- Mark Evanier's wonderful Mel Tormé story, and here's the man himself in duet with Judy Garland.
- Joshua Held's Christmas card, with a little help from the Platters.
- Brian Brink's virtuoso performance of "The Carol of the Bells"
- "Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime."
- Ron Tiner's one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol
Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman struggled with the question of What is to be done? on Virtually Speaking Sundays. I don't think they came up with any answers, but they raised some more good questions. Like, now that you know that other people are yelling at the television, what are you doing about it?
"St. Louis prosecutor admits witnesses likely lied under oath." Gee, I wonder why people are mad?
I guess it's a measure of how awful the leadership Dems have been that I was actually shocked to hear that one of their rancid number actually did something good when "Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State." It's such an obviously right thing I just assumed he wouldn't do it.
"Snyder signs suspicion-based drug testing bills: LANSING - Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation today that creates a drug-testing program for adult welfare recipients who are suspected of using drugs. The Republican-backed proposals, House Bill 4118 and Senate Bill 275, were among several bills approved by Snyder. The one-year pilot program will be implemented in three counties that have not yet been determined. Under the program, welfare recipients or applicants suspected of drug use will be required to take a substance abuse test. Refusal to take the test will result in being ineligible for benefits for six months." Think about that. Why would you have such a thing? If people are on drugs, doesn't that mean they need more help?
"Investigators Said to Seek No Penalty for C.I.A.'s Computer Search [...] A panel investigating the Central Intelligence Agency's search of a computer network used by staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who were looking into the C.I.A.'s use of torture will recommend against punishing anyone involved in the episode, according to current and former government officials." [froth..sputter...gnash]
It's true that Elizabeth Warren did not get Larry Summers and Tim Geithner thrown in jail where they belong, but I really don't think it was her intention or her doing to make him look elsewhere for a job that made him even richer. Yet, the Bloomberg story makes it look like she set up some kind of special deal to load him up with too much money. It's a weird article from start to finish, almost suggesting that she manipulated the situation for Summers' benefit, but also saying, "Nyaah, nyaah, nyaah, Elizabeth Warren! Larry Summers is even more filthy rich and it's all because you wouldn't let him run the Federal Reserve!."
Robert Kuttner, "Schumer's Delicate Dance with Wall Street: Last week, I wrote a piece in this space lamenting the fact that so many Democrats had voted for a budget package that gutted a key provision of the Dodd-Frank Act. The so called swaps push-out provision, now repealed, required banks to separate their speculative business in derivatives from depository banking covered by government insurance and further protected by the Federal Reserve. The broader budget deal, technically a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through next September, also cut a lot of needed public spending and added several odious riders, including one that raises the ceiling on individual campaign contributions to party committees about tenfold. Had Democrats resolutely opposed the deal, I argued, it would have revealed Republicans as friends of Wall Street and enemies of Main Street -- a useful party differentiation between now and 2016. As it happened, the bill narrowly passed the House, over the strenuous objections of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and most of the Democratic Caucus. But 57 House Democrats voted for the deal, blurring party differences. In passing, I referred to New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, the chair of the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), as an "enabler" of the broader budget deal. Schumer, as the number-three person in the Senate leadership, supported the deal, and, I later learned, refused entreaties to use his influence to rid the measure of the gutting of a key provision of Dodd-Frank. I soon received an outraged phone message and email from Matt House, demanding that I issue a correction. House, the Communications Director for Schumer on the staff of the DPCC, dictated the Correction he requested me to run..."
David Dayen, "Elizabeth Warren's real beef with Antonio Weiss: What her fight against him is actually about [...] Warren believes that Weiss not does carry the necessary experience for the Treasury position, which oversees many elements of financial reform. She also believes that continually plucking top government officials out of Wall Street closes off alternative perspectives and ensures policies favorable to their interests. For their part, former Treasury officials who have held this position defended Weiss, calling him 'very well qualified' for the job. The nomination has become a proxy fight for a battle inside the Democratic Party over how to handle the financial industry. But that has paradoxically released some of the pressure on Weiss himself, and his investment banking career. In fact, Weiss' history symbolizes what has gone wrong with American-style capitalism, with its focus on financial engineering rather than creating good products people might want. His deal-making has led directly to tens of thousands of lost jobs and billions in bonuses and stock options for top executives and money managers, who in many cases loot the companies they acquire."
Stunningly, the NYT editorial says, "Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses."
"Howie Kurtz mansplains the news: Fox's media reporter has some advice for lady journalists: President Obama caused something of a stir last Friday at his end of the year press conference when he made a point of only calling on women to ask questions. That had never happened before at a presidential press conference, and the reaction from most corners was one of approval - political journalism has long had a backslappy aura of 'boys club' bullshit attached to it, and anything that helps break down that nonsense can't be anything but positive. Not everyone was on board with the program, however."
Uh oh: "Republicans Block Reappointment of CBO Chief Doug Elmendorf: Conservatives would like to change the way the CBO conducts its budget analysis."
RIP: Daughter of the Beast. Except, she seems to have lived an exemplary life, despite the fact that her father really was the man they called The Beast (before they started using that term for Ken Livingstone, of course): Aleister Crowley. Louise Shumway Muhler, 93. (Amusingly, I have learned that there are rumors Crowley had another daughter. How did I miss this!?)
Turns out my favorite book was the result of the best Christmas present ever.
John Cleese in conversation with Eric Idle at Live Talks Los Angeles (I only realized this exited because someone pointed me to this illustrated transcription of some of Cleese's remarks about Chapman toward the end.)
Your corset link for the day.
"The Future is Gold" ad
It's funny, it used to be near blasphemy for anyone who wanted rock cred to try to cover a Beatles song (because it was understood that you couldn't improve on the original), so not a lot of people tried. One guy had a good, long, run with it, though. Joe Cocker - With A Little Help From My Friends - Hammersmith Apollo, London - May 2013. (Huh, I never noticed that the lead guitarist on the record was Jimmy Page.*)
Joe Cocker - You Can Leave Your Hat On - Köln 2013
I can't remember now whether I first saw him at the Fillmore East or at Emergency. I think he may have been opening for the Jeff Beck Group. I just remember that no one seemed to be able to remember whether his name was "Cocker" or "Crocker". But everyone loved him instantly. RIP.