Saturday, June 27, 2015

She's no fun, she fell right over

I apparently missed linking this a month ago, but Stuart Zechman and Marcy Wheeler really got into it in the wake of passage of the USA Freedumb Act and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Patriot Act didn't authorize wholesale sucking up of everyone's data as is claimed, but most interestingly, they talked about why the US has this bizarrely intimate relationship with the odious regime of Saudi Arabia, on Virtually Speaking Sundays.
* And this week, Susie Madrak and Sara Robinson on Conversations with Conservatives, and why we need to start having them in this teaching moment.

Well, so much for the great Democratic rebellion and all that. Barack is triumphant, and, strangely, those horrible obstructionist Republicans cooperated with him magnificently.

"Bernie Sanders on Obama's 'Biggest Mistake'" - Well, except it was no mistake, of course. Obama wanted to pen up all those activists and shut them up so he could impose his "centrist" policies without any push-back.
"When Bernie met Hillary [...] They got their meeting at the White House that month, and the two doctors laid out the case for single-payer to the first lady. 'She said, "You make a convincing case, but is there any force on the face of the earth that could counter the hundreds of millions of the dollars the insurance industry would spend fighting that?"' recalled Himmelstein. 'And I said, "How about the president of the United States actually leading the American people?" and she said, "Tell me something real."'" And there's the difference between them right there - Bernie thinks you fight until you win, Hillary thinks you give up before you even try. But we always used to beat them with our message even though they had more money than we did. The DLC told us to stop trying, and they did that thing.

"Democrats Who Move Right Lose Elections - There Is No 'Center" - "Centrists" tell a story where there are these people in the "center" who are swing-voters or independents who would vote for Democrats if only our candidates were right-wing enough. It's implausible for more reasons than one, but the fact that most indies already identify with one party or another is a big one, and they've rebelled not because they see their party as too extreme, but because they see it as too "moderate" - that is, too wishy-washy and too compromising with the other side.

"Another Blue Dog Admits He's Just A Republican-- Switches Parties [...] Over time, Democratic voters start to understand that their Blue Dog congressman is a Republican and they either defeat them in primaries (example: Tim Holden) or sit on their hands and let a Republican win (example: Chris Carney). Sensing impending doom, many Blue Dogs, including some the founders of the rotten organization, have covered up their membership-- like Steve Israel and Adam Schiff most recently-- or have just admitted they're nothing but a Republican, jumping the fence and reregistering as such."

"Guess who's being groomed for a promotion? If you said Patrick Murphy, you'd be right. Chuck Schumer is very high on Murphy to fill Marco Rubio's Senate seat. You see, only in the Democratic Party do they go out of their way to promote from among the top 10 congressmen who vote with the other party for the Senate. This can only be because they like that voting pattern and would like more of this, (which just happened last week)"

Surely it is patently illegal to make people train H-1B immigrants to replace them. Those visas exist to bring in workers specifically when no Americans can be found to do the same job. If you are laying Americans off and replacing them with H-1Bs, you're fraudulently getting those visas for them.

All 50 states fail to meet int'l standards on lethal force by police - Amnesty

"The Saudi Finger-pointing at Iran: Parroting Israel and Saudi Arabia, much of Official Washington blames Iran for the current instability across the Mideast, but that may rank as one of the most inside-out explanations imaginable, as Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett explain."

Ray McGovern says Obama is no Jack Kennedy. Hell, I coulda told him that.

The US agency plundered by Chinese hackers made one of the dumbest security moves possible: Contractors in Argentina and China were given "direct access to every row of data in every database" when they were hired by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to manage the personnel records of more than 14 million federal employees, a federal consultant told ArsTechnica."

10 Stories That Were Missed While Everyone Was Talking About Rachel Dolezar

Here's how much more you'd make if you were in a union

Farmers find healthy soil works for crops, bottom line

Jon Stewart, unfunny, about Charleston.
In a similar vein, the Onion headline from last year: "‘No Way To Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens"
Tom Tomorrow on A Confederacy of Denial

RIP: At the Firesign Theater site, it says, "Phil Austin 1941-2015: Nick Danger has left the office. Our dear friend and Firesign Theatre partner for over 50 years succumbed to various forms of cancer early this morning at his home on Fox Island, Washington, with his wife Oona and their six beloved dogs at his side. It is a tremendous and unexpected loss, and we will miss him greatly; but in keeping with his wishes, there will be no public memorial. Rest in Peace, Regnad Kcin."
Volkswagen ad

Lee Camp, The TRUTH About GMOs, The Insanity of The G7, & The Fun of Child Poverty

"What Would Jesse Ventura Do?: Declassify 9/11 Now."

The Night Tube is coming to London.

Graffiti tribute to Terry Pratchett in Shoreditch completed three months after author's death

22 Incredible Facts About The Life and Career Of Sir Christopher Lee

Wow, you could get a Lego professorship at Cambridge!

25 Of The Most Creative Sculptures And Statues From Around The World

Simels managed to find some newly-unearthed Beatles footage I've never seen, and it's the best lip-sync performance ever.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Magic Carpet Ride

Congress was the hot entertainment Friday night as fast-track hit the floor. Amidst speculation that Pelosi would support it, she suddenly surprised everyone by announcing that she would oppose both TAA and the TPP, ultimately voting against fast-track. Despite normally treating her as the anti-Christ, Drudge's headline immediately after the vote was: "PELOSI SAYS NO TO OBAMATRADE; TAKES BRAVE STAND FOR AMERICA "

If you needed a primer on the contents of the Republican Clown Car, Digby presented it on Virtually Speaking.
Digby also reckons it looks like the DLC types are planning to use O'Malley as their faux-left stalking horse. And then, of course, there are the Zombie Blue Dogs.
I didn't realize Brendan Nyhan was up to something useful lately until he appeared with Jennifer Oellette on Virtually Speaking Science and talked about "The science of swaying popular opinion: think vaccines. Dartmouth political scientist/psychologist Brendan Nyhan specializes in the cognitive biases that come with identity politics. Jennifer and Brendan talk about the psychology of changing minds, how our beliefs and opinions are tied to personal identity, and what does and does not work in terms of strategy when it comes to swaying popular opinion." Homework includes "Study: You Can't Change an Anti-Vaxxer's Mind."

On The Majority Report, Marcy Wheeler talked to Sammy about What's Next in the Fight Against the Patriot Act.
Sammy's Casual Friday guest last week was Charlie Pierce.
Sammy also talked to Mark Ames of Pando Media about Seymour Hersh and the Dangers of Corporate Muckraking - and why it's easier to report on government than on corporations, which makes private-public partnership even more dangerous.

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate: "Dying of Excitement: Police often blame suspects' deaths on 'excited delirium.' Is that a diagnosis or a cover-up? [...] The obvious problem is this: What do we make of a syndrome that seems to occur almost unerringly when a police officer is choking, hog-tying, or stunning with a Taser someone with a mental illness or drug addiction? And why do many experts dispute that the diagnosis even exists? While excited delirium is used to explain a significant number of deaths occurring in police custody, the term has not been recognized as a genuine mental health condition by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, or the World Health Organization. Excited delirium - which sounds, to the naked ear, something like 'crazy-craziness' - is not found in the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, either. Yet medical examiners and police departments keep claiming it as the cause of death of people in custody."

Glenn Greenwald had some fun unpacking Max Boot's BS about Edward Snowden.
* Jason Leopold at Vice: "Exclusive: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden. A bipartisan group of Washington lawmakers solicited details from Pentagon officials that they could use to 'damage' former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's 'credibility in the press and the court of public opinion.' That's according to declassified government documents obtained exclusively by VICE News in response to a long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit."

Catholics For Choice were not much pleased with Lindsay Graham's anti-choice bill.

Would you believe that jerk Jaime Dimon actually had the nerve to claim that Elizabeth Warren didn't understand global banking. She didn't sit still for it: "The problem for these guys is that I fully understand the system, and I understand how they make their money, And that's what they don't like about me."

Matt Taibbi on Judith Miller's Comeback: "This preposterous 'dog ate my homework' story is even more humorous in retrospect, now that Miller has a self-serious Twitter handle (@jmfreespeech) under which she notes in her mini-bio, 'My dog, Hamlet, really does eat my homework.'"

There is no reason to assume that Hillary Clinton can beat any potential Republican candidate. She's got a lot of baggage and Iraq is a big one. So is her State Department kick-back scheme, if the Republicans ever notice it and stop wasting time on Bengazi. It's already forced her to oppose her whole party on Citizens United. But there's every reason to believe that Bernie Sanders can beat any potential Republican candidate.
Signs of creeping Bernie-ism: Wisconsin Straw Poll: Clinton 49 Percent, Sanders 41 Percent

Hilariously, one "centrist" Dem worries that the left has 'hijacked' the Democratic Party message. I was so impressed that I left a comment.

David Dayen in The New Republic, "The Scariest Trade Deal Nobody's Talking About Just Suffered a Big Leak: The Obama administration's desire for 'fast track' trade authority is not limited to passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In fact, that may be the least important of three deals currently under negotiation by the U.S. Trade Representative. The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would bind the two biggest economies in the world, the United States and the European Union. And the largest agreement is also the least heralded: the 51-nation Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). On Wednesday, WikiLeaks brought this agreement into the spotlight by releasing 17 key TiSA-related documents, including 11 full chapters under negotiation. Though the outline for this agreement has been in place for nearly a year, these documents were supposed to remain classified for five years after being signed, an example of the secrecy surrounding the agreement, which outstrips even the TPP."
* "Now We Know Why Huge TPP Trade Deal Is Kept Secret From the Public [...] Let that sink in for a moment: '[C]ompanies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings -- federal, state or local -- before tribunals....' And they can collect not just for lost property or seized assets; they can collect if laws or regulations interfere with these giant companies' ability to collect what they claim are 'expected future profits.' [...] In sum, if corporations feel they have been denied "expected" profits by a government regulation, ISDS lets them circumvent a country's courts and go to an international corporate tribunal with their grievance. But if labor organizers are murdered, workers and their families have nowhere to go. [...] While ISDS would give American multinational corporations tremendous powers over other governments, it places non-U.S. corporations (and, of course, non-U.S. subsidiaries of American multinational corporations) at a tremendous advantage over U.S. firms by giving only them -- not U.S.-based firms -- this right to challenge U.S. laws and regulations."

Contact Congress.

Also from Dday, "These Simple Steps Could Prevent Another Financial Crisis."

Glyn Moody at Ars Technica: "TTIP explained: The secretive US-EU treaty that undermines democracy"

"A Federal Appeals Court Just Denied Birthright Citizenship to American Samoans Using Racist Caselaw" - brought to you by the Obama administration.

"Major Monsanto Lawsuit Completely Blacked out by Media: What happens when one courageous attorney and a few citizens try to take down Monsanto? The MSM doesn't cover it, for starters."

And speaking of things you can't see, just try and Read the TPP. Hahaha.

Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

This was the stupidest thing I saw Thursday: "‘Marriage is simply too important:' Christian couple vows to divorce if gays allowed to wed."
* The gay response

This post is from last year, but still worth remembering when Cory Doctorow said "Obama's regressive record makes Nixon look like Che."

Public pot scold William Bennet is back wondering how marijuana and pot dealers stopped being "seen for what they were - criminal and dangerous elements in our society." Well, that's because they weren't, Bill.

Vincent Bugliosi, 80, successful prosecutor made famous by his prosecution of Charles Manson (which he later wrote about in Helter Skelter). But he may be best-remembered by longtime readers of The Sideshow for his book about the 2000 Selection of George Bush, The Betrayal of America, in which he presented his case against the Supreme Court 5. The book expanded on his article in The Nation, "None Dare Call It Treason; it became a New York Times best-seller despite the fact that, in contrast to his earlier works, none of the major talk shows were interested in having him come talk about it. In fact, he ended up talking to bloggers, such as Carolyn Kay at Make Them Accountable, who interviewed him in June of 2001. Nicole Sandler, hearing about his death, rearranged her show schedule to replay her interview with him from last October, which I believe you can hear here.
* "Ruby Dee, a Ringing Voice for Civil Rights, Onstage and Off, Dies at 91." Such a compelling talent.
* Christopher Lee, at 93. I met him once and just went totally fangirl. Of course, his SNL guest host spot was unforgettable - introducing the musical guest, and his performance as Mr. Death.
* "Man who wrote famous New York Post 'Headless Body in Topless Bar' headline dies [...] Musetto was already working on the headline. It didn't take long to determine that the place where the torso - the 'headless body,' in tabloidese - was found was a bar, but was it a 'topless bar'? 'It has to be,' said Musetto, who had hatched the headline."

It's always worried me that people are going out of their way to avoid the vitamins you need the sun for.

What happens when they fire all the copy-editors

The new design for the London Underground map from Transport for London has been met with wrinkled noses and derision by many transport mavens, but it turns out that someone has been posting their own alternative Tube map and it has some virtues. I could not help but notice, however, that as with previous versions, Bayswater is still too far from Queensway, an error I really wish someone would fix, because I once made the mistake of changing at Nottinghill Gate, which was a pain in the hiney, to get to one when it would have been easier to just get out at the other and walk the few yards. Anyway, here's the amateur map, which also omits the accessibility symbol the standard map has.

And speaking of the Underground, a little cosplay.

Terrorizing people with Michael Jackson moves

If you can do Facebook, this is an absolutely lovely (and short!) bit of visual art.

The couple from the Woodstock album cover are still together, 46 years later.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

In the back of my mind I know it can't be real

David Dayen and Gaius Publius were this week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays, and discussed the trade deals and the Sanders campaign and its coverage. Homework for this one includes Gaius' article in Naked Capitalism on the press silence on the Sanders campaign, but David pointed out that the NYT isn't being silent anymore, although of course they still say things like, "Her mix of centrist and progressive Democratic views may yet prove more appealing to the broadest number of party voters as well, while some of Mr. Sanders's policy prescriptions - including far higher taxes on the wealthy and deep military spending cuts - may eventually persuade Democrats that he is unelectable in a general election." In addition, Gaius' article at Down With Tyranny!, "Why Is Malaysia So Important to TPP?" - and The First Black President's willingness to put the stamp of approval on slavery.
* Digby and Andrew Jeerer Jones were the panelists on last week's Virtually Speaking Sundays, discussing "in the Freedom Act; differential media treatment of Wako vs Baltimore; the latest from the republican klown car," with added commentary from Culture of Truth.
* "Macro economist Dean Baker and Jay Ackroyd discuss the role public sector unions have played in the labor movement, wage rates, pensions and economic growth and income equality" on Virtually Speaking.

"I've Read Obama's Secret Trade Deal. Elizabeth Warren Is Right to Be Concerned.: 'You need to tell me what's wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago,' a frustrated President Barack Obama recently complained about criticisms of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). He's right. The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That's by design - anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I've actually read the TPP text provided to the government's own advisors, and I've given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can't share my criticisms with you."
* Meanwhile, in political drama, Gaius Publius says, "Schumer Organized the Democratic Collapse on TPP," and "Don't forget to notice "progressive" Patty Murray's role in this. As a member of Democratic leadership, she seems to have had to choose between 'following the neo-liberal leader' - in this case, Barack Obama on TPP - and standing with all other progressives in the 'Democratic coalition,' including every labor union. Murray is choosing to play ball with Senate leadership against progressives. Watch her carefully going forward. This looks a lot like the victory of careerism over principle."
* "Here's how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill" Yes, Ron Wyden should lose his job for supporting this thing.
* David Dayen suggests the pro-TTP forces may be a bit desperate if they are putting out such lame attempts at hit jobs on Elizabeth Warren.

The 1973 Helms Act has unpleasant consequences for the victims of Boko Haram.

The media's sickening Sanders double standard: How the socialist brings out their true colors [...] "This is what happens after more than three decades of economic policymaking that has enshrined tax cuts as the greatest good one can strive for. For Republicans, the policy is tax cuts everywhere and always and most especially for the rich. For Democrats, it's tax cuts for the middle class while the wealthy, who benefit disproportionately from a tax structure that is 'barely progressive,' are asked only to 'pay a little more.' We've become so accustomed to historically low rates of taxation for the wealthy that when someone like Sanders comes along and says the rich can and should pay a far higher rate, people assume he's out to lunch. But is a 90 percent top rate 'obviously too high'? Is it something one should instinctively 'flinch' at? Not really..."

Watch This Atlanta TV Station Expose ALEC's Influence On Local Legislators - Good local reporting is what we need more of.

How to Keep Down Sky-High Hospital Bills - What everyone dealing with America's commercial medical system needs is a plan that looks at bills, calls BS, and writes its own bottom line. So far it's just employers hiring them to protect them from ridiculous costs, but maybe the people who don't work for those people should get together and form a kind of "union" to hire them to protect them, too.

Krugman on The Insecure American: "We learn, for example, that 3 in 10 nonelderly Americans said they had no retirement savings or pension, and that the same fraction reported going without some kind of medical care in the past year because they couldn't afford it. Almost a quarter reported that they or a family member had experienced financial hardship in the past year. And something that even startled me: 47 percent said that they would not have the resources to meet an unexpected expense of $400 - $400! They would have to sell something or borrow to meet that need, if they could meet it at all." But our leaders think we don't need an old "antique" like Social Security.

Reading "The disdain Hillary Clinton deserves on trade" in The Washington Post is a classic experience. It's written with open contempt for anyone who recognizes the damage these "trade deals" have done; however, it baldly admits that both Obama and Clinton pretended in 2008 to want to change NAFTA to make it more beneficial to Americans, but that Clinton was unlikely to have done so and Obama clearly didn't mean it at the time: "Clinton took about the same position and attacked Obama for every hint that he didn't mean it. And, of course, he didn't. Sophisticated observers at the time assumed that Obama and Clinton weren't being honest about their intentions, that both were level-headed enough to realize that the anti-trade sentiment in some quarters of the Democratic Party is neither warranted nor wise. These assumptions were all but confirmed when word came that Austan Goolsbee, at the time a top Obama economic adviser, assured the Canadian government that Obama's anti-trade positioning was more about politics than an indication of what he would do in the White House. The Obama campaign aggressively denied the claims, but a leaked Canadian government memo subsequently indicated something like that nevertheless happened." And then it goes on to call Clinton a coward because her current line of rhetoric and refusal to come out in favor of anti-American "trade deals" encourages all that nasty populist thinking on the left. Your "liberal media".

Arthur Chu in Salon, "Sci-fi's right-wing backlash: Never doubt that a small group of deranged trolls can ruin anything (even the Hugo Awards)."

RIP: Tanith Lee (1947-2015); obits from the Telegraph, Guardian.

How Bernie Sanders Shaped the Northeast Punk Scene

This piece is a few years old but as someone whose familiarity with Rand's work is really that I saw the movie on my little black & white TV a couple times, it was nice to see the phrases that clarify why The Fountainhead never made sense to me.

"Homeless Shelter Is Transformed Into 5-Star Restaurant, Hot Food And Warm Hearts All Around"

This is cool: 3D Visualization of the Anatomy of a Tornado!

The new Tube Map

How to make a font in 9 hours

"Baltimore" by Prince

When Women Wanted Sex Much More Than Men

"The Wachowskis Make Sci-Fi Sexy: Sense8 is this summer's bingeable sci-fi must-watch." (And a second trailer here.)

BS&T, "I Can't Quit Her"