Financial Ruin

From this story about housing prices in the SF Bay Area, House buying: receding dream:

“With Bay Area home prices rising steeply over the past two years, most buyers have opted for adjustable-rate mortgages — often with the option of “interest-only” payments — to ensure affordable monthly payments.

In the first two months of 2005, 82 percent of people who bought homes in the nine Bay Area counties and Santa Cruz County got adjustable-rate mortgages…”

The “For Sale” signs are sprouting like mushrooms. It probably won’t be long now.

How many of you remember the Savings and Loan crisis, and the root causes?

Republicans Set Up Phony Front Group to Testify at Hearing!

The story is at THE BRAD BLOG.

Apparently the Republicans set up a phony front group to testify at a Congressional hearing on voting rights. But what really makes this story good is the pictures in the blog post.

(Through Oliver Willis.)

Advertising Money Subsidizing the Right, Moonies

I visited the Moonie Washngton Times to see this story, Conservative Web site, Heritage split. At the top of the page, at least when I visited, was a large banner ad that said, “Now Hiring,” from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), with a Department of Homeland Security logo. Clicking the ad took me to this page.

How much do you think the TSA paid the Moonies to put the ad there? Did they pay normal rates? Double? Have you seen ads like this in non-right-wing media? WHO is the TSA trying to recruit by advertising with the Moonies, and why?

I checked NewsMax, and didn’t see any government-paid ads, but you might be interested to know that NewsMax brags that Sears, Hitachi, Citibank, OfficeMax and Purina advertise with them.

WorldNetDaily has University of Phoenix, Cisco Systems, Xerox, Blockbuster.

Drudge has NetFlix,, Starbucks, EarthLink, Sprint…

You might want to really think about whether those companies deserve your business.


Important Changes to Your Citizenship Agreement – Please read and retain for your records.:

[. . .] SECTION 11

The Rule of Law section of the Agreement remains in effect, except that it no longer applies to Us. It may also, from time to time, cease to apply to Contributors above a certain level (see Schedule G, attached).


The Cruel and Unusual Punishment section of the Agreement is unchanged, except that “unusual” is amended to read “unusual in Texas.”

Right-Wingers, Read This

TalkLeft: Did Congress Really Want to Save Terri Schiavo’s Life?

Meanwhile, former Senate majority counsel Julian Epstein was on Larry King tonight. He said Congress didn’t really want to save Terri Schiavo’s life. He was faxed a draft of the legislation in advance and said he told Congress staffers that the law wouldn’t work, but that there were options that could work. He said Congress could easily have assured the reinsertion of the feeding tube by writing an automatic stay into the law — or by creating new evidentiary rules. Congress’ refusal to do so, Julian says, means it knowingly passed a half-hearted law that wouldn’t work.

They once again got the political use out of the Christians without giving the Christians anything. How long can they keep that up? Apparently, forever.

Norman Spinrad: corporate publishing oligopoly dooming science fiction novel

Just read the latest “On Books” column for Issac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, written by Norman Spinrad (author of, among others, the classic SF novels “Bug Jack Barron” and “The Iron Dream”). In it, he details the sorry state of science fiction publishing (one look at the lousy design of the IASFM web site is worth a thousand words on the economic state of the industry… not to mention the lack of interior illustrations in recent issues), and a very sad and woleful tale it is. Major publishers count themselves lucky to distribute 15,000 copies of a “mass market” publication. Small press publishers deem 1,000 copies a major success.

“Major publishers seem to be in the process of dropping literarily ambitious science fiction from their SF lines. I see the best minds of my generation and the ones that followed surrendering into small press publication in order to be published at all, or adapting their talents to fantasy, or in my case historical fiction–to earn a living, to be sure–but also to reach a readership of any meaningful size.”

The ultimate result, in his view, will be the death of “science fiction” as we know it… and the loss of our society’s primary vehicle for cultural transformation. Here’s what he has to say on the subject:

Science fiction can envision not just technology and science beyond that presently existing in the universe of the reader, but cultures evolved beyond our own, and create a belief in the reader that such things are possible, indeed must demonstrate that they cohere with the realm of the possible in order to do so.

And if one believes that something is possible and it really is, one can be moved to attempt to make it so. Thus science fiction is not only a visionary literature that can transcend the culture in which it is created, but a transformational literature that can, and has from time to time, evolved those cultures onward.

An inherently revolutionary literature, in the macrocosm and the microcosm. For while it is said that no consciousness can comprehend a consciousness evolved beyond its own, science fiction readers are gifted with that comprehension all the time by writers who create such fictional characters. And by inhabiting the consciousness of such characters, armed with the belief that they exist in the realm of the possible, cannot readers aspire to attain the next level?

A revolutionary literature. A visionary literature. A transformational literature.

The one and the only.


If you have no means of imagining and communicating a vision of something above and beyond the present state, you end up with a culture with no means of even conceptualizing it, let alone calling it into being.

You can log one more negative side effect of corporate consolidation and media monopolies… the potential death of our culture’s ability to evolve and respond to new challenges.

This from someone on our side of the fence – he participated in unauthorized street protests during the Republican National Convention last year (just before he wrote this column). There’s a hint, earlier on, that perhaps some of the small press publishers can grow themselves into “independent” publishers… perhaps the answer to the call to revolution he ends the column with is for us, the readers, to set up our own self-contained economic ecology (much like the Christians have done).

Santa Cruz’s resident curmudgeon columnist, Bruce Bratton, has written for three weeks straight about Jennifer Nix’s challenge to major figures on the left, Sleeping With The Enemy, asking why folks such as Michael Moore, Amy Goodman and Jim Hightower choose to make fortunes for media conglomerates rather than helping small independent publishers such as Chelsea Green (her company) grow… even writing these authors and getting no response from any of them.

Its a serious question… how addicted are we to the corporate culture we inhabit? Can we really envision an alternative? One for which we’d honestly be willing to put our money where our mouth is? If folks as eminent as the ones Bruce mentions in his column can’t do so, what does it say about the chances of the rest of us?

Thomas Leavitt

Dear Progressive Bloggers

You’re doing it again. You’re not seeing what is really going on. You are missing the bigger picture. You are looking at trees and missing the forest. Do you really, after all this time and all these defeats, think the Right is stupid?

You mock the Republicans for blatantly acting politically, and ignore that they ARE ACTING POLITICALLY. In other words, they’re acting in the way that will in the long term gain them more support for their candidates and issues.

You mock their politicians for flocking to this because of a Republican talking points memo telling them this will gain them a political advantage, yet you do not see that THIS WILL GAIN THEM POLITICAL ADVANTAGE.

You’re nitpicking details and ignoring the larger narrative. They are “trying to save this poor woman.” They are “defending this poor woman’s family.” Meanwhile, you are pointing out discrepancies in the finer details. “What about her husband?” you ask when they talk about her parents. “She can’t feel pain,” you say, when they accuse Democrats of starving her to death. How many people hear that they are trying to save this poor woman? Everyone. How many people, over time, will pay attention to the nitpicking details?

You THINK what the Republicans are doing is unpopular with the public because you see the issue details in the polls and think they matter. Polls say people wouldn’t want to live if they were in her situation. Polls say the state should have precedence over the Feds. But have you seen polls that reflect the larger narrative that the Republican machine is spreading? Do the polls ask if Republicans are trying to save this poor woman’s life, while Democrats are trying to kill her? What do you think those polls would say?

You point out how hypocritical the Republicans are being without thinking about WHY. Stop arguing details, getting all caught up and pinned down. Start arguing the larger narrative.

Tune in to Limbaugh. Go read the Right’s press. They are escalating this. Ask yourself why.

And watch your backs.

Update Never mind polls showing the public thinks Congress shouldn’t interfere, feels they would want to die in the same situation, etc. Those are narrow issue points. WE ALREADY KNOW that we win on issues. But they win on the larger strategic narratives. We know all these things and here we are doing it all over again.

We’re arguing the details of their lies instead of reaching the broader, general public with a larger narrative that reinforces public acceptance of the benefits of underlying Progressive values.


August, 2001, Bush receives a memo titled Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” leaves for vacation.

March, 2005, Bush receives a Republican strategy memo saying This is a great political issue, … and this is a tough issue for Democrats,” flies back from vacation for emergency Congressional session.

Party over country.


We’re immersed in information because we travel the blogosphere. So we understand about the Right and what it is doing and how. We’ve all read Brock’s book The Republican Noise Machine, for example, and analyzed it and talked about it and written about it and seen examples of what he’s talking about and writen about them and read about them on other blogs until it’s just second nature to all of us. We see it now.

I think people outside of the blogosphere are way behind us in this understanding. Many opinion leaders are some of the worst, most misinfored, most susceptible to Washington dinner party conventional wisdom. But maybe not so surprisingly, since they are the first TARGETS of the huge Right-wing propaganda operation. Of course Washington dinner party converation is exactly where such a propaganda effort would place much of its focus. But some – just some – are starting to see it.

So we should cut them SOME slack, but I think we also owe it to them and to the country to get the information to them. I think we all need to make an effort to reach them, the Friedmans and the Liebermans and the public, with the information about the Right’s $400 million-per-year network of propaganda organizations and HOW they operate, and repeat this over and over.

When the Germans and the Soviets started bombarding US with their propaganda, the government went to the media and taught them about what was going on, and how to spot it, and how to defend against it… We need a similar national-scale effort NOW, because now it is the government, under the control of a malignant political party that is merging with the state, and using the power and resources of the state to consolidate Party power…