Saturday, May 31, 2014

Madness takes its toll

I meant to have posted this piece from the Bread and Roses page earlier, but I didn't get around to it. They're on Facebook, which many people are justifiably allergic to, so here's the full text:

"We are coming up on the anniversary of the MEMORIAL DAY MASSACRE - one of the bloodiest days in labor history: On May 30, 1937, outside Republic Steel in Chicago, heavily armed police and company thugs attacked workers and their families with impunity, as they peacefully marched across a field to picket at the steel mill after a holiday picnic. At the time, mill owners were refusing to recognize the Steelworkers union. Many workers were shot in the back, others were beaten while bleeding and on the ground. Police bullets killed four marchers right away; six more would die from their wounds. Thirty more people were seriously wounded, with 100 more clubbed by police. Nobody responsible was ever prosecuted and newspapers called the massacre 'a labor riot', claiming it was led by 'Red Chiefs' and a 'Mexican Army.' Mill bosses and their govt. supporters suppressed film footage of the event. The U.S. Senate eventually held hearings on what happened that revealed most strikers were shot in the back while fleeing."

RJ Eskow and Stuart Zechman talked about ACA, the VA, and Democrats' disappointing election strategies as they emerge, on Virtually Speaking Sundays.
Steven Durlauf discussed the Piketty data and Durlauf's 2008 paper Are Growth Theories Robust? on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.

Michael Kinsley has turned into the cranky old man who gets trotted out to yell at the kids, I think. But he started down that road a while ago, and I don't suppose we should be surprised that he came out waving his golf club at Glenn Greenwald. Still, it's always bizarre to see a journalist advocating giving the government veto power over what the press can publish and suggested that somehow prior restraint is preferable to letting Glenn Greenwald decide that he's got a story the public needs to hear. So you would expect lots of journalists - especially those who supposedly have liberal credentials - to be recoiling in horror. I just hope we can put to bed once and for all the fantasy that any of these people are part of anything liberal. Oh, but that Glenn Greenwald, he just makes those "liberals" So mad!

Las Vegas cop cleared after shooting unarmed man [...] This is the consequence when we put a premium on officer safety, giving it more value than the rights and safety of citizens. When I was researching my book, I talked to Neil Franklin about this. Franklin is a former Maryland state trooper, a former narcotics cop and was once in charge of curriculum at the Maryland State Police Academy. 'I think there are two critical components to policing that cops today have forgotten,' Franklin told me. 'Number one, you've signed on to a dangerous job. That means that you've agreed to a certain amount of risk. You don't get to do start stepping on others' rights to minimize that risk you agreed to take on. And number two, your first priority is not to protect yourself, it's to protect those you've sworn to protect. But I don't know how you get police officers today to value those principles again. The 'us and everybody else' sentiment is strong today. It's very, very difficult to change a culture.'"

The Washington Post continues to be a voice for the warmongers, and Charles Pierce has a rather good rant about Fred Hiat's War.

On the other hand, good on the NYT for looking at The Price of a Sex-Slave Rescue Fantasy. It's very difficult to get across to people that the figures we have are unreliable and usually heavily inflated. Not to mention the people who just make stuff up. It's even harder to tell people that general economic issues, not kidnapping, account for large numbers of girls and women going into prostitution when they'd rather not - just like it accounts for many, many people all over the world staying in employment they can't stand. (via)

Could aspirin be an anti-cancer drug?

Union workers see only part of big hourly markups at Convention Center - and middlemen get 150% more than the workers. The "new economy", generates a special kind of thinking, where being a middleman is worth more than actual work.

Maya Angelou on the Black Side of the Tracks, 1982, with Bill Moyers.

"New STEM Education Initiative Inspires Girls To Earn Less Than Men In Scientific Career"

"Permission Slip" - Father versus "Christian Volunteer" (via)

A Great Big Bunch Of Game Of Thrones Interviews To Help Tide You Over

Best privit hedge ever

The Worst Waiter in History

Alien retro

The Necronomithong

Let's do the Timey-Wimey Time Warp again.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong

Marcy Wheeler was this week's guest on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. For background, you might want to check out Marcy's "Why USA Freedumber Doesn't End (What You and I Think of as) Bulk Collection", "The Source of the Intelligence Legitimacy Problem", "No Protection For International Communications: Russ Feingold Warned Us" and all the other stuff on spies she has up at Emptywheel. Of note is "The Disturbing Paradox of the David Barron Nomination". It's amazing how helpless Obama is to appoint good nominees and yet still manages to appoint bad ones.

Stephanie Kelton joined Sam Seder Thursday to talk about how money works, on The Majority Report.

"Barack Obama, Wall Street co-conspirator" - It's nice to see Sirota has come to grips with the issue. "Of course, that many can and do see him as something else is proof that Obama's cynical political formula works - and works well. As I wrote in my column last week, he seems to know that in a short-attention-span country where the electorate focuses more on TV packaged rhetoric than on reality, he can give tough-sounding speeches and be widely credited as 'tough on Wall Street' - even if he isn't doing anything to stop financial crime. He also seems to know that liberals, in particular, want to believe 'their guy' is trying to do the right thing, even when he's trying to do the opposite. He knows that for many liberals, it is simply too painful to admit 'their guy' is often as duplicitous and destructive as their sworn GOP enemies - and so he knows he probably will face no real opposition movement among the voters who put him in office. "

Dean Baker, "Robert Samuelson Wants Us to Default on the National Debt: Actually, he probably doesn't, but that would be the logic of his complaint (taken from Gene Steuerle) that "dead men" have established priorities for federal spending. After all, dead men made the decision to borrow the money that constitutes the debt, which thereby obligates the country to pay back the interest and principal. But Samuelson's complaint is not about the interest and principal being paid back to rich people like Peter Peterson, Samuelson is upset about the money being paid out to ordinary workers (mostly retirees) for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid."

It's pretty amazing that a grown man could believe some of the crap that comes out of the Chicago School boys. The idea that health care is exactly the same as the automobile market is so bananas that even David Cameron - David Cameron! showed them the door when they proposed it.

New Obamacare Loophole Shows Failure of For-Profit Health System: "This new rule to limit payments for needed medical procedures is a reminder of everything that is wrong with our profit-driven healthcare system."

Digby says there's "No hope and change for mortgage relief: If you've been reading Dave Dayen's work over the past few years (and I know you have) then you already know the details of what went wrong with housing policy in half a dozen different ways. It's not a pretty picture. Today legislative expert Sarah Binder summarizes one of the more depressing aspects of the failure: the administration's strange unwillingness to push for "cramdown" --- the mortgage relief program which had been widely assumed, even by the banks, to be a done deal."
Also at Hullabaloo, David Atkins alerts us to a worthy NPR report on increasing court fees that further disadvantage the poor. The logic of the poor house seems to have overtaken our "justice" system with startling effectiveness. "Defendants are charged for a long list of government services that were once free - including ones that are constitutionally required."
Also from Digby, collusion between the NSA and the DEA - spying on everyone in the world is not just for terrorism anyone. As if it ever had been.

Commenter ksix points to an article on "Five things you need to know about Credit Suisse's criminal charge" and notes that, yes, it's hard to want to see your friends go to prison, but you do choose what kind of friends you will have.

If you want to know why southern Republicans think the Democratic Party is a thing of evil, you might ask why the Democratic Party keeps working so hard to push Democratic candidates who are too right-wing for the Tea Party.

To recap: Obama tried to get Congress to have a commission to worry about the important work of "reducing deficits" (aka cutting or privatizing Social Security). Congress wanted nothing to do with it (because it's a stupid idea) and was smart enough to ignore him. So Obama put his own commission together stacked with anti-Social Security crackpots and housed by uber-SS-hater Pete Peterson. Even they couldn't manage to agree to screw up Social Security, so Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson wrote a letter saying we should really do some nice destructive things to the economy and, fortunately, nothing happened except some windbags continuing to insist that we really really really need to do something about "entitlements". And David Brooks apparently thinks that's just what we need more of!

Ohio Prison Shows Pirated Movies to Prisoners Convicted of Pirating Movies

50 years on: The reason conservatives hated Great Society programs is because they worked.

It's just amazing to me that it's taken this long for women to be included in pharmaceutical testing. I've been complaining about this since at least the '70s and I really had thought by now that no one would assume that tests on males were sufficient to account for female responses to drugs. Just another example of how people are so busy inventing false differences between men and women that they keep forgetting the real ones. (And now I see PZ Myers has picked up on this one, too. This reminds me of the argument about using "he" as the default general pronoun, even though it produced nonsense sentences and phrases.)

"Fine Line Seen in U.S. Spying on Companies" via Atrios, who notes that this service is not going to be available to a little guy with a big idea, but to a big guy with a a lot of power.

"AR-Gov: Asa Hutchinson (R) Turned Away from Polls Because of Voter ID Law: Asa Hutchinson was turned away from the polls because he didn't have proper ID as required under Arkansas's Voter ID Law. Given Asa's support for making it harder for Arkansans to cast a ballot, you'd think he would have been prepared to produce his ID at the polls."

Valued Sideshow commenter Jcapan recommends "Western intervention will turn Nigeria into an African Afghanistan" the "best thing I've read about Boko Haram", and Ian Welsh's "Equal Rights to Profit from Impoverishing People and Causing a Great Extinction Event" as the best reaction to the firing of Jill Abrahmson.

Everybody hates Comcast.

Ohio Replaces Lethal Injection With Humane New Head-Ripping-Off Machine

My favorite headline of the week

Dracula's castle for sale.

Law & Order Game of Thrones

Sudden extreme homesickness: I just made a typo on YouTube and accidentally discovered an advertisement for something I had never seen an advertisement for previously. It used to just be one restaurant I first learned about when, um, well, when my friends were stoned and had the munchies and remembered that I had a car and phoned me up and convinced me to come pick them up and drive them to Adelphi. When I was in college and feeling flush and wanted to treat myself - or a friend was feeling flush - we would stop there on the way home to pick one up. (But only if we had enough time on our hands for what seemed an excruciatingly long wait.) Then at some point we discovered that another restaurant had been given a franchise to serve the miraculous dish. And one day, after I moved to London, my brother picked me up at Dulles when I went home for a visit and drove directly to something that hadn't existed before: They'd opened a restaurant in Wheaton, not far from his house! Wait, they have an advertisement now? But Wikipedia tells me that, "There are now over 100 restaurants in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, West Virginia, Delaware, South Carolina, and Florida." I can't believe anyone living within a 20-minute trip to a Ledo's would even think of going anywhere else for pizza. How could you?

I'm pretty sure I already posted the original link to this, but I'm posting this one because David Bowie or his lawyer or someone is being a jerk.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Please, Mr. Postman

David Waldman and Stuart Zechman will probably be talking about guns and gunfail on this week's Virtually Speaking Sundays. Stuart may very well take issue with the idea of being anti-self-defense. But actually, despite Jay Ackroyd's obsession with KagroX's #gunfail habit, David is good on some other issues I hope they'll be talking about, too.
David Cay Johnston discussed Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.

Well, Geithner managed to score Atrios' World's Worst Human award, and he links to Michael Hitzik's article in the LAT, "What Tim Geithner doesn't know about Social Security is ... shocking : Could Tim Geithner really not know that Social Security doesn't contribute to the deficit?"
Meanwhile at Salon, David Dayen continues his mission of making sure no one believes the story the World's Worst Human is trying to tell about himself, with "This man made millions suffer: Tim Geithner's sorry legacy on housing."
Felix Salmon says Geithner is an unreliable narrator.
I'm thinking Geithner's book doesn't say much about how he and Summers engineered the crisis in the first place.

The FCC's Net Neutrality Proposal Is Out: It's Time to Make Our Voices Heard
House Democrats aren't supporting Big Cable like they did in 2010
Somehow, Activists Have Put Protecting Net Neutrality Back on the Agenda

"The touching, eternal optimism of liberal hawks: As the response to the kidnapping of several hundred Nigerian schoolgirls has grown from hashtag activism to full blown international incident, the calls for action have become increasingly bellicose. Some of those calls have revealed (once again) a deeply rooted militaristic streak in America, one that transcends political affiliation. [...] "

Glenn Greenwald on Democracy Now!: U.S. Corporate Media is "Neutered, Impotent and Obsolete".

"Kidnapped Girls Become Tools of U.S. Imperial Policy in Africa" - Glen Ford tells you more than you're supposed to know about the madness of Boko Haram, and how it got that way.

Mad Cops:
"Cop Shoots Dead an Unarmed, Tased and Subdued Teen, 'We don't have time for this' Bang!"
"Cop Who Zip Tied, Tortured, & Beat His Daughter Daily is Trying to Stay Out Of Jail"

We know that the spy program was going on at least as early as February of 2001. It's well-known. We don't get to forget this. So why does everyone - and I do mean pretty much everyone - talk about it as having been instituted "because of" or "after" September 11th of 2001? Because that just isn't true.

Obama's Worst Judicial Nominee - Maybe it's time we all ask Pat Leahy why he is so busy giving so much power to the Republicans?

"Why a Principled Left Should Support the Benghazi Inquiry [...] One would think that those on the left would support this inquiry, as limited and partisan as it will be, on the democratic principle that the people have a right to know what occurred before, during and in the aftermath of the attack. But even more importantly, by demanding a more comprehensive examination of all the activity of the U.S. in Libya in the aftermath of the destruction of that state, including the mission of the CIA in Benghazi, the left can and should raise serious questions that expose the dangerous strategy of empowering anti-democratic, right-wing forces, from al Qaeda-connected jihadists in Syria to neo-fascists in Ukraine."

"Jill Abramson fired for seeking equal pay: Report: The announcement, today, that Jill Abramson was departing her job as executive editor of the New York Times prompted much speculation across the media. Abramson, appointed in 2011, had enjoyed a relatively brief tenure and one riven by nasty, critical coverage, particularly in Politico. Howard Kurtz, a Fox News media reporter, noted that there's 'Gotta be a backstory there.' Ken Auletta of the New Yorker has reported on Abramson in the past, and today reports that there indeed was: that Abramson recently learned her pay package was not commensurate with that of her predecessor, Bill Keller, and sought parity. Auletta reports: 'She confronted the top brass,' one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management's narrative that she was ‘pushy,' a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect.' The counterargument to Abramson's pay request, predictably, is that ownership did not want to outlay more money in a difficult time for print media, but in an update, Auletta notes that a deputy of Abramson's, a man, made more money than she did while she was managing editor." Romenesko has more. Pierce has a few words of his own for the Times brass. But Wonkette wins this one.

"The court that created the patent troll mess is screwing up copyright too [...] The Federal Circuit is the court that hears appeals in all patent cases. Over the last three decades, it has shown a consistent bias in favor of patent holders, setting legal precedents that made the current patent troll problem possible."

Henry A. Giroux | Noam Chomsky and the Public Intellectual in Turbulent Times

RIP HR Geiger

Correlations - This is fun.

Browsing an Incredible New 'Social Atlas of London'

I just love this picture.

Cool steampunk dragon-eye jewelry and stuff

Jazz for Cows

The Marvelettes

Monday, May 12, 2014

You got me so I don't know what I'm doing

Dave Johnson and Jay Ackroyd were this week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays, talking about the trade deficit, tax extensions vs infrastructure bank, profit repatriation and the $2 trillion held offshore.

Cecily was found guilty - A strange man reached around Cecily McMillan and grabbed her breast - something any normal person would recognize as a sexual assault. Cecily elbowed him back, which is pretty much what any normal woman would do. Manhattan DA Cy Vance prosecuted Cecily for assaulting an officer, since the molester turned out to be a plainclothes cop. The judge suppressed evidence and prejudiced the jury.

WTF, Amazon? More patent craziness, and this one's a doozy. More at Boing Boing.

From Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism:
"No Evidence Justice Department Will Prosecute U.S. Banks Responsible for Financial Crisis: "Bill Black is in particularly fine form in this Real News Network video. Black recounts the various excuses for not prosecuting the parties that blew up the global economy, and gives a new one from the Justice Department: that regulators told them that yanking bank charters would blow up the global economy. Of course that's a straw man; Black and others who've been serious about prosecution have stressed the importance of targeting individuals. [...] In case you've got friends and colleagues who'd like better talking points as to why the banks (or more accurately banksters) got away with murder, this segment is a great place to start."
"SEC Official Describes Widespread Lawbreaking and Material Weakness in Controls in Private Equity Industry: At a private equity conference this week, Drew Bowden, a senior SEC official, told private equity fund managers and their investors in considerable detail about how the agency had found widespread stealing and other serious infractions in its audits of private equity firms. In the years that I've been reading speeches from regulators, I've never seen anything remotely like Bowden's talk. I've embedded it at the end of this post and strongly encourage you to read it in full. Despite the at times disconcertingly polite tone, the SEC has now announced that more than 50 percent of private equity firms it has audited have engaged in serious infractions of securities laws.

Amazingly, Politico actually published a piece by David Dayen, and while it doesn't pack the punch of most of his stuff, it does say you already know what kind of self-serving claptrap to expect from one of the architects of America's economic catastrophe and what you should read first: "What Timothy Geithner's New Book Won't Tell You: Don't accept the former Treasury secretary's account without reading Elizabeth Warren's take on all the people he left behind."

"Majority Of U.S. Millionaires Say They Should Be Taxed More To Reduce Inequality: In one of the first surveys of its kind, a CNBC poll has revealed that 51% of millionaires in America believe that inequality is 'a major problem', and nearly two-thirds advocate being taxed at a higher rate. [...] One of the most surprising findings was that a tiny minority, just 6%, believe that poor people do not work as hard as the rich." I'm guessing that you'd get a different result from a survey of billionaires.

"Lopsided Approach to Wall Street Fraud Undermines the Law: After the failures that led to the financial crisis, many taxpayers expected that the government would take a hard stance against those who had committed egregious violations." But something else happened....

Glenn Greenwald highlights a quote, saying, "Larry Summers explains Washington to Elizabeth Warren in one sentence:" - and the quote is from "The Warren Brief" in The New Yorker and looks like this: "In the spring of 2009, after the panel issued its third report, critical of the bailout, Larry Summers took Warren out to dinner in Washington and, she recalls, told her that she had a choice to make. She could be an insider or an outsider, but if she was going to be an insider she needed to understand one unbreakable rule about insiders: 'They don't criticize other insiders.'"

Bill Moyers, "Is Net Neutrality Dead? [...] For most Americans, they have no choice for all the information, data, entertainment coming through their house, other than their local cable monopoly. And here, we have a situation where that monopoly potentially can pick and choose winners and losers, decide what you see"

Regular listeners of The Majority Report know that Sam Seder takes great delight in getting calls from libertarians and challenging them to make their case. And from time to time people suggest to him that he ought to have someone on the show as a guest who is a bit more coherent than some of the libertarian callers (nearly all of whom seem to have issues with their telephones). So it came to pass that someone recommended an actual College Professor to debate him, wasn't any better than random wankers, except for the comedy of him expecting Sam to behave like a student listening to a lecture instead of treating it like it was, you know, his own radio show.

Glenn Greenwald on "Keith Alexander Unplugged: on Bush/Obama, 1.7 million stolen documents and other matters" - This long "interview" with the recently retired NSA chief generated many quotes, and gave Glenn plenty of meat to get into: "There are few things in life more ironic than being accused by U.S. Generals, including those who participated in the war in Iraq, of being responsible for the loss of lives. For that sort of irony, nothing will beat that episode where the US Pentagon chief and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that WikiLeaks - not themselves, but WikiLeaks - has 'blood on its hands' by virtue of publishing documents about the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In the world of the U.S. National Security State and its loyal media, those who go around the world killing innocent people over and over are noble and heroic, while those who report on what they do are the ones with 'blood on their hands'."

Digby posted a good little discussion on Twitter between Glennzilla and Billmon about the new anti-Russia hatefest. Here's one from Glenn I quite liked: "Yep - been a neocon tactic for years (save the gays by bombing Iran! - war in Afghanistan for the women!) - it's working well here."

Thomas Piketty's 'Capital' in 3 Minutes

Fact-Checking Hillary Clinton's Comments About Edward Snowden and the NSA
How Bill Clinton is going to help remind Democrats not to vote for a Clinton

One teacher's answer

A quick history of racial policy in America - clip from the half-hour documentary Legalize Democracy, which you can watch in full for free.

Everything Obama says.

This cartoon made me think of Obama's speeches.

Important chocolate news

R. Crumb's short history of America, in 52 illustrated seconds

I apologize for this animated .gif.

The quick brown fox jumps....

Librarian Rap

Somebody make me a framed copy of this for my wall.

The laid-back smooth jazz of Professor RJ Ross

20 minutes of live Rascals, makes me feel good.

The papers loved the musical about The Kinks.

"You Really Got Me", live

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Only the echoes of my mind

Avedon Carol and Stuart Zechman are tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. We will probably talk about net neutrality and maybe this:
I actually listened live to the Munk Debate with Glenn Greenwald and Alexis Ohanian versus Michael Hayden and Alan Dershowitz, which was action-packed adventure. You can watch it on YouTube, and the debate vote results are here. I think it's fair to say that Hayden talked rubbish and Dershowitz was sheer sophistry. Glenn gets in a nice kicker toward the end that completely refutes any arguments about the security of the system, which is simply that Snowden did what he did and there was nothing in the system that prevented that. Marcy Wheeler has posted a little fact-check on Hayden.

"Justice Scalia Makes Epic Blunder In Supreme Court Opinion [...] The problem: the EPA's position in the 2001 case was exactly the opposite. The agency was defending its refusal to consider cost as a counter-weight to health benefits when setting certain air quality standards. It was the trucking industry that wanted the EPA to factor in cost. The 9-0 ruling sided with the EPA. The author of the ruling that Scalia mischaracterized? Scalia himself." Musta been one of them senior moments.

"The Rise of Corporate Impunity [...] But the crackdown never happened. Over the past year, I've interviewed Wall Street traders, bank executives, defense lawyers and dozens of current and former prosecutors to understand why the largest man-made economic catastrophe since the Depression resulted in the jailing of a single investment banker - one who happened to be several rungs from the corporate suite at a second-tier financial institution."

"US death row study: 4% of defendants sentenced to die are innocent: Deliberately conservative figure lays bare extent of possible miscarriages of justice suggesting that the innocence of more than 200 prisoners still in the system may never be recognised."

"Alex Pareene Joins Matt Taibbi's New Digital Magazine as Executive Editor" - First Look seems to be scarfing up every journalist who's worth the candle. I hope Rolling Stone and Salon nurturing new ones to replace them who will be in the same class, 'cause I hate to see all the eggs end up in the same basket. (Also, I hate it that FL's homepage doesn't link directly to The Intercept. It should have links to any of its magazines right there.)

Atrios has Free Advice For Republicans - with a handy graphic!

"Why can't we just get back to the good ol Reagan times?"

Toles on the fundamentals of the economy

"The curious tale of the economist and the Cezanne in the hedge" - Thank you, Mr. Keynes.

Optical illusions at the beach

The version of "Everybody's Talkin'" that isn't a cover.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Date it tomorrow but mail it today

John Nichols in The Nation, "Net Neutrality Will Be Saved Only If Citizens Raise an Outcry" - Candidate Obama sounded like he supported net neutrality, but President Obama appointed an industry lobbyist to head the FCC. It's time for the public to exert its influence, and yes, we do still have some influence - but only if we get together and do the business.
David Dayen talked about the FCC's position on net neutrality, and what you can do to try to get them to do the business, on Wednesday's Majority Report.

Digby and RJ Eskow were this week's guests on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Matt Taibbi was an The Majority Report talking about The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.

Matt Stoller is saying America is not an oligarchy - yet, which I might argue with, but he does make this point:

A lot of people are misreading this Princeton study on the political influence of the wealthy and business groups versus ordinary citizens. The study does not say that the US is an oligarchy, wherein the wealthy control politics with an iron fist. If it were, then things like Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, veterans programs, housing finance programs, etc wouldn't exist.

What the study actually says is that American voters are disorganized and their individualized preferences don't matter unless voters group themselves into mass membership organizations. Then, if people belong to mass membership organizations, their preferences do matter, but less so than business groups and the wealthy.

He heads the article with that great quote Martin Sheen has in Wall Street that goes, "The rich have been doing it to the poor since the beginning of time. The only difference between the Pyramids and the Empire State Building is the Egyptians didn't allow unions." (Yep, they told you all this back in 1985, but not enough people were listening.)

Ian Welsh on "The Prelude to the End of the American Era: And so it begins. Russia is not restraining the separatists, the Kiev government is finally really sending in the troops, Barack Obama and EU leaders claim they will impose real sanctions and Russia and China are set to ink a deal to export Russian Gas to China, the world's industrial heartland. If the sanctions are imposed, for whatever reason (Russian invasion or not), they will force the creation of a second economic, non-dollar bloc. Russia is not Iran, and China is not going to cut off Russia to please the West, rather the contrary. The creation of a real non dollar bloc which can make almost anything people want, and which has access to essentially all key resources from oil to rare minerals, metals and food is an existential threat to the hegemony of the West and its allies like Japan and Korea."

On All In, Chris Hayes talks to Thomas Piketty: "capital is a multi-dimensional concept'".
Krugman on The Piketty Panic from the right: "No, what's really new about Capital is the way it demolishes that most cherished of conservative myths, the insistence that we're living in a meritocracy in which great wealth is earned and deserved."
"Elizabeth Warren Simplifies Thomas Piketty: 'Trickle Down Doesn't Work. Never Did'."

"Obama Administration Argues in Favor of Right to Fire Public Employees Who Testify at Corruption Trials [...] Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked, 'What are you doing about the truth finding functions of a trial setting when you're saying or telling people, employee, don't go and tell the truth because if the truth hurts your employer you're going to be fired?' And, 'What kind of message are we giving when we're telling employees, [who are] subpoenaed [for] any reason in a trial, go and tell a falsehood otherwise you can be fired?'

The Fourth Amendment Takes Yet Another Body Blow [...] More important is Navarette vs. California, which has real potential to do some long-term damage. In this case, a 911 caller reported an erratic driver, who was then pulled over and eventually convicted of transporting four bags of marijuana. The police had no probable cause to stop the driver except for that one anonymous phone call, but the Court upheld the conviction anyway. Justice Scalia is typically apoplectic in his dissent, but nonetheless makes some good points" - Scalia being right for a change is itself big news.

Jonathan Cohn wrote an entire article called "Cause for Concern: Health-care costs are rising - and the experts aren't sure why prices keep rising" that doesn't mention the secret committee that decides how much to overcharge you for health care, with the connivance of our government: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Perhaps Cohn needs to study the subject.
"Obamacare: The Biggest Insurance Scam in History [...] The industries that profit from our current health care system wrote the legislation, heavily influenced the regulations and have received waivers exempting them from provisions in the law. This has all been done to protect and enhance their profits."

Radley Balko and Policing and the deaf, and Marlee Matlin on what everyone should know about dealing with the police - especially if you are deaf.

"Pork" is the stuff that, in theory, your legislators bring back to your state to spend on its people - that is, on you. No matter that we know it doesn't seem to be happening that way at the moment, the whole idea that "earmarks" are necessarily wasteful is just another right-wing meme that works for them because it says that bringing money back to the people is actually not a good thing. Kudos to Atrios for trying to get people to remember this.

The New York Times finally figures out what David Dayen said two months ago: that the economy can't recover if people have no money.

"Parents Call Cops to Stop Kids From Handing Out Banned Book [...] Earlier this month, parents convinced Idaho's Meridian school district to ban Sherman Alexie's National Book Award-winning Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian over the objections of 350 students who signed a petition to keep it. According to the local paper, the Statesman, adults argued at a meeting that the book contains offensive words 'we do not speak in our home,' while others objected to a 'reference to masturbation,' and called the book 'anti-Christian.'"

If this sounds almost like something George Carlin would say, that's because he said something like it, but not about government.

"How to Starve the For-Profit Prison Beast [...] Introducing a cell phone into a correctional facility used to be a misdemeanor in Oklahoma. Now, it's a felony. This change did not happen for any reason other than a private prison lobbyist provided his client with a good way to make even more revenue off of people already imprisoned. Bumping this crime up from a misdemeanor to a felony means that when a person is caught with a cell phone in prison, he or she will end up staying in prison even longer; in most cases the new sentence will be added to the end of the existing one, instead of allowing people to serve time for both the crime that landed them behind bars and the cell phone infraction simultaneously. More prison time, more profits."

Dean Baker looks at the latest contribution from The Washington Post to the age war: "Robert Samuelson Is Badly Confused About the Well-Being of Retirees." Apparently, $12K a year makes you rich or something, so old people are really rolling in it.

Yes, what we really need is another Democratic presidential candidate who mocks Snowden. But then, we didn't really need another DLC troll, anyway. Just leaving aside the dynasty part.

This cartoon caught my eye - there's no longer anything radical about thinking the NYT belongs in the fiction section - but if you can stand Facebook, there's a story that goes with it.

Matt Bruenig on the incivility of the way Megan McArdle and David Brooks write about the poor. (via)

Was David Graeber evicted for political reasons? That's the author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years, and his tweet says, "There is a pattern here: almost everyone mentioned in press as involved in early days of OWS has been getting administrative harassment."

Political cartoon: The most transparent administration in history

The Donald Sterling thing really kinda defies credulity. I honestly don't think I've ever heard anything like it, and I've met a number of interesting racists in my life. It does expose a way of thinking that you really can't imagine any normal person having, and it's not just about race. This is what happens when you let people get way, way too rich. Fortunately, the NBA players all threatened to boycott playoffs, and now Sterling is banned for life from basketball, but jeez.

Headline that looks like it was create from MadLibs: "Arkansas ex-cop killed while trying to set anti-corruption blogger's hot dog cart on fire."

Vox Day's Hugo nomination has caused a bit of a dust-up in science fiction fandom, which has not escaped Brad DeLong's notice. But I'm linking to this because it gives you easy access to Lois McMaster Bujold's thoughts on the reader as the unsung collaborator in an author's work, which is really worth readying. For more on the kerfluffle, check out John Scalzi, PNH, TNH, and the ensuing comments.

"Original Chaucer manuscript in Aberystwyth goes online"

Anna tells me it's time to write a letter to Santa: "DEAL ALERT/John Martyn: the Island Years 18-disc box"

Cake Wrecks for National Princess Week

You know exactly what was going through Bruce's mind when he was doing this.

Acyrologia - now you know a high-falutin' name for it.


Jerry Butler, "Western Union Man"