Archive for January 2010Main
Sunday, 31 January 2010
A full moon like a silver dollar
Bra of the Week
Cows with guns
Watch Jupiter Rotate.
Time-lapse sea creatures - You've never seen so many starfish, and they look like cartoons. (Speaking of which, superheroes as painted by Picasso.)
"The Smirking Poodle: "I would simply like Tony Blair to look me in the eye and say he was sorry [her son had died because of his "mistake"]. Instead, he is in there smirking."
"Scurrilous Videos Besmirch, Enrage Forum, Leaders, World [...] In a series of diabolically stupid video manipulations, a cabal of anti-poverty filmmakers have performed an elaborate slander of the World Economic Forum, showing its "leading lights" taking a dramatic departure from the litany of meaningless pledges they usually make at the annual gathering in the Swiss resort town. In response, WEF spokesperson Adrian Monck could barely contain himself. "The only defense to satire is common sense!" he sputtered, before racing back into the WEF war room to deal with the burgeoning crisis. Fortunately for the WEF, few media outlets picked up on the WEF's fantastic but fictional approach to world poverty ("World Leaders Pledge Strategy to End Poverty Now"). Instead, the media was dominated by coverage of a real WEF press release warning of "Over Regulation of the Financial Sector" (sic)."
Alterman and Ehrlich on the media silence on the Supreme Court decision. You know, it's funny how not only don't individual Americans have rights anymore, but foreign corporations do.
You can read Howard Zinn's A People's History Of The United States online.
The idea of a special panel to "study" the national debt (that is, try to figure out how to kill Social Security and cut taxes for the rich) was so awful that even the Senate rejected it. so Obama is putting together his own stupid panel.
Obama: Bought and paid for.
DCBlogger has a request to those of us who live abroad and want to help fight for our country.
Note to Mr. Sideshow: Atrios says this works.
Obits for J.D. Salinger:
The New York Times
A bunch of links
You can listen to the podcast of Digby and McJoan talking on last Sunday's VIrtually Speaking lefty bobbleheads show at the link. (Last night's episode with Jay Ackroyd and Juan Cole here.) Sunday at 5:00 PM Pacific, guests are DKos diarist nyceve (who coined the phrase "Murder by spreadsheet"), and The Sideshow's Avedon Carol, talking about - would you believe it? - health care. You can listen live here.
Democracy Now! Tribute to Howard Zinn.
While this article discusses the radically decreasing economic power - and circumstances in general - of 90% of the population - it doesn't mention that even the rich really do better when wealth is more evenly distributed than it is now.
Chris Hedges says, "Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction."
Betty the Crow says, "From Foreign Policy Magazine, a story about the CIA guy who went on ABC News to claim that waterboarding was a miracle interrogation tool but now says, well, not so much; 'it was a valuable lesson in how the CIA uses the fine arts of deception even among its own.' ABC's response? No comment, but they've apparently removed the video of the interview and altered the story about it."
The List of US Citizens Targeted for Killing (or Capture)
Logan Murphy discovers that, though Republican family members seem just as disgusted with right-wing ideology (and can no longer stomach FOX News!), they still end up saying, "Yes, but you're so left wing ...."
The Guardian tells me that Michael Moore has dug up the original (uncensored), buried film of FDR's Second Bill of Rights speech.
Have a couple of steampunk moments. (H/t Dominic.)
And a snow moment in Nashville.
Atrios really isn't prone to apocalyptic language, and he's a lot more hesitant than I am to come right out and say just how bad the situation looks, but when Duncan Black says something like this, you should pay attention:Happy to be wrong, but the failure to deal with the underlying problems in housing and finance under the theory that prices will magically rebound and everything will then be ok is going to doom the economy....It's dooming the economy. Yes.
So, what do we do with these people, who should be jumping out of Wall Street windows or at least in jail? We keep them in charge of the economy, and thus Ben Bernanke, the man who insisted there was no housing bubble, was reconfirmed.
Meanwhile...there are a lot of things I disagree with Lakoff about, but he is right about this: We have a disaster on our hands. If we don't get together and show we are a movement, nothing will happen. "Where's the movement?" is actually a pretty good question. Waiting for Obama to play 11-Dimensional Chess was stupid. Sitting around saying we have to support his legislation (largely with silence) is stupid. You want what you need? Get together and then get out there and demand it. Movements are not composed entirely of people sitting at their keyboards or even sending money. You have to be a body and a voice. You have to make real contact. You have to do all the things that people did before there was an internet, because that still works - if you just do it.
Hangovers without drinking
The State of the Union is that Howard Zinn has died. I wish he'd been giving that speech last night instead of the twerp who delivered it. I see no reason to give Obama's speech more than a D minus, in context. We've lost a great man, just when we really needed more of them.
Attaturk says it's getting tougher to focus on Republicans "as being uniquely and tragically mockable" - because the Democrats appear to be giving them a run for their money.
And for my money, Rahm himself deserves all the mockery we can muster when we see stuff like this: "Back in December, the Wall Street Journal reported that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has been telling congressional Democrats that passing the insurance-industry-written Senate health bill will do for Democrats what NAFTA did for them in 1994. Amazingly, Emanuel has been billing this as a positive - as if NAFTA somehow wasn't a major part of what drove down Democratic base turnout in the 1994 election, helping usher in the Gingrich Revolution." Well, he's right that it will do for Democrats what NAFTA did, as polls show. If Obama doesn't stop giving money to the banksters, quit threatening Social Security and Medicare, and do a 180 on pushing through this giveaway to the insurance industry right now, he can expect to lose Congress the same way Clinton did. And for exactly the same reasons.
And then we have the alleged "liberal media", in which MoDo informs us that the idiot in Boston who took advantage of a self-made Democratic failure is the new It Boy, bringing the sexy back. She's ready to run him for prez, while the rest of us just recoil in disgust whenever we notice that the Pulitzer-winning gossip columnist is getting wet again: "He's The One, all right. The handsome, athletic pol with the comely wife and two lovely daughters who precipitously rose from the State Legislature to pull us all together." Oh, gods, we've heard all this before....
As I've mentioned before, it's interesting to me that "contracts" are only meaningful on one end - you have to uphold your end of a contract, but corporations don't.
Charles has written up his conclusions about Honduras.
Oh, look who's the far left, now.
Ross Perot wasn't wrong about the bully pulpit - the one the Reagan team used so effectively and that Obama and the conservadems use only to help Republicans further their idiotic ideas. From the White House, you can make stories. Right now, the story Obama and the Democrats are making is that Obama and the Democrats are just as uninterested in the plight of ordinary Americans as Bush and the Republicans were. If you don't think that will lead to disaster, you're just plain dumb.
You know, it really is stupid to think that moving the Overton Window farther and farther to the right is harmless. It is not harmless to let people think that spending on good things (stimulus, Social Security, real universal health care) is bad for the economy, but spending on bad things (stupid wars, subsidies to bloated corporations) is vital and necessary. It is not harmless to buy into the same right-wing memes that have brought us to our current crisis in the first place. It is not harmless to refuse to fight back against lies that the only problem is spending, and that it's spending that the public is against. The public's problem isn't that we aren't being mean enough.
The public is against spending when "spending" means taking all their money and giving it to rich, irresponsible bankers and insurance companies. People who assume this means the public is really against all spending - that is, people who have their heads getting stuck in the ever-narrowing Overton Window while making cracks about how whacky the left is for worrying about Overton's Window - are the real stupid.
On the bright side, you can believe Atrios when he says it is actual good news that the Senate has killed Obama's stupid plan "to create a powerful commission that would recommend ways to slash future federal budget deficits" by getting rid of some more good government in the name of tax cuts. If Obama was smart, he would stop trying to trot out creeps like Kent Conrad and pretend they are not trying to do us harm.
But, of course, Obama is not smart if he thinks his continued pandering to the right wing will buy him anything but trouble.
Oh, yes, it's all about change - the kind of change that gets you Enron. "The same lobbyist that sold Washington on Enron is now touting Ben Bernanke. [...] Robertson played a key role in some of Enron’s most scandalous moments in the year prior to its collapse. For starters, she was at the center of negotiations involving the highly secretive energy task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. A review of Enron email shows that Robertson guided Lay through pivotal meetings with Cheney and other officials, and actually authored the Enron memo and talking points that were later integrated into Cheney’s controversial energy plan." Yep, these are the kind of people we wanted in government when we voted for Democrats.
Under the ice
I found this neat graphic over at Gail's place, where I also found this revealing quote from Barney Frank: "A bill being passed [is in Democrats' best interest]--as long as it's being done in a way that's invulnerable to charges that it was jammed through, or the rules were disregarded. That's what I was afraid of was a disregard for the procedural rules: Bending the Byrd rule out of shape, or doing something with Paul Kirk's vote while awaiting certification--those things would be fatal." Got that? Barney Frank thinks that the only thing a health care bill needs is that no one accuses it of being "rammed through". It doesn't have to have anything good in it, and it doesn't matter how much everyone hates it, as long as the right-wing Villagers don't accuse it of being "rammed through". Doing a pretty minuet with the Republicans to hide the fact that this entire bill has been rammed through over the objections of most Americans will make it good for Democrats - to be known for the triumph of the health insurance industry and big pharma over everyone else. (Anyway, you might consider using that graphic on the leaflet you're going to print out informing your neighbors that Americans pay more in taxes to maintain our health care structure than almost any other country.)
The thing that tickles me most about Harold Ford is that, having turned out to be too right-wing for Tennessee, he is now planning to a career in New York politics. Oh, and did you realize this piece of crap is the current head of the Democratic Leadership Council? Seriously.
From Susie, a little Joe Bageant, Balancing Budgets on the Backs of The Poor, and the surprising news that the administration is actually appealing the decision letting Blackwater off the hook. Oh, and a record producer.
I'm sorry, but this really isn't a reason to reconfirm Bernenke.
I like this: "Because the Court ruled that a corporation's free speech is so important in being able to present its position, we need legislation to make sure that such expenditures do represent the views of the board of directors by requiring a public vote of the board on any such expenditures. It will be hard for the Republicans to oppose such legislation, although they will. But that should be part of a concerted effort to show how the Republicans are for the rich and powerful and why they are opposing every reform that is brought before Congress."
Not that Meadows and Day don't put in stellar performances, mind - and Astin just about defined "sleazy" in his role - but I've always loved the interplay between Cary Grant and Gig Young in That Touch of Mink, a fantasy movie about surviving beyond your wildest dreams in tough times. We may start seeing a lot of that again, soon....
And it appears to be a long time before the dawn
Bra of the Week
I learn such interesting things from Biomes Blog, such as where to watch obscure old movies, and that Ocean Spray has a bog cam. I liked the photo, too.
Thanks to the NHS, I never have to worry about these things, but our friends in America do, and Diane just got one of those ugly letters from her so-called health insurer raising her rates and demanding money yesterday, so perhaps you could chip in a bit for her so she can do things like, you know, eat.
The thing about "make-work" is that sometimes it works.
Some people, you just can't tell them anything.
Every now and then I hear someone come up with the idea that we need a Constitutional convention and I think, "And in your little fantasy, are you the chairman, or does Thomas Jefferson come back to do that for you?" I mean, seriously, if there really was a Constitutional Convention, who do you think would be running it?
Larisa Alexandrovna on the gag rule now being imposed on evidence surrounding the murder of David Kelly: "No credible expert believes that Kelly killed himself. Yet Lord Hutton continues to not only force the suicide claims down the throats of the medical experts who examined Kelly's body and of the British public, he has also now sealed all of the records. If Kelly killed himself, then why are the medical records being sealed?" And for 70 years? That's like, gosh, they want to guarantee that anyone who remembers these events - this crime - is dead. "The question remains: just how far were the Blair/Bush administrations willing to go in order to fabricate a reason for the Iraq war? The Bush administration was at the very least willing to out a covert CIA officer, committing treason in the process. What was Tony Blair willing to do?"
What do you do with a problem like Diane Feinstein?
I used to try to figure out how the Democrats let Roberts get onto the Supreme Court. I wonder now why I did.
Around sunset:"Yknow it's always darkest before the dawn," says me.Crosby, Stills, and Nash
"Unless the sun blows up," says Giblets. "Cause now that the sun's blown up it's just always darkest before it gets more dark."
Follow that dream
There are, of course, many things I don't post about (Palin) because they are actually fairly boring distractions. But sometimes there are things that are so important and so awful that I just go into a state of denial for a few days until I can't ignore them anymore.
But Ian Welsh is right: The Supreme Court has affirmed a right of Malefactors of Great Wealth to buy elections, thus making the United States officially a fascist state. Absent a Congress willing to impeach the anti-Constitutional scum who currently infest the court, you don't have anything resembling Constitutional government anymore and you aren't going to.
And that means you have to make a decision: Fight or escape.
And you have to ask yourself: "Do people like me have sufficient strength to win this fight? Is there any hope of getting it?"
And I can't bring myself to tell you that you should fight, at the expense of everything you've got. Not you, not your economic well-being, not your family will be safe from the evils and predations of these truly vile people and the hideous system they have created out of what used to be a fairly promising country that once held out hope and lighted a path for the world.
The United States that used to be a beacon of light is now shadow of darkness over the world, but where they used to at least try to protect Americans, and even some other allied countries, from their machinations elsewhere, the people who run things now feel free - indeed, almost morally obligated - to harm ordinary Americans at least as much as they have the people of other nations, and possibly more.
And the thing is, a lot of other countries that never got their people used to having to spend upwards of $60,000 a year in order to eat and keep a roof over your head are probably going to be better places to be living.
And I'm afraid Welsh is not being overly pessimistic when he says:This decision makes the US's recovery from its decline even more unlikely than before - and before it was still very unlikely. Absolute catastrophe will have to occur before people are angry enough and corporations weak enough for their to even be a chance.Yes, for the last few decades I've been telling people that there is no such thing as escaping the damage that the US does, no matter where you go. If you move to another country, you just have one more government to be angry at, but you still can't lose awareness of what a mess is being made by - or in - the US. (A little light background reading.)
So, my advice to my readers is this.
If you can leave the US, do. Most of the world is going to suffer over the next decades, but there are places which will suffer less than the US: places that have not settled for soft fascism and a refusal to fix their economic problems. Fighting to the very end is very romantic, and all, but when you're outnumbered, outgunned, and your odds of winning are miniscule, sometimes the smartest thing to do is book out. Those who came to America understood this, they left countries which were less free or had less economic hope than America, and they came to a place where freedom and opportunity reigned.
That place, that time, is coming to an end. For your own sake, and especially for the sake of your children, I tell you now - it is time to get out.
I am not the only person thinking this. Even before the decisions, two of my savviest American friends, people with impeccable records at predicting the US meltdown, told me that within the next few years they would be leaving.
There's always hope, and those who choose to stay might stop this terminal decline.
But you need to ask yourself, seriously, if you are willing to pay the price of failure: if you are willing to have your children pay the price of failure. Because it will be very, very steep.
But let's face it, it's a lot better to be horrified from inside the protection of little things like, say, a National Health Service, not to mention national borders (especially if those borders involve a nice, big ocean). It's a lot safer not to be at the epicenter of it all.
But of course, there's a little problem, in that you are not all young and healthy and unencumbered, you aren't a linguist, and you don't have the money or skills that would ease your acceptance by another country's immigration service. In which case, I really don't know what to tell you.
(Via Suburban Guerrilla.)
But, you know, just in case you were still feeling some hopey-changey, check out this catch:Hope for lasting liberal change was washed away on Tues day - not just with the loss of the Democrats' super-majority in the Senate, but with a closed-door deal that would lead to cuts in bedrock liberal programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. While Massachusetts voters were casting their ballots to install Republican Scott Brown in Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, President Obama was hammering out an agreement with Democratic leaders to support a commission on the deficit with the power to propose reductions to entitlement programs. This proposal represents a capitulation to conservatives in both parties, and leaves liberals surrendering not only on health care, but on the core achievements of the New Deal and the Great Society.Only Nixon could go to China, and only Obama could go to Hell.
♪But when a dream is calling you, there's just one thing that you can do.♪
We wanted foresight, and we don't even get hindsight
What happened in Massachusetts? Coakley ran a lousy campaign characterized mainly by having so much contempt for the voters that she thought she just didn't have time to go meet a few of them, Obama has broken all his promises, and a complete refusal to give the voters (consistently identified not just by the Republicans, but by the Democratic leadership as "the left") a single thing they want and need. (And why would Massachusetts vote for universal Romneycare? It's jumped their health care costs by 44%, fergodssakes!) What does the Village say is happening? Clearly, It's the fault of the all-powerful left. (And just how out of touch do you have to be to think that the people who want the public option can be called "the farthest left elements" of the Democratic Party? No, no, the farthest left elements want complete socialization of medicine, something absolutely no one has been talking about doing.) I liked Andrew Sullivan's response to Bainbridge's claim that, ""Obama and the Congressional Democrats (especially in the House) governed for the last year as though the median voter is a Daily Kos fan." He said, "This must come as some surprise to most Daily Kos fans. But if one had traveled to Mars and back this past year and read this statement, what would you assume had happened? I would assume that the banks had been nationalized, the stimulus was twice as large, that single-payer healthcare had been pushed through on narrow majority votes, that card-check had passed, that an immigration amnesty had been legislated, that prosecutions of Bush and Cheney for war crimes would be underway, that withdrawal from Afghanistan would be commencing, that no troops would be left in Iraq, that Larry Tribe was on the Supreme Court, that DADT and DOMA would be repealed, and so on." Funnily enough, none of that happened. As The Rude One points out, Americans voted overwhelmingly for change. What he doesn't say is that, thanks to Obama and his right-wing corporatist friends in the leadership, we did not get it. And that is the problem the Democrats have.
Of course, Obama is talking a good game again about financial regulations and controlling the size of "too big to fail" types of organizations, but, you know, I'll believe it when I see it. Like that "change" thing.
So, how's that big swing to the right and gutting the news staff working out for The Washington Post?
Last night, Jay Ackroyd talked to Mason Tvert, debunking the myths lies about marijuana.
A few years ago we had a bad strawberry season, but it turned out to be good weather for blueberries, so a few strawberry farmers repurposed for the season, as a result of which there were lots of nice blueberries available at reasonable prices for the first time since I've lived here. Alas, as soon as we went back to good strawberry weather, we got some tasteless imports at ridiculously high prices. I really wish that hadn't happened - we didn't even get to the point where people started thinking about making blueberry pie. Think of that! I live in a country where they don't have blueberry pie! And I want some.
Time isn't on your side
Atrios is so succinct: "People in this administration really are not very bright." And, indeed, you have to be stupid to even suggest that bipartisanship is going to win the day just as soon as the Democrats are forced to embrace it. Or, as Benen says:This is a great idea, isn't it? All the White House and Democratic congressional leaders have to do is continue to work on their policy agenda, while reaching out in good faith to earn support from congressional Republicans. Bills will start passing with bipartisan support; the public will be impressed; David Broder will start dancing in front of the Washington Post building; a season of goodwill and comity will bloom on Capitol Hill; and Lucy really will let Charlie Brown kick the ball.At this point I think more than half the country throws up whenever they hear the term "bipartisanship", and the Democratic leadership still think they can win with it. No, they can't. People didn't vote for Democrats because they wanted Republican policies; they voted for Democrats because they were sick of Republican policies. And they still are, no matter what name they come under.
Or maybe not.
Look, much of the political landscape has changed over the last year, but if there's one thing that's been consistent throughout, it's that congressional Republicans aren't interested in working with Democrats on bipartisan policy solutions. Boehner, McConnell, Cantor, & Co. have a list of priorities -- destroy the Obama presidency, block the legislative process by any means necessary, undermine confidence in American leaders and institutions, rally the right-wing base -- but "getting things done" isn't on it.
I think most of America is ready to join The Torches & Pitchforks Party, and I don't think they even care anymore whether you have a (D) or an (R) after your name - you're either on our side, or you're on theirs. (I mean, really. No, really.)
Gee, that David Patterson really is a poor replacement for Elliot Spitzer - cut aid to schools, legalize ultimate fighting, and tax sales on Indian reservations? That's a joke, right?
Even Ezra Klein gets it, and he's quoting Ted Kennedy: "If the Democrats run for cover, if we become pale carbon copies of the opposition, we will lose - and deserve to lose. The last thing this country needs is two Republican parties."
Yeah, I want to reach across the aisle to people with these priorities.
I think I may have linked to a version of Naomi Klein's thing on branding before, but I'm linking it again because I still feel like smacking someone every time I remember having a deluge of spam excitedly inviting me to buy Obama coffee mugs and everything else coming straight from the Obama organization - at which point, of course, they got put on my MailWasher blacklist, which is the best that they deserved.
Susie mourns Kate McGarrigle with a little tribute.
I do have problems with phrases like "the US version of Torchwood."
Tiny cogs in one big wheel
Oh, damn, even Bill Moyers and Thomas Frank are mistaking The Village for "America". But, see, we haven't had an opportunity to forget the last decade, because nothing has changed but the name of the party in power - oh, and the fact that the drunken white moron has been replaced by that other guy.There were hands in the air in Washington this week, but it wasn't a stickup. The new Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, appointed by Congress to find out how America got rolled, began hearings this week. These four are not the victims of one of the greatest bank heists in history - they're the perpetrators, bankers so sleek and crafty they got off with the loot in broad daylight, and then sweet talked the government into taxing us to pay it back.No, no, just more of the same - of course the media and the conservatives pretend that the persistent failure of conservative and/or Republican government didn't really happen, that Republicans are Responsible and Serious while Democrats are all flakes (which, in some ways, is true, but not the way they mean it). And of course, the presumption that liberal policies aren't any use. Always. I can't really remember a moment since Reagan got into office when there were any real cracks in that mantra. And people like Glenn Beck and Hannity don't promote such lies because they have amnesia, they do it because they are part of the conservative propaganda apparatus. They're not "America". America knows it's been having problems with jobs and healthcare for a lot longer than just the past year.
Watching that scene on the opening day of the hearings, it was hard enough to believe that almost a year has passed since Barack Obama raised his hand, too -- taking the oath of office to become our 44th President. Even harder to remember what America looked like before Obama, because we've also been robbed of memory, assaulted by what the Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz described as a "fantastic proliferation of mass media." We live in a time "characterized by a refusal to remember." Inconvenient facts simply disappear down the memory hole, as in George Orwell's novel, "1984."
President Obama's made plenty of mistakes during his first year, and we've critiqued them frequently here on the JOURNAL, but hardly anyone talks any more about what happened in the years before. He inherited from George W. Bush the biggest financial debacle since the Great Depression, along with two unpopular and costly wars, and a dysfunctional and demoralized government.
As far as I can tell, the only people outside of the insurance industry who actually support the current version of the health care bill are party hacks who see it as advantageous to Obama to be able to credit him with a political win, or party hacks on the other side who know that passing it will just about kill any possibility of real health care reform. People who actually care about health care, such as National Nurses United, have come out against it. Because the thing is a disaster, and as LarryE says, "one that even as its advocates avidly, breathlessly, declare its vital, indeed "historic," nature, even they have to admit is seriously (although, they insist, not fatally) flawed." I'm sure the administration will explain to us that 150,000 nurses are just wild-eyed lefties or crazy teabaggers.
This kind of nonsense is the kind of nonsense that is being treated as a perfectly sane, rational part of the discourse. That's what we're up against. And we have a president who finds it too distasteful to unleash the truth against insanity. It's up to you to do that, because President Change wants nothing to do with it.
Digby thinks (and I concur) that it's time we should be Sending a Message: "If my comment section, email and other blogs are to be believed, there is a lot of netroots angst about the Democratic party these days. It's certainly understandable. With the free floating anxiety that's pervasive out in the country as a whole, the horrific spectacle of health care reform sausage making and the toppling of President Obama from his heavenly pedestal, we have the making of a full blown insurrection on our hands. The question is what to do about it."
Between Reaganomics and conservative judgmentalism and the punitive nature of their ideology, it's no surprise that America is the land of Big Prison. Why, just yesterday, I said, "Remember when people used to say, 'It's a free country'?" And the younger ones said, "No." You can see why...
From now on, I really don't think I have any use at all for Bill Clinton. People in Haiti need water, he runs around talking about how we have to shovel out the UN. And now this.
Meanwhile, in a worthy cause, you can buy this PAT ROBERTSON VOODOO DOLL! Proceeds Go To Haiti relief.
and because you're so nice, here's another cursor toy for you.
"Shanghai Noodle Factory"
Speak about the people I have seen
I'm pleased to say that my clever ploy of posting links to Lindt chocolate commercials worked.
Let me apologize for messing up the link below to Down With Tyranny!'s "You Know Why Americans Are Unhappy About The Healthcare Bill, Right?" - but you should definitely go read it as it is now updated with a film of Rep. Alan Grayson's recent musings on why Republicans hate government. And while you're there, you might also check out "Harold Ford Starts His Campaign With A Long List Of Easily Refutable Lies" - especially useful if you encounter anyone who still believes the fiction that Ford lost his campaign last time just because he's black, or because his state is terrified of liberals, or whatever. No, it's that no one can stand him - especially liberals.
I was being fascinated by the latest on the Honduras Coup when I suddenly learned from Glenn Beck that the Great Depression happened in 1948.
Bob Somerby has a site up with his book How he got there - that is, how George Walker Bush ended up in the White House instead of, oh, I dunno, in jail or something.
The really depressing thing about this discussion with a union leader and a teabagger is that there is one clear message: Obama is losing the unions for the Democratic Party. In fact, I can't think of a single part of the Democratic Party faithful Obama hasn't pointedly spit on. (Oh, wait, he sorta kinda pretends to care about global warming - except that, well, he's still playing the Republican role in making sure nothing happens.) And here's that episode that starts off with Laura chatting with Marcy Wheeler and The Rude One.
So, Obama has really screwed the Democratic Party and liberals/progressives - but if the Democrat loses in Massachusetts, will that be a wake-up call, or just another excuse to say what they always say when a Democrat loses to a Republican - that it proves the Dems are "too liberal"?
"Massachusetts", live, 1989.
A few things
It was snowing again today when I woke up, and kept snowing for a few hours, but it was still only a light dusting and then it melted.
These days the conservatives have their own cadre of trained seals seeded in everything everywhere that might be able to make a difference. But once upon a time, they didn't have their own Generals in their stables, and they asked the wrong guy to help. Maybe legislators who intended to perform as the opposition to conservatives have become so tame and useless today because they are all too aware that this time, the conservatives will not make the mistake of asking a Smedley Butler. Butler warned Roosevelt, and then he wrote a little book called War is a Racket. It should be taught in schools everywhere.
Conservatives want you to think that Europe's economy is a shambles because they're just too "socialist". Of course, they have to make up the numbers to hide the fact that European socialism is a whole lot healthier than American capitalism, and the countries that are faring the worst are the ones that have been imitating America the hardest. (Also: To no one's surprise, Harold Ford is a lying sack of crap.)
"You Know Why Americans Are Unhappy About The Healthcare Bill, Right? You see, most people who don't like the healthcare reform bill, are disgruntled for the right reasons: the bill doesn't go nearly far enough to provide healthcare coverage, to control costs or to regulate the avaricious insurance gangsters. This is the most tepid and insubstantial reform imaginable, something designed-- unsuccessfully-- to get Republicans to not make such a godawful ruckus. Well, it wasn't only designed for that. It was also designed to please the Big Insurance Giants and other bad players in the Medical Industrial Complex who Obama and the Democrats are counting on to keep funding their political careers. Is that working, you ask?" And Charlie Rangel says Democrats have a problem.
Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you
Commenting below, Jack K. wonders how it can be true that snow at Christmastime is almost unheard of in London when it's in every movie of A Christmas Carol we've ever seen. And haven't we all seen drawings of ice-skaters on the Thames? And, as it happens, A Christmas Carol is not the only place Dickens plays this bit of poetic licence - but poetic licence it is to put an ice fair on the Thames well after the "mini-ice age" that once made that possible. We can speculate that this romanticized view of a snowy Christmas was as much a part of Dickens' Christmastime mythos as it is of ours, but the fact remains that it's been a good long time since London had any expectation of having a white Christmas. Even in February, which I'm pretty sure is our coldest month, it's still usually more than a decade between anything resembling a real snowfall. Speaking of which, I'm told it's supposed to have been a degree above freezing yesterday, and the snow in my back garden mostly melted, having never achieved a height sufficient to scoop up enough for a cup of fresh snow & maple syrup. Before I went to bed last night I looked outside and saw that a new dusting had fallen at some point, but that was gone when I woke up. There are still bits of snow out there, but it's already starting to feel normal again in London.
"You can only push people so far: Pity the poor American bankers in Britain! Atop a 50% tax on their earnings, passed by a Parliament overwhelmed by populist anger, American bankers in Britain now face a 'vesting' requirement that allows them to take only 40% of their taxable earnings this year, with the rest paid out over the next three years - if financial circumstances warrant. And they do not like it. Not one bit. They are, in fact, fed up." Of course, European countries are small enough that the threat of physical reaction from the populace against the excesses of the wealthy is still a real one, so they really do have to do something before the people start reminding them about the guillotine. My favorite part is where the Americans are threatening the Brits with the possibility that they will pull their irresponsible, illegal, and fraudulent practices out of London if this keeps up. And it occurs to me that a country that really cleaned up its banking industry and rode hard over any institutions doing business with them could eventually become an important financial center just on that fact alone, because even people with real money are getting sick of trying to do business in a free-for-all.
"Court to FCC: You Don't Have Power to Enforce Net Neutrality: A federal appeals court gave notice Friday it likely would reject the Federal Communications Commission's authority to sanction Comcast for throttling peer-to-peer applications." The FCC's main purpose is to protect the public's ability to communicate and to be an informed electorate. Making money for Comcast doesn't enter into it. They are supposed to protect our airwaves on our behalf. If the court's are now saying that it exists solely to keep us from seeing Janet Jackson's nipples or top us from hearing Howard Stern's sexual obsessions, they really aren't needed at all.
Move Your Money out of big banks and into smaller, local institutions that don't feed the monster. If the government won't rein in Wall Street the way they should, that leaves it to us.
This Week In Tyranny there is actually some good news, and it's now possible to get a good look at what you think is important in the Federal Register via GovPulse, to see some documents the ACLU pried loose from the Justice Department as well as the formal withdrawal of the torture memos, and a bunch of other stuff, but: "The DC Court of Appeals gave away more power to the president. It seems as though a significant part of the judiciary wants to rule itself out of existence. What good are checks and balances when they are entrusted to those with an authoritarian streak?"
It's nice to see someone on Maddow reminding people of what it means to take convicts out of their own communities and count them toward the census in the counties where the prisons are. And yes, I want you to think about the war on drugs in that context.
Don't forget you can listen to Marcy (emptywheel) Wheeler and Cliff Schecter's VS talk here.
One often wonders whether all of Washington couldn't be improved if Sally Quinn would give up public life. God, what a skewed vision of the world that woman has. There's a right way and a wrong way to fight terrorism, and our leading opinion-makers stand four-square behind getting it all wrong.
Echidne explains what's wrong with the health insurance plan, and, more importantly, how to do some of the things with Echo that you used to be able to do with Haloscan.
A bunch of stuff
Bra of the Week
Andromeda Island Universe, and The Mystery of the Fading Star.
I keep reminding myself and forgetting to post the link to Schneier on Security on Maddow.
Speaking of liberal media, I can't believe I got so distracted Thursday I forgot to listen to David Waldman (KagroX) on Virtually Speaking Thursday, but, thankfully, I still can. And Sunday night we get Marcy Wheeler and Cliff Schecter.
Avram Grumer: "Patrick referred to 'international terror klutzes' yesterday, but I think maybe Charlie Stross's 'murderous clowns' was more accurate. So far, we've had the recent exploding underpants, and Richard Reid's exploding shoes, both classic bits of circus clown comedy. This implies that the TSA's obsession with fluids and spray canisters is actually right on target for preventing a future seltzer bottle attack. Variants on the 'suitcase gag' are also clearly anticipated and taken care of. A ban on pies and rubber chickens would seem to be in order."
McJoan says the FCC is taking public comment on Net Neutrality, and "Save the Internet has an easy-to-use online tool that you can use to add your support for the proposed rule. But you have to act soon--the comment period closes next Thursday, Jan. 14." (But, in our experience, rumors that suggest Obama is backing away from campaign promises usually precede denials of same followed by Obama backing away from campaign promises.)
I guess California has too much money in the state coffers, because now Arnold wants to waste a bunch of it on privatized prisons. I still think whoever came up with this idea should be strangled in his cradle by a helpful time-traveller.
Oh, no! We're losing All Spin Zone. (And I was interested to learn that Law & Order eventually got a social conscience. Or is that a gag? We're a few years behind on it over here last time I looked, when it was still pretty much a show where any pretext was good enough for a charge and even the thinnest circumstantial evidence was more than enough for an indictment. Much as I loved Lenny as a character, he did seem to think everyone was guilty and manage to convince the DA of same with just a raised eyebrow and smart remark.)
Dirty hippies abusing the troops
D. Potter chimes in with her nominations, for "The viper at our breast", "Media media", "Your money or your life", "Nowhere, doin' nothing", "Remember, remember", and "Shivering in the light". And Lambert chimed in with another vote for "Why can't you just admit it stinks?"
In white and black
Pictures like this might make you think it's dramatically snowy in London, but it's really only dramatic if you actually live here and are surprised to see snow sticking at all, which usually only happens once every couple of decades. We haven't had more than a few inches of snow at any one time - the point is that it's sticking at all, and it's not melting away by afternoon. There is a thin layer of snow in my garden that's been there most of the time for the last couple of weeks, I think. And yesterday afternoon I looked out the window and there was a flurry - I know it didn't last longer than an hour at the outside, but it was actually snowing for a bit. And it's been snowing for the last hour now, too, but the ground isn't all covered out back. If I think of this in terms of actual snowfalls I've known in America (Maryland, DC, Virginia, NYC and upstate NY, and those terrifying drives up to Chicago and Ann Arbor, not to mention that incredibly long night driving back from New Haven), well, I mean, this barely qualifies as snow. But in a town where no one owns a snow shovel because you're not likely to need one (and most houses aren't really insulated), seeing snow that stays for a week, and seeing the snow come down in the afternoon several times in a couple of weeks, it's just spooky.
Someday I hope people will begin to understand that evidence of the conservative movement "tearing itself apart" is just another cycle in the conservative movement routine of re-emergence that they have been successfully pulling at least since Nixon failed to beat Kennedy, if not longer. We're still looking at the same bad ideas that the American Revolution was fought to get rid of, and the people with the money always manage to bring them back. Now they're back with a vengeance and we have not cleansed the people who run the country of those ideas. So quit laughing and start paying attention.
Glenn Greenwald has a nice video up of Helen Thomas asking the right question - and not getting an answer. It's funny how these days there is nothing more impertinent than a pertinent question.
Bernie Sanders says he's really going to try to defeat Bernenke's renomination, I learn from an article that weirdly identifies him as "the far, far left". There is nothing far-left about wanting to kick Bernenke out of our government, given the mess he's made already that everybody hates him for. People who are actual fiscal conservatives - that is, people who want to actually be fiscally prudent rather than spend our money on crazy right-wing giveaways to rich people and loonies - want to kick him out, too. Truth is, there's nothing really "far-left" about Bernie altogether. He may call himself by the fear-word "socialist", but it's the kind of socialism Americans have learned over the last century to expect from the American form of government - well, until Reagan came along and started dismantling it. Anyway, I'm not holding my breath waiting for Bernie to succeed, let alone for Obama to appoint someone more sensible, but if President Change wants to be more than a one-term president, he should do his best to let Bernie save him from himself. (Via Suburban Guerrilla.)
Mog Decarnin was a genius, and funny and neat and I loved her, and now I can't send her that letter I owe her. Once, a long long time ago, she said to me in a letter, "Do you realize you and I are creating a new analysis of S/M?" Yep, long enough ago that it was still "S/M" rather than "BDSM" even to someone like Mog. And, my, that was really something, coming from Mog, who was out there with Califia while I was just a sort of armchair anthropologist who hadn't even done any field work - you know, reading about people's arguments about S/M in amongst all the other piles of feminist articles I used to pore over in those days. Mog was probably the best person in the world for me to be talking to in order to get a handle on what this S/M thing was about, and I was always fast at crystallizing and articulating insights. Talking to Mog made a lot of things - not just about S/M, but about the female role and sexuality in general - fall into place for me in a new way that made more sense than the existing feminist analysis of the time. A lot of the stuff we talked about is still a bit radical in feminist circles. It wasn't just a new analysis of S/M, but of how the feminist movement had missed the larger analysis of male and female roles and stereotypes. You just don't get better brainstorming than that.
The last picture of Mark Owings
And it kept snowing the whole time I was writing that, too, but it still ain't no DC snowfall.
The appliance of science
If you're in New York on January 22nd, you might want to go to the benefit the Fugs, Lou Reed, and a bunch of other people are holding for Tuli Kupferberg, who has had a couple of strokes in the last year and lost his sight (although he still posts to YouTube). Tuli, now 86, needs regular nursing care as a result of the impairments caused by the strokes, and I'd like to know that he's getting taken care of - it's not as if pro-sex poet-musicians usually make a lot of money from their work, especially when it's the kind of work you can't put on TV. He's been good for some of the great thrills of my life, from his arrest at the Pentagon march, and then going to see the Fugs at their very own theater and seeing "Couldn't Get High" performed live for the first time when I was 15, all the way up to being stunned to receive fan mail from Tuli Himself at Feminists Against Censorship HQ not that long ago. So if you can't be in New York on January 22nd, you might like to send them some bucks anyway, or buy their stuff, or any little thing you can to help. Besides, they're still fun. (And still cooler than the Sex Pistols, too. After all, the Sex Pistols were on TV.)
One thing that has been irritating me is the kind of blanket denial Obama-defenders keep making that Obama ever suggested he supported single-payer or any other liberal program. That simply isn't true. While his campaign speeches may have lacked any real substance (and they did, for the most part), he and his campaign were constantly sending out little messages directed at the left meant to assure us that he was One of Us, a real progressive liberal who intended to promote liberal policies and undo the messes (NAFTA, Iraq) left by his predecessors. That is, he promoted himself to the left as a liberal even as he progressively moved to the right. Susie has found one example of this, but what particularly interested me about his letter was this: "In other words, I believe that politics in any democracy is a game of addition, not subtraction. And I believe deeply enough in the decency of the American people to think that progressives can build a winning majority in this country, so long as we're not afraid to speak the truth, and so long as we don't write off big chunks of the electorate just because they don't agree with us on every issue." Of course, it's one thing to say we aren't going to "write off big chunks of the electorate just because they don't agree with us on every issue," and quite another to write off big chunks of the electorate (some 60-80%) just because the media refers to them as "the left". (Also: Shouldn't Tim Geithner be arrested?)
Drew Westen's original article I didn't see last month, "Leadership, Obama Style, and the Looming Losses in 2010: Pretty Speeches, Compromised Values, and the Quest for the Lowest Common Denominator", in which he says, "What's costing the president and courting danger for Democrats in 2010 isn't a question of left or right, because the president has accomplished the remarkable feat of both demoralizing the base and completely turning off voters in the center. If this were an ideological issue, that would not be the case. He would be holding either the middle or the left, not losing both. What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting." He's right except for the part where he says it's not ideological. The idea that you should care at least as much for "the common man" as you do about those powerful interests is liberal ideology - the one shared by pretty much everyone in America except the powerful interests. But people in the media - even the internet media - still make the mistake of thinking ideology can be categorized in terms of whether you identify yourself as conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican. It can't. Even half of rank-and-file Republicans have liberal ideology where government is concerned, they just don't know that's what it is. They may watch Fox News and see a world where Democrats waste time on silly left-wing junk, but when you listen to their concerns, they are the same things liberals are concerned about: They want to live in a world where they have the right to an honest day's pay for an honest day's work and the right to be left alone to live our lives. They are absolutely right that what we had of that has been slipping away. Many of them blame the Democrats or liberals because obviously wrong things like NAFTA happened under a supposedly liberal Democratic president who they have been led to believe was having affairs and paying attention to rich corporations and silly liberal stuff like gays in the military when he should have been paying attention to them. But "left" or "right", what's sticking in the craw of most Americans is that our leaders are not giving us what liberal government is supposed to give us. They aren't actually complaining about the things real liberal policies provide.
Interesting sidelight from the always fascinating and linky Pruning Shears This Week In Tyranny post from last week is a bit from Science Daily: "Researchers sought to determine whether power inspires hypocrisy, the tendency to hold high standards for others while performing morally suspect behaviors oneself. The research finds that power makes people stricter in moral judgment of others - while being less strict of their own behavior."
Via Atrios I learn that all serious economists really do agree that "Too Big To Fail" institutions really are a serious problem...but that politicians seem unconcerned by it.
In which we smirk again with xkcd. (H/t Dominic.)
"Kill For Peace"
I heard a rumor that Marcy Wheeler and The Rude Pundit were going to be on Laura Flanders' GRITtv today, or were on it, or whatever, and I went looking for the podcast and found a couple of other things that might interest you. Laura Flanders, for those who aren't familiar with the name, was one of the many good things about the original Air America Radio line-up that frayed in the liberal purge. We lost the ability to listen to it even before they decided to charge money for their increasingly tepid and boring feed, and now I don't even know if there are actually any liberals left on that network. Anyway, while I was still waiting to see what Laura and Marcy and The Rude One would do to poor old Dangerstein, who somehow got tricked into going on a show with people who actually know and care about important issues, I listened to yesterday's episode on Who's Better Organized Post-Obama: the Left or the Right? - which only barely scratched the surface of why the right is so much better organized, but made the point I've been trying to stress that with nowhere to go on the left, an awful lot of people are connecting with the right because the right-wing is the only place they find disaffection with the obvious wrongness in the country being given any kind of voice. Meanwhile, the "organized left", by which we mean people who can still bring themselves to support Obama, thinks they are part of a grassroots movement because they get listened to on their ideas - as long as their ideas are about how to support Obama's agenda. Separately, Laura wondered whether you can be called a civilized country when you export barbaric ideas.
Also: I'm cold. I can't believe there has been more snow. This is just like a real winter! We don't have that, here.
Oops, I missed Epiphany
...but that happens a lot.
David Swanson on Shooting Handcuffed Children: "The occupied government of Afghanistan and the United Nations have both concluded that U.S.-led troops recently dragged eight sleeping children out of their beds, handcuffed some of them, and shot them all dead. While this apparently constitutes an everyday act of kindness, far less intriguing than the vicious singeing of his pubic hairs by Captain Underpants, it is at least a variation on the ordinary American technique of murdering men, women, and children by the dozens with unmanned drones. [...] In a civilized world, the alternative to vengeance is justice. Often we can even set aside feelings of revenge as long as we are able to act so as to deter more crime. But at the same time that the puppet president of Afghanistan is demanding the arrest of the troops who shot the handcuffed children, the puppet government of Iraq is facing up to the refusal of the United States to seriously prosecute the Blackwater assassins of innocent Iraqis. Justice will not be permitted as an alternative to vengeance -- the mere idea is anti-American."
Dave Ettlin attended two remembrance services on the same day - one for "Baltimore's best-know socialist", A. Robert Kaufman, who advocated for "crazy" ideas like universal health care and an end to racism, and the other for his long-time friend and co-founder of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, Mark Owings.
At the other end of the spectrum, David W. has been down in comments defending Debbie Howell's performance as Ombud for the WaPo, insisting that she lived a better life than Osama bin Laden, and saying that her behavior was okay because she was defending a reporter at the paper. Um, David W., could you at least look up the word "ombudsman"? It doesn't mean she was the paper's lawyer.
Listen to the podcast of CSKappler and clammyc of DKos chatting about the economic, political, and health crisis in America in the kickoff to the Sunday night Virtually Speaking talking heads show.
Really, why does anyone even talk to Larry Kudlow with all the crap he comes out with?
I seem to have figured out what was confusing me about Echo, now, but I can't see a way to link to individual comments. But somewhere in there, I think CMike was making his nomination for my best post of the year, like this: "Ever see a 63 yard field goal attempt split the uprights? Here's another one but New Orleans lost this time. Sure, these days it looks like anyone could have made that second kick. That's not how it looked back then." Any other nominees?
Glenn Greenwald notes that the agenda of the American right-wing often seems to coincide with that of Al Qaeda Terrorists. This is true, but then, in America, the American right usually are the terrorists. (Oh, and in a fine example of conservative family values, Karl Rove got a divorce. Again.)
Harvard and a few other academic institutions are starting to question whether it's a good idea to have faculty shilling for corporations. They've introduced caps on outside earnings - but, frankly, I'm not so sure those caps are low enough.
Wow, has the NYT actually been reading Krugman? They seem to be channeling him in today's editorial on Avoiding a Japanese Decade.
Ruth's road trip took her on a tour of a country with a failing economy.
It's nice to see anyone being hammered for being all wrong, especially if it's Larry Kudlow.
Has anyone noticed that Obama's popularity has been getting progressively lower as time has gone by?
Deborah Howell's wrong-headedness as the ombud for The Washington Post quickly became legend as she promoted GOP spin over facts time and again. Now, it seems, her facility for looking the wrong way has killed her. Sad, maybe, but not as sad as what she did with her life.
I can't forget the last decade, and I can't forget George W. Bush, because the new decade and the new president are carrying on with the same horrible policies.
I don't know why John Yoo merits an interview in the NYT mag, but apparently he became a conservative because President Carter made a speech in a funny sweater that Yoo never heard because he thinks it's "the malaise speech" rather than a speech about how we can be independent of foreign oil.
In the land of the headless chicken
Dan did his Best Music of the Year again, and it's all stuff I haven't heard, and maybe I will get around to listening to it to see if he's got any taste. Personally, I'm still listening to a lot of music from before I was born in between going through the Beatles re-mastered albums package.
5 Foods That Boost Weight Loss are actually things I like to eat. (via)
Here's a bra moment in history.
Snowy conditions in December are actually unusual in Britain. Mr. Sideshow says in all his life he has only seen a white Christmas once - I remember that one, too, when we went out to Cardiff for the holiday. This picture of frosty rose-hips is not something one would normally expect to get in Scotland at Christmastime, either, but there it is. Pretty, but hearing about the Gulf Stream moving south scares the hell out of me.
An interesting shot of the New Year's Eve Blue Moon Partial Eclipse. And a pretty picture of December's first full moon.
Glucose is the energy of life, but the real bitter truth is about non-glucose sweeteners - all of them. This guy is concentrating on the harmful result of pouring fructose down your neck without the fibre that's supposed to go with it, but anything that gives you the *taste* of sweet without satisfying the part of you that reacts to glucose specifically is actually going to make you fat - so artificial sweeteners are seriously bad for you. And your diet drink helps make you fat. Fructose itself does the same, only it contains more calories.
Here's bmaz on Obama's Royal Scam and The Iron Fist Of Rahm. We may as well just be calling it the Royal ObamaRahma Court.
"All Charges Dismissed Against Blackwater Guards In Killing Of Iraqi Civilians ... While Nisour Square contributed to Blackwater falling out of favor with the State Department in Iraq, it is now working Pentagon contracts in Afghanistan."
My first science fiction convention was the 1974 Disclave at the much-missed Sheraton Park (aka Sheraton Gormenghast), where I met Dave Ettlin, Mark Owings, Roger Zelazny, and a lot of other people for the first time. I had already met Jack Chalker a few weeks before, and when I mentioned my earlier meeting that day with Mark, Dave told me then about how they had founded the Baltimore Science Fiction Society "in the back of a bus" while returning from a Washington Science Fiction Association meeting. I met Mark when I was mentioning to someone that there was a book I was looking for but I couldn't remember anything about it so I didn't know how to look for it or ask for it. I was worried that I was going to have to look at the covers of thousands of books in the huckster room individually before I had any chance of finding it, and she dragged me across the room and introduced me to Mark and said, "Tell Mark about your book." So I explained that I didn't remember the name, the author, or anything else much except that I'd started reading it at camp but hadn't been able to finish it before the owner went home at the end of the summer, and there was something about a disease and some secret pathways or something, and I thought it had been published originally under a different title from the one I read - and Mark turned around and pulled a copy of Highways in Hiding by George O. Smith off of his table and handed it to me with a grin. A brief flip through the first pages revealed that it had also been reprinted at some point under the title Space Plague. All the right bells rang. So I bought it and was finally able to read this book I'd started reading when I was ten. And though I had many conversations about more serious things with Mark over the years, I also saw that same grin many times, and it's how I remember him - especially, when I picture him in my mind, I remember that grin the moment he handed me Highways in Hiding. I don't talk about him often, but I've always looked forward to seeing him when I went back home for Disclaves and then Capclaves, and I'm sorry I'll never see that grin again. Thank you so much, Mark, and farewell.
Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, January 2010
Is the media in denial?
Back to front page
And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.