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Saturday, 31 October 2009

News and media

In a meritocracy, Marcy Wheeler would be one of the most highly-paid journalists in America. She does things like read and unpack the Cheney documents. Her first entry on the subject concludes, "If I were Scooter Libby and saw how Dick sold him out, I'd start talking right now." Followed so far by "Cheney Refused to Release the Journalists," "The Taxpayers Paid Dick Cheney's Personal Defense Attorney to Obstruct Any Inquiries Into His Crimes,"Bush's July 7, 2003 Discussion about Wilson," "The Email Question," and "Why Did Terry O'Donnell Tell Michael Isikoff What Cheney Refused to Tell Fitzgerald?" (that is, why did Cheney's lawyer tell a journalist what Cheney himself had refused to tell the Justice Department under claim of privilege?). Watch this space for more.

UnFreep this poll: I realize that most people don't study the news or remember it well enough to recall that Fox News went to court to defend their right to lie to the public and fire reporters who refused to mislead. So it was not entirely disappointing that when NPR put up an online poll asking the public whether they thought the White House was right about Fox, there were actually some people who disagreed with the White House position. But then the wingers got hold of it.

And I really do wish that when Media Matters addresses the issue of Fox as a news organization, they would always include the fact that Fox really did go to court to argue their right to lie to the public. And won.

Glennzilla was on NBC a bunch, talking about US foreign policy, health care, Joe Lieberman, and Wall Street abuses - with some bonus Eliot Spitzer to boot! He posted the clips here.


15:21 GMT

All you zombies

This is what they say you're getting:

If people like their current plans, they will be able to keep them.
That is, insurance companies will still be allowed to scam you into paying for what you think you are getting under their current alleged terms. This way even if they stiff you but don't drop you, your employer and you can continue to be forced pay them unless you actually lose your job due to being sick.
For individuals who aren't currently covered by their employer, , and some small businesses, the proposal will establish a new Health Insurance Exchange where consumers can comparison shop from a menu of affordable, quality health care options that will include private plans, health co-ops, and a new public health insurance option. The public health insurance option will play on a level playing field with private insurers, spurring additional competition.
Understand "where consumers can comparison shop from a menu of affordable, quality health care options" to mean, "still a bunch of decisions you shouldn't have to make, and still having to pay out of pocket for what you already paid for in taxes." Which, of course, you might very well have to do the moment you lose your job because you got sick, and are much too ill and broke to be in any shape for "shopping".
This Exchange will create competition based on quality and price that leads to better coverage and care. Patients and doctors will have control over decisions about their health care, instead of insurance companies.
We're not talking about bringing already-ghastly prices down, you understand, but only slowing the rate at which they get higher. If this passes, your next job will be to lobby all employers to drop their health insurance plans and let everyone get into the public option and work very hard to make it into the single-payer plan it should have been all along.

I won't pretend there is nothing good in this bill, but it keeps expenses higher than they need to be, on behalf of the insurance industry - merely slowing the rate of growth when they are already at crisis levels isn't exactly like grabbing for the brass ring, is it? And it still leaves you having to worry about how to pay for being seen by a medical professional and being treated. It still makes you rattle your brain with a bunch of "shopping" you shouldn't have to do, often when you are least equipped to do it. And if you are unemployed and happy with your public option plan, but then you're offered a good job that has a commercial insurance plan, it appears you will be forced to give up the better public plan for the commercial plan. (The only good part about that is that people will be outraged at having to give up good health insurance for bad and might do something about it.)

Strangely, I couldn't find the promised money-saving bit about allowing people to buy insurance across state lines, either.

At least there was a nice Franken moment in the Senate when a wingnut tried to defend our current health "insurance" system from the ravages of a public option.

It's Halloween, maybe Birch Bayh will climb out of his crypt and replace his son. I'm sure a zombie Birch Bayh would have to be an improvement on the corporate zombie Evan.

"Members of Congress: Corrupt and incompetent is no way to go through life."

Dan says, "It Isn't Reform Unless It Gives Goldman an Aneurysm."

The "old news" trick

Businesses are finally letting the Chamber of Commerce know they are sick of their antics.

Listen to Jay Ackroyd's interview with Sam Seder on Virtually Speaking here.

Farewell to the Doctor.

01:42 GMT

Thursday, 29 October 2009

The week just got away from me

How you can help to defend the Kucinich amendment to allow states to improve on our healthcare system. Also: While you were out: Democrats are deforming financial reform even worse than health care reform, not because of a bipartisan fetish, but because they are corporate sell-outs. And Goldman Sachs hates kittens.

Digby reminds us just what it means to be of The Village.

And check out Down With Tyranny! on K Street whores getting all upset when Rep. Grayson calls a K Street whore a K Street whore. (Also on why he wouldn't vote for Mayor Bloomberg.)

The Rude Pundit says, "The 'War' In Afghanistan Is Over."

Gary Farber found the Bible-burners' website.

Apparently, FDR spied on the internet.

Jay Ackroyd's guest on Virtually Speaking tonight will be Sam Seder. Listen live on the web at BlogTalkRadio at 6:00 PM Pacific time, or see it "live" at the VS Amphitheater in Second Life. (Archived link at BTR will be posted later.)

Congratulations to Dan, who also covered the Harry Reid problem last week, in addition to another infuriating week in tyranny.

Craig Murray talks about what it's like to have your career ruined for objecting to torture.

Trick shot

15:17 GMT

Monday, 26 October 2009

Better late than never

Sexy Panties and Naughty Knickers Frill Underwire BraBra of the Week (with apologies for the delay).

Tone-deaf bankers.

Elizabeth Warren for President.

The Intriguing Death Of Top GOP Consultant Michael Connell

The Washington Post Has the Worst Opinion Section in America.

I wonder how those people who expected John McCain to be more libertarian feel about his opposition to net neutrality.

Froomkin: "Historically speaking, White House criticism of the media has often been unseemly and defensive, with the president's ire generally provoked by journalists who excel at their work -- by asking cheeky questions, exposing important things that the president would prefer be kept secret, holding the powerful accountable and playing host to a vibrant and informed exchange of a wide range of political opinions. But in this case, the critique is something else entirely. The litmus test is that the Obama White House is not upset at news gatherers for doing their job. What Obama and his aides are correctly pointing out is that the people working at Fox News are doing another job altogether."

John Cole: "This really is one of those things I never really thought about before the last year or so, but I still have no idea what exactly the health insurance companies offer this country. All they seem to do is sponge money off the top of what we pay for health care, make life a living hell for their customers and the medical community in the form of reams of paperwork, hand out lavish bonuses to their management, invest recklessly in whatever the Wall Street bad idea du jour is, and then raise rates when the fur-bearing trout farms don't pan out and they need to cover their bad investments. Meanwhile, they don't answer to the consumer and control congress, and are under orders from the Wall Street brokerages."

Gosh, Atrios is right, it is not all that usual to find Howard Fineman actually saying something so true and so at odds with Village idiocy: "But the pursuit of Snowe is pretty close to obsessive, which is not a good thing either for Democrats or for the prospects of health-care reform worthy of the name. First, Snowe's exaggerated prominence is both the result and symbol of Obama's quixotic and ultimately time--wasting pursuit of "bipartisanship." In case the White House hasn't noticed, Republicans in Congress are engaged in what amounts to a sitdown strike. They don't like anything about Obama or his policies; they have no interest in seeing him succeed. Despite the occasional protestation to the contrary, the GOP has no intention of helping him pass any legislation. Snowe may very well end up voting for whatever she and Democrats craft, but that won't make the outcome bipartisan any more than dancing shoes made Tom DeLay Fred Astaire." (And, anyway, as I've been saying for years, anything that both the Democrats and Senator Bernie vote on is bipartisan, since Bernie isn't a Democrat. Democratic elective officials are the party of Not-Quite-As-Crazy-And-Evil-As-Republicans, whereas Bernie Sanders represents pretty much the rest of the country.)

Rich people with a conscience - in Germany.

And sometimes you just don't need to spend the money on The Medical Industrial Complex.

18:34 BST

Saturday, 24 October 2009

A few things

Rep. Alan Grayson tries to explain the U.S. Constitution to House Republicans - and the real reason the Republicans hate ACORN. (Glenn fleshed-out the issue a bit more here.) Of course, one reason for the ACORN amendment is as a poison pill to kill extension of unemployment benefits.

I think it's already been established that contracts with corporations aren't real contracts. Corporations offer me contracts all the time that say that I am obliged to X and they will do Y, and then all of a sudden I get something in the mail varying my contract to say that they can change their mind at any time, but I still have to do whatever it was I contracted for. When your credit card company sent you something you couldn't read in teeny-tiny print saying they've decided they are no longer just charging interest on what you owe them, but on what you used to owe them before you started paying them back, you didn't get to send them your own tiny and incomprehensible update informing them that your terms had also changed, did you? And when Enron and airlines simply didn't bother to live up to their side of pension agreements and simply admitted they hadn't kept contracted-for pension funds paid up, the courts didn't say, "You had contracts, you can't just break them," they said, "Oh, you want to stiff your employees? Sure!" So, tell me, what makes Wall Street bonuses so special? (via)

Police State excuses (UK): "Former head of the Met, Sir Ian Blair, says if Jean Charles de Menezes had been a suicide bomber, the officers who shot him dead would have been awarded the George Medal for bravery. What brilliant logic from the man who, ever since the Brazilian was murdered in that botched gung-ho operation, has been attempting to cover his backside. Let's extend his logic. If all the 7/7 victims had murdered someone before leaving for work, would the al-Qaeda suicide bombers have been hailed guardian angels? No." Earlier this month, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said no officers involved in the murder would be disciplined. "Relatives and friends who have campaigned for the past four years remain outraged that no one at Scotland Yard has accepted personal responsibility, and complain that many of the officers involved have since been promoted." Because the rot started at the top.

Oh, look, it's art.

16:05 BST

Stuff I saw

Your daily Grayson: "Chris Matthews asked Grayson what he thinks of Cheney's attacks on President Obama for "dithering" on Afghanistan. 'Well, my response is -- and by the way, I have trouble listening to what he says sometimes, because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he's talking,'"

"Public Option Annie" by Billionaires for Wealthcare.

Goldman Sachs Vice-Chair: People Must 'Tolerate the Inequality' - Yes, he actually said that in public, and that we should tolerate it in order to have "greater prosperity". For whom? And exactly how badly does this jerk want his head to end up on a pike?

1 in 6 Americans in poverty: "The NAS formula shows the poverty rate to be at 15.8 percent, or nearly 1 in 6 Americans, according to calculations released this week. That's higher than the 13.2 percent, or 39.8 million, figure made available recently under the original government formula. That measure, created in 1955, does not factor in rising medical care, transportation, child care or geographical variations in living costs. Nor does it consider non-cash government aid when calculating income. As a result, official figures released last month by Census may have overlooked millions of poor people, many of them 65 and older."

You would have thought it was obvious that the answer to the problem is that we start making things again: "I have long thought that one of the main reasons we see politicians and policy makers scrambling madly to prop up the greedheads is sheer, unadulterated panic that if they regulate this "magical" segment of the economy (financial services) that accounted for 40% of business profits before the crash, they will have nothing left. And it's a serious worry. When you have a mature economy like ours that's so heavily concentrated in paper pushing, gambling and middle man transactions that ridiculous risk is required to keep standing still, you have a big problem."

Julia's pick for Worst Halloween Costumes in the news: Illegal Alien. "A Target spokesman said that they totally didn't mean to sell the costume, which was on the site by mistake. Toys"R"Us also removed it from their site. If Amazon, Meijer, and Walgreens made a similar mistake, they haven't caught it yet."

Jay Ackroyd interviewed Dave Pollard last night on Virtually Speaking, and they talked about how communities are going to survive as all of this falls apart. Next Thursday: Sam Seder.

Condolences to Dave Ettlin, who wrote a fine tribute to his brother (who really does look a bit like a cross between Dave and Jerry Lewis.)

Do I understand correctly that Technorati has done away with the only two things I ever used it for - pinging, and finding who has linked to this blog? Or did they just hide them?

"Let's squish our fruit together." (H/t Dominic.)

02:04 BST

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The nights are fair drawin' in

Signs of Autumn 2009I'm really starting to wonder what's in that needle my dentist has been hitting me with lately. It's just supposed to the usual sort of anesthetic, but recently I find that, no matter how tense I am when I sit down in that chair, about halfway through whatever he's doing, a strange calm settles over me that lasts for the rest of the day. Which means I have trouble being sufficiently annoyed or alarmed by anything to want to write about it. Or maybe it's just me. Maybe I've just had so many of my buttons pushed for so long that a sort of circuit-breaker kicks in after my alarm bells start ringing. Maybe spending all this time watching the global train-wreck occurring is turning me into a zombie.

I can find no better example of how right-wing our "mainstream" media is than the fact that they are so upset that the White House acknowledged that Fox News is Republican propaganda, not news. I mean, just look at Jake Tapper. Via Atrios, who knows the difference between "ideological" and "partisan".

In the Department of Best Health Care System in the world: A man who was too ill to sit up in waiting area chairs was asked to leave the ER because he was lying down - and later died of Swine Flu; and the real conservative "health care" plan kicks in as people discover that they have to join the Army or watch their wives die.

Here and here, Glennzilla reminds us that bombing and invading other countries might just be a really bad way to make us safer.

After watching a recent Frontline about how Greenspan, Rubin, Summers et al. prevented anyone from protecting our economy from the "Dark Market", Susie remarks: "I'm beginning to wonder if this mess isn't the result of some form of testosterone poisoning. I've read stories about the kind of men who typically populate the market: they're addicted to high-adrenal living and risk. And you'll notice that the people who tried to stop them were women - Brooksley Born, Elizabeth Warren, etc. Interesting thought." Meanwhile, Pat Leahy, Harry Reid, and Chuck Schumer are threatening to announce legislation to repeal health insurance companies' antitrust exemption. Can it be that the insurance industry finally managed to piss them off, or is this just more glorious kabuki? (It would be nice if they'd started to get a clue, as well, wouldn't it?)

Ben Nelson still a jackass.

Early work: "Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) recently said something extraordinary on the House floor. If true, Slaughter has revealed that the Obama administration had quietly slipped language into a bill upholding the Executive branch's right to keep under wraps the photographs of us torturing detainees. This would involve making the torture photos exempt from the already-gutted FOIA. That's extraordinary enough but what seems to have slipped by virtually everyone is that the documents that the Obama administration had petitioned the Supreme Court to keep hidden are photographs showing our torture techniques from September 11, 2001 to two days after Obama's inauguration." So, either we already knew who they were before it happened, or we immediately started torturing people without having had time to figure out whether those people had anything to do with anything - or both. Say what you will about the "Truthers", but at least they are asking questions, and there are still plenty of questions that should have been answered by now and simply haven't been. And, as Howard Dean tried to point out way back when, failing to entertain the obvious questions creates suspicion that is rich ground for even the craziest conspiracy theories. But whether they are covering their tracks or just covering their ineptitude, there is real need to know.

Roz Kaveney made a few good points on the way to posting a link to Nick Davies' analysis of figures on trafficking. When you see a moral panic driving the creation of new laws that were never "needed" until the urgent now, you can pretty much be sure that the "information" being used to drive it is sloppy and exaggerated. You get the same thing with trying to "prove" the case for invading Iraq - the people who make stuff up and speculate beyond the bounds of any known reality are the ones who drive the debate. 71 becomes 4,000 just like 123 became 300,000 and some leftover botox becomes Weapons of Mass Destruction.

42 Essential 3rd Act Twists (h/t Dominic).

15:47 BST

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

One fine day

Well, at last it looks like there might be some genuine good news from the administration, on medical marijuana: "The Obama administration will not seek to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws, under new policy guidelines to be sent to federal prosecutors today." (via). Then again, they've made a habit of announcing something that sounds good and not doing it. We'll see.

Yes Men vs. Chamber of Commerce: "WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a dramatic announcement at the National Press Club today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reversed its position on climate change policy, and promised to immediately cease lobbying against the Kerry-Boxer bill." The Yes Men are real political performance artists, and the Chamber of Commerce is a fake pro-business organization.

Digby: "It seems we always come back to this. The US is the world's superpower and, by its own design, the world's policeman. (Not that its people were ever consulted about that, I might add.) And it seems bent upon making the world think it's a drunken, psychotic, brutal cop. During the Bush years, it was clear that this was intentional --- the old Friedmanesque calculation that the world needed to believe that our guy was just as crazy as their guy. But Obama was supposed to change this dangerous formula and convince the world that its self-designated policeman was an evolved, responsible actor that could be counted on to use its power wisely. Somehow, I don't think that "threatening" our oldest ally with terrorist attacks helps that happen." (And I've had more than two weeks to try to wrap my brain around this magnificent bit of amnesia from Chris Matthews, and even for him it is still remarkable. If everyone who was everyone knew it was all crackpottery, why weren't all the headlines and news nerds on TV screaming, "Why is there a Special Prosecutor investigating what everyone knows is a crackpot charge?")

We keep trying to tell The Washington Post that the reason their readership is falling is that no one wants to pay for a right-wing rag, but I guess they must know that, because now they want taxpayers to subsidize their propaganda.

Saddam Hussein and Laura Bush, reading from the same script.

Leviticus illustrated.

Secret history: Frank Zappa and Jack Kirby.

As entertained as I was by the story of how Andy Williams refused to give Zsa Zsa Gabor the crabs, I was disappointed to learn that he is a right-wing crackpot.

Fireball meteor

The Chiffons

04:04 BST

Monday, 19 October 2009

I can hear music

Ultimo Black Label Vamp plunge braBra of the Week

Matt Taibbi notes that There's always room for Goldman Sachs when a 29-year-old "former employee in Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s business intelligence unit" is hired as the first chief operating officer in the Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement division.

Dave Neiwert is impressed by the latest efforts of our Retaliban fighters.

How Sex Ed Fails Us - well, mainly by not being actual sex education anymore.

Dylan Ratigan, Michael Moore Slam Wall St. Over Latest Round Of Bonuses

An interesting new wrinkle in book burning.

In the false equivalence corner: Not a "special interests" are the same.

Charles M. Blow is Impatiently Waiting in an NYT op-ed: "When, Mr. President? When will your deeds catch up to your words? The people who worked tirelessly to get you elected are getting tired of waiting. According to a Gallup poll released on Wednesday, Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the country has hit a six-month low, and those decreases were led, in both percentage and percentage-point decreases, by Democrats and independents, not by Republicans. The fierce urgency of now has melted into the maddening wait for whenever. Take health care reform. Because of the president's quixotic quest for bipartisanship, he refused to take a firm stand in favor of the public option." The only trouble with this article is that it takes for granted that Obama actually wants liberal change. I think the change Obama wants is the kind that was started by Reagan, exacerbated by Clinton, and accelerated by Bush.

The kids aren't all right (with back-up vocals by Paul Krugman). But the idea of actual investing in our own country's economy is still, alas, considered "too far left" to take seriously.

Jacob Weisberg says "Respectable journalists" should refuse to appear on Fox News. (Ha ha ha.)

John Cole believes there's a Pulitzer in this McClatchy story about how Moody's fired executives who wanted the company to stop risking its reputation in the pursuit of profits, while promoting those who cut corners and gave dishonest ratings in order to raise the short-term bottom line. I would have liked it better if such a story had appeared before everyone admitted there was a problem. But then, you would have thought people would have noticed that problem way back when the Enron story came out.

A really great rendition of "Stars Fell on Alabama".

01:19 BST

Saturday, 17 October 2009

You can't do that

From the bottom of our hearts, Harry Reid is a crummy Majority leader. He may be crummy because he's stupid and lame, or he may be crummy because he's actually a conservative (the anti-choice stance is always a tip-off), but he bites. (And Al From is an enabler.)

Is it time for a road trip? "The elites hate to acknowledge it, but when large numbers of ordinary people are moved to action, it changes the narrow political world where the elites call the shots. Inside accounts reveal the extent to which Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon's conduct of the Vietnam war was constrained by the huge anti-war movement. It was the civil rights movement, not compelling arguments, that convinced members of the US Congress to end legal racial discrimination. More recently, the town hall meetings dominated by people opposed to healthcare reform have been a serious roadblock for those pushing reform. [...] A bill that would require the Fed to disclose what it did with more than $2tn (TRILLION! W) in loans to banks and other financial institutions was originally co-sponsored by Ron Paul and Alan Grayson, one of the most conservative and one of the most progressive members of Congress. Due to public pressure, it now has more than 270 co-sponsors. This is exactly the sort of alliance that gets the elite worried. Reining in the power of the financial industry will be a long, hard-fought war, but it is one that must be fought. President and Nobel peace prize winner Barack Obama may not have been able to bring the Olympics to Chicago, but everyone who wants to retake our country from the banks can bring their backside there on 25 October." (Also: "From the Dept of Simple Solutions: Any Financial Instrument Too Complicated To Be Regulated Should Be Prohibited.")

Stop the Chamber of Commerce - a worthy goal against a campaign of distortion and lies.

Why is CNN using a paid GOP and insurance industry hatchet man as an on-air "contributor"?

I'm not sure I understand why saying "Medicare has had no innovation since its inception" is particularly meaningful, anyway - I mean it's an insurance system, not a hospital or university - but anyway, it isn't even true.

Just another thing on the list of reasons a lot of ordinary rank-and-file Republicans hate liberals, thanks to Bill Clinton: NAFTA. Which is pretty ironic, since no actual liberal could ever support such a program. The trouble is, too many people just assumed that (D) meant Clinton was a liberal and so were his programs. And way too many of those people were the liberals who voted for him.

"Middle class squeeze: The deep roots of an economic and social transformation: "What changed in the early 1970s to reverse the great postwar income convergence? A number of factors come into play, some more important than others. Three factors stand out: globalization, the emergence of a financial economy, and changes in government policy. Let's look at each one."

Vote: Choose the most intriguing headline from Wednesday's Fortean breaking news page.

Jurassicpork needs a little help - give if you can.

The icing on the cake.

The Beatles

02:00 BST

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Peche a la Frog

Susie talks to Arlen: "I just got off a conference call with Arlen Specter where I asked him why the Democrats don't talk about the wave of entrepreneurship that would be unleashed if people knew they could leave their jobs, start a business and still get affordable health coverage for themselves and their families. He was surprised, said it hadn't occurred to him and wants me to give him names of people who would start their own businesses if they knew they could get affordable insurance." I'm betting Susie did not follow up with, "Do you know how stupid that sounds?"

Dept. of Bad Language, IOKIYAR: Yesterday on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) ranted against health reform. While his colleagues have used inflammatory rhetoric to denigrate various health proposals - like inventing imaginary 'death counselors' and saying reform will 'absolutely kill seniors' - Shadegg's speech hit a new low. Shadegg said health reform will result in 'Russian gulag, Soviet-style gulag healthcare'." And yet, it was an outrage when a Democrat compared gulags with gulags.

I told you we should do this first: "Right-wingers are being encouraged to descend upon 'liberal' media outlets in their hometowns on October 17, and protest all the unfair coverage. It's part of Operation: Can You Hear us Now, and it's a continuation of the Tea Party and heath care mini-mob madness, as activists follow the lead of their 'American heroes' Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck." Of course, they're mad as hell because the media didn't report on something that didn't really happen, but just for balance, Jon Stewart made a little comparison.

"Guardian gagged from reporting parliament: "The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights. Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found. The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented - for the first time in memory - from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret." I haven't seen an update on that from three days ago, but jeez. Update: "Parliamentary question gag lifted: A law firm has abandoned a bid to prevent the British press from reporting proceedings in Parliament." And "MP to report Carter-Ruck to Law Society over attempt to gag Guardian." What fun!

One advantage of privatization for the overlords is that it makes public works projects too expensive to fund, thus undermining the value of stimulus money, among other things.

Matt Taibbi explains why Obama got the Nobel Prize - and why Bush didn't.

12:45 BST

Waiting for grandma to die

I was going to respond in comments, but it got too long. I am unaccustomed to disagreeing with Chicago Dyke very often, but I don't actually feel that hopeful about new generations being more progressive*. My experience is that some of the greatest forgetfulness about how we got here comes from those who are simply too young to remember it.

For example, I didn't hear a lot of Boomers telling me that Social Security was in crisis; yet people who were otherwise pretty liberal were telling me this - they'd heard it so often they had come to believe it. And they were younger than Boomers. People who were older than Boomers already understood why the libertoonian privatizers were wrong.

We're now seeing new generations who don't even remember when government mostly worked. Ten years from now, you'll be seeing people who would be old enough to vote (if we still have elections) telling you that government has never worked. Because that's what they're saying on TV now, and anyway, government has not been working all that well lately, thanks to it being run by anti-government corporatists. Yes, it's true that some older people also believe that government can't work, but most of them seem to have forgotten when it worked very well to keep them or their parents out of poverty. Still, plenty of geriatrics and Boomers do know about that.

A lot of that much-beloved "youth vote" that fell so hard for Obama was not part of the civil rights movement - they've come to think of it as something completely distinct from everything else on the left; it's perhaps an aberration, something "the left" accidentally got right. (But perhaps they don't realize how many white people were active supporters of the civil rights movement.) But they understood so little about black people that many of them think that Obama personally had to sit in the back of the bus and drink at segregated drinking fountains, and they didn't recognize a black conservative staring them in the face because they really didn't get that such a thing can exist outside of a handful of RNC seedlings and tokens.

And they believe the conservative lie that racism is mostly over and has nothing to do with why blacks haven't done as well in America as white immigrant groups.

And Andrew Sullivan, Matt Drudge, and apparently half the Republican leadership are gay. They're just gay in a different way.

I think the biggest mistake liberals made in the '70s was to assume that politicians who made the right noises about gay rights and abortion and civil rights for blacks were necessarily liberal on the fundamental issues that made the gay rights, civil rights, and women's rights movements possible: economic issues. That's why we have more Diann Feinsteins than Bernie Sanderses. That's why we have Joe Lieberman, who didn't even follow-through on his noises enough to vote consistently on reproductive rights when it mattered (and who was an enormous scold about the presidential sex life when no one liberal actually cared). And that's why we have a an unpleasant vein of people who proclaim themselves "economically conservative but socially liberal" and do things like vote for the Libertarian Party as if allowing the rich to control every penny of our wealth will somehow enhance the individual liberties of all the peons who remain.

It's worth remembering that a lot of the people who voted for Republicans because they are twitchy on social issues - still basically racist, still homophobic, still disgusted by hippies and wimmin's libbers - also still love their Social Security and Medicare and think they pay taxes so government can do things for them. They think businesses should not be able to break the law and poison, trick, or rob their customers. They think people who work hard and play by the rules should be able to retire in reasonable comfort and not be treated like dirt because they didn't happen to get immorally rich. They just don't realize that those are the real liberal policies that conservatives hate the most and are trying the hardest to get rid of.

But there's a younger generation out there that, as BDBlue points out, grew up in the Reagan era and doesn't even appreciate what Social Security has accomplished. Young, healthy kids who are now seeing Democrats who were put in power by liberals openly transferring taxpayers' wealth to criminal banksters, and who are about to force them to buy overpriced crappy insurance from the same criminals who've been denying them health care all along.

And the only people who are suggesting in public that these Democrats might be doing them wrong are...right-wingers whose stock-in-trade is bashing the left. And there's no one on TV telling them that it's not "blacks" and "liberals" and "gays" and "illegal aliens" who are responsible for this.

I don't think we're going to see a more progressive future. I think the backlash against the conservative program that Obama and the Democratic leadership are currently helping to cement will be aimed at liberals, not at the conservatives who have worked so tirelessly and effectively for 35 years to destroy what they regard as the greatest threat to their dominion: the American middle-class.

* * * * *

Here's a neat representation of 50 years of space exploration. (H/t Dominic.)

"Got Milk" probably isn't work-safe.

00:26 BST

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Demand - but how?

Natasha Chart:

The problem with change is that, as it was once rightly said, power concedes nothing without a demand. Nonetheless, word your demand too politely and you will get exactly no response. Act like a bunch of violent anti-abortion, Operation Rescue-style terrorists, and the only kind of change you can guarantee is that you will shift the world by varying margins towards fearful authoritarianism, hatred and isolation along class, gender and/or ethnic lines - which makes violence a non-starter if you care about getting to a progressive end goal.

So what should we do? Peaceful protest won out for the abolition, women's suffrage, anti-colonialism and civil rights movements, yet they all required great masses of people to demonstrate over periods of years. Though unlike other countries with active national strike cultures, not only has a strike ethic diminished in stature as an option in the activist toolkit, the national media barely reports on such events unless they are violent, represent authoritarian ideologies, or can readily be mocked. People seeking peaceful change in the US are often effectively isolated from sympathetic peers around the world and at home and turn only rarely to collective action solutions to shared problems.

Maybe an idea like these Common Security Clubs, which try to gather small groups of neighbors to talk about economic issues face to face, could help. It's hard to say. But the injustices piling up in this world and this country have got to be addressed.

02:29 BST

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Watching the defectives

As Glenn Greenwald notes, the administration's attitude toward people who keep insisting on adhering to what were always presumed to be core values of the Democratic Party has been to consistently treat "the base" as some sort of far-left lunatic fringe, And yet, they are pretending that when yet another anonymous denizen of the White House makes yet another dismissive remark about this lefty fringe, it "does not reflect White House thinking at all." Oh, yes it does: "Just this weekend, a "top gay Democrat close to Obama" was granted anonymity by Politico to dismiss administration critics on gay issues as "naive." Just six weeks ago, an equally cowardly "senior White House adviser" hiding behind anonymity told The Washington Post that the only people who cared about the public option in health care were "the left of the left" -- those same fringe, irrational extremists. In June, an anonymous "friend of John Brennan's" told Jane Mayer in The New Yorker that the people who prevented Brennan's nomination as CIA Director (because of his support for some of the most radical Bush Terrorism policies) were nothing more than "a few Cheeto-eating people in the basement working in their underwear who write blogs." Last year, "Democrats on the Hill" anonymously dismissed opposition to telecom immunity and warrantless eavesdropping as nothing more than a fringe issue being exploited by Chris Dodd for his presidential campaign, and then anonymously warned Dodd to abandon his left-wing obstructionism if he wanted to resume good standing in the Democratic caucus. Can anyone miss the pattern?" Obama himself has been snotty about the fringy-lefty-bloggery base, the people who believe in single-payer (which Obama once claimed to support), the people who oppose wrecking the Constitution (on which Obama's supporters claim he is a scholar), the people who oppose stupid wars (which Obama once claimed to oppose), the people who recognize the need to get rid of Don't Ask-Don't Tell (which Obama once promised to get rid of), the people who openly support those things that 65-80%% of the American people want and think Obama was elected to deliver. Of course it reflects the White House's thinking. It's a classic right-wing tactic to try to convince the majority that they are on the fringe and far-out in their views, so that they will feel isolated and powerless. That's what Obama is doing.

Elizabeth Warren (QotD: "Today's business model is about making money through tricks and traps") has proposed a Financial Product Safety Commission to protect us from abusive lenders. The White House claims to support it and Congress is "expected" to "start hammering out" this legislation. The obvious person to run such an agency would, of course, be Elizabeth Warren. The banksters can't stand the idea, and Larry Summers hates her. (I wonder if those two things are related.) I don't think Susie Madrak is just being paranoid when she says, "I do hope Elizabeth Warren isn't taking any small planes." (Also: what the media doesn't say about what's in Michael Moore's new movie, like pilots on food stamps and holding second jobs; a Nobelist whose work shows that imposing regulation against exploitation of resources is natural, because communities start doing it even without central government; a poll showing that Americans are resigned to perpetual war we don't want; and a Grayson moment.

I see the Republicans, or at least Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), are running their own separate foreign policy again, this time in Honduras. (Get your more thorough coverage of the Honduras coup here.) That'd be the same Jim DeMint who is blocking the appointment of the ambassador to Brazil so that Newt Gingrich can whine about how stupid old Obama doesn't have an ambassador to Brazil, yet.

The insurance industry would like you to think they aren't making up the numbers, but they're just telling you they see the current version of the bill as an opportunity to jack up your rates some more. "Insurance Industry Report Promises To Increase Premiums By 111% Under Health Reform: After months of publicly supporting health care reform, insurers are warning Congress that under the Baucus health care bill, 'the cumulative increases in the cost of a typical family policy...will be approximately $20,700 more than it would be under the current system'." Anthony Weiner points out that this is not a statement of fact (it's not the bill that would raise costs), but an out-and-out threat; and, "If you have the health care industry complaining that we're going to raise costs because of these changes, it is them putting us on notice that we haven't put enough cost containment in the bill. You know, the health care industry themselves is putting out a whole report saying that. That should be a tell to the Baucus team that you know what, maybe it's time for them to go back and revisit the public option. In a strange way, and look, obviously they didn't mean this, the health insurance lobby today fired the most important salvo in weeks for the public option, because they have said, as clear as day, left to their own devices, according to their own number crunchers, they're going to raise rates 111%. " If you see this story in a newspaper, now would be a good time to point out that single-payer would eliminate any problems by saving us hundreds of billions of dollars over the current system, instead.

Conservative Intellectualism: An Oxymoron.

15:40 BST

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Does it matter if the truth is out there?

Lepel Wild Rose padded braBra of the Week

I know from stunned experience that no photograph can capture his work, but I was still tickled by the Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Double-rainbow with lightning

A WTF? photo.

Glenn Greenwald thinks he's found the "most revealing political quote of the last year" in Dick Durbin's statement that the banks own Washington, and I reckon he's right about that in some respects, but I thought hearing Democratic leaders openly state that they didn't want to support a more efficient health care system because they were worried about hurting the insurance industry's profits was perhaps even more telling. Durbin was making a statement about how corrupt Washington has become - perhaps in the hope that he'd be ringing an alarm people would hear - but the Blue Dogs aren't doing that, they are not trying to alert people and get them angry enough to do something, even though what they are saying should make them prime targets for the pitchforks - no, they are simply not the least bit worried that the little people will even notice, at least not in enough numbers to matter. They don't need to resort to secret memos* when they say this stuff now, because they know the press won't make enough of it to get We the People into the streets. (Take a good look at that memo, by the way. It could just as easily have been written as a scathing criticism of the way the rich have taken over our economy: "...converting globalization and technology to increase the profit share of the economy at the expense of labor, all contribute to plutonomy." But, no, it is written in triumph, not disgust.) A conversation with a member of the Washington press corp, even when it is on the record, is as safe as a hush-hush boardroom meeting used to be. Hell, the executives from the "health care" industry even testified in Congress that they would not stop defrauding the public - because they knew they were safe. And as long as the press corp protects them, so it will be.

Not that a few individual reporters haven't tried to ring the alarm, but if it isn't front-paged in the NYT and the WaPo and then picked up by the television and radio shows, it doesn't exist. It's kind of hard to make "long waiting times for elective surgery" in the UK sound bad when waiting times for vital surgery go past the point of death in the US: "Nehme's doctor told him he could die waiting for an organ in California and urged him to go to Indiana, where the waiting list was shorter. But Anthem Blue Cross said no. It would not pay for a transplant in Indiana. [...] The case offers a rare glimpse into the life-and-death decisions insurers make behind closed doors and illustrates one of the most emotional questions in healthcare: Who should decide what is best for a patient -- doctors or insurers?" Got your Death Panels right here.

James Carroll in The Boston Globe, "Behind the folly of 'don't ask, don't tell': NOW THEY tell us. Sixteen years after institutionalizing a denigration of gay people, the Pentagon is discovering that its 'don't ask, don't tell' policy has been a moral catastrophe. Undermining the morale it was supposed to protect, it has been 'wholly inconsistent with a core military value - integrity.' That's the conclusion of an upcoming article in the Joint Force Quarterly, from the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - reported on last week by the Globe's Bryan Bender. The journal article, based on a study conducted at the National Defense University, issues a forthright call for a repeal of the ban on homosexuals in the military. Most people don't remember how this evil policy came about, but it started with open insubordination by the military command, with Colin Powell leading the charge.

What he won the Nobel for

14:27 BST

Saturday, 10 October 2009

I lost you such a long time ago

At The Poor Man Institute, curv3ball has been reading Jon Chait, who reports: "Around the age of five, Alissa Rosenbaum's [aka Ayn Rand] mother instructed her to put away some of her toys for a year. She offered up her favorite possessions, thinking of the joy that she would feel when she got them back after a long wait. When the year had passed, she asked her mother for the toys, only to be told she had given them away to an orphanage. Heller remarks that 'this may have been Rand's first encounter with injustice masquerading as what she would later acidly call "altruism."' (The anti-government activist Grover Norquist has told a similar story from childhood, in which his father would steal bites of his ice cream cone, labelling each bite 'sales tax' or 'income tax.' The psychological link between a certain form of childhood deprivation and extreme libertarianism awaits serious study.)" And curv3ball notes: "In her defense, and to her detriment, she applied this standard with some consistency, as she rejected Christianity for its opposite message of compassion and communal outlook. It was her stance on Christianity that led many GOP politicians to reject her despite their shared economic view. Now if she had only professed her love for Jesus while contradicting his most basic teachings, she could have had a brilliant career." (via)

Ruth tells me in comments* that The NewsHour has started a series on health care abroad, and begin with the the Netherlands, where it is claimed that the new system forces insurance companies to compete to provide better care. It doesn't surprise me that they started with this one, but the system really hasn't had time to test out yet, and not everything I've heard about it is nearly as sunny. And I can see one hugely wasteful expense right here: "Every citizen is required to buy a basic package that typically costs about $160 a month. The insurance companies are required to offer the same prices to all customers, regardless of age or medical history. Low-income residents have their premiums subsidized. Health care shoppers can choose to pay more for coverage, for things like dentistry, cosmetic surgery, or physiotherapy." And there you have a massive amount of administrative costs that are eliminated by a simple single-payer or NHS-style plan that means you don't even have to remember the name of your insurance company. Sure, you can have private insurance and a private doctor on the NHS, but that's in addition to the coverage you already have automatically. No one has to buy insurance - you've already got it, because there is no opt-out.

"Will Red States Opt Out of Blue State Generosity? Just in time for the debate over the merits of a state-by-state "opt out" of a national public health insurance option, the Commonwealth Fund has released its 2009 state health care scorecard. As in 2007, the data reveals the critical condition of red state health care. All of which could present Republican governors and legislatures with a dilemma: will they refuse to offer lower cost insurance coverage for their residents by rejecting a system funded in part by blue state taxpayers?"

Robert Borosage recommends we watch the latest Bill Moyers' Journal, where Marcy Kaptur follows-up her appearance in Capitalism: A Love Story.

The Rude One also saw Capitalism: A Love Story, and presents us with "The Necessity of Michael Moore, Part 3 ... It's those moments when you realize why we need Michael Moore. There's few people out there who, despite the ridicule and attacks, can stand up and tell us what we don't want to hear and who can still command an audience that will listen. For those who haven't seen it because you think it's just the same old Moore tactics, you should know that, despite what you see in the previews, there's very few of those typical wonderfully uncomfortable moments where Moore confronts people in power. And the ones that are in there are purely, intentionally symbolic; they exist to point out just how much we are outsiders to our own economy, how it truly is us versus them. There is no cathartic trip to Cuba."

Ian Welsh on What Not Being Able To Buy Oil In Dollars Means.

Fafnir explains the danger of Iran, and Our Threatiest Threat.

"I Can't See Nobody" performed live in 1971.

13:20 BST

Friday, 09 October 2009

Cats and Dogs

Obama wins Henry Kissinger Peace Prize. (I see someone else had the same reaction I did.) Glennzilla thought he was reading The Onion. The Medium Lobster says, "Peace Is At Hand."

Somerby: "These blindingly obvious questions never arise in the mainstream press - or in the career liberal world, for that matter. In its silence, the mainstream press thus keeps the lid on progressive sentiment. The average American might even be angry if he/she understood the fact that he spends five times as much for procedures as other people do. But Gwen Ifill isn't going to tell Americans that. And the outrage that lurks inside that factoid doesn't seem to move Kevin either." Susie: "Once again, I'll note that the interests of the media shifted from these issues as 'journalism' became a white-collar career path, and not a working-class craft. The great reporters of the past questioned the economic interests of the corporate overlords because they didn't identify with them." And: Your daily Grayson reminds the Democrats that Americans didn't vote for Democrats just to give Olympia Snowe what she wants and salve Republicans' hurt feelings. Plus: Pure nonsense in Healthcare Fantasyland.

There are 98,000 reasons to oppose what the right-wing calls "tort reform". One of them is that the reason for malpractice suits, first and foremost, is malpractice.

Joe Haldeman seems vaguely improved, but they still can't find the infection.

This whole thing is getting out of hand. So to speak. (h/t Joe Vecchio.)

19:43 BST

Thursday, 08 October 2009

Raining on the parade

Mike the Mad Biologist knows it's foolish to disagree too much with Krugman (although, in fact, I have been known to disagree with Krugman in the past, and been proven uncomfortably right - he is really too optimistic sometimes), but this time he's disagreeing with Krugman about what motivates "centrist" Democrats, and he says it's all about the Congressional Retirement Plan - that is, how to get the plum jobs after leaving Congress. And it's true that if you're enough of a "pro-business" guy while in office, you have a much better chance at the plum lobbying and figurehead jobs at big corporations afterwards. And besides, that way they don't have to leave Washington. "So, I think we're missing the big picture on corruption: it's the retirement, stupid." Digby agrees, but adds: "I agree with Mike, but I think it's more than money. It's about staying in the game, being a player. And in American culture, being a real player means being paid huge sums of money. How can anyone possibly be respected otherwise? It's the culture of power in general in this country that creates these incentives. And I'm still not sure what to do about it except pick up a pitchfork and get busy."

Digby mentions in that piece the substantial retirement benefits Dick Gehpardt gets directly from the taxpayer, so while that's fresh in our minds, maybe it's time to read Sepbastian Jones in The Nation on Dick Gephardt's Spectacular Sellout: "While Gephardt spent most of his twenty-eight years in national Democratic politics quietly promoting and voting with establishment interests, he is best known for his friendship with labor and advocacy for universal healthcare during two presidential runs. In 2003 he harshly condemned corporate crime, which he said 'ruined people's lives for selfishness and greed,' and launched his candidacy claiming, 'Every proposal I'm making, every idea I'm advancing has a single, central purpose: to revive a failing economy and give working Americans the help and security they need.' So why, six years later, was he on Capitol Hill representing one of the biggest players in the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression? And further, why was he recently working for Visa to kill credit card reform, helping Peabody Energy stymie climate change legislation and consulting for UnitedHealth Group alongside Tom Daschle to block meaningful healthcare reform? "

Athenae: "The point of the story about the boy who cried wolf is that the wolf shows up in the end and kills everybody."

A good question from Dependable Renegade.

15:41 BST

Wednesday, 07 October 2009

But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide

Paul Rosenberg found this from Sadie Baker in his comments and front-paged it:

Obama's central dilemma is that he ran, if not as an outright progressive, at least by making enough progressive noises now and then to win the support of progressives. He would not be in office without them.

But his intent is to govern as an anti-progressive. For reasons I cannot fathom, his team has decided to try to use the frame of "fragility" to thread this needle.

To wit: he can't end the wars because the Republicans will call him names if he does. He had to cut a backroom deal with Big Pharma on healthcare reform because otherwise they would run mean commercials. He had to give Wall Street a blank check, with no strings attached, because otherwise they might hurt him.

You see the problem? When your stated agenda conflicts with your real agenda, you need to come up with a plausible reason for why you keep things that are the opposite of what you said you wanted. That's understandable, you want to keep the rubes on the reservation.

But why weakness? Why do they think it's a good idea to tell everyone the reason he doesn't do what needs to be done is because he's weak? That's a huge mistake that is going to catch up with them.

Good diagnosis, and I think Paul's response - that he's being the wounded bird the progressives will have to protect, by not attacking him - is correct, as is the prognosis. But dammit, he is anti-progressive, and it's not an accident. The Republicans aren't making him do this. And he needs to be called on it before he drags everything else down with him.

"Franken Wins Bipartisan Support For Legislation Reining In KBR's Treatment Of Rape: In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. She was detained in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed, and 'warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.' (Jones was not an isolated case.) Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR 'if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.'"

"Godwin Takes the Day Off" - Billmon says he'll stop comparing conservatives with Nazis when they stop acting like Nazis.

Did Bill Ayers tell a conservative blogger that he ghost-writes for Obama?

Ed Schultz thanks Rep. Grayson for telling the truth about the Republicans and health care, and makes it a point that Republican tactics are all about smears and lies.

So how would you feel about having an address that ends in ".y!sctp"? EBW says it can be done. (Though speaking as a touch-typist, I'd leave out the "!".)

Tom Lehrer, Pigeon Poisoner

18:12 BST

Things people say

"Republican Leaders Remind Steele GOP Hates Medicare: As Politico reported Monday, Republicans leaders took RNC chairman Michael Steele to the woodshed for his high profile role in the health care debate. Furious that Steele's so-called "seniors' bill of rights" committed the GOP to "no cuts to Medicare," the Congressional Republicans told their chairman to "quit meddling in policy." Of course, given the GOP's 50-year war on Medicare, their fury should come as no surprise."

Taibbi says, "Michael Moore's Problems Are Our Fault. The reaction to Michael Moore's new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, reinforces a suspicion I started having a few years back: that most of us Americans are much better at being movie and TV critics than we are at being political organizers. When we come out of a film like this, we find ourselves focusing on the flaws in Moore's moviemaking and not on the film's content, which just happens to be the reality of our own day-to-day political existences. We're not thinking about how to fix our lives, in other words, but how to fix the movie about our lives." (Actually, a lot of Americans walked out of Sicko, which is still a pretty important movie, asking what they could do to fix the situation Moore had put into such stark relief. Unfortunately, the only answer they were getting at the time had something to do with electing Democrats. Hm. But Michael Moore is focusing on the subjects that should be in the morning papers and on the evening news every day, but aren't. He got rich doing it because no one else was.)

I don't care if they ever had a nuclear program, I still don't see it as a reason to start a war with Iran. But, really, come on: "In any case, the NYT story shows the 'intelligence' worm turning to bite the citers of the NIE. The story cites a new report by unnamed staffers of the International Atomic Energy Agency which in turn cites unspecified, unconfirmed, tentative intelligence from unnamed sources that concludes - tentatively - that Iran might have re-started at least some parts of its nuclear weapons program (whose previous existence had, of course, never been proved)." And, anyway, get back to me when Iran actually tests a nuclear weapon. We've been here before, and we have a lot of dead, displaced, and dismembered to show for it, not to mention the empty treasury. Can we not do this again, please?

Yes, the Teabagger thing may have been ginned up by the GOP and promoted by Fox with a lot of spurious nonsense, but don't laugh, because the Democrats really are screwing us, and them.

Someone could be praying for you.

01:38 BST

Sunday, 04 October 2009

Slow glass

As gratifying as it has been to watch Grayson stand up to the Republicans, Lambert points out that the need to defend Obama's "plan" still made him say a silly thing about Americans dying for lack of health insurance: "What really gets me is that Grayson's wrong on one very obvious and important fact: Nobody ever died for lack of health insurance. Not one single person. Not one. People die for lack of health care. Did Grayson really have his brain engaged when he made that claim?

The recession is over but the depression has just begun. (via)

Thanks to Ten Bears for recalling for us quote from former Pentagon staffer and Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, who said, "The great promise of the internet may be that it brings us back to the future, so to speak. In the 1700s, de Toqueville was amazed with our American obsession with information, our abundance of little newspapers, everyone a reporter, everyone with an opinion to share, and many interested parties reading and debating these opinions and observations. This energy struck him as uniquely American, and today, this energy is global, and it is embodied in the internet, in the blogosphere specifically. The blogosphere is that rough, raw and personal reporting, complete with elements of gossip and imagination. Mainstream media is establishment media, the kings' notices to the serfs. I think Allison's investigation into how well or how poorly the truth was reported in the run-up to Iraq, within the blogosphere and by the mainstream media, is not only important, but points us into a new place that may in fact lead us to fewer wars rather than more wars. After Iran, that is...."

It's okay, because a journalist said so. (Actually, the thing that's getting to me is that every time I read an article about when the big climate disaster is going to happen, it gets a lot closer. Things that were once predicted to happen within three centuries are now not due to happen until a lot sooner than that. So soon that when someone says, "by 2100," I've started thinking, "Boy, I hope this so-called 2100 doesn't turn out to be within my lifetime.")

I waited too long to watch the video, which has now been pulled, but The Village Idiots does give the gist of how foreign journalists view the White House press corps, and Think Progress has this revealing quote: "I found that I think they really think that if you make it to cover the White House then you must be bigger than God, therefore, you know, you have to be treated as such."

This Week In Tyranny, a judge has ordered the FBI to release its interview with Cheney on the FBI leak case, which is some good news for a change. However, Obama continues to appear to be endorsing Bush policies, the US government tortured a man they knew was innocent to force him to make false confessions, and Dan appears to have completed his "Unpacking Jane" series: "Cheney personally went up to Congress to lobby against McCain's proposed torture ban. He met three times with McCain. What transpired has never been told. But according to a well-informed congressional official, 'With Cheney, it was all about how to stop the next terrorist attack. Will this help it or hurt it?' He was 'absolutely convinced' that the CIA wouldn't be able to get the information any other way, he said. When McCain asked for evidence that coercion worked, 'They would just say, "We can't tell you - but trust us."' All that Cheney and the other defenders of the program pointed to were a handful of specific cases. There was no scientific study or larger analysis. Moreover, the CIA experts admitted that much of the information they got was unreliable."

Jurassicpork reviews Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story.

It's unfortunately a .pdf, but these are some neat shots Bonnie took while deliberately not aiming her camera at anything in particular.

Oh, okay, Lambert, if you insist, but it's definitely not the Bra of the Week.

15:36 BST

Some of the news that fits

Simone Perele Nina half cup braBra of the Week

I was explaining to a friend that The Wire was so realistic that former Sun re-write man David Ettlin was played by former Sun re-write man David Ettlin. Ah, but his under-the-radar fame goes farther than we guessed, as it turns out that Bonnie, his wife and favorite photographer, has been using his image in a lot of stock photos, and one recently turned up on a Republican campaign web site. That would have been okay if it had been any old photographer's husband, but no one had trouble recognizing him at The Baltimore Sun. And I heard about it at our diningroom table as they were finding it on the net, having just arrived in London from Germany, where, among other things, they visited a concentration camp.

Overdrawn! The thing I don't understand is why in "the information age" when everything can happen instantaneously, it takes about a week longer for a check to clear than it did back in the days when even banks needed White-Out.

Anna sent me that link, and she also wrote me some more:

What Susie recommends: a short 15 minute documentary called "Ten Dollars An Hour", about a dinner lady at a Southern frat house. Susie calls it "one of the best short documentaries I've ever seen. I strongly urge you to watch it:" So do I.

"One more from Susie, this time at C&L, about poisoned water supplies at Camp LeJeune, NC, which is bad enough all by itself. But guess where I used to live between 62 and 64? Tarawa Terrace, Camp LeJeune, NC. Sigh. As Jimbo was fond of saying, "no one here gets out alive."

Meanwhile, Dan wonders if Steny Hoyer is the worst Democrat alive?

And, while Diann Feinstein is busy re-writing the law so that anyone who uses fingernail polish or highlights their hair has given the FBI something akin to probable cause (not that probable cause is any longer necessary!) to spy on them, Digby wonders why this woman hasn't retired yet. (For the record, however: I realize that fewer and fewer people want to visit the US since it has become such a pain in the ass, but Chicago did well to lose out on the Olympics. Holding the Olympics costs cities a lot of money and doesn't recoup the losses by any stretch. It's just a kick-back for the few who get in on the groundfloor for the big contracts to put it all together, and it takes a long time for a city to put itself back together again afterwards. I wish London had been so lucky as to dodge that bullet.)

And the banksters really have No reason not to do it again..

01:25 BST

Friday, 02 October 2009


The Raven catches the administration Eviscerating the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, Breaking the Treasury Secretary:

As part of the response to the financial meltdown of the past year, the Obama administration proposed, among other things, a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The proposed CFPA would have had sweeping powers to regulate the financial services industry, excepting the insurance industry. Excepting the insurance industry is questionable, but much worse was to come. In the legislative process, the proposal has gradually been eviscerated. Last week, a very important restriction on consumer banking was removed from the bill by Barney Frank, chair of the House Committee on Financial Services: a requirement that the banks offer "plain vanilla" mortgages that could be straightforwardly evaluated and compared. Astonishingly, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, whose own department wrote the provision, commented: "The chairman's proposals, which I've had a chance to read quickly, provide a better balance of choice and protection."

James Kwak of The Baseline Scenario, writes in e-mail, shocked:

The most shocking thing is what Geithner said about the change - he said it made the bill better. Remember, the plain-vanilla requirement is something that came from the draft legislation that he sent to Congress. [...] nothing, I repeat nothing, explains his cheering on the elimination of something he asked for. He should have complained about it, if for no other reason than to combat the mounting suspicion that he has no backbone.
I think it likely Geithner's backbone has been broken. In economics and finance, the Obama administration is starting to resemble the Reagan and Bush II administrations in the way it destroys reputations: Geithner will have no credibility by the time he leaves office. Think of the way Lyndon Baines Johnson broke Humphrey.1 Think of what Reagan did to Stockman. This is court politics, the way power has been deployed in aristocracies throughout history. I'm suspecting Summers and Emanuel of doing the dirty work. Summers in particular strikes me as a better-educated male version of Sarah Palin, and, like Palin, I think he loves to break people, but he would not have broken Geithner without Obama's support.

01:35 BST

Thursday, 01 October 2009

State of play

A few people have asked me my opinion about Polanski, and my opinion is that it's sure convenient to have liberal commentators preoccupied with this while our "betters" are selling us out in so many odious ways that I'm sure they'd prefer we fight over what should happen to Polanski. But for the record, I haven't changed my previously stated position. On the other hand, Glenn Greenwald sure has Fred Hiatt and his crew down cold. [Also: Someone let Glenn Greenwald go on TV to point out that the 'case' against Iran is Iraq deja vu all over again. Oh, and, "Although I didn't know beforehand, the person charged with making the case that Iran is a Grave Threat was . . . Arianna Huffington." (More deja vu here.)]

Democrat shows spine, tells truth on House floor; media freaks out when he refuses to apologize. His name is Alan Grayson and he actually fought back. Reward good behavior - or at last write or call and say thanks.

Mad As Hell Doctors were represented on Democracy Now! as the Senate was busy refusing to support single-payer: "And the basic thrust of this is, is to highlight the denial of healthcare by the insurance industry. Doctors and patients reach an agreement on what they want, what kind of healthcare is appropriate, and too often healthcare insurance companies say, 'No, we're not going to pay for that.' In fact, there was a report put out by one of the really excellent organizations in this effort, California Nurses Association, that showed that 20 percent of the time when people have agreed on healthcare, the insurance companies say no. Twenty percent of the time. One company was 40 percent of the time. So this is a serious problem. In fact, Michael Moore, when he did Sicko, had 25,000 people write him and say that they were being denied healthcare. So the goal is to say, 'Get these people healthcare.'" (via)

Jello no more? Emptywheel says she's ready to retire the old monicker and re-christen him as The Senator Henceforth to Be Known as Jay Rock after seeing him "picking apart, detail by detail, the many ways in which the MaxTax is a big giveaway to the health care industry." But I'm not there yet - after all, we didn't start calling him "Jello Jay" because he didn't make good statements about what's wrong with some bills - in fact, it's that he made great statements about what's wrong with some policies and then turned on a dime after his campaign coffers got fattened by the people who would benefit from the policy he'd criticized. Maybe Jay Rockefeller is just trying to get the insurance industry to shuffle some cash his way, too, like the telecoms did.

More reasons why the right-wing hates ACORN: they foresaw the foreclosure crisis in 2001.

I guess The Times didn't want me to read the Gore Vidal interview in which he says, "We'll have a military dictatorship soon," because they stuck it in the Women's section. He also said: "Obama believes the Republican Party is a party when in fact it's a mindset, like Hitler Youth, based on hatred - religious hatred, racial hatred. When you foreigners hear the word 'conservative' you think of kindly old men hunting foxes. They're not, they're fascists."

Let's Check Our Priorities! - 'cause someone's gotta save the poor, beleaguered, insurance companies.

Still Another 10 Moments in Mike Huckabee's Extremism.

Actually, I always thought the point of the Koufax Awards was so we could give each other credit for the good work we do, but your mileage may vary. I already have pretty good control of my work, of course, and I think the reason is that nobody pays me to do it. I think it would be nice if people put money into my tipjar, but a lot of people haven't got the cash, and they deserve to be able to read the news and snarky comments, too.

Nuclear matching quiz

I have no new updates on the Gnome Liberation Front situation, but dwarves are making some powerful lemonade.

17:17 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, October 2009

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