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Sunday, 28 February 2010

Don't they know?

Butterfly Blue Fun Floral Embroidery balconette braBra of the Week

Neat landscape photograph from Justelene.

The Great Carina Nebula, and the cocoon of a new white dwarf.

Tonight on Virtually Speaking (Our media, not theirs!): Cliff Schecter and Watertiger. Listen live here (or "in-person" at Virtually Speaking Amphitheater in Second Life) at 5:00 PM Pacific, or to the archive stream or podcast later, here. (And congrats to FDL for finally adding it to their Sunday Talking Heads announcement.)

Liberals are smarter. I like the part where religion is a feature of paranoia.

I dunno, maybe the Rude One is right and it needed a whole wasted year of Republicans getting away with it while Obama sat on his hands, but I don't think he looked that smart suddenly noticing that the Republicans are not acting in good faith. From where I sit, Obama refused to take the high ground for a year or even let other Democrats do it, with the result that the GOP has had all this time to slow the health care train to a standstill. And maybe that's Obama's real job: to make sure there is never any real health care program. I mean, it's how I would have done it if I was opposed to Americans having health care. And it still seems to be working.

Digby looks at Ron Paul's arguments against fixing the system; like all "libertarian" arguments, it fails to acknowledge that the destruction of civil liberties caused by corporatism is a feature of the protection of wealth rather than people.

This Week in Tyranny: "Pat Leahy talked tough. Which does not inspire a whole lot of confidence. He did manage to swing into action on one issue though." (And that's just one little thing....)

Atrios wonders what they mean by "recovery", since at really looks like it's about reinflating the bubble - a bad idea all around.

A Healthcare Revolution Without Torches And Pitchforks? Make them do it.

House of Representatives Refuses Punishment for Torture.

"Code Pink protester: Blackwater official threatened to kill me."

Skeeter Davis, "End of the World"

17:36 GMT

Friday, 26 February 2010

Leftover links

OK, so a private army run by a right-wing lunatic is in the pay of the State Department and is stealing weapons from the United States for their own purposes. And, um, are we okay with that?

Apropos of which, thanks to Atrios for finding this quote from Adam Serwer: "The Senate is holding a hearing today where several current and former Blackwater employees will be testifying, but honestly the only way Congress would stop giving Blackwater money is if it started registering black people to vote."

"Darcy Burner told me that they would construe talking about the public option - even comparing it to single payer - as an attack on the members of the Progressive Caucus."

And here all your life you thought it was already illegal: "Rep. Reyes Introduces a Measure Re-Criminalizing Torture: Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), the chairman of the House intelligence committee, introduced an amendment to the 2010 intelligence authorization bill imposing a 15-year criminal sentence on any 'officer or employee of the intelligence community' who tortures a detainee. (Twenty years if the torture involves an 'act of medical malfeasance'; life if the detainee dies.) [...] Basically, it clarifies that the entire parade of outside-the-Army-Field-Manual-on-Interrogation horrors during the Bush administration are criminal acts. We'll see if this ever actually makes it to President Obama's desk."

They had to destroy our country to "save" it, or Krugman on The Bankruptcy Boys: "But there is a kind of logic to the current Republican position: in effect, the party is doubling down on starve-the-beast. Depriving the government of revenue, it turns out, wasn't enough to push politicians into dismantling the welfare state. So now the de facto strategy is to oppose any responsible action until we are in the midst of a fiscal catastrophe. You read it here first. " Of course, no one will mention that we've seen a nation restore itself from financial catastrophe (not to mention having the Luftwaffe bomb the hell out of it): Make a better welfare state. You don't think Britain would have survived without it, do you?

In a rare moment of not being a mere distraction, Nicholas Kristoff considers the ridiculous nature of dealing with your health insurer - if it were the news business.

Digby notes that selling women out has become all the rage on the left, when we should be demanding that Bart Stupak put his personal mania aside so that Americans can have health care. (Meanwhile, there is one thing that has bipartisan agreement....)

Here's Dick Durbin making an argument on "socialized" health care at the "summit" that even a Senator can understand. Frankly, unless all these people finally round on Obama and say they are tired of fighting for one little slice of bread from a moldy loaf and they want a real health care bill with single-payer, I'm still of the opinion that it's all kabuki. Or do I mean "noh"?

Julia had a few more details on the high school spycam story, and also on how John Yoo and Jay Bybee got off the hook for torture memos.

Good and somewhat painful cry for help for Americans on end-of-life counseling from Keith Olbermann.

15:41 GMT

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Assorted links

Jamie Galbraith says, "We Need Jobs, not Deficit Cuts [...] The broad outline of a program is therefore plain. There is no mystery about it. In 1929, Keynes wrote, 'there is work to do; there are men to do it. Why not bring them together?' Today as then, it is that simple."

The murderous National Right to Life Committee is protecting your freedom by opposing the government's ability to control health insurance premiums. This actually doesn't appear to have anything to do with abortion, either - they simply don't want government to take away your freedom to be gouged by health insurance companies.

ACORN has been dissolved as a national entity. ACORN's crime, of course, was that it helped real American citizens use their right to vote, and helped poor people. Meanwhile, Dick Cheney is still on TV.

This Week in Tyranny, "I hate to sound like a broken record, but Dick Cheney is shameless and is eager to be publicly guilty. He has made his life an open, defiant challenge to the US government. Does anyone have the courage to take him down, and unleash the inevitable whirlwind? Or does the entire DC establishment prefer to live in quiet, peaceful acquiescence? Those are the only options at this point. Cheney wants to cast as wide a net of complicity as possible; he wants not just his White House implicated but future ones. Not just the White House, but the executive branch. Not just the executive branch but the legislative and judicial branches as well. He wants as much company as possible so he does not go down as a singular villain. It is working, and will continue as long as our leaders prefer to put their immediate comfort over their obligations. [...] Cheney is even crazier than many of us suspected, by the way."

All you need to know about Howard Kurtz is that a few weeks ago he referred to The Washington Post's left-leaning editorial page. Those are the pages that contain George F. Will and these people.

Via ql, I see Cenk has an interesting take on Dana Milbank's paean to Rahm Emanuel - that Rahm is basically toast. I'm still wondering about the back-story, though.

You can listen to Sunday's Virtually Speaking with Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel) and Joan McCarter (McJoan) here . (And, for those who were confused, the VS with Culture of Truth and me is here.)

In a controversial experiment, researchers attempt to communicate with smug git.

Unpublished Beatles photos that were lying in a drawer for all these years. (via)

19:12 GMT

Monday, 22 February 2010

If you loved the Great Depression...

It's hard to believe that Tom Friedman was ever regarded as any kind of a liberal, and there is still a part of me that finds it incredible that he didn't end up fired and broke and living in a ditch somewhere after going on television and saying we should murder hundreds of thousands of innocent people because we needed to tell them to "Suck on this." Now, as Dean Baker reports, he needs to tell the rest of us to suck it, too:

Thomas Friedman Competes for the Nobel in Ignorance

Thomas Friedman told readers that: "But now it feels as if we are entering a new era, 'where the great task of government and of leadership is going to be about taking things away from people,' said the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum."

Unfortunately, Mr. Friedman apparently doesn't talk to anyone who has ever taken any economics. There are no serious forecasts that do not project that productivity will continue to grow for the indefinite future, and many project that productivity will grow at a more rapid pace than it did in the years from 1973-1995. This means that there is no reason, except incompetent economic management and/or the continuing upward redistribution of income, why the vast majority of the population should not experience improvements in living standards. This would mean an increase in both public and private services.

And Atrios elaborates:
Of course when people say things like that, and especially when GGP Friedman parrots it, he of course means things will only get worse for the proles, that this is inevitable and there's nothing elites can do about it, and we'd all better suck it up and learn to be polite to our wealthy overlords.

Maybe if we hadn't spent all that money to tell Iraqis to suck on this. Oh well.

Our owners are telegraphing that some magic formula dictates that we have to be made miserable. Of course, what's making us miserable isn't magic - it's them.

12:46 GMT

Saturday, 20 February 2010

You really got a hold on me

Freya Jolie Plunge BraBra of the Week

Happy 70th birthday to the great Smokey Robinson.

Your steampunk moment: Les Historiettes de Mr Sandalette.

Sensuous photographs by Zhang Jingna.

"The Bush 400: For Democrats wavering in their resolve to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, shocking new data from the IRS should hopefully stiffen their backbones. Between 2001 and 2007, the 400 richest taxpayers doubled their annual incomes to an average of $345 million, while their effective tax rate plummeted to only 16.6% from 29.4% in 1993."

Unlike Atrios, I don't think there's anything at all wrong with Geithner taking a little time out to spotlight a very good and important program that probably shouldn't be his top priority - hell, maybe he just needs to do something decent for a a change. I'm much more worried about how he spends the rest of his time - like running around pretending that all will be well if we just give all our money to those few hundred really, really rich people and ignore the wreckage they have been leaving in their wake. Punishing those malefactors and re-redistributing wealth downward (instead of upward) should be his top priority, but he's not doing that. (I also see via Atrios that the allegation that a school district had passed out computers to students and then used a security features to remotely spy on them at home via webcam appears to have real legs.)

Bill Maher (having revealed the exciting news that the Obama administration was said to be lifting the ban on haggis - alas, too late for this year's Burns night - but the USDA denies they have any intention to do so), on cults: "...cult members always attribute all of their problems to one simple explanation. Now here's an amazing statistic. In a recent poll almost ninety percent of Tea Baggers said that they thought taxes had either gone up or stayed the same under Obama. Only two percent thought they went down. But the reality is taxes have gone down for ninety five percent of working families taxes went down. Think about that. Only two percent of the people in a "movement" about taxes named after a tax revolt have the slightest idea what's going on...with taxes."

At Daily Kos, DemFromCT supplies Your Abbreviated Pundit Round-up. I was amused to learn that Norm Ornstein thinks the Senate would behave better if they had to work 9-to-5 every weekday in the Senate for three weeks out of four, then spend the next week having to work in their constituencies meeting the people they are allegedly there to serve. There's a certain sense to the suggestion. But I still think they should be forced to actually filibuster when they claim they're going to. Also via DKos's Meteor Blades, Scott Horton's interview with Will Bunch about his book Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy. There's actually some fascinating reading in there, as Bunch not only explains how Grover Norquist and friends created a myth of Reagan's popularity during his presidency and gave him lots of credit for supposedly good things he did that he didn't even do, but also points out that the real Reagan was actually far superior to the lunatics who claim to revere him, and did not share many of their crackpot policies. (Reagan, for example, would have disapproved of yesterday's monstrous op-ed in the NYT by no one anyone has ever heard of - because she has never done anything - complaining that the US is being too timid about murdering innocent civilians.)

Big Tent Democrat looked at one of those op-eds, too, and says, "Dana Milbank's Apologia for Rahm Emanuel demonstrates precisely why he was a terrible choice for Chief of Staff. Leaving aside the questions of his political and policy judgment (which Milbank lauds, I think they are horrid), it is the fact that Rahmbo is interested in his own personal agenda first, that of the President's second." Be that as it may, I think Rahm's agenda does not conflict at all with Obama's policies. (BTD also concludes that the Villagers really love the excise tax on health insurance policies, but doesn't seem to have an explanation for this phenomenon...although we can guess. The better - that is, comparatively decent - health insurance policies in question are the ones unions fought for.) And apparently, our owners are still trying to prevent inflation in a time of deflation. And the Ward Churchill case is more interesting than you think.

23:47 GMT

Friday, 19 February 2010

I saw this

I just listened to last week's Sam Seder webcast (because I forgot what time it was) and then this week's live, which was refreshing and brought back old times. Apparently The Young Turks may start doing this regularly (I hope). And presumably he'll be posting today's show when it's ready. Some interesting discussion there with Chris Hedges and Digby.

It's amazing that anyone needs to be told that Democrats would do better at the polls if they would just fight hard to pass a good health care bill. Unfortunately, they haven't even been willing to look at one, preferring to listen to people who want to kill health care rather than those who want to supply it. They could smash the conservatives to smithereens if they'd just gone with a fully government-staffed, government-funded single-payer plan - not just because it's the only good way to do it, but because it's the best rhetorical object - defending single-payer answers every "criticism" the conservatives have about health care simply and without a lot of gobbledygook. Want to save money? Single-payer saves hundreds of billions of dollars over what we have now and any other plan. You cover everyone, you save a third of current costs in administration alone, you don't have to take money out of your pocket and out of the tax base just to enrich already bloated CEOs, you remove reams of red tape - and no one sends you a bill afterwards because it's already paid for. Fight for a good bill, and then make the Republicans defend higher taxes, higher expenses, and higher death tolls. The Democrats need to admit a simple fact about conservative policies generally: They cost you more in taxes, and they take your lives.

Hilariously, conservatives are worried that health insurance companies are not waiting until after the health insurance mandate passes to start gouging the public even more in California: "Health insurance premiums are surging - and conservatives fear that the spectacle will reinvigorate the push for reform. On the Fox Business Network, a host chided a vice president of WellPoint, which has told California customers to expect huge rate increases: 'You handed the politicians red meat at a time when health care is being discussed. You gave it to them!'" Even better, WellPoint insists they have to raise rates because their costs are going up. Their costs are going up because their rates are so high that more and more healthy people are dropping their insurance, meaning that the customers they're keeping are the ones who are already getting treatment for existing conditions. So WellPoint is pricing itself out of the market. So, says Krugman, the insurance companies themselves are providing the argument against the Republican "plan" for "reform" (less regulation) and underlining the need for something at least as strong as...oh, the plan Obama pretended to have ("public option") with strong regulation, no discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, and of course mandates. Which is, of course, true, but it's also a really great argument for an even better plan.

So, it would be smart if they pass a public option, or at least smarter than what they've been doing. Not that I believe they really mean it (because if they meant it, they would at least talk about the virtues of single-payer as a way to threaten the bad guys with more to come), but if you want to, maybe you can help Whip Congress.

Dan Holzman has started a blog, The Defense Rests, "A blog about security without tears or apology." Really not sure what that means, yet.

Bright and beautiful oil paintings by Leonid Afremov.

Nothing is real.

19:30 GMT

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Lead-free media

I'm afraid The Medium Lobster has it right:

We know that Barack Obama, in his heart of hearts, truly wants Real Change. We can tell this by examining the furrows of his brow as he squints meaningfully into the middle distance, by carefully measuring the sincerity-per-pixel count of his campaign posters, by reflecting on the inspirational Martin Luther King quotes he delicately intones before carpet-bombing an Afghan village. But we also know that despite his best efforts, Barack Obama can't achieve Real Change, confounded as he is by such institutional barriers as Congress and the Pentagon and Barack Obama. We know, for example, that Barack Obama wants nothing less than a sweeping overhaul of America's health care system, but has been hopelessly blocked at every turn by conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and Barack Obama. And we know that Barack Obama did everything he could to oppose a trillion-dollar no-strings-attached bailout of a corrupt finance industry, but was helpless to stop it, boosted as it was by notorious corporate whore Barack Obama. And we know that Nobel Laureate Barack Obama is a devout lover of peace, but has been powerless to prevent the American military's rampant bloodletting throughout the Muslim world, as the nation's armed forces remain in the hands of that bloodthirsty warmonger Barack Obama.


And we know that as disappointed as we might be in Barack Obama - in his little failings, in his petty slights, in his odd betrayals, in his unseemly habit of dancing naked through the streets of Oslo smeared with the blood and entrails of Afghan children - we also know that the alternative would be far worse. Why, with a Republican president, we might be at war with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and possibly Iran, or facing some hideously draconian corporatist scheme to compel poor people to buy private insurance they can't afford, with a government that not only excuses the torture regimes of the past but dramatically expands them while giving itself license to murder anyone it likes anywhere on the planet. With Barack Obama, on the other hand, we have all that plus a man who can sparkle wittily on late night television. Now, I think that has to be worth at least a couple thousand dead Muslims, don't you?

"Ruling: No Court Can Hear Abuse and Wrongful Death Claims from Guantanamo: February 17, 2010, New York - Yesterday evening, the district court in Washington, D.C. ruled against two men who died in Guantanamo in June 2006 and their families in a case seeking to hold federal officials and the United States responsible for the men's torture, arbitrary detention and ultimate deaths at Guantánamo. "

Republicans get their figures by having the CBO calculate fantasies.

Marion in Savannah reads the op-eds, and finds Bobo particularly wanting.

Hmm, did the dirty hippies ragging on Bayh actually have an impact? (And Ezra Klein goes to Newsweek.).

A few little differences between the teabaggers and The Real Tea Partiers.

They're teabagging, but maybe you can start brownbagging.

I don't think algae will save us.

04:33 GMT

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A bunch of stuff

Down in the comments, CMike transcribed a section from a Kunstler video:

The amount of delusional thinking that's being generated by this set of very vexing problems [i.e. Peak Oil and the financial collapse] is staggering and it's crippling us ...

I was invited to go to the Google headquarters and give a speech three years ago in Silicon Valley and I went to their headquarters which is an office park building in the suburbs.

The building was tricked out like a kindergarten. O.K. they got Foosball games, and knock hockey, and ping-pong, and video terminal vibrating chairs and Lucite boxes of gummy bears and yogurt covered pretzels and other wholesome sweets. And the whole idea in American corporate life now is the more infantile you are the more that means you're creative. ...

So that's how the headquarters are set up. And the senior engineers and executives came into the auditorium and they're dressed like skate board rats. They're wearing side ways hats and their pants are hanging down so low that their ass cracks are on display. Senior executives, "Oh we're childish, we're playful." So this is the highest level of American high tech enterprise. And I gave my talk on energy.

At the end we did questions. There were no questions, just seventeen comments and they were all the same comment which was, "Like dude, we've got technology." Subtext: you're an a**hole. "We've got technology, dude."

What that clued me into is that they don't know the difference between energy and technology at the highest level of American corporate high-tech enterprise. And that's shocking. They don't know the difference. They think if you run out of energy [you] just plug in technology.

We're going to discover very painfully it's not true ... we're going to discover the hard way that [planes] run on liquid hydro-carbon fuels or we're not going to have an airline industry and the likelihood is that we're not going to have an airline industry ...

By the way, I was reflecting on why do the Google people even think this [way], these are Stanford Ph.D.'s. What is their problem? And I realized what was going on. What you have is a whole cohort of people who have become zillionaires at the age of twenty-seven from pushing pixels around a screen with a mouse.

So they develop what I call this techno-grandiosity, you know, the idea that you can solve absolutely every problem in the world [by] pushing a mouse around and changing the pixels on the screen. And that's where we are in the U.S. We are suffering from this tremendous techno-triumphalism and techno-grandiosity, thinking we'll just tech our way out of these problems. We're going to be very disappointed ...

Natasha Chart: "It's particularly bitter to note that as the ravages of this economy take their toll on people who have to work for a living, the biggest worry of politicians, including President Obama is that they avoid hurting the feelings of extremely wealthy business leaders. One class of people can suffer poverty, depression, the loss of close social ties, higher risks of death, lifetime wage cuts, etc., and it's all right so long as a 'better' class of people doesn't have to be bothered about causing it." Ian Welsh has a list of how to fix it, but, "... the problem in the US right now is that virtually nothing of any significance works. Not the military, who with 50% of the world military budget is being fought to a draw by ragtag militias, not the political system, and definitely not the economic system. Fixing this, fixing America, is a literally monumental task, like building pyramids. It will take a generation, perhaps two, of very committed people. I fear that those people don't exist in large enough numbers, at least not in any position of power or able to seize power. I hope Americans prove me wrong."

Meanwhile, Republicans finally admit that what they mean by "bipartisanship" is to pass only Republican legislation.

There's no doubt in my mind that when the forced-pregnancy people give out the names and addresses of doctors who perform abortions and their staff members, they mean to encourage people to harass them - perhaps even violently.

Neil Gaiman posting his reaction on Twitter to a SouthwestAir pilot kicking Kevin Smith off a plane for being too fat seems to have created an even bigger stir than was already stirring. Some of us had the natural reaction: Neil, could you please twit that Americans already pay more in taxes to maintain our medical system than the Brits pay for fully socialized medicine?

I've been meaning to post the video of Jon Stewart on O'Reilly's show and it keeps slipping my mind, but I did find it interesting to watch.

Downloadable podcasts for this month's Virtually Speaking, including my appearances with Culture of Truth and Eve Gittelson (nyceve), can be found here.

Various nudes and other art photos by Stefan Gesell

03:19 GMT

Monday, 15 February 2010


Culture of Truth & Avedon on Virtually SpeakingI can't believe I was so busy yesterday I forgot to warn you that Culture of Truth and I had a big Valentine's Day date on Virtually Speaking to talk about how right-wing our so-called liberal media is. But you can stream or download the podcast here.

Ruth got snow pix!

Live Lichtenstein

Miniature world

"Dean" David Broder is now crushing on Sarah Palin.

Okay, so the Bloomberg story somewhat misrepresented what Obama said, but the simple fact of the matter is that what he said was still awful. It was just awful in a smoother, slicker way. We're not talking about Athletes who didn't happen to get to the Superbowl, we're talking about people who belong in jail for defrauding the public and wrecking the economy.

These are the kinds of concerns that make many people support the health care bill, but of course the alleged good provisions of the bill would not kick in soon enough to save their friends and family who need help now, even if those provisions were as advertised. And they're not.

Even the teabaggers are smart enough to put their people in place locally. We should be getting in there from the ground up, just like they are.

Just about everyone is ahead of the US, in almost everything good. Outside US borders, there is more innovation, better development of infrastructure, faster transport, higher technological advancement, and of course better healthcare. And conservatives want it to stay that way. Ever wonder why?

Looks like Harold Ford is serious about getting into the race in NY if he actually means to start paying taxes there. Finally.

I think it's great that Biden called Cheney a liar on TV, but I loved the fact that Jon Stewart actually corrected Gingrich's BS after an interview with him. (No, I can't see that video, but I saw it on TV when it aired. The reason I want links I can see is so that I can post them for my lazy friends who can barely bring themselves to click links, let alone use proxy servers or anything else to see this stuff. I want all of my readers to be able to gain easy access to these clips, not just people who are willing to go out of their way to see them. I can and do see The Daily Show when it airs in the UK (a day late), but some of this stuff deserves special attention and often bears watching again - easily.)

Gosh, would Goldman Sachs hack an online poll?

What's so bad about teen-age sex? Not a lot.

You may have noticed that I'm advertising my favorite T-shirt over on the sidebar. I think it would be wonderful if no politician or media idiot could go outside without seeing at least a couple of these. Click the link, buy one (and tell them I sent you), and wear it around Capitol Hill, or your state capitol building or the places your local reporters go for lunch, and let them see that we're wise to them.

14:16 GMT

Saturday, 13 February 2010

In a time of hopey-changey

Chris Floyd is right on it:

Democrats and progressives are crying doom over the party's defeat in Massachusetts. The loss, we're told, is a blow to Barack Obama's political agenda, and so it is. They say it's a shame that yet another rightwing zealot who advocates torture is now in the Senate, and so it is. But it is precisely that agenda that led to the loss, and the shame. It is that agenda which has resurrected a rightwing party that was dead in the water, and empowered its most extreme elements.

And what is Barack Obama's agenda? What is his political program? It breaks down into three main elements: unwinnable wars, unconscionable bailouts, and unworkable, unwanted health care "reform" that forces people to further enrich some of the most despised conglomerates in the land. It is, in every way, a recipe for moral, economic and political disaster. It is a gigantic anchor tied around the neck of the Democratic Party, and it will drag the whole lumbering wreck back to the bottom in short order.

It also provides a fertile breeding ground for the willful, belligerent ignorance of the Right to thrive. With such an egregiously stupid and destructive agenda at work in the White House, opponents need only say that they are against it, and they are guaranteed a wide following. Who would not be against unwinnable war, unconscionable bailouts and unworkable boondoggles serving rapacious elites? The actual positions held by these opponents - the actual policies they will pursue once in power - are given little scrutiny in such circumstances. The opponent represents change from a hated status quo - and that's enough. Later, when their odious positions come to light, it is too late.

Where have we seen this dynamic at work before? Oh yes, it was way back in November 2008. Barack Obama represented change from the hated status quo, from the agenda of the ruling Republican party. And what was that agenda? Why, unwinnable wars, unconscionable bailouts and the assiduous service of rapacious elites. The actual positions held by Obama - the actual policies that he would pursue once in power - were given little scrutiny.

In Britain there were the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, and then one day things were looking, well, like this, and along came the Labour Party, and lo and behold, the Liberal Party just became a side issue. And then Labour got co-opted and now they're just like the Tories, only with a more young and "cool" veneer. Both countries, of course, could really use a real liberal party. Maybe it's time we make one.

Last week Ian Welsh gave "the short answer" to why a flat tax is a bad idea, but he was too brief for me and a few others, so I added a comment to the effect that it's not simply a matter of getting the money from the people who have it, or making those who get the most out of public resources pay for them, or fairness, or any of these other niceties, it's the fact that immoral levels of wealth in the hands of the few give them more power than that of the many combined, and they will and do use that power to destroy the society they have taken such advantage of. That is: Billionaires are the most dangerous weapon of mass destruction there is.

An invitation to the White House contains a paragraph suggesting that there actually will be "a proposed health insurance reform package", and that it will be online before February 25th. Think about that for a minute.

14:07 GMT

Thursday, 11 February 2010

They would not listen, they're not listening still

Alan Grayson has The Story That No One Will Tell:

But the House candidate who raised the most money in the entire country during the last FEC reporting period - $860,000 in three months - is not a teabagger. He is not boosted relentlessly by Fox News. He's not even a Republican. He doesn't think that the Earth was created 6000 years ago, that President Obama was born in Kenya, or that global warming is a hoax.

This House candidate also, remarkably, had the largest number of contributors. Over 15,000 individuals contributed, many of whom have given time after time, whatever they could. The House candidate who raised the most money did so without French-kissing lobbyists, without flattering the idle rich, and without reaching into his own pocket.

The House candidate who raised the most money, from the most people, is an outspoken populist who tells it like it is on the war, on jobs, and on health care. His website is called CongressmanWithGuts.com. In the 100,000 e-mails that he has received this year, the most common refrain is, "You are saying what I've been thinking."

I know who he is. Because he's me.

Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald and Dennis Kucinich were on Democracy Now! the other day talking about the Supreme Court's decision that corporations can buy elections and about the Obama administration's assassination policy.

Obama has really lost Sadly, No! with his recent show of cluelessness: "Hey Obama: THE TAX PAYERS DIDN'T SPEND HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO BAIL OUT ALEX RODRIGUEZ. This is an important distinction that bears repeating." Also, as I understand it, those athletes who make a lot of money usually aren't getting it for destroying the US economy.

Virtue is its own reward but vice really pays off.

Ruth seems excited about an op-ed appearing in The Wall Street Journal stating flatly that having anti-government kooks running the government is why the government doesn't work too well lately, but it's only Thomas Frank, who has been writing liberal op-eds for the WSJ for some time now - and, frankly, he's more liberal than most of the "liberal" columnists at the supposedly "liberal" NYT and WaPo, nevermind the "mainstream" creeps on most TV networks. It's funny; The Washington Post has "liberals" like Richard Cohen, the NYT has "liberals" like Tom Friedman, but when the WSJ got themselves a liberal columnist for their otherwise right-wing crackpot opinion page, they actually hired a real liberal.

I must say that James Howard Kunstler does find a few nice turns of phrase to tell us that We're Weimar.

Gosh, a race with the name Nixon in it, and in the middle of some GOP squabbling, too.

How can I miss you if your policies won't go away?

The original sound recording of Hoagy Carmichael's "Heart and Soul" by Larry Clinton & his Orchestra, not at all like you learned to play it. And here's the sheet music version.

Steampunk stuff

"Starry Starry Night" (because it actually was when I started writing this post, but then it got all overcast and snowed and stuff).

13:29 GMT

Tuesday, 09 February 2010


We had some snowflakes yesterday. It was amusing to watch, but it didn't settle or anything. I hear there was more than that back home. But today it's clear and sunny, which I assume will mean it'll be bloody cold when I go out there.

I have to put a post up quick because the threads on the previous post have turned ugly, but I don't have much to say, and I'm just annoyed that process is more important than policy once you're inside the bubble. The right-wing wrote too much of health insurance bill, but instead of talking about that, we're supposed to talk about why they should vote for it since it's so full of their own crap.

A few minutes of steampunk.

Nuit Blanche. (Thanks to Dominic.)

13:08 GMT

Monday, 08 February 2010

Roll with it

Noam Chomsky on teabaggers: "These people have real grievances. [...] For 30 years they've been shafted." And the Democrats can't marginalize them forever. If they don't pay attention, someone will make use of them.

Part of me is looking forward to seeing how the right-wing performs when confronted with a resolution to lay it on the line about privatizing Social Security, but I have to worry about how these things will go. After all, Geithner still wants to rob that bank because that's where the money is.

If I thought for a minute that Obama meant we should "take our time" with the health insurance bill by going back over it and ripping out the crap to put good things in their place, I'd say, sure, I agree completely! Except I don't think that's what he's doing, so good on Al Franken for letting steam come out of his ears at David Axelrod over the administration's lack of leadership.

I already want this T-shirt, but it's increasingly clear that a lot more people need to see it. Especially now that DU has signed on to the STFU program.

Bonus Watching-the-Defectives section: Even I am stunned by the awfulness of Mark Sanford, a fine example of Republican values. Meanwhile, more high conservative standards from Sarah Palin, who thinks it's really crude to say the things Rush Limbaugh says, unless you're Rush Limbaugh. Also, Roger Stone is running the "Manhattan Madame" for Governor, and Mike Bloomberg, in a startling show of solidarity with civil servants, says that city workers should demand lower taxes for Wall Street.

Of course, educational achievement for women doesn't mean they out-earn men. (I wish someone had mentioned this to Daniel Patrick Moynahan before he wrote a notorious paper alleging that black women's educational achievements were what was keeping the black man down. Of course black women in the workforce had more education than black men. The same was always true of white women, too, but they still made less money.)

I also remember when "Children are our future" meant we were supposed to try to help them get somewhere in life besides prison. (via)

I'm told I can watch Comedy Central if I use another browser. But, jeez, I don't want to have to install another browser. I'm sick to death of things that make me install another browser just to get this site or that one.

You may recognize a few of our friends in the animated xkcd. (There's credits here for those who don't recognize our friends, or just think maybe that person looks familiar....)

Steve Winwood

14:22 GMT

Sunday, 07 February 2010

Do anything take us out of this gloom

Cleo by Panachee Billie plunge braBra of the Week

A moment from Not Only, But Also.


Iridescent Mars, and Mars over the fogbow.

A moment that doesn't completely suck.

The $250,000 question; Or, Class Warfare for Dummies - It really is amazing how many people don't get this simple stuff they have to see every year.

I know he's a conservative because he's such a bad dad.

Amanda talks about Torture and TV, and it's a problem I've been mulling over for quite some time, as well. Back in the days when it was normal to see news shows or stories discussing the fact that torture doesn't work (and not giving any credence to the illusion that it does work), I didn't worry so much about the way torture seemed to work in dramatic fiction. Trouble is, everyone now talks like this fakery works in real life, and there's no good speech allowed to counteract the bad speech. This stuff was "just a movie" or "just a TV show" back when no one was trying to claim the effectiveness of torture as fact - but those days are gone.

It's so nice to see a Democratic Senator who doesn't equivocate about women's reproductive choices. His name is Al Franken.

I don't get this stuff. I mean, the John McCain they're talking about became nationally famous for being involved in the S&L scandal. He had a brief moment of trying to polish his image up a bit by pushing campaign finance, but if he'd been serious it would have been a different kind of bill altogether, and he would have opposed other moves Congress took that did much to shore up the influence of money in politics - and he didn't. It's also the same John McCain who made a big show of opposing torture, only to quietly vote for it when it was put in front of him. There really is nothing new about McCain being a dick. Seriously. (via)

Oliver got snow pictures.

Traffic, live, 1972.

16:09 GMT

Saturday, 06 February 2010

Assorted stuff

Mark Thoma found some interesting work on Inequality and "Guard Labor" in a profile of Samuel Bowles by Corey Pein:

"The founders of the discipline of economics, almost to a man - and they were only men - thought that the problem of distribution between classes - they used the word classes - was the key to understanding why nations grew or not," Bowles says. What Bowles sees as the essence of his profession [is] problems of wealth distribution...

Isn't inequality merely the price of America being No. 1?

"That's almost certainly false," Bowles tells SFR. "Prior to about 20 years ago, most economists thought that inequality just greased the wheels of progress. Overwhelmingly now, people who study it empirically think that it's sand in the wheels." ... Bowles offers a key reason why this is so. "Inequality breeds conflict, and conflict breeds wasted resources," he says.

In short, in a very unequal society, the people at the top have to spend a lot of time and energy keeping the lower classes obedient and productive.

In the face of tightening up the financial regulations, watch out for Stupid Banker Tricks meant to keep you paying for the rest of your life on even the smallest expenditures.

Kos commissioned a poll asking what Republicans believe. (More here.)

Even Arlen Specter gets it when he says they need to fix the health care bill and pass it. Unfortunately, this version of "fixing" the bill doesn't really fix the biggest flaws in it to create a truly comprehensive health care bill.

The Republicons, of course, want to do exactly what they warned that the health care bill would do: cut Medicare and kill Social Security. That's their plan. It has always been their plan.

Now we know, but it's like we're all in a coma.

But, nevertheless, We Must Overcome, or Our Kids Go Down.

Just think, a blog that tells you everything you could ever want to know about chickens, including Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs.

14:06 GMT

Thursday, 04 February 2010

Dig the colors, man

I was entertained to learn that Obama had quoted a headline from The Village Voice in scolding the Democrats about a need for leadership. It was a good headline, too, although Obama really should have taken that as a message about his own leadership. But let us not forget that the headline in question came from the VV blog Runnin' Scared, where a couple of our friends write. That post, "Scott Brown Wins Mass. Race, Giving GOP 41-59 Majority in the Senate," came from our much-beloved Roy Edroso.

I can't actually see this video due to living in the UK, but we saw it on TV and bless you Jon Stewart!

Tom Tomorrow reveals the real secret of Obama's birth certificate, not to mention explaining the behavior of both parties.

The right-wing has always claimed that Lyndon's Great Society programs failed, although in fact they cut poverty in America by 50%. (And I'll tell you, it was a good time to be looking for a job, whoever you were.) The funny thing is, the GOP started calling them a failure after Nixon had gutted them and, of course, they weren't doing the job anymore. They've also always said that the New Deal didn't work, but that didn't much go anywhere until they'd gutted financial regulations and people have started to see what it's like to live in a country run by the most reactionary economic policies again.

Susan Collins is not, of course, a moderate in any real sense, although in most cases she moderates her language in attacking Democrats or "the left" better than most other Republicans. However, she slips now and then and shows her real face, as she did recently. Nevertheless, it is sad to say that the belief that the protections in the Constitution only apply to Americans has ceased to be a far-right belief, at least among the Villagers, and is now pretty much common to all of them. But of course, the Constitution doesn't reserve rights to Americans - it says there are things the government cannot do, to anyone.

Way back when, VastLeft did what Obama's admirers told us to do - read the books - and didn't like what he read.

As someone who has been on TV opposed to an "expert" who hasn't actually studied the evidence, it doesn't really surprise me to know that the "expert" who went on TV to talk about the wonderful success of waterboarding was only repeating what he'd been told by its defenders.

At Open Left, Paul Rosenberg observed that the Obama illusion is wearing thin: "THEY JUST DON'T GET IT! Talking about jobs does not create jobs. And just about everyone outside of Versailles knows this."

Aurora Borealis galleries

15:40 GMT

Monday, 01 February 2010

Heart of stone

I think it was someone like Greg Palast who remarked that if you actually had read Obama's books, you saw they read like an advertisement that he was for sale to any big buyers. I never read his books, because my first look at Obama told me that he was a marketable commodity, but I wanted to hear what came out of his mouth to decide which army he'd be in. What came out of his mouth convinced me he wasn't on our side, and at best had no idea what liberal politics was about. I always had the suspicion that he was someone who simply knew the right trajectory to take to have the right "liberal" credentials, someone who'd hung around long enough to pick up some of the lingo - but not someone who actually shared those values. The more I learn about Obama, the more I have concluded that my worst suspicions were true, and that he is just a neoliberal jerk who was grabbing for the main chance. To others, he's a sell-out, but I don't really think that's it. John Caruso finds the latter explanation more comforting, it seems:

While I was reading Howard Zinn over the past few days, I happened across Adolph Reed's take on Obama -from January of 1996:
In Chicago, we've gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices; one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable do-good credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program--the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle-class reform in favoring form over substance. I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics.

I found this interesting because people whose opinions I respect have somehow waded through Obama's books and concluded that he used to be more than the grasping, soul-dead imperial roach he is now. I more or less took their word for it, in large part because I couldn't possibly care less about his past (and I only pay attention to his present unwillingly, because of the position he holds); I just assumed that his abandonment of this core humanity was a recent development, necessitated by his single-minded pursuit of power. But it did give his story a cut-rate tragic dimension. So it's reassuring to hear that no, he's actually been sucking the life essence out of every authentic movement he's been around - cynically co-opting their language while tossing aside their genuine concerns, in service to his own ambition - from the very beginning of his political career.

A smart guy looking for the main chance. He sure found it.

Eliot Spitzer on Banksters, politicians and their minions, and how they caused "this entire cataclysm". Of course, he had to be stopped. But I was rather impressed by the basic humanity and intelligence of what he said about how he (and others) screwed up. I think he gives some of his adversaries too much credit (and Obama, too, of course), but that's kind of the trouble with being a decent human being - you really want to give people the benefit of the doubt.

I admit it, I did get a chuckle over the fact that FOX cut away from Obama's speech because it was going too well. (And I think I prefer "Pox News" to "Faux News" and "Fox Noise".)

Your steampunk moment: Boilerplate.

A bunch of old guys playing live...eventually.

20:44 GMT

Media notes

Virtually SpeakingReminder: Avedon Carol and nyceve were on Virtually Speaking talking about health care, and you can listen to the archive noise/podcast at BlogTalkRadio.

Remember Danny Goldberg, the nitwit who once proclaimed that Democrats were losing big because Dem politicians were unable to talk to the kids, because they didn't listen to the same music or something - and thereby lost the "teen spirit"? And remember he's the same nitwit who helped drive Air America Radio into the ground by firing some of it's best people? He wasn't the only bad manager who helped kill AAR, but he played a significant role in the process. And Down With Tyranny! let him do a post making his excuses and purporting to tell the real story of what ruined AAR, now finally deceased - and the readers (including a few names familiar to ex-listeners) really let him have it: "Morning Sedition's last broadcast was on December 16, 2005. This was, in a twist not lost on us, Howard Stern's last day on terrestrial radio. With a legion of young fans looking for something else on the radio dial, a subversive comedy show with a growing audience and rising ratings that catered to a youthful demographic was removed from the airwaves by the author of 'How the Left Lost Teen Spirit.'"

It kind of makes your brain bounce around inside your head to know that the ACLU got rolled into helping out on that lousy Supreme Court decision. On the other hand, as I have said before, how much money corporations spend on backing political candidates during the last weeks of a campaign is kind of irrelevant when they already own the media and back right-wing narratives 24/7.

And of course, there's even the conservative New York Times. (via)

03:33 GMT

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