Saturday, August 31, 2013

One fine day

Just sayin' the weather has been downright spring-like.

Dave Johnson reminds us of Three Words/Phrases That Reinforce Republican Anti-Government Propaganda: "Gridlock", "The Senate Failed To Pass The Bill / Confirm The Nominee," and "The Debt-Ceiling Means The Government Has Maxed Out Its Credit Card." But it's worth remembering that it's no longer only Republicans that use these words and phrases and that they are pretty damned popular with New Democrats, too. Especially when we know that the Senate rules that have made it possible to fake-filibuster a bill or nominee were agreed to by Democrats.

That thing Al Sharpton set up wasn't much of a commemoration of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., but holding a big fast-food strike was right in the spirit.

Your Secretary of State says: "Make no mistake: President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people" Mr. Kerry, Obama is using the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people. Economic disaster, for starters. And that's just ignoring the bombs.

"The Barbara Lee Letter Asking Obama To Stick To The Constitution-- Who Signed It? And Who Refused? Barbara Lee and 53 other Democrats sent a letter to President Obama Thursday in the hopes of slowing down the rush to war in Syria. It was similar to the message the British Parliament delivered to David Cameron Thursday: "don't be so trigger-happy and let's at least wait and see what the UN inspectors have to say about who used the chemical weapons." Predictably, my "progressive" rep Chris Van Hollen isn't one of the signers. Disappointingly, neither is Tammy Duckworth. (DWT also included part of the transcript for Alan Grayson's interview with Ari Rabin-Havt from Thursday morning in this post.)

@GregMitch: "NYT's public editor says paper's reporters have too often seen Syria claims mainly through eyes of administration."
@ggreenwald: "What happened here? This is so unlike the New York Times"
In his blog post, Mitchell notes "Michael Gordon's return to the top of the home page--remember, he was Judy Miller's co-author on some of her worst Iraq pieces."

"Gaius Publius: Deep State - Is the Upper Echelon of the Intelligence Community Running America?"

Dean Baker on "Pinching Pensions to Keep Wall Street Fat and Happy: The debate over public pensions clearly shows the contempt that the elites have for ordinary workers. While elites routinely preach the sanctity of contract when it works to benefit the rich and powerful, they are happy to treat the contracts that provide workers with pensions as worthless scraps of paper." Via Atrios, who called Rham The Worst Person In The World.
Atrios also says this is probably the only thing on Syria you need to read. He's probably right.

What's the point of collecting loads of intelligence of impending threats if you're not going to use it when there's a real impending threat?

"U.S. spy network's successes, failures and objectives detailed in ‘black budget' summary" - costs a lot, doesn't do us any good.

"UK asked N.Y. Times to destroy Snowden material: (Reuters) - The British government has asked the New York Times to destroy copies of documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden related to the operations of the U.S. spy agency and its British partner, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), people familiar with the matter said."

"Longshore union pulls out of national AFL-CIO, citing attacks at Northwest grain terminals: The West Coast longshore union is pulling out of the national AFL-CIO, citing "attacks" in which the umbrella organization's members blatantly cross picket lines at Northwest grain terminals."

"6 horrifying facts about the rich: It's not just the 1 percent that's wreaking havoc on our economy."

The Unaffordable Care Act - It still means many people will be forced to pay for "coverage" that they can't afford to use. This is not a health insurance plan, for them, it's just extortion. (Thanks to ksix.)

Since our commenter ifthethunderdontgetya seems interested in the subject McJoan and Jay and I discussed Sunday on VSS of whether Obama is a bad negotiator or a bad actor or both, and maybe others are, too, I note that Jay's discussion with Joan of the Grand Bargain earlier this year is here and feels like a bit of a prequel to this week's show.
Homework for Sunday's show includes this article by Joan and a bunch of other stuff, such as:
"Why ‘I Have Nothing to Hide' Is the Wrong Way to Think About Surveillance [...] For instance, did you know that it is a federal crime to be in possession of a lobster under a certain size? It doesn't matter if you bought it at a grocery store, if someone else gave it to you, if it's dead or alive, if you found it after it died of natural causes, or even if you killed it while acting in self defense. You can go to jail because of a lobster. If the federal government had access to every email you've ever written and every phone call you've ever made, it's almost certain that they could find something you've done which violates a provision in the 27,000 pages of federal statues or 10,000 administrative regulations. You probably do have something to hide, you just don't know it yet." But that's not the only reason.
"SOPA: Bad ideas never really die: We beat it once, but once apparently isn't enough. Earlier this month, the Department of Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force released a report in which it recommended resurrecting one of the worst parts of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) which was defeated by massive public and tech industry opposition. The Department of Commerce, however, still wants to make the streaming of copyrighted works a felony. [...] So what does that really mean? It means the Commerce Department thinks you should go to jail if you upload a video of yourself covering your favorite song. Or if you upload a video of something entirely unrelated, but that has music in the background. Or if you upload video of a family birthday party where you're all singing "Happy Birthday." Criminal prosecution. Jail."

UK: "Government 'may sanction chemical incapacitant use on rioters', scientists fear " - or, as Roz Kaveney tweeted, "Meanwhile, at home, this is the plan for 'good' gas warfare."

"Fixing Old Markets With New Markets: the Origins and Practice of Neoliberalism [...] Thus, to write a history of Neoliberalism in the current crisis, Fleck counsels one must connect their various epistemic attitudes to the content of their doctrines. In the case of modern Neoliberalism, this has been made manifest in their shared conviction that The Market knows more than any human being, however wise or well-schooled. Planning is doomed; socialism is a pipe dream. The political project of Neoliberalism is not laissez-faire; rather, it is to use state power to get the populace to prostrate themselves before the only dependable source of Truth and Wisdom in human civilization - viz., something they call 'The Market'. The more discombobulated the average citizen can be rendered, the quicker they will get with the program. [...] Neoliberals neutralize their opponents by mounting a full spectrum response to crises: a short-term easily mobilized response to stymie their opponents; a subsequent medium-term response which involves a strong state in instituting more new-fangled markets; and a long-term science fiction response (also involving the state) to present an upbeat optimistic version of neoliberal doctrine. The shorter-term responses buy time for the thought collective to mobilize their longer-term panaceas. The book describes the dynamic in greater detail, but here, let me just indicate that, in the case of the climate crisis, the short term response is global warming denialism; the medium-term response is to institute trading schemes for carbon emission permits and offsets; and the long term science fiction response is geoengineering, such as schemes to pump particulates into the stratosphere to supposedly block out the sun and mitigate the warming process - but not, significantly, to actually cut back on carbon emissions. What Klein and others get wrong is that neoliberals are not really ‘anti-science' as such; rather, ploys such as denialism simply postpone political attempts by opponents to cut emissions until they can recruit and train a cadre of entrepreneurial neoliberal scientists, whereas meanwhile the situation gets so dire that their preferred ‘market' solutions come to seem the last refuge for a desperate populace. It is significant that each of these ‘ideas' were innovated in neoliberal think tanks." (Thanks to commenter ksix for the tip.)

"NSA: Listening to everyone - except oversight

"How Snowden did it [...] If he wanted, he would even have been able to pose as any other user with access to NSAnet, said the source."

Whistleblower Award 2013 - Ceremony awarding Edward J. Snowden

The parody shirt the NSA doesn't want you to wear

If I were running a newspaper, I'd put lots of readers' letters in it. I'd invite contributions from the local community. Kind of like we used to do fanzines. It seems to be working for this newspaper. Ah, well, you say, those people don't use the Internet. But neither did my father, and he cancelled The Washington Post before there was an Internet because it no longer spoke to him. Newspapers started losing money before there was an internet because they quit speaking to the general public.

We Love This British Actor. We Love Him Even More After He Held Up These Bits Of Paper

Michael Young wrote the book that created the word "meritocracy" back in 1958, and the word took on a sort of positive meaning in public discourse that the author really hadn't intended. Young had an article in the Guardian in 2001 that is worth recalling, called "Down with meritocracy [...] It is good sense to appoint individual people to jobs on their merit. It is the opposite when those who are judged to have merit of a particular kind harden into a new social class without room in it for others."

John Scalzi is what a feminist looks like.

Lego portrature

The Chiffons


  1. Edited to add a date.

    When Henry Hyde retired in 2006, Rahm, Durbin, and Obama used their clout to knock out Hyde's strongest Democratic contender, Christine Cegelis (she'd received 44% of the vote in 2004), in favor of outsider war vet Tammy Duckworth. Cegelis had a good chance to win but was just too liberal for the neolibs. Duckworth won the Democratic primary and lost the general, then apparently found greener pastures in another Illinois district. I wouldn't be disappointed by anyone promoted by that duplicitous bunch of neoliberal Dems.

    As for Ann Kuster (D-NH), another letter non-signer, she was one of those "bold progressives" promoted on Act Blue, who's been absolutely worthless on progressive issues.

  2. I think the best model for Obama's behavior is that he came into office with the intention of replicating Bill Clinton's success.

    And that success was making $100 million in the private sector for selling out his voters to big corporations while he was in office....while remaining popular with those voters.

    Wall Street pointedly switched their financial support from Obama in 2008 to Romney in 2012. Did this cost the big banks anything with this Administration? No...Obama still fills his Administration with Rubinites, and still wants to put Larry Summers in charge of the Fed. To me, this is a clear indication that Obama is chasing a greater reward when he leaves office (as so many of his cynical team of 3rd Way corporatists already have).

    Or take the TPP: When Bill Clinton got it passed, he quite possibly thought it actually would create jobs. But Obama does not have that excuse now, we know what it did...yet he is pursuing something far worse.

  3. Thanks for that link to the Whistleblower Award, Avedon.

  4. John McCain was caught playing Poker on his iPhone during a hearing about Syria. But what were the ten other things her was doing with his phone? Pottersville has the scoop.

  5. Wow, finally it's like someone is ready to write the essential omeM llewoP. For me, this one is the most useful Virtually Speaking --or make that hour of liberal chat-- I've ever listened to. And a special shout out to Dave Johnson, you can't play the straight man any better than that.