Monday, August 19, 2013

Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high

Greg Basta, Deputy Director of New York Communities for Change, talked with Jay about the low-wage workers' movement to fight for a better work-life, and why we need a minimum wage of $21 dollars an hour (and laws that prevent fake "part-time" jobs that aren't part-time), on Thursday's Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.

This week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays were Dave Johnson of Seeing the Forest and Gaius Publius of Americablog, who talked about the latest NSA revelations (and some useful background on what the Clipper Chip was really about and why we needed it), Egypt and US ties to the Egyptian military, "The state of The State and who runs it," "Lessons from Snowden and whistleblowing as wave of the future," and the following story:
Glenn Greenwald's partner "detained" at Heathrow under terrorism law: "At 6:30 am this morning my time - 5:30 am on the East Coast of the US - I received a telephone call from someone who identified himself as a 'security official at Heathrow airport.' He told me that my partner, David Miranda, had been "detained" at the London airport "under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000."" The official would not give his name and would provide only his alleged ID number when Glenn tried to determine his identity. David was held for nine hours, the maximum allowed time without making an arrest, while he was attempting to change for a plane back home, and all of his tech, including his phone, was taken and had not been returned as of the latest news stories I could find. Lawyers from the Guardian, and Brazilian officials, attempted to find out what was going on and made outraged noises, for hours, without any light being shed. Glenn writes:

According to a document published by the UK government about Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, "fewer than 3 people in every 10,000 are examined as they pass through UK borders" (David was not entering the UK but only transiting through to Rio). Moreover, "most examinations, over 97%, last under an hour." An appendix to that document states that only .06% of all people detained are kept for more than 6 hours.

The stated purpose of this law, as the name suggests, is to question people about terrorism. The detention power, claims the UK government, is used "to determine whether that person is or has been involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism."

But they obviously had zero suspicion that David was associated with a terrorist organization or involved in any terrorist plot. Instead, they spent their time interrogating him about the NSA reporting which Laura Poitras, the Guardian and I are doing, as well the content of the electronic products he was carrying. They completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism: a potent reminder of how often governments lie when they claim that they need powers to stop "the terrorists", and how dangerous it is to vest unchecked power with political officials in its name.

This morning's Guardian reports that the Shadow Home Secretary "has called for an urgent investigation into the use of anti-terror powers to detain David Miranda, the partner of a Guardian journalist who interviewed US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said ministers must find out whether anti-terror laws had been 'misused', after Miranda was held for nine hours by authorities at Heathrow airport under the Terrorism Act." (Am I the only one who gets queasy when officials call for "investigation" when the facts are already on the table? Of course the law was "misused" - the question is about who made it happen, and why.)

* * * * *

OK, I took this trip to Edinburgh (and I hadn't been to King's Cross in quite a while and was shocked by how it's turned into a big modern shopping mall that's even harder to navigate than it used to be), saw some lovely countryside, ate some great food, had a nice time hanging out with some lovely people, and suffered from what I hope was just a stomach virus, with the result that I didn't get a lot of blogging done. What's below is the stuff I should have posted Wednesday but didn't get around to:

"Among the 254 counties where food stamp recipients doubled between 2007 and 2011, Republican Mitt Romney won 213 of them in last year's presidential election, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data compiled by Bloomberg. Kentucky's Owsley County, which backed Romney with 81 percent of its vote, has the largest proportion of food stamp recipients among those that he carried."

Jennifer Hoelzer, Former Wyden Aide, Unleashes On Obama Administration Secrecy [...] Hoelzer then goes on to list example after example of efforts the administration made to make sure that there was never the kind of debate the president now says he welcomes." (via)

Atrios declared Michael Grunwald.The Worst Person In The World after @MikeGrunwald tweeted: "I can't wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange." Atrios noted the "objectivity" of the "objective" Time journalist's call for assassination and linked to the HuffPo story on the reaction Grunwald's post generated - and it wasn't just Glenn Greenwald who was appalled, of course. Eventually, that reaction seems to have convinced Grunwald to delete the post and ultimately declare it "dumb", but you have to wonder what sort of company he keeps that he thought anything like that would be acceptable. You shouldn't have to get smacked by Matt Yglesias to get what's wrong with crap like that. (But someone in the ensuing comment thread at HuffPo felt there should be an app for that.)

Bruce Schneier, "The NSA Is Commandeering the Internet: It turns out that the NSA's domestic and world-wide surveillance apparatus is even more extensive than we thought. Bluntly: The government has commandeered the Internet. Most of the largest Internet companies provide information to the NSA, betraying their users. Some, as we've learned, fight and lose. Others cooperate, either out of patriotism or because they believe it's easier that way. I have one message to the executives of those companies: fight."

Adam Curtis, "Bugger: Maybe the real state secret is that spies aren't very good at their jobs and don't know very much about the world." And that title actually appears on the BBC site. Goodness, Auntie!

Sam Seder did a good interview with Radley Balko about the militarization of the police on The Majority Report.

I wish I could believe that Eric Holder is really going to start taking a different tack on drug sentencing, but this is, after all, Eric Holder, and I don't believe anything this administration says when it claims it's going to do something good.

The court has recognized the Obvious Unconstitutionality of Bloomberg's Stop-And-Frisk Program, and Scott Lemieux has highlighted the absolute paucity of a defense that the state was able to provide for doing it, but I was struck by a comment in the ensuing thread that started like this: "Bloomberg has really shocked me recently. I mean, I don't have much love for the guy, but it's always surprising I guess to have someone say that kind of stuff openly. I mean, what is it, 1983?" I actually can't imagine New York taking the official position in 1983 - so publicly and blatantly - that it's okay to violate the rights of law-abiding black citizens going about their ordinary business because blacks commit more crimes. I know a lot of people imagine that the election of Barack Obama has proven something about the decline of racism in America, but few people seem to remember that the mainstream discourse on race has in many respects become considerably worse, not better, than it was even as far back as the 1960s - and even then, you didn't see that kind of position made officially in New York..

Bill de Blasio might just be New York's mayor. Because he's sounding like a real liberal who thinks all New Yorkers should share in the city's prosperity.

For a good time, go back to the previous post, where there's good discussion of the "sexualization" of Betty Boop, not to mention how stupid it is for liberals to assume they're smarter and that everything will get better when that stupid older generation dies off.

This is a very nice live version of Janis doing "Summertime".


  1. "Among the 254 counties where food stamp recipients doubled between 2007 and 2011, Republican Mitt Romney won 213 of them"

    Who cares? We should be talking about why so many counties have seen an increase in food stamp recipients, and who is responsible.

    1. We are talking about that, all the time. The economy is depressed because our leaders want it that way so "we"| can "compete" with China, remember?

      The genius of the Republican Party is their ability to convince their supporters that Those Other People are getting free money just for being black lesbian single-mothers or whatever while white people are getting shafted.

    2. And the genius of the Democratic Party is to convince their supporters that their brand of cynical neoliberalism is the only possible alternative. Each rightward step the GOP takes is matched by a rightward step from "our" side.

      Heads we lose (and the plutocrats win). Tails...same shit.

    3. I believe this will serve to illustrate your point:

    4. Specifically:

    5. Actually, the current genius of the Democratic Party is convincing their supporters that they are significantly different from the Republican Party, although both parties' leaderships want to shaft everyone, and are doing so.

  2. Let's compare and contrast two statements

    "I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange"
    "everything will get better when that stupid older generation dies off."

    Each wishes death, one upon an individual and another upon aproximately 40 million

    1. - S Brennan

    2. Isn't one advocating assassination, while the other is a prediction about what will inevitably occur?

    3. No to both of your assertions. Each wishes death upon those they dislike, one targets hate to an individual, the other blindly targets a massive civilian population. A benefit of the second form of hatred is with target so large, there is almost no risk of collateral damage

      But in fairness, we swim in a sea of propaganda that constantly advocates identity politics...I myself have fallen prey; I identify with the bottom 4.5 quintiles...oh that's right, that's a group that has been officially purged by The Ministry of Propaganda. Oh to young and hip again...then I'd know all the cool moves.

      - S Brennan

    4. S Brennan, are you really -- really and truly -- unaware of the fact that people inevitably do die? Entire generations of them?

    5. anthrosciguy, are you really -- really and truly -- unaware of the fact that wishing that people were dead is hatred? Really, c'mon tell me you are playing stupid? - S Brennan

    6. More to the point, every generation in my lifetime has harbored the fantasy that they were so much smarter and better and more advanced than their elders that their own generation could not possibly commit the sins and errors of their forebears.

      Hell, that probably goes back at least as far as the American Revolution.

      Believing that individuals on the ground, even your own parents - god love 'em! - just didn't have your modern smarts and morality, and that's why things used to be fucked up but won't be once your own generation is in charge, is constant and stupid.

      Your grandparents, your parents - no matter how ignorant and racist they may have been - did not "make" racism, and you are just as vulnerable to their basic prejudices and fears as they were. Every time you assume that it's older people, or people in the south, or people who vote for Republicans, who are the problem, you show it. Every time you assume that the elimination of some demographic will solve your problems without you having to do anything, you show it. You will make the mistakes of your elders because you still can't shake free of the belief in some magic that will fix things without you having to do anything but hold your inferiors at bay until they all die off.

      It's not about generations, it's about the system the leadership has forced or allowed to be put into place. The price of liberty really is eternal vigilance (a phrase Barry may have quoted, but certainly did not originate), because your brothers and sisters and you are just as weedy and greedy and lazy and hungry as anyone before you ever was and will do the same horrible crap if you let them.

    7. Jesus Christ, that's magnificently well said, Avedon.

    8. Every generation produces a subset of humans who, lacking the wherewithal to succeed on their own merits conceives of the "unique" idea, for the umpteenth time, that a partial vacuum will help do what they could not do on their own. If the coliseum is empty, surely they will be the victor?

      Long known, politicians exploit this to turn citizens against one another, the same way racial or ethnic differences are used. Milosevic, went "far" by slicing and dicing did Obama...and I believe Hillary plans to do the same in '14

      When I was a kid in 1968 Chicago we rode our bikes out to Lincoln Park. Being curious young kids we asked the hippies what was up. The majority of women were friendly, inviting and took the time to explain, on the other hand, the dudes we met dismissed us for being to young to understand "the hell they were going through" camping out there. And this was before the riots started.

      It wasn't until a few years later that we figured out that they just wanted us out of there because the women were giving us kids attention that "belonged" to the "true revolutionaries". In that generation, a small segment of the 1944-1964 births, the males [it's always the males*] had determined that insight fell EXACTLY to "their" generation, nothing before, or after..was worthy. That is why I always laugh at those who use generational war, it's a false canard to advance ones position in society...granted, the guys were there to get laid and smoke pot, but from their POV, at the time,

      One last point and then I am done with this.

      Do you really think a high school grad of 1965 & a college grad of 1969 have much in common with a high school grad of 1974 & college grad of 1979? The high school grad of 1965 & a college grad of 1969 have far more in common with a high school grad of 1955 & a college grad of 1959. Spend a little time reading about the oil shocks of 1973, 1979 and of Volker's using high interest rates to create a recession, not once, but twice. Very little opportunity for the second half of the baby boom until the 1985-6 and many of us were simply passed over for those unscarred by the previous decade. By experience, Gen X is far closer to the 2nd half of the 1944-1964 births, with Gen X getting a better deal 1996-2000.

      FYI, I went back to school in the 80's graduating with an engineering degree into the 1990 recession. Ironically, back in high school, I was advised not to take up engineering because so many were being laid off, now I advise against it because it is official US policy to break the wages received by engineers through targeted immigration.

      - S Brennan

      *Since women are the inter-generational link, they tend to view society as a whole.

    9. S. Brennan says:

      {BEGIN QUOTE}>>>>>In that generation, a small segment of the 1944-1964 births, the males [it's always the males*] had determined that insight fell EXACTLY to "their" generation, nothing before, or after..was worthy.<<<<<{END QUOTE}

      Wikipedia says:

      {BEGIN QUOTE}>>>>>The Chicago Seven (originally Chicago Eight, also Conspiracy Eight/Conspiracy Seven) were seven defendants—Abbie Hoffman [b. 1936], Jerry Rubin [b. 1938], David Dellinger [b. 1915], Tom Hayden [b. 1939], Rennie Davis [b. 1941], John Froines [b. 1939], and Lee Weiner [b. 1939]—charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to protests that took place in Chicago, Illinois on the occasion of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Bobby Seale [b. 1936], the eighth man charged, had his trial severed during the proceedings, lowering the number from eight to seven.<<<<<{END QUOTE}

      "One last point and then I am done with this," S. Brennan. In the future how about signing in, the NSA is going to have your name anyway and it makes for an easier to follow thread.

  3. Come now, Michael Grunwald is a all-star in our adversarial press corps--no, not adversaries to the powerful but to those with the balls to condemn fascism. Assange, Manning and Snowden are anathema to the courtier class, for they vividly reflect our media's whorish disregard for democracy.

    I'm not sure which is worse, American policy or Britain carrying out their sick marching orders (Miranda).

    And the standard liberal reaction to that food stamp story: a) calling such voters stupid and b) telling them they're getting what they deserve. OTOH, what our neoliberal masters would have done would have pulled you up out of poverty, b/c they're all about bottom up change. Those counties will continue to vote republican until we have candidates and liberal voices overall that speak to them with respect. And, oh yeah, advocating policy that seeks to transform the world they live in as opposed to throwing them some charity.

    1. What is this to transform of which you speak JCAPAN? (Via, for me, Corrente.)

      You're not one of those calendar watching Keynesians are you?:

      ...I would predict that the standard of life in progressive countries one hundred years hence [in 2030] will be between four and eight times as high as it is to-day. There would be nothing surprising in this even in the light of our present knowledge. It would not be foolish to contemplate the possibility of a far greater progress still.


      Let us, for the sake of argument, suppose that a hundred years hence we are all of us, on the average, eight times better off in the economic sense than we are to-day. Assuredly there need be nothing here to surprise us.

      Now it is true that the needs of human beings may seem to be insatiable. But they fall into two classes – those needs which are absolute in the sense that we feel them whatever the situation of our fellow human beings may be, and those which are relative in the sense that we feel them only if their satisfaction lifts us above, makes us feel superior to, our fellows.

      Needs of the second class, those which satisfy the desire for superiority, may indeed be insatiable; for the higher the general level, the higher still are they. But this is not so true of the absolute needs – a point may soon be reached, much sooner perhaps than we are all of us aware of, when these needs are satisfied in the sense that we prefer to devote our further energies to non-economic purposes.

      ...Yet there is no country and no people, I think, who can look forward to the age of leisure and of abundance without a dread. For we have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy. It is a fearful problem for the ordinary person, with no special talents, to occupy himself, especially if he no longer has roots in the soil or in custom or in the beloved conventions of a traditional society.

      To judge from the behaviour and the achievements of the wealthy classes to-day in any quarter of the world, the outlook is very depressing! For these are, so to speak, our advance guard – those who are spying out the promised land for the rest of us and pitching their camp there. For they have most of them failed disastrously, so it seems to me – those who have an independent income but no associations or duties or ties – to solve the problem which has been set them.


    2. >>>>>

      I feel sure that with a little more experience we shall use the new-found bounty of nature quite differently from the way in which the rich use it to-day, and will map out for ourselves a plan of life quite otherwise than theirs.

      For many ages to come the old Adam will be so strong in us that everybody will need to do some work if he is to be contented. We shall do more things for ourselves than is usual with the rich to-day, only too glad to have small duties and tasks and routines.

      But beyond this, we shall endeavour to spread the bread thin on the butter – to make what work there is still to be done to be as widely shared as possible. Three-hour shifts or a fifteen-hour week may put off the problem for a great while. For three hours a day is quite enough to satisfy the old Adam in most of us!

      ...I see us free, therefore, to return to some of the most sure and certain principles of religion and traditional virtue – that avarice is a vice, that the exaction of usury is a misdemeanour, and the love of money is detestable, that those walk most truly in the paths of virtue and sane wisdom who take least thought for the morrow. We shall once more value ends above means and prefer the good to the useful.

      We shall honour those who can teach us how to pluck the hour and the day virtuously and well, the delightful people who are capable of taking direct enjoyment in things, the lilies of the field who toil not, neither do they spin.

      But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.

      ...The pace at which we can reach our destination of economic bliss will be governed by four things – our power to control population, our determination to avoid wars and civil dissensions, our willingness to entrust to science the direction of those matters which are properly the concern of science, and the rate of accumulation as fixed by the margin between our production and our consumption; of which the last will easily look after itself, given the first three....<<<<<[END QUOTE]

    3. "The Future ain't what it used to be."

  4. There is a very common pattern in the reporting of the Miranda affair, something you see all over the news media.

    The initial reports make mistakes.

    In this case, Greenwald's initial story got amended by later reports, and there's a clear faction using those discrepancies to make him out to be a be a fabulist trying to besmirch our noble constabulary. They're also themselves making claims they cannot prove, about things they should not know.

    This is the same noble constabulary which investigated the murder of Stephen Lawrence, and which had undercover cops writing political pamphlets that triggered libel suits against protestors.

    And is it really credible that Snowden, a contractor, had access to data which explicitly identifies US secret agents, who would be put at risk if their identity were revealed? Who are the Secret Police who are, for instance, going turn up at Google and drag off the NSA contact there?

    I can believe the reported phone call to Greenwald, the rather sinister threat by a government official who refuses to give his name. It wouldn't surprise me if Greenwald records every incoming call, and it wouldn't surprise me if he doesn't, to protect his sources. The critics could certainly question that part of the story, but I've not seen that.

    Part of the ugly reality is that we expect the threats from anonymous officials.