the notable exception being that NSA has its mandate as a military operation, with military leadership and funding from military budgets).

We've also followed the British tendency of taking its prime intelligence recruits from elite institutions--Cambridge, Oxford, Eton, Sandhurst, and the like, as our intelligence services are fond of Yale, particularly, and Harvard, and for a time during the Cold War, from elite Catholic universities such as Fordham and Notre Dame, most likely because idealistic young Catholic students might reliably become good Cold Warriors in the fight against godless Communism.

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How to Solve Modern Crises with Ancient Snacks

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Popcorn could be just the breakthrough we've all been looking for.

We've long needed something to help break through Madison Avenue's icy grip on our minds and on our wallets.  It could even allow, and help facilitate, contact with the Space Aliens openly living in our midst, called Republicans.

Popcorn?  Madison Avenue?  Space Aliens?

OK, let's back up and go slowly.  For openers, you know how a familiar feeling of vulnerability sometimes goes -- the sense that there are teams of psychologists working around the clock, seeking inroads to your psyche, in order to make you want to buy useless products, and ensure you are helpless to all commercial ads and suggestions, right?

Those feelings are normal, of course.

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