David Brin talked some more about privacy and transparency on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.
One of the things we have to remember about Obamacare is that most of it is in the hands of the insurance companies, including the immediate PR aspects. So right off the bat, we had the companies sending letters to people saying things to the effect of, "We're sorry, but president Obama is making us get rid of your cheap policy and you'll have to buy a more expensive policy now," without also explaining that "the reason for this is that your cheap policy was so crappy that even offering it to you was fraudulent and we should all be in jail for it." Luckily for Obama, they didn't also explain that, "Of course, the other fraudulent aspects of commercial health insurance are still with us, so you probably still can't afford to use the policy to get health care of a quality you could get in most of the rest of the world, and you can still end up losing your home." And they certainly didn't get around to explaining that, "The reason for this is that President Obama and his pals in the White House refused to even consider the greater effectiveness and sustainability of kicking commercial insurers out of the equation." We kept being told that any other option was not "feasible", but maybe they had a different definition of "feasible" than we did. (And while I was reading the comments on that, I found a link to this discussion at the Oxford Union on "Has capitalism failed the world?")
Bernie Sanders asks "a panel of experts" whether Walmart should pay its workers enough to live on, or if the taxpayers should have to help support them instead. Of course, the poor get less welfare than anyone else does. (And here's Barry Ritholtz on How McDonald's and Wal-Mart Became Welfare Queens . Apparently, even he forgot that there used to be laws governing the treatment of employees in terms of time and pay that also would have prevented a lot of this.)
"Message: I Care About Poverty" - even supposed "help" for the poor turns out to be another attack on the poor.
"Shouting And Screaming Is Part Of My Job" - This is obviously a response to people who claim that it was and is unnecessary for liberal progressives to scream with alarm when the White House seems to be proposing right-wing policies, since those right-wing policies end up not happening anyway (except for the ones that do). Just leaving aside the fact that Obama's offers to cut Social Security keep failing to pass because those crazy, obstructive Republicans refuse to accept them, the fact that the White House keeps proposing them even though no one wants them is a big clue. Yes, I think bloggers have certainly been instrumental in slowing down the train-wreck, although that was easier to do under Bush because more supposedly liberal bloggers were on the same page with liberal policy rather than "We have to support our Democratic/First Black President," but we had help from the right-wing on that, and if these odious policies are not already baked into the pie (along with the already-baked and extremely odious rise of the age of eligibility to 67), it's not for lack of trying on the part of the Obama Administration. It's not that they didn't want Social Security cuts, it's that they failed to get them because absolutely everyone else opposed them. And, frankly, I don't care if the Republicans did it for the stupidest and nastiest reasons in the world (which they did), I'm just glad they stopped it.
"Watch This CNN Anchor Stop The Spin On The Minimum Wage"
"Here's Why Your Netflix Is Slowing Down"
"Here's Why Obama Can't Get Democrats To Back His Trade Deal"
Dean Baker: "America's Invisible - and Very Diverse - Working Class"
A lot of people are confounded by what happened to the vote at the Volkswagen plant - it seemed the union had everything going for it, and Volkswagen itself was not being hostile to unionization. So how did they lose?
Wonkette: "Cool New Kansas Bill Would Let Everybody Spank Your Child [..] OK, so the proposed law says that you must spank a child on the buttocks, and can restrain him or her to do so AND you can do it til the kid is a full-grown adult. We just can't see any downside to telling school personnel that they should tackle a high school senior and spank the kid. No liability or safety concerns at all nosiree."
An interesting question explored by Yanis Varoufakis at Naked Capitalism: "Can the Internet Democratize Capitalism?"
Lambert Strether had some fun with Greg Mankiw's NYT op-ed about the deserving rich, and aside from providing an interesting chart, raises a question I hadn't seen before about what "inequality" is and why suddenly everyone in Washington feels comfortable talking about it.
Ah, Tony Blair, the guy who was instrumental in catapulting the propaganda for war on Iraq, managed to earn Atrios' Worst Person in the World award for Wednesday with the revelation that he personally advised Rebekka Brookes on how to weasel out of phone-hacking charges. My favorite quote from the article: "According to Brooks's note, Blair advised her to set up an 'independent' inquiry, suggesting it could have "outside counsel, Ken Macdonald [the former director of public prosecutions], a great and good type". He said the inquiry would be "Hutton style" - a reference to Lord Hutton's inquiry into the death of David Kelly - and would "clear" her, but warned that "shortcomings" would have to be accepted as a result of the report. Some might interpret that as being practically an admission that they engineered a faux "enquiry" to cover up the suspected murder of David Kelly.
Cartoon: Energy sources
Really? Women don't write epic fantasy? Do they really believe that?
A Tribute to Paintings We'll Never See - because the Nazis destroyed them as "degenerate art".
Your Steampunk Moment: Cool picture of The abandoned City Hall Subway Station in New York. More here.