Sunday, July 27, 2014

One can have a dream, baby

Tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays are Digby and Gaius Publius. Should be good.
Last week on Sunday, Susie Madrak talked with Jay Ackroyd.

Well, Obama finally mentioned something everyone expected him to deal with early in his first term: "Obama presses to end corporate trick for evading taxes: (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday hammered U.S. companies that avoid federal taxes by shifting their tax domiciles overseas in deals known as "inversions" and called on Congress to pass a bill to end the practice." In the olden days, of course, there was no incentive for companies to do this stuff since we deliberately imposed tariffs to make it more expensive to be a foreign company than to be an American company. We did that because we believed in a thing called "protectionism"; that is, protecting American workers - and the American economy - from unfair competition, either from subsidized foreign companies or from countries that allowed workers to be abused or even used as slave labor in order to undercut fair prices in the US. On Virtually Speaking, Dave Johnson spoke with Frank Clemente of Americans for Tax Fairness about how these little tricks work.

Corruption: With Albany rocked by a seemingly endless barrage of scandals and arrests, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo set up a high-powered commission last summer to root out corruption in state politics. It was barely two months old when its investigators, hunting for violations of campaign-finance laws, issued a subpoena to a media-buying firm that had placed millions of dollars' worth of advertisements for the New York State Democratic Party. The investigators did not realize that the firm, Buying Time, also counted Mr. Cuomo among its clients, having bought the airtime for his campaign when he ran for governor in 2010. Word that the subpoena had been served quickly reached Mr. Cuomo's most senior aide, Lawrence S. Schwartz. He called one of the commission's three co-chairs, William J. Fitzpatrick, the district attorney in Syracuse. And that was the end of that. "Zephyr Teachout to Andrew Cuomo: Resign Now"

"'We don't want politicians who've gotta be cajoled': Keith Ellison unloads to Salon" - interviewed by David Dayen.

"Chris Dodd Warns Of Coalition Between Populist Democrats And Republicans: WASHINGTON -- The rise of anti-corporate conservatives is a significant threat to the American banking establishment, according to former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who warned a gathering of Beltway centrists on Tuesday about a potentially formidable coalition between hard-line banking critics in both parties. [...] 'There's a new right emerging in the country which is as hostile, in my view, to financial services, as many on the left have been over the years,' Dodd told an audience at a Bipartisan Policy Center event Tuesday. Dodd appeared to be worried that if these "hostile" folks got together they might make Dodd-Frank into a bill that does what everyone hoped it would do in the first place, or something. Why should bipartisan efforts to reign-in the banksters be a problem for the Bipartisan Policy Center? Well. "In D.C. political circles, however, 'bipartisanship' is often used as a shorthand way to describe policies and reforms that are friendly to corporations, favored by corporate elites, or both. This is sometimes referred to as being 'moderate,' 'centrist' or 'bipartisan' because traditionally such policies have been able to find support among both Republicans and Democrats."

Glen Ford, "U.S. Funds 'Terror Studies' to Dissect and Neutralize Social Movements: The U.S. Department of Defense is immersed in studies about...people like you. The Pentagon wants to know why folks who don't themselves engage in violence to overthrow the prevailing order become, what the military calls, 'supporters of political violence.' And by that they mean, everyone who opposes U.S. military policy in the world, or the repressive policies of U.S. allies and proxies, or who opposes the racially repressive U.S. criminal justice system, or who wants to push the One Percent off their economic and political pedestals so they can't lord it over the rest of us."

Dean Baker, "More Confusion on Sovaldi and Government Granted Monopolies at the Washington Post" - WaPo says this drug for Hepatitis C costs less in Egypt ($900) than in the US ($84,000) because "Sovaldi is cheaper in countries where the government sets drug prices." But, as Baker points out, "This is almost the opposite of reality. The price is very high in the United States because the government gives Gilead Sciences (the drug's patent holder) a complete monopoly on the drug's sale. The price is low in Egypt because there is no patent monopoly and manufacturers are free to sell generic versions of the drug. That means the price in Egypt is closer to a free market price. The price in the U.S. is a price that is high because the government will arrest competitors."

Cenk, "Al Jazeera Journalists Targeted By Expanding Israeli War Machine?"

"How VA Reform Fell Apart In Less Than 4 Days" - Republicans complain about costs, but if they really meant it, they'd complain about bringing private commercial interests into the system to siphon off money. Privatizing any part of the VA is obviously going to cost more. So don't. Just fully fund the VA and fix it.

Ian Welsh on "The Barbarism of ISIL, the Taliban and Wahhabism and collapse of hegemonic ideology" - No pull-quote, it's one to read through.

The Democratic Party Apology Handbook

"Do what you love" is a mantra of elites.

A fitting tribute (Thanks, CMike!)

Solar Freakin' Roadways!

Mark Evanier's favorite Rockford moments

Buster Keaton .gifs - and, if you can read the shouty text below, you can find out who saved Buster Keaton's life.

Taral wrote a spooky little fannish story honoring a classic horror theme.

Doctor Who Pre-Movie Theater Introduction

Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston

Monday, July 21, 2014

She never got there, they say

RIP James Garner: "Through many films and two influential television series, Maverick and The Rockford Files, James Garner, who has died aged 86, developed a persona with a subtly different appeal. It began as original and accrued familiarity over the course of four decades: a coward who was the soul of honour, a hero likely to ride away, stick his finger up the barrel of his opponent's gun or get winded in a fight and complain of damage to his dentistry." It's got to be a national day of mourning for at least my whole generation. And the one compensation I ever get from these things is some great story from Mark Evanier about all the great stuff the guy did and when he met him and - but we don't get that this time. Lots of people saying good-bye, of course, he meant so very much. (BBC obit)
Watch Maverick, "Stage West"
The Rockford Files, "The Deep Blue Sleep"
And, of course, there is when Charlie meets Mrs, Barham and what he said to her. (And I know there is a clip of the whole scene in one clip somewhere because I've posted it before, but I just can't seem to find it now.)

Wired: "A California student got a visit from the FBI this week after he found a secret GPS tracking device on his car, and a friend posted photos of it online. The post prompted wide speculation about whether the device was real, whether the young Arab-American was being targeted in a terrorism investigation and what the authorities would do. It took just 48 hours to find out: The device was real, the student was being secretly tracked and the FBI wanted its expensive device back, the student told in an interview Wednesday."

Frog Gravy: An Evening Spades Game, KCIW ‘PeWee Valley' women's state prison, near Louisville, sometime in 2009.

David Dayen says, "The Costs of Obama's Housing Mistakes Keep Piling Up [...] When homeowners hear from a government looking to help them, and previous efforts along similar lines led to broken promises and foreclosure nightmares, you can't blame them for saying no. This is why, if you believe in an activist government that can help solve problems, failures of this sort become so debilitating. The housing policy disappointments reinforced the old Ronald Reagan dictum that the most dangerous words in the English language are 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

"I was poor, but a GOP die-hard: How I finally left the politics of shame [...] To make up for my own failures, I voted to give rich people tax cuts, because somewhere deep inside, I knew they were better than me. They earned it. My support for conservative politics was atonement for the original sin of being white trash."


"Everyone In Middle East Given Own Country In 317,000,000-State Solution"

Check to see if your website is being blocked in the UK.

John Oliver on Warren G. Harding's love-letters

George Takei on Bill Shatner

It's amusing to see some of our friends in pictures on the Forbes site.

The Iron Throne

Vocabulary word: squick

In Memoriam: "The KKK Took My Baby Away"

Saturday, July 12, 2014

It's a long, long way to Paradise

This week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays were Jay Ackroyd and Avedon Carol, discussing the Supreme Court decision on religious exemptions from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Homework for the show includes:
"Countering Conventional Wisdom: New Evidence on Religion and Contraceptive Use" - new Guttmacher report (.pdf) says pretty much all women use contraception, including Catholic women.
NYT, "Birth Control Order Deepens Divide Among Justices"
The American Prospect, "5 Men on Supreme Court Impose Substantial Burden on Women in Illogical Decision"
Salon, "Here are the highlights of Justice Ginsburg's fiery Hobby Lobby dissent"

- In The Nation, "The Real Reason Pot Is Still Illegal [...] People in the United States, a country in which painkillers are routinely overprescribed, now consume more than 84 percent of the entire worldwide supply of oxycodone and almost 100 percent of hydrocodone opioids. In Kentucky, to take just one example, about one in fourteen people is misusing prescription painkillers, and nearly 1,000 Kentucky residents are dying every year. So it's more than a little odd that CADCA and the other groups leading the fight against relaxing marijuana laws, including the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (formerly the Partnership for a Drug-Free America), derive a significant portion of their budget from opioid manufacturers and other pharmaceutical companies. According to critics, this funding has shaped the organization's policy goals: CADCA takes a softer approach toward prescription-drug abuse, limiting its advocacy to a call for more educational programs, and has failed to join the efforts to change prescription guidelines in order to curb abuse. In contrast, CADCA and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids have adopted a hard-line approach to marijuana, opposing even limited legalization and supporting increased police powers."
- In The Daily Beast, "Why Did America's Only Pot Researcher Suddenly Get Fired?" - They don't say so, but I'm willing to bet that Nation article could help them answer that question.

At Black Agenda Report, Bruce Dixon on "Why Elections Still Matter, Except When They Don't".

"Monsanto's Herbicide Linked to Fatal Kidney Disease Epidemic: Could It Topple the Company?" I really hope something will, because it's become increasingly obvious that Monsanto is doing more harm than good.

Noam Chomsky has some advice for people who support the Palestinians, but that whole two-state solution thing seems a bit dead to me what with what's left after the settlements. I'm not the only one who is starting to think that way.

Via some High Snark from Atrios, here's Kevin Drum baying, "The NSA Said Edward Snowden Had No Access to Surveillance Intercepts. They Lied."

Kentucky court strikes down gay marriage ban. Judge: "These arguments are not those of serious people."

"How is this painting 'pornographic' and 'disgusting'? You might think that in an art world that encompasses the Chapman brothers' phallus-nosed children and Jeff Koons' lascivious studies of La Cicciolina (sample title: "Dirty Jeff On Top"), you would have to sweat blood to produce a work so offensively sexual it would be ejected from a top London gallery. This, however, was the fate meted out to Leena McCall's Portrait of Ms Ruby May, Standing, which was removed from the Society of Women Artists' 153rd annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries after being deemed "disgusting" and "pornographic", according to the artist."

I don't know whether to call this one "RIP" or "Independence Day" since it's really rather a relief that Richard Mellon Scaife kicked the bucket on the 4th of July, one day after his 82nd birthday. Few men have wreaked such destruction on America as Scaife did by financing his far-right gravy train of lies and distortions; beside his works, 9/11 is barely a squib. The Guardian's obituary is more polite, but Counterpunch pulls fewer punches, which is as it should be.

I think Laura Ingraham confused soma with chocolate.

I found a radio station called Absolute Motown.

"Be My Lover", live, with snake.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Make me an angel

Last week's guests on Virtually Speaking Sundays were David Dayen (dday) and David Waldman (KagroX), who discussed the hollowing out of the middle class in a slow growth economy, a solution for the absurdly high college tuition and student loan burdens as an example of counterproductive public policy, and #gunfail. And I was already going to link this story they discussed:
He got disgustingly rich by seeing the emerging patterns and knowing where to bet, and now Nick Hanauer says, "The Pitchforks Are Coming - For Us Plutocrats [...] But let's speak frankly to each other. I'm not the smartest guy you've ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I'm not technical at all - I can't write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now? I see pitchforks."

I hadn't been aware of the nanny from Hell story, but as Atrios points out, it's a real mark of how much we value kids that we expect to pay their caretakers (nannies or mothers) nothing. Don't like paying teachers much, either, for that matter. And Thursday, Sheila Bapat was on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd to discuss Economic and gender justice are the focus of Part of the Family? Nannies, Housekeepers, Caregivers and the Battle for Domestic Workers' Rights (reviewed here). Note that Alito actually invented a new category of employee just to prove that he is either stupid beyond credence or will literally say anything, no matter how nonsensical, to get an anti-union ruling out of it.

A new poll says Mitch McConnell's got trouble, but it also says this: "The survey shows that by an almost six-to-one margin, 80% to 14%, voters are more likely to vote for 'a candidate who wants to close loopholes to make sure millionaires do not pay a lower tax rate than the middle class.' Wide majorities of Democrats (87%), Republicans (70%) and independents (80%) support this position. The poll also reveals that by more than four-to-one, 76% to 17%, Kentuckians would be more likely to vote for 'a candidate who wants to make sure that the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes,' including 88% of Democrats, 57% of Republicans and 83% of independents. But they would be less likely by a two-to-one margin, 63% to 31%, to vote for 'a candidate who wants to cut the taxes of the wealthy and corporations.' Voters also said by more than a two-to-one margin, 66% to 27%, that they would be more likely to vote for 'a candidate who wants to end tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas.'" What a shame McConnell is just going to be beaten by another "centrist" Dem and not someone who would campaign to give the public what it so obviously wants - and needs. Just think, if we had a politician who would simply vote for what most of these red state Republican voters want, we'd have more liberal policies than the "centrist" Democratic leadership is giving us.

"Flawed Oversight Board Report Endorses General Warrants [...] The board skips over the essential privacy problem with the 702 'upstream' program: that the government has access to or is acquiring nearly all communications that travel over the Internet. The board focuses only on the government's methods for searching and filtering out unwanted information. This ignores the fact that the government is collecting and searching through the content of millions of emails, social networking posts, and other Internet communications, steps that occur before the PCLOB analysis starts. This content collection is the centerpiece of EFF's Jewel v. NSA case, a lawsuit battling government spying filed back in 2008. The board's constitutional analysis is also flawed. The Fourth Amendment requires a warrant for searching the content of communication. Under Section 702, the government searches through content without a warrant. Nevertheless, PLCOB's analysis incorrectly assumes that no warrant is required. The report simply says that it 'takes no position' on an exception to the warrant requirement when the government seeks foreign intelligence. The Supreme Court has never found this exception."

It would be nice to replace the creeps in the Supreme Court with people who are better, but that doesn't usually happen unless other things happen first. It's a mistake to just wait on the Supreme Court. It's also crazy-making to have people talk about how important it is to have a Democrat in the White House to make sure crazy judges don't get appointed when we elect Democrats who go out of their way to protect the nomination of someone like Roberts. Roberts is a radically crazy judge and that was obvious from the outset. People really have to stop thinking that sociopaths can't come in the form of soft-spoken or mild-mannered folk; actually, it is the mark of a really effective sociopath that they don't foam at the mouth.

Charlie Pierce, "The United States Of Cruelty: We are cheap. We are suspicious. We will shoot first. It does not have to be this way. Like Lincoln before us, it is time to do something about it."

Some people complained that they couldn't get the Beth Schwartzapfel Great American Chain Gang piece, so here's the direct link for "Modern-Day Slavery in America's Prison Workforce" in The American Prospect.

John Oliver on Hobby Lobby

Barbara Ehrenreich On Marriage Equality & 2-Party System

Annie Lowrey in the NYT, "Recovery Has Created Far More Low-Wage Jobs Than Better-Paid Ones" The deep recession wiped out primarily high-wage and middle-wage jobs. Yet the strongest employment growth during the sluggish recovery has been in low-wage work, at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants. In essence, the poor economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones. That is the conclusion of a new report from the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, analyzing employment trends four years into the recovery.

Surviving the 'Pit of Vipers'

RIP: Frank M. Robinson (1926-2014), author, editor, fan, and Harvey Milk's speechwriter.
Felix Dennis, former hippie street vendor and eventual staff-member of the alternative newspaper Oz, who became frighteningly rich as your basic cut-throat magazine publisher in later years. Christopher Priest, who once shared a flat with him, doesn't remember him fondly.

The Guardian, 100 years ago: "'It is not to be supposed,' wrote a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian analysing the significance of the assassination 100 years ago on Saturday, 'that the death of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand will have any immediate or salient effect on the politics of Europe.'"

"Orphan Black Embodies the Female Gaze Better than Anything Else on Television: As a show chiefly concerned with the ways women's bodies are commodified and controlled, Orphan Black is careful not to view its female characters with that same hungry eye. This is a triumph: On so many shows, the camera works at cross-purposes to the high-minded themes."
"Fandom Fixes: Don't over-dude it, Orphan Black [...] Orphan Black is also the TV embodiment of the modern LGBT community's most perplexing question: Are we born this way? It takes that Pride anthem and flips it on its head, offering up clones created from the exact same DNA who have completely different ideas about sexuality and gender. 'Sexuality is a spectrum,' Delphine says in season one, after finding herself attracted to Cosima. 'But social biases codify sexual attraction, contrary to the biological facts.' And that certainly seems to be Cosima's take on it as well. She's attracted to who she's attracted to. 'It's the least interesting thing about me,' she says."

See the Earth LIVE! ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment

Yes, kids get into everything.

Who's the mastermind behind this?

Where armor meets corset - and before you ask, yes, they are leather.

When radiologists take a selfie

Well, I had no idea that Harlan was a Scooby-Doo! character. It's the kind of thing you just have to look up.

Donnalou Stevens is hawt.

4th of July Cake Wrecks

Bonnie Raitt, "Angel From Montgomery", live.