Friday, March 8, 2013

But don't forget who's takin' you home

Big political news of the week was that Rand Paul led a real filibuster of the Brennan nomination for 13 hours, demanding that the administration answer questions about its willingness to use drones to murder Americans on American soil. To their shame, the Democrats produced only the weakest tea in support by Ron Wyden, who did join the filibuster but said he would vote for the famously pro-torture nominee anyway. They also produced Dick Durbin, who stood up to oppose the filibuster. The consensus in the liberal blogosphere: Rand doing the right thing for the wrong reason, but at least he got some conversation going about drones. Even if it was just to get a phony fund-raising letter out of it.
(ACLU Comment on John Brennan's Confirmation to CIA Director)

There was no Virtually Speaking Sundays last week due to the Oscars, but Culture of Truth did have something to say about the Sunday talk shows and how they covered the irresponsible blind cuts that our political class is calling "the sequester".
But this week, Dave Johnson and Stuart Zechman tried to sort out whether the horrifying policies of the Democratic leadership are a matter of ideology or plain-old corruption. Which is, I guess, a high-toned way of saying "stupid or evil". (I think Dave does need to be reminded that some of these people just aren't being paid enough to be pure evil - some of it is what I wrote about in "How you became crazy", too. When that kind of thing goes on long enough, there are people who know so little about the subjects under discussion that they actually believe the crazy stuff they are hearing is perfectly reasonable, not because they've had to consider it, but because they've never heard anyone explain why it isn't true.)
Bruce Schneier was also a guest recently on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.

Sam Seder was sufficiently horrified by Jonathan Alter's piece advocating that liberals accept cuts to our economic insurance programs that he managed to get him into an interview on The Majority Report. This is really worth listening to for a chilling insight into the ideology of "liberal" Washington that places vowing not to cut Social Security and Medicare (a highly popular position that also makes good policy sense) on the same level as taking Grover Norquist's pledge not to raise taxes (a highly unpopular position that makes terrible policy sense).
Sam also talked to Nikolas Kozloff about Hugo Chávez.
Congratulations to Sammy on the birth of his second child (first son), celebrated with a pre-recorded interview he had ready for the occasion with Bill Black on austerity. Sam's producers Matt and Michael handled the live portions of the show, with Matt in high-gear over what he saw as inappropriate reaction to Rand Paul's filibuster. Last time I looked, Sam and Nicki (not sure how she spells that) still hadn't chosen a name for the kid.

Jon Lee Anderson on the passing of a complex leader, and his controversial legacy: "Postscript: Hugo Chávez, 1954-2013
John Pilger's documentary on Chavez
Greg Palast writes, "Vaya con Dios, Hugo Chávez, mi Amigo," advising that the Bush administration's sudden hatred of Chávez was all about the fact that he told Big Oil they were going to have to pay a little more money for oil they extracted from his country. You can get a free download of the film The Assassination of Hugo Chavez in honor of the occasion.

Dr. Duncan Black says, "Expand Social Security - The three legged stool is down to one leg."

Matt Taibbi on punishing people who blow the whistle on irresponsible and illegal bank dealings. "Well, just weeks after the PBS documentary aired, the Court of Appeals in the state of California suddenly took an interest in Winston's case. Normally, a court of appeals can only overturn a jury verdict in a case like this if there is a legal error. It's not supposed to relitigate the factual evidence. Yet this is exactly what happened..."

Dean Baker says, "Time to Bury Pew Report on Wealth by Age Group." Too right. Look, there's only one demographic group that can truly said to be wealthy, and that's the wealthy.

Susie Madrak says the sequester is Obama's fault.

Yves Smith say, "As Dow Sprints to New High, the Middle Class and Manufacturing Languish."

Our Current Economic Mess, Explained With Headlines

Bradley Manning pleads guilty to leaking secret government documents
A difference between Mark Ambinder and Bradley Manning

Organizing against The New Jim Crow

The crying need for some white people to be able to talk about race (via)

Organizing for Acce$$ - it's like magic!

Where all 50 states stand on abortion, in two charts

"Darpa Wants You to Transcribe, and Instantly Recall, All of Your Conversations."

"Conservative activist pays $100,000 to former ACORN worker: James O'Keefe, the conservative activist whose hidden-camera stings have been aimed at liberal targets, has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former employee of the group ACORN, according to documents filed Thursday in federal court here."

When America Was Female - before Uncle Sam, there was Columbia.

"Next Tuesday, the European Parliament will vote yes to a report calling for a legislative ban on all pornography in 'media'. This 'media' is worded to include the internet, and is broad and vague enough to even include photos you take of yourself and send to friends, as well as simple text messaging. This horrendous attack on our fundamental freedoms of speech and expression needs action now."

In bad company: Death penalty world map

Busting myths about porn stars - not what you think (and, as usual, Camilla Paglia is way behind the times).

Study American Sign Language online at ASLU.

Oooh, I missed the cute Google doodle for Copernicus' 540th birthday. (Can't believe I missed the one for Grimm's Fairy Tales last year. And this one, too.)

Dalmation puppies like peanut butter.

The Drifters, "Save the Last Dance For Me"


  1. Yves Smith say, "As Dow Sprints to New High, the Middle Class and Manufacturing Languish."

    Another win for Team Obama!

    P.S. I'm seeing a lot of FUCK YOU RAND PAUL (even if you're a tiny bit right, which we'll concede way down in the blog post) followed by more caps FUCK YOU RAND PAUL. I call that neoliberal boot-licking.

  2. Interesting that Organizing for Acce$$ was put up by American Crossroads, funded by right-wing billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and Bob Perry.

    It's wrong for Obama to offer people access in exchange for supporting his legislative agenda through large contributions, but what American Crossroads is doing is wrong on a much larger scale. And, one might point out, AC donors have a much greater chance of influencing actual policy decisions than donors to Organizing for America, since Obama is not running for office.

    It's a well-made video, and seems to make sense until one analyzes the situation a little more closely. Then it looks like hypocrisy and worse on the part of American Crossroads.

    Not that what Organizing for America is doing can be defended.

    1. Um, it's a bit late for any Democrat to be complaining about Republicans being hypocritical.

      And anyway, the real problem with that video is that it's true.

  3. "... largely fallen out pf favor ... is classic understatement. At best.

    Uncle Sam arose from pre-war propaganda much of which originated in 1920s Germany - attributed by some to Illuminated influence - and was quite popular amongst the American Corporate Elite. Colombia's demise coincided with a remarkable change in behavior in Amerca's early "superheros" The Batman and Superman. Early rendetions of these characters were of the like looking out for the little guy variety: beating up slumlords, busting loan-sharks knees, catching a falling aircraft... a tradition that in the later continued into 1950s television but in the former the difference is remarkable from then and the noir studies we've seen of late. This "Captain America" moment marks perhaps the first long-term effort to influence the American public to accept a male dominated aggressive nationalistic corporatism as norm via the media as we pretty much know, with enlightened Colombia, rooted though she is in Celtic nationalism "largely falling into disuse."

    The Jew/"Christian"/Muslim/Mormon Cult of Male Domination uses popular culture, everything we know, from comics to porn to "science" to reinforce the domination. Duh. It's also Nazi science. Look it up.

    No fear

  4. I'm not logged in at Mother Jones, so I'll leave here a short version of what I would have said there: David Corn's piece is tripe straight from the "I HEART OBAMA" bumpersticker plastered on his cerebrum.

    Holder answers are worth nothing. I won't bother disentangling all the slick lawyer "I'll make it sound like I'm answering you when I'm really not" double-talk and cut to the nub: The only direct statement he makes is that there is no authority to use lethal military force on American soil against an American citizen "who is not engaged in combat."

    Beyond being very narrowly drawn, have we forgotten how slippery the term "in combat" has become? Have we forgotten about how "the whole world is the battlefield?" Have we forgotten about how anyone in al-Qaeda or "an associated force" can be by that reason alone regarded as "engaged in combat" with the US?

    FWIW, this was my comment on Rand's filibuster.

  5. What the hell, if I'm going to blogwhore, I may as well go the whole way: This was my comment on the death of Hugo Chavez. If you'd rather the video version, it starts at about 16:12 here.

    1. A lot of energy for #98 I must say. Pretty smooth with the delivery, too, have you improved since #1 or did you have some background with the medium going in?

    2. First off, thanks for the kind words. They are appreciated.

      Improved since #1? I sure as hell hope so. I'd hate to think I did 98 of anything without getting better at it. :-)

      I had but little experience with television of any sort (other than a handful of interviews and a political debate or two) but I did do radio back in college and have done a shitload of public speaking over the years.

      The show is done weekly, so the energy isn't really a problem: I have about three or four days to work myself up to a good rant. The show is taped on Wednesday and Tuesday is usually an all-nighter putting it together because I want it to be as contemporaneous as possible even though - given that it's a weekly show - it can't really be.

      All of which is probably more information than you wanted. Be wary of you ask. ;-)

      Thanks again.

  6. Schneier and Trivers very interesting on Virtually Speaking.

    Re Dave Johnson's truncated history of how we got where we are, the Right began trying to roll back New Deal programs a lot earlier than 30 or 40 years ago. They spent the 40's and 50's destroying the Communist and Socialist parties, the 60's destroying the New Left, and then started in on unions (and added Great Society programs to their list of things to be rolled back). They've always recognized organized social/political groups as a threat to their interests.

    It was nice hearing some friction between Dave and Stuart, but it did demonstrate the problem with calling the policy programs of Third Way Dems (aka rich social liberals looking to reform the Dem party to their own benefit plus not-so-rich opportunists looking for the main chance) an ideology. I'd guess most of us think ideologues are driven by something deeper than coming out a winner in life, but are the DLCers? I don't see it. I think the confusion comes from a lot of them having been raised in the middle class with middle class morals that won't permit them to be full-on Koch corrupt. But cobbling together a platform of laissez-faire lite economics and tempered greed that you delude yourself into believing will benefit society at large doesn't, as Dave said, rise to the level of an ideology. So a lot of time was wasted over the corrupt or ideologue question. Can't it just be called a program or a platform? Which they believe will work?