Sunday, October 26, 2014

When lights close their tired eyes

Happy Dawali!

Last week, Gaius Publius and David Waldman (KagroX) were panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays, discussing moving the conversation and how "Centrist" Democrats have been Tea Partying the Democratic Party.
Joan McCarter and David Dayen were the panelists this week on Virtually Speaking Sundays, discussing banksters and Senate races.

Longtime readers will know this is of special interest to me: Ryan Grim: Kill The Messenger: How The Media Destroyed Gary Webb - Grim spoke to Sam Seder on The Majority Report.
On The Majority Report, Sam talked to James Risen about Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War, his book about the corruption in the War on Terror, and about the fact that the government went after him for reporting the truth.

Citizenfour, Laura Poitras film about Edward Snowden.
Glenn Greenwald's TED talk on Why Privacy Matters.

The Raven has written a short series of short posts on what Adam Baldwin has dubbed "Gamergate", which, depending on how you look at it, is either about corruption and cronyism in game reviewing or, um, not. For the Raven, it's something very scary, as his post titles may suggest: "In Which Open Political Terrorism Against Women in the USA Becomes A Thing", "GMRG8 and Censorship ", and "GMRG8 and Law". Matt's been covering this on The Majority Report, and had a good interview with Brianna Wu explaining the whole thing.

I know Kevin Drum has always been too credulous about centrism and all that, but he's one of our longest serving members of the left blogosphere and has always been a nice guy, so best wishes to him.

Has Krugman gone full-on Obot? Because he seems to be hippie-punching, lately. Bill Black isn't impressed when he bashes liberals for criticizing Obama, even though he has made the same criticisms himself.

"Gretchen Morgenson on the Damage of Private Equity Secrecy: The short version is that if the private equity industry had nothing to hide, they wouldn't be hiding it."

"Economists Say We Should Tax The Rich At 90 Percent" - Gee, y'think?

Recommended reading: Julian Assange, "Google Is Not What It Seems [...] Since at least the 1970s, authentic actors like unions and churches have folded under a sustained assault by free-market statism, transforming 'civil society' into a buyer's market for political factions and corporate interests looking to exert influence at arm's length. The last forty years have seen a huge proliferation of think tanks and political NGOs whose purpose, beneath all the verbiag1e, is to execute political agendas by proxy. [..] By all appearances, Google's bosses genuinely believe in the civilizing power of enlightened multinational corporations, and they see this mission as continuous with the shaping of the world according to the better judgment of the 'benevolent superpower.' They will tell you that open-mindedness is a virtue, but all perspectives that challenge the exceptionalist drive at the heart of American foreign policy will remain invisible to them. This is the impenetrable banality of 'don't be evil.' They believe that they are doing good. And that is a problem."

I wonder if this is true. It would be fun just to sneer at the media.

No one counts the number of people who have been killed by cops.
But someone is looking at police lawsuit settlements, and it's no wonder Philly has budget problems. (Well, that and other graft and corruption, but still, maybe the teachers union should start including that in their arguments - "If you're running out of money, tell the cops to stop abusing their power!")
"Documents Show NYPD Has Paid $428 Million in Settlements Since 2009"

Over 100 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt said: "So long as governmental power existed exclusively for the king and not at all for the people, then the history of liberty was a history of the limitation of governmental power. But now the governmental power rests in the people, and the kings who enjoy privilege are the kings of the financial and industrial world; and what they clamor for is the limitation of governmental power, and what the people sorely need is the extension of governmental power."

How many lattes do you have to give up to get rich?

Milt Shook, "Toward a better understanding of religion: Muslim edition" - This is pretty reasonable, although I would argue that you can make sense of the Bible only if you read it as economic history, where it doesn't' actually fare badly. Societies get too unequal and mean and money-centered, God smites 'em. Which is another way of explaining the fact that those societies destroy themselves, and God didn't do it at all. (Also: Good on Ben Affleck.)

Via Lee Camp, the only people who ever drove Jesus to violence - and it wasn't just because they were there, but because of what they did: He called them thieves.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comics.

The BBC has launched BBC Music, and if you can't see/haven't seen it yet at the BBC site, it's worth taking a look at the version of "God Only Knows" they put together to celebrate it. You'll recognize a few faces.

Cream, live. I always thought Jack Bruce deserved better than to be overshadowed by his bandmates to such a degree. RIP, Jack. Ah, what the hell, listen to the whole album.

I can't believe I'm having so much trouble finding more of my favorite type of hair-clip. They used to be everywhere, they were simple with only one piece, and now I can't even find a photo of them on the web. This is close, although it looks like it may have a decorative layer, and I'm just happy to have the plain ones. If you find any, let me know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Woke up this mornin' with my mind stayed on freedom

After the first time I saw Gaius Publius talking about this, I bugged him to post it where I could link it, and I attempted to sum it up last time I was on Virtually Speaking Sundays, but Gaius has finally posted "Are Democratic Leaders Already "Tea Partying" The Progressives?" In the context of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party talking about Tea Party tactics to get the "centrists" out of party leadership and replace them with liberals, the joke is that the "centrists" are the ones who are always warning us of the dangers of allowing the Republicans to win, while, of course, they have been putting up terrible "centrist" candidates all over the country promoting policies the public detests. "As DWT readers know, Steve Israel, the DCCC, and to a lesser extent the DSCC, have been disasters for the Democratic Party, if "success" means "taking or keeping control of Congress" and "disaster" means "failing to try to do that." These Democratic train wrecks have been well document on these pages-- for example, here and here. But click any link tagged "Steve Israel" or "DSCC" to get the gist."
Democrat takes liberal position in Senate race: "Democratic Senator Mark Begich of Alaska is embroiled in one of the toughest reelection campaigns in the country, and control of the Senate could be at stake. So he's going to ramp up his push for a proposal that is treated as marginal inside the Beltway, but could nonetheless prove to have appeal even in a deeply conservative state: The proposal to expand Social Security." Press amazed.
DCCC recruits torturer for Congressional race.
"Centrists' clueless obsession: Why do so many want to cut Social Security?"

Why do miners have benefits denied when they obviously have black lung? Well: "Like many other miners, he had lost primarily because of the opinions of a unit of doctors at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions that had long been the go-to place for coal companies seeking negative X-ray readings to help defeat a benefits claim. The longtime leader of the unit, Dr. Paul Wheeler, testified against Steve, and the judge determined that his opinion trumped all others, as judges have in many other cases." Of course, the autopsy shows Dr. Wheeler was wrong. Now, how does that happen?

Maybe Krugman jumps the shark once a week, but in a way, he's right. Obama is one of the most successful presidents in history, more consequential than Reagan, if his mission was to destroy the opposition to the Tory agenda and render the Democratic Party no more than a tool of arch-conservatives. He's done that.

Yes, talk about pensions is exciting! But look again at the "centrist" bias of the NYT article referenced.

"Asset seizures fuel police spending" - on stuff they don't need but convince themselves they have to have, so they look for opportunities to steal people money and cars and homes, even when those people haven't been formally charged let alone indicted for any crime. And good luck getting it back if you are exonerated.

An enemy nation could just buy into a multinational corporation and arrange to attack our land, poison our water, and make our air unbreatheable. In fact, they already have.

RIP Fred Branfman, journalist who exposed the truth about America's horrifying devastation of Laos in his 1972 book, Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life under an Air War, and continued to try to tell the truth for the rest of his life.

Gaius Publius interviewed Stephanie Kelton, and she had this great idea: To guarantee a living wage, make government the employer of last resort. "If [FDR-style jobs programs] were created the right way, and you said, 'Anybody who's ready, willing and able to work, or unable to find a job in the private sector - or if you just don't like that job - you can come and take this [government] job. We're going to create one for you at a living wage with these benefits ...' You create a package for the worker that then becomes the minimum, [which] everyone else has to provide - or they're not going to get workers. That becomes the de facto minimum. - We're not going to let you starve in America." And that means people have money to spend in the real economy, which creates demand, which creates jobs....

Via Atrios, Frank Bruni, who I normally ignore, actually has a decent piece in the NYT about selective enforcement of religious doctrine by the Catholic church.
Also via Atrios, Will Bunch describes "A heartbreaking act of staggering cowardice" - or out and out theft from the public when the state of Pennsylvania strips its teachers of health benefits and allocates nothing for textbooks. Presumably because they needed that money to offer Shell Oil $1.7bn.

Commenter ifthethunderdontgetya points out that it's not just Steve Israel sabotaging the Democrats, but there's a history with Debbie Wasserman Schultz refusing to fight for seats the same way. "Liberal bloggers are irate that Wasserman Schultz, who co-chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Red-to-Blue program, has declined to endorse the Democrats running to unseat Cuban American Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and his brother, Mario Diaz-Balart. Wasserman Schultz says she doesn't want to stab GOP members of her own delegation in the back. But liberal bloggers say she's killing her own while aiding and abetting the enemy." Stab them in the back? What the hell does that mean? She was supposed to be trying to beat them.

Some rich liberal democrats are looking for the non-Hillary choice. Well, it's nice to think they are starting to get a clue, but then last time they went with Obama. I really wish I could get them in a line and slap their faces before they donate again.

Your Taser Outrage of the Day, or How to Get Paid Leave: "Florida officer tases 62-year-old woman in the back just for the hell of it: After police arrived on the scene of her Tallahassee, Florida, neighborhood, 62-year-old Viola Young asked them why they were there. Told to turn around, Young did so and walked away. While walking away, at just about 2:31 in this video shot by a local resident, the officer brutally uses his stun gun to tase Young in the back. Immediately, she falls flat on her face. It's brutal. No charges have been brought and the officer is currently on paid leave."

Scalia wants to know how deep prison inmates' religious beliefs go, among other things. "Justice Antonin Scalia questioned just how deep those beliefs were. Holt is supposed to have a full beard, so why does he compromise? Scalia asked. Laycock said Holt was trying to meet prison officials halfway and shouldn't be penalized for trying to be 'reasonable.' 'Well, religious beliefs aren't reasonable,' Scalia said. 'I mean, religious beliefs are categorical. You know, it's ‘God tells you.' It's not a matter of being reasonable. God be reasonable? He's supposed to have a full beard.'"

In The Raw Story, "David Simon: Corporations ‘the cancer' that are slowly killing American middle-class: The writer's next show, Show Me a Hero, is the true story of a battle over public housing that convulsed New York in the 80s. Here, on location in Manhattan, he talks about how money corrupts US politics, the erosion of the working class, why it's a crime to be poor in America - and why he likes to argue"

"The Wisdom of the Commons [...] One of Menzies' first tasks in her book was to correct an erroneous impression of the commons. Over the course of a century, from about 1750 to 1850, public use of the common lands in Scotland and England were systematically eliminated by the British House of Commons - ironically named after the same democratic and egalitarian commons that they legislated out of existence. Justification was based on the misconception that the competitive character of people would cause the land to be abused and exploited to the point of exhaustion. This fallacy, popularized in an 1832 pamphlet by the Oxford mathematician, William Forster Lloyd, was abetted by the new thinking about the economic merits of private ownership, capital investment, industrial agriculture and market competitiveness that were forming the basis of modern capitalism. In reality, if anyone had bothered to check, they would have found that the commons in Scotland and England were operating sustainably, cooperatively and democratically, just as they had been doing for centuries."

"Simple chart confirms where stock market is heading." (via)

"Has Neoliberalism Turned Us All Into Psychopaths?" - It's a kiss-up/kick-down kinda world.

To Ferguson, in solidarity, from around the world

Tom Tomorrow with a nice little wish-fulfillment fantasy

I remember this photograph, but I didn't know this story.

This sculpture by Issac Cordal in Berlin is called "Politicians discussing global warming".

File 770 says, "Ellison In Hospital Following Stroke: Harlan Ellison suffered a stroke on Thursday, October 9 and is hospitalized. Harlan's right side is paralyzed, his wife Susan told readers of his forum. Mark Evanier adds he has been told Susan says Harlan's mind is sharp and the rest of him seems unaffected."

I've never actually heard anything interesting said before about the movie Six Degrees of Separation, but then, I don't pay attention to that sort of thing much anymore. However, I noticed this link in a thread that started when Robert Whitaker Sirigano said, "Name a book that has heaps of critical praise and positive reviews that you absolutely found impossible to read, finish and/or like." More than one person listed this book that, long ago, my best friend recommended to me and for the life of me I never understood why. So many people rave about that book, and to me it was boring and I could never identify with main character. God knows I was as confused a teenager as anyone else ever was, but the book didn't speak to me at all. Here is Will Smith's monologue in Six Degrees of Separation on The Catcher in the Rye.

Historical note: "Al Gore's support of the Internet," by V.Cerf and B.Kahn, or how Al Gore really did invent the internet, even though he didn't claim credit for doing so.

Footage from the Great Martian War

The Barbie doll I never expected to see

Controversial scene from Hedy Lamarr's Debut Film, Ecstasy, 1933

Sun dogs - pretty!

Ruthie Foster, "Woke Up This Morning"

Friday, October 3, 2014

Stuff that happened, stuff they said

Avedon Carol and Dave Johnson were panelists on this week's Virtually Speaking Sundays, discussing perpetual war, climate change, and whether Hillary Clinton should be a candidate for president. Background includes this article on shopping for homes that won't be washed out by climate change. And here's two recent articles by Dave, "The Extortion Game Corporations Play To Cut Their Tax Bill" and "Voters Will Oppose Politicians Who Support 'NAFTA-Style' Trade Deals".
On Thursday's Virtually Speaking: "Gaius Publius & RJ Eskow explore[d] the consequences of Democratic party leaders' continued espousal of unpopular positions in a time of progressive change. What does the New York Democratic primary battle tell us? What does it mean for the party in 2016?"

On Wednesday of last week, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court ruling that expanded the state's early-voting period by a week, and added weekend and evening hours leading up to the Nov. 4 election. But that could still change because Secretary of State Jon Husted is appealing the decision by a three-judge panel to the full appellate court, based in Cincinnati.

This American Life, "The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra: An unprecedented look inside one of the most powerful, secretive institutions in the country. The NY Federal Reserve is supposed to monitor big banks. But when Carmen Segarra was hired, what she witnessed inside the Fed was so alarming that she got a tiny recorder and started secretly taping." Bloomberg seems to think this is an important revelation about regulatory capture.

The public isn't as stupid as some people would have you believe: "He cites specific states, such as Colorado, where data 'shows that the Koch brothers have a net favorability of negative 14 percent among all likely voters.' The issue is being used to push against Republican Senate hopeful Cory Gardner there. In Michigan, where Koch-aligned groups recently stopped running ads, the Kochs are at a negative 23 percent favorability, according to the memo. And in Iowa, 71 percent of likely voters said they were 'less likely to support a candidate if he or she was being bankrolled by the Koch brothers.'" It's amazing how smart people get once they are kept informed. Gee, I wonder if this could work for Democrats who want to promote good policy... Oh, wait, first they would have to want to promote good policy. Now, if we could just get people informed about how regressive their state and local taxes are....

"Largest City In Vermont Now Gets All Its Power From Wind, Water And Biomass: The 42,000 people living in Burlington, Vermont can now feel confident that when they turn on their TVs or power up their computers they are using renewable energy. With the purchase of the 7.4 megawatt Winooski One hydroelectric project earlier this month, the Burlington Electric Department now owns or contracts renewable sources - including wind, hydro, and biomass - equivalent to the city's needs. " See? It's not that hard.

"Inside the Koch Brothers' Toxic Empire: he enormity of the Koch fortune is no mystery. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they've cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Their political network helped finance the Tea Party and powers today's GOP. Koch-affiliated organizations raised some $400 million during the 2012 election, and aim to spend another $290 million to elect Republicans in this year's midterms. So far in this cycle, Koch-backed entities have bought 44,000 political ads to boost Republican efforts to take back the Senate. What is less clear is where all that money comes from. [...] But Koch Industries is not entirely opaque. The company's troubled legal history - including a trail of congressional investigations, Department of Justice consent decrees, civil lawsuits and felony convictions - augmented by internal company documents, leaked State Department cables, Freedom of Information disclosures and company whistle­-blowers, combine to cast an unwelcome spotlight on the toxic empire whose profits finance the modern GOP."

"Naomi Klein's New Book Is a Manual for a Movement"
Naomi Klein: 'We Can't Dodge This Fight' Between Capitalism and Climate Change [...] In This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, she explores the failures of 'Big Green' environmental groups and supposedly benevolent CEOs, the right-wing climate deniers who actually understand the stakes of climate change better than many progressives, and the grassroots movements coalescing to fight climate change. Klein spoke with In These Times from her home in Toronto."

"Court rules Wal-Mart must compensate workers: OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) - Canada's Supreme Court ruled Friday that Wal-Mart must compensate former workers at a Quebec store that was closed after they voted to become the first Wal-Mart store in North America to unionize. [...] The court ruled in a five-to-two decision that the world's largest retailer modified working conditions for the employees without a valid reason when it shut down. The court ruled an arbiter will determine appropriate reparations, possibly with damages and interest. The store never re-opened."

"Pelosi's Worst Mistake Comes Back To Plague House Democrats: From the moment Nancy Pelosi announced she was reappointing failed Blue Dog Steve Israel to be DCCC Chairman again, it was apparent to anyone who pays attention that the Republicans had nothing to worry about in regard to losing the House majority. Once Israel started announcing his recruits-- garbage conservative Democrats in unwinnable red districts like anti-Choice, antigay,/pro-NRA, pro-fracking Jennifer Garrison in OH-06 and a trio of CIA stooges from Michigan and Pennsylvania the agency is trying to use to infiltrate Congress."

"How Dangerous is Being a Cop in the US? [...] On average a police officer dies in the line of duty in the US about every 55 hours (everything you need for this calculation is above so I'm not going to insult your intelligence by including it). On average a police officer kills a civilian (about 400 annually) about every 22 hours. So I think we have more to worry about from them than they do from us."

"Policing for Profit [...] FBI agent and researcher Gregory Vecchi and criminal justice professor Robert Sigler note, '[W]hat is evident from their behavior is that federal, state, and local governments use assets forfeiture to generate revenue, despite their claims otherwise.' For example, the U.S. Attorney General stated in 1990, 'We must significantly increase forfeiture production to reach our budget target. Failure to achieve the $470 million projection would expose the Department's forfeiture program to criticism and undermine confidence in our budget predictions. Every effort must be made to increase forfeiture income in the three remaining months of fiscal year 1990.'"

Extract from Richard Vague's The Next Economic Disaster: Why It's Coming and How to Avoid It at Naked Capitalism, "How Private Debt Strangles Growth, Stokes Financial Crises, and Increases Inequality [...] The primary issue is not public debt but private debt. It was the runaway growth of private debt - the total of business and household debt - coupled with a high overall level of private debt that led to the crisis of 2008. And even today, after modest deleveraging, the level of private debt remains high and impedes stronger economic growth. Rapid private debt growth also fueled what were viewed as triumphs in their day - the Roaring Twenties, the Japanese 'economic miracle' of the '80s, and the Asian boom of the '90s - but each of these were debt-fueled binges that brought these economies to the brink of economic ruin."

"Bernie Sanders: Longterm Democratic strategy is 'pathetic' [...] People are furious about it. We have a very conservative Senate and House. Congress is dominated by large campaign contributors who exercise enormous influence. I think, the people here [in Washington] have almost developed an instinct not to attack the people who put money into their coffers. Obviously the Republicans are beholden to these guys. But too many Democrats are nervous about talking about issues including income and wealth inequality. But in fact, the American people absolutely want to hear about it. I talk about it all the time. I give a lot of speeches and large crowds come out. People are very, very concerned about the overall impact of income and wealth inequality in terms of morality, in terms of economics, in terms of - with Citizens United - what it means to our political system."

"Why is 2 percent the Federal Reserve's inflation target? Because it is." And there is definitely a bias in favor of suppressing wages - and jobs.

"Who Stole Television News? [...] In 1978, Roone Arledge, then President of ABC Sports was also made President of ABC News. In an instant television news went from broadcast journalism to "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." This winners and losers mindset became the narrative model. And behind the scenes, TV station owners injected the influence of the yet-not-public Powell Memo into the bloodstream of network and local news."

Gosh, they're going to make Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy into a TV series.

When I first saw the Qwerkywriter, I instantly thought, "I want one!" But that was when I'd been up too late. In the cold light of day, I realized that, cosmetic or not, that carriage return was gonna drive me nuts forever.

1958: Marilyn Monroe Poses for Life Magazine and Richard Avedon - as Lillian Russell, Theda Bara, Clara Bow, Jean Harlow, and Marlene Dietrich.

Miss Piggy and Christopher Reeve

"Nikola Tesla Dood"

Peter Capaldi as George Harrison

A long, long time ago, I heard this "Memphis Blues" for the first time at the Memphis Blues Festival and it was my first clue about how the blues was banned on Beale Street.