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Saturday, 29 January 2011

Your big fat blog post

I don't listen to Obama's speeches because I don't want to damage the walls in my house. I wait for the offenses to trickle in so the horror can be buffered by the warnings from others. But, really, there is no way to mitigate crap like this:

They're right. The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there's an Internet connection.
Because, of course, we never had ships before, and we never had international trade. It's a revolution! Nothing to do with the fact that we changed the laws in our country and actually now reward corporations for weakening our economy and exporting jobs.
Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They're investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became the home to the world's largest private solar research facility, and the world's fastest computer.
Yes, by God, now that the people of China and India have discovered our secrets of education and math, they are getting even in the race. If only we had kept our secret and never let the Chinese know about our clever invention of the abacus!

The revolution has not been in technology. The revolution has been that the immorally rich have finally rebelled against the very possibility of democracy and equality and are making sure to nail down any hole in their walls against the rabble, eliminate any possibility of clever "little people" being able to better themselves with hard work or clever ideas. It has become increasingly difficult for any small business to emerge or survive, for poor kids to work their way up to a decent living. And it's not an accident.

A government's policies determine who lives and who dies, who earns and who starves. Government makes the money and decides where to spend it. It can give to rich people and buy nothing in return, or it can give it to the rest of us and give us roads and jobs and a stable base of government-employed public servants whose steady income results in steady spending in the real economy and thus creates the private sector jobs. A government can set policies that protect its workers, or one that forces them to compete with the worst, most corrupt slave economies.

Obama has chosen to give our money to the Malefactors of Great Wealth and make up excuses about technology and international competition to convince us that we should survive on subsistence wages in order to "compete" with China and India. Compete for what? Why, compete to make our rich people richer than their rich people. Whoever's behalf we are working for, it won't be for us.

So, thank goodness Sammy and Digby shared my reaction to the latest nauseating performance from Mr. HopeyChangey.

The subtext of that whole speech was that the Chinese are "beating" us and we need to get into the race and beat them. The problem, of course, is that if we are going to "compete" with China on the terms that actually exist today, we are going to be racing to a lower standard of living for American workers and higher profits for American companies. I suspect that's the unspoken goal of many members of the global elite (and perhaps it's even inevitable) but I'm not sure Americans would see that as "winning the future."
No, I think they already know we are not. As does Kevin Baker:*
Well-intentioned though it may be, this whole narrative makes no sense on the face of it.

So, back in the good old days, we were the best at everything, but we did well only because "we just had to compete against our neighbors"?

Say what? Which is it? Were we the best, or were we not?

China and India sure did make changes. But of course the Chinese have been "teaching math" since long before the rest of the world knew the Americas existed, and didn't India invent it? Were the changes so much better education, or the fact that the two countries emerged first from under Western thumbs, and then from suffocating systems of caste and communism over the course of the last couple generations?

And how DID we fall behind? I mean, while still having the world's best universities, best innovators, most patents, etc.?

What Obama's pseudo-history conveniently ignores is that what really changed is not Chinese students buckling down to their algebra homework, or "sweeping technological changes in the course of a generation." What changed was government policy.

American workers have ALWAYS operated in times of rapid, sweeping technological change. They've ALWAYS competed with other countries, in one way or another. And they've generally done pretty well.

The reasons they did well included the fact that for most of our history, our government protected our industries against competition from countries with desperately underpaid labor. And because the people running the industries kept inventing new stuff, and ploughing money back into their American industries, instead of shipping their plants overseas and devoting all their time and capital to figuring out new financial Ponzi schemes.

* * * * *

"WE are the moderates--fighting extremists on both sides: To put it simply, there are three different models of civil society or social organization that are contesting in the world today. In Jihad vs. McWorld, Barber named two of them "Jihad" and "McWorld"--the former indicating religious/ethno-nationalism (or even sub-nationalism) and the later indicating materialist/consumerist neo-liberalism. Jihad and McWorld are bitter enemies, Barber argued, and yet at the same time they feed off of one another and both work against a common enemy: social democracy and its natural home in the nation-state."

"BENNINGTON - Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has created a Social Security caucus in the Senate to defend the entitlement program from anticipated attacks." Let's see what that means...

With a lot of other people, I've been critiquing our country's treatment of prisoners since long before it got as bad as it is today. Obviously, that critique has been ignored and the situation has gone from lousy to horrific. It's not simply that people who have committed crimes are treated vilely - which is evil enough - but, in addition, that people who have not been convicted of (or, in many cases, even charged with) any crime are being tortured. And for decades, civil libertarians have been decrying the monstrosity our system of "justice" has been and has evolved into. By now, they've gotten us used to the idea that, unless you are rich and powerful, you lose your rights the moment someone decides to accuse of you of something, even if the "something" can't be defined (and may not be a crime at all). We've gone from Perry Mason (where there must be a crime, there must be evidence, there must be a trial, and there must be a recognition that the accused could be innocent), to Law & Order (where the first suspect who catches your eye is guilty and it's only a question of finding a way to punish them as severely as possible). The difference today from 30 years ago is that the level of abuse in every aspect of our society has become so severe that any criticism gets lost in the continuous barrage of outrages. But every once in a while, a case will catch the public eye, and so it is with Bradley Manning. So we shouldn't be surprised when right-wing apologists for government abuse of a prisoner project on civil libertarians the idea since our right-wingers never cared about this issue before, we didn't, either.

Via Atrios, a sentence that literally made me laugh out loud: "TALLAHASSEE - Hoping to fend off a rash of overdoses in Florida during the upcoming spring break, Attorney General Pam Bondi has outlawed a synthetic drug cocktail masquerading as "bath salts" that has apparently give users super-human strength and has similar effects to LSD, heroin and cocaine."

Just a note, but, face it: While "the left" has had a few periods over the last few centuries of freaking out over real outrages and trying to fight back (American Revolution, the union movement, the Panthers), right-wing violence in America has been pretty continuous (the treason in defence of slavery known as "the Civil War", blowing up black churches, shooting gynecologists, shooting up Unitarian churches, and everything in between). Left-wing violence has usually been a response to actual violence and oppression, but right-wing violence never stops, and is part of who they are.

They really do hate democracy, you know. (And they're not too crazy about the truth, either. Bear false witness, much?)

Jon Stewart Needs to Get the Hell Over It.

Every now and then over the last decade I have recalled moments in Babylon 5 that seemed ominous. And they were. (And, lighting the way out of a difficult childhood. This goes on my reading list, f'sure.) And via the same page, "Shockingly, Anti-Meth Laws Have Had Unintended Consequences." The intended consequences, of course, did not result. And a roof glacier. Plus! Old postcards invaded by aliens.)

Marijuana Will Ruin Your Life .

The Chilling Case of Were-Cat

I really do come from a strange family.

RIP Gladys Horton, who sang this.

04:59 GMT

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


CSI: "Some clever class action lawyer for the homeowners, or some representative of the investors whom the banksters defrauded, or maybe counsel to an association of the localities whose fees were stolen, really does need to put yellow crime scene tape around MERS. Like, immediately. Lock MERS down before the perps wipe it, or the admins meet with "a terrible accident," or the CEO goes up in a small plane or flees to a country with which we have no extradition treaty. Kidding! Or maybe Bloomberg could. They were aggressive enough to FOIA the Fed, after all."

Wolcott says the fallout from the shooting in Arizona seems to have helped Obama. That's a shame, because, as he also reminds us, Monica Lewinsky saved Social Security - because Clinton couldn't afford to listen to Larry Summers after what's in his pants became an issue.

A funny thing happened when Jane Hamsher and David House tried to visit Bradley Manning.

This just isn't fair. See if you can help a friend keep his home while maybe actually landing a job.

I'm shocked, shocked, to find out that there was corruption in the Bush White House.

Spamlinks and obfuscated code: "Siobhan Ambrose went looking for a WordPress theme; of the top ten free WordPress theme sites listed on Google, eight had hidden, obfuscated, or encrypted code buried in them that rendered spammy keyword links that were part of a deceptive search engine optimization scheme; in some cases, Siobhan couldn't figure out what the offending code did and speculates that it might contain malware. Of the remaining two, one hosted themes that didn't validate. The remaining site, WordPress.org, is the only site in the first ten Google results for "free wordpress theme" whose themes don't contain deceptive backlinks, obfuscated code, or non-validating themes."

"Comics Code Authority is dead: 57 years after the Comics Code Authority was created to certify that comics bearing its seal had been censored and did not contain anti-authoritarian, sexual or counterculture content, it has finally died. The CCA was formed in response to the moral panic brought on by the Seduction of the Innocents, a medical hoax perpetrated by American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham who testified that comics were a serious cause of juvenile delinquency. (Paradoxically, Wertham was also a pioneering civil rights campaigner -- he apparently believed in freedom but just wasn't interested in sharing). As of February, no major comic will bear the CCA seal any longer -- February being the month that Archie drops the iconic serif A. When Archie no longer cares about your certification of squeaky cleanness, you are truly dead."

Cliff Schecter and Culture of Truth were this week's hosts of Virtually Speaking Sundays (podcast).

I got a Kindle for Christmas, and it turns out there are a lot of free books available for it. I just downloaded the Oz books, which I'm ashamed to say I've never read. But it looks like Project Gutenberg is a more up-to-date source.

17:20 GMT

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Words and pictures

Artistry D-g Cup Underwired BraBra of the Week

Old Rock Star Songs from Tim Hawkins.

A bunch of Sensual Photos by Joanna Kustra, different photos from Dennis Ziliotto, and some Winter Landscapes by Mark Adamus.

Milky Way garden

The leading news of Friday night/Saturday morning came as rather a shock to Josh Marshall, who appeared on Countdown and then went home without sticking around to hear Keith Olbermann announce that this was his final broadcast. for the network. Perhaps even more shockingly, "MSNBC announced that "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" would replace "Countdown" at 8 p.m." That's this jerk. But don't expect to see Olbermann with a new show any time soon.

Of course, McClatchy is a real news organization, and Brian Williams is a putz.

Dan at Pruning Shears writes about "The government's subversion of Silicon Alley," and he may have a good case if we assume there is actually any sort of sovereign government left and they aren't all part of the vast Owner Nation who are happy to share information with each other as long as they can use to it to keep the rest of us down. It's perfectly clear at this point that the people who run things, including the nominal "Americans" at the top of the US food chain in "our" corporations and Congress, feel no real sense of allegiance to this country and, having sucked out sufficient wealth to leave us on a downhill spiral, are now engaged in a big trashing party. As near as I can tell, they want to be sure that what they leave behind will be pretty much a burned-out hulk that won't much be attractive to investors or anyone else. Basically, they're terrorists.

Black Agenda Report says "'State of the Dream' Report Fails to Describe the Real Nightmare. Nice cartoon, guys.

I have been forced to conclude that the "Americans" who run things are actually trying to destroy America and leave nothing in its place but a rotting hulk. And someday, someone can say that Russia destroyed America by giving us Ayn Rand. Via Atrios.

It appears that Harper Collins has a morality clause in their contracts. Because, you know, you wouldn't want to read books by an author who is some kind of, um, violator of morals. It's a little difficult to figure out what "morals" they mean, since Greed and Sex are both pretty big best-sellers.

Paul Rosenberg may be on to something about making new myths, but where are the mythmakers?

After 320 pages, Fred finally finds the thrill in the Tribulation Force "thriller".

The Rude Pundit, "Tony Blair Dreadfully Sorry for All the Dead People."

Are we worried about Bradley Manning? We certainly should be.

01:44 GMT

Friday, 21 January 2011

I just saw the devil and he's smilin' at me

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about comments. For all I know, they will all magically disappear momentarily. I think I will probably just create a post with the link for the main article over here on my Blogspot blog for comments and put the link for that at the bottom of posts here. I can't bring myself to put my articles on Blogspot rather than here, and Echo appears to be out of the question. I am not fond of Blogger's comments but at least they aren't as stupid as Echo - and it's free.

It's worth checking out Tuesday's Majority Report, where Sammy's guest was James Galbraith.

Help the 99ers. (On her show the other night, Susie Madrak had a good idea: Instead of protests along the standard parade routes or in government offices, it might be a good idea to protest at those restaurants that are so popular with politicians and journos. Go find out where your Congresscritter eats. And find out where Jake Tapper eats.)

Union Members Disrupt Mortgage Banksters Meeting in DC: "Awesome activism from members of the Sheetmetal Workers union (SMWIA), 200 of whom burst into a private meeting of mortgage bankers to protest layoffs by a homebuilding company that got a $900 million in federal funds intended for job creation. The banksters fled the scene, though one said he would have engaged the workers if they had 'worn a suit.' (Watch CNBC's coverage of the protest at the top of this post.)"

If Obama's mission was to restore the Republican Party and make voters hate Democrats, his attack on Social Security is Mission Accomplished. (Mind you, nobody likes the Teabaggers, either.)

What Does WikiLeaks Have on Bank of America?

Despite well-documented infiltration of our military by anti-constitutional religious loonies, and the current well-known affiliation of far-right upper-tier Catholics and the far-right Protestant loony arm in the conservative movement, when Sy Hersh points out that connection, the Deeply Serious right wing Villagers in the media leap to mock him in an article that reports precious little of what he actually said.

Over at Corrente, Valhalla picked up on the story I posted about the pharmacist that refused to fill a prescription for a drug that was not an abortifacient or birth control, and asked, "Whatever happened to Obama's "move" to rescind the "conscience clause" rule?"

Think the NRA represents gun owners? Think again.

In an alternate reality, the Beatles' last film was a little different from the one you may remember... (via)

Encyclopedia Mythica

Internet Sacred Text Archive (And, man, I wish I believed this was true.)

Perspective: The scale of the universe. Here's some more.

Oooh, baby elephant!

"Poverty Train"

05:50 GMT

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

People are talking

Joan McCarter and Susie Madrak were on Virtually Speaking Sundays (podcast), and Eric Boehlert and Nicole Sandler on Virtually Speaking Susie with Susie Madrak (podcast).

Matt Stoller:

Since the 1970s, Democratic elites have focused on breaking public sector unions and financializing the economy. Carter, not Reagan, started the defense build-up. Carter, not Reagan, lifted usury caps. Carter, not Reagan, first cut capital gains taxes. Clinton, not Bush, passed NAFTA. It isn't the base of the Democratic party that did this, but then, voters in America have never had a lot of power because they are too disorganized. And there wasn't a substantial grassroots movement to challenge this, either.

Obama continues this trend. It isn't that he's not fighting, he fights like hell for what he wants. He whipped incredibly aggressively for TARP, he has passed emergency war funding (breaking a campaign promise) several times, and nearly broke the arms of feckless liberals in the process. I mean, when Bernie Sanders did the filiBernie, Obama flirted with Bernie's potential 2012 GOP challenger. Obama just wants policies that cement the status of a aristocratic class, with crumbs for everyone else (Republican elites disagree in that they hate anyone but elites getting crumbs). And he will fight for them.

There is simply no basis for arguing that Democratic elites are pursuing poor strategy anymore. They are achieving an enormous amount of leverage within the party. Consider the following. Despite Obama violating every core tenet of what might have been considered the Democratic Party platform, from supporting foreclosures to destroying civil liberties to torturing political dissidents to wrecking unions, Obama has no viable primary challenger. Moreover, no Senate Democratic incumbent lost a primary challenge in 2010, despite a horrible governing posture. Now THAT is a successful strategy, it minimized the losses of the Democratic elite and kept them firmly in control of the party. Thus, the political debate remains confined to what neoliberals want to talk about. It's a good strategy, it's just you are the one the strategy is being played on.

It's the one I saw working for Tony Blair, too. Admittedly, the people most likely to be a threat to Blair during his tenure either fled the country or happened to suffer an unexpected death, but it's amazing how soon, somehow, no one else was a credible opponent and for that matter no one even seemed interested in taking the leadership of the Labour Party. And today, the same Hillary Clinton who was willing to risk eight years of Bush rather than throw real support behind Gore - because she wanted to be president - doesn't seem interested in the job anymore. (via)

More reminders of how Obama lied about his plans for wrecking Social Security.

Ian Welsh says, "Stop treating monsters as reasonable people

What I've come to realize lately is that I'm not on the same side as a lot of people. If you're for the Afghan war, aka. for eternal war, I'm not on your side. If you believe in indefinite detention or the President's right to assassinate whoever he wants, I'm not on your side. If you believe that Wikileaks is evil and that citizens should be kept in the dark as to what their governments are doing, then I'm not on your side.

Through the Bush years opposition to Bush made a lot of people seem like friends, who weren't. Sure, we all hated Bush (yes, hated. I hate people who torture and engage in aggressive war, and I think that's the appropriate response), but that hatred, that opposition, concealed the fact that a lot of people didn't really object to what Bush was doing, they just objected to the fact that it was being done by a Republican, or that it was being done incompetently. They would have been ok with the same policies if they'd worked out, as with all the "liberals" and "progressives" who were pro-Iraq war until it turned into a clusterfuck.

The Wikileaks imbroglio was a real turning point for me. At least half the "progressives" I know revealed themselves as, simply, supporters of authoritarianism; revealed themselves as mushrooms who wanted daddy to keep them in the dark and feed them shit. Revealed themselves as fools who didn't either understand or, worse, believe that government exists to serve its citizens, who have a right to know what it's doing in their name.


So count me out. I'm not interested in being reasonable, if reasonable means "a spineless sell out". I'm not interested in being pragmatic, if pragmatic means "understands that nothing can actually be done to fix any problem", and I'm not interested in being polite to people who make their living by destroying lives or apologizing for those who destroy lives.

Athenae: "So you want this not to happen again? You want this not to be the uncomfortable memory we're bringing up in another 15 years when there's another Democratic president wingnut radio's listeners are being told is Satan incarnate? Then you accept that nobody knows anything they aren't told at top volume, and you open your mouth and you speak."

Via Singularity, a good point from Steve Striffler:

Within this context, it is amazing that any person in their twenties is able to develop anything resembling a coherent political framework for understanding the world, let alone acquire the tools to decipher between news and entertainment, to critically evaluate the fragments of information flying at them 24 hours a day from their TVs, computers and smart phones. Most do not have these tools by the time they arrive to college, and I long ago stopped expecting them to. But neither do I hold it against them, or dismiss their views simply because they are (from my perspective) muddled, incoherent and frequently go in completely opposite directions. I take them seriously both because it is my job as an educator and because I know a better future depends on equipping them with the ability to piece together a critical framework for understanding the world.

It is a bit ironic that at the same time as many commentators are urging us to listen more closely to our opponents' ideas and resist the urge to demonize them, that we are dismissing Loughner's political views without even so much as a real discussion. What he did is horrible, but the commentary has gone too quickly from "Loughner's actions were politically motivated" to "it had nothing to do with politics." We are now told that because his political views do not fall seamlessly into a neat box labeled "left" or "right" that they were irrelevant for understanding events in Arizona and, by connection, for understanding the current political situation in the United States. We should take Loughner's political views seriously. His mental state may have led him down a particularly destructive path, but his political confusion is by no means unique.

15:42 GMT

Monday, 17 January 2011

Wet pavements, grey skies

Let's start off with a pretty tourist snap from Charlie.

Good news! Though nothing will stop our media mouthpieces from blathering about how "Obama is moving to the center", it's getting harder and harder for anyone to accept the idea that Obama is a liberal - unless, of course, they are in the pay of Big Media and/or the Koch brothers.

This Week in Tyranny, praise for Twitter after they beta-test a spine, and the mysterious quiet of libertarians on big issues like the foreclosure crisis, among numerous other links.

Why they really hate WikiLeaks: They're getting the goods on those offshore bank accounts.

Chris Floyd on what Obama has been doing this week to earn that Nobel Peace Prize: "As President Barack Obama consoled the nation Wednesday with talk of "rain puddles in heaven," his agents were murdering four more people in his illegal war in Pakistan. The incongruity was excruciating; you could almost feel your neck snapping from the moral whiplash induced by the contrast between word and deed."

Ian Welsh says that Ideologies have overlap.

No conscience: "Planned Parenthood officials said in the complaint that the pharmacist inquired if the patient needed the drug for post-abortion care. The nurse refused to answer the question based on confidentiality of health information. According to Planned Parenthood, the pharmacist then stated that if the nurse practitioner did not disclose that information, she would not fill the prescription. The nurse alleged that the pharmacist hung up when asked for a referral to another pharmacy that would fill the prescription." In other words, this "pharmacist" tried to blackmail the nurse into violating patient confidentiality and then refused a drug that is not an abortifacient, because it is preferred that anyone who has had an abortion bleed to death. And they want us to call them "pro-life"! Via Suburban Guerrilla, which said pretty much what I would have about the creepy assertion that MLK would support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with this nifty little clip.

Alternate Brain: "The corporatists who co-opt both parties have taken a divide and conquer stance toward the American people. The deep partisan ideological chasm that exists today is no accident, coincidence, or natural evolution of society. My gut tells me that if the "blue/red" line wasn't so severe, if the acrimony weren't so violent and entrenched, both sides would see how we are being used by interests that transcend national borders; for whom borders are nothing but a speed bump in their quest to make government nothing more than a way to control the proles." And: "Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable."

How we know that it was never unreasonable to speculate that Loughner was a right-wing nut inspired by the right-wing nuts, and The Rules for right-wing argument.

Mutually unassurded destruction - just how useful is an armed citizenry in preventing violent crime, anyway?

I was chatting with a few liberal activists and discovered to my astonishment that they'd never heard of Julian Bond. (And I found this clip, but not the Motown one, alas.)

Scottish science fiction writers are turning to hope - but of course, that's taking the long view. (Oh, and this is kinda cool.)

I think Echo just told me it wants me to pay monthly what I paid for the whole of last year. I can't afford that, especially for such a lousy product. What do I do now? (Solutions that involve hosting comments on my own webspace don't work for me, so don't suggest them. I might as well just switch over to Blogger if those are my only options.)

15:57 GMT

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Look over your shoulder

I am thoroughly aggravated to note that I am no longer getting The Daily Show on my TV but it is nevertheless still not available on the internets to people in this country. Why? It's not like they're going to sell me the DVD in six months or something.

So, the Third Way plan is to overturn four centuries of property law so the banksters can keep stealing homes: "After the banksters lost the Ibanez decision, they had their lackeys at Third Way plan to rewrite the rules. Lose at the state level? Fine! Have the Congress you own federalize the issue, and get away clean. Oh, and Bill Daley is on their board. Read the whole horrible post at Yves place, and then give Third Way a call." (And, no, I've never been impressed with Obama's speeches, either.) Like that former senior House aide said: "You can't blame the voters. In 2006 they voted out the party of endless war and corporate bailouts. In 2008 they voted out the party of endless war and corporate bailouts. And in 2010 they voted out the party of endless war and corporate bailouts." Clearly, there is only one way for Americans to get their rights back - we must all become corporations.

Atrios points to another result of just giving the banksters free money: They are so irresponsible that they, too, are making strategic defaults on their local obligations to deal with homes they've foreclosed on. Really, I'd like to see cities simply taking possession of those houses and giving them away to people who need them (like, for example, the families that were foreclosed out of them in the first place).

Susan of Texas reminds us that winning requires that we not be afraid to lose. Or rather, that we not be afraid that Democrats might lose, since their wins are not our wins.

Dan Crawford treats us to Beverly Mann's contribution to the fine art of parsing Scalia, and Robert notes that apparently the current job of a lawyer is to look good in a suit and speak proper English with a confident tone.

Dept. of Hope Springs Eternal: Make politicians keep the promise of Social Security.

List of members of the House who are against net neutrality

An actual piece of good news: "After more than a decade of debate over whether the state's system of capital punishment could ever be fair, state lawmakers voted on Tuesday to end the death penalty in Illinois." (via)

Ever wonder what happens to men once they've been released from Guantanamo? Laurel Fletcher did, too.

"Congress Prepares To Extend Patriot Act Again, With No Real Opposition."

Rebecca Lesses notes Israel's further steps toward an anti-democratic state.

"Why Palin Used the Phrase "Blood Libel": The Theopolitical Right Believes They Are the New and Improved Jews." It sounds like they've been hanging around with Mormons a lot.

Last year, Paul Hardcastle created the 25th anniversary remake of "19".

"'Cause there's always someone comin' after you."

14:42 GMT

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Some stuff

I still don't want to talk about it,* but Susie says that, "This interview with Jared Loughner's friend is probably the closest thing we'll get to a cogent explanation." (Also: "Nullify the pensions, smash the unions," Bill Maher on violent rhetoric, and an impressive call-out on "corporate communism" from Dylan Ratigan: "If you allow weak, outdated players to take control of the government and change the rules so they are protected from the natural competition and reward systems that have created so many innovations in our country, you not only steal from the citizens on behalf of the least worthy but you also doom them by trapping the capital that would be used to generate new innovation and, most tangibly in our current situation, jobs.".)

Susie also had Eric Kingson of Social Security Works and David Dayen of FDL (dday of Hullabaloo) on Virtually Speaking Susie, in which Jay points out that we should stop using the phrase "Deficit Hawks" and call them "Deficit Peacocks" (podcast). And Glenn Greenwald and Digby were the talking heads on this week's Virtually Speaking Sundays, which you can stream at the link or grab the podcast.

Jay is putting up little YouTube videos of the VS statements on what we believe (with still shots of our avatars), and the first one he posted was mine. Oh, and he tells me now that Cliff Schecter's is up. (I put this post up at Eschaton in the hope of generating more statements, and people were coming up with some nice stuff - and of course Steve Martin's famous bit - before the post got stepped on all too quickly, but I do hope more of you will take it to heart.)

I keep looking for more posts that talk about Modern Monetary Theory. Maybe this will help. Really, this is important stuff I wish more people understood. (It's not actually that hard, it's just not part of the discourse.) (Also: Neat flower.)

Note to DCblogger: No need to wonder what the reaction would be to this. We already know.

*I haven't changed my mind about this since 2004.

20:40 GMT

Monday, 10 January 2011

I'm not gonna talk about the thing everyone is talking about

Jay Ackroyd got turned on by Fishgrease's micro-broadcasting project and decided to get us all to make little statements of what we believe in as liberals, which he and Stuart Zechman introduced on BTR on a VS Saturday episode. You can find that here. (And since I was unable to be online at the time, I was highly entertained when I listened later and heard that gratifying bit at the end.)

Marcy Wheeler, fascinated by Scalia's ruminations on whether the Constitution protects us from discrimination (he says no), suggests he has clearly just killed corporate personhood: "If the Fourteenth Amendment shouldn't be applied to women and gays, then it sure as hell shouldn't be applied to railroads, right?" Ah, but I don't think she really believes that: "Is there something more going on (and I'm sure there are a lot of you out there that will explain this to me)? I'm wondering whether, in anticipation of severely reversing the application of the Fourteenth Amendment (perhaps in anticipation of a gay rights case, perhaps to support conservative efforts to overturn birthright citizenship), Scalia is laying the basis for corporate protections elsewhere? After all, in Citizens United, Scalia very carefully rooted his concurrence in the First Amendment alone, not the Fourteenth. But note how he very carefully takes the opposite approach to the First Amendment that he does with the Fourteenth Amendment: that in spite of the dissent's extensive description of the founding fathers' caution about corporations, so long as they didn't explicitly exclude any speakers, they must be assumed to have included corporations - incorporated associations - in their intent." (Also: "CIA Doesn't Want You To Know It Gave Iran Nuclear Blueprints.")

Bruce Schneier, "Close the Washington Monument [...] The empty monument would symbolize our war on the unexpected, -- our overreaction to anything different or unusual -- our harassment of photographers, and our probing of airline passengers. It would symbolize our "show me your papers" society, rife with ID checks and security cameras. As long as we're willing to sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety, we should keep the Washington Monument empty."

Kucinich: "Due to the new census figures, Ohio will lose two seats in Congress. The Ohio Legislature (Republican) will redraw the map with 16 instead of 18 districts for the 2012 Election. Speculation nationally, and more importantly, in Ohio is that my district may be eliminated, absorbed into parts of other districts. Keep in mind, given the early Ohio primary, the filing deadline could be only a year away."

Ruth notes that Bernanke can't find a reason to do for the states (and therefore the United States) what he did for Wall Street, and bmaz notes a similar problem at the DOJ: "Eric Holder and the DOJ cannot possibly find jurisdiction to charge American contractors who torture and murder people in the course and scope of their employment by the US Government abroad, and cannot charge CIA supervisors and OLC lawyers who patently admit to destruction of evidence and conspiracy to commit war crimes; however, the same DOJ is now suddenly able to be so legally creative as to find a path to charging a person under the Espionage Act who is not a US citizen, owed the US no duty under citizenship and treason provisions, committed no act within the jurisdiction of the US and who is a member within the general definition of 'press' and who only published purported whistleblower leaks given to him. It is amazing how the DOJ is willing to go out on that 'limb' when it wants to, but can never so travel when the interests of justice really demand it to." All via another linky post at Pruning Shears, where I was shocked, shocked, to learn that Cameron's government is "blocking investigation into allegations of UK involvement in torture and rendition" despite their claims that they want to get to the bottom of it.

Marion in Savannah has the op-ed pages covered (so I don't have to).

You know how I love them, but even I was amazed to discover that someone had built a fully functional replica of the Antikythera Mechanism out of Legos.


01:01 GMT

Saturday, 08 January 2011

I don't like the way that you talk to me

Fantasie Savannah Underwired Plunge BraBra of the Week, since Ruth was missing it so much.

A little meme to inject into your family dinner conversations: A society decides to do one of two things: to create a system in which people who don't have money can make money, or to create a system that primarily protects the ability of the wealthy and powerful to keep most of the money - and power - to themselves. You really can't have both. Most (but not all) of the Founding Fathers believed in the former. And whether you take the Bible as a religious document or a historical one, it's hard to get past the fact that societies that did the latter had a tendency to either get smote by God or bring on their own destruction. My list of the top ten things to do to avoid getting smote by God includes raising the top marginal rate.

I've always thought Atrios was right to remain anonymous when he started blogging, especially after I found out he was an economics prof at a university - academics being a favorite target of right-wing bloggers, and also of "serious" liberal academics who wanted to differentiate themselves from anyone who wasn't the image of academic perfection. Anyone who doubts that he would have been, as he says, "Dixie Chicked", should give a great deal of thought to the fact that the current target is not just some old Ward Churchill clone, but Jane Mayer after - aha! - she wrote that piece in The New Yorker about the people who fund so many of those "grass roots" right-wing activists and organizations (and, ultimately, bloggers, not to mention the "centrists" and - oh, but I repeat myself): the Koch brothers.

Apparently, Egyptian Muslims are smarter than American Christians, because they are doing something that once would have been regarded as both the Christian thing to do and as American as apple pie: standing up to protect the religious freedom of believers in other faiths. (Also, I wonder how many hours a day Mary Matilan thinks Gibbs works that $172K amounts to "minimum wage". And, you know, it's a bit of a joke for Republicans to be complaining about "job-killing" legislation.)

So, what, is Pelosi saying she's proud of having helped conservatives wreck the country? Great.

Well, there had to be some good news: "Veteran reporter Helen Thomas returns to the press, with little fanfare [...] "...Thomas returned to the media with a scathing indictment of Republican efforts to privatize Social Security. Her new column appeared exclusively in The Falls Church News-Press, a small Virginia publication with a circulation around 30,000."

"Obama urges end to "symbolic battles" in Congress." I'm starting to feel the same way about Obama's utterances as I did about Bush's - he's embarrassing and he should STFU.

Roger Hickey learns that the only "advice" to Obama that The Washington Post publishes is bad advice. Meanwhile, more and more people are pointing out that the GOP does not have Obama and the Dems over a barrel on their deficit bluff (I mean, when even Krauthammer is admitting it , you gotta know), which means he's got less and less cover for his next big giveaway.

WikiLeaks demands Google and Facebook unseal secret US Subpoenas: "WikiLeaks has demanded that Google and Facebook reveal the contents of any US subpoenas they may have received after it emerged that a court in Virginia had ordered Twitter to secretly hand over details of accounts on the micro-blogging site by five figures associated with the group, including Julian Assange." Meanwhile, Sammy did a little WikiLeaks review on Friday's show.

Fairy Tales of the Coming State of the Union: We Can Only Raise Money By Taxing or Borrowing: "I've already examined the fairy tale that the Government of the United States can involuntarily run out of money, or is in the process of involuntarily running out of money. This post examines the second fairy tale in the narrative, namely the idea that the Government can only raise money to spend by either taxing or borrowing. How many times have we heard that the Government can only get US Dollars to spend by either taxing or borrowing?" Of course, as Atrios keeps reminding us, the mechanism for solving these problems has existed in the US since its inception: print money and pay people to do things that need doing. That means jobs are created, things get done, people have money to spend, and that's what creates private sector jobs.

Johan Green says There But for Fortune is "A Moving Tribute To A Complicated Singer". And includes the rather nice trailer.

Time Lord incest, or the Doctor and the Doctor's daughter. Or The Doctor's Daughter.

Everclear, "Hater"

22:55 GMT

Thursday, 06 January 2011


Sammy's been hitting 'em out of the park on Majority Report this week. Sunday on VSS I was saying that while the Village narrative is that the Republicans are holding the debt ceiling hostage, the fact is that the Corporatocracy doesn't want the US to default and it's not terribly likely they'll let that happen, so it's really "the left" that has the hostage and "we" could simply refuse to give the Republicans what they want. But it looks pretty clear that the plan is for everyone, including - well, especially - the Democratic leadership, to pretend that the GOP has them over a barrel and they have no choice but to give the Republicans everything they want (i.e., wreck what's left of the economy) in order to get them to "let" us raise the debt ceiling. Sammy really got his teeth into that very same idea on Monday's show, and on Tuesday he went to town on another of my favorite topics - taxing the rich. Wednesday he talked to Digby.

Did you notice that we just had another Saturday Night Massacre? Once upon a time, that sort of thing earned a banner headline in the Washington Post. Of course, the press no longer worries about such things.

You know all those Canadians who are supposedly racing across the border to get the benefits of US health care? Just Phantoms in the Snow. (via) Also: David Horsey's 40 Favorite Cartoons. Hm, actually, I found a bunch of good stuff at this place, I can't even link it all, go look.

"If you look under your seat, you'll see you're not getting anything."

Is it really not unusual for all these things to be happening at once?

Mr. Skelton Regrets the recall of Gray Davis. Well, of course it didn't improve California's situation - in fact, Davis had to go because he was actually trying to get back for California what had been stolen from it.

Ian Welsh says, "Centrists don't want to do the right thing," and also that Stuart Zechman has fallen into the "they're not evil" trap. (But I would add, Ian, that it's not merely making money that motivates these people. They're from the Chicago School, and in the Chicago School, it is understood that there is a point at which making money for the sake of mere material profit is irrelevant. Once you've got a hundred million bucks or so, there's not all that much more you can buy with it - you can already afford to buy the government by then, anyway. No. They aren't stealing your money just because they want to have more money; they are stealing your money to steal your money, because money is power and though they already have plenty, they want to make sure that you have none.)

A "shrewd insight" from Mitch McConnel: "We worked very hard to keep our fingerprints off of these proposals. Because we thought - correctly, I think - that the only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan. When you hang the 'bipartisan' tag on something, the perception is that differences have been worked out, and there's a broad agreement that that's the way forward." And McConnel is right - but Yglesias is wrong about what is possible. The Democrats didn't have so much trouble because the Republicans opposed them. They had "trouble" because they were trying to hide the fact that they wanted the Republicans to succeed. (Via yet another very linky post at Progressive Blog Digest.)

The Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2010 doesn't include anything from me this year because I was too lazy to browbeat my commenters into telling me if I did any posts worth remembering.

Neat Christmas snow pic

Ooh, I just got my first Darwin coin!

Cave cities

It's either Christmas or the last day of Christmas, depending on your point of view, and after tonight you won't have to put up with any more of my Christmas trees for a while.

13:42 GMT

Tuesday, 04 January 2011

Assorted stuff

I forgot to mention beforehand that this week's Virtually Speaking Sundays featured Avedon Carol and Chris Kendrick, with nyceve joining us about halfway through (podcast).

I'm also looking forward to some upcoming events in the Virtually Speaking schedules - such as Susie Madrak's own BTR show starting tonight (er, that's Monday night in the US), Virtually Speaking Susie with Will Bunch (Which is too late for me to stay up for, so I'll have to listen to the stream later). And the next VSS (on the 9th) will feature Digby and Glenn Greenwald.

If five people write to a newspaper and say, for example, that the only crisis facing Social Security is the politicians who want to mess around with it, the paper will claim it is legitimate to ignore those letters on the grounds that it must be a "campaign" that has been "organized" by some liberal group (or blog). But if five people write in to that same newspaper and say some insanely crackpot right-wing thing, they behave like it's some sort of grassroots movement. Grassroots my ass.

Nice little catch from Tristero: "Scandalous as it may sound to the ears of Republicans schooled in Reaganomics, one critical measure of the health of a modern democracy is its ability to legitimately extract taxes from its own elites. The most dysfunctional societies in the developing world are those whose elites succeed either in legally exempting themselves from taxation, or in taking advantage of lax enforcement to evade them, thereby shifting the burden of public expenditure onto the rest of society." And yes, I am amazed by the source.

Yes, Virginia, there is a war on public service.

Never forget that Fox News is the organization that went to court to defend their right to lie to the public. This stuff is just cheesecloth over a bed of sandpaper.

Ettlin on trial - in Parking Court, with a an unofficial jury making the calls.

A really big, really cool cave.

"What I Did In My Christmas Holidays" was originally written as a short story for the 2006 Doctor Who annual, but re-written and re-purposed later for the highly-praised broadcast episode "Blink".

03:03 GMT

Saturday, 01 January 2011

Happy new year

Robert Parry on The Coming War over the Constitution:

Indeed, the Tea Party crowd so loves the Constitution that the new Republican House majority will take the apparently unprecedented step of reading the document aloud at the start of the new congressional session, presumably including the part about enslaved African-Americans being counted as three-fifths of a white person for purposes of congressional representation.

One also has to wonder if these "constitutionalists" will mumble over the preamble's assertion that a key purpose of the Constitution is to "promote the general Welfare." And what to do with Section Eight of Article One, which gives Congress the power to levy taxes, borrow money, regulate commerce among the states, and "establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization"?

Of course, the right-wing always tries to pretend that "the general welfare" is just a restatement of "the common defense", which would be correct if they didn't think all "the common defense" means is taking up arms against foreign governments who we are told "threaten our way of life" in some way. But it would be worthwhile to examine that assumption more fully - what, exactly, do we mean by "threaten our way of life"? What way of life? What is supposed to be different about the American way of life that our Founding Fathers (who predate right-wingers' alleged concerns about such modern threats as communism and the imposition of Sharia Law in Oklahoma), thought needed defending? It hardly matters if the rich and powerful people who suck the blood out of your nation's economy and oppress the common people are foreign-born or native-born, does it? Of course, what was special about America was that government's purpose actually was supposed to be to provide for the common welfare. What was unique about it was separation of church and state. Neither of these things are of any interest whatsoever to the right-wing.

* * * * *

Google wishes you a happy new year.

Good news! Most Americans are smarter than the Villagers!

Pruning Shears: "While it's satisfying to settle on a single culprit for the continuing abomination of Guantánamo, the president of the moment (Bush or Obama) doesn't bear all the blame. Congress has been rubber stamping the continuation of the gulag of our time for years now. Their contribution to the evil should not be forgotten. That said, Obama has been an unconditional failure (via) in civil liberties and human rights with respect to the WAR ON TERROR!!! His work in bringing about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) was impressive - and a real, substantial advance for civil liberties - but that doesn't overshadow the unstinting energy and diligence he has applied towards inflicting subhuman treatment on those he wishes to peremptorily declare enemies of the state."

Revolving doors - Generals get in on the act.

Diane went after an annoying op-ed in the LAT by Hacker and Marovits pretending that charity can help offset tax cuts for the rich. Charity may be vital in a number of circumstances, but only because the suppers that should be there aren't there, and they aren't there because we don't tax the rich heavily enough. The rich give more when they are most heavily taxed. Reduce their taxes and you reduce what's available through charity. The rest of us can't pick up their slack, since we're paying for all those freeloading rich people already.

In France, an essay - a call to arms - by a 93-year-old hero of the Resistance tops the best-seller list: "Hessel's book argues that French people should re-embrace the values of the French resistance, which have been lost, which was driven by indignation, and French people need to get outraged again. 'This is an appeal to citizens, young and old, to take responsibility for the things in our society that don't work,' he said. 'I wish every one of you to find your own reason for indignation. It's precious.' Hessel's reasons for personal outrage include the growing gap between the very rich and the very poor, France's shocking treatment of its illegal immigrants, the need to re-establish a free press, protecting the environment, the plight of Palestinians and the importance of protecting the French welfare system. He calls for peaceful and non-violent insurrection."

I gotta say it was refreshing watching Sam Seder on Countdown, where he had guests you don't see much on TV, like Thom Hartmann. And you can see more of Thom here.

Top Ten Nixon Quotes of 2010 "3. Nixon ordered staff members to get Bill Moyers's new show on PBS off the air: 'It must not appear that you're trying to affect the network's news content. That's what you must do, but you must not appear to be doing that. That would be stupid.'"

Gosh, I hadn't noticed that Toles had turned into a blog - complete with commentary to accompany his cartoons. I particularly liked this one on the economy.

Polar Bears 'Playing' with Spy Video Cameras (and you may recognize the voice of the narrator).


17:15 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, January 2011

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