Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blue Christmas

Avedon Carol and Stuart Zechman were the panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. First topic was generated by Matt Stoller's piece, previously referenced here, on Why the Democratic Party Acts The Way It Does. Other homework for that segment includes the DLC document "The Hyde Park Declaration: A Statement of Principles and a Policy Agenda for the 21st Century". But the other topic was how we came to be the kind of country where respecting the authority of the police in all circumstances is so important that citizens can be killed for not doing it. So maybe homework should include this article from 2005: "Justices Rule Police Do Not Have a Constitutional Duty to Protect Someone."

Maybe we should call them the Supreme CSlique, anyway, since they won't talk to anyone who isn't on the same page and they can't even figure out what the cops are supposed to be for. I mean, seriously: "Supreme Court: It's OK for Cops to Guess Wrong About What the Law Is: A robust 8-1 majority of the Supreme Court ruled today that, contrary to folk belief, ignorance of the law is a perfectly good excuse - as long as it's a cop who's claiming ignorance." 8-1! Well, thank goodness Democrats keep appointing all those liberals to the bench, eh? I was almost afraid I'd find out the dissenter was one of the Republican appointees, but it was Sotomayor.
- And then there's always more from Scalia, who unsurprisingly found an interesting defense of torturing suspects on the grounds that it isn't "cruel and unusual punishment" of people who've already been convicted.

"Why it's so rare for police to be prosecuted for killing civilians, explained in 2 minutes" - Well, no, it explains why it's hard to convict them (because that's a defense argument), but it doesn't explain (a) why grand juries just don't happen to indict them and (b) why seeing someone being perfectly non-threatening scares a supposedly trained police officer to the point that they shoot them without, at the very least, being laughed off the force for being a pants-wetter. It doesn't explain how someone with so little sense of proportion that they kill harmless old men who don't want to go to the hospital or guys who are suspected of not paying a parking ticket or any number of other non-violent, non-felony infractions is on the force in the first place. Even cops who very definitely are not even close to following procedure use fatal choke-holds on such people and don't get prosecuted - but worse, the head of the police union describes this behavior as "good police work". What's that about? Claiming you shot an elderly gent in wheelchair because you were "in fear for your life" should be a firing offense just on the grounds that no one that easily frightened should be on the force, period. And these are the things the media should be talking about, instead of crap like this.
- Cenk says, "American Cops Kill With Startling Frequency Compared To Other Nations"
-Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post, "What America's police departments don't want you to know"

There were some demonstrations recently. All over the country. People just don't seem to like the idea that the cops can shoot you with impunity, it seems. Anyway, the media worked pretty hard to give the impression that nothing much happened that day and hardly anyone turned out for it, but that doesn't appear to have been true.

"Rabbis Recite Kaddish, Jewish Mourning Prayer, For Eric Garner, Later Arrested In NYC Protest"

The Constitution-free Zone

Mary Landrieu's bitter end: Why her complaints about Democrats abandoning her ring so hollow

Journalism furore: Buncha writers quit The New Republic in outrage and solidarity. Lotta people wonder where these principled journalists were when they did things like, oh, publishing all that crap on The Bell Curve as if it weren't a bunch of already-debunked racist crap. Ta-Nahisi Coates, for example. Wonkette explains what happened and puts it all in context. Via Atrios, who referred to it all as "The Most Entitled Whinefest In History.

The Mary Sue, "New UK Legislation Bans Female Ejaculation, Facesitting, Some BDSM From Streaming Porn"
- The F Word, "Restrictions on porn that protect no-one"
- Guardian, "Bound and gagged: the women urging a repeal of the porn laws"

History Department: Robert Moses, The Power Broker, and why the public wasn't overwhelmingly grateful.

"South Dakota Sadly Forced to Cancel 'Don't Jerk and Drive' Campaign ."

Stephen Colbert interviews Jamie Dimon Smaug.

Smokey Robinson on being black

Damn, I missed my chance on day 10 of the

Headline Advent calendar.

"Virginia DMV Revokes World's Greatest License Plate"
- Well, I rather liked this one, too.

Hark! A Vagrant is a different kinda comic. Michael Abbot particularly wanted to call my attention to the one on Ida B. Wells.

Nichelle Nichols, still inspiring them.

James Brodie's comment on an earlier post's link to Dobie Gray performing "Drift Away" was, "The Neville Brothers would cover Drift Away. While Aaron would be the obvious lead, I can hear Art in there too. Poppa Funk!" And I thought, "That is such an obviously perfect idea that it must already be on YouTube." But, truthfully, I was disappointed. Gray's slower tempo leaves more room for the kind of vocalizations Aaron is so good at.

Stonehenge by Ikea

A Game of Shoes

The Avengers: An photograph

"Scottish Colloquialisms" featuring Karen Gillan

Enterprise Dance Floor (Star Trek Stabilized!)

Dear Santa

The annual Christmas porn

I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy. I love the comics and I enjoyed the movie, although I had a little trouble with Gamora as the bleeding-heart liberal of the group. And I think they should have gone with Drax's tats from the comics - he looks a bit pink with the ones he has in the flick. But hey, they got Rocket and Groot perfect, and that's what matters! Anyway, here's an Honest Trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy.

Moshe Feder says, "Chanukah starts Tuesday night and these guys do a great job with three holiday standards. (It's an irony of Jewish-American culture that our songwriters have written great Christmas songs, but nothing for Chanukah.)" This was fun to listen to.

"Blue Christmas with Porky Pig"

Monday, December 1, 2014

Time and tide

This is my Thanksgiving and Advent post. As always, I am grateful to all of you who have been a part of The Sideshow and made it possible. It's been a pretty busy period, what with having two separate Thanksgiving dinners to throw on the nearest Saturdays, along with a death in the family. So I don't have an Advent calendar list ready, but check out the Christmas Countdown Calendar Hunt Emerson is doing this year for Cancer Research UK, which unfortunately doesn't start until the 1st of December. Meanwhile, the addresses from last year often work, so give them a try. Oh, and of course, it's "Carol of the Bells" time.

"Ohio Could Pass the Country's Most Extreme "Secret Executions" Bill" - the most extreme, but by no means the only law that would eliminate checks and balances from the process.

William Greider, "How the Democratic Party Lost Its Soul [...] Instead of addressing this reality and proposing remedies, the Democrats ran on a cowardly, uninspiring platform: the Republicans are worse than we are. Undoubtedly, that's true - but so what? The president and his party have no credible solutions to offer. To get serious about inequality and the deteriorating middle class, Democrats would have to undo a lot of the damage their own party has done to the economy over the past thirty years. [...] Long ago, the party abandoned its working-class base (of all colors) and steadily distanced itself from the unglamorous conditions that matter most in people's lives. Traditional party bulwarks like organized labor and racial minorities became second-string players in the hierarchy that influences party policy. But the Dems didn't just lose touch with the people they claimed to speak for; they betrayed core constituencies and adopted pro-business, pro-finance policies that actively injure working people."

Here's Gaius Publius on "Harry Reid, Tax Extender Basics, And A Suggestion For Senate Progressives," or pushing back on stupid Democratic "deals".

Dean Baker tweeted, "Have fun with right-wing uncle, ask them why they favor government patent monopolies on prescription drugs," and linked to "Current drug-patent system is bad medicine [...] This rapid run-up in costs is exactly what economists would expect from an industry that is protected from competition by the government. Just as the old system of cost-plus contracts in the military sector led to outrageous charges for weapons purchased by the Defense Department, the system of government-granted patent monopolies gives companies little incentive to control costs and reduce waste. For this reason, it would not be surprising to find that major drug companies are seeing runaway cost increases. [...] This is why it is very bad news for people in the United States, India and the rest of the world that India is now reviewing its patent policy at the insistence of Barack Obama's administration. The White House wants India to adopt a much stronger patent regime that would limit the ability of its generic industry to provide low cost alternatives to expensive drugs in the United States."
- In related news, the real drug pushers. (via)

RJ Eskow, "Prosecute Now: The Justice Department Can Still Act Against Bad Bankers: It's been a grim period for American justice. Despite compelling evidence of widespread bank fraud in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis -- and despite all those billion-dollar settlements -- prosecutors have not indicted executives at any major U.S. bank. This stands in contrast to the much smaller savings and loan scandal of the 1980s, which led to the conviction of more than a thousand bankers. And as the Justice Department's criminal division remained idle in the aftermath of 2008, the statute of limitations passed for most of bankers' crimes. But there's a ray of hope: The bankers' own deep-seated propensity for cheating and corruption may have given prosecutors a new opportunity to indict them. With the upcoming departure of Attorney General Eric Holder, there is the chance to forge a new approach toward Wall Street lawbreaking by pursuing evidence of wrongdoing wherever it may lead."

Ta-Nahisi Coates on The Gospel of Rudy Giuliani, which is that, for some unclear reason, people should be more worried about "black on black violence" and not just about being murdered by cops. That's, you know, seriously needing a red-herring.

Hm. It's rather unusual for a prosecutor to go before a Grand Jury and present the defense for the accused. Boy, that guy really didn't want an indictment.
- "A prominent legal expert eviscerates the Darren Wilson prosecution, in 8 tweets"
- "It's Incredibly Rare For A Grand Jury To Do What Ferguson's Just Did"
- August's fine rant from Jon Stewart on Ferguson and race
- John Oliver last August on Ferguson, MO and Police Militarization
- "Video of Police Shooting of 12 Year Old Child Looks Almost Like a Drive-By"

What's wrong with this story? I think I'm being told that it's okay for cops to kill people if they are obnoxious first. And also that I shouldn't worry about it if I learn of it from a libertarian.

You can see why they want us to forget what Black Friday was.

Adam Serwer writes the RIP for The Mayor: "Why D.C. Will Always Love Marion Barry [...] From the outside, observers could see only Barry's flaws, his corruptions and addictions. The mystery of Barry's political survival despite numerous run-ins with the law, mismanagement of the city government, and numerous allegations of sexual assault is easier to solve if you know the history of the city. Barry didn't bring corruption to D.C. He changed who benefited from it." In The Chocolate City, the beneficiaries had all been white men until Barry came along. And boy, they punished the voters for re-electing him, too. The District of Columbia gets a substantial part of its budget from the rent it charges the government for use of its lands. Congress got so mad at Barry that they actually withheld the rent for several years running - and then blamed Barry for the budget problems. (via)

Stu Shiffman (1954-2014): Stu was our friend and brother and co-conspirator for the best part of our lives, a talented, funny, wonderful artist and dinner companion. I am grateful for the many gifts he brought us, and so, so sorry we will never hear his jokes or see his smile again.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I look for the light through the pouring rain

Digby and David Dayen (dday) panelists last week on Virtually Speaking Sundays, discussing the "Supreme Court decision to revisit the constitutionality (!) of the PPACA exchanges; speculated on a GOP with control of the legislature, but no chance of overriding a veto; and celebrated (!) the hopeful news on net neutrality. Plus the Most Ridiculous Moment from satirist Culture of Truth."

David Dayen at Salon: "Grossest midterms winner not GOP! Why K Street is readying an 'orgy of lobbying': The saddest people in Washington during the past two years of unrelenting legislative gridlock ply their trade on K Street. When there's no hope of passing laws, there's no reason to hire expensive lobbyists to push for them. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, lobbyist spending fell 12.5 percent in 2013, and is on target to decrease even more this year. Some have speculated that lobbying has just gone underground into less-regulated spheres, funneled through nonprofits and 'astroturf' organizations. But if that were the case, K Street firms, mired in a three-year slump, wouldn't be so enthralled by the imminent transfer of Senate power to the GOP. 'We're very excited,' said one Republican lobbyist. 'There's going to be more activity ... Corporations and trade associations affected by Washington power will be looking to invest in those policy decisions.'"

David Dayen at The Fiscal Times: "The So-So Society: Democrats Have Forgotten What Made Them Great [...] Whether or not these points have merit, they are limited by the narrow range of mainstream party ideology. This is not the Democratic Party of your great-grandfather's New Deal or your grandfather's Great Society. The takeover of the party by more business-friendly interests - which ironically (or perhaps not) dates back to right around 1973, when wages decoupled from productivity - necessarily impoverishes the imagination around issues of economic security and prosperity."

Matt Taibbi, back at Rolling Stone, on "The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst Nightmare - she was there and she saw the disaster unfolding as Jamie Dimon's fraud machine went into action. But then she watched as Eric Holder made sure no one was held to account: "Fleischmann winced. Fully fluent in Holder's three-faced rhetoric after years of waiting for him to act, she felt that he was patting himself on the back for having helped companies survive crimes that otherwise might have triggered crippling regulatory penalties. As she watched in mounting outrage, Holder wrapped up his address with a less-than-reassuring pronouncement: 'I am resolved to seeing [the investigations] through.' Doing so, he added, would "reaffirm" his principles. Or, as Fleischmann translates it: 'I will personally stay on to make sure that no one can undo the cover-up that I've accomplished.'" Sam Seder interviewed Taibbi about the article on The Majority Report.

Matt Stoller at Naked Capitalism: "Why the Democratic Party Acts The Way It Does [...] Everything is put on the table, except the main course - policy. Did the Democrats run the government well? Are the lives of voters better? Are you as a political party credible when you say you'll do something? This question is never asked, because Democratic elites - ensconced in the law firms, foundations, banks, and media executive suites where the real decisions are made - basically agree with each other about organizing governance around the needs of high technology and high finance. The only time the question even comes up now is in an inverted corroded form, when a liberal activist gnashes his or her teeth and wonders - why can't Democrats run elections around populist themes and policies? This is still the wrong question, because it assumes the wrong causality. Parties don't poll for good ideas, run races on them, and then govern. They have ideas, poll to find out how to sell those ideas, and run races and recruit candidates based on the polling. It's ideas first, then the sales pitch. If the sales pitch is bad, it's often the best of what can be made of an unpopular stew of ideas. Still, you'd think that someone, somewhere would have populist ideas. And a few - like Zephyr Teachout and Elizabeth Warren - do. But why does every other candidate not? I don't actually know, but a book just came out that might answer this question. The theory in this book is simple. The current generation of Democratic policymakers were organized and put in power by people that don't think that a renewed populist agenda centered on antagonism towards centralized economic power is a good idea. The book, however, is not written by a populist liberal reformer. It's written by one of the guys who put the current system in place. And it's a really good and important story. The New Democrats and the Return to Power is the book, and Al From is the man who wrote it. From was one of the key organizers of this anti-populist movement, and he lays out his in detail his multi-decade organizing strategy and his reasons for what he did."
- John Emerson, "- Anti-populism one more time"
"Open Letter to Democrats From a Disillusioned Young Voter"
- Mike Flannigan on how "centrist" Democrats and their lies are a gift that keeps on giving - to the farthest right Republicans.
- Down With Tyranny!: "The Class of Rahm -- Why Not Move Beyond That Kind Of Disastrous Politics" (Related: "Rahm Took Campaign Cash From Companies Doing Business With Chicago" - He's a criminal. We need to get rid of this creep.)

"Local Officials Encourage Police To Seize Cars, Flatscreen TVs, And Computers From Civilians: Cops have the authority to seize items they suspect are linked to a crime, most individuals can't afford a lawyer to fight the forfeiture. And once the property is taken, it's extremely rare that they ever get it back." The perfect robbery - steal people's property and dare them to try to get it back. With a great presentation from John Oliver on Civil Forfeiture.

Uncle Sam's Databases of Suspicion

Fight to expand Social Security

Banksters ignoring the courts some more - collecting on debts you no longer owe.

For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man

Yves Smith updates us on the AIG bailout and tells us ISPs are removing customers' email encryption.

"Extreme Wealth Is Bad for Everyone - Especially the Wealthy" (Actually, I still don't buy "especially the wealthy" - it doesn't actually kill them.)

Man, I used to see McPherson in the WaPo for years, it's kinda scary and depressing to see him writing about what it's like to be poor - this was a guy who was the epitome of success for journalists, a Pulitzer winner and all. But it's a good piece.

Mrs Tara Plumbing: "Why I don't think Julien Blanc should be banned and I won't sign the petition" - I do wonder about people who even have time to get so exercised about such garden-variety sexism when the whole country is being taken apart from the top.

Benedict Cumberbatch on what Sherlock would be like on a date.

Two minutes of baby elephants.

Steve Winwood performing "Georgia on My Mind" with The Spencer Davis Group, 1967.

Dobie Gray, "Drift Away"

Monday, November 10, 2014

You just have to come to your own conclusion

This week on Virtually Speaking Sundays David Waldman (KagroX) and Dave Johnson did the election post-mortem.

Elsewhere, everybody's talkin' like the Democratic Party and "the left" took a beating in the election Tuesday, but by my lights the public did us all a favor by refusing to vote for Democrats whose only selling-point was that at least they weren't Republicans. Oh, yes, Begich lost, too, but no one really expects Alaska to turn blue, and he came a lot closer than people expected - although I expect he could have done better if he had gone stronger. And, unfortunately, the Democratic Party leadership was deliberately sabotaging anyone with a progressive message or record, so no surprises there. I mean, how can you lose when you have this great record to run on? Happily, however, we got rid of some of the worst Dems in the party, and no doubt those who don't get cushy jobs as lobbyists will all have to become talking heads on Fox and Press the Meat for a while. Harold Ford, move over!

Oh, but the carrying on! I can't believe that even on Alternet, there is nonsense about how the party might purge progressives in the future because the strong progressive message failed to bring Dems past the post. Y'what? Did Mark Pryor campaign on a strong progressive message? Did the national party project a progressive message? They did not. And the reason they did not is that they have already purged or whipped most of the progressives (such as they are) in the party and talk about crap like Social Security benefit cuts and hang out with people like Pete Peterson.

Progressives did badly? Oh? Remember what a nail-biter it was waiting for Franken to win Minnesota back in 2008? Well, that wasn't a problem this time around. The incumbent Democrats who got hammered in this election - lost, or came painfully close to losing - were Blue Dogs and DLC/Third Way/New Democrat types. No one really wanted to come out for them and so their "easy wins" never materialized. As Cliff Schecter pointed out on Friday's edition of The Majority Report, Third Way lost a bunch of its elite in this one. Not that it's stopped them from pretending the party needs to move to their "center", but that might just be a hard sell.

And where the voters had the chance to vote on issues, the left won handily. Ballot initiatives for legalizing weed, raising the minimum wage, and curtailing corporations did very well, even in states where Democrats lost. The details on who and what lost or won tell you a great deal. The so-called "left" - which these days seems to mean anyone who is not in the centers of power in DC and on Wall Street - seems to have won where they ran; it was right-wingers with a D after their names who took a bath. Which could be great news for the rest of us if only some real liberals decide to capitalize on it and jump into the ring.

No, it wasn't "the left" who lost the election, it was Obama's right-wing economic policies. Let Howie Klein and Ian Welsh tell you that story, with the help of a couple of pretty scary charts.

As our feathered friend says: "But I'd like to look back at something else. A while back, I wrote, 'To win the next election you have to deliver. Obama didn't deliver on jobs, housing, and banking, and it's pretty hard to message that away,' and also 'Faced with an election that is the crystallized result of essence of policy failure, Obama decides that he...sent the wrong message.' No, you idiots. You didn't send the wrong message. You bailed out the bankers and not the public. You let people be thrown out of their homes through rampant fraud. Six years after the crash, people are still out of work and you bargained away the unemployment insurance extension. Salaries have gone down. Most of us have gone through our savings and you have done nothing to help." That's a record to crash and burn on. See, it's still the economy, stupid.

Meanwhile, on the avowed anti-Obama right, there's just a little bit of dismay over the fact that Republicans now want to give Obama more power for the dreaded fast-track. (We can argue with whether people voted for Republicans rather than simply refusing to turn out for bad Dems, but it's hard to argue that The People voted for fast-track.) "This would be a Republican ratification of the policies of Bush I and II that produced $10 trillion in trade deficits, hollowed out our manufacturing base, and sent abroad the jobs of millions of Reagan Democrats. Globalization carpet-bombed Middle America and killed the Nixon-Reagan coalition that used to give the GOP 49-state landslides. Why would Republicans return to that Bush-Clinton-Obama policy that ended the economic independence of Eisenhower's America? The party should re-embrace economic patriotism, stand up to Japanese protectionists and Chinese currency manipulators, and put American workers first, ahead of corporate outsourcers."

The Election map - read it and weep.

Bill Hicks on what happens after an election

In other news that isn't actually unrelated to the foregoing:

I can't even think about the so-called "school reform movement" without wanting to slap some people.

"E-mail points to White House involvement in USDA's firing of Shirley Sherrod" - Did anyone really think Obama's fingerprints weren't on this somewhere? He may not listen to the voters, but he listens to Breidbart.com.

Frank Serpico says, "The Police Are Still Out of Control [...] Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he's typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets - this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And we still don't know how many of these incidents occur each year; even though Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 20 years ago, requiring the Justice Department to produce an annual report on 'the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,' the reports were never issued.)"

"Verizon is launching a tech news site that bans stories on U.S. spying: Verizon is getting into the news business. What could go wrong? The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called SugarString.com. The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game. There's just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today."

Lee Camp: States Criminalize Off-The-Grid Living

Racism Insurance, and other stuff.

Entertainment:

Huh. Movies That Passed the Bechdel Test Made More Money in 2013.

Why, yes, I would like to watch a fantasy TV series with a superhero team called The Librarians. Is it any good?

John Scalzi's erotic Watchmen fanfic novel

Traffic, "Don't Be Sad"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The crowd called out for more

On Virtually Speaking, Marcy Wheeler talked with Patrick Eddington, a former CIA officer, and former intelligence staffer to Rush Holt, about the nature of "intelligence" and the loss of Congressional oversight. Homework for this one: Senator Frank Church on Meet the Press: The Intelligence Gathering Debate, 1975. "There would be no place to hide"

The Democratic Party's Tea Party faction in action: Obama's friends may successfully defeat Progressive Caucus member Mike Honda. Because another odious technocrat is just what we need. (Thanks to commenter ksix for the tip.)

Right now even the most optimistic Dem prognosticators are talking about hanging onto the Senate by a hair and probably losing some Congressional seats as well. And yes, we can blame the media for some of it, but let's not get carried away, because the Dems barely lifted a finger to try to give voters something to vote for. Robert Kuttner is right, even if the Dems aren't "routed" - this should have been an easy win.

This is the most recent video I've found of the remarkable performance of a certain candidate behaving like a petulant 6-year-old during a very lamely-handled interview by a soft-baller at The Cleveland Plain Dealer, which the paper for some reason keeps making people take down. Ah, here's an update of the story at PressThink.

Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, and John Cook's statement on why Matt Taibbi quit First Look: "Taibbi's dispute with his bosses instead centered on differences in management style and the extent to which First Look would influence the organizational and corporate aspects of his role as editor-in-chief. Those conflicts were rooted in a larger and more fundamental culture clash that has plagued the project from the start: A collision between the First Look executives, who by and large come from a highly structured Silicon Valley corporate environment, and the fiercely independent journalists who view corporate cultures and management-speak with disdain. That divide is a regular feature in many newsrooms, but it was exacerbated by First Look's avowed strategy of hiring exactly those journalists who had cultivated reputations as anti-authoritarian iconoclasts."

It's going even farther than usual to say, "Government didn't build my business, I did," when your whole town wouldn't exist without the government.

Via Atrios, "The Red Cross' Secret Disaster" tells you what happens when you put a relief agency in the hands of people who come from today's Glorious Leaders.

You'd think the Crown Prosecution Service would at least hire people who are smart enough to tell a spoof video from real porn. But they never have been, and the stupidity of the law makes it easy for them to get carried away.

Remember when Samantha Power called Hillary Clinton a "monster"? Well, that's pretty rich, coming from Obama's Atrocity Enabler.

Making the point? "Muslim Company Forcing Christian Employees to Wear Headscarfs: A Muslim-owned arts-and-crafts store in Dearborn, Michigan is forcing its female Christian employees to wear traditional Islamic headscarves while on the job. According to local reports, Khilaf Krafts began requiring its eight female employees to wear hijabs last week, following the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which gave religious rights to family-owned businesses. Although five women working for the company are Muslims, the remaining three are practicing Christians. The company has threatened to fire any Christian woman who does not comply."

Elizabeth Warren may have just opened the door to a White House run

Everything You Need to Know to Vote in the 2014 Elections

Sean Wang says, "Midterm National Senate Polling Error Is Five Times Larger Than In Presidential Years." So, either way, don't count your chickens.

Blast from the past: Whenever I hear anyone talk about Al Gore's lack of charisma, I remember seeing the video (which, alas, I can't find now - a real shame because it's even more obvious how much more visually dynamic Gore can be) of Gore talking to some students at Concord High School in New Hampshire, and answering a question about how individuals can make a difference, and his story about how the poisoned water at Love Canal was exposed by a high school student who wrote to her Congressman. This American Life preserved the audio, fortunately, in a segment about how different candidates - with the example being Gore - are from the way the media middlemen paint them. Some interesting student comments: "He wasn't as stiff as people say he was. He comes out, takes his jacket off or whatever. He walks around, he asks for audience participation, he talks to the audience." "I mean, he was still Gore. But he wasn't quite as stiff as like-- he didn't just get up and talk like the other candidates did. He's kind of a neat speaker to see." Some of you may remember how the media turned this event into what had to be a complete nightmare for Gore - all, apparently, because MoDo and the Spite Girls thought George W. Bush (George W. Bush!) was hotter than Al Gore.

Kosher Halloween

What emphasis is for: "I never said she stole my money."

Our friend Pavl Duke, playing all the instruments.

Award-winning shadow-casting sculpture - We've seen a couple of these before and enjoyed them, but I have to say I was touched by the background of this one, which the artist says was based on a design from the Alhambra fortress in Granada, Spain, "which was poised at the intersection of history, culture and art and was a place where Islamic and Western discourses, met and co-existed in harmony and served as a testament to the symbiosis of difference."

Original 1967 video of "Whiter Shade of Pale"

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."
Related:
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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hate your next-door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace

If you can get into the iPlayer, The One Show followed up with the mood on the morning after. (And even if you can't get into iPlayer, here's "Both Sides the Tweed" in full.) Only three precincts voted Yes. That came as a surprise to a lot of people, but folks in the Orkneys don't expect any more from the elite of Scotland than they do from those toffs in Westminster.

Meanwhile, you might not expect it to be good news when the court rules that Kansas must remove the Democratic candidate from the ballot, but it's actually great news.

At Angry Bear:
Beverly Mann on "Freedom! Liberty! And Being For the Little Guy. As Brought to You By the Conservative Movement"
Edward Lambert, "In Praise of Net Social Benefits [...] The low Fed rate increases the existence of low road firms, as Bruce Kaufman calls them. The result is that they impede healthy organizational investments for long-run growth. Thus, net social benefits are reduced."
Stephanie Kelton on Government big and small

Via "Eschaton:
After Surgery, Surprise $117,000 Medical Bill From Doctor He Didn't Know [...] In operating rooms and on hospital wards across the country, physicians and other health providers typically help one another in patient care. But in an increasingly common practice that some medical experts call drive-by doctoring, assistants, consultants and other hospital employees are charging patients or their insurers hefty fees. They may be called in when the need for them is questionable. And patients usually do not realize they have been involved or are charging until the bill arrives."
"Lost in the Hedges: Fund players, not casino experts, behind majority of A.C.'s failed rescues."
"Israel's N.S.A. Scandal [...] Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications - email as well as phone calls - of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. 'I think that's amazing,' he told me. 'It's one of the biggest abuses we've seen.'"

"To recline your seat or not? Stop arguing. Capitalism already won this stupid war" - Toldya.

Facebook for rich people (for just $9,000)

Ruth with some archeological news about a Unique Discovery in Pennsylvania Dig

This is a couple of years old, but Kevin Phillips was a big deal operative in the Republican Party and they say he wrote the book, and here he tells Democracy NOW! why he's become an apostate. "Well, I think the Republican Party today is not very sure of what it is. It is a little bit too interested in upper-bracket America. But I think the party system as a whole has drawn away from its moorings. You have a Democratic president supporting the bailouts of banks. The history of the Democratic Party, under Jefferson, Jackson and FDR, was to crack down on the banks. So I think you have both parties today don't stand for very much aside from self-interest, and they're mostly involved in hustling money from the 20 or 30 richest zip codes in the country."

This is for fans of Harley Quinn.

Paper Sculptures by Hari & Deepti
Pin-ups - retro cheesecake.
Nils Frahm's "Inside Me" is a bunch of pretty swirls.

P.F. Sloan

Monday, September 15, 2014

Even slower glass

Marcy Wheeler and Richard (RJ) Eskow were this week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. They talked about war, spying, and how ISIS is sucking out all the air of Democratic efforts to look back at economic issues (esp the minimum wage).
- McJoan and Gaius Publius discussed the New York Dems, Dems in general, what we need from Obamacare; net neutrality and other stuff on Virtually Speaking Sundays last week.
- Philip Napoli discussed oral histories from Vietnam vets, and the source of trauma, on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.

OK, the reason Scots want independence from Westminster is that Westminster is being run by a load of right-wing scum that seems to take special pleasure from screwing Scotland. (Well, Maggie sure did.) Of course those people are also screwing most of the people in England, which is now a runaway train, thanks in large part to the way the Labour Party membership has allowed their own party to be run by people who may not be capital-C Conservatives but are certainly Tories. Which sounds a lot like American politics, of course, except that there doesn't seem to be much threat of, say, California declaring itself an independent nation and taking it's Democratic votes in the Electoral College with it. A lot of people are fretting that without Scotland, England will be stuck with Conservative governments forever, but that is true only to the extent that everyone is happy to let neoliberal policies keep marching on without an argument. The question, judging from the kinds of arguments some of my friends are having, is whether the answer is a new generation of Labour members banding together to take back their party on behalf of real people, or whether creating a new party is the more feasible path to that end. Again, sounding familiar. In both cases, of course, nothing is going to work unless people are prepared to fight the right-wing rhetoric, as well as the policies, with something more than fevered angst.

"California School Cops Received Military Rifles, Grenade Launchers, Armored Vehicles. [...] The spokesperson said one reason the school district sought the military gear was to prepare for a mass shooting incident like Columbine High School or Sandy Hook Elementary School." Because that would have worked so well to prevent those incidents.

You know, it used to be understood that you didn't want to allow foreign powers to be able to put their influence into American elections because, you know, they might not have America's best interests at heart. That's one reason we used to expect transparency in campaign donations, among other things. So...
"SEC Inundated by One Million Requests for Corporate Campaign Contribution Transparency: On September 4, Public Citizen held a news conference to urge the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to consider a rule that would prohibit corporate campaign contributions from being cloaked in secrecy. The organization announced that one million people in the United States had either sent formal comments to the SEC or signed a petition to bring transparency to corporations contributing shareholder-owned funds to elections without full disclosure."
Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks.

Marcy Wheeler, "Awlaki Really Seems to Have Been Drone-Killed Exclusively on Presidential Authority [...] Man. It's just like they kept throwing legal arguments against the wall in hopes that one saying 'You can kill Americans with no due process' would stick. And since this one is not signed, we may never know what lawyer gets rewarded with a lifetime judicial sinecure!"

Matt Stoller, "5 Reasons for the Zephyr Teachout Phenomenon, and 5 Reasons Andrew Cuomo Is Still Governor" - Cuomo had a lot more money to spend than Teachout did, but he won with "a shockingly low percentage of the vote, roughly 20 points less than Spitzer got in his primary for Governor in 2006." That makes a real difference not just in New York, but in national politics, as well. And more could come, if people know how to take advantage of this.

I don't know if the book is any good, but "Give the Anarchist a Cigarette" is the video for Peak Inequality: The .01% And The Impoverishment Of Society.

I think there may be someone sane on the editorial board of The Washington Post, but they didn't have any input into this cheerleading for holy war.

"Police intelligence targets cash" - This is a big profile in The Washington Post of a guy who has made a lot of money out of going after suspected drug dealers of color. It's also about the profitability of asset confiscation.

"Washington Supreme Court Holds State In Contempt: The Washington Supreme Court issued a decision Thursday holding the Legislature in contempt for its lack of progress on fixing the way the state pays for public education but withheld possible punishment until after the 2015 session."

Actually, I think everyone should be whining about the way airlines are packing people into tin cans like sardines and making us all fight for space in such increasingly unpleasant surroundings. Air travel did not used to be Hell, and there is no reason it should be, now. Before deregulation, fear of flying was about the actual being thousands of feet off the ground held up only by theories part of flying, and not about being crammed in with a bunch of people who had already been aggravated repeatedly at the airport and now couldn't even stretch their legs, let alone find room for their carry-on luggage (which now has to be much smaller than it used to be and your handbag has to fit into it). I don't blame people wanting to put their seats back (although I never do unless the person in front of me has, partly because it isn't really that much more comfortable and partly because I don't want to force the person behind me to do the same), and I really don't blame people for wanting to stop the person in front of them from putting their seat back. Flying shouldn't be this unpleasant in the first place, it didn't used to be, and, by the way, before deregulation, the airlines used to make real profits and did so without so seriously underpaying their flight staff that they had to get flood stamps. When I hear about people fighting over space in a plane, I know where to point the finger, and it isn't at the passengers.

I've never actually had any stomach for the "principled stand" of showing deference among the boys, even fairly liberal Democrats, to right-wing guys who might be, y'know, John Ashcroft or Michael Boggs. Principle would surely mean refusing to vote for someone who clearly does not belong on the bench, wouldn't it?

At Naked Capitalism, "All in the Family: How the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Sam Walton, Bill Gates, and Other Billionaires Are Undermining America [...] There is no Tycoon Party in the U.S. imposing ideological uniformity on a group of billionaires who, by their very nature as übermensch, march to their own drummers and differ on many matters. Some are philanthropically minded, others parsimonious; some are pietistic, others indifferent. Wall Street hedge fund creators may donate to Obama and be card-carrying social liberals on matters of love and marriage, while heartland types like the Koch brothers obviously take another tack politically. But all of them subscribe to one thing: a belief in their own omniscience and irresistible will."

Elizabeth Warren talks to Bill Moyers.

Lee Camp on Operation Northwoods

I enjoy a lot of Russell Brand's analysis, which isn't at all stupid, but he still makes me think of every person I've run into, left or right, who imagines the answer to bad politicians is to walk away. When Brand brags that he doesn't vote, he's erecting a fantasy in which sheer magic will take down the corrupt, ugly system that's been built up around us. So, don't vote, don't organize, don't come up with a coherent response to what the bad guys are doing, just...what? Wish for it? And that's precisely the ground on which fascism grows.

Tansy Rayner Roberts on "Pratchett's Women: The Boobs, the Bad and the Broomsticks" - Part 1, apparently. Nicely done.

The title of this article should actually be something like, "Don't leave ripe tomatoes on the counter for four hot days."

Painted Ladies - I love this stuff.

Truth is Beauty, a spectacular sculpture by Marco Cochrane

Steve Simels made me listen to this, and it truly rocks.

And, in case you're wondering, here's the Box Tops and Alex Chilton really not getting into the spirit of lip-syncing "The Letter".