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Sunday, 26 June 2011

From the churches to the jails tonight all is silence in the world

So, while Mr. Sideshow and I were celebrating our 26th year of wedded bliss, the New York legislature was digging up the necessary votes (from Republicans) to pass gay marriage. Which they did, 33-29, last night. We expect this to have no greater impact on our own marriage than Phyl and Del's or Elton and David's marriages, because, you know, we're not stupid. So congratulations to all the happy couples.

Peter Falk was in one of my favorite movies of all time, but I searched YouTube in vain for a relevant clip. It's probably there and I just used the wrong keywords or something, but you've all already seen him in Pocketful of Miracles, right? So here's a different clip.that isn't from Columbo.

As for The Big Man, well, enjoy some beautiful sax from 2009 in Madison Square Garden.

And farewell to the legendary Gene Colan, who made some wonderful comics.

Daniel Ellsberg and Glenn Greenwald were the guests on Virtually Speaking Thursday. Digby and Cliff Schecter on Virtually Speaking Sundays tonight.

Everyone, including the Republican rank and file, knows that small business is where the jobs really come from. So what does it mean when: "Nearly nine months after its formation, a $30 billion government fund to foster small-business lending has yet to pay out a single dime, even as the nation struggles with traumatic levels of unemployment." It means they don't want you to have jobs.

New Report : How Private Prisons Game the System: "The Justice Policy Institute has released a new report on how private prisons game the system, creating a perceived need for their services. How they do it: Lots of money spent on lobbying and campaign contributions."

"The day the drug war really started." It would be foolish to underestimate the damage Nixon did on that front, but something has been happening in the last 30 years that has made fighting against the drug war seem harder than ever - and people who should know better seem to be on the other side. Jonathan Easley argues that the death of a basketball star at my alma mater is the moment when it all got much, much worse. But there's no pretending that the drug war "works", so why do we have it? We have it because someone has to fill the prisons.

Matt Taibbi reckons Michele Bachman is more dangerous than she looks.

Dan at Pruning Shears thinks he's found a reason to want to keep Obama in the White House. But, given that Obama doesn't think he has to listen to anyone in Congress who doesn't agree with him and just runs off launching wars unilaterally, I'm not sure it makes any difference. (Also via Dan, Five myths about Americans in prison.)The Big Lie works again - Americans now believe that cutting spending will create jobs.

Alan Grayson and I fondly remember the same comics.

xkcd: Connoisseur

Thinking of getting a tattoo?

17:45 BST

Thursday, 23 June 2011

And your enemies closer

Reading Rolling Stone's article about climate denial, I was grateful that Peter had used the print link so I could see the whole thing without having to click through to the next page, until I realized that for some reason I couldn't see who the author was. "But in spite of these and other achievements, President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates - including one Republican - felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States, apparently in an effort to defuse criticism from those who argue speciously that "drill, baby, drill" is the answer to our growing dependence on foreign oil." (I learned from Sam Seder yesterday that Obama had promised to put solar panels back on the White House, and he still hasn't done it. He can't pretend the Republicans are stopping him, because they can't. Just one more promise Obama won't keep because he doesn't want to.)

If Obama doesn't give Elizabeth Warren a recess appointment, it won't be because the Republicans stopped him.

Jose Antonio Vargas was an ordinary kid in America, living in fear. And now he has been inspired by other ordinary kids.

RJ Eskow on Why Conservatives Punish Their Victims: A Lesson From Arizona: "But that doesn't answer the basic question: Why? Why attack people whose lives have been shattered by conservative policies? One answer is: Because their lives have been shattered by conservative policies. Once you accept the fact that the misfortune of the unemployed isn't of their own making, then you have to ask what caused it. And since that leads to an indictment of the right-wing agenda, these conservatives can't let that happen."

Digby quite rightly notes that Michelle Bachman is not lying about Obama's plan to destroy Medicare. What the public needs to know is that they are both on that same train. (Also: "Is Rupert in trouble? Real trouble?" Oh, man, would you love to see News Corps broken up and the big shots in jail?)

Do we actually have a youngish Democrat in Congress who wants Americans to have jobs?

Thanks to jcapan in comments for this inspiring clip about whose side we should be on, which I'm sure Susie would enjoy.

Killing class action: SCOTUS rules out Wal-Mart suit - it's just you against the big guys, in their world.

Let's face it, the Republicans already have a president: "Why the GOP should nominate Barack Obama in 2012: A modest proposal stemming from the president's apparent rejection of his own party's liberal tradition." (Thanks to PBTrue.)

Olbermann's debut on Current beat out CNN in the hot demographic.

A Loophole a Day - Insurance companies reverse their definitions of things so that they can still continue to screw you.

One of our most useful bloggers, D2 Route, is living close to the wire, and right now she could use a little help.

Down With Tyranny!: "Cynical observers are noting, and people of a liberal persuasion are beginning to grasp, that in areas with strong liberal constituencies, support for some movement toward legislating acceptance of basic rights for LGBT folks is a really cheap way of throwing the us -- both LGBT folk and people of a liberal persuasion -- a bone while pursuing their right-of-center agenda. (Have you met our governor, Andrew Cuomo?)"

Advocating treason isn't just something that's required of Republicans, it's just that Democrats aren't allowed to suggest violent treason.

Ruth Calvo called my attention to Crane-Station's first-person accounts of what it's like to be incarcerated in Kentucky, and what you get to read.

Demand That The Onion Be Recognized With A Pulitzer Prize!

Well, I just had no idea they were born on the same day. Also, The deadliest man in history: Thomas Midgley, Jr.

Not exactly the high regard of their peers (Thanks, Dom!)

04:58 BST

Monday, 20 June 2011

On the Way Home

Sorry I didn't get around to posting this beforehand, but Stuart Zechman and I were the talking heads on Virtually Speaking Sundays last night, and we talked about how useless the Democrats are and what we can do about it, and Susie Madrak called in with her ideas, and for a change I think we managed to get most of the tech working. (CMike, this is your cue to put a review in the comments.) (Personally, I am even more impressed with Stewart since I heard him pronounce "Quixotic" correctly.) And I also mention an email from a friend on the Left Coast who tells me his health insurance premiums are now nineteen hundred dollars a month! So much for "affordable" care...

Two excellent links from CMike:
Scarecrow says, "At NN11, White House Propagandist Pfeiffer Preps for President Romney: "No. Just no. You've had your chance to prove you are indeed different, and you've failed on every front. [...] I defy any Obama spokesperson to point out any meaningful difference between what Obama has done and what a President Romney would have done."
And we are all living in Mouseland.

LarryE (of) in comments: "When Maddow covered the item about Juan Cole, she included a denial from the CIA (as good journalism would require). However, she and everyone else seems to have missed an important point: The CIA denied having supplied derogatory information about Cole. But that wasn't the question! The question wasn't did the CIA obtain and supply derogatory info, it was if the CIA was asked to do so. The spooks could have gotten such a request, looked high and low for dirt that could be used, and upon finding none could still have issued that same statement. It is what was called during Watergate a "non-denial denial," the slippery practice of denying something other than what you were asked."

What it means: "Again, I say what I have said here over and over (and will keep on saying): This is what you are supporting, enabling and continuing when you support the Obama Administration. Whether that support is wholehearted -- if you, like Kevin Drum, proudly shut down you own brain and defer supinely to Obama's superior wisdom -- or whether it is reluctant, defensive, "to keep the other guys out" because you desperately hope the Democrats might possibly be marginally better, the results are still the same: murder, brutality, violence, corruption, chaos and suffering." Like I said last week on Virtually Speaking Susie, I have been voting against Republicans all my life, and it hasn't worked. This all has to change.

Van Jones introduces the American Dream movement.

Via another linky post at Pruning Shears, I learn that: "We Are Ohio Announces New Petition Signature Totals: COLUMBUS - Today ,We Are Ohio announced at a press conference on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse that 714,137 total signatures have been collected in just two months. This surpasses the We Are Ohio goal of collecting 450,000 to 500,000 total signatures and represents more than three times the total amount of valid signatures needed to place the repeal of SB 5 on the November ballot."

And also via Pruning Shears, Kay on education: "For-profit charter schools have been in operation in Ohio for more than a decade. They are not a thought experiment. They are not an abstract hypothetical. They are not just a topic being batted around at various 'reform roundtables'. They have an extensive record of failure. Why we are pretending this is all just in the discussion stage is beyond me. The jury really isn't still out. In Ohio, the jury came straggling back in years ago, and the verdict isn't good.

Have I mentioned Our comprehensively insane sex-offender laws, lately? I mean, what better way to protect children than to permanently ruin their lives when they are too young to even understand their "crime"? (And just how, exactly, is "public urination" a sex crime?)

Call me paranoid, but do you think they are targeting The Innocence Project?

And maybe I'm wrong, but I can't help the feeling that Monsanto is creating its very own environmental mythology just to sell poisons. (Thanks, PBTrue.)

And yes, C-Span is right-wing, too.

And here's Jon Stewart talking about the difference between himself and Fox News...on Fox News.

Still a great song. Well, they all are, but finding new performances of these songs, by this band, now, still sounding pretty damned good, is a gift. Thanks, Lenny.

13:15 BST

Saturday, 18 June 2011

They eat the hands that bleed

Really, any elective official who gets behind a deal that includes throwing people off of Medicaid should be primaried hard. Especially if they're a Democrat.

Meanwhile, AARP is suddenly "ready to accept cuts to Social Security benefits". Why would that be? AARP has been warned that certain individuals are ready to launch investigations of them if they don't go along. (Sam Seder, doing bang up interviews at Netroots Nation Thursday and Friday, discussed just that issue yesterday afternoon with McJoan).

Obama Can do anything he wants to. And that's why you don't have single-payer.

Atrios has more on how with the elite sociopaths in charge, We Are Doomed.

I nearly missed this fine example of how much right-wingers love small business: "Tucked into Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) much-discussed budget was a little-noticed provision to overhaul the state's regulation of the beer industry. In a state long associated with beer, the provision will make it much more difficult for the Wisconsin's burgeoning craft breweries to operate and expand their business by barring them from selling directly to restaurants and liquor stores, and preventing them from selling their own product onsite." Yeah, that's really promoting entrepreneurship, isn't it?

From James Risen, "Ex-Spy Alleges Bush White House Sought to Discredit Juan Cole [...] In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted 'to get' Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful." More on that here. And from Ezra: "Judging from Senator Feinstein's quote, the scope and goals of this initial effort to look into the story are unclear, but at a minimum, Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee are now taking a first step in that direction. This could also force a public relitigation of the Bush administration's efforts to sell the Iraq War to the public - a topic that is likely to stir intense passions on both sides." Yeah, I'm sure we can trust DiFi to get to the bottom of things.

Maddow: "Congratulations, Democrats. In an era of unhinged, ideological, big money conservative media that is wholly and admittedly divorced from the precepts of journalism, in hounding Anthony Weiner into resigning ... you have just fed and unleashed this beast onto yourselves, probably for a generation. [...] It's. OK. If. You're. A. Republican." Yep, she actually said it. But I think the Democrats might not have gotten on that train so eagerly if Weiner had sounded like the rest of them or at least been quiet about things like health care. Jefferson stayed in office until his constituents kicked him, despite having thousands of dollars in cold cash in his freezer, because he was no threat. It's a bit like the Packwood story - a Republican who stood up for basic American values. Republicans were very happy to see him go - but decades later, they made it all look like it was the nasty old feminists who made it happen. It wasn't. If they'd wanted to keep him, he would have stayed in the Senate until he either decided he'd rather go fishin' or dropped dead. (Shorter)

Ruben Bolling on the real road to surfdom.

"Top universities a 'breeding ground' for Tories, warn Islamic groups." (via)

Last week, the world spent 10.7 million hours playing with Les Paul's doodle.

Revealed! Obama's 2004 keynote speech, decoded.

17:21 BST

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The continuing theme

I was accidentally a guest on Virtually Speaking Susie where we discussed whether the Democratic leadership is evil and stupid or just evil. And Jay Ackroyd used the word "treason". (I seem to have had a bit of trouble explaining the divine right of kings to Jay, though. DRoK works exactly the same way as "self-made meritocrat" works. You start off with a King who first rose to the top of his gang and then united armies under him and, well, people who are, or at least think they are, "self-made men" are very good at believing that their kids inherited whatever virtue it was that made them great. And the kids often believe it, too. Although some kids have a kind of inferiority complex where they see all their father has achieved and reckon they are going to have to do something big to prove themselves, and frequently that means they have to go out and screw up whatever the old man achieved. So you get a mixture of pampered parasites who complain about the help, and guys who have to prove they are the New Broom. Either way, it usually means you end up with crappy leadership.)

Digby got into The Hill again, wondering whether the GOP just gamed the Democrats into sounding like Republicans so they could attack Dems from the left on jobs and Medicare and what-have-you. However, I have to take issue with the beginning of her final paragraph: "It's too much to believe that this was a master plan. Predicting the ups and downs of this economy has stumped the best market players in the world. But to be able to corner a Democratic president into focusing on deficits in the middle of the worst employment crisis since the Great Depression, and then pivot and run against him from the left, is a dazzling political move. It helps if you are completely unmoored from any kind of accountability for your former statements - as proven by front-runner Mitt Romney - but you just can't help but be impressed by the sheer chutzpah of it all. Well played, GOP." Actually, there's a pretty straight line from the Royalists who opposed the American Revolution to the UberGOPs and UberDems of today, coming - as has been true longer than I've been alive - right through their long-standing hatred of the New Deal. They know perfectly well how to screw up the economy to create the greatest amount of suffering and benefit by it. Lots of people saw this coming. It's what the Republicans have done time and again. It's just like "faith" and "values" - something they believe in only as a cudgel to attack their opposition, but never to be applied to themselves.) Also from Digby, back at her usual haunts, news that the organizations that helped create this mess are now worried about the mess they've created, or at least claim to be. And it looks like Andrew Sullivan has taken one of his occasional detours into getting things right, again.

"GAO Finds Little to Support Congress' Abolition of ACORN: The GAO made no recommendations in its report."

Sammy took over the Thom Hartmann show Wednesday and talked about how it's the stupid economy, stupid.

Oh, cool, Krugman linked Dday's "I Ruined the Economy and All I Got Were These Lousy Tax Cuts."

Via Susie, another moment in the story of the September Surprise: "Truthout's Jeffrey Kaye and Jason Leopold report on new documents they exclusively obtained from a top counterterrorism official that, for the first time, reveals the existence of a secret Defense Department intelligence unit charged with tracking Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda prior to 9/11, which knew that the terrorist group wanted to strike the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But, the documents show, this information was 'intentionally' withheld from Congressional investigators probing the 9/11 attacks." (Also: NY Court says you can't foreclose if you don't hold the note (yay!) and Walmart loses a case over denying workers breaks. And BoA threatens to foreclose on a homeowner unless they get a check for the balance on his account - of $0.00.)

"Pakistan's detention of five C.I.A. informants, including a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan."

You can watch MSNBC live here. If you can stand it. I probably won't, but there it is.

I'm pretty sure that the whole payroll tax holiday idea is not better than doing nothing, but aside from that, Atrios is right that when it doesn't work, they'll still blame us.

Michael Hudson: The Financial Road to Serfdom - How Bankers are Using the Debt Crisis to Roll Back the Progressive Era.

Eric Holder says he wants another season of The Wire. David Simon names his terms: "The Attorney-General's kind remarks are noted and appreciated. I've spoken to Ed Burns and we are prepared to go to work on season six of The Wire if the Department of Justice is equally ready to reconsider and address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive and dehumanising drug prohibition."

Rolling Stone interviews Keith Olbermann. (And this is kinda cute.)

Jefferson On Inequality.

Datamancery and our steampunk moment.


I'm in a Freedom Suite kinda mood.

Last week I got a Twitter account but I didn't tell anyone.

14:00 BST

Friday, 10 June 2011

People are talking

Digby found an interesting article in the WaPo that explains the game Obama has been playing - with your head: "I'm sure people will say that he had no choice because the presidency is a very weak office that the only power it has (except to wage war unilaterally) is to gently gently beg the congress for permission to adopt its agenda. This, however, is not true. Others will say that there was no point in pursuing further stimulus because the congress wouldn't pass it. But if this account is true, the "pivot" to deficit reduction wasn't a political surrender -- it was a policy choice going back to 2009. And I suspect that's true since the president had been touting his Grand Bargain since before the inauguration, and the whole discussion of "sacrifice" has been implicit since the early days of the administration. That Geithner was worrying about deficits even as the entire global economy was melting down from the financial crisis doesn't really surprise me. (It does send a chill down my spine however -- that's the very definition of disaster capitalism.)" From the very beginning, Obama's language has been the polite translation of the insane ravings of the conservatives - rather than a refutation of it. His job has been to make the insanity behind those right-wing ideas sound sane. (More on the WaPo story at Americablog.)

Given that we are told over and over that invading other countries and shooting up weddings is something we do to defend democracy and protect citizens there from evil dictators and blah blah blah, it's not surprising that many people think "foreign aid" and launching wars are part of the same program. And there are plenty of people who have worked very hard to keep the public confused about what "foreign aid" actually means. It's handy, because then you can get people to hate something called "foreign aid" when what they really hate are things that really deserve their hate. Then you get to sneer at the public when the latest survey comes out saying: "Notably, Republicans (62% approve) are as likely as Democrats (58%) to approve of limiting corporate tax deductions; while 63% of Democrats approve of reducing foreign military commitments, 56% of Republicans agree." Oh, stupid public! You don't know how much we really spend on foreign aid, so you must be wrong about this, too! (The more interesting thing about that quote, if it's not a typo, is - wait! Republicans are more likely than Democrats to want to limit corporate tax deductions? Really? How the hell did that happen?)

Ian Welsh has some Strategies for Resistance and Change: "Note also that Malcolm X makes Martin Luther King possible. Everyone doesn't have to have the strategy, what they must not do is what Arundhati Roy refused to do, they must not condemn others on the same side."

"Not-for-Profit Hospitals unfairly receiving Tax Exemptions: Illinois law requires non profit hospitals to provide charity care (free or reduced care) which eases the financial toll on government- and nothing less- to qualify for property tax exemption. When non profit hospitals fail to provide charity, some poor, uninsured, and underinsured patients find themselves in public hospitals funded by public dollars and stretched beyond capacity. This failure to meet legal requirements results in the loss of tens of billions of tax dollars across the nation at a time of great national need."

Dirty tricks: "A member of the Republican Party of Ozaukee County has surfaced as a possible Democratic candidate in the recall election that targets Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills). Gladys Huber, listed on the Ozaukee GOP's website as a member at large - presumably of the county party's executive committee - has filed a registration form to run as a Democrat against Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Whitefish Bay). The candidacy is part of the state GOP strategy - described by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) - to run "protest" candidates against Democrats challenging six Republican senators in recall campaigns." Kind of like Obama running as a Democrat....

At Angry Bear, a technical default is manageable; we're in one right now.

Doug: "What I've never understood about 'what will the children think' is that it is always applied to something trivial, usually to consensual sexual relations among adults. No one ever asks 'what will the children think about genocide in the Sudan?' or 'what will the children think about the government torturing people?'. I can remember as a kid, listening to the news and hearing of horrible atrocities and being genuinely troubled by it (truth be told, I still don't like to listen to that stuff, even though I think it's important that it be reported)."

Johann Hari says "The IMF itself should be on trial. He's not wrong.

Atrios on "The Failed International Financial System: I think one thing which has been mostly lost in the conversation is the fact that our financial system completely failed at its supposed purpose, the efficient allocation of capital. Even leaving aside all of the issues of corruption and criminality, the point is that it proved that it's a failed system. And we, and most other countries, responded by leaving it, and the people who run it, in place. Iceland told everyone to bugger off. They were smart."

Roy Edroso: "I grow more convinced every day that libertarianism only exists to give young Republicans something marginally less repulsive to call themselves when they're trying to get laid."

What's important.

And now, a few words from the Archbishop of Canterbury: "With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted. At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context"

Facebook using facial recognition after hiring GOP staffers, and How to Stop Facebook from Using Facial Recognition on You. And Pruning Shears on the subject.

Susie Bright says "Six Months, Three Days" by Charlie Jane Anders is the best original short story she's read all year.

Ettlin liked Super 8.

I sure hope you didn't miss the Les Paul Google Doodle - but if you did, a lot of people didn't. And if you really liked it, you can apparently get your own. Some people really got inspired.

16:20 BST

Wednesday, 08 June 2011

Time for the pitchforks and torches, already

CMike did me a nice favor in comments with this one:

Just eff'in wow. I hadn't seen this. Via an Yves' link post, hot on the heels of giving his prickly response in a Christine Amanpour interview that we're not in a jobless recovery, the Institute for Public Accuracy has a post up about President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers chairman, "Colbert or Goolsbee: Who's the Clown?"
Nearly two years ago, Chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee, told Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert, "A year from now we're going to be in a very happy place." (June 15, 2009, 1:40 mark of the video.)

...Last month, Goolsbee was on Colbert's show again and refused to contradict Colbert's repeated assertion that the government has never created a single job (0:50 mark of the video).

Now I know Avedon can not stream Comedy Central video so I'll provide a transcript and add-in a few observations in an attempt to do justice to the Chairman's capitulation on this fundamental far right talking point:
Goolsbee: [00:25] The fact is, we've known about these long run fiscal issues for forty years. We should address them, we must address them. But don't forget that the most important problem we face as a country is that we grow. And so cutting the things we need so that we can remain the richest country in the world five years from now...

Colbert: [00:40] But the government's never created one job.

[Pause, Goolsbee looks down, he does not respond but gives a slight shake of the head.]

Colbert: [00:44] The government can't create jobs. That's an accepted maxim.

Goolsbee: [00:48] O.K., that maxim -- we're not objecting in Phase II...

Colbert [surprised, speaking quickly]: You agree? You agree with that?

Goolsbee: In Phase II as we move out of the rescue phase...

Colbert [continuing to be surprised]: You're agreeing that the government has never created one job.

Goolsbee: In rescue mode, we saved a lot of jobs.

Colbert: So you didn't create one.

Goolsbee: Uh, look, what I will say is in Phase II our...

Colbert: [01:05] No, no, they never created any jobs.

Goolsbee: ...our providing incentives to get the private sector to stand-up. We want the private sector to stand-up. We want the private sector to do the creation of the jobs.

Colbert: That's what they always do.

Goolsbee: That's what we want them to do.

Colbert: Then why are you fighting them by raising taxes?

Goolsbee: We're not fighting them, we're lowering taxes. We gave them incentives...

Colbert: None of this is going on the air by the way...


Goolsbee: Look...

Colbert: Let me ask you, let me ask you another question.

Goolsbee: O.K.

Colbert: Last night I had on Amy Kremer of the Tea Party...

* * * * *

The spiritual leader of the modern Republican Party is Ayn Rand, who said: "I am against God. I don't approve of religion. It is a sign of a psychological weakness ... I regard it as evil. ... I am the creator of a new code of morality; a morality not based on faith." If I had a lot of money, I'd commission a poster with Ayn Rand's face on it and her name and those words in very big letters and put it on every billboard I could buy space on. And after it had been up long enough for a few "faith-based" people to feel they had to disavow her, I'd slowly, one by one, change the poster for one with the words of a different author: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

"GOP attacks Dems from the left, accuses them of shredding `social safety net': As I've noted here before, Republicans have again taken to attacking Dems from the left on Medicare after doing it successfully last cycle, arguing that Democrats are the only ones who have ever voted to cut the program and insisting that Dems are intent on destroying Medicare by doing nothing to save it." Well, attacking as if from the left, but not really. But the real point of all this is that those liberal New Deal programs are popular and you don't charm the public by appearing to threaten them - and one party, at least, seems to have figured this out.

"I'm beginning to wonder if my demographic group is going to be the guinea pig in a Soylent Green experiment."

Republicans want to cut VA healthcare to pay for their tax cuts for millionaires program.

Our Economy's Best Chance is not gonna happen. Via Digby.

I wonder if it's even possible to explain to most people that, for ordinary people, inflation is not always a bad thing.

I just have to conclude that something about the internet makes people stupid. I can't even imagine why someone would think it's safe to do this stuff, especially given the Washington media's obsession with Democrats' members. It just doesn't make sense. But, Glennzilla: "What makes the Anthony Weiner story somewhat unique and thus worth discussing for a moment is that, as Hendrik Hertzberg points out, the pretense of substantive relevance (which, lame though it was in prior scandals, was at least maintained) has been more or less brazenly dispensed with here. This isn't a case of illegal sex activity or gross hypocrisy (i.e., David Vitter, Larry Craig, Mark Foley (who built their careers on Family Values) or Eliot Spitzer (who viciously prosecuted trivial prostitution cases)). There's no lying under oath (Clinton) or allegedly illegal payments (Ensign, Edwards). From what is known, none of the women claim harassment and Weiner didn't even have actual sex with any of them. This is just pure mucking around in the private, consensual, unquestionably legal private sexual affairs of someone for partisan gain, voyeuristic fun and the soothing fulfillment of judgmental condemnation. And in that regard, it sets a new standard: the private sexual activities of public figures -- down to the most intimate details -- are now inherently newsworthy, without the need for any pretense of other relevance." Well, it doesn't even have to be sexual or misconduct - remember how many nights Senator Clinton spent under the same roof as her husband? (Nice commentary from Amanda on the New Prudery, which is possibly even ickier than the old prudery.)

I have read five "corrections" of Palin's version of Paul Revere's ride that completely fail to mention that it was lights, not bells, that were the signal - that is, he didn't ring any bells and wasn't planning to. One of these only mentions her geographical error and doesn't even note that he wasn't intending to warn the British of anything.

14:30 BST

Monday, 06 June 2011

Odds and sods

Keep it simple: "Republicans Demand Layoffs As Cure For Job Losses. In response to today's terrible jobs report Republicans are demanding that even more government employees, contractors and others lose their jobs. They also demand that even more construction workers and others receiving government contracts lose their jobs, too. They want to do more of what they did in the Bush years, which led to this mess. If we do what they want to do it will send us into a depression."

The list of people who can use our help is long, but all these guys wanted to do was help cancer patients, and now they're the ones who need to be protected from the police state.

"That's American!"

Thomas Heffner: "A most effective war has been waged on the American economy. Through the debilitating effects of the WTO, NAFTA and other Free Trade Agreements, we have placed foreigners in charge of our means of production. Many of our current problems arose following World War II. While we came out victorious militarily, an insidious stealth war on the lifeblood of our strength - our economy - was waged with results as damaging as if we lost a military war."

It's funny, I can remember posting this same story from another source years ago, but now Kristof, of all people, is telling it, and it's that the country that does what the Republicans say they believe in is...Pakistan.

It was a bad month for Fox News.

It probably wouldn't hurt to propagate the story of how Paul Ryan refused a Bible to your more annoying relatives who send you those creepy emails and ruin Thanksgiving dinner every year.

I finally got around to watching Thom Hartmann's 6/2/11 show this morning, in which Europe tells America to cut the bonuses. (I would have linked the whole daily post it came from, but I couldn't find a permalink.)

"Organic farmers expand lawsuit against Monsanto :The case was initially filed in March by the Public Patent Foundation (PubPat), a non-profit legal services organization based at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, on behalf of 60 organic farmers and associated organizations. The farmers want assurance from Monsanto that they will not be sued for patent infringement if their farms become contaminated with the company's genetically modified crops. On 1 June, PubPat announced that the list of plaintiffs had grown to 83, and that the original complaint had been amended to include a recent exchange with Monsanto's lawyers. In a letter written on behalf of Monsanto, Seth Waxman, former solicitor general under Bill Clinton and a partner at the law firm WilmerHale in Washington, DC, said Monsanto has no intention of suing the farmers for patent infringement. 'Monsanto policy never has been, nor will be, to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of its patented seed or traits are present in a farmer's fields as a result of inadvertent means,' he wrote, echoing a statement Monsanto has also made on its website. But rather than placating PubPat, executive director Daniel Ravicher says he saw a veiled threat in the statement's ambiguity. Farmers whose crops contain more than a 'trace' -- whatever that means -- of contamination are still vulnerable to action by Monsanto, he argues. Instead, Ravicher wants a legally binding declaration that Monsanto will not sue his clients for patent infringement."

I have to admit that Sarah Palin actually managed to crack me up with her unusual version of Paul Revere's midnight ride. (via)

Alex Pareene finds Richard Cohen admitting he understands nothing. (via) (Also: Feed the homeless, go to jail. And, yeah, this really does take contrarianism too far. Gotta be self-parody. Oh, wait, they publish Saletan, don't they?)

When I was younger, we used to recoil in horror at stories about how horrible things were in other countries. Now other countries tell stories about how horrible things are in America. And, no, it does society no good to treat people this way - even pretty low-level scum. But it serves the purposes of evil people to make us terrified of the cost of resistance.

Yes, Obama really says stupid things. Look, you want to create jobs, you hire people. The government can do that. If it wants to. You putz.

Oh, FFS!

When Jack Kirby met Paul McCartny - with Jack's drawing for he occasion.

Motivational poster

(Thanks to Stuart, PBTrue, et al.)

13:50 BST

Saturday, 04 June 2011

Tuna sandwich

I hate to do this, but I'm a little tired of the repetition of what increasingly looks like concern trolling. So I'm going to promote some of my own responses out of the comment thread to the post below. The argument is about whether or not there is any benefit to supporting Obama's re-election. Charles said:

Granting that in liberal enclaves there's opposition to Obama, and granting that Lars needs some lessons in manners, the fact is that he's correct that in the purple->red states see Obama as (by far) the lesser of evils. Obama is not trying to break unions, outlaw abortion, make whole cities the fiefdoms of Emergency Financial Management Czars, shift the tax burden to the poor, privatize Medicare and Medicaid, and so on.
And I said:
He's not? Then why did Senator Obama rush back to Washington to save TARP from the oblivion it deserved? Why did he vote against a 30% cap on usury? Why did he start babbling nonsense about the "Social Security crisis"?

And why did President Obama work so hard to keep Single-Payer not just off the table but beneath mention? Why did he extend the Bush tax-shift? Why did he start the whole "we have to do something about entitlements" meme rushing through Washington as soon as he got into office? Why did he create the Catfood Commission?

Con men are genial and charming. The fact that they don't use a gun may make them seem more genteel than a street thug, but a street thug only takes what's in your pocket today. A con man usually cleans out your bank account.

And Obama and his friends are going even farther - they're taking your house, your pension, and your future.

And Lars Macomb accused me of saying that, "someone who agrees with the Ryan plan for America would be a better president." And I said:
No, I don't, and I never said that. There is no "better president" option among any of the leading or likely contenders. They all, including Obama, believe in the same things and they are all a disaster.

Obama himself spoke highly of the Ryan plan.

I was just playing the stream at Rachel's page and was baffled that she did a whole story on the mysterious emergence of Herman Cain as a GOP favorite. The story is: There was this debate with some top contenders, and Cain was one of them. Then there was a call for a show of hands for who the audience thought won the debate. "We'll take them in order - Herman Cain. ..." And everybody voted for Cain. So, even though no one in the media has been talking about him, there's been a quiet undercurrent of rising support for Cain on the right ever since. No one was talking about him. Gosh. And at no time did Rachel ask, "If no one is talking about him and no one has seemed to be supporting him, why was he included in a debate among top GOP contenders?" Because it seems pretty obvious to me that in a lackluster field full of people no one really likes, if you introduce a new candidate who no one hates yet, he already is going to have an edge. Sort of like, oh, Barack Obama.

Atrios: "There was a lot the administration could have done with the blessing of President Snowe. There's probably less of that going forward, though there are things they could do. But more than that, I have no idea what the administration (Obama, Treasury, others, whoever) thinks they should do. I know what they didn't think they should do - cramdown, a HAMP that actually did what they initially claimed, aggressively prosecute mortgage fraud - because they aren't doing those things. I don't know if there's anything they would like to do that they are being stopped from doing. A discussion of what they could do is ultimately a discussion of "why the hell aren't they doing it?" And the answer, presumably, is because they don't want to."

Thanks so much to ql for bringing our attention to this lovely post, and to Michael F for retrieving the graphic, illustrating this Krugman post.on what the conservatives are bringing back. Of course, the difference between then and now is that we had two parties, and one of them wanted to bring prosperity to Americans.

And thanks to Echidne for adding up this program of cut and dried murder.

Case Closed - basically, the whole Weiner thing was just another Republican dirty trick. Surprise!

This graph is a bit confusing because you expect it to be chronological and it isn't, but: Obama didn't cause this mess : National Debt By President. Well, Obama didn't help this mess, but yes, George W. Bush jacked up the debt way beyond anyone else's contribution. But the trouble with conservatives, even when they are Democrats, is that they don't unmake the mess.

DCBlogger helps me out in comments: "lefty blogs shows all the local Democratic bloggers. it is incomplete, but for following events in Wisconsin and Ohio and similar situations, it is pretty good."

Scooby Davis says Justin Elliot's "A guide to what Lanny Davis means when he calls himself a 'liberal Democrat'" is a must read. It's been a while since I ragged on Lanny Davis, but let's face it, he was the future of the entire Democratic Party.

I wonder why my phone isn't on this list.

RIP Rosalyn Yalow, whose work on quantifying amounts of hormone in the body helped a lot of people, including me, and won her a Nobel Prize. And, of course, our condolences to Ben.

Rosalyn Yalow
Member of the National Academy of Sciences, winner of 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
"If women are to start moving towards that goal, we must believe in ourselves or no one else will believe in us; we must match our aspirations with the competence, courage and determination to succeed."

15:25 BST

Thursday, 02 June 2011


I heard Joe Colombo's "Southern Lullaby" for the first time the other night on BellyUp4Blues and just thought it was, as we used to say, real fine.

I think a chill ran down my spine listening to Sam Seder's show Wednesday when he talked about how little muscle you have as a consumer. See, the customer is still always right, but you aren't the customer. (Actually, this has been true for a while, but before it was because you were the product - the big players were selling your money, your earnings, your mortgage, your future, to other big players. But now it's because the middle-class market no longer exists, you have no money and no future, nobody cares, the rich people have all the money and they are the only customer in town.)

CMike tipped this, but you get to unpack it.

I think one of the most important points Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel) brought up when she was a guest on Virtually Speaking Susie was that more and more local bloggers are dropping out because it's just getting too hard. (Not that I'm dismissing the issue of the Supreme Court's recent decision that the authorities can "detain" anyone they want to because you might know someone suspicious....) Local bloggers are what you have now instead of local press, and they are fast becoming one of the only ways to find out what's going on locally so that maybe you can all get up in arms and do something to protest, make others aware, and frighten the pants of local politicians. Local politicians are the ones who actually have to live with their constituents, so scaring them is a good idea. Local bloggers are the ones who can focus your attention on who is running for office and whether they are worthy of your support - or your vote. (I'm pretty sure I used to know about a directory of local bloggers, and I wish I could remember where to find it. You should probably be looking to see who is doing blogging in your area and adopt a couple-few of the best ones as both a source and someone to direct your donations to. They need you, and you need them.) Meanwhile, I had been completely unaware, until listening to this show, that the right-wing blogosphere is all agog at Anthony Weiner's weiner.

Bridge to the 21st century: "On the one hand, I doubt that Franco's police worried very much about being taken to court. Progress! On the other, the days where the police have impunity could very easily return. Decay. From Franco, to democracy, to austerity and bankster kleptocracy all in one lifetime. Darkness to sunlight to shadows..." Of course, the police in America don't seem to worry much about being taken to court anymore. And in Britain, neither atrociously bad decision-making that kills innocents or out-and-out fatal assaults (murders) on innocent bystanders seem to be answered for by the individuals responsible.

Evil North Americans: "A certain powerful North American country has been brazenly meddling in Europe's affairs, bullying and twisting arms to advance a corporate agenda on the most pressing environmental issue of our time. A phalanx of its lobbyists has descended on European capitals to covertly scheme with oil companies and menace EU parliamentarians who would dare address climate change. It's not who you might think but Canada. If any illusions remained about this country's behaviour abroad, they should be put to rest." (Thanks to Mr. Sideshow.)

"One wonders if Barack Obama was fully aware of Geithner's deceitful performance at the New York Fed when he appointed him treasury secretary in the incoming administration."

"Hostages Usually Require Ransom: So what will happen next is pretty dreary and predictable. Republicans will attach some kind of Medicare 'reform' to the debt ceiling bill. They'll pass it at the last possible minute, probably a week after Tim Geithner is hospitalized for nervous exhaustion, and a day or two after Paul Krugman is put under mental hygiene arrest. It will be carefully calibrated to be the worst thing that the Senate can pass and Obama can sign. And, just in the same way that the wife always goes back to her jackass husband for the sake of the kids, Obama will then sign it, for the sake of the country."

"Follow the money: Well, well... former President Bill Clinton is now walking back his earlier remarks that a Congressional failure to enlarge the (over $14 trillion) federal debt ceiling by another trillion or two "wouldn't be so calamitous." As is necessary in the Alice-in-Wonderland faux reality that now passes for reality, we'll forget that what the man who gave us "depends on what the meaning of is " was actually making an accurate statement, to wit, what matters is not the technical default itself, but whether the world's credit markets believe it really matters... Bill Clinton knows God damned well that his remarks themselves may well influence those very same credit markets. So... why would he stray off the official Obama Admin. reservation, even momentarily?"

I've always really liked and respected Jesse Taylor, so I can't tell you how disappointed I am to see this. I really would have expected him to have realized by now that it does us no good at all to re-elect Obama.

War by computer. A Star Trek nightmare, only worse.


14:21 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, June 2011

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