Sunday, January 25, 2015

The long struggle for sleep

This looks like some genuine good news, for a change: "Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without warrants or criminal charges. Holder's action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs." Oh, but wait: "Holder's decision allows limited exceptions, including illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives and property associated with child pornography, a small fraction of the total. This would eliminate virtually all cash and vehicle seizures made by local and state police from the program." So, they can still take your house for child porn, eh? Watch for a sudden upsurge on that one, because it's really easy to frame someone for it. Susie Madrak talked about this in more detail on Virtually Speaking Sundays. Or, in short form: "Good, this should help. But this still leaves a double standard in place for some crimes. What this means, as a practical matter, is that local and police state departments will focus their energies on the firearms and child porn busts, because they'll be determined to fill those gaping holes in their budgets."

Johann Hari has written what sounds like a really good book on the War On (Some People Who Use Some) Drugs, and Sam Seder interviewed him on The Majority Report - recommended, there's some stuff in there that even I didn't know.
- Sammy also talked to Scott Horton about Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America's Stealth Warfare and to Karl Widerquist on The Case for a Basic Income.

"It's not just Fox News: How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe for Wall Street"
- "The Fault, Dear Voter, Lies Not in Our Stars, But in Our Democrats - Thomas Frank Adds His Voice"

"Perhaps the Most Important Question About the Democratic Party Right Now: Over at U.S. News & World Report, Pat Garofalo has a very interesting piece up that asks 'Are Democrats Trolling the Left?' This question deserves some serious consideration, because the answer could tell us a huge amount about American politics over the next several years."

Yves Smith, "Senator Warren and America Win in a Skirmish in a Long Struggle Against Wall Street's Coup."
- Also at Naked Capitalism, "MMT Versus the CBO: Replacing the Budget Constraint with an Inflation Constraint" - now that Stephanie Kelton is the Chief Economist of the Senate Budget Committee.

"It's Not Just the Cops: Public defenders know that the trouble with our justice system extends far beyond abusive policing"

"Most of America's rich think the poor have it easy" - you know, because of all those wonderful benefits they get.

James Fallows on "The Tragedy of the American Military: The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can't win."

"Prosecuting corporate culprits" - There are crimes that normal people get prosecuted for and go to jail. When you do it large, you should be tried for those crimes, too, right? Maybe it's starting.

Commenter ksix reminds us that Mario Cuomo was no great liberal hero - but my point was that he came outta nowhere with a message that spoke to the people, and with a little help from Jimmy Breslin, he became governor of New York. Now, if we could only get a real one....

"Speaking While Female" - You already know this, but every now and then someone does a study or writes an article about how women get interrupted more or guys grab their ideas and take credit for them or whatever. It's particularly fun when you're the one person in the room who can actually answer a question, or has any expertise in the subject, or even has an idea, and they still won't let you finish what you're saying. (And hey, remember this?)

- Faith Seidenberg, 91, one of the women who invaded McSorley's all-male bar.
- Al Bendich, 85, successful free speech lawyer for Ginsberg, Ferlingetti, and Lenny Bruce.
- Kim Fowley, 75, music producer and influential background figure from doo-wop to heavy metal, P.J. Proby and the Runaways, all over the industry. You can blame him for this: "Introducing John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band at a festival in Toronto in 1969, and knowing that Lennon was experiencing a bout of anxiety at the prospect of facing a crowd of 20,000 with a new band, Fowley invited the audience to welcome the musicians by striking matches or holding up lighters - the first recorded instance of what would become a rock and roll tradition."

Beth Moon's photos of ancient trees

Bev Doolittle, How many horses?

Gourmet Paper Mache Dragon

"That Doesn't Make Sense"

The Beatles in A Midsummer Night's Dream

"I'm Only Sleeping"

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It's The Same Old Song

In the further adventures of Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman on Virtually Speaking Sundays, topics discussed included France declaring war on terror, James Fallows on the military industrial complex, and NYPD vs the Mayor and the Commissioner, with Political satire from Culture of Truth.

Gaius Publius, "'Open Rebellion' Pays Off - Warren & Progressives Sink Obama Nominee Antonio Weiss" - which sounds like good news. Now they just have to stop Loretta Lynch.

And now, the moment Obama has been waiting for, his big chance to finally get The Grand Bargain to save the disability hostages! "New GOP Congress Fires Shot At Social Security On Day One [...] The House GOP's rule change would still allow for a reallocation from the retirement fund to shore up the disability fund -- but only if an accompanying proposal "improves the overall financial health of the combined Social Security Trust Funds," per the rule, expected to be passed on Tuesday. While that language is vague, experts say it would likely mean any reallocation would have to be balanced by new revenues or benefit cuts."

"Democrats, in a stark shift in messaging, to make big tax-break pitch for middle class" - Well, it's not that big, and it's just amazing how they didn't get these bright ideas before 2010... Oh, wait.

Kudos to O'Malley, because whatever other complaints we may have about him, his actions to get rid of the death penalty in Maryland have genuinely been fruitful, and his commutation of the last DP sentences left is a very good thing.

So, it turns out that Justice doesn't want James Risen to testify after all. "As Josh Gerstein first reported, the government has just asked the judge in the Jeffrey Sterling trial, Leonie Brinkema, to declare James Risen unavailable as a witness. After having defended their own right to call Risen as a witness all the way to the Supreme Court, claiming all the way they need Risen to prove their case, they're now saying Sterling should not be able to call him." I guess they're pretty miffed that he won't disclose his sources.

So, this Councilman tells the local newspaper that he's gonna send his lawyers after him for using his name in stories without his authorization. That's right, he thinks he can do that. And the editorial response is very entertaining. There's only one problem: Although they stress the whole "free speech" idea, they make no mention of the public servants are accountable to the public idea.

A little truth from David Horsey

You would think, in the current climate, that the governor of Missouri would have pardoned a 61-year-old man who is serving life without parole for possession of five pounds of marijuana. But not Jay Nixon.

For the first time ever, an Albuquerque PD cop will be charged with murder for killing someone: "The APD has one of the highest rates of officer involved shootings in the country and the body cam footage of James Boyd's execution helped to raise national awareness to this problem. James Boyd, 38, had been camping in a spot deemed 'illegal' by the state in March of last year. APD officers were dispatched, in full paramilitary force, to remove the man from his camp site."

Chris Floyd, "Hunger Games: Western Terror Warriors Spurn Their Innocent Victims : So now there is no money left for the Syrian refugees created by the civil war fomented and fanned for years on end by Western governments. (Who, bizarrely, then prosecute any of their citizens who go off to fight in the war their governments promote as a noble and worthy cause.) For want of $64 million - the amount of money the US spends in an eyeblink on its drone campaigns and death squads, the kind of money that's just chump change for, say, oligarchs who prowl the world destabilizing governments and monetizing misery for their own pockets - the UN says it must halt a vital support program for Syrian refugees."

I like the way the Mirror reported this story: "Cancer caused by 'bad luck' more than 'lifestyle choices' according to shock new study"

We got a nice name-check from The Raw Story: "Scientists confirm there are two different forms of female squirting during climax". The link to our original paper (and the BBFC's reply) is here.

Gotta admit, I got a fine giggle over the Muslim City of Birmingham story. I always get a chuckle out of the tales of Sharia law haunting the streets of London.

Blasts from the past:
- Pete Hamill, 1969, "The Revolt of the White Lower Middle Class [...] The White Lower Middle Class? Say that magic phrase at a cocktail party on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and monstrous images arise from the American demonology. Here comes the murderous rabble: fat, well-fed, bigoted, ignorant, an army of beer-soaked Irishmen, violence-loving Italians, hate-filled Poles. Lithuanians and Hungarians (they are never referred to as Americans). They are the people who assault peace marchers, who start groups like the Society for the Prevention of Negroes Getting Everything (S.P.O.N.G.E.), the people who hate John Lindsay and vote for George Wallace, presumably because they believe that Wallace will eventually march every black man in America to the gas chambers, sending Lindsay and the rest of the Liberal Establishment along with them. Sometimes these brutes are referred to as "the ethnics" or "the blue-collar types." But the bureaucratic, sociological phrase is White Lower Middle Class. Nobody calls it the Working Class anymore."
-2009, "The High Cost of Poverty: Why the Poor Pay More"

I'm not sure how to sum up this little story without spoilling it, but it's the kind of thing you always wish would happen - and, apparently, it did.

"Once-In-A-Lifetime Chance To Spot The Green Glow Of Comet Lovejoy - Chance would be a fine thing for a clear night and remembering to go out and look.

I think these photos are meant to be someone dancing with clouds of powdered coffee creamer.

A love story told in lattes

Renaissance superheroes and Star Wars characters

Toolbox in your hair

The Four Tops

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Were you telling lies?

On learning that Mario had died just a few hours after his awful son was sworn in for another term, my first thought was, "He probably couldn't stand the thought of watching Andrew do even more damage to the state he once governed, as well as the family name." I was just going to post a link to an obit and a link to the famous 1984 speech, but Roy Edroso has it covered here, along with what should also be the epitaph of several pernicious neoliberals along the way. Cuomo did have something going for him that no future potential candidate will have, which was Jimmy Breslin. But when you think about what he was and where he came from, you remember what people do to defeat bad candidates, which is run good candidates. And we will not get rid of the bad ones until the good ones stop waiting for a hero and start being that hero.

"Let's abandon the Democrats: Stop blaming Fox News and stop hoping Elizabeth Warren will save us [...] It took more than the usual civic sloth to produce the lowest turnout in 72 years. It took alienating vast voting blocs, including the young and the working class of both genders and all races. The young now trend Republican. Voters of all ages migrate to third parties or abandon politics altogether. It's the biggest Democratic defection since the South switched parties in the 1960s. If Democrats don't change their ways, their 2016 turnout will be a lot harder to gin up than they think."
- Americans Are Sick to Death of Both Parties: Why Our Politics Is in Worse Shape Than We Thought [...] But our cautious guess is that turnout in this year's Congressional races will finally weigh in at around 36 percent of the potential electorate that had legal rights to cast a ballot."
- "Why the Democrats Need Labor Again" is an interview by Timothy Noah of Thomas Geoghegan, author of Which Side Are You On? Trying To Be For Labor When It's Flat On Its Back and now Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs A New Kind of Labor Movement.

Bill Moyers episode, "American Indians Confront "Savage Anxieties": Earlier this month, as part of the $585 billion defense bill for 2015, Congress passed a measure that would give lands sacred to American Indians in Arizona to a foreign company. The deal gives the Australian-English mining firm Rio Tinto 2,400 acres of the Tonto National Forest in exchange for several other parcels so it can mine a massive copper deposit."

"Congressional Research Service Report On Tax Cuts For Wealthy Suppressed By GOP (UPDATE): The New York Times reported on Thursday that Senate Republicans applied pressure to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) in September, successfully persuading it to withdraw a report finding that lowering marginal tax rates for the wealthiest Americans had no effect on economic growth or job creation. "The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical," the Times reported. Democrats in Congress, however, have resurfaced the report and published it in full. It can be read below. Republicans told the Times they had issues with the tone, wording and scope of the report, but they clearly objected most strongly to its findings, which undermine the governing fiscal philosophy of the party, that tax cuts for the wealthy will spur growth and benefit everybody." Actually, I think tax cuts for the wealthy do indeed have an impact on job creation, in that the wealthier the wealthy get, the more power they have to effect policies that make them richer and everyone else poorer. The situation is now so bad that we not only need a 91% top marginal rate, but we need an actual wealth tax that takes money away from people simply because they have too much of it - flat-out confiscation of anything over $10m would just be a start.

The NYPD really does have the worst, stupidest reason in the world to hate Bill de Blasio. (There's a certain irony in watching Giuliani pretend the cops never demanded that he stay away from their funerals, but the question still remains: Why is he still on TV?)

"Who Is Watching You? Companies and institutions track us almost indiscriminately. Is this the world we want to live in?: Who is watching you? This was once a question asked only by kings, presidents, and public figures trying to dodge the paparazzi and criminals trying to evade the law. The rest of us had few occasions to worry about being tracked."

"Glenn Greenwald: "On March 6, 2012, six British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by a roadside explosive device, and a national ritual of mourning and rage ensued. Prime Minister David Cameron called it a 'desperately sad day for our country.' A British teenager, Azhar Ahmed, observed the reaction for two days and then went to Facebook to angrily object that the innocent Afghans killed by British soldiers receive almost no attention from British media. He opined that the UK's soldiers in Afghanistan are guilty, their deaths deserved, and are therefore going to hell [...] The following day, Ahmed was arrested and 'charged with a racially aggravated public order offense.' The police spokesman explained that 'he didn't make his point very well and that is why he has landed himself in bother.' The state proceeded to prosecute him, and in October of that year, he was convicted 'of sending a grossly offensive communication,' fined and sentenced to 240 hours of community service. [...] In sum, this is not merely an attack on free speech but on specific ideas. Writing about Ahmed's case in The Guardian, Richard Seymour described him as 'the latest victim of a concerted effort to redefine racism as "anything that could conceivably offend white people."'"

"If Florida Counties Have To Marry The Gays, They Just Won't Marry Anyone. Happy Now, The Gays?"

"Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use" (.pdf) "The reality of self-defense gun use bears no resemblance to the exaggerated claims of the gun lobby and gun industry."

My horrible right-wing past: Confessions of a one-time religious right icon

Ever wonder what it would look like if the Grand Canyon got covered in snow? Well, now we know. Must mean Al Gore is fat.

Joseph Califano says the movie Selma tells a false story about LBJ. "As a result, the film falsely portrays President Lyndon B. Johnson as being at odds with Martin Luther King Jr. and even using the FBI to discredit him, as only reluctantly behind the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and as opposed to the Selma march itself. In fact, Selma was LBJ's idea, he considered the Voting Rights Act his greatest legislative achievement, he viewed King as an essential partner in getting it enacted - and he didn't use the FBI to disparage him."

Police Stop, Handcuff Every Adult at Intersection in Search for Bank Robber.

More scary news about water.

How to control the masses
True story


The Honest Tube Map

My .gif of the day

I think this is the recipe my mom used to use. I loved them. I miss them. Maybe I should try to make some. If I can get off the internet long enough....

Gosh, I never knew this!

This ain't tap dancing, but I have finally seen something I would class with the Nicholas Brothers. Breathtaking.

The Beatles, perfect through your car radio.