eXTReMe Tracker

The Sideshow

Archive for September 2009

Check box to open new browser windows for links.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Stuff I saw

A Newsmax columnists considers, or implies, or predicts, or applauds the idea of a military coup to take care of "the Obama problem", but now Newsmax is trying to pretend they barely know the guy.

Ben Nelson (D-GOP) proves that "moderate" Democrats are like headlines in The Onion, declaring that healthcare reform needs 65 votes to be legitimate.

Joseph Stiglitz says you can't judge a nation's prosperity based on GDP alone. Well, of course.

Aimai on getting it backwards after the new head of the Census Bureau explained his reasons for dropping ACORN as an agency partner: "So, we have a census program that is so politicized and embattled and underfunded that it must routinely rely on low paid, unskilled, almost volunteer labor to conduct its work. It turns to ACORN and other community groups who are at least dedicated to working with undercounted communities. The right wing, who oppose accurate Census counts as well as universal voting registration attack and delegitimize the entire process of Census taking, counting, and voter registration and it is ACORN and poor communities that pay the price? And the Census thinks that it is ACORN's reputation that is "hurting" the Census and not the full frontal push by Michelle Bachman and others to demonize the Census and the Census workers? Issa knows what he's doing--why don't the Democrats hold angry, ugly, hearings with Census workers who have been attacked, spat on, threatened and put Bachmann and other right wing poster nuts for anti-federalism and anti-census nonsense on a show trial? If you aren't on offense, you aren't even on defense. This is no long game they are playing. They are playing dead."

Chris Floyd on The Reason for the Anger and Intractability of the Debate Over Health Care Reform in the United States: "One side is lying; the other side is not telling the truth."

You might get the impression that if you join the armed services and survive your government's idea of "defending freedom", you've bought yourself a ticket to prison.

Pam Spaulding says Schumer's amendment is designed with screwing bloggers in mind, but also carves out a special place for Big Media stenographers.

Appellate court dismisses Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS. Rather says he will appeal.

5 most overpaid CEOs

Advice For America As It Faces The End Of Empire (From The Entity Formerly Known As The British Empire).

23:11 BST

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Murdering the 1st Amendment

Emptywheel picked it up from Jay Rosen who found this:

For citizen journalists, the federal shield law front was looking good for a while. Although the House of Representatives version of the bill, passed in April, only offered a shield to professional bloggers, the Senate version didn't differentiate between the pros and the amateurs. So there was hope that amateur journalists might actually, eventually, get its protection.

No longer though.

Sadly, the Senate Judiciary Committee has followed the path of the House and opted to specify that only a "salaried employee . . . or independent contractor" will be able to invoke the shield, reports the Wall Street Journal's Digits blog. The amendment, offered by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) of New York, limits the definition of a journalist to one who:

(iii) obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity...
Meanwhile, "Washington Post begins attack on net neutrality: It seems that the Washington Post has written an editorial challenging the necessity of FCC enforcement of net neutrality. While not entirely a surprise, the Washington Post Corp. owns cable systems in Appalachia, it is a very bad sign. Melinda gates sits on the board of directors and this may indicate that Microsoft is backing away from its previous commitment to net neutrality." (And, by the way, a little help would be much appreciated at a very worthwhile blog.)

The trouble with the phrase "citizen journalist" is it made some people forget that this is journalism, as it always was in the United States. Corporate "journalism" seems to be something else entirely.

In other news, it turns out the death penalty in Florida costs $51m a year more than just holding convicted killers for life. But, hey, that's pocket change compared to the certainty that killing people is good.

04:26 BST

Monday, 28 September 2009

Why I'm grumpy

Someday it will begin to penetrate that we are no longer the "Best Country in the World" at anything except the ability to bomb other countries - and then eventually we won't even be that. Truth is, most of the things we used to be good at have been given away, sold off, or destroyed by now, and we haven't caught up with the things other countries have been doing better for quite a while now. We may still claim to have great upward mobility, but in fact we don't have it - a handful of rich people get richer, but for the rest of us there is increasing downward mobility. Poor people in western Europe have better medical care than middle-class and even rich people in America. (Note: There are a tiny number of things that, if you have the money, you might have better luck with in America, but most people will never need those things in the first place, and the ones who do probably can't afford them. The real reason foreign dictators have to fly to America for medical care is because their own dictatorships have crappy medical systems, and all the other countries will arrest them.) We certainly don't have more freedom - in fact, we have more people in jail, and for things that aren't even crimes in other countries, because those other countries are more civilized. Instead, we have massive corruption - the kind that was always associated with the Third World - and we have let our criminals run the country and get away with it. We invented lots of neat stuff back in the days when the government funded actual education more generously, but we let foreign companies buy all that stuff, and we have made getting a good education increasingly more onerous. If it weren't for the entertainment industry, we'd have bugger-all, and once the conservatives finish taking that over, they will not have much left that anyone wants to buy - they'll be just as good at that as they were with everything else.

Or maybe none of that will matter, if ol' Doc Krugman is correct in his despair over the fate of the planet: "For example, one 2007 paper in the journal Science is titled 'Model Projections of an Imminent Transition to a More Arid Climate in Southwestern North America' - yes, 'imminent' - and reports 'a broad consensus among climate models' that a permanent drought, bringing Dust Bowl-type conditions, 'will become the new climatology of the American Southwest within a time frame of years to decades.'" Wouldn't want to be in Hollywood if that happens.

More evidence that Harry Reid is anti-choice because he's anti-life: "Buried in this New York Times piece on Harry Reid's role on health care is the news that according to anonymous Senate aides, Reid may have decided that the Senate bill will have no public option to appease Olympia Snowe and a few 'centrist' Dem Senators." Harry Reid needs to be told that the lives of our friends, our neighbors, our parents, our siblings, and our kids are worth a whole lot more than Olympia Snowe's vote. Phone: 202-224-3542, Fax: 202-224-7327, Toll Free for Nevadans: 1-866-SEN-REID (736-7343)

I can't believe I went through all that trouble to read that damned NYT/CBS healthcare poll and unpack the significant questions for you and only got one link to it. Ungrateful wretches. (PS. For those who had trouble with the video, you can hear or get the .mp3 of my Copper Robot interview on healthcare here.)

Gay Haldeman said: "Saturday, 9/26 1:30PM Joe's still running a high fever that won't come down. They've cultured everything but probably won't have results for several days. They're leaving him on the respirator, sedated, for today. He did respond to some commands, as he has been. He seems to know I'm with him."

I get a kick out of Radio Dismuke.

16:28 BST

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Sorry for the delay

Cleo by Panache Brooke balconette braBra of the Week

I thought I could blog on a really slow connection with a too-small keyboard in a moving car, and although it was okay for IM and reading a bit of news, it just wasn't conducive to blogging - especially with the lovely weather that involved not just distractingly gorgeous scenery, but a lot of glare on my screen. But I'm happy to report that Wales is still beautiful. Now I've got a lot of leftover links for you, so here they are.

Item: "Pittsburgh police pose for a photo with a Pitt student that they arrested." Commenter mvalgal: "No explanation for that behavior. There is no sane explanation for an arrestee being forced to pose with a group of policemen. Explain that one."

"Uninsured 22-Year-Old Boehner Constituent Dies From Swine Flu ... A 22-year-old woman from Oxford, Ohio, died from swine flu on Wednesday. Kimberly Young graduated from Miami University in December and continued to live in Oxford, Ohio, within Minority Leader John Boehner's congressional district. Reports now indicate that after initially getting sick, Young put off treatment because she was uninsured." [Update: It's even worse than that, she didn't have swine flu, but viral pneumonia.]

Why single payer is best for women

Roger Ailes thinks he's found "A Unified Theory of Republicanism: "Children Who Get Spanked Have Lower IQs."

Sibel Edmonds throws down the gauntlet; challenges Schakowsky to polygraph, and more.

Mandate + No Public Option = Unpopular taxpayer bailout of private insurance.

Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-Okla.) Chief of Staff: 'All Pornography Is Homosexual Pornography'.

Chris Floyd: "... any rational, sentient being knows that an escalation of the war will be a FUBAR of monstrous proportions, further destabilizing the most volatile region on earth, killing more and more civilians, driving more Afghans into the insurgency, propping up an utterly corrupt puppet government, wasting billions upon billions of dollars and thousands of American lives, and exacerbating extremism around the world. This is glaringly obvious, but our militarists simply don't care."

21:01 BST

Friday, 25 September 2009

To your health

NYT/CBS poll on healthcare (.pdf, unfortunately). People are going to spin this lots of ways (and even Greg Sargent seems to be forgetting that the media's preoccupation with bipartisanship is not ours), but look carefully and you discover that, when asked, "What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?" (Q3), the top contenders are the economy (22%), health care (19%), and jobs (19%). Note that "protecting the insurance industry", "free trade", and "bipartisanship" aren't on that list.

41% of Americans say they are "Very satisfied" with the quality of the health care they receive (Q21) and 37% are "Somewhat satisfied", while only 18% express dissatisfaction with theirs, but these figures are somewhat meaningless until we know what individuals are talking about when they say "health care" (note: not health insurance).

Similarly, when people are asked, "Are you generally satisfied or dissatisfied with your health care costs, both expenses not covered by insurance and the cost of your insurance if any?" (Q22), are they people who have actually had to use their health insurance, or are we talking about people who just have it and don't use it? (Or maybe people who chuckled and said their costs were terrific because they don't have insurance at all and haven't had any healthcare costs yet?) Even so, a lot of people seem to be pretty dissatisfied.

And on Question 23, people are offered the choice between, "The U.S. needs to fix its health care system now as part of fixing the overall economy" and "Because of the state of the economy, the U.S. cannot afford to fix its health care system right now" and 52% still say we need to fix it now - but what would the 42% who chose the other option say if they knew single-payer would save us money? Question 24 shows that 42% of Americans do know that you don't have to increase the budget deficit in order to provide health care coverage for more Americans. And Question 25 shows 59% of respondents believe it is more important to provide healthcare for the uninsured than it is to keep costs down (35%).

Questions 27 through 30 all seem almost like they are part of a push poll designed to reinforce the impression that guaranteeing healthcare is too expensive - none suggest that doing so might actually save money.

But dig this: Question 38 asks, "Do you think you understand the health care reforms under consideration in Congress, or are they confusing to you?" Only 37% think they understand, while 59% think it's confusing. (And not without good reason!) And Questions 41-50 make it abundantly clear that though most people do want the government to do something to improve our healthcare situation and think in fact that even Obama is understating how bad the situation is, most don't support the plans that are being proposed and think Obama is at best overstating the potential of the plan to help them.

So: "57. Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan - something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get - that would compete with private health insurance plans?" Despite all the propaganda that has eroded this figure since Obama has been in office, 65% still say yes.

Dr. Dean phoned Susie and told her he thinks there is a 95% chance that "a real public option" will pass. I don't even know what that means, but he also said there's no point to throwing billions of dollars to insurance companies if we don't get a public option. So, seriously, why should we throw billions of dollars to insurance companies at all? Why not just explain to the public the simple fact that we already pay more in taxes for healthcare than the Canadians and the Brits do and we can save tax money with single-payer? Why not say out loud that it's time for the insurance industry to stop double-dipping from our private pockets and the public trough? Why not press the point that the insurance industry is committing criminal fraud by taking people's money and then denying them care, and that they admitted publicly to Congress that they intend to keep doing so? What's the hang-up, Howard? I mean, why does crap like this keep happening? And why don't people who claim to want to pass a bill to give us access to affordable health coverage scream bloody murder when this kind of reporting misleads people into thinking that it costs more to provide better coverage, rather than less? Ah, but that's not the plan.

* * * * *

It's not that long ago that we had a so-called president who spent half his time on vacation and, though he wouldn't hold a real press conference, was often surrounded by the press while he pretended to clear brush and made little posturing speeches about the macho way he planned to "protect the American people". That wasn't overexposure, but actually talking about domestic policy apparently is.

My favorite part of this poll is not so much that a third of New Jersey conservatives think Obama is the anti-Christ and was not born in the US, but that they don't think he's a socialist.

20:21 BST

Things to do while using up Kleenex

Susie has A Scathingly Brilliant Idea on How To Lobby For Healthcare Reform:

I have this idea. It's pretty simple and I think it will appeal to a lot of people.

Here it is.

I want every uninsured man and woman who comes down with swine flu to go sit in the waiting rooms of their elected representatives.

That's it. Just sit there - coughing. Throwing your used Kleenex in their trash receptacles. If they want us to suffer, they should have to look at the logical consequences of their inaction. Tell them you're going to keep coming back until they manage to pass something that's actually going to help people instead of lining the pockets of the insurance companies.

Why wait for swine flu? Any showy cold or case of bronchitis should do.

But hey, if you're dying, I see no reason why you shouldn't do it in your Congresscritter's office. Wouldn't that be embarrassing? Or maybe Max Baucus' office.

I mean, if you have to die for a lack of healthcare, you might as well inconvenience the people responsible as well....

00:25 BST

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Digby on Politics Without Politics:

The idea that these alleged Democrats would actually insist that uninsured people be forced by law to write huge checks to the loathed insurance companies is mind-boggling. They seem intent upon taking what should be an historic progressive achievement and turning it into a hated, regressive tax on their own constituents, which is so politically obtuse I don't know how to process it.

The only thing that explains it is that they don't actually care about partisan political power at all. They won't personally lose their jobs. Even if the whole progressive philosophy is discredited and millions of people turn to the alternative it has no bearing on them. They carry on no matter who is in the majority or in the White House. Many of them are in the leadership themselves, so there is no pressure to work for the greater good of the party as a whole. The problem seems to be that political considerations and consequences are irrelevant to the political system. What do we do about that?

Of course: "In a stunning moment during the Senate Finance Committee markup Sen. Tom Carper defended a secret deal that the White House, Baucus, and PhRMA had reached. The White House has long denied the deal. Carper publicly acknowledges that part of the deal was that PhRMA would run millions of dollars worth of campaign ads in support of health care reform. According to Carper the 'golden rule' in Congress is that secret back room deals in exchange for advertising buys must be honored"

I can relate to getting strange reactions when discussing this subject: "Criticism of SSRI marketing and overprescription is not unusual. That's why Aretha and I spent days complementing our story with links to well-written articles, where you could listen to MD's, psychologists, researchers, and patients talk at length about their research. Even the FDA is in on it, now. The criticism has been so fierce in recent years that the pharmaceutical companies are admitting they've suppressed damning evidence." And yet, when you try to bring up the abuse by professionals of their patients with overprescription of these drugs, you can unleash a firestorm.

I was a bit worried to learn that Joe Haldeman had been hospitalized, but he appears to be stable. Fingers crossed that all will be well, and I'm sure good wishes from those of you who know Joe and Gay would be appreciated.

And here's a nice picture of the aurora.

17:56 BST

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Snakes and ladders

In The Nation, Charlie Pierce tells it like it is:

Does anyone honestly believe that this White House has acted in good faith? With its allies in Congress? With its constituents? Hell, with its own campaign promises? Does anyone honestly believe that, say, Chuck Todd gives a rat's ass how many people out in the country slowly sicken and die as long as Chuck can tell us who's up and who's down, and what's politically feasible and what's not, and that he can still get a good table at the Palm? Never in my long career as a professional cynic have I seen an spasm of Beltway bubblehood so far removed from the actual concerns of people's lives--so far removed that, last weekend, we had a gathering of the politically halt, lame, blind, and crippled in Washington, gathered for the sole purpose of petitioning various oligarchs to keep screwing them with their pants on. Never in my long career as a professional cynic have I seen a spasm of Beltway bubblehood so far beyond even the limits of Irish Smartass to describe it. The political class in this country--politician and journalist, lobbyist and legislator, Republican and Democratic, Executive and Legislative -- has made a collective decision to protect the profits of one of the least popular industries in the history of the Republic, to preserve the iron grip of corporate bureaucrats over the practice of medicine in America, and to refuse virtually without serious discussion to adopt measures favored by 77 percent of the voting public. It is to be in awe, is what it is.
Charlie also provides a link to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain performing that famous folk song, "Shaft". (via) - and this.

The General is thrilled to see the launch of psychological warfare against Britain.

I'm really getting to like the new head of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, who said: "Banks and other financial institutions must be held accountable for making this mess that required trillions of dollars of our money to clean up. For the pain they've inflicted on families who face financial ruin -unemployment, wiped out pensions, foreclosures and bankruptcy. We need a different model for our economy, where good jobs, not bad debts, drive our growth. Our real economy needs a financial system that will support it, not a high-risk system that only supports itself and the wiliest speculators." And he even joins me, Jane Hamsher, and Gerry McEntee in our opinion of BaucusCare. Which is a lot better than we seem to be getting from Democrats.

Thanks to Gary for embedding my Copper Robot appearance with Mitch Wagner, which is worth it just for the intro and outro music. (You can tell I never talk to other bloggers - I know how to pronounce "Kos" but that's not how I heard it in my head when I first encountered it, and I still pronounce it that way, even though I know better - and I was entirely unconscious of it while I was doing it, even though I was surprised by it when I heard the playback.)

04:32 BST

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A little night blogging

We've already seen that on Fox, whenever a Republican gets into serious trouble, they seem not to be referred to by the name of their party but their name onscreen has a (D) after it. But now they can't blame the typists when "For upbeat piece, Fox News converts uber-liberal Jim McDermott into a Republican: Scott: Despite talk that the recession is easing, the House is taking up emergency legislation this week that would help Americans out of work. A bill offered by Republican Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington would provide 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits. The checks would go to more than 300,000 people living in states with unemployment rates at 8.5 percent or higher." And that's why there are people out there who think only the Dems are criminals and only the Republicans will do anything for them.

On the other hand, yes, it's a tax: "Ahem, it is rather ridiculous to complain about BaucusCare being described as containing an excise tax when in fact Max Baucus himself included a provision titled "Excise Tax," that provides for taxing people unable to afford to buy health insurance. That is the reality of the mandates without a public option. It is a tax on the less well off created to insure the profits of the health insurance industry. That is the reality. Deal with it Beltway Villagers."

The Assclowns of the Week come from both parties.

Maybe Ayn Rand was hot for sociopaths because she was a sociopath.

03:23 BST

Monday, 21 September 2009

Oh, by the way

Apparently you can watch "live" here when Mitch Wagner and I talk about healthcare on Copper Robot at 6:00 PM Pacific tonight (or at Seaside Theater in Second Life).

And for those who didn't get the Robert Culp reference....

Political cartoon: Jeff Darcy.

00:16 BST

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Failure for 2000, Alex

While the nation is being led by Glenn Beck, This Week in Tyranny, seven Democrats are proposing to put restraints on our runaway surveillance state - too little and too late; the intelligence budget seems to have mysteriously almost doubled; local authorities are becoming further merged with the military; and:

Spencer Ackerman wonders why all those Constitution lovers in Washington last weekend have nothing to say about the Patriot Act being extended:
You'd think the prospect of Obama making the sorts of claims of far-reaching executive authority that Bush made would trouble the teabaggers, especially when Glenn Beck and the rest talk about restoring the constitution and shit, but they're more concerned about restoring the parts of the constitution that would make Obama three-fifths of every other president.
I have to admit I was wrong about conservatives. When Bush kept pushing the bounds of executive power further and further I thought the right would howl with fury the first time a Democrat exercised those same powers. Nope. They're fine with it. As it turns out there may be actual principle involved here and not simple expediency. Go figure. Live and learn. That the principle is the belief in ever more grants of unaccountable power to an increasingly authoritarian Commander In Chief is another matter.
Interestingly, when several former CIA directors signed a letter opposing a DOJ torture investigation, one name was notably missing:: George H.W. Bush. (And fingers crossed that Christy Hardin Smith will find some way to manage lupus and blogging at the same time, but in the meantime, let's just wish her a long and satisfying life.)

Many years later, Rolling Stone unearth's the smoking gun in Betsy McCaughey's successful effort to kill healthcare on behalf of the tobacco lobby. And yet, somehow, the only thing that feels like news is that Rolling Stone has apparently broadened its effort to be more interesting again.

The Man Who Threw The Shoe - on why he threw it: "We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shia would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ. This despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than a decade. Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. But the invasion divided brother from brother, neighbour from neighbour. It turned our homes into funeral tents."

Those of you who never get jokes about Alex Trebek and Jeopardy might want to watch this unusual performance by Wolf Blitzer, who knows even less than you think.

16:54 BST

Dark with scattered light

Wonderbra Multi Teese balconette braBra of the Week

Is there actually some good news? Susie Madrak takes it back about Justice Sotomayor after one of the new Supreme Court appointee's first questions during arguments is to question the idea that corporations are "persons". And the Heritage Foundation is worried. (Susie also has some more from Matt Taibbi on the horrible so-called health care so-called debate: "What is consistently present throughout the policies favored by the White House is an effort to use tax money to subsidize the existing employer-based private system instead of doing the logical thing and taking the bite - for a bite had to be taken out of someone - out of the pharma and insurance industries.")

Misha Glenny in The New York Times on "Ending the 'War on Drugs': After 80 years of war on drugs, consumers have easier access to a greater variety of these products than ever. Prices continue to drop while the profits of narco-traffickers go up. But - given the developments in South America, Europe and Canada - we are perhaps for the first time seeing the emergence of a coalition determined to challenge a policy that generates unimaginable misery year in and year out." (Also in the NYT, a feature on Michael Moore by Bruce Headlam.)

Howie Klein quotes Nathan Newman on the Democrats' capitulation to Glenn Beck in voting to defund ACORN: "Can the Democrats attach an amendment to the motion to defund any federal corporate contractor that has been found guilty of violating a federal law with those funds? That would pretty much kill the amendment in its tracks since the list of corporate felons is pretty infinitely long. The fact that corporations with active fraud histories continue to receive federal funds while ACORN is being defunded based on a video of a couple of idiot employees offering advice that was never actually processed in any financial form is incredible."

Roz Kaveney raises a call for solidarity with Belgrade Pride: "This morning organisers belgrade pride held their final press conference before tomorrows pride parade. Except pride will not be held, due to high security risks and a lack of cooperation on the part of state and police to secure the event. Serbian police have cancelled permission for the pride to be held in its planned location in the centre of the city. This is after months of planning by the organising team, and repeated assurances from government at all levels, the minister for minorities, and the serbian premier and president, that the pride will be secured and protected. In the last 48 hours the police in meetings with pride organisers refused all cooperation for the securing of the pride, applying further pressure to organisers to cancel. police refused to take responsibility for maintaining public order during the event. Instead telling the pride organisers that they would be held responsible for any public damage caused by the hooligans and fascist groups who have been organising a violent response to pride.

The Raindrops (Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry) sing "Let's Go Together".

02:00 BST

Friday, 18 September 2009

Our long national nightmare continues

The thing that disturbs me about Barack Obama is that he seems to think the Republicans are not loonies. At this point, Even Olympia Snow votes with the loonies most of the time, and we're still seeing him dismiss people who want good healthcare reform and acting like there is reason among the Republican leadership. But there is no reason among the Republican leadership, and everybody else can see that - so what's wrong with Obama? I thought you guys told me he was so smart.

One year later, Elizabeth Warren goes after the bad guys, and Bernie Sanders has some proposals for Wall Street. Plus: Rachel presents Billionaires for Wealthcare.

Jane Hamsher says Make Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln and Representative Mike Ross act like Democrats. Unfortunately, I'm afraid they are. I'd rather make them act like liberals, but I'm all for putting this ad on the air.

Wow, even Bill O'Reilly wants a public option? I wonder how that happened.... (Meanwhile, Obama-supporters who want real healthcare reform don't like the Baucus bill.)

Atrios wonders whether Kent Conrad and "Democrats" like him are really stupid enough to think that crapping up legislation with GOP wish-lists is something to be proud of. I wonder whether they think that this is a way to prevent good legislation while being able to blame Republicans later for crapping up the bills. (Note to Atrios: The problem isn't that it's sugar water; the problem is the stuff they use instead of ordinary sugar: corn syrup or aspartame. Although the fizz isn't so good for you, either, the fact is that we used to drink a helluva lot of Coca-Cola without creating an epidemic of obesity. Of course, we also used to do more walking.)

Congratulations to Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged, who now joins Roy Edroso (of Alicublog - read him here on race) as a Village Voice blogger, providing a mix of local news and political commentary.

Last night Jay Ackroyd interviewed Marcy Wheeler on Virtually Speaking, and she had a great and detailed take-down of how abysmal the current version of "healthcare reform" is. Listen to it, link to it, send it to your friends and relatives, have it playing loud on your computer whenever someone is around who needs to know this stuff.

Trashy lingerie

12:56 BST

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Weave me tomorrow out of today

Roger Cohen wants to Get Real on Health Care: "Some of my summer in France was spent listening to indignant outbursts about U.S. health care reform. The tone: 'You must be kidding! What's there to debate if 46.3 million Americans have no health insurance?' I think the French are right. I don't think there's much to debate when France spends 11 percent of its gross domestic product on health care and insures everyone and the United States spends 16.5 percent of G.D.P. and leaves 20 percent of adults under 65 uninsured. The numbers don't lie: The U.S. system is wasteful and unjust."

Dan Froomkin says the press failed so dismally in the run-up to the Iraq invasion because of A Failure of Editors - but it's the triumph of the corporatocracy, too.

David Sirota writes an open letter to Obama telling him to "Stop Being a Celebrity, Start Being a Leader." I think Sirota has failed to diagnose the problem correctly, and that what Obama really needs is to stop being a conservative.

Remember how the crazy wingers with their crazy "The Clintons Murdered Vince Foster" obsession were just loonies on the fringe and no one took them seriously except to keep an investigation of a non-issue (Whitewater) open long enough to make a false connection to tie-in Monica Lewinsky and eventually impeach a president? So now there's this stupid ACORN story and guess what. Yeah, they miss the '90s.

Jamison Foser finds another dumb claim about liberal media bias.

Get Over It - or, more like, not. What are they going to do, insult us?

Sam Seder was the first guest of BlogTalkRadio's The Reasonist, and explained the essential contradiction in the idea of a "free market" in which corporations are protected from "government interference".

Here's a place where you can send a free fax to any recipient in the US - such as, for example, your representatives in Congress.

One day I was sitting on the steps in St. Mark's Place and Mary Travers walked out of the hairdresser's, and as she moved toward her limo I said, "You should do 'All Through the Night'." She stopped long enough to smile and nod, and then she was gone. But "All Through the Night" appeared on a later album. It's the song my dad used to sing me when I was little, you see. It wasn't one of their hits, of course, but these were. Peter, Paul, & Mary chose some good songs and I liked their harmonies, even though a lot of people regarded them as a kind of processed cheese version of folk music. Mary Travers is now gone after a battle with leukemia, at the age of 72.

"Hurry Sundown"

17:06 BST

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Aging links

Yesterday I was just too preoccupied to blog, and today I had my scheduled maintenance interface with the NHS, who say I look fine. Meanwhile, my commenters have supplied some interesting links.

Thanks to Dr. Geophysics, who found a link I'd been meaning to look for about the Darwin movie, which "was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia. However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution." Dr. G. also has more Beatles links.

"Crystal Lee Sutton, the Real-Life ‘Norma Rae,’ Is Dead at 68," says The New York Times, who neglected to mention that she died after her insurance company death panel delayed her treatment: "While they debated about whether or not the medicine was included in her policy, the cancer spread through her nervous system making the medicine ultimately ineffective. Sutton herself openly criticized the U.S. health care system as an abuse of the power and potentially murderous for the working class. Her criticism got her insurance company to ultimately approve the medicine she needed, too late."

Gary Farber proves that Reagan was a Leninist, without even mentioning Robert Culp.

Since I have no reason to believe that Mississippi ranks highest in percentage of citizens who spend too much time on the internet, I'm prepared to suggest that rising poverty might just be related to high rates of obesity. (via)

How come the election results lately seem to show Texas as more "red" than it was in the polls? Maybe it's those paperless voting machines.

There are all kinds of neat things you can learn thanks to the Freedom of Information Act. (Also: A good reason to support a public plan, even if it's not the one we want. But I'd rather fight for a single-payer system, first.)

"Senate votes to deny funds to ACORN: The Senate voted Monday to block the Housing and Urban Development Department from giving grants to ACORN, a community organization under fire in several voter-registration fraud cases. The 83-7 vote would deny housing and community grant funding to ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. [...] The Senate's move would mean that ACORN would not be able to win HUD grants for programs such as counseling low-income people on how to get mortgages and for fair housing education and outreach." Really? 83-7? Jeez.

Driftglass: "Once upon a time, there was a President named Bill Clinton, who was, by most historical standards, a typical Centrist Republican, although by a fluke of geography and circumstances he ran for public office with a "(D)" after his name. Under his Administration, many Conservative ideas which had long gathered dust on the shelf -- ideas such as welfare reform, a balanced budget, debt reduction, a strict 'Pay as You Go' fiscal regime, a boom in technology jobs, budget surpluses, NAFTA, GATT, official bans on gay marriage, etc. -- were finally realized. And for all of his good work on behalf of their ideology, Conservatives spent eight, long years treating Bill Clinton -- a Southern, White, Christian man -- as if he were a case of flesh eating nuclear syphilis. Because he did not run for office with an "(R)" after his name."

The fable of the guitar player who sold his gear, or how America gave away our manufacturing base to Asia.

19:59 BST

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

People say

More change I don't believe in: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has decided not to bring criminal charges against a former Bush Administration official who lawmakers said lied to them in sworn testimony. An inspector general's report found that the official, Bradley Schlozman, the former head of the civil rights division of the Justice Department, had misled lawmakers about whether he politicized hiring decisions. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, called the decision 'very disappointing,' adding, 'Perjury is often a close call, but in this case it wasn't.'" Scott Horton says, "Holder's conclusion is that Schlozman's political gamesmanship, including hiring and firing in violation of federal law and lying to Congress, is just the way politics is played in Washington. It therefore sets the stage for current Justice Department employees to behave in a similar fashion."

Jeez, talk about militarizing the police: "Check this out: San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore deployed (but did not use) military type sonic crowd-control devices at two town hall meetings, one held by GOP Darrell Issa and the other by Democrat Susan Davis. These devices are the same as those used to control crowds of insurgents in the Iraq war theatre and have been linked to ear and brain injury." Sometimes I feel like we have all the worst aspects of the '60s without any of the good ones.

"Poll: News media's credibility plunges to all-time low: " Public trust in the US media is eroding and increasing numbers of Americans believe news coverage is inaccurate and biased, according to a study released on Monday. [... ] Pew said Republicans tend to be more critical of the news media than Democrats although negative attitudes toward the news media were also increasing among Democrats."

Bill Maher to Obama: " Mr. President, there are some people who are never going to like you. That's why they voted for the old guy and Carrie's mom. [...] You're not going to win them over. Stand up for the 70% of Americans who aren't crazy."

Their Own Separate 9/11

An anniversary note from Patrick.

Pegging the Teabaggers, and 10 Lessons for Tea Baggers.

The Dixie Cups sing Ellie Greenwich.

00:37 BST

Sunday, 13 September 2009

You know it's driving me mad

Now that the day is past, and despite the fact that a search on my archives shows that some of the best links of the time seem to be, uh, renovated, I just want to say that Bush knew, Bush knew, Bush knew.

Boehlert on reports on the teabaggers' protest march: "Yep, Malkin claims ABC is reporting 2 million, but Malkin can't find the link to the ABC report. Funny, neither can anybody else. What I did find at ABCnews.com was an AP report which claimed "tens of thousands" of protesters are marching today. I don't know, in the right-wing blogosphere does "tens of thousands" now translate into "2 million"?" More here. Yeah, I think you'd have noticed if the population of DC quadrupled for the day. Even Fox isn't pretending that many people showed up.

Every now and then I think about the way an American citizen was tortured and relieved of all of his rights in plain sight, and everyone seemed not to see it: John Walker Lindh: "All the legal issues regarding Lindh are settled, but the episode has been largely and unfortunately forgotten. The gratuitous abuse, contempt for even ostensibly trying to follow the law, inability to use anything produced by his treatment in legal proceedings and ultimate futility of cruel treatment that has characterized our detainee policy are foretold in the Lindh case. And one would think the consistencies between the Lindh and later cases would be thought of as key evidence of coordination at the highest levels."

PNH says: "Teresa is re-reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and blogging about it on Tor.com. Here’s her introductory post, and here’s her just-posted look at issue #1."

Dr. Geophysics supplied some interesting Beatles links in comments, with a couple of jam sessions and the final (long!) trailer for the Beatles game. (And I can't help thinking that they missed the actual performing part of performing, if only they had been able to escape from the circus that went with it for them.)

The Jelly Beans with Ellie Greenwich's "I Wanna Love Him So Bad".

21:48 BST

Bright Jupiter and other things

Pour Moi? Provence full cup braBra of the Week - now with hover zoom. (I liked the old way better.)

You've probably seen the pictures from Hubble over the last few days, but go over to the NASA site for some really gorgeous and clear ones of Butterfly Nebula and the sparkly Stephan's Quintet. Oh, and the sky? It's full of stars.

Why Brad Hicks doesn't support Obamacare - and neither do I.

Gary Farber recommends this review of the latest Beatles release from an alternative universe.

Christoph Rehage took a really long walk (and, frankly, I thought he looked a lot better during it than he did before and after). A really well-done bit of time-lapse. (Thanks to Dominic.)

Just how crazy are the wingnuts? Well, why do you think we call them "wingnuts"?

It's hard to believe, after what happened during the general election campaign right up to the end of his presidency and beyond, so many people have forgotten just how ugly and virulent the right-wing has been toward the Clintons. Is it really that easy to forget that Clinton's legitimacy as president was questioned from day one, that in fact no stone had been left unturned in trying to (illegally) keep him or get him out of the White House, leading up to an astonishing investigation over nothing that led to him actually being impeached, and barely managing to stay in office by remarkably few votes in the Senate? There's nothing special about the right-wing's attitude toward Obama. It would have been like this for any Democrat, even if it was a white guy. Something you have to remember about the right-wing position is that they worry that Democrats will do something good for black people. They are a bit more sure of that with Obama (although I'm not - I actually think he may be worse for the black community as a whole than any Democratic president in my lifetime), but the racists have always hated Democrats for that, anyway. More to the point, the Republican program since the '70s has been a concerted effort to sow fear, hatred, and derision of all things liberal or even associated with liberals. Way back then they announced, publicly, that they intended to infiltrate the mass media with their corrupt "vision". The fact that it has reached its current level of virulence is a measure of its accumulated power, and the fact that generations have been indoctrinated with this attitude toward liberals and Democrats makes the color of Obama's skin irrelevant. In fact, pretending it's just about racism plays right into their hands, since it's really very obviously not about that, and it won't be just about that when it's the next liberal or the next Democrat. The racism that's at issue isn't about Obama, it's about poor and working-class blacks who might benefit from the system, and now, by association, every other "loser" the system betrays.

Of course, Bonnie Schupp has been shooting pictures while Dave Ettlin has narrated the trip through Germany, and she noticed something odd was happening with her composition....

01:09 BST

Friday, 11 September 2009

I'm not even going to mention it

Auntie Beeb spoke to a school teacher about the temper tantrum on the right about Obama's school speech, and that teacher was The Rude Pundit.

Jamison Foser is unimpressed when some journamalists proclaim the end of The Drudge Era: "Drudge's thinly-sourced "scoops" and badly-skewed, sensationalist spin on mundane stories seemed to carry the day not because he enjoyed a svengali-like grip over the diligent reporters at MSNBC and the Washington Post who wanted nothing more than to produce solid, factual, balanced journalism but were led astray by Drudge's irresistible breaking-news beacon. No, Drudge seemed to carry the day because those journalists wanted to focus on the gossip, wanted to pursue irrelevant, salacious, and often false stories rather than write about policy, wanted to behave like cliquish thirteen-year-olds. They used Drudge as an excuse, not as a guide. If they no longer feel it necessary to blame their shortcomings on Matt Drudge, that's only because they've embraced the fact that they are Matt Drudge."

Susie says, "Everyone I Know Is Furious." And she points out that Minnesota Democrats once did what we've all wanted to do - take back the Democratic Party. Maybe we can learn something from that.

Over at This Is So Gay, a look at Obama sinking into the right, and some disagreement with my idea that single-payer advocates should create a "story" at the Town Hall meetings by arguing against "the plan" from a single-payer advocate's perspective: "Well, of course, that wouldn't be news either. A tiny turnout of pro-Republican protesters is always news, while protesters from the left will be ignored, minimized, and caricatured." And yet, I still don't think that means it's not worth doing. I just also think mass protests against media institutions that promote lies and suppress truth would provide a nice wake-up call.

D.C. Conventional Wisdom Being Dismantled - From the Outside: "The momentum just about everywhere but the capitol is for investigations to begin and any necessary accounting made. Only in Washington do people continue to insist we keep walking and ignore all evidence of serious wrongdoing. Would, say, a war crimes trial for a former vice president be political? Yes - because his defenders would insist that it was entirely driven by score settling. Would it bring DC to a standstill? Of course it would. I tend to think everything SHOULD stand still for a war crimes trial. And even if our elites want to keep walking, the rest of the world has decided to linger a bit."

Dave Ettlin (who was on my TV this week as the final episodes of The Wire are now being shown), visited a surviving section of the Berlin Wall, and has posted his report.

I keep meaning to mention that Dave Langford has put together a tribute to Abigail frost with samples of her writing and art fanzines and newsletters - oh, and some photos of Abi. Thanks to Gary for the reminder. Thanks also to Gary for the heads-up* on links to this piece about the Beatles game and this one on what isn't in the new Beatles collection.

16:10 BST

Wednesday, 09 September 2009

Kill the "public option" and put healthcare back on the table

Lambert tips* me to Andrew Coates On the status of health reform:

The election of Obama raised expectations for sweeping health reform sky high. But in spite of several self-imposed deadlines, Senate and House health reform bills were not ready by the time of the August Congressional recess, when passionate local debate erupted at Congressional home district town hall meetings.

The Onion pierced the din with truth: "After months of committee meetings and hundreds of hours of heated debate, the United States Congress remained deadlocked this week over the best possible way to deny Americans health care."

If the goals are health care for all and reduced costs of care, the measures being prepared in Congress will not reform the health system. Instead they amount to a massive taxpayer subsidy for the private health insurance industry.

In 2007 more than one of five working age people were uninsured for a year or longer. One of six working people had health insurance insufficient to meet the expenses of a serious illness. And there were 8 million uninsured children in the United States. At least 5 million more people have lost their health insurance in 2008 and 2009 thanks to galloping unemployment - on top of years of progressively unaffordable health insurance, inadequate coverage and steep out-of-pocket costs. The failing economy further accelerated the crisis in health care through devastating state and local cutbacks in safety net care.

Yet the Congressional bills that have come through committee offer precious little relief for these ills, no fundamental reform - and key provisions would not start until 2013.

Against this background, a nascent mass movement for single-payer national health insurance, plugging away for decades, steadily accumulates new force. Single payer would deliver all necessary care for all individuals, lifelong, with no co-pays and no deductibles through a system in which health care would be publicly financed but privately delivered. By eliminating private insurance, single payer would save an estimated $400 billion annually in health spending. The single-payer bills in Congress are HR 676 and S 703. HR 676 has 86 co-sponsors and has been endorsed by over 500 labor bodies, including 39 state AFL-CIO federations.

Whether a bill passes or flounders this fall, the details in the proposals that have come through Congressional committees have little connection with the popular expectations and grassroots clamor this summer.

If Congress enacts reform, in 2013 individuals will be required to purchase health insurance. This is the centerpiece of the "reform." The proposal has come straight from the insurance industry: criminalize the uninsured and subsidize unaffordable private insurance premiums with public funds.

You should read the rest, but the upshot is that as more people understand what an incredible ripoff is on the table, there is a real opportunity to make the case for single-payer, if people keep talking and really make noise.

I actually think this is true, but the question of where and how to make that noise continues to trouble me.

The thing is, the media seems to be dominated not by people who want to cover issues or who consider the needs of the populace anything more than a side entertainment, but by people who truly seem to believe that the priorities of rich, influential people matter more than the literally millions of lives that are being lost to an increasingly bizarre system. They may pretend that they're only shrugging off the lives of people far away who live in incomprehensible circumstances and that they are all for defending American lives - it's easy to tut-tut over Kristof's columns about Darfur and then ignore them while pretending it's because we've got more important business at home, for example. But there is massive tragedy on a scale that dwarfs 9/11 many times over right now in America and they simply don't care.

But they care about themselves, and more than that, they think reporting on each other is actually hot stuff - they think people who are having to make the choice between going into massive debt that will cost them their homes or allowing their own children to die because the costs of medical care are really out of their grasp should care more about the concerns of overpaid celebrity journalists.

Which is why I think demonstrating not at government buildings, but at media buildings, might have an impact on the tenor of the "news". And that matters, because "the news" has a vital impact on the behavior of our so-called representatives, who take their cues not from us, but from them.

My only real question is which media institutions would be the most appropriate to launch huge demonstrations against. It's hard, these days, to find the difference between NBC and Fox News.

Your Beatles moment (thanks to PNH).

14:03 BST

Tuesday, 08 September 2009

Been away so long I hardly knew the place

These two items dovetail too well to ignore. The first is an something I saw on my TV recently when Auntie Beeb had another Beatles night, including a documentary (by the same guy who shot now-famous footage of a band we hadn't heard of, yet) about how the Beatles overthrew the Soviet Union. It's ironic, because the repressive, authoritarian Soviets did just what some of our own elders wanted to do - they banned the Beatles. But it didn't work, anymore than victimizing kids with long hair worked in America. In fact, the repression just made the Beatles cooler in the USSR, and the furious reaction of our elders to not-particularly long hair made their children take a longer look at the "safety" of an America that was more repressive than it liked to pretend.

The story of kids making their own bootleg records on used x-rays - called "ribs" - was exciting to me, but it was hard keeping my eyes dry toward the end when current members of the governments of former Soviet states went on the record to say that, yes, the Beatles really did bring down the wall - and I saw the footage of the historic performance by Paul McCartney of "Back In The USSR" in a former Soviet city.

So, isn't it ironic that people who fear socialism of any kind because they say they believe in freedom are so down on the things that help us try to break free?

Meanwhile, PZ Myers considers his wardrobe options.

19:44 BST

Monday, 07 September 2009

The sound of the city disappears

Most of you should be familiar with All Hat No Cattle, one of the earliest liberal websites after the Selection, but today its proprietor, Lisa Casey, gets a "Best Health Care In the World" award for $30K in medical bills and the possibility of losing her home. Kick in if you can.

Libby's recent encounter with our Best in the World system wasn't quite that bad, but she spent some time in terror of the costs and in the meantime got some "sympathy" from a libertoonian reader. These people really have no idea, do they?

You know, after watching Congress a few years ago actually pass a resolution condemning the embarrassingly moderate MoveOn.org for receiving an entry into a video contest that compared Bush to Hitler, you'd think the Dems would at least want to resist the people who compare Obama to Hitler and then demand scalps, but no, instead the worthless Dems give Glenn Beck what he wants, because I guess Glenn Beck is now the arbiter of what is acceptable discourse, and Obama is looking more and more like the best you can say about him is the worst that was said about Neville Chamberlain.

I think Jack Turner is wrong that you can't negotiate with terrorists, because not all terrorists want your total destruction. The Republicans do, however, and you really can't negotiate with them, and Obama's refusals to defend Van Jones will have consequences: "Van was the kind of guy that gave me real confidence in this administration's seriousness. President Obama meets with generals every day and sees scary reports and wants to get re-elected. I can always make some politics-based allowances for his underwhelming actions. Van, however, was truly one of us. He got it. And to give someone like him power gave me more faith in the president. So when the lynch mob came after Van, it was a test. The same test so many Democratic administrations have failed time and time again. When the going gets tough, do you back your people, or do you fall back on excuses. This White House, this administration and this president failed Van, failed its supporters and failed to honor the efforts of millions that got them into office in the first place. What's the point of having power if you don't use it? When will this White House realize that nothing it does will ever be acceptable to the loud-mouthed, ignorant minority? [...] How do you expect folks to continue to go to the mat for your agenda, when you so easily sacrifice our best and brightest at the whim of an illegitimate lynch mob?" (via)

Like Jane Hamsher says in her very important piece, it was A Moment of Truth For Liberal Institutions in the Veal Pen - and the truth is that Obama didn't simply "harness the energy of the left" and show savvy in using the marvellous internet, he has been busy gelding the left on behalf of the right-wing. But there is real fury among those of us who never went along with being part of Obama's Tame Army, and even many of his former supporters are finally seeing what's been in it for them all along - worse than nothing. This is the Obama I saw during the campaign, even though others thought he really meant to do right by us - but no, that was just a way to attack his opponent, not a stand for real solutions and real change. Thers: "Democrats were elected to fight for the kind of healthcare enjoyed by the rest of the developed world, to stop climate change disaster, to make sure the fools and greedheads who wrecked the economy don't get to do so again, and to end stupid wars. Oh, and to punch back at wingnuts. Fight for these things: win. Don't: FAIL."

I hate to link to Slate, but if I read Jacob Weisberg's "The Republican Death Machine: Who's really pulling the plug on Grandma?" right, there may be no downside to beefing up the inheritance tax on large estates. Just sayin'.

Ettlin is reporting on another road trip, this time in Germany.

Steampunk - yeah!

Ronnie Spector & Brian Wilson with Ellie Greenwich's "I Can Hear Music".

15:33 BST

Sunday, 06 September 2009

I'm just no fun anymore

Elixir de Lingerie by Lejaby - Melusine half cup braBra of the Week

I can't seem to multitask the way I used to. If I have music on, I actually stop reading or writing and listen to it. If I'm trying to blog with the TV on, I screw up the blogging and miss what's going on in the show. It's really cramping my style.


Trailer for Leviathan (Thanks to Dominic.)

Wow, Diane is back at Cab Drollery, and finds Obama is delivering more change you won't believe in.

Think Progress has been doing local coverage of the healthcare forums around the country and learned that the wingers seem to have reinterpreted the 10th Amendment to mean that we the people actually have fewer rights than we thought: "There is nothing - the 10th Amendment he talked about says that all power is not delegated to the United States government - are reserved unto the states," one Republican Rep says, ending the sentence a bit too early in order to suggest that it would be unconstitutional for the people to have government-funded healthcare.

Susie's got Gene Lyons on bringing a cake knife to a gunfight: "Careful technocratic arguments won't cut it. For more than a generation, the well-organized, extravagantly funded, right-wing noise machine has steadily grown in power while liberals have deemed themselves too sophisticated to fight back."

Ruth caught Lindsay Graham telling the truth about torture's intent, albeit inadvertently: "Senator Graham knows that the Bush administration had lied, and wanted to erase the lies by producing confirmation of the underlying unreality. His identification of the administration of war's criminal intent with the Inquisition was very appropriate. Facts are what they wanted very badly to eradicate." (Susie also reports: "ES&S just bought Diebold. So now one private company controls all electronic voting machines in America.")

I suppose it's Rahm Emanuel who keeps floating anonymous White House leaks to the press about the clever plan of the administration to spit on Obama's base or "the left" or whatever they're called this week, but whoever it is, Digby suggests the people who think this is a good idea are not such hot strategists: "And let's face facts, no president ever lost the good opinion of the village once he triangulated and Sistah Soljahed and "stared down his own party." Unless you count Johnson, Carter and Clinton, of course. Running that game is such a tried and true road to either a one term presidency or an impeachment that it's hard to believe the Republicans don't do the same thing." (The Republican idea for "improving" your healthcare, meanwhile, is that the medical industry needs to do more advertising: "Then just a few tweaks with some expensive high risk pools and federal deregulation et voila, everyone gets to own their own unaffordable, low coverage health insurance policy without either the government or their employer standing between the patient and his insurance company bureaucrat.")

Mixed metaphor (via)

I couldn't find the Ronnettes' version of this Ellie Greenwich song, so we'll just have the traditional version of "Do Wah Diddy Diddy".

02:22 BST

Friday, 04 September 2009

You heard it here last

Velvet redYou may not be aware that there is a virtual conspiracy of silence in the mass media about Town Hall meetings on healthcare that don't "blow up". That is, if people unsympathetic to "the President's Plan" don't come in and make a lot of noise, reporters have been pretty much told there's no story. But that's on the assumption that the "unsympathetic" will always be right-wingers who are blowing the insurance companies' horn for the Republican Party. What if liberals came and made a ruckus because "a public plan" that doesn't cover everyone isn't good enough? What if people came and interrupted "reasoned" arguments in favor of "the public option" that pointed out that a flat single-payer program that covered all Americans fully and equally would actually be cheaper than an "option" open only to a small segment of the population and full of administrative money-wasting? What if angry liberals demanded to know why single-payer is off the table?

Jane Hamsher: "It's just a guess, but when average Americans understand that 'health care reform' means they will be forced to pay Blue Cross more money than they do now for worse insurance or be fined 2.5% of their income, I have a feeling it's not just going to be a couple of radical lefties who are pissed off about what amounts to an increase in middle class taxes." Susie Madrak: "I'll repeat: If I end up having to pay MORE money for LESS coverage, I'm not doing it. Let them send me to jail, I don't care. At least I won't have to worry about making the rent."

Glenn Greenwald notes that, excepting The New York TImes, the folks in the media just can't stand the idea of having investigations into illegal torture - and he wonders, who are they really protecting?

In California, there may be investigations of insurance companies for violating laws prohibiting employers from coercing employees to be involved in political action - in this case, anti-healthcare reform efforts.

Paul Krugman says economists lost the plot because they mistook beauty for truth. (For varying definitions of beauty, I guess.) ANd it's time to re-embrace Keynes.

She's got what it takes to interpret the news for you. (Not that there's much difference from this.)

Nothing I can say will prepare you for this (although in deference to Chi Dyke,* I will warn that it involves Glenn Beck. (This is just depressing. They're the optimists.) You might need The Window Cleaner to help wash your brain out. (Thanks to Anna.)

The last survivor of Hitler's bunker says, "The Nuremberg Trial dealt with crimes committed by the Germans. But you must remember there was never a war when crimes weren't committed, and there never will be."

"Dollhouse, power & redemption", and Joss Whedon's speech.

The Dixie Cups sing Ellie Greenwich's Chapel of Love.

16:09 BST

Thursday, 03 September 2009

I'll make you happy, baby

Attaturk expects to be underwhelmed when "advisors" pretend that the cavalry is coming ("President Obama is planning for 'a new season' of more hands-on advocacy for his troubled domestic priority, an overhaul of the health care system" - yeah, I don't think I'll take that one to the bank, either.) "Here's the deal, he'll make a speech, he'll be all rational as he disappoints his base who has no real alternative, the right-wing will make up some new series of crazed bs that 'nobody anticipates' the media treats it seriously and nobody wins except in the Pyrrhic sense." Right, 'cause who could have predicted that Rahm is still ready to sell you out?

They NYT had a good editorial pointing out that the Bush administration pretty thoroughly corrupted the Department of Justice, and that they pointed the Civil Rights Division against civil rights, deliberately screening out applicants who actually had "civil rights sympathies". David Waldman: "While I'm glad -- as are the editorialists at the New York Times -- that these problems are finally being addressed, the truth is that the Bush "administration" had the rule of law in the United States of America hanging by a thread, and resort to the ballot box as the only check the political establishment was willing to recognize as legitimate against the powers that "administration" meant then, and still means now, that the rule of law is subject to the perpetual election and reelection of Democratic administrations. Something for which the track record over the past 40 or so years has been, put bluntly, rather poor. And I suppose it is no coincidence that that poor record tracks rather closely with Republican espousal of [what] was first expressed as a Nixon doctrine: If the president does it, that means it's not illegal." Which also tracks rather closely with the sort of divine-right theory that seems to hold sway among conservatives: That America elects a king every four years, and for those four years that king can do whatever he wants - if he's a Republican "President", as Republican presidents are anointed by God.

If this were about a Democrat, it would be perfectly acceptable to treat as legitimate "news" the statement that, "Some say Glenn Beck is implicated in two rape-murders."

I am pleased to see that our friend Jurassicpork did not shy away from including Barack Obama in Assclowns of the Week #76: Reading the Tea Leaves/Labor Day edition .

Foreigners continue to smell bad. You know how it is, they either stink of garlic, stink of curry, or just plain stink. It's a foundation stone of conservative thought.

I.F. Stone's granddaughter takes umbrage at being the subject of more stupidity from Joe Klein. And not without good reason.

Atrios reminds us that: "a robust public plan will be cheaper, a fact that eludes just about everyone but geeks like us. The media will not generally communicate that fact, but will instead lavish praise on supposed fiscal conservatives who will oppose the cheaper plan on the grounds that it's too expensive." (More here. And also via Eschaton, some explanation of how the debate got so stupid.) Always bearing in mind, of course, that a single-payer plan would be the cheapest plan of all.

The Month in Space

Ellie Greenwich's "Be My Baby" has been recorded by Frank Alaimo, Carmine Appice, Graham Bonnet, Shaun Cassidy, Essex, Melissa Ethridge, Gary Glitter, Sui Generis, Annie Golden, Ellie Greenwich, Cissy Houston, Humble Pie, Ivy, Jive Bunny and The Mastermixers, Jon and The Nightriders, Andy Kim, French Kicks, John Lennon, Steve Marriott, Bette Midler, Pink Nasty, Los Gatos Negros, Money Joe, Sandy Posey, Sande Shaw, Ringo Starr, Rachel Sweet, Reparata and The Delrons, Linda Ronstadt, Ruby Starr, Smokie, Fonzi Thornton, Tiny Tim, Twiggy, Whifield III, Ian Whitcomb, Brian Wilson, The Allstars, The Aztecs, The Bay City Rollers, The Beach Boys, The Carpenters, The Chiffons, The Dee Archer Band, The Drones, The Fabulous Singlettes, The Kingsmen, The Midetmen, The Pete Best Band, The Searchers, the Yums Yums and, of course, The Ronnettes.

15:46 BST

Wednesday, 02 September 2009

Yeah, when he walked me home

"A U.S. ethanol industry group is pushing lawmakers to craft legislation requiring gasoline filling stations to inform customers what country their fuel came from."

Bob Herbert discusses the case of a man who is Innocent but Dead: "Cameron Todd Willingham, who refused to accept a guilty plea that would have spared his life, and who insisted until his last painful breath that he was innocent, had in fact been telling the truth all along." Certain members of our Supreme Court may not mind, but if it's okay to execute the innocent, which is clearly murder, then there is no case for laws against murder, either.

When it comes to healthcare, there is no lie a conservative will not tell.

From How Republicans Negotiate 101: "On MSNBC today, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) argued that if President Obama wanted to find a 'bipartisan' health care solution, he should vow to veto any reform legislation that contains a public option or a co-op. 'Let's don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good,' said Gingrey. 'Let's remove the public option, and also anything that smacks of a public option, like a co-op. And indeed, I will veto that if it comes to my desk with that in there.'" In other words, they'd be fine with a mandate forcing all Americans to buy junk healthcare from the insurance industry, just as long as we don't have some other option. Gotta vote for that, right? I mean, you wouldn't want perfect to be the enemy of the completely awful or anything....

Rachel tells Tom Ridge he hasn't rescued GOP credibility on national security.

Uncle Sam interviews Helen Thomas.

More stupid highschool decisions 3,356: another T-shirt bites the dust.

The Crystals sing Ellie Greenwich's "Da Doo Ron Ron".

19;58 BST

On the web

More apologies for my absence yesterday, but my dentist's current project can really suck energy right out of me.

So, there's this march on Washington for healthcare planned for Saturday, 13 September. You know, big signs saying "Medicare for All" (or even "Single-Payer Now!") might be a really good idea. (Man, I sure hope no one is going to suggest carrying signs that say something really revolting like, "I support the President's Plan.")

Four years ago, Digby reminds us, Peggy Noonan exemplified the spirit of piggery in the midst of a national tragedy. And the Rude One observes: "Remember: to acknowledge the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is not to remember the damage done by a storm. It is to remember the damage done by us to ourselves. It was decades of incompetence, fraud, and cruelty of governments and contractors that have left New Orleans, truly, no better off than it was four years ago. The place feels different because to be there is to realize that all the things you hoped would protect you and the city have failed, and that to be there, especially during hurricane season, is to understand that it could so easily happen again when it shouldn't and when it shouldn't have in the first place. Of course it's better. Anything is better than flood and abandonment and chaos. And of course the city feels different than before. Purgatory's always better than Hell."

Ezra on the "centrists" and healthcare "negotiations: "Everyone I've spoken to in the Senate believes, strongly, that this process is about to break down, and the Democrats are going to move forward on a more partisan basis. Presumably, the Republicans in the Gang of Six process have heard the same and have no interest in looking like fools when that happens. And so they're beginning to use their positions in the negotiations not to further the cause of a final bill, but to enhance their stature as spokesmen for the opposition. Grassley, as noted earlier, is sending out fundraising e-mails attacking "Obama-care." Enzi is lacerating Democratic ideas under the banner of his party. As far as I can tell, the Gang of Six process is already dead. What's happening now is that the participants seem to be raiding its corpse."

Paul Krugman is Missing Richard Nixon, who actually once proposed a healthcare plan that was probably better than what the Democrats are proposing now. Ted Kennedy rejected that plan then, though - and now we're supposed to think this proves that Democrats should agree to whatever the Republicans are proposing. Krugman identifies two of the problems with the idea of negotiating with the GOP, but he didn't mention the most important difference between then and now, which is that now the Democrats are led by a bunch of lame wimps who apparently don't really want any real solutions to the healthcare crisis.

It's true that right-wing nepotism has produced a lot of astonishingly pathetic "news" people, but I don't suppose it matters who repeats right-wing talking points on television since they're all doing it. Nevertheless, it's hard to disagree with Glenn and PNH on this.

Attaturk on Legacies and the torture "debate".

A bunch of stars

The Crystals, "Then He Kissed Me", by Ellie Greenwich.

12:22 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, September 2009

August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
Is the media in denial?
Back to front page

And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image. AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike