Tuesday, December 18, 2012

People are talking

Avedon Carol and Dave Johnson (of Seeing the Forest) were the panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. Background reading:
"What the 'right to bear arms' really means: As long as there have been guns in America, they have been regulated -- even in Dodge City."
Taibbi on banks in the drug war: "It doesn't take a genius to see that the reasoning here is beyond flawed. When you decide not to prosecute bankers for billion-dollar crimes connected to drug-dealing and terrorism (some of HSBC's Saudi and Bangladeshi clients had terrorist ties, according to a Senate investigation), it doesn't protect the banking system, it does exactly the opposite. It terrifies investors and depositors everywhere, leaving them with the clear impression that even the most "reputable" banks may in fact be captured institutions whose senior executives are in the employ of (this can't be repeated often enough) murderers and terrorists. Even more shocking, the Justice Department's response to learning about all of this was to do exactly the same thing that the HSBC executives did in the first place to get themselves in trouble - they took money to look the other way." People who've been caught holding two joints have suffered a great deal more than this. Let the law treat these bankers the way they treat ordinary Americans who get busted for drugs and then maybe they'll learn to behave.
"Where is Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy on Big Bank Crimes and Obama? Last week's big revelation on banking is that it is now official Department of Justice policy under Obama that big banks and their executives are above the law. HSBC was caught laundering money for both terrorists and drug dealers, and DOJ officials told the New York Times that they would not prosecute the bank under money laundering statutes, lest the financial system be destabilized. This was shocking, but consistent with policy made explicit by DOJ's Head of Criminal Division Lanny Breuer back in September. One key question is why it is that Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, a former prosecutor, is utterly unwilling to do any investigation or oversight into this critical policy question? Leahy runs the Judiciary Committee in the Senate, and it would be impossible to find a more obvious topic for that committee to address."
"FCC Boss Julius Genachowski Has Been a Timid Failure: Engaged in Pro Consumer Theater, Folded When it Counted [...] Genachowski's biggest failing however was his timid failure to reclassify broadband operators as telecommunications carriers (against the advice of his staff), putting the agency on unsound legal footing for a generation of broadband battles to come. [...] The truly frightening part? Genachowski is the most consumer friendly FCC boss the agency has had during the entire lifespan of this website. With a long string of FCC chiefs who have ignored competitive issues, buckled to the whims of the biggest players, laughed off consumer interests, and jumped into posh telecom-industry lobbying gigs after their tenures ended, that's certainly not saying much."

Stephanie Kelton does MMT: "The U.S. government is not revenue constrained. The U.S. government is the only American economic agent that can act counter-cyclically. If the government did decide to act counter-cyclically, it could either increase spending or reduce taxes. Not employing people who want to work is wasteful. No one seems to understand this."

"Why You Can Kiss Public Education (and the Middle Class) Goodbye [...] But up until the Reagan "reforms," public education had avoided this same ghettoizing fate. Historically, our public education system was a marvel for the rest of the world, producing generations of scientists, doctors, and engineers from all races and socio-economic classes. Whether you came from a wealthy family or a poor family, the American public education system didn't discriminate. As much as possible, it was a multi-racial, multi-cultural, and multi-class public institution that produced great results. But as state governments embrace for-profit charter schools, traditional public schools will be neglected and see their funding cut until eventually they, too, will suffer the same fate that ghettoized public housing and public hospitals."

Atrios is Bringing It Old School: "Time for this little blog to do a bit of activism like the old days. Get your dialing fingers ready for tomorrow. White House, Reid's office, your senators, and your member of Congress. No cuts to Social Security. There will be a list, we will be checking it twice, and it will be called The Social Security Shit List."

Good for Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who said of the Medicare eligibility age, "We should be lowering the age, not raising it." That's exactly right. Good for America's economy, good for Americans. (via)

"UK record industry seeks to financially ruin leaders of the Pirate Party: Rather than seeking an injunction against the proxy, or suing the party, it has individually sued the party's executives, seeking to personally bankrupt them and their families. It's an underhanded, unethical, and unprecedented threat to democracy -- essentially a bid to use their financial and legal might to destroy a political party itself."

Susie asks: "What's the rationale? Here's the really puzzling thing about this whole fiscal-cliff, 'let's sacrifice a virgin on the mountain top' adventure we're on. No one really wants this, except rich people and the politicians they own. No one. Tell me one good reason why non-profits should, in effect, slit their own throats - particularly at a time when we really need them, because of that aforementioned ritual sacrifice to the austerity gods. It's like a giant game of Whack-A-Mole - as soon as they try to cut one thing, people rise up and say, 'No way, pal!' That's because we still want clean air, safe food and prescription drugs, trains that run, roads without giant potholes, good schools with enough books, and programs that help the vulnerable. You know what we don't want? A massive black hole of a military budget. You want to talk about austerity? The Pentagon owns over 200 golf courses around the world - 234, the last time a reporter counted. (They hide the numbers, just because of stories like this.) Four-star generals live like kings."

"I am Adam Lanza's Mother [...] A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan - they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me. That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn't have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist. We still don't know what's wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He's been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work."
Roger Ebert on how the press reports mass killings
Garry Wills on Moloch
A Carefully Measured Response from tristero.

"This pre-Internet chatroom conversation between Jim Henson, Ayn Rand, Yoko Ono and Sidney Nolan is fake.."

Christmas Caroling with the Roches.


  1. You know what's worse than waking up on Christmas morning alone? Waking up on Christmas morning alone then getting evicted a week later.

  2. The golf course thing doesn't bother me. It ain't just the generals that use them. The military also runs swimming pools, play grounds, bowling alleys, and a bunch of other things that service people use.

    To complain about golf courses is the same as conservatives complaining that people on welfare own color TVs and microwaves.

    The reason the military budget is a black hole is that tons of money goes to contractors, suppliers, and friends of friends of connected people. In short corruption. That costs us hundreds of times what recreation does.

    That's what we should focus on, not whether a PFC gets to play on a better back nine than you do.

  3. Any Stuart Zechman sightings of late? Haven't seen him in the commentariat of late nor mentioned in the VS cast.

  4. Genachowski's biggest failing however was his timid failure to reclassify broadband operators as telecommunications carriers (against the advice of his staff), putting the agency on unsound legal footing for a generation of broadband battles to come.

    One of the earliest and (to me) most alarming signs of Obama's lack of interest in the public good.

    Re Michael's mother, I don't want to minimize the desperation of parents dealing with a dangerous, sociopathic child with little or no help from society at large, but I do wonder if anti-psychotics aren't like Corexit, giving a surface appearance of improvement while impeding changes that would otherwise take place with the passage of time.

  5. Adam Lanza was very likely an intelligence services creation. Such Manchurian Candidates
    serve many useful purposes - instilling fear that oils the way for ever-increasing levels
    of restrictions on the freedom and liberties if the populace, expansion of security (sic)
    forces etc.

  6. Great Garry Wills piece, Avedon.

  7. The parents I mentor have been able to shift their behavior to create an open, harmonious relationship with their teens. The better your relationship with your teen during these already scary years, the safer they will feel in the world and the bigger they will participate. yes now we are here for Connect With Your Teen Daughter with you.