Monday, December 24, 2012

I heard there was a secret chord

This week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays were Digby and David Waldman (KagroX).

Interviews by Sam Seder on The Majority Report:
David Dayen on the Raw Deal and how Obama is trying to raise your taxes and cut your Social Security and Medicare, and on David's hiatus from the blogosphere. (You can read all his FDL stuff here, and of course his final post.)
Matt Taibbi on the big bank drug money launderers.
Max Blumenthal live from Egypt

Another datum in why we need to get rid of the Department of Homeland Security: "U.S. government seizes artist's paycheck as suspected terrorist funds: The U.S. government reportedly has seized an advance payment to artist Tim Hamilton for his work on nonfiction graphic novel detailing the activities of notorious Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony in the Congo, claiming the money was being laundered for a terrorist organization. [...] Cartoonist Matt Bors, who edited Army of God, offers: 'OFAC hasn't responded to my request for comment yet, but their answering machine urged me to visit the U.S. Treasury's website. Comics wouldn't be a great way to fund terrorism. They don't pay very well. But now we know no one fighting terrorism knows how to use Google, which sure makes me feel safe.' Hamilton, who's worked on titles ranging from Green Lantern to Deadpool to MAD, illustrated the Eisner-nominated adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451."
Atkins, "If Congress is looking to save money, here's a place to start" - because Homeland Security is one expensive boondoggle.

Enacting Democracy: "After months of circular debate that never quite managed to result in meaningful action, the vast majority of the protesters were convinced that their concerns would not be addressed and their efforts were wasted, and simply went home. This would be significant enough if it was new; in point of fact, it's been the outcome of nearly every attempt at organized protest since the early 1980s, when the current suite of manipulative pseudoconsensus methods were adopted across most of the activist Left. If you want to know why the Left accomplished next to nothing for thirty years, while activists on the right were getting candidates into office and laws on the books, that's an important part of the reason. This is all the more embarrassing in that the toolkit of democratic process has been sitting on the shelf the whole time, waiting for somebody to notice that liberal and radical groups in the past used to use methods of organization that, however unfashionable they have become, actually work. There are a lot of details, and entire books in fine print have been written on the minutiae, but the core elements of democratic process can be described in a paragraph."

Richard Eskow Asks: Which Side Are You On? "This is a moment of moral clarity. Right now there are only two sides in the Social Security debate: the side that says it's acceptable to cut benefits - in a way that raises taxes for all income except the highest - and the side that says it isn't."

Right to Work for Less and the Destruction of Solidarity [...] Trade unions originally arose because workers understood that selling their labor on the open market only led to poverty. Unlike other 'things' that could be sold, human labor was indivisible from human beings. Workers could not simply store their labor until they could sell their labor for a better price. Capital of course wanted to pay as little for labor as possible, using competition between workers to drive the cost of human labor down. So of necessity, successful trade union efforts required stopping or altering the market in human labor. Unionists did that by asserting that an employer did not have the right to buy an individual's labor for cheaper than the union set standard, and relatedly that individual workers did not have the right to undercut union labor. The collective rights of workers outweighed the individual 'rights' of scabs and business owners. Unions fought for industry-wide agreements designed to take labor out of competition."

Naomi Wolf: "But were Chase, TD, Bank of America and others, which had been targeted by activists, actually now employing our police forces directly? The answer is yes."

Yves has more reasons to be doubtful about the Rolling Jubilee.

Dean Baker: "Fareed Zakaria is Unhappy That "The American Left" Chooses Arithmetic Over Peter Peterson: Fareed Zakaria is very unhappy that "THe American Left," by whom he means the vast majority of people across the political spectrum who oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare, insist on taking arithmetic seriously. They are refusing to join Peter Peterson and his wealthy friends in the Campaign to Fix the Debt in their crusade to cut these key social insurance programs."

As I've noted before, the groups most likely to commit the most odious crimes are the people we are least likely to acknowledge fit the profile. The people who believe most in profiling are the ones who scream the loudest when anyone points that out - it's heresy.

Do I understand this correctly? Obama is Time's Person of the Year for winning an election?

From Michael Rosenwald in Business Week, a Book Review: Against Thrift by James Livingston: "One key complexity in Livingston's argument is that private investment by business is not the kind of spending that creates jobs and spurs growth. All the clamoring about companies needing lower taxes because the resulting increase in profits will drive them to build more factories and create more jobs is, Livingston writes, a two-syllable word that includes the letters b and s. He argues that all the surplus profits - such as the ones still accruing on the books of America's biggest corporations - are really invested in speculative bubbles like the ones that helped cause the Great Depression and the current global crisis. (He has a 19-page appendix with numerous graphs to bolster his points.)" Noted with some amazement atCorrente.
Also, "Was the Sandy Hook Massacre a Failed Rebellion?" - rage killings don't just come from nowhere.

Krugman in 2007: "As a policy matter, I don't understand why Obama would choose to make a big deal of the small Social Security funding shortfall - which may not even exist. As a political matter, I don't understand why he would essentially try to undermine the first big victory progressives won against the Bush administration and the rightward tilt of the Beltway consensus. This isn't 1992. The DLC isn't the Democratic party's leading edge. The center isn't somewhere between Joe Lieberman and John McCain. I can't understand how Obama can be this out of touch."

It still baffles me that everyone doesn't want to learn how to do this.
How The Doctor Puppet Saved Christmas
Susie got a job that doesn't start paying for several weeks. In the meantime, maybe you could throw her a little dosh to tide her over.

And this just bites. I hate to think I've met all these nice people on the internet just to see them slowly get eaten by our rotten economy.

The Vanishing - gorgeous photos of the terrifying. (via)

Leonard Cohen's favorite cover of "Hallelujah"

I was completely unaware of "Christmas Time is Near Again".

"Stille Nacht", The Vienna Boys Choir

So I was trawling around for a decent version of the song, which is a popular (and powerful) piece of Christmas music, and all the versions I could find were, well, wimpy. In desperation, I clicked on the version by the famous singer whose work I find generally unmemorable, and... well, at first I couldn't be sure, but she was obviously starting way at the bottom of her range, where control is hard, so she could make full use of the rest later. It was worth it. "O, Holy Night", performed by Mariah Carey.


  1. It's a bit of bizzaro world when, on the one hand, the Justice Department refuses to prosecute, indict, seize property, bank accounts and other assets from admitted money-laudering executives of HSBC who admitted to doing over $9 billion in business with drug cartels, Hamas, and even Al Queda in violation of at least two major federal laws; while, on the other hand, another federal agency seizes checks from Tim Hamilton, who, even if found guilty, wouldn't have committed even a portion of a fraction of the harm that HSBC has done.

  2. no. i just cannot agree. it's not "both sides do it." it's just fucking not.

    i am the original (and i think i have the comment record to prove it) "let's have dialogue with the right" lefty blogger. and i am far, far to the left, which is also on record. but no. it's not "if only the left would just listen."

    much of the left is stuck in a category, a definition, limitation, whatever you want to say. but there is a *fundamental* difference in the american political spectrum. and that simply is: the right does not believe in, nor is it forced to, listen to anyone other than itself.

    as a matter of analysis, i believe this is the central, and starting point. if the left wants to accomplish anything, anything at all, it MUST understand the fundamentally intractable nature of the opposition. which cannot hear. and will not. no matter how many tons of complete fact the left presents it with, as a matter of discussion.

    they are not listening. THAT is the starting point. not "we need more and better arguments" or "we need more bipartisanship" or any of the rest of that crap.

    yes. what i'm really saying is, gun-free even, is "this isn't garden party, dammit. this is war." accept this.

    the more important discussion involves the analysis of certain demographics, money, and gerrymandering. perhaps the dem party can be remade. not "reformed," but remade. perhaps not. short of remaking, well. which party is going the way of the Whigs? cause on is. pick one.

  3. The Matt Taibbi link isn't working for me. I get a 'page not found' screen.

    1. Try knocking the -m off the end of the URL. Or, alternatively, becoming a member, which is even better. ;)

  4. My favorite O Holy Night by a pop singer is Aaron Neville's version.