Saturday, April 19, 2014

Me and my baby love Saturday nights

Avedon Carol and Jay Ackroyd are the panelists for the Easter edition of Virtually Speaking Sundays. Listen live or later at the link.
Jon Walker was the guest on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd, discussing what we want to happen and what is likely to happen once marijuana is legalized. Meanwhile, Lee Camp says, "Police Spend Millions Of Hours Arresting People For This Stupid Reason."

Watch (or listen to, or read) Matt Taibbi on Democracy NOW! talking about his book The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap and who goes to jail. You can read an excerpt here.

Paul Krugman interview clip: worse than the Gilded Age.

Vanity Fair interview with Edward Snowden
"What the MSM Did Not Report About Edward Snowden's Testimony Before the Council of Europe"
And when I clicked on this link, I thought I'd accidentally gone to Free Republic. It seemed obvious to me that Snowden had a good reason for this.

I'm not a big fan of Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), but I certainly respect and applaud his efforts on behalf of whistleblowers (despite the fact that he's still refusing to acknowledge Snowden as one of them). He gave a long speech last week in which he emphasized that it is the right and duty of government employees to expose wrong-doing within the government, and detailed the history of whistleblower legislation and how his own efforts to strengthen whistleblower protections had been stymied by both Reagan and Obama. He also revealed that the FBI had refused to comply with his requests for documents relating to their process regarding whistleblowers, instead saying it could best be answered with a briefing - a briefing the FBI walked out on when they decided they didn't like being asked questions about how they dealt with whistleblowers. Nevertheless, they told Grassley and Leahy's staff enough to damn their process: "However, the head of the Insider Threat Program told the staff that there was no need to worry about whistleblower communications. He said whistleblowers had to register in order to be protected, and the Insider Threat Program would know to just avoid those people. Now I have never heard of whistleblowers being required to 'register' in order to be protected. The idea of such a requirement should be pretty alarming to all Americans. Sometimes confidentiality is the best protection a whistleblower has. Unfortunately, neither my staff nor Chairman Leahy's staff was able to learn more, because only about ten minutes into the briefing, the FBI abruptly walked out. FBI officials simply refused to discuss any whistleblower implications in its Insider Threat Program and left the room. These are clearly not the actions of an agency that is genuinely open to whistleblowers or whistleblower protection."

I wonder why I didn't notice this story before now: "Right wing cyber attacks on Healthcare.gov website confirmed: Yesterday, the House Homeland Security Committee published a video on their Youtube page highlighting a portion of the committee questioning Roberta Stempfley, acting assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Cyber-security and Communications, who confirmed at least 16 attacks on the Affordable Care Act's portal Healthcare.gov website in 2013."

Unusually, The New York Times hints that it is aware of the unequal recovery, but puts it purely in generational terms. 'Cause we need an age war.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post got a little crazy in its defense of the Comcast merger: "I'm not sure where the Washington Post's editorial board falls in terms of insider/outsider status, but it just issued an editorial supporting the merger. And, oh man, it's just a terrible set of opinions bolstered by some equally terrible assertions. The gist of it is that a massive cable company is no problem because regulators have done such a great job at ensuring a competitive playing field to this point."

SCOTUSblog has been denied press credentials. This doesn't actually seem to be affecting whether they can cover the court, but it's certainly an inconvenience and it's hard to fathom a justification for it.
Elsewhere, a court has declared that blogs are real "media".

The reason we started having a 40-hour work week is that over 100 years ago there was a real union movement. But the reason we kept having a 40-hour work week (as opposed to an 84-hour work week) is that people learned that it's more productive for the company.

Isn't it funny just how like a crazy far-right wingnut your basic "moderate" is?

So, I guess that student loan thing was yet another false promise.

Ian Welsh, "Markets and Competitive Markets: Markets are almost entirely a product of government regulation and enforcement, and cannot be anything but. This is not just about the common observation that government must enforce contracts, but about the how it enforces contracts because contract law changes over time, and is differs from country to country."

It's amazing how different Southern Baptists were within living memory. But then, a lot of things ain't what they used to be.

What's wrong with this story: "Fox's Brit Hume: Obama Uses Race As 'A Sword' To 'Attack Others'."

Tom Lehrer, a voice of "the pre-counterculture left" (Click through; he's stranger than you think.)
How the Yippies levitated the Pentagon

A "stupid chain of unfortunate circumstances" - I wish the story had told us just what that was, because I'm having a little trouble figuring out how this little mistake could have been made.

"Finland just released this amazing, slightly NSFW stamp collection" - yes, by Tom of Finland.

Great traffic signs of our time: Silly walk.

The Muppets' Jesus Christ Superstar Is A Real Album That Someone Made.

"Steam Powered Giraffe" is a good name for a band.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

No wind, no rain, no winter's cold

Marcy Wheeler and Stuart Zechman are scheduled panelists for tonight's Virtually Speaking Sundays: "There's a common transparency theme with the NSA and CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). There's the question of what missions are being served--neither seems primarily focused on the general citizenry, and acts in disdain, at best, for democratic processes. Both topics require explanation--most people haven't heard of CMS or know the role it plays in price fixing. Likewise, while we know the NSA has been collecting exploits and back doors rather than publicizing and fixing them, that's something else most people are unaware of. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They set Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates, which are the basis for most insurance reimbursement rates. " Related article from the NYT, "Sliver of Medicare Doctors Get Big Share of Payouts"
Cliff Schecter and Richard (RJ) Eskow were last week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

On The Majority Report:
MR's tenth birthday, with Janeane Garofalo
April Fools: MR Goes Right Wing
Jake Rosenfeld: What Unions No Longer Do; and Josh Orton: The McCutcheon Disaster
Henry Giroux: Zombie Politics: "McMaster University Professor and author of Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education Henry Giroux explains what exactly Neoliberalism is, why civic literacy is a threat to Neoliberalism, the public education crisis, why Neoliberals view the function of government as protecting the 1%, the delusions that drive the school privatization movement, the ideology of civic illiteracy, the distortion of freedom in American politics, why we have lost the ability to understand the broad context of the Neoliberal assault on the public, how the left has failed in understanding the culture war, how power is separated from politics, how we are living in a society of spectacle, why the left needs to have a bigger politics, the role of liberal reform in radical politics and how the young are suffering under austerity and how they could lead a movement for genuine change and are we heading towards another 1960s."
Greg Mitchell: When Hollywood Turned Left
Matt and Michael talked to Seyward Darby about the hidden victims in Rwanda, and to Scott Keyes about "Welcome To Shawnee, Oklahoma: The Worst City In America To Be Homeless."
And Sammy talked to Zoe Carpenter about her article "Will Phony Populists Hijack the Fight Against Inequality?"

Tom O'Donnel in The New Yorker, "L.P.D.: Libertarian Police Department [...] 'Stop right there!' I yelled as I ran. He was faster than me because I always try to avoid stepping on public sidewalks. Our country needs a private-sidewalk voucher system, but, thanks to the incestuous interplay between our corrupt federal government and the public-sidewalk lobby, it will never happen."

Marcy Wheeler, "The Neverending CIA Drone Story Actually about Outsourced Intelligence [...] That is, the NYT is really reporting that, in spite of nominal efforts to change things, we remain captive to those relationships with liaison services, almost 13 years after 9/11. And that happens to also translate into operating drone strikes in such a way that two countries which were implicated in the 9/11 attacks - Pakistan and especially Saudi Arabia - have managed to stay relevant and above criticism by sustaining (perhaps artificially) our dependence on them."

"Angus King Offers To Waterboard Dick Cheney 'Hundreds' Of Times: Dick Cheney has defended torture techniques so many times that a frustrated U.S. senator has finally offered to waterboard the former vice president."

"Nearly Half Of Americans Claim They've Changed Their Behavior Due To NSA: The folks at the NSA and their defenders used to use the argument that we were on the verge of a "cyber pearl harbor" in their constant attempts to change laws to give the NSA and others in law enforcement and intelligence more powers to spy on everyone (the argument being that they would do this in order to "protect" us). But... it's beginning to look like the "cyber pearl harbor" wasn't an attack from foreign hackers... but from the NSA itself. Eric Schmidt recently noted that the NSA's actions were a hostile "attack" and it appears that many Americans agree. A new poll found that nearly half of American adults who responded have changed some form of online behavior because of the NSA stories, and they think a lot more carefully about where they go, what they say and what they do online."

Alex Pareene in Salon, "Want to cut the rich's influence? Take away their money! [...] If the super-rich had less money, they would have less money to spend on campaigns and lobbying. And unlike speech, the government is very clearly allowed to take away people's money. It's in the Constitution and everything. I know it wasn't that long ago that it also seemed obvious that the government could regulate political spending, but in this case the relevant constitutional authority is pretty clear and there is no room for a so-called originalist to justify a politically conservative reading of the text. Congress can tax income any way it pleases. There is one glaring problem with my plan, of course, which is that Congress is already captured by wealthy interests, and is not inclined to tax them. But all I'm saying is that would-be campaign finance reformers ought to give up on their lost cause and shift their energies toward confiscation and redistribution."

"Why Obama's Regulators Let Wall Street Bankers Off Easy: If there's anything more maddening than the sheer scale of the financial fraud that sent America and the rest the planet spiraling into the economic abyss in 2008, it's the fact that no Wall Street bankers have gone to jail for causing the mess. As in zero, zilch, none at all. So at his farewell party last month to celebrate a lengthy career at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) - the US regulatory agency that supposedly keeps Wall Street in check - James Kidney, a trial attorney who had been hamstrung for years by indifferent bosses, broke his silence and went off on an awesome rant about how no one in the financial sector fears the body supposedly policing their behavior. The SEC, in essence, is a joke."

Robert Reich is right, we shouldn't be campaigning to raise the minimum wage to just $10.10 an hour. "Why The Minimum Wage Should Really Be Raised To $15 An Hour"

Lee Camp: "The President of the World Bank said something UNBELIEVABLE the other day. He said that there will be violent protests popping up around the world BECAUSE... smart phones and access to media have made it so everyone knows how everyone else lives. That's right! The problem with the immense inequality around the globe, the issue with having SO MANY destitute people worldwide is that they're now FINDING OUT just how much we're f*cking them! The cat's out of the bag! They saw an Instagram of Kim Kardashian on a jet-ski! GOD DAMN IT! If only they weren't all up on our motherf*cking Facebook wall, everything would be fine!"

Ian Welsh on "The First Real Russian Retaliation for American Sanctions" - Oil deals that don't involve US dollars will make it a whole new ball game.

Heartbleed - No one has figured out exactly how this vulnerability got all over the net, but there's no reason not to suspect the NSA.

I don't know much about oncology, but if it's really true that doctors make money from prescribing chemotherapy as is described in "97 Percent of The Time, Chemotherapy Does Not Work And Continues To Be Used Only For One Reason", that in itself would be a reason to distrust it. Of course, if it's true that these toxic drugs don't work in the treatment of most of the major cancers, that's a pretty big deal. "Dr. Allen Levin stated: 'Most cancer patients in this country die of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy does not eliminate breast, colon, or lung cancers. This fact has been documented for over a decade, yet doctors still use chemotherapy for these tumors.' In his book, The Topic of Cancer: When the Killing Has to Stop, Dick Richards cites a number of autopsy studies which have shown that cancer patients actually died from conventional treatments before the tumor had a chance to kill them."

"Tom Frank interviews Barbara Ehrenreich: 'You're the anti-Ayn Rand'"

Ugh, I clicked without thinking and got reminded of just how creepy Bill O'Reilly is. It's brand-new that college students do stuff they've always done, but people shouldn't complain about inequality because the United States set the gold standard on opportunity and, um, it's still the 1960s so nothing has changed since then. Seems Joan Walsh sees fear in O'Reilly's eyes.
Hm, this ad might have been a mistake. Oh, I guess so!

250 Years of Campaigns, Cash and Corruption - a handy timeline.

A bunch of scientists and Kate Mulgrew were conned into being in a geocentrist film.

"British Columbia Enacted the Most Significant Carbon Tax in the Western Hemisphere. What Happened Next Is It Worked." It's funny that people talk so much more about global climate than they do about the immediate environment, because I think people forget that one of the issues here is whether you want you and your children to be able to drink clean water and breathe clean air. You can be as much of a climate denier as you like, but those issues are right inside your house. (via)

"The Town That Turned Poverty Into a Prison Sentence" - Debtor's prison is coming back with a vengeance.

"Psychopaths: how can you spot one?" The interesting thing about this story is who the doctor spotted.

"Dorset Police unveil Tardis-style box." Or, as we think of it, a police box-style police box.

The 2014 Sony World Photography Awards (via)

The taste treat I've been waiting for: deep-fried butter on a stick.
Oh, and these.

Simels has another female vocalist he wants us to listen to.

Retro pin-ups of DC Comics heroines - These are really nice work.

Robert Downey, Jr. does great birthday parties.

Your archeology moment

This is definitely not the bra of the week.

This is the most unusual performance of "Mack the Knife" I've ever heard. Or seen. Strangely, it made me think of Hendrix.

Probably not work-safe performance of the 5th.

This is kinda cool - Doris Troy's original version of her song "Just One Look" with Linda Ronstadt's cover slapped on top of each other. (Would not have worked with the Hollies version.)

Marvin Gaye, "Can I Get A Witness"
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrel, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"

Friday, April 4, 2014

Clip joint

I was just noticing my friend Jack's sig file:
A Mission Statement for America:
  • form a more perfect Union
  • establish Justice
  • insure domestic Tranquility
  • provide for the common defence
  • promote the general Welfare
  • secure the Blessings of Liberty

Marcy Wheeler discussed NCAA unions,,Obama dragnet reforms and Ron Wyden. Tweet Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.

Who could have guessed? "CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says: A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years - concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques." (via)
"The CIA and the Moral Sunk Costs of the Torture Program: Once they sold their souls, they had to justify the sale, even if it meant misleading everyone about what torture was achieving."

Stuart and Jay were talking about this the other night,* and now here's Krugman on Growth Versus Distribution: Hunger Games. I guess this means he's getting over the idea that growth is necessarily good. Welcome to our world, Paul.

"Someone Else's Debt Could Ruin Your Credit Rating: Debt collectors are pursuing one in seven Americans - and often screwing up [...] That's not far from the truth. According to statistics from the Federal Reserve, one in seven Americans is being pursued by a debt collector, up from one in 12 just ten years ago. And substantial numbers of these Americans report being hounded for debts they do not owe. A new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau logged tens of thousands of complaints claiming just this - that the debt in question is simply not theirs."

"Wealth Inequality Is Now As Bad As It Was During The 1920s" - complete with hand graphs.

"Interview with Ex-CIA Collaborator: 'The CIA's Plans in Venezuela Are Far Advanced': U.S. intelligence agencies have long been engaged in their own brand of social engineering, conjuring up 'color' revolutions energized by students in targeted countries - with Venezuela currently topping the list. 'If you succeed in getting these youngsters to believe that savage capitalism is the solution to all their problems, then there will be no revolution for Latin America. It's that simple.'"
"Armstrong Williams Wants 'Diversity' Favor from FCC"

I actually think Atrios had the most astute reaction to McCutcheon. Campaign finance reform isn't even meaningful when you have an aristocracy that is so wealthy it already controls who can be nominated and who the media will inform voters about (and how), and rich enough that they can buy government with promises of great rewards to officials after they "retire" (or are retired by the voters)

"'Deeply held principles' - Hobby Lobby does lots of business with China, land of forced abortions, and invests in companies that provide "morning after" pills, but after being solicited by moneyed right-wing interests suddenly decided to bring their "principled" stand against abortion to the Supreme Court.

"Judge: Probation for du Pont heir in daughter rape because 'he would not fare well' in prison: A Superior Court judge who sentenced an heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter wrote in her order that he 'will not fare well' in prison and suggested that he needed treatment instead of time behind bars, according to Delaware Online." Just how well does this judge think anyone else does in prison? Do they "fare well"? Does it improve their lives in any way? Are they completely unaffected? Perhaps we should ask her who she has sent to prison thinking they would "fare well" there.

This experiment reminds me of the Democratic Party, except without the first generation of monkeys that got the cold water.
"How to Get People to Accept Unfairness"
"Republican Monopoly"

Ryan Cooper in The Week: "Hey, liberal hawks: Stop hating the anti-war left" - What really pisses me off about this is that I disliked Putin even way back when it was fashionable to like him, and I don't like being lectured by some crackpot Iraq war-supporting "liberal" about being too in love with Putin. PS. We were not only right about Iraq, we were right about not trusting Bush to run an invasion of Afghanistan. (via)

Confused about economics? Visit BoonyvilleUSA, where it's all explained.

Fun with Corporate Conscience Clauses

Despite what you may have heard, Cannabis in the Netherlands is doing just fine."
Pot legalization music

Lance Mannion is reading a book and writing about it. "Why I just threw Peter Baker's Days of Fire across the room" - The most important phrase to remember is "uncounted votes".

A little warning about how study results can be misinterpreted.

Political Cartoons from The Week's collection

The Indy's April Fool's round-up
And the Grauniad

Your steampunk shopping site

I had been entirely unaware of the Alpine spaghetti harvest.

Simels wants you to see this Sandy Denny clip.

Friday, March 28, 2014

That's the way to lose your chains

Sorry if you missed me - been preoccupied over the last week. Or distracted. Or something.

This week on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd, Stuart Zechman joins Jay to discuss the prevailing assumptions about the goals of economic policy and what they are supposed to be for.

Digby and Joan McCarter (McJoan) were this week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays.
Last week on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd: "Masaccio is the nom de blog for Ed Walker, former Securities Commissioner for the State of Tennessee. He and Jay Ackroyd discuss the nature of markets and their role in a mixed economy. "Market solutions" have become an objective for policy makers, both conservative and centrists, which is entirely wrong. Markets are policy tools, not policy goals.Moreover,there are no "free markets." Markets can only arise within a framework of complex regulation. There is no more regulated marketplace than securities markets." Homework for this episode includes "How High Frequency Trading Works".

On The Majority Report:
Sarah Leonard, about her new article for Al Jazeera, "No sleep till world domination," on how Wall Street and Silicon Valley work cultures support inequality.
Matt Stoller: The Lost History of Free Trade
Mike Konczal: The Voluntarism Fantasy - Because there was never a time when charity and volunteerism solved the problems of the poor.

Obama gave a speech that was, well, incredible. And not in a good way.

This is how a liberal president talks about national security.

Joe Firestone says, "Progressives Need to Up Their Game Against Social Security's Enemies." Which isn't a terribly new thing to say, and we all know there's a reason why members of the Democratic leadership who call themselves "progressive" aren't making the case against Social Security's enemies, but since they're not, everyone else needs to study up on the issue and press the case even harder. (The discussion of taxes is beside the point since when the Democratic leadership talks about raising taxes on the rich, they aren't really talking about doing so in any significant way. Eliminating the cap on Social Security is a good idea, but if we're going to focus on economic inequality, it's going to take massive wealth confiscation at the top to make any real difference. I'm all for a 100% tax on wealth over $100,000,000, but that's not a proposal I've been hearing a lot about.)

Post-racial America - There are still people who think black people get "special treatment". Yeah, it's special, all right.
Robert Reich says if nobody good runs for president, he will.

"Microsoft Looked Through Reporter's Hotmail And MSN Chat Accounts To Identify Windows 8 Leaker: Apparently, Microsoft's desire to track down someone who leaked screenshots of Windows 8 is so strong that it's willing to violate its own privacy guidelines and promises to the public -- even if it means undermining Microsoft's main promotional campaign for email services." Update: But here's The Register's take, which puts a different light on things. And a further update to the story.
"Exile: Sarah Harrison On Paying The Price For Helping Edward Snowden "I cannot return to England, my country, because of my journalistic work with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and at WikiLeaks. There are things I feel I cannot even write. For instance, if I were to say that I hoped my work at WikiLeaks would change government behaviour, this journalistic work could be considered a crime under the UK Terrorism Act of 2000."

Revealed: Apple and Google's wage-fixing cartel involved dozens more companies, over one million employees

"Voracious Worm Evolves to Eat Biotech Corn Engineered to Kill It."

"Iraq War Vet Whose Skull Was Fractured By Oakland Cops During Occupy Protest Settles For $4.5M"

I have nothing to say about Fred Phelps dying except that it would be nice if his family and flock don't continue his business model. However, Bill Day said this. And Tyler Lopez and Mark Evanier figure we owe Phelps a debt for helping to energize gay rights.

I was looking for an article on the median income for 1914. Apparently, the word "median" just doesn't apply. I found a number of items on the average income for 1914, but they didn't really help. The closest I came was "The Overworked Working Poor of 1914: Women and Children and What They Didn't Get Paid". Which is interesting, I guess, but not what I needed.

A plane got lost. That's about as much as anyone knows, but it dominated the news all week.

"Why It's Time for the Journal of Porn Studies"
"Revisiting Dirty Looks" (Thanks to Gary Farber for the tip.)

Photos by Elena Halfrecht

Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos

I saw this in the sidebar of Making Light, where Teresa had linked it as "At which point, a historian has a horrible realization...."
And from Patrick:
"A Church So Poor It Has to Close Schools, Yet So Rich It Can Build a Palace" Calvin & Muad'Dib
"Capital One says it can show up at cardholders' homes, workplaces" ("Even the Internal Revenue Service cannot visit you at home without an arrest warrant," Rofman observed.)"

Your amazing bus stop - This is brilliant, although no power on earth could get me to buy the product, even if I still drank fizzy soft drinks. I still can't believe people drink diet soda.

Everybody's got a list in their head of things they'll do if they ever somehow end up with too much money. My list is mostly about sharing the wealth and has very few items of personal luxury, but these just went on it.

Cool aerial pictures of London

Skies you don't see very day

You just never know where William Shatner will turn up next.

Have some more Animusic: "Resonant Chamber".

Rascals, Live (and not young)

"Forward! Not Forgotten" - HUAC version

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I don't know what it's all about

"I've been a loyal American all of my life, long enough to realize what the true American way is. The true American way is a simple function of appetite. When I see something I want, I take it - as much of it as I want. And I don't care a bit if that doesn't leave enough for anyone else." - Lex Luthor
I like the Iain Banks quote in the graphic, but I can't help feeling the same lack of attention that led to the misspelling of his name is responsible for bothering to be against the Tea Party when there are bigger fish to fry. A great deal of money has gone into convincing you - whether you identify as liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican - to hate the people in the "opposite" tribe, and the Tea Party is a wonderfully misleading alternative to the two major parties/identifiers. You have three "parties", all funded by the same people, led by people who want to dismantle good government and reduce service to the people on behalf of a multinational group of extremely powerful people who think you are just an impediment to them having a good life - and their followers are all people like you who want the government to serve the people and not just corporations and a handful of rich dynasties scattered all over the globe and successfully (so far) managing to suppress the vast majority of ordinary people who have to work to live.

Alternatively, here is Abbie Hoffman's response to Jerry Rubin's emergence as a Yuppie. The context may be lost, but he was right then and he is still right. "The battle is not over."

RIP Tony Benn. I used to spend a lot of time talking to MPs, and only two MPs from the Labour Party were willing to say they opposed censorship. They were Mo Mowlem and Tony Benn. There used to be a joke floating around about how his lengthy name (Anthony Wedgewood Benn, Viscount Stansgate), got smaller and smaller until someday it was expected he would simply be known as "Ton" (pronounced "tone").
10 quotes from Tony Benn. - It's definitely worth listening again to Benn's explanation of the National Health Service - and democracy and choice - from Sicko.
Tony Benn on democracy. "Every generation has to fight the same battles again and again and again."

Do not tell me that the left isn't as good as the right at telling it. We were always better. But we forgot to buy up all the radio and TV stations.

* * * * *

David Dayen and Stuart Zechman were this week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. They discussed "Dianne Feinstein, the Senate and the CIA: a Constitutional crisis. Then the Progressive Caucus Budget and the politics of income redistribution. Plus political satire from Culture of Truth." Background material/homework for the show includes:
Steve Coll in The New Yorker, "The Senator vs. The C.I.A."
LarryE, "Spying fan Dianne Feinstein objects to being spied on"
"Obama: Taking Sides In CIA-Feinstein Spat ‘Not Something That Is An Appropriate Role For Me' To Wade Into"
Dday: "This Is the Fed's Most Brazen and Least Known Handout to Private Banks"
Dday: "Most despicable bank scam ever? How you may be paying them checking fees for following the law!"
The People's Budget
Progressive Caucus Unveils the Better Off Budget
A little background on Jack Anderson for those too young to remember or too old to still remember.
"NBC News Prez to meet with David Gregory"

Once again, thank the FSM for Crooks and Liars for providing their own videos of material they highlight from Comedy Central, in this case for this very good clip of Jon Stewart taking a GOP mouthpiece to school about food stamps.
Poor people's health care - not the same as everyone else's.

Dean Baker at Beat the Press:
"George Will Is Badly Confused on Economic Issues, Again"
"MSNBC Finds It's Hard to Get Good Help: Abby Huntsman on Social Security "
"Washington Post Is Confused: Pharmaceutical Industry Lobbyists Try to Increase Profits, not Improve Global Health"
"Inequality in Income Translates Into Inequality in Life Expectancy"
"Stiglitz Sets the Record Straight on 'Globalization'"

"Household Debt and the Great Depression: In November 1930, before anyone knew how Great the Depression would be, Charles Persons published an article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics called 'Credit Expansion, 1920 to 1929, and Its Lessons.' His thesis was stated forcefully in the first paragraph: 'The thesis of this paper is that the existing depression was due essentially to the great wave of credit expansion in the past decade.'"

Something Krugman says too little about in "That Old-Time Whistle" is that dismantling War on Poverty programs is something that started the minute Lyndon Johnson left the White House and that precious little is left of it. Conservatives hated those programs because they worked. Getting rid of them while continuing to blame them for the devastating effects on our communities of corporate irresponsibility is a great twofer for those folks, just like it was back in the day when they started crippling any program aimed at helping low-income families and then blamed the resulting effects on black culture. Black families didn't suddenly start splintering because they just collectively decided it would be more fun, they did it as a direct response to the fact that welfare rules were changed to make it impossible to get enough money to feed your kids if the father was still in the home - a rule that was "justified" by claims that such homes were somehow not "the truly needy". Once conservatives took over leadership of the Democratic Party, we had Clinton ending "welfare as we know it," thus making it even more difficult for people in the plundered inner cities to get by. This was disguised somewhat by an economy that overheated in the wake of the "technology revolution" of the period, but we all know what's happened since.

Snowden more optimistic than Digby - Or at least, Snowden's lawyer believes Snowden's revelations will spur a reversal of the entrenchment of the Deep State. Digby fears that not enough people care and the Deep State is so entrenched that its hold can't really be reversed.

I remember when I first saw an article in Time promoting the idea that depression was caused by a chemical imbalance (complete with nifty neon-lit pictures of brains) and that a brief infusion of drugs could reset people. There was no evidence for the idea, of course, and if I'd been a bit more cynical at the time I would have realized it was all an unlabelled advertorial for a new line of drugs that shrinks could hand out like candy. But the thing was, even then, you were only supposed to take these drugs for a couple of weeks and then you would be toggled back to normal. Except no one I know who was ever given this treatment was simply taken off the drugs after a couple of weeks and sent on their merry way. In fact, they seemed to get worse, continued on the drugs, lived in terror of not being able to get the drugs, and never recovered from their depressions. And some of these people had situational depressions, they would surely have recovered with no treatment at all. But they didn't, and instead they are spending a pile of money on dope all the time...
Why is a widely-used drug to treat pneumonia that used to cost $4.00 now costing $50.00?

Jeralyn Merrit tells me that Comcast has been airing a medical marijuana ad. That's new, I can't imagine that happening ten years ago.
Jeralyn also has a brief post on the failure of the nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Civil Rights Division on the grounds that he defended some civil rights. Or at least he was part of the division of his organization that did. But it was Mumia Abu-Jamal. Anyone who is familiar with the details of that case knows it never passed the smell test, and the fact that his death sentence - not his conviction - was overturned has had the law-enforcement lobby in a tizzy for some time.

"Tomgram: David Bromwich, The Leader Obama Wanted to Become and What Became of Him: "Doesn't this just say it all? After Majority Leader Harry Reid went the ultimate mile for the president, loosing the 'nuclear option' on the Senate to wipe out Republican filibusters of a bevy of log-jammed presidential nominations, and after the Republicans -- the president's proudly disloyal opposition -- had fumed to their hearts' content, Obama still couldn't get his nominee to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division confirmed. The culprits in a Congress where, from the White House point of view, evil has been every shade of Republican turned out to be seven disloyal Democrats. Despite a "sustained closed-door effort" by Obama and his aides, they voted the nominee down. Think of it as a little parable for the Obama presidency."

Will Bernie Sanders run for president? He says he'd make a better president than Hillary Clinton, and he's right about that. He'll have to register as a Democrat, though.

Tom Tomorrow on what the Sunday talk shows said about Ukraine.

Life in Pottersville continues to bite - help if you can.

How many women can you find in this photo?

An Entire Day of All of Europe's Air Travel, Visualized

Not sure what it is about this picture, but I just can not stop laughing.

Young Rascals, live, "A Girl Like You"

Sunday, March 9, 2014

If I had my way I would tear this building down

RIP: Bartcop, aged 60. Not just the blog,* the man*. His real name was Terrence R. Coppage, though we never knew that back then. Back in the day, I used to link to him all the time, quote him, go to his page daily. Before I started my own blog, Bartcop.com was the focal point website for a whole lot of us. It was in Bartcop chat on IRC that I badgered Atrios about starting his own blog and gave him the link to Blogger that got him started. I met some of my favorite internet people at Bart's, found some of my favorite journalists. I've even met a few of these people when they visited London. I did not share his love of tequila, but we both loved Led Zep, I'm glad he made me aware of Shirley Manson.
The Rude Pundit, Susie Madrak and Brad Friedman have their own tributes up, and there's an article at The Raw Story.

Dave Johnson and Cliff Schecter will be tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays and will "consider why the trade deficit matters more than the budget deficit, Ukraine, Robert Duncan and the 'war on drugs.' Plus political satire from Culture of Truth.".
Isaac Martin, fiscal sociologist and author of author of Rich People's Movements: Grassroots Campaigns to Untax the One Percent, was the guest on Thursday's Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.

Adolph Reed, who recognized Obama's neoliberalism long before he became the Democratic nominee for the presidency, has an article in Harpers called "Nothing Left: The long, slow surrender of American liberals," which is only available to subscribers, but he discussed it with Sam Seder Wednesday on The Majority Report - highly recommended.
Also recently on the show, David Dayen on how the Post Office could save money, and Jodie Griffin: The Threat of The Comcast-Time Warner Merger & What Next For Net Neutrality?.
And Sam spoke to Mike Lofgren about his essay "Anatomy of the Deep State" at Bill Moyers' site.

Doesn't it bother anyone that the Israeli army is targeting Palestinian soccer players and murdering them on phony pretexts? It seems like the sort of thing you'd at least read about in the sports pages. "Just imagine if members of Spain's top-flight World Cup team had been jailed, shot or killed by another country and imagine the international media outrage that would ensue. Imagine if prospective youth players for Brazil were shot in the feet by the military of another nation. But, tragically, these events along the checkpoints have received little attention on the sports page or beyond."
Jon Stewart ponders the Fox News position on food stamp expenditure, which appears to be that poor people shouldn't eat junk food or nutritious, healthy food: "what's the right mixture of quality and class-based shame poor people should aim for in their meal planning?" (The video is Hulu so I can't see it, but text is supplied.)
And, of course, Obama is still working hard to promote the idea that Social Security cuts are a perfectly reasonable idea, once again saying they are still on the table.
And then there are Alan Grayson's ex-wife's allegations - which, true or not, could hurt him.
Why did the chicken cross the ocean? "Scores of Americans are in an uproar since Food Safety News revealed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will soon allow U.S. chickens to be sent to China for processing before being shipped back to the states for human consumption."
Aasif Mandvi demonstrates how America has the best healthcare system in the world. And a Fox News commentator tells us how to solve the problems of those who can't afford health insurance. "If you're poor, stop being poor." (Video from Crooks and Liars, so I can see it!)

We know that Paul Ryan is what he is, but Atrios did what looks like a whole blog post, not just a link, on how The Washington Post writes about his war on the poor as if for all the world it's a great big piece of social justice for the poor. "Journalists can't be this stupid, so they've just chosen to let the politicians write the story they want told. It's 'make you stupider' journalism, instead of 'inform you' journalism, which is what so much political journalism is."
Atrios also made Paul Taylor his Wanker of the Day* Wednesday after his appearance on NPR promoting generational warfare. As Dean Baker reports, "Taylor repeatedly complained that younger generations don't seem angry about their parents' Social Security and Medicare. He told his interviewer: 'Well, what's so fascinating is there isn't any tension at the moment. You have a generation coming in that isn't wagging its finger with blame at mom or grandma, in fact, they're living with mom and grandma.'" I thought that was particularly interesting myself, since the quote from Taylor contains what should be the only explanation he needs for the not-so-curious fact that kids don't want to make war on their parents and grandparents. If you're living with mom and grandma, and you know perfectly well that they can't go out and get jobs instead of collecting the Social Security that is currently supporting you, it doesn't make sense to want to take their Social Security away, since it's not going to magically supply you with a good job, and in all probability it would mean you'll just all be living together in a cardboard box. Who is the genius who believes that if old people stay in the workforce longer - assuming they could manage to stay employed longer - they wouldn't be part of the job-competition that young people have to face? You don't have to spend that much time in the workforce to know that advancement often depends on the people above you retiring. And since employers these days are much more inclined to cut staff than add to it, getting rid of the people above you is sometimes the only way to move up, which is why more and more these days, you see some people actively conspiring to push out even the most valuable older workers (and they don't have to be that much older, either). Just leaving aside Taylor's bad math, most kids are also smart enough to figure out that mom and grandma are not the people who invented overwhelming student dept and policies that export and reduce American jobs. So, basically, the reason These Kids Today are not doing what Paul Taylor wants them to do is because they are smarter than him. Also via Atrios, McClatchy reports that the CIA is spying on members of Congress.

"WTF: CIA Took Secret, 'Unprecedented Action' Against Senate Intelligence Committee [...] The [Senate Intelligence] committee has spent several years working on a voluminous report about the detention and interrogation program, and according to one official interviewed in recent days, C.I.A. officers went as far as gaining access to computer networks used by the committee to carry out its investigation.... The specifics of the inspector general's investigation are unclear. But several officials interviewed in recent days - all of whom insisted on anonymity, citing a continuing inquiry - said it began after the C.I.A. took what Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, on Tuesday called an 'unprecedented action' against the committee."
"Statement on Congress's Oversight of the CIA from U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: "The Senate Intelligence Committee oversees the CIA, not the other way around. Since I joined the Committee, the CIA has refused to engage in good faith on the Committee's study of the CIA's detention and interrogation program. Instead, the CIA has consistently tried to cast doubt on the accuracy and quality of this report by publicly making false representations about what is and is not in it. The public must be given a complete and accurate accounting of this dark period in our history by declassifying not only the full Committee study, but the Panetta Review as well. Only then can the American people understand the scope and impact of the CIA's actions and hopefully future generations will learn from these mistakes."

18th and 19th Century Paintings of London Superimposed on Contemporary Photos of the City

I have no idea what they mean about this house, which to me looks better on the inside than on the outside. Some of those carpets really have to go, though.

Reaping for Dummies

Peter, Paul, & Mary, live. Or, this very different, but interesting, cover from Garbage (that seems to forget the point that Samson tore that building down with brute strength).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I got so much honey the bees envy me

Susie Madrak explained just how expensive it is to be poor on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. I wish everyone understood this. It's amazing to me that there are people who don't already.

David Sirota talked to Sam Seder about the attack on pensions and how PBS is turning into the Plutocrat Broadcasting System, on The Majority Report.
And David Dayen talked to Sam about why the Post Office should become a bank.

Radley Balko on The drug war's profit motive explains that opposition to a medical marijuana bill in Wisconsin is meeting a brick wall from a law enforcement coalition that seems to be all about the money - without asset seizures and drug war funding, cops won't have as much money to play with to buy shiny military gear to assault people who have leaves, so having leaves needs to be illegal.

"Ex Monsanto Lawyer Clarence Thomas to Hear Major Monsanto Case: In Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, No. 09-475, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case which could have an enormous effect on the future of the American food industry. This is Monsanto's third appeal of the case, and if they win a favorable ruling from the high court, a deregulated Monsanto may find itself in position to corner the markets of numerous U.S. crops, and to litigate conventional farmers into oblivion."

Glenn Greenwald, "How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations: One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It's time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents."

Krugman makes a chart on Austerity: "If spending had tracked what happened under Bush II, discretionary spending would be about a third - or more than 2 percent of GDP - higher. Since there is good reason to believe that the multiplier is 1.5 or more, this would mean real GDP 3-plus percent higher, closing much if not most of the output gap, and probably an unemployment rate below 5.5 percent. In short, we would have had a vastly healthier economy but for the de facto victory of disastrous austerity policies."

South Carolina legislature confiscates budget of college for assigning Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: "The South Carolina House of Representatives has withdrawn $52,000 from the College of Charleston for including Alison Bechdel's brilliant, celebrated memoir Fun Home in its summer reading program. Bechdel, creator of the Dykes to Watch Out For strip, published the memoir in 2006. In graphic novel form, it tells Bechdel's story of growing up closeted in a family riven by a father who can't admit that he is gay and an embittered mother who doesn't allow herself to notice her husband's affairs."

Ryan Cooper in The Washington Monthly advocates Free Money for Everyone. Good.

The fix - on gold. Everything is fixed.

Ted Rall on the horse race dilemma

This is a couple of years old, but I stumbled on it while looking for something else and it just reminded me that, aside from making great speeches on important issues, (unlike some presidents we could name), I've always wanted to be able to vote for Julian Bond for president. He's just naturally a right guy.

Telemarketing counter-script - for when they won't leave you alone.

Aurora Borealis seen in Northumberland - nice pics.

Nebula Nominees

June, 1968: How science fiction voted on the Vietnam War in the pages of Galaxy.

RIP: Legendary fan Bhob Stewart (1937-2014)

Music from Hell - "Luke and I were looking at Hieronymus Bosch's painting The Garden of Earthly Delights and discovered, much to our amusement, music written upon the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens of the rightmost panel of the painting which is intended to represent Hell. I decided to transcribe it into modern notation, assuming the second line of the staff is C, as is common for chants of this era. so yes this is LITERALLY the 600-years-old butt song from hell." It could have been a lot worse, all things considered.

"J. Michael Straczynski Options Harlan Ellison's Classic Sci-Fi Story 'Repent, Harlequin!'."

Submitted for your approval - Rod Serling

Nice hat.

I completely love it that someone made this, and I want to play in it, too!

This is such a great group, and such a great song.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A million miles away

Stuart Zechman and Avedon Carol are scheduled panelists this weekend on Virtually Speaking Sundays. Assuming whatever I have doesn't get worse or something.
David Brin talked some more about privacy and transparency on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.

One of the things we have to remember about Obamacare is that most of it is in the hands of the insurance companies, including the immediate PR aspects. So right off the bat, we had the companies sending letters to people saying things to the effect of, "We're sorry, but president Obama is making us get rid of your cheap policy and you'll have to buy a more expensive policy now," without also explaining that "the reason for this is that your cheap policy was so crappy that even offering it to you was fraudulent and we should all be in jail for it." Luckily for Obama, they didn't also explain that, "Of course, the other fraudulent aspects of commercial health insurance are still with us, so you probably still can't afford to use the policy to get health care of a quality you could get in most of the rest of the world, and you can still end up losing your home." And they certainly didn't get around to explaining that, "The reason for this is that President Obama and his pals in the White House refused to even consider the greater effectiveness and sustainability of kicking commercial insurers out of the equation." We kept being told that any other option was not "feasible", but maybe they had a different definition of "feasible" than we did. (And while I was reading the comments on that, I found a link to this discussion at the Oxford Union on "Has capitalism failed the world?")

Bernie Sanders asks "a panel of experts" whether Walmart should pay its workers enough to live on, or if the taxpayers should have to help support them instead. Of course, the poor get less welfare than anyone else does. (And here's Barry Ritholtz on How McDonald's and Wal-Mart Became Welfare Queens . Apparently, even he forgot that there used to be laws governing the treatment of employees in terms of time and pay that also would have prevented a lot of this.)

From Atrios:
"Message: I Care About Poverty" - even supposed "help" for the poor turns out to be another attack on the poor.
"Shouting And Screaming Is Part Of My Job" - This is obviously a response to people who claim that it was and is unnecessary for liberal progressives to scream with alarm when the White House seems to be proposing right-wing policies, since those right-wing policies end up not happening anyway (except for the ones that do). Just leaving aside the fact that Obama's offers to cut Social Security keep failing to pass because those crazy, obstructive Republicans refuse to accept them, the fact that the White House keeps proposing them even though no one wants them is a big clue. Yes, I think bloggers have certainly been instrumental in slowing down the train-wreck, although that was easier to do under Bush because more supposedly liberal bloggers were on the same page with liberal policy rather than "We have to support our Democratic/First Black President," but we had help from the right-wing on that, and if these odious policies are not already baked into the pie (along with the already-baked and extremely odious rise of the age of eligibility to 67), it's not for lack of trying on the part of the Obama Administration. It's not that they didn't want Social Security cuts, it's that they failed to get them because absolutely everyone else opposed them. And, frankly, I don't care if the Republicans did it for the stupidest and nastiest reasons in the world (which they did), I'm just glad they stopped it.
Via Eschaton:
"Watch This CNN Anchor Stop The Spin On The Minimum Wage"
"Here's Why Your Netflix Is Slowing Down"
"Here's Why Obama Can't Get Democrats To Back His Trade Deal"
Dean Baker: "America's Invisible - and Very Diverse - Working Class"

"Obama Admin's TPP Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks"

A lot of people are confounded by what happened to the vote at the Volkswagen plant - it seemed the union had everything going for it, and Volkswagen itself was not being hostile to unionization. So how did they lose?

Wonkette: "Cool New Kansas Bill Would Let Everybody Spank Your Child [..] OK, so the proposed law says that you must spank a child on the buttocks, and can restrain him or her to do so AND you can do it til the kid is a full-grown adult. We just can't see any downside to telling school personnel that they should tackle a high school senior and spank the kid. No liability or safety concerns at all nosiree."

An interesting question explored by Yanis Varoufakis at Naked Capitalism: "Can the Internet Democratize Capitalism?"
Lambert Strether had some fun with Greg Mankiw's NYT op-ed about the deserving rich, and aside from providing an interesting chart, raises a question I hadn't seen before about what "inequality" is and why suddenly everyone in Washington feels comfortable talking about it.

How come we let banks make money by creating debt? What if we didn't?

Ah, Tony Blair, the guy who was instrumental in catapulting the propaganda for war on Iraq, managed to earn Atrios' Worst Person in the World award for Wednesday with the revelation that he personally advised Rebekka Brookes on how to weasel out of phone-hacking charges. My favorite quote from the article: "According to Brooks's note, Blair advised her to set up an 'independent' inquiry, suggesting it could have "outside counsel, Ken Macdonald [the former director of public prosecutions], a great and good type". He said the inquiry would be "Hutton style" - a reference to Lord Hutton's inquiry into the death of David Kelly - and would "clear" her, but warned that "shortcomings" would have to be accepted as a result of the report. Some might interpret that as being practically an admission that they engineered a faux "enquiry" to cover up the suspected murder of David Kelly.

Ad with secret anti-abuse message only visible to children

When "Stand Your Ground" won't work

Cartoon: Energy sources

Lee Camp, Everything You Know About The Death Penalty Is Wrong!
A graphic of two financial collapses

Really? Women don't write epic fantasy? Do they really believe that?

A Tribute to Paintings We'll Never See - because the Nazis destroyed them as "degenerate art".

Your Steampunk Moment: Cool picture of The abandoned City Hall Subway Station in New York. More here.

Hanoi Rocks

Sunday, February 16, 2014

You find little excuses

RJ Eskow and Gaius Publius are scheduled to be tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. They apparently plan to talk about " the mentality of plutocrats and climate.." With Culture of Truth's usual contribution.

Sam Seder's guest the other day on The Majority Report was Melissa Gira Grant, author of Playing The Whore: The Work of Sex Work, and it was a pleasure to hear her saying things I've been saying for years. Most of the criticisms you hear about sex work apply to plenty of other jobs that we don't talk about the same way. Is it a job you take only because you need the money? You mean, as opposed to working in a factory, or for a horrible boss, or as a cleaner? Do miners go down the mines for the view, or for their health?
And here's what might be seen as a companion piece at the Guardian, "Strippers are not the problem - they're just doing a job."

Taibbi, "The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks' Most Devious Scam Yet [...] All of this was big enough news in itself. But it would take half a generation - till now, basically - to understand the most explosive part of the bill, which additionally legalized new forms of monopoly, allowing banks to merge with heavy industry. A tiny provision in the bill also permitted commercial banks to delve into any activity that is 'complementary to a financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally.' 'From the perspective of the banks,' says Saule Omarova, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, 'pretty much everything is considered complementary to a financial activity.'"

I really wish I could get across to certain of my liberal friends that both sides are funded by the Koch Brothers. You don't get something like the DLC out of nowhere, and when the people who support it are so few and so fringy, there has to be a lot of money behind it to give it the profile - and the success - it's had. "His book's acknowledgments list only sixteen politicians but identify twenty people 'whose support and generosity...made the DLC story possible.' Among them are Jon Corzine, the disgraced financier and former New Jersey governor; Michael Steinhardt, a hedge fund manager, major Republican donor and founder of the defunct neoconservative New York Sun newspaper; and Rich Richman, who recently gave $10 million to Columbia University for a research center directed by R. Glenn Hubbard, former chair of George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisors. (A Newsweek investigation in 2000 turned up some DLC underwriters that From doesn't mention: Du Pont, Philip Morris, Merck and the Koch brothers.)" That'd be DLC power-boy Al From.

Alex Pareene, "Is one of 'the crazy ones' behind a threatening email sent to House Republicans? [...] Yes, Republicans also think of certain other Republicans as 'the crazy ones.' No, those Republicans do not generally have policy beliefs that differ significantly from those of the crazy ones. One issue that does divide them, though, is the debt ceiling. 'Sane' Republicans exploit the regular mandatory debt ceiling vote by falsely claiming that raising it incurs additional debt, while understanding that raising the limit is necessary. 'The crazy ones,' though, genuinely believe that not raising the debt limit wouldn't end up causing an economic catastrophe, or that somehow causing that catastrophe is necessary in order to finally shrink our bloated federal government. What makes 'the crazy ones' crazy, in fact, is that they genuinely believe the cynical lies - about government debt, global warming, taxes, healthcare, immigration, Democratic Party fiscal policies and so on - that the non-crazy ones have been feeding the rubes for years." Via Atrios.

Jay Ackroyd notes that "Glenzilla's new home has quite the masthead." It sure does. And here's Dan Froomkin on The Terrible Toll of Secrecy.

"You Know Who Else Collected Metadata? The Stasi. The East German secret police, known as the Stasi, were an infamously intrusive secret police force. They amassed dossiers on about one quarter of the population of the country during the Communist regime."

Call for the UN to stop giving anti-drug aid to Vietnam: "The United Nations should immediately freeze anti-drug assistance to Vietnam after the communist country sentenced 30 people to die for drug-related offenses, three human rights groups working to get countries to abolish the death penalty said Wednesday. The call from Harm Reduction International, Reprieve and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty cites the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's internal human rights guidance requiring the organization to stop funding for a country if it's feared that such support may lead to people being executed."

The Odd Man Out and Swamp Rabbit discuss Media Monopoly and the latest (illegal!) assault by Comcast, who bought out Time Warner Cable without, apparently, any concerns by the FCC or Justice.

The History of English in Ten Minutes (Thanks, Moshe!)

This one is about me, I just know it.

I can hear politics in all sorts of things, even this really fine cover of an old Martha & the Vandellas song by Bonnie Raitt.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shipwrecked and comatose

This week, David Dayen and Digby were panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays, and commented "on the postal banking proposal; ACA and entrepreneurship; bipartisan McCarthyism from Mike Rogers (R) House Intelligence, and Dianne Feinstein (D), Senate Intelligence. Political satire from Culture of Truth." Not to mention the open assault on the United States Postal Service by the people who are supposed to be running it.
David O. Atkins was the guest on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd, discussing "a world where the central banks' closest partners, the money center banks, routinely engage in criminal activity. It has the effect of turning the entire economy into a house of cards."

On The Majority Report, Matt & Michael Monday With Kevin Gosztola On The NATO3 and Bob Kincaid On West Virginia. The water has been poisoned, and no one is even sure the mess can be cleaned up. Maybe if we can convince people that these corporations are run by jihadist Muslims, something could be done to stop them.

Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report, "American State of the Union: A Festival of Lies [...] Barack Obama, who has presided over the sharpest increases in economic inequality in U.S. history, adopts the persona of public advocate, reciting wrongs inflicted by unseen and unknown forces that have 'deepened' the gap between the rich and the rest of us and 'stalled' upward mobility. Having spent half a decade stuffing tens of trillions of dollars into the accounts of an ever shrinking gaggle of financial capitalists, Obama declares this to be 'a year of action' in the opposite direction. 'Believe it.' And if you do believe it, then crown him the Most Effective Liar of the young century."

A Rash of Deaths and a Missing Reporter - With Ties to Wall Street Investigations [...] The case of David Bird, the oil markets reporter who had worked at the Wall Street Journal for 20 years and vanished without a trace on the afternoon of January 11, has this in common with the other three tragedies: his work involves a commodities market - oil - which is under investigation by the U.S. Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for possible manipulation. The FBI is involved in the Bird investigation."

"North Carolina's Moral Monday Movement Kicks Off 2014 With a Massive Rally in Raleigh [...] If today's rally was any indication, the Moral Monday movement will be bigger and broader in 2014. An estimated 15,000 activists attended the HKonJ rally last year, bringing thirty buses; this year, the NC NAACP estimated that 80,000-100,000 people rallied in Raleigh, with 100 buses converging from all over the state and country. It was the largest civil rights rally in the South since tens of thousands of voting rights activists marched from Selma to Montgomery in support of the Voting Rights Act."

The corruption of our judicial system has created a monster that defies any concept of "civilization" - and wasn't even funny on an episode of QI.

Absolutely everyone finds the editorial pages at The New York Times embarrassing. And, of course, the most embarrassing thing is Thomas Friedman.

The Koch Brothers Left a Confidential Document at Their Last Donor Conference - Read It Here

"The NSA Doesn't Spy On Americans" - This statement just might be inaccurate.

Strange, the right-wing seems upset about the idea that people might have the freedom to leave jobs they hate if they have portable health insurance.

New Photos of the NSA and Other Top Intelligence Agencies Revealed for First Time

The late Gary Webb on C.I.A. Trafficking of Cocaine - and why the media round against The San Jose Mercury News until it was finally bullied into repudiating its own very good story.

Progress: Olympic ad from Norway

"Satirical spaghetti monster image banned by London South Bank University as 'religiously offensive'."

RIP: Shirley Temple, 85. Eventually I started to think of her as a Disney princess, and then just a Republican diplomatic appointee, but on reflection, she may have been the ultimate 20th Century Fox. And I still remember her this way. Wow, that clip is weird to watch now.

"Woody Allen Speaks Out" - Again, the internets are abuzz with outrage, and everyone has to take a side. Is Woody Allen a strange, sometimes anti-social seeming guy? (I'd say so, yeah.) Well, then he must be guilty! Is Mia Farrow a flake who was raging with jealousy? (Sure looks that way to me.) Then her daughter made it up! Um, maybe neither of those conclusions are correct. I look for similarities in different kinds of child abuses cases - the real kind, and the false-accusation kind. They are both realities, and I'm a bit disturbed that some otherwise sensible people are willing to acknowledge only one of them.

"Scalzi's Redshirts coming to TV: John Scalzi's Hugo-winning, existentialist comedy space opera novel Redshirts is being adapted into a TV series by FX -- it's a natural! This is just wonderful news -- intelligent, funny science fiction from a novelist who plays with the tropes of the field, it's just what TV needs. Congrats, John!"

Why Did Someone Put a Giant Wooden Cock on a Kremlin Critic's Car?

A fabulous bit of gymnastics

I am Jello!

Fairy wings. More fairy wings.

Watch Matt Damon and Friends Read Mean Tweets About Themselves.

Have some cute overload.

"Here's the latest/annual Edwardian Ball after-movie, featuring San Francisco's alt-circus Vau de Vire Society, pagan-lounge act Rosin Covin, opera divas, shovel-playing guitarists, and many well-dressed types in San Francisco."

The Red Dwarf Theme