Tuesday, July 14, 2015

She's so glad, she's tellin' all the world

Jay Ackroyd got to interview a much-read and much-admired economist on Virtually Speaking: "Henry Jacob Aaron is an American policy analyst and economist. He is the Bruce and Virginia MacLaury Senior Fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, where he has been employed since 1968, author and co author of a plethora of public policy publications, including the seminal Setting National Priorities series analyzing the US budget."
And David Dayen and Digby talked about Greece on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Atrios has a good, quick primer and summing-up of what's going on with Greece right here, a lot more straightforward than anything you'll read in most newspaper accounts. Read it all but here's the pull-quote: "Whatever it is, it ain't democracy. It's banksterocracy. The concept of central bank independence was, once upon a time, thought to be necessary to prevent irresponsible governments from doing, or being perceived as doing, irresponsible things with the money supply. Now the point of central bank independence is to hand immense power to a bunch of unelected unaccountable people engaged in revolving door careers with the banking system. Let's continue laughing at the silly Greeks and their silly corruption."
Meanwhile, the Germans (who owe their quick recovery after WWII and continued success in large part to the Marshall Plan and a generous welfare state), don't exactly have a leg to stand on when they whine about Greece not paying their debts, since Germany hasn't, either.

Alan Grayson is in - to be the Senator with Guts!

Glen Ford on Eric Holder's next trip through the corporate revolving door.

"TiSA WikiLeaked: Winners & losers of multinational trade deal [,,,] Leaked documents of TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement) negotiations reveal that the treaty is looking to undermine 'governments involved in the treaty' by supporting multinational companies instead of local businesses, according to a WikiLeaks press release. The revelations come just one week before TiSA talks resume on July 6. Negotiations have been taking place in secret since early 2013. [...] Even after the deal is finalized, WikiLeaks said that the TiSA documents are meant to remain secret for five years."

The Young Turks on What Abigail Fisher's affirmative action case is really about

America loved the marriage equality ruling - at least on Twitter.

Isn't it funny that Claire McCaskill's campaign stumping for Hillary is saying all the stuff that would make people want to vote for Bernie? Meanwhile, not sure this will endear her, either.

Just imagine if it had been the other way around. "Man Admits To Plotting To Massacre Muslims, Judge Sets Him Free Anyway."

"Florida Judge Says It's Illegal to Force Women to Wait 24 Hours Before Terminating a Pregnancy: Florida Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis blocked an intrusive bill on Tuesday that was signed by unpopular Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), reported CBS News. The bill would have required a one-day waiting period for women seeking to have an abortion."

The Prosecutor Who Says Louisiana Should ‘Kill More People' [...] Within Louisiana, where capital punishment has declined steeply, Caddo has become an outlier, accounting for fewer than 5 percent of the state's death sentences in the early 1980s but nearly half over the past five years. Even on a national level Caddo stands apart. From 2010 to 2014, more people were sentenced to death per capita here than in any other county in the United States, among counties with four or more death sentences in that time period. Robert J. Smith, a law professor at the University of North Carolina whose work was cited in Justice Breyer's dissent, said Caddo illustrated the geographic disparity of capital punishment. But he said this analysis did not go far enough. Caddo, he noted, has bucked the national trend in large part because of one man: Dale Cox.

GREECE'D: We Voted ‘No' to slavery, but ‘Yes' to our chains: [...] fact is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Cruella De Vil of the Eurozone, will ignore the cries of the bleeding Greeks and demand we swallow austerity - or lose the euro. But, so what if we lose the euro? The best thing that can happen to Greece, and should have happened long, long ago, is that Greece flee the Eurozone. That's because it is the euro itself that is the virus responsible for Greece's economic ills."
* "Greece Nazi occupation: Athens asks Germany for €279bn"

Stanley Greenberg on A New Formula for a Real Democratic Majority - Basically, you want Democrats who sound like Democrats.

"The £93bn handshake: businesses pocket huge subsidies and tax breaks: Guardian's analysis reveals that hidden subsidies, direct grants and tax breaks to big business amount to £3,500 a year given by each UK household [..] Many of the companies receiving the largest public grants over the past few years previously paid little or zero corporation tax, the analysis shows. They include some of the best-known names in Britain, such as Amazon, Ford and Nissan. The figures intensify the pressure on George Osborne, the chancellor, just as he puts the finishing touches to his budget. At the heart of Wednesday's announcement will be his plans to cut £12bn more from the social welfare bill."

Lee Camp on Obama's Legacy - Gay marriage became legal because gay activists kept fighting for it, not because Obama did anything. Obama gave us TARP and undercut health insurance reform and prevented criminal banksters from being prosecuted and made sure the Bush administration paid no price for torture, but no, he is not responsible for gay marriage being legal.

A Johnson & Johnson's heir finds that the 1% really don't want to talk about how they've vacuumed resources out of the country.

I was always disappointed in the Cosby show for a number of reasons. For one thing, nothing about it reflected the genuinely funny comedian who warned me about ice cream and tonsillectomies or a $100 car or Sheldon Leonard. But there was also one very obvious other problem.

Macy's fireworks.

Your widely spread-out Grateful Dead Ripple moment.

This is not work-safe. And yes, I know someone who says that's just how it was where she grew up back home in Texas - they knew they couldn't "do it" until they got married, so they did everything else.

Live at Shea Stadium, "I Feel Fine".

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I thought our little wild time had just begun

"Legacy racism. Guns, statutes, and other artifact of our political, and social systems need to go, Fasttracking secret trade agreements. Commentary from Andrew Jerrell Jones, Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyd," on Virtually Speaking Sundays

The Supremes startled many people by deciding King v. Burwell in support of the PPACA and Obergefell v Hodges in favor of same-sex marriage, and Ben & Jerry's renamed its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream to celebrate the latter decision. Meanwhile, Antonin Scalia impressed many with his incoherent dissent in which he (this is Scalia, remember) complained that the court majority was a threat to American democracy Didn't worry about that much in Bush v. Gore, did ya, Tony? The Mary Sue celebrated, and The Huffington Post asked the nearest hippie as per Scalia's advice.

Some people were just always cool, and they stayed cool even as they got older and greyer. Bernie Sanders is one of them, and the kids know it. "Brendan Eprile remembers the first time he saw Bernie Sanders on TV. Eprile was an 8-year-old growing up in Vermont, and he recalls 'being amazed, because I understood what he was talking about, unlike all the other politicians.' Sanders was on his soapbox about Iraq -or maybe it was economic inequality? In any case, the famously blunt independent from Burlington had him riveted. Jonah Ragir has a similar recollection. When he was young, he says, his grandmother was watching Sanders on C-SPAN in her California living room. 'I asked my grandma who he was, because he didn't sound like the other guys who were speaking,' Ragir says. 'He wasn't "boring" and he wasn't "lying," were the words I used as a little kid.'" And here's a completely different kid speaking up for Bernie.

At Naked Capitalism, Yves and Robert Scheer on The Bankruptcy of America's Elites: "And I have spent my life interviewing people generally around power, in government and so forth. I've traveled with Nelson Rockefeller and David Rockefeller. You know, I have interviewed people who became president, from Richard Nixon, Clinton, and so forth and so on. And if I were to try to explain, the big shift that I've seen is long-term as opposed to short-term, that most of the people I had interviewed in the first stage of my career, say somewhere up until 1970, were people that at least were concerned what their grandchildren might think. You know? There was either through family, inherited wealth, or going to certain schools, or there was some sense of social responsibility, you know, that you could find, that we have to leave our mark, we have to leave it a better place, we have to - and just for our place in history, that it mattered. Okay? So you could be concerned, oh, we'd better get with the civil rights movement, because otherwise we're going to fall apart, or we'd better care about the economic condition of the rest of the world, because otherwise it will rebel, we'd better worry about the living condition of our own people here or they'll rise up with pitchforks and toss you out. I think what happened is we went into this madcap period of short-term greed."

"Congressional Democrats Introduce Ambitious New Bill to Restore the Voting Rights Act." To me, that's not good enough. It should simply be illegal *everywhere* to try to prevent citizens from exercising their right to vote, including to use any method that is a known voter-suppression strategy. And that would overcome the Supremes' objection, too.

"Christie's Conspiracy: The Real Story Behind the Fort Dix Five Terror Plot [..] For the Duka family, the arrests marked a tragic turn. They had escaped the turmoil of the former Yugoslavia and managed to start anew in the United States, only to find three sons publicly branded as terrorists. Dritan, Shain and Eljvir, seized when they were 28, 26 and 23, would be convicted of conspiring to kill U.S. military personnel and sentenced to life in prison, devastating the Duka family and putting an end to their nascent American dream. Beyond the sensational headlines is the story of paid FBI informants with long criminal histories who spent a year working to befriend the brothers and enlist them as terrorists. This effort, both expensive and time-consuming, nevertheless failed to convince the Duka brothers to take part in a violent attack. Indeed, over the course of hundreds of hours of surveillance, the plot against Fort Dix was never even raised with them."

Ettlin thinks it's time to write a whole new state song for Maryland, to replace An anthem from the Confederacy .

Over here they're calling it TTIP, but even the Evening Standard is beginning to view it with alarm.

We really need to rethink our relationship with Saudi Arabia. And, of course, the oil industry.

I have a dumbphone, but it's not this dumb.

Hefner: classier than you think.

I thought this was fun.

And this looks like it will be fun for some of us.

Rainbow unicorn cookies

Simels is having fun going all gay all of a sudden.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

She's no fun, she fell right over

I apparently missed linking this a month ago, but Stuart Zechman and Marcy Wheeler really got into it in the wake of passage of the USA Freedumb Act and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Patriot Act didn't authorize wholesale sucking up of everyone's data as is claimed, but most interestingly, they talked about why the US has this bizarrely intimate relationship with the odious regime of Saudi Arabia, on Virtually Speaking Sundays.
* And this week, Susie Madrak and Sara Robinson on Conversations with Conservatives, and why we need to start having them in this teaching moment.

Well, so much for the great Democratic rebellion and all that. Barack is triumphant, and, strangely, those horrible obstructionist Republicans cooperated with him magnificently.

"Bernie Sanders on Obama's 'Biggest Mistake'" - Well, except it was no mistake, of course. Obama wanted to pen up all those activists and shut them up so he could impose his "centrist" policies without any push-back.
"When Bernie met Hillary [...] They got their meeting at the White House that month, and the two doctors laid out the case for single-payer to the first lady. 'She said, "You make a convincing case, but is there any force on the face of the earth that could counter the hundreds of millions of the dollars the insurance industry would spend fighting that?"' recalled Himmelstein. 'And I said, "How about the president of the United States actually leading the American people?" and she said, "Tell me something real."'" And there's the difference between them right there - Bernie thinks you fight until you win, Hillary thinks you give up before you even try. But we always used to beat them with our message even though they had more money than we did. The DLC told us to stop trying, and they did that thing.

"Democrats Who Move Right Lose Elections - There Is No 'Center" - "Centrists" tell a story where there are these people in the "center" who are swing-voters or independents who would vote for Democrats if only our candidates were right-wing enough. It's implausible for more reasons than one, but the fact that most indies already identify with one party or another is a big one, and they've rebelled not because they see their party as too extreme, but because they see it as too "moderate" - that is, too wishy-washy and too compromising with the other side.

"Another Blue Dog Admits He's Just A Republican-- Switches Parties [...] Over time, Democratic voters start to understand that their Blue Dog congressman is a Republican and they either defeat them in primaries (example: Tim Holden) or sit on their hands and let a Republican win (example: Chris Carney). Sensing impending doom, many Blue Dogs, including some the founders of the rotten organization, have covered up their membership-- like Steve Israel and Adam Schiff most recently-- or have just admitted they're nothing but a Republican, jumping the fence and reregistering as such."

"Guess who's being groomed for a promotion? If you said Patrick Murphy, you'd be right. Chuck Schumer is very high on Murphy to fill Marco Rubio's Senate seat. You see, only in the Democratic Party do they go out of their way to promote from among the top 10 congressmen who vote with the other party for the Senate. This can only be because they like that voting pattern and would like more of this, (which just happened last week)"

Surely it is patently illegal to make people train H-1B immigrants to replace them. Those visas exist to bring in workers specifically when no Americans can be found to do the same job. If you are laying Americans off and replacing them with H-1Bs, you're fraudulently getting those visas for them.

All 50 states fail to meet int'l standards on lethal force by police - Amnesty

"The Saudi Finger-pointing at Iran: Parroting Israel and Saudi Arabia, much of Official Washington blames Iran for the current instability across the Mideast, but that may rank as one of the most inside-out explanations imaginable, as Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett explain."

Ray McGovern says Obama is no Jack Kennedy. Hell, I coulda told him that.

The US agency plundered by Chinese hackers made one of the dumbest security moves possible: Contractors in Argentina and China were given "direct access to every row of data in every database" when they were hired by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to manage the personnel records of more than 14 million federal employees, a federal consultant told ArsTechnica."

10 Stories That Were Missed While Everyone Was Talking About Rachel Dolezar

Here's how much more you'd make if you were in a union

Farmers find healthy soil works for crops, bottom line

Jon Stewart, unfunny, about Charleston.
In a similar vein, the Onion headline from last year: "‘No Way To Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens"
Tom Tomorrow on A Confederacy of Denial

RIP: At the Firesign Theater site, it says, "Phil Austin 1941-2015: Nick Danger has left the office. Our dear friend and Firesign Theatre partner for over 50 years succumbed to various forms of cancer early this morning at his home on Fox Island, Washington, with his wife Oona and their six beloved dogs at his side. It is a tremendous and unexpected loss, and we will miss him greatly; but in keeping with his wishes, there will be no public memorial. Rest in Peace, Regnad Kcin."
Volkswagen ad

Lee Camp, The TRUTH About GMOs, The Insanity of The G7, & The Fun of Child Poverty

"What Would Jesse Ventura Do?: Declassify 9/11 Now."

The Night Tube is coming to London.

Graffiti tribute to Terry Pratchett in Shoreditch completed three months after author's death

22 Incredible Facts About The Life and Career Of Sir Christopher Lee

Wow, you could get a Lego professorship at Cambridge!

25 Of The Most Creative Sculptures And Statues From Around The World

Simels managed to find some newly-unearthed Beatles footage I've never seen, and it's the best lip-sync performance ever.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Magic Carpet Ride

Congress was the hot entertainment Friday night as fast-track hit the floor. Amidst speculation that Pelosi would support it, she suddenly surprised everyone by announcing that she would oppose both TAA and the TPP, ultimately voting against fast-track. Despite normally treating her as the anti-Christ, Drudge's headline immediately after the vote was: "PELOSI SAYS NO TO OBAMATRADE; TAKES BRAVE STAND FOR AMERICA "

If you needed a primer on the contents of the Republican Clown Car, Digby presented it on Virtually Speaking.
Digby also reckons it looks like the DLC types are planning to use O'Malley as their faux-left stalking horse. And then, of course, there are the Zombie Blue Dogs.
I didn't realize Brendan Nyhan was up to something useful lately until he appeared with Jennifer Oellette on Virtually Speaking Science and talked about "The science of swaying popular opinion: think vaccines. Dartmouth political scientist/psychologist Brendan Nyhan specializes in the cognitive biases that come with identity politics. Jennifer and Brendan talk about the psychology of changing minds, how our beliefs and opinions are tied to personal identity, and what does and does not work in terms of strategy when it comes to swaying popular opinion." Homework includes "Study: You Can't Change an Anti-Vaxxer's Mind."

On The Majority Report, Marcy Wheeler talked to Sammy about What's Next in the Fight Against the Patriot Act.
Sammy's Casual Friday guest last week was Charlie Pierce.
Sammy also talked to Mark Ames of Pando Media about Seymour Hersh and the Dangers of Corporate Muckraking - and why it's easier to report on government than on corporations, which makes private-public partnership even more dangerous.

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate: "Dying of Excitement: Police often blame suspects' deaths on 'excited delirium.' Is that a diagnosis or a cover-up? [...] The obvious problem is this: What do we make of a syndrome that seems to occur almost unerringly when a police officer is choking, hog-tying, or stunning with a Taser someone with a mental illness or drug addiction? And why do many experts dispute that the diagnosis even exists? While excited delirium is used to explain a significant number of deaths occurring in police custody, the term has not been recognized as a genuine mental health condition by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, or the World Health Organization. Excited delirium - which sounds, to the naked ear, something like 'crazy-craziness' - is not found in the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, either. Yet medical examiners and police departments keep claiming it as the cause of death of people in custody."

Glenn Greenwald had some fun unpacking Max Boot's BS about Edward Snowden.
* Jason Leopold at Vice: "Exclusive: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden. A bipartisan group of Washington lawmakers solicited details from Pentagon officials that they could use to 'damage' former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's 'credibility in the press and the court of public opinion.' That's according to declassified government documents obtained exclusively by VICE News in response to a long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit."

Catholics For Choice were not much pleased with Lindsay Graham's anti-choice bill.

Would you believe that jerk Jaime Dimon actually had the nerve to claim that Elizabeth Warren didn't understand global banking. She didn't sit still for it: "The problem for these guys is that I fully understand the system, and I understand how they make their money, And that's what they don't like about me."

Matt Taibbi on Judith Miller's Comeback: "This preposterous 'dog ate my homework' story is even more humorous in retrospect, now that Miller has a self-serious Twitter handle (@jmfreespeech) under which she notes in her mini-bio, 'My dog, Hamlet, really does eat my homework.'"

There is no reason to assume that Hillary Clinton can beat any potential Republican candidate. She's got a lot of baggage and Iraq is a big one. So is her State Department kick-back scheme, if the Republicans ever notice it and stop wasting time on Bengazi. It's already forced her to oppose her whole party on Citizens United. But there's every reason to believe that Bernie Sanders can beat any potential Republican candidate.
Signs of creeping Bernie-ism: Wisconsin Straw Poll: Clinton 49 Percent, Sanders 41 Percent

Hilariously, one "centrist" Dem worries that the left has 'hijacked' the Democratic Party message. I was so impressed that I left a comment.

David Dayen in The New Republic, "The Scariest Trade Deal Nobody's Talking About Just Suffered a Big Leak: The Obama administration's desire for 'fast track' trade authority is not limited to passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In fact, that may be the least important of three deals currently under negotiation by the U.S. Trade Representative. The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would bind the two biggest economies in the world, the United States and the European Union. And the largest agreement is also the least heralded: the 51-nation Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). On Wednesday, WikiLeaks brought this agreement into the spotlight by releasing 17 key TiSA-related documents, including 11 full chapters under negotiation. Though the outline for this agreement has been in place for nearly a year, these documents were supposed to remain classified for five years after being signed, an example of the secrecy surrounding the agreement, which outstrips even the TPP."
* "Now We Know Why Huge TPP Trade Deal Is Kept Secret From the Public [...] Let that sink in for a moment: '[C]ompanies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings -- federal, state or local -- before tribunals....' And they can collect not just for lost property or seized assets; they can collect if laws or regulations interfere with these giant companies' ability to collect what they claim are 'expected future profits.' [...] In sum, if corporations feel they have been denied "expected" profits by a government regulation, ISDS lets them circumvent a country's courts and go to an international corporate tribunal with their grievance. But if labor organizers are murdered, workers and their families have nowhere to go. [...] While ISDS would give American multinational corporations tremendous powers over other governments, it places non-U.S. corporations (and, of course, non-U.S. subsidiaries of American multinational corporations) at a tremendous advantage over U.S. firms by giving only them -- not U.S.-based firms -- this right to challenge U.S. laws and regulations."

Contact Congress.

Also from Dday, "These Simple Steps Could Prevent Another Financial Crisis."

Glyn Moody at Ars Technica: "TTIP explained: The secretive US-EU treaty that undermines democracy"

"A Federal Appeals Court Just Denied Birthright Citizenship to American Samoans Using Racist Caselaw" - brought to you by the Obama administration.

"Major Monsanto Lawsuit Completely Blacked out by Media: What happens when one courageous attorney and a few citizens try to take down Monsanto? The MSM doesn't cover it, for starters."

And speaking of things you can't see, just try and Read the TPP. Hahaha.

Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

This was the stupidest thing I saw Thursday: "‘Marriage is simply too important:' Christian couple vows to divorce if gays allowed to wed."
* The gay response

This post is from last year, but still worth remembering when Cory Doctorow said "Obama's regressive record makes Nixon look like Che."

Public pot scold William Bennet is back wondering how marijuana and pot dealers stopped being "seen for what they were - criminal and dangerous elements in our society." Well, that's because they weren't, Bill.

RIP:
Vincent Bugliosi, 80, successful prosecutor made famous by his prosecution of Charles Manson (which he later wrote about in Helter Skelter). But he may be best-remembered by longtime readers of The Sideshow for his book about the 2000 Selection of George Bush, The Betrayal of America, in which he presented his case against the Supreme Court 5. The book expanded on his article in The Nation, "None Dare Call It Treason; it became a New York Times best-seller despite the fact that, in contrast to his earlier works, none of the major talk shows were interested in having him come talk about it. In fact, he ended up talking to bloggers, such as Carolyn Kay at Make Them Accountable, who interviewed him in June of 2001. Nicole Sandler, hearing about his death, rearranged her show schedule to replay her interview with him from last October, which I believe you can hear here.
* "Ruby Dee, a Ringing Voice for Civil Rights, Onstage and Off, Dies at 91." Such a compelling talent.
* Christopher Lee, at 93. I met him once and just went totally fangirl. Of course, his SNL guest host spot was unforgettable - introducing the musical guest, and his performance as Mr. Death.
* "Man who wrote famous New York Post 'Headless Body in Topless Bar' headline dies [...] Musetto was already working on the headline. It didn't take long to determine that the place where the torso - the 'headless body,' in tabloidese - was found was a bar, but was it a 'topless bar'? 'It has to be,' said Musetto, who had hatched the headline."

It's always worried me that people are going out of their way to avoid the vitamins you need the sun for.

What happens when they fire all the copy-editors

The new design for the London Underground map from Transport for London has been met with wrinkled noses and derision by many transport mavens, but it turns out that someone has been posting their own alternative Tube map and it has some virtues. I could not help but notice, however, that as with previous versions, Bayswater is still too far from Queensway, an error I really wish someone would fix, because I once made the mistake of changing at Nottinghill Gate, which was a pain in the hiney, to get to one when it would have been easier to just get out at the other and walk the few yards. Anyway, here's the amateur map, which also omits the accessibility symbol the standard map has.

And speaking of the Underground, a little cosplay.

Terrorizing people with Michael Jackson moves

If you can do Facebook, this is an absolutely lovely (and short!) bit of visual art.

The couple from the Woodstock album cover are still together, 46 years later.

Steppenwolf

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

In the back of my mind I know it can't be real

David Dayen and Gaius Publius were this week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays, and discussed the trade deals and the Sanders campaign and its coverage. Homework for this one includes Gaius' article in Naked Capitalism on the press silence on the Sanders campaign, but David pointed out that the NYT isn't being silent anymore, although of course they still say things like, "Her mix of centrist and progressive Democratic views may yet prove more appealing to the broadest number of party voters as well, while some of Mr. Sanders's policy prescriptions - including far higher taxes on the wealthy and deep military spending cuts - may eventually persuade Democrats that he is unelectable in a general election." In addition, Gaius' article at Down With Tyranny!, "Why Is Malaysia So Important to TPP?" - and The First Black President's willingness to put the stamp of approval on slavery.
* Digby and Andrew Jeerer Jones were the panelists on last week's Virtually Speaking Sundays, discussing "in the Freedom Act; differential media treatment of Wako vs Baltimore; the latest from the republican klown car," with added commentary from Culture of Truth.
* "Macro economist Dean Baker and Jay Ackroyd discuss the role public sector unions have played in the labor movement, wage rates, pensions and economic growth and income equality" on Virtually Speaking.

"I've Read Obama's Secret Trade Deal. Elizabeth Warren Is Right to Be Concerned.: 'You need to tell me what's wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago,' a frustrated President Barack Obama recently complained about criticisms of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). He's right. The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That's by design - anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I've actually read the TPP text provided to the government's own advisors, and I've given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can't share my criticisms with you."
* Meanwhile, in political drama, Gaius Publius says, "Schumer Organized the Democratic Collapse on TPP," and "Don't forget to notice "progressive" Patty Murray's role in this. As a member of Democratic leadership, she seems to have had to choose between 'following the neo-liberal leader' - in this case, Barack Obama on TPP - and standing with all other progressives in the 'Democratic coalition,' including every labor union. Murray is choosing to play ball with Senate leadership against progressives. Watch her carefully going forward. This looks a lot like the victory of careerism over principle."
* "Here's how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill" Yes, Ron Wyden should lose his job for supporting this thing.
* David Dayen suggests the pro-TTP forces may be a bit desperate if they are putting out such lame attempts at hit jobs on Elizabeth Warren.

The 1973 Helms Act has unpleasant consequences for the victims of Boko Haram.

The media's sickening Sanders double standard: How the socialist brings out their true colors [...] "This is what happens after more than three decades of economic policymaking that has enshrined tax cuts as the greatest good one can strive for. For Republicans, the policy is tax cuts everywhere and always and most especially for the rich. For Democrats, it's tax cuts for the middle class while the wealthy, who benefit disproportionately from a tax structure that is 'barely progressive,' are asked only to 'pay a little more.' We've become so accustomed to historically low rates of taxation for the wealthy that when someone like Sanders comes along and says the rich can and should pay a far higher rate, people assume he's out to lunch. But is a 90 percent top rate 'obviously too high'? Is it something one should instinctively 'flinch' at? Not really..."

Watch This Atlanta TV Station Expose ALEC's Influence On Local Legislators - Good local reporting is what we need more of.

How to Keep Down Sky-High Hospital Bills - What everyone dealing with America's commercial medical system needs is a plan that looks at bills, calls BS, and writes its own bottom line. So far it's just employers hiring them to protect them from ridiculous costs, but maybe the people who don't work for those people should get together and form a kind of "union" to hire them to protect them, too.

Krugman on The Insecure American: "We learn, for example, that 3 in 10 nonelderly Americans said they had no retirement savings or pension, and that the same fraction reported going without some kind of medical care in the past year because they couldn't afford it. Almost a quarter reported that they or a family member had experienced financial hardship in the past year. And something that even startled me: 47 percent said that they would not have the resources to meet an unexpected expense of $400 - $400! They would have to sell something or borrow to meet that need, if they could meet it at all." But our leaders think we don't need an old "antique" like Social Security.

Reading "The disdain Hillary Clinton deserves on trade" in The Washington Post is a classic experience. It's written with open contempt for anyone who recognizes the damage these "trade deals" have done; however, it baldly admits that both Obama and Clinton pretended in 2008 to want to change NAFTA to make it more beneficial to Americans, but that Clinton was unlikely to have done so and Obama clearly didn't mean it at the time: "Clinton took about the same position and attacked Obama for every hint that he didn't mean it. And, of course, he didn't. Sophisticated observers at the time assumed that Obama and Clinton weren't being honest about their intentions, that both were level-headed enough to realize that the anti-trade sentiment in some quarters of the Democratic Party is neither warranted nor wise. These assumptions were all but confirmed when word came that Austan Goolsbee, at the time a top Obama economic adviser, assured the Canadian government that Obama's anti-trade positioning was more about politics than an indication of what he would do in the White House. The Obama campaign aggressively denied the claims, but a leaked Canadian government memo subsequently indicated something like that nevertheless happened." And then it goes on to call Clinton a coward because her current line of rhetoric and refusal to come out in favor of anti-American "trade deals" encourages all that nasty populist thinking on the left. Your "liberal media".

Arthur Chu in Salon, "Sci-fi's right-wing backlash: Never doubt that a small group of deranged trolls can ruin anything (even the Hugo Awards)."

RIP: Tanith Lee (1947-2015); obits from the Telegraph, Guardian.

How Bernie Sanders Shaped the Northeast Punk Scene

This piece is a few years old but as someone whose familiarity with Rand's work is really that I saw the movie on my little black & white TV a couple times, it was nice to see the phrases that clarify why The Fountainhead never made sense to me.

"Homeless Shelter Is Transformed Into 5-Star Restaurant, Hot Food And Warm Hearts All Around"

This is cool: 3D Visualization of the Anatomy of a Tornado!

The new Tube Map

How to make a font in 9 hours

"Baltimore" by Prince

When Women Wanted Sex Much More Than Men

"The Wachowskis Make Sci-Fi Sexy: Sense8 is this summer's bingeable sci-fi must-watch." (And a second trailer here.)

BS&T, "I Can't Quit Her"

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why can't I pretend?

So, these links are a little stale, and instead of just dropping hints I'll come out with it: There's been a bit of cancer surgery going on. Found a small bump a while back - self-exam had missed it, but it was right on the surface and found it by accident. (Even knowing it was there, I still couldn't find it with a self-exam.) The docs were ecstatic to see it so small, so apparently early, and so close to the surface. A "special" cancer that doesn't much metastasize. They've been all cheery and bouncy from the git-go. Me, I'm always a pessimist about these things, but I figure the worst that can happen is that it won't kill me fast enough, so I find it hard to worry. The surgery doesn't hurt - I mean, there's nothing there but fat. The lymph biopsy left a lot of soreness and made it hard to scrub my back in the shower, and with all those nerves involved there were of course all sorts of weird twinges, but anyway it was clear. I couldn't raise my arm all the way up without pain but I just figured, well, not a good time to join the Nazi Party, then. My favorite part was the blue dye they shot me up with; for three days I was peeing peacock blue. Of course, everyone I mentioned this to accused me of being a smurf. Next up I think is they want me to do three weeks of radiation therapy, or that was the plan as of when I went into surgery Tuesday. When I asked about chemo they said they didn't foresee that at all, and I said good, because I don't think I'd agree to that. I have good reasons for feeling that way.

Cliff Schecter and Dave Johnson were the panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays and talked about the game-changing nature of Bernie Sanders' announcement that he's running for president. Jay Ackroyd also had a guest post at Digby's place discussing how to take advantage of this.
Bernie Sanders on the Issues
And Stuart Zechman and Jay continued on the subject of Broadbased Politics.

I've been collecting TPP/fast-track links all along, and the situation moved faster than I could keep up with but the politics have been fascinating. Obama has been working harder on passing this passel of garbage than anything in his whole career, and just as he did during the 2008 primary campaign, he has proven again that trying to wreck the Democratic Party is just another step in his agenda. I've never, ever seen a Democratic President attack the most popular members of his party this way - a lame duck who is not running for re-election attacking leading contenders as if they were the opposition. And clearly, they are. Obama is pushing back against the astonishing, unexpected push-back from the democratic wing of the party, and the mail blasts have sent creepy little Obots out to try to spread the idea that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are lying or conspiracy theorists - and even Harry Reid is in the line of fire. When Obama accuses Warren and Sanders of sounding like Sarah Palin, you know this guy is bad news.
* "Senate Democrats Are Revolting Against Obama's Trade Plan"
* "Obama Hurls Insults at Liberals on Trade: Progressives called ignorant, insincere, and motivated by politics, sparking fury among President's base"
* Timothy B. Lee: "The Trans-Pacific Partnership is great for elites. Is it good for anyone else?"
* Down in comments, ifthethunderdontgetya says: "I say 'Obama on the TPP sounds like Paul Ryan on the TPP.' In sharp contrast to Our President, I can back my comparison up."
* David Dayen, "The 10 biggest lies you've been told about the Trans-Pacific Partnership" - David also discussed this on The Majority Report with Sam Seder.
* So, Obama decided to go to Nike to give his TPP pep-talk. This is astoundingly appropriate, and of course his minions are out in droves to tell us we aren't supposed to disapprove because we sound like the president's Tea Party detractors. Funny how that happens.
* So the Senate voted against TPP on Tuesday (52-45), but didn't stand so firm on fast-track on Thursday.

"Feingold to run for US Senate seat: MADISON, Wis. - Democrat Russ Feingold has decided to run for his old Senate seat in Wisconsin against Republican Ron Johnson, who defeated him in 2010."

Dave Ettlin at The Real Muck: "Turmoil then and now: Racial tension haunts Baltimore across chasm of 45 years."

Paul Rosenberg is back on The Family beat: "Progressives can't trust Hillary Clinton: What's behind her bizarre alliance with the Christian right?" The Family, you will recall, is a sinister group that influences policy, and probably has a lot to do with some expensive and nasty programs that owe a lot to the Clinton administration.

Radley Balko says "This isn't 1968. Baltimore isn't Watts. And Hillary Clinton isn't Michael Dukakis. [...] We did see a few examples of overt racism from city officials in the months after the Ferguson protests. But a system like this, one created by racism, will produce racist results even if none of the cops, prosecutors, or judges are racist themselves."

John Oliver on Prisons

"The Asshole Factory - Our economy doesn't make stuff anymore. So what does it make?"

14 year old girl suspended for her NSFW answers on this sex-ed condom survey - I'd be proud if that was my daughter.

If you can stand Facebook, I thought this video was good even though I still want to slap NARAL around for some of their awful "strategy" of caving in to "centrists".
* Also at FB, 3-D drawing.

An Interview With Wanksy, Penis Doodler and Pothole Avenger

RIP:
* B.B. King at 89. (Guardian, Telegraph tribute). You know you love it.
* Jayne Meadows, half of one of my favorite TV couples, with her (real life) husband Steve Allen, as Erlich's parents on St. Elsewhere. They were even funnier as themselves than they were as characters. (Of course, her sister Audrey was pretty famous, too.)
* I didn't notice that Annette Funicello died last month. A lot of guys used to rhapsodize about how she was the girl they grew up adoring. And a lot of girls wanted to be her.

"8 Essential Lessons We Learned From the Vietnam Antiwar Movement: The movement for peace in Vietnam has been erased from history, unremembered and dismissed by those in power."

Just a reminder: I keep seeing people scream and cry about the prospect that people might vote for a third-party candidate rather than Hillary Clinton, and of course invoking Nader in Florida as the agent of all our misery &etc. Because I guess it's easier to blame Nader than it is to blame an incredibly long list of dishonest and illegal voter-disenfranchisement actions and vote-rigging and the Supreme Court for making everyone ignore the fact that, dammit, Al Gore won the 2000 election. (Here's the NORC recount report (.pdf) for those who want to get into the weeds.)

I don't know whether I should be happy or frightened about this headline.

Iranian Secrets

Matt Inman doesn't believe in evolution, he believes in Jibbers Crabst. I've already seen some leave Pastafarianism for this.

The Louisville Leopard Percussionists do Led Zep. Neat.

Gosh, I completely forgot about Zachariah. I didn't remember those now older and more familiar faces, either....

Blood, Sweat & Tears, "Just One Smile"

Friday, May 1, 2015

Happy Together

David Brin talked about how to deal with a surveillance society, history and social advances, and the fact that, as Tony Benn once said, every generation has to fight the same battles, on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.
* Virtually Speaking Sundays

Bernie Sanders is running - it's official. And everyone is going to tell you he has no chance, but they said that about Reagan pretty much right up to the last minute. So take it seriously and he might just be president. Remember, it's the primaries that matter - don't let Hillary be anointed without a fight. (People are also going to say he copped out by running as a Democrat, but he wants to be heard, and this was the only way to do it. And we definitely want him to be heard - it can completely change the game to have Bernie out front on the discourse.) A lot of people will have serious reservations on his position on Israel, but that's an equation that's not going to change in Washington until the economics change and it restores democracy at home.

Democrats' Frustration With Obama Boils Over As Trade Bills Advance
* Obama escalates push-back against Elizabeth Warren and other trade deal critics
* "Obama Says Warren On Trade Sounds Like Palin Touting Death Panels." Jeez, what is he, a weird version of Rush Limbaugh? How about "Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are worse than Hitler!" Somebody's all fraidy of those crazy democratic types. "The President's alignment with Republicans, Wall Street, and corporate lobbying organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, and against progressives, labor, and almost all Democrats to push TPP is frustrating Democrats across the board." Frustrating? *sigh*
* "Elizabeth Warren Tells Obama To Put Up Or Shut Up On Trade [...] On Saturday, Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded with a letter essentially telling Obama to put up or shut up. If the deal is so great, Warren and Brown wrote, the administration should make the full negotiation texts public before Congress votes on a "fast track" bill that would strip the legislative branch of its authority to amend it."

Gotta admit, after years of listening to the likes of Obama behaving as if Republican ideas are perfectly sincere and reasonable, it's refreshing to hear O'Malley calling them what they really are. But O'Malley has a lot to answer for himself, and if we take a look at what's been going on right now in Baltimore, it goes right to his doorstep....

Just in case you were thinking this is about race, check out David Simon on Baltimore's Anguish, where he points out that we're not talking about the classic all-white police force. Among other things: "The drug war began it, certainly, but the stake through the heart of police procedure in Baltimore was Martin O'Malley. He destroyed police work in some real respects. Whatever was left of it when he took over the police department, if there were two bricks together that were the suggestion of an edifice that you could have called meaningful police work, he found a way to pull them apart. [...] There were two initiatives. First, the department began sweeping the streets of the inner city, taking bodies on ridiculous humbles, mass arrests, sending thousands of people to city jail, hundreds every night, thousands in a month. They actually had police supervisors stationed with printed forms at the city jail - forms that said, essentially, you can go home now if you sign away any liability the city has for false arrest, or you can not sign the form and spend the weekend in jail until you see a court commissioner. And tens of thousands of people signed that form."
* Dave Ettlin remembers some lessons of his time on the police beat: "Baltimore's Riot of 2015: In the matter of Freddie Gray the 'routine' has vastly changed."
* Charles Pierce on Baltimore Burning: A Bad Night Ahead: "Why in the hell does this country never learn? Why does it never learn that invasion and occupation and bombing is not the way to spread democracy and virtually always comes to blowback and ruin? Why does it never learn that reactionary, militarized policing will inevitably lead to rioting, which will inevitably lead to repressive techniques that the rest of the country, watching on television, will approve? The whole world is watching? Yes, the whole world is watching and applauding every burst of the water cannon and every swing of the truncheon. The country never learns because, goddammit, Americans never learn. Dr. King was right about an eye for an eye. The country is blind." And "Baltimore Burning: The Morning After And The Day Ahead."
* Ta-Nehisi Coates on "Nonviolence as Compliance: Officials calling for calm can offer no rational justification for Gray's death, and so they appeal for order."

"American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, Report Says: WASHINGTON - The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists."

Judith Miller explains to Brian Lamb why she was such a lousy reporter and reported only what the government wanted her to write. And doesn't know it. Perhaps some future Lincoln can meet her and say, "So you're the little woman who wrote the lies that started this stupid war."

My favorite story from this episode of Act Out! is the story of the unauthorized installation in the park of a bust of Edward Snowden. Not the best likeness, but a great idea. I loved that when the police arrested it a few hours later, a hologram of it appeared. The Guardian has an update.

When people ask me what science fiction TV shows I watch, I always mention CSI, because it is. I find it hilarious to think that prosecutions are driven by The Evidence, which is always so remarkably precise! Which is the first thought I had when I saw the story about how the FBI has been "exaggerating" DNA evidence from hair. "The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000."

Ian Welsh explains why East Germans are missing that old regime.

"Enron Billionaire Arnold Has A Problem with Librarians' Pensions."

I think there's something missing from Rolling Stone's 10 Best Protest Songs of all Time. Baez, Cooke, Holiday, Seeger, St. Marie, Guthrie, Odetta, Ochs, Gaye, and so on. Women. Blacks. Gospel.

Ron Paul actually has a couple of insightful ideas and policies, but he also has some very crappy ones. However, his son is skating on dad's rep without having even that much substance.

Why your city needs an artist like Wanksy.

"Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party [...] Here's what my teachers' should have told me: 'Reconstruction was the second phase of the Civil War. It lasted until 1877, when the Confederates won.' I think that would have gotten my attention."

Is it objectification to think Brian Cox is hot?

Judith Tarr is guesting at Charlie Stross' place. I hadn't really thought about how all the psi stuff seems to have disappeared from science fiction, but it's an interesting piece about the rigidifying of the lines between science fiction and fantasy.

"The Photography Book London Officials Never Wanted You to See: Subterranean London compiles the images of a dozen photographers who explored the city's underground spaces without permission."

I don't know how I failed to link to the dead parrot at the time.

Things Pappy Maverick used to say

The Cau Rong Dragon Bridge in Da Nang is kinda cool. (I kinda like this video better.)

I can't believe I don't have these already.

The Turtles

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Some how some way, I'll find out what's the deal

Srdja Popovic talked about a blueprint for revolution on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. The page description sounds a little dry but Popovic makes some cogent points in both his prescriptions for bringing about change and his critique of earlier failures.
- Spocko and Charles Lenchner discussed pushing Hillary leftward and other strategies for changing the discourse on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Sam Seder talked to Marie Gotschalk about her book Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics The Majority Report
- John Legend launches campaign to end mass incarceration [...] "We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country," Legend said in an interview. "It's destroying families, it's destroying communities and we're the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we got to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way and that way usually involves using incarceration."
- It's worth listening again to the second half of this interview with Glen Ford we did in 2009 on Virtually Speaking to hear him talk about the damage the prison state does to the black community - and to black activism.

Michael Hiltzik on the "spectacularly punitive Kansas welfare bill" Brownback just signed that makes it even more nasty and expensive to be poor.

I still find it hard to believe that Obama or anyone else in the White House was stupid enough to believe he really was the magic man who could suddenly make Republicans behave like rational people, but maybe he's just that arrogant. I mean, yeah, he's pretty arrogant, but that arrogant? How could any of them think the choice was between picking polices Republicans in Congress wanted and picking policies that the polls showed 80% of Americans support - and spend all that time choosing to make room for the Republican policies? Is "Dan Pfeiffer's Exit Interview: How the White House Learned to Be Liberal" really a credible story?

Elizabeth Warren Hammers The Endless Failures Of Wall Street Regulators

I did like Atrios' comment on Obama's date with Castro the Younger. Gotta say it's about time.

Eric Schneiderman says, "Gov. Cuomo can unilaterally hike N.Y. wages: How his Labor Department can use its existing legal authority to raise suffering workers' pay." And Schneiderman's office is trying to do something about wage theft in New York. That could make a real difference.

Matt Taibbi isn't impressed by Hillary's "populism" - and who can blame him? "Having watched this campaign-reporting process from both the inside and the outside for a long time now, I knew what was coming after the initial wave of "Hillary the Populist!" stories. In presidential politics, every time a candidate on either the left or the right veers in a populist direction - usually with immediate success, since the American populace is ready to run through a wall for anyone who makes the obvious observation that they're being screwed by someone up above - it takes about two or three days before the "Let's let cooler heads prevail!" editorials start trickling in."
- "How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking to the World" - I think most of what Clinton did as Secretary of State was simply implementing Obama's policies, and Obama is a huge supporter of fracking. Unfortunately, Clinton was pretty damned good at doing what Obama wanted.
- "8 things you need to know about Hillary Clinton and climate change"
- Black Agenda Report: Glen Ford on The Ascent of Hillary, the $.2.5 Billion "People's" Candidate .

"Four Blackwater guards sentenced in Iraq shootings of 31 unarmed civilians" - I wonder how likely it is that any of them will actually see the inside of a cell.

Public Citizen: "ANALYSIS: Hatch Bill Would Revive Controversial 2002 Fast Track Mechanism that Faces Broad Congressional, Public Opposition."
Wyden should lose his job over TPP and fast-track, but that won't happen if no one can find a challenger. Why can't we ever seem to find challengers, lately? That in itself is an issue that has to be solved.

Texas woman invokes 'religious freedom' argument to fight $2000 fine for feeding the homeless" - Good on her.

"Wealth Inequality Is Now As Bad As It Was During The 1920s."

Britain Uncovered survey results: the attitudes and beliefs of Britons in 2015 - It's no surprise that keeping healthcare free is a primary concern of Brits and that the NHS is the most trusted institution or organization in the country. But I can't see why people would put immigration or terrorism above the economy as a concern. Well, if I didn't read newspaper scare headlines, I mean.

The Radical Dissent of Helen Keller

Even The New Republic has a feature on the Hugos: "Science Fiction's White Boys' Club Strikes Back."
- Eric Flint has some observations about awards and perceptions.
- "So far the only good thing to come out of this is #NewHugoCategories on Twitter"

RIP: Our friend Art Widner has left us, at 97. This actually surprised me. He seemed to have so much more vigor than anyone else that even though he was much older than I am, I fully expected him to outlive me.

Mark Evanier has some Stan Freberg stories: Freberg Stories #1, Freberg Stories #2,
- Mark also attended the funeral for Gary Owens and provides a tribute - and don't miss the audio clip at the bottom!

Armenian Prayer

Some entertaining posters

The Real Reason Why Christopher Eccleston Left 'Doctor Who'

13 Everyday Struggles Of Busty Girls

Imagine my surprise at seeing The Currys of Atlantis. It's so not Aquaman.

Percy Sledge, "I'll Be Your Everything"

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Here,There And Everywhere

On Virtually Speaking Sundays, Stuart Zechman and Dave Johnson talked about the evils of TPP and Fast-track, and argued about whether Hillary Clinton would have bad policies. (I don't understand why Dave keeps talking as if there will be no changes in the House and Senate after the next election - the one that theoretically elects Hillary Clinton. That Congress can easily be different from this Congress.)

"Wisconsin Republicans seek to take away the weekend: Born is claiming this is just an attempt to streamline the process, but it's clear as day that the actual intention here is to remove the main obstacle - filing paperwork - that prevents employers from telling you that you work 7 days a week or you lose your job. Since Wisconsin is, under Scott Walker, a 'right to work' state, the 'work yourself to death or starve' choice is now being treated like it's a non-coercive choice and that people who choose working themselves to death are somehow doing so 'voluntarily'." (via)

I guess someone wants to turn Baltimore into a plague city, because they are turning off the water for 25,000 households. This is crazy stupid, just aside from the inhumane aspects. "City officials like Department of Public Works director Rudy Chow claim that residents using water without paying are to blame for the $40 million in overdue water bills. In fact, the Baltimore Sun found more than a third of the unpaid bills stem from just 369 businesses, who owe $15 million in revenue, while government offices and nonprofits have outstanding water bills to the tune of $10 million. One of those businesses, RG Steel (now bankrupt) owes $7 million in delinquent water bills all by itself. 'It's interesting that the city isn't targeting those businesses first,' Grant said. "

Sam Seder interviewed Ian Millhiser about The Surprising Wretched History of the Supreme Court.
- Sammy also interviewed David Dayen about his article on Barney Frank's bombshell about how two presidents abdicated responsibility during the financial crises.
- Barrett Brown told Sammy why he is in prison for doing his job.
- Here's Sammy talking to Jeff Madrick about Why Economist Cling to Discredited Ideas.
- I don't get the fairy story about how Obama finally learned to ignore the Republicans - too late.

Maybe you can save enough money refusing to buy carbs like bread and cereals and pasta to afford to eat healthy food occasionally, like steak and lobster - maybe even if you're on food stamps. Only an idiot would object to this, surely? Oh, wait....

Digby in Salon on "The quiet Social Security revolution: How Democrats learned to stop loving benefit cuts [...] "That is a shocking departure from the way progressives have been strategizing for the past 30 years. Instead of being in a defensive crouch they took the offensive and tried to set a new agenda. And it worked."

"The Biggest Outrage in Atlanta's Crazy Teacher Cheating Case: One of the defining issues of this millennium has been the bifurcation of the criminal justice system, with one set of rules for ordinary people and another for elites. We've learned that justice is a commodity to be purchased rather than a universal value delivered without prejudice. That's the proper backdrop to the news of convictions in the Atlanta test cheating case. Eleven educators were found guilty of racketeering charges - something typically reserved for organized crime - for feeding students answers to standardized tests, or changing test sheets after they were turned in. If you don't remember these kinds of creative prosecution strategies during the financial crisis, that's probably because no prosecutor ever used them. Teachers ordered to falsify tests and the superiors who demanded it, amid desperation to save schools from destruction, deserve no mercy from the court. Bankers who ran a criminal enterprise to engage in the largest consumer and investing fraud in world history deserve our thanks."

"Exposing Hedge Fund Politics in New York: Two weeks ago, several busloads of New Yorkers made a pilgrimage to Greenwich, Conn., to visit the waterfront estate of the hedge fund titan Paul Tudor Jones II, where, suffice it to say, they were not invited in to see the china."

Atrios says all of these rent-a-DAs should go to jail, and he's right.

Also via Atrios, Michael Hiltzik on How Megan McArdle gets Social Security profoundly wrong.
- And "After a story is published, a minimum wage worker loses her job"

People on public benefits less likely to be on drugs than politicians who vote to drug-test people on public benefits.

Two Men Imprisoned For Homophobic Murders Just Married Each Other In Prison

"Ello, goodbye. [...] A venture-capital funded startup is a temporary company that has to convince enough people into using their platform so that they can make good on the exit they promised their investors at the very beginning. It is the opposite of a long-term, sustainable business."

RIP: The legendary Stan Freberg, Madcap Adman and Satirist, Dies at 88

A right-wing blogger got all his friends (known to the rest of the SF world as the Sad Puppies) to join the World Science Fiction Convention to block-nominate right-wing writers and writings for the Hugo Awards. A sort of hard-copy version of a DoS attack on better works and authors getting those nominations, you might say. Vox Day has responded to criticism with, among other things, a video depicting Patrick Nielsen Hayden as Hitler for daring to be dismayed that good writers and stories got shut-out of the running. (And, I have to say that, although the very idea brought us gales of laughter, the actual monologue just wasn't very clever.) Anyway, here is a Voters Guide for people who want to make sure the undeserving don't win, and here's how No Award works. (Luckily, they missed the artist category. This house supports Steve Stiles!)

John Barrowman meets River Song

Artwork made from peeps

This isn't a chameleon!

Why can't I find Boasters in my local shops anymore? They're so good!

The Beatles, and one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.

Monday, March 30, 2015

All I gotta do

Last week on Virtually Speaking Sundays: "Obama declaring he should have closed Gitmo on day one; Israel; Republican presidential candidates. Commentary from Susie Madrak (Managing Editor, Crooks and Liars) & Michael Brooks (contributor and producer for The Majority Report). Political satire from Culture of Truth. Jay Ackroyd moderates."
- This week, Digby and McJoan discussed how Democrats messed themselves up over Social Security, how Atrios changed the story, and victories that could reshape even the Democratic leadership with some effort on our part - Patty Murray for party leader?

"Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Text: After more than five years of negotiations under conditions of extreme secrecy, on March 25, 2015, a leaked copy of the investment chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was posted. Public Citizen has verified that the text is authentic. Trade officials from the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - are in intensive, closed-door negotiations to finish the TPP in the next few months. The leaked text provides stark warnings about the dangers of 'trade' negotiations occurring without press, public or policymaker oversight. It reveals that TPP negotiators already have agreed to many radical terms that would give foreign investors expansive new substantive" (.pdf) This is what the original Boston Tea Party was really about, you know.

I don't usually lead with climate change, but "Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say" scared the hell out of me.

Paul Krugman on the GOP budget, "Trillion Dollar Fraudsters"

Doesn't it seem strange to see an actually sensible column like "The one sensible budget in Washington", about the Progressive Caucus' "People's Budget", in The Washington Post?

"Activist pulls out of Trinity College talk due to 'restrictions' aimed at not 'antagonising' Muslims [...] Iranian-born Maryam Namazie was due to give a talk to the Society for International Affairs on Monday on ‘Apostasy and the rise of Islam' but decided to withdraw from the event after college security imposed 'certain conditions'. 'I've just been informed... that college security (why security?) has claimed that the event would show the college is ‘one-sided' and would be ‘antagonising' to Muslim students,' she wrote on her blog." Which is interesting, since they did not do the same when someone who advocates killing apostates spoke there.
- Meanwhile, is it really safe to protect students from "offensive" debate? "'It's amazing to me that they can't distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech, between racism and discussions of racism,' Ms. Kaminer said in an email. "

At Naked Capitalism:
- "Bill Black: The DOJ and the SEC Spurn their Ace in the Hole - Richard Bowen." That would be because everyone wants to protect the banksters.
- "Epic Fail for the Postal Service: The Wrong Model and the Wrong Board"

"Waka Flocka Flame Didn't Make Anyone Say the N-Word [...] This is no defense of Waka, an awful rapper whose tracks sound like they come from a "Chappelle's Show" skit about awful rappers. But..."

What Atrios said: "If only there were some press outlets and television networks that would give some attention to Senator McCain in order to disprove his point. Oh, wait..."

Rahm needs Republicans. And it sounds like he may get them.

Erick Erickson of Red State notices a problem with his party: "What the hell does the GOP stand for anymore other than 'we're not Obama'? No kidding. He's more competent. The GOP, at this point, stands for nothing and the highest bidder at the same time." Now, if only Democrats can stop standing for nothing more than, "At least we're not the Republicans," not to mention the highest bidder....

Police who stand with big sticks

Falsely-imprisoned for 39 years, former death row inmate to receive $1,008,055.80 in compensation.

Oh, God, Sheila Jeffreys has written another hateful book. Roz Kaveney reports.

Taylor Mali: "What do teachers make?"

"Okay, but it's not just about getting paid to prance around in a princess costume."

New Alzheimer's treatment fully restores memory function in 75% of treated mice.

Massive Underground Ocean Discovered on Ganymede, Jupiters Largest Moon!

Cosplay made...different.

Dalek Relaxation Tape

Minutes of the March 2015 Ankh-Morpork Assembly Transport Committee

Fireworks in Glasgow

1928 England in color

Many years ago, I was sitting around chatting with Christopher Priest and Rob Hansen and somehow we ended up with Chris talking about being a baby accountant and going up to Liverpool and finding out about the Cavern Club and meeting some people who would change his life. And we made him write it all down for us so we could make a one-shot fanzine and get a few other of our favorite people to contribute to it, and that fanzine was Chuch and that article was "Thank You, Girls".

The Beatles