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MSNBC: Mark Ames and Yasha Levine
Broke the Koch Brothers' Takeover of America
Yasha Levine


This article was first published by Vice magazine.

We do not live in a democracy because America is all about serving the haves and the have-mores: a capitalocracy, where money talks and broke nobodies like you and me walk. Many people vaguely understand this, but I get to see it every day up close and personal in my adopted home of Victorville, California. (more…)

Posted: October 1st, 2009


Once again, the Case/Schiller Index has lived up to its name. All summer long, real estate shills have used it to jack up homebuyer confidence and fluff the housing market. Now, they are doing it again. Just look at the bullshit headlines coming out today:

U.S. Economy: Home Prices Increase by Most Since 2005 . . . US home prices up for third month . . . Index shows home prices rose for 3rd month in July . . . Money Daily Brief: US home prices rise for third straight month . . . Home prices gain for 3rd straight month . . . Denver home prices rise again, getting closer to 2008 levels

Most of this unbridled optimism is based on the just released Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller’s U.S. National Home Price Index data for the month of July, which showed that home prices went up by 1.2% since June. A one-point-two-percent month-over-month increase? Ain’t that something! (more…)

Posted: September 29th, 2009


Border Barrier Blues:
Mexican footpaths on the Arizona side of the fence

Last week, the Government Accountability Office released a depressing audit of the US-Mexico border fence we’ve been trying to put up for the past three years. The report caused about 8 hours of pretend outrage and was promptly forgotten. It found that we’d already shoveled $2.4 billion to half-seal 600 miles of the border since 2005 (we still have about 100 to 200 miles to go) and we would need to spend an additional $6.5 billion over the next 20 years just plugging up holes punched in the fencing.


Posted: September 24th, 2009


This should be nothing but good news for local Mexican haters, but don’t be fooled. While it may bring smiles to their faces, the story has a dark-lead lining for hardworking red-blooded Americans: (more…)

Posted: September 22nd, 2009

The Big Shill


VICTORVILLE, CA—Following the general trend seen all over the country, there’s been a push around these parts to convince people that the recession will soon be a thing of the past. Local papers have been publishing articles with laughable headlines like “SoCal housing market may be stabilizing” or “Local economy back in growth mode.” Meanwhile, the city of Victorville has been abandoning non-mission-critical development projects, raising utility fees and borrowing from itself like mad to keep a few core development projects afloat to, you know, keep up appearances. Last week, community elders pulled together a who’s who of obscure shills for the 10th Annual High Desert Economic summit, hoping that a pep talk and some community time will help shake out the recession blues. (more…)

Posted: September 21st, 2009


This article was first published by Vice magazine.

It was a hot day, still 98 degrees at 6 PM, as I zoomed through gridlock on my freshly fixed 1979 Kawasaki KZ-400, squeezing between the monster trucks and lifted SUVs clogging one of Victorville’s main drags, pouring sweat into my helmet and leather jacket on my way to an anti-Obamacare “town hall” meeting at the local community college.

I thought I knew what to expect when I got there. Like everyone else in this country, I had been watching the packs of deranged tea bagger types and their astroturfing overlords dominate the healthcare reform debate like a pack of retarded howler monkeys in heat. But TV hadn’t quite prepared me for the reality of it. You can’t really appreciate how fucked this country really is until you see, as I did, hundreds of blue collar Americans sync up their primitive brains in a paranoid racist-hick seance, channeling White Power ideals through Reagan’s damned soul. (more…)

Posted: September 10th, 2009

Dr Pepper - Victorville City Water Sports

VICTORVILLE, Calif. — On a sun-baked afternoon in October 2008, a group of soft-drink executives and city officials gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony at an old Air Force base on the outskirts of the city, 100 miles east of Los Angeles.

They were standing on the edge of the Mojave Desert, one of the driest, most inhospitable terrains in America. Yet there they were, posing for photographs, gold-plated shovels in hand, to mark the construction of a massive new bottling plant and distribution hub for the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, a facility that will suck up hundreds of millions of gallons of water a year from this water-scarce area to supply soft drinks to 20 percent of its domestic market. (more…)

Posted: September 9th, 2009