Monday, August 12, 2013

Speaking truth to stupid

Highly recommended Virtually Speaking Sundays with David Dayen (dday) and Stuart Zechman talking about "banksters regulators and homeowners; surveillance and 'security'" - and, most explicitly, the incredibly radical program our leaders are foisting on us - and the amazing bipartisanship of the two parties on implementing these disasters.
Background reading:
20 questions
2008, ABC News, "Exclusive: Inside Account of U.S. Eavesdropping on Americans [..] US Soldier's 'Phone Sex' Intercepted, Shared: Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of "cuts" that were available on each operator's computer."

"Does President Barack Obama think we're stupid?" - That's not the title of this piece that says Snowden is a hero, but it's the first sentence and it speaks pretty well to the senselessness of the line of crap Obama wants us to swallow. Even though it's in Politico.

Digby neatly unpacks Obama's dissembling on Snowden and the NSA scandal. There are a lot of interesting citations and quotations, but my favorite is from NYT economics reporter Binyamin Appelbaum, who tweeted: "Obama is really mad at Edward Snowden for forcing us patriots to have this critically important conversation." Via Atrios, who has again been moved to use more than one sentence.

A question from Yves Smith: "So Why is the Administration Trying to Look a Smidge More Aggressive About Going After Banks?" Well, they've always done their best to try to look good without actually doing good, and I don't figure this is going to be an exception. Whenever you try to point out to Obots that the administration is doing terrible things, they point to things that, on the surface, look like they are supposed to do good. Thing is, those things never turn out to go anywhere good. Donna Edwards can tell you about Cramdown and TARP. Then we had the "jobs bill" that was actually going to do more to decrease American jobs than build them. It's like that.
"Wolf Richter: NSA Pricked The 'Cloud' Bubble For US Tech Companies" - 'cause it's sure not a safe place to secure your data.

From James Ball and Spencer Ackerman in the Guardian, "NSA loophole allows warrantless search for US citizens' emails and phone calls: Exclusive: Spy agency has secret backdoor permission to search databases for individual Americans' communications."

"Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years."

Why Charles Pierce Wouldn't Vote For Cory Booker - because, among his many other sins, he's tried to defend Malefactors of Great Wealth by comparing criticisms of them with the odious, racist attacks on Jeremiah Wright that even Mr. Obama himself seemed willing to join in with: "I've forgotten, how many houses did Jeremiah Wright steal out from under their owners? How many toxic mortgages did he foist off on unsuspecting customers while getting rich betting against the same investments? How many pensions did he loot? How close did Jeremiah Wright come to wrecking the entire world economy?" Imagine what it takes to be unwilling to see that one of these things is so, so manifestly not like the other.

David Cay Johnston's ruminations on the sale of The Washington Post to Jeff Bezos are certainly worth reading, and not untrue, except that, like almost everyone, he makes the mistake of weighting the paper's declining profits too heavily to the internet and not heavily enough on the Graham's unsound stewardship. People forget that, like The New York Times, the paper started losing money before there was an internet. And that's because the papers lost any interest in who their readers were.

"Wendy Davis's Catch-22" - We need good people to run for these offices rather than just letting the idiots have them.

Americans all over are better than you think: "A Hidden Camera Show Goes To Texas. It Did Not Expect To Find This."

Hilariously, an anonymous nitwit (probably Mathilda) left this comment to the previous post: "Goodbye. This sexualized Betty Boop is just the last straw. While your politics may be liberal I'm done with your attitude towards women and the excuses used to justify it." Just leaving aside that (1) I've been periodically posting Boops all along and (2) Betty Boop has always been "sexualized", I just hope this means I can say good riddance to someone who has spent years in my comments trying to bully me into representing a sexuality I do not have in the name of an imaginary "ideal" of female sexuality that is apparently more important to her than the corporatist economic polices that are having a devastating impact on the lives of women and minorities, not to mention everyone else. Oh, and also: Betty Boops is a cartoon; the people whose lives are being destroyed by these policies are actual real flesh-and-blood humans.

NASA Curiosity Rover's Year On Mars: 5 Breakthroughs

Doctor Who's old rock band


  1. Whenever you try to point out to Obots that the administration is doing terrible things, they point to things that, on the surface, look like they are supposed to do good.

    Silly Avedon.

    "For those who refuse to learn, the lesson will always be lost. But Barack Obama doesn't do things without thinking a hundred steps ahead."

    1. It's true that Obama has been playing eleven-dimensional chess all along. But not with the GOP -- with his fans.

  2. Just in case anyone isn't discouraged enough (Froomkin via Atrios):

    DoJ doctors Holder speech to make it seem he didn't wildly overstate accomplishments.

    This is pretty deep into self-delusional territory.

  3. A sexualized Betty Boop? What's next, a sexualized Jessica Rabbit?

    1. Betty Boop has that caricatured cartoon head, but her body shape generally looks quite realistic. More like some athletes than a modern sex symbol.

  4. She'd better stay away from the early Boop cartoons if she wants to protect her precious ignorance.

  5. re: Texas stereotypes
    I retired my Aggie jokes when HUNDREDS of them turned out to form a human wall to protect a funeral from Westboro "Church".

  6. That was/is one of the better Boops.

  7. Interesting:

    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.

    1. Yes, quite interesting. Notre Dame's Phillip Mirowski points to Ludwig Fleck and his earlier and more scholarly discussion of the nature of conventional wisdom(s) than what John Kenneth Galbraith offered in his 1958 The Affluent Society and where Fleck introduces the idea, both before and in more understandable fashion than Derrida ever did, that everyone's perception of reality is an un-deconstructed one.

      As sophisticated this analysis is, I think in his film Inside Job Charles Ferguson makes the simple and correct point that, in the matter of the political economy, today's reigning "conventional wisdom" has less to do with our era's semiotics and more to do with who (all) has been willing to pay cash on the barrelhead, over and over, to theoreticians, politicians, academics, lawyers, writers in the lay press, radio broadcasters, and talking heads to advance a theory which is entirely friendly to these very same paymasters.

    2. Yes, the motive for promoting (and paying flacks to promote) neoliberal nonsense is simple - personal gain - but the structural framework created to sucker the public more complicated.

    3. Mirowski's concluding point is the important one, that the right has a far more sophisticated political strategy in place than the left does. The most grating to me thing about this is that it is the "we're the smart ones" lefties who are the most clueless about this reality.

      Over the years I've listened to a lot of right wing talk radio and have marveled at how honed its message is. Then I listen to people on the left dismiss Limbaugh and Hannity as idiots in between listening to or reading the writings of our own opinion makers delving into some "for wonks only" review concerning some isolated corner of public policy with the only take away being either that "coming up next" these same well-informed lefties will take another of their once in three months detailed look into some other public policy area or, now that they've brought the rest of us up to speed on that one issue, we will all just have to wait for until after the congressional redistricting which will follow the 2020 census for any real fixes with the back up plan being that, in any event, we are moving inexorably to that happy day when white people will no longer be in the majority in this country and democracy will finally start working as it should.

    4. "we are moving inexorably to that happy day when white people will no longer be in the majority in this country and democracy will finally start working as it should"

      Ain't that the truth! I mean, we all know that it's only white people (or better yet, white men) who are willing to sell out everything they ostensibly believe in to serve a vile borg bent on destroying the planet.

  8. Get real. Betty Boop has the same body in that lingerie picture as she did in her earliest appearances, and she was always a sex symbol from the start. Look at any still from her debut, like this one:

    An "athlete's body", maybe, but hardly dressed for basketball. Just like the lingerie pic.

    1. That's a difficult picture to use for a comparison, but a Google search, after you exclude the current colour stuff, suggests Betty is very much in the mode of the late 1920s, the short-skirted flapper. In reality, that was a quite short-lived look, and short-skirt hemlines were, except on the stage. still below the knee. Skimming though the photographs of the time, the ideal body shape seems to have been less curved, but not super-thin.

      It was the time when women were getting the vote, and things were changing. Maybe Betty Boop was from that narrow window before the counter-feminism which still fuels the fashion industry. The 1920s was the time when so much started, when there was the original cult of celebrity with the Bright Young People. And it's easy to forget that it was a whole decade. What was the world like in 2003?

      I've written bits of fiction set in the time; a young lady on a powerful motorcycle, full-throttle around Brooklands; wild parties, that generation didn't invent sex or drugs; all the questions, after the Great War and revolution in Russia, about what next.

      Betty Boop was part of a burst of liberation, which was subverted by those with power. In some ways, the 1920s are echoed in the popular use of the Internet today. I know what was coming for Betty Boop's world. She faced hard times, but maybe she was the lucky one.