28 November 2013

Turkeys away

I've decided to go back to maintaining The Sideshow site and using the Blogspot pages as the permalink and comment facility.

Panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays this week were Digby and Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel), talking about the NSA and denial of domestic spying, Snowden, and the filibuster. Bunch of eye-openers in here, particularly with regard to DiFi's continuing fealty to the security state.

Here's Glenn Greenwald being interviewed on BBC's HardTalk. As Glenn observed on Twitter, the interviewer seems to have a hard time absorbing the fact that security officials lie and that there have to be independent observers holding them to account. Note that the interviewer doesn't even understand how ironic - and terrifying - it is for someone to be called "a special case" who of course has his communications content spied on by the government when that person is a journalist. (Can't imagine why they'd want to do that.) Notice the way he seems to lash out when Glenn responds to another repetition of the idea that journalists shouldn't question power by saying that it's not the job of a journalist to investigate other journalists who question the claims of the powerful. It's almost comical to see how this stung interviewer tries to "challenge" Glenn.

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism on "Identity Politics and the Stoking of Generational Warfare [...] A particularly potent political grouping would be for older people, particularly retirees, to team up with young people on economic issues. So it's not surprising that some political mavens are trying to make sure that doesn't happen. One of the strategies of the plutocrats comes from financier Jay Gould : 'I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half,' except this time, they aren't even having to hire one half to turn it against the other. Just as I've noticed an sharp uptick in women's identity articles, I've also seen a ramping up of generational warfare and anti-baby-boomer messaging (I have as much antipathy towards broad comments about baby boomers as I do women). This phenomenon admittedly has deeper roots, since billionaire Pete Peterson has been campaigning against Social Security and Medicare since the mid 1980s, and presenting old people as something society can't afford is part of his strategy. But he's been joined by fresh troops, such as Fix the Debt and billionaire Stan Druckenmiller's overt campaign to turn young people against older ones, The Can Kicks Back. Yet how does indicting a large group of people who are extremely diverse in terms of income, occupation, religion, family status, and ethnicity make any sense? It's tantamount to prosecuting everyone at JP Morgan for fraud and predatory practices, rather than Jamie Dimon and other responsible individuals."

Since we've railed here about patent trolls before, it is with some delight that we see our friend Whit Diffie taking them on.

It would appear that the new pope actually reads the Gospels. Rush Limbaugh is calling him a "Marxist" for it, but RJ Eskow wants to Occupy Christmas.

"12 Reasons Why Obama Is One of the Best Presidents Ever" - Remember the name Matthew D. Lynch, because this article is its own special kind of crazy. Everything in it is just plain wrong.

Lee Camp's Moment of Clarity: "Do You Have Any Idea What $50 TRILLION Looks Like?!"

The Sylvia School of Mainstream Journalism

Judith Kerr and the story behind The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Tauriel Refuses To Get Into Butt Pose In Hobbit Poster, Makes Legolas Do It Instead

Behind the Lens - The Day of the Doctor

Did Magneto kill JFK? See The Bent Bullet.

The great turkey pardon, myth-busting included.

Fine Dining with Albert Finney and Joyce Redman

A WKRP Thanksgiving
(I kept thinking of replacements for that second clause, like, "As God is my witness, I thought the NSA was above reproach," or, "As God is my witness, I thought bankers would never lie," or, "As God is my witness, I thought all black people were liberals.")

23 November 2013

I'll never get over losing you

Sam Seder interviewed Diane Ravitch about Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools about the myth of the education crisis and where the real problem is for our schools, on The Majority Report.

"Huge Change in Senate But Most People Don't Care" - Not sure how huge a change it is, since Democrats never bothered to filibuster anything much in the first place. They appear to have saved it for Supreme Court appointments, as if it's a special case, but with far-right crackpot radicals like Alito, Scalia, and Roberts on the court, it's hard to argue that eliminating the filibuster means extremists will somehow start sneaking onto the court, as if they hadn't already been walking right in and doing the crazy. And, you know, it's not as if we have any proof that Republicans won't change the rule back once they take over the Senate - which could easily happen unless Democrats start behaving as if they believe in democracy in the first place.
Jay Ackroyd got Joan McCarter and KagroX together to discuss what happened with the filibuster and what its impact is likely to be. This isn't a regular episode of Virtually Speaking, but it may clear things up for people to give it a listen.

Obamacare: Experimenting on people when you already know the outcome. This is when you really want to slap someone. And like Lambert, the first thing I thought of when I read that quote from an Obamacare defender was the Tuskegee Experiment. We already know what the outcomes are, we don't have to experiment at the cost of people's lives. And the whole "consumer shopping" approach to health care makes so little sense that it's amazing a person could reach adulthood and argue for it with a straight face. "Oh, yes, I'm in agonizing pain and may have only minutes to get into surgery to save life or limb, but this is a great time to sit down and comparison shop for the best surgeons and figure out which hospital is willing to take me and...."
Found a nice quote from Bob Perillo on FB: "I regularly get called things like "a friend of Ted Cruz" for opposing the ACA from the left -- which is kind of funny, since it was invented by Republicans in the first place. But of course I've just failed to appreciate liberal alchemy: policies made of lead become golden by the mere fact that they have been adopted by Democrats."

This is an interesting take on the guy who is funding Glenn Greenwald's new venture: "The Extraordinary Pierre Omidyar [...] Since its founding in 2004, Omidyar Network has committed nearly $300 million to a range of nonprofit and for-profit "charity" outfits. An examination of the ideas behind the Omidyar Network and of the investments it has made suggests that its founder is anything but a "different" sort of billionaire. Instead, what emerges is almost a caricature of neoliberal ideology, complete with the trail of destruction that ensues when that ideology is put into practice. The generous support of the Omidyar Network goes toward "fighting poverty" through micro-lending, reducing third-world illiteracy rates by privatizing education and protecting human rights by expanding property titles ("private property rights") into slums and villages across the developing world. In short, Omidyar Network's philanthropy reveals Omidyar as a free-market zealot with an almost mystical faith in the power of "markets" to transform the world, end poverty, and improve lives - one micro-individual at a time. [...] So brace yourself, you're about to get something you've never seen before: billionaire-backed journalism taking on the power of the state. How radical is that? In other words: look out Government, you're about to be pummeled by a crusading, righteous billionaire! And corporate America? Ah, don't worry. Your dirty secrets - freshly transferred from the nasty non-profit hands of the Guardian to the aggressively for-profit hands of Pierre Omidyar - are safe with us." There is a distinction between fighting state power and fighting the power. Will Omidyar be happy if his new news project goes after all of it?

Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations: This report is an effort to document something we know little about: corporate espionage against nonprofit organizations. The entire subject is veiled in secrecy. In recent years, there have been few serious journalistic efforts and no serious government efforts to come to terms with the reality of corporate spying against nonprofits. Much of what we do know about this subject has been uncovered by accident. So the picture we have is fragmentary at best: just a few snapshots, taken mostly at random, arising from brilliant strokes of luck, giving a mere inkling of the full range of espionage activity against nonprofits. There are, however, a few things we can say for certain." (.pdf)

"Workplace Climate of Retaliation at Hanford" - More whistleblower punishment. Honestly, bosses who do this should be put in jail anyway, but there is no earthly reason why any private company should be hired to do the public's business when they can easily profit by failing.

"Bob Woodward Disappointed That Snowden Didn't Go To Him" - Poor old Bob could have had a whole new Deep Throat to play with. Except, you know, he couldn't, because he wasn't trustworthy.

Unexpected quotations: "America is way too quick to trade freedom for the illusion of security,' he told The Daily Beast. 'Whether it's allowing the NSA to go way too far in what it intercepts of our personal data, to our government monitoring of everything domestically and spending way more than we should. I don't know if I want to live in a country where lone wolf and random terror attacks are impossible 'cause that country would look more like North Korea than America." -- Blackwater founder Erik Prince, noticing that the policies that made him rich are bad when done by a Democratic president

Atrios named Tom Brower The Worst Person in the World Tuesday and wondered why he isn't being arrested. You'd think someone who makes a practice of roaming around town taking a sledgehammer to other people's private possessions would be in custody by now.

The NYT is lying with scare quotes - If something is true but you put it in scare quotes anyway, you're telling your readers it's actually not true. Sometimes you really need to use scare quotes - like when the media call antidemocratic radicals "centrist" as if for all the world they really represent some sort of middle ground, I want them to put it in scare quotes, but they don't, so I have to. But when "doctors" are actual doctors, "farm equipment" is actual farm equipment, and "rights" are actual rights, well, you're never going to understand the Iran "negotiations" that way.

Once again, Ezra Klein makes me want to pound my head against the wall. Jeez, Ezra, hasn't anyone explained to you yet that privatization just loads on inefficiencies and "big government" can do a better job without greedheads getting in the way?

"A Cleveland Wal-Mart store is holding a food drive - for its own employees." I can't even think about that without getting up and yelling, so I sure can't type anything.

Krugman, "The Geezers Are Not Alright" - Someone needs to tell The Washington Post that there are already old people living on catfood.
"Expanding Social Security [...] The rise in life expectancy, it turns out, is overwhelmingly a story about affluent, well-educated Americans. Those with lower incomes and less education have, at best, seen hardly any rise in life expectancy at age 65; in fact, those with less education have seen their life expectancy decline. So this common argument amounts, in effect, to the notion that we can't let janitors retire because lawyers are living longer. And lower-income Americans, in case you haven't noticed, are the people who need Social Security most."

So, basically, Zimmerman is just a violent loony.

"Mother fined $10 for not including Ritz crackers in kids' school lunch" - because gods forbid your kid might not be getting enough starch.

More tips people shouldn't give their waiters

Cameron's Britain: "Police are cracking down on students - but what threat to law and order is an over-articulate history graduate?" Like Thatcher's Britain and Blair's Britain.

Is Al Gore right?

Don't make this film - a sequel to It's a Wonderful Life that seems determined to erase the virtues of the original film.

The death of science fiction's first Nobel Laureate, Doris Lessing, seems to have been a good excuse for the Evening Standard to dredge up an amusing little story about her night with Kenneth Tynan.

These concrete arrows point the way across America

The lost Eno album

Bitter Barista

The 40 Worst Rob Liefeld Drawings

Trailer for Mr. Peabody and Sherman. It doesn't feel like an improvement on the original.

How to peel a head of garlic in less than 10 seconds

Gah, I don't have time to finish playing the Doctor Who Google doodle. And if you don't, either, you might as well just watch this. (Later: Dammit, I couldn't resist!)

Geraldine: The David Frost Interview

The making of the making of Doctor Who - This is about ten minutes of background to the BBC's drama about how the BBC's first female producer and the first Indian director worked together to get the right man and make the TV show we're all still watching and loving 50 years on. An Adventure in Space and Time starts off as Verity Lambert's story, but it's really William Hartnell's, and the choice of actor for this role was perfect - he not only looks like him, but he plays like him, and I kept forgetting I wasn't looking at William Hartnell. And here's a video review of the drama with which I can't disagree.

Randy Newman, "Losing You"

17 November 2013

From me to you

Yesterday was the only convenient day for us to have Thanksgiving dinner. The best sysadmin ever also provided the pies. As always, I am grateful to him, and to Mr. Sideshow, and to you. And also to Boopsie, who is the most cutie-pie of them all and makes me laugh and laugh.

Avedon Carol and David Waldman (KagroX) are tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. I'm told we'll "discuss populism; the PPACA as yet another example of technocratic centrist failure; declaring surrender in the drug wars as Colorado passes weed tax and; the Village's slavering for Obama failure in his second term. Jay Ackroyd moderates. Plus today's ridiculous moment from Culture of Truth."
Thursday's guest on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd was Ian Welsh. CMike was kind enough to transcribe a portion of this talk in comments here. Homework for the episode includes Ian's articles, "Baseline Predictions for the next sixty years", "A New Ideology", and "How to Create a Viable Ideology".
You might also want to save this handy quotation: "After serving his time federal prison, John Ehrlichman granted an interview to author Dan Baum, who reports that Ehrlichman explained the origin of the war on drugs this way: 'The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar Left, and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.'"

I can't now remember when it was I noticed it, but at some point in the Bush years I realized that there is an enormous group of people out there who don't recognize what I think of as a fairly universal story for English-speaking (and other) people, a story we refer to all the time as the illustration of how some piece of elite flim-flam is occurring and no one has the nerve to say so. A bunch of people who are younger than me simply have no idea what we're talking about when we say, "The Emperor has no clothes." I think that's a shame, because it's not simply a children's story (it sure isn't), but a warning about how con artists exist at every level and can swindle absolutely anyone because humans are too often afraid to speak up and may even believe there is something going on that everyone else can see but them, that the problem is with them. How many people, for example, simply assumed that our leaders talking suddenly about the dire threat represented by Saddam Hussein was based on some demonstrated fact that was not visible to those of us who kept noticing that Saddam simply didn't have the capability to be such a threat? How many people believed that the completely contrafactual "models" and rationales for the economic policies of the last 30-odd years all made perfect sense, that housing prices could just naturally (and harmlessly!) jump to ten times the median annual income of the populace, that Clinton's welfare "reform" of eliminating Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) would improve the condition of the poor rather than having a devastating impact on the poor and the black community, that Social Security is taking money out of the economy rather than putting it in, that private corporations can do a better job than government at running the programs government once manifestly ran more efficiently and effectively, that deregulation was actually a good idea - and so on? How many people hear that these fantasticly complicated-sounding financial facilities are just "too complicated" for anyone else to understand and think it actually makes sense to let the foxes continue to "guard" the henhouse? From the mouths of babes (e.g., cranky old activists and hippie bloggers) we heard that so many of these stories were actually not true, but the grown-ups wouldn't listen, even when the whistleblowers joined in - and instead they just wanted to shoot the messenger.

Among the myriad issues where the emperor has no clothes is one I still find it amazing that members of my own generational cohort seem to have completely fallen for an obvious lie: the crack cocaine story. I remember when it first reared its ugly head how we started hearing the same kind of outrageous claims that we once heard about marijuana and LSD; every issue of Time seemed to be all Reefer Madness on this drug preparation. It should have been manifestly obvious that no drug could instantly addict someone with one dose, for example - it simply makes no sense. And you would have thought a generation that cut its teeth on debunking lies about marijuana would have seen right through it, but they didn't. One of the most draconian drug laws ever resulted from this insanity and a succession of tragically evil drug policies have followed in its wake. (All of which, by the way, has had devastating impact on the black community as a whole, not to mention black activism.) Of course, it's not just my generation that dropped the ball on this - everyone does it all the time, dismissing even what they have seen with their own eyes in favor of manufactured "conventional wisdom" that pours down on them from the elites. Sam Seder did a great interview with Columbia University neuroscientist Carl Hart, author of the new book High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, who explained "how we demonize people on welfare, his life experience and academic work, why not all users of Crack Cocaine are addicted, the Rat Park study, the variety of reasons people fall into drug addiction, who benefits from the War on Drugs and who pays the highest price and how we use drugs to avoid addressing poverty and unemployment," on The Majority Report.

Another term that I suspect some people have lost a grip on is one that Atrios keeps using quite accurately to describe the convoluted means "centrists" keep coming up with to do what should be straightforward tasks, is Rube Goldberg machine. He frequently employs the term to talk about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), an overburdened mess that could have bypassed most of its problems by getting rid of the huge complication of the expensive middle-men in the insurance industry, as we have seen. Perhaps that's why he posted this entertaining video Tuesday night.

The Amazingly Articulate Barack Obama gives a presser about a fiasco any smart person should have seen coming.
And an appropriate word from Mike the Mad Biologist

"Can we trade Obama for Nixon? It's difficult to know, in historical terms, how best to understand the monumental catastrophe of the Obamacare rollout. Is it yet another example of the pathological weakness and spinelessness of the Democratic Party, which never seems to get anything right and always prefers to negotiate itself into unnecessary compromise and ideological defeat? Or is it another symptom of our national refusal to pursue a rational and coherent healthcare policy, fueled partly by our bogus mythology of individualism and partly by the machinations of insurance-industry racketeers? Is there, to go one step further, a relationship between those two things?"

Suddenly I am not the only person talking about giving Americans a guaranteed basic income. And this is Business Insider!

Marcy Wheeler on "The Opportunity Cost of the Global Dragnet," or how the NSA is wrecking everything.

Dept. of Worse Than Bush: NSA Whistleblower speaks.
"Americans' personal data shared with CIA, IRS, others in security probe"

"The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority [...] Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress writes the laws and sets trade policy. And so it was for 200 years. Over the last few decades, presidents have seized those powers through a mechanism known as Fast Track. Fast Track facilitated controversial pacts such as NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, which extend beyond traditional tariff-cutting to set constraints on domestic financial, energy, patents and copyright, food safety, immigration and other policies."
Why Do We The People Have To Read TPP On Wikileaks?"
Just in case you thought it was any better over here, the Transatlantic Trade Deal is the European version of the TPP, "...a privatised justice system for global corporations", and a direct attack on democracy.

Matt Taibbi, "Chase's Twitter Gambit Devolves into All-Time PR Fiasco."
Stacy Keach, #AskJPM tweets performed by voice of American Greed
Read the Tweets

"Caught in Unemployment's Revolving Door [...] 'I've been turned down from McDonald's because I was told I was too articulate,' she says. 'I got denied a job scrubbing toilets because I didn't speak Spanish and turned away from a laundromat because I was 'too pretty.' I've also been told point-blank to my face, 'We don't hire the unemployed.' And the two times I got real interest from a prospective employer, the credit check ended it immediately.'"

Say what you will about Ralph Nader, but the only way he's wrong about the Democratic Party and Obama is that he's not scathing enough. I don't think he even realizes what Obama really is.

"Vanity Fair editor's crazy conspiracy theory: Former NYT scribe Kurt Eichenwald just knows Edward Snowden's a Chinese spy -- no matter what logic says."

Richard Cohen managed to commit another atrocity, with the open approval of his editor, and a response from Ta-Nehisi Coates.
In honor of the occasion, Atrios linked to this blast from the past at A Tiny Revolution.

As some of you may recall, I learned my way around unpacking pseudo-science and "conventional wisdom" by studying the relationship between sex crime and a whole passel of anti-sex assumptions and anti-pornography "science". And no matter how much time you spend debunking this stuff, there is always more. And it's like that with everything.

"No, This is Not an Okay Tip to Leave." And if the meal comes to less than $25, you might want to consider this. (Well, some of us can only afford to eat in restaurants if we stick to the local tipping conventions, but if you can afford it, why not do it?)

The Original "Occupy": Novel Was Written 100 Years Before Zuccotti Park

How to Be an Atheist Without Being a Dick About It

Google, if the '80s never ended

You can listen to this Beatles at the BBC program until Thursday. It's fun.

12 November 2013

Easier said than done

Stuart Zechman explained the problems with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and how to fix them on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. Here's Stuart's text outline of those issues. Homework includes a piece from last year in the WaPo, "A Limit on Consumer Costs Is Delayed in Health Care Law."
Joan McCarter and Jay Ackroyd discussed "the politics of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; Harry Reid's filibuster reform talk; expanding social security; and the results of the 2013 elections and the attendant exit polls" on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Today's healthcare frauds: Johnson & Johnson

"The rich: 'A class of people for whom humans are disposable commodities'" - Gaius Publius recommends pieces by Chris Hedges and Digby on the pathology of the Cloud People.*

More like this, please: Keith Ellison and Tom Guild in Oklahoma. Talk like the people matter and even the reddest states might just come out on the right side.

Noam Scheiber in The New Republic, "Hillary's Nightmare? A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren"

Key Obama priority: "Getting the Republican Party back in a functioning state"

David Dayen in The New Republic, "Congress Is Starving the Agency That's Supposed to Prevent Another Meltdown"

Matt Taibbi, "Chase Isn't the Only Bank in Trouble"

If your business model requires you to break the law and continuously go to court and pay fines as a matter of course, you'd better make sure you have sufficient reserves of funds for the legal process.

WaPo: "The Great Recession may have crushed America's economic potential [...] The paper offers a depressing portrait of where the economy stands nearly six years after the onset of recession, and amounts to a damning indictment of U.S. policymakers. Their upshot: The United States's long-term economic potential has been diminished by the fact that policymakers have not done more to put people back to work quickly. Our national economic potential is now a whopping 7 percent below where it was heading at the pre-2007 trajectory, the authors find."
Paul Krugman on "The Mutilated Economy". The administration and Congress have conspired in their attack on the nation's economy at the behest of their corporate masters, but there's no reason we shouldn't call it what it is: a national security crisis.

Another surprise from the Pope.
"This might be the worse thing you read today: This story from New Mexico is just insane, and show just how out of control the 'War on Drugs' has gotten."
Election highlights: There's bad news, of course, but a surprising amount of good news.
Well, it would have been nice if they hadn't kept saying "trans fats" and just said margarine is bad for you. Doesn't anyone listen to Julia Child? Jeez.
Not everything is lost, in the world we all want to live in.

"Australian David Hicks: Survivor of Gitmo's Sadistic Abuse: Richard Phillips in 'David Hicks seeks to overturn Guantánamo "terrorism" conviction' reveals that former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Australian citizen David Hicks has lodged an appeal with the US Court of Military Commission Review to overturn his 2007 conviction of 'providing support for terrorism.' It is expected that the commission will NOT quash Hicks' conviction. His American lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights will then appeal the case to the US federal district court. "

Digby on the culture of unaccountability and prosecutorial misconduct that puts innocent people in prison - on purpose.

The Rorschach test controversy on Wikipedia. Oh, my!

Black Panthers' Fight For Free Health Care

"Terrible Columnist Richard Cohen Shocked To Learn That Slavery Was Really, Really Bad"

Cartoon: The high cost of incarceration

"Legal paper maps out conservative plan to abolish pornography"

Michael Moore recommends 12 years a slave.

"Why Scandinavian women make the rest of the world jealous"

Every now and then I think of these bitter things, and try not to break things.

Laurie Anderson's Farewell to Lou Reed

You can now look at the original Mary Shelly drafts for Frankenstein online.

Photoset: Steampunk DC characters

H.P. Lovecraft's "The Haunter Of The Dark", animated.

Sail - Awolnation with Tesla coils! FOR SCIENCE!

Masha and the Bear - a cute little children's show from Russia.

Fortean Times: 40 years of covers - in pictures

Halloween costume that makes lemons into lemonade.

"41 Camping Hacks that are borderline genius" - I don't do much camping, but a few of these are things you can use at home or in the wilds of, say, Central London.

Famous paintings animated

The M&S Christmas TV Advert 2013

The Essex, because it's the moment to just do it.

05 November 2013

Paradise is waiting for you and me

Gaius Publius and Marcy Wheeler were this week's guests on Virtually Speaking Sundays Topics include: Whose in charge here? U.S. elected officials, like the President and Sen. Dianne Feinstein have disavowed knowledge of targets of U.S. intelligence services. Heads of intelligence operations tell bald-faced lies to Congressional oversight committees, and not only retain their jobs, but continue to be treated by the Beltway media as authoritative sources. Who are they spying on and who gives them their orders? Homework for this one includes:
"NSA tapping Google & Yahoo cloud-servers worldwide, per Snowden docs"
"DiFi's Fake FISA Fix Appears to Further Extend Searches on US Persons Under Section 702"
"What's the Relationship Database About?"
"Climate crisis: Our government is captured by billionaires; the solution is civil disobedience"
"Fukushima: 'Usual suspects in Japan are getting richer... at the expense of public safety'"

* * * * *

My thanks to CMike in comments for calling our attention to Seth Ackerman's antidote to Lind's piece trying to draw a straight line between the confederacy and today's right-wing Republicans:

Tea Party Yankees


In fact, all of Lyndon Johnson's major War on Poverty programs were enacted with a majority of Southerners voting for final passage. The 1964 Economic Opportunity Act - the omnibus bill establishing Job Corps, a federal work-study program, adult education funding, and various other things - was sponsored in the House by staunch anti-labor segregationist Phil Landrum of Georgia, and passed with 60% of Southern Democrats voting in favor, even as 87% of Republicans opposed it. Likewise, Medicare passed in 1965 with 61% of Southern Democrats in favor and 93% of Republicans opposed. The 1964 Food Stamp Act, after an intra-party log-rolling deal involving farm subsidies, went through on virtually a straight party-line vote.

There were certainly hard-right Southern Democratic legislators who refused to vote for such policies. There were also surprisingly liberal ones; the region's Congressional delegations were more ideologically diverse than is usually assumed.

If there was one legislator who best embodied the classic image of a conservative Southern Democrat in Congress, it was probably Senator Richard Russell of Georgia. An uncompromising (if 'genteel') segregationist and signer of the Southern Manifesto, Russell, according to a political scientist writing in 1950, belonged to a class of Southern legislators which 'speaks for the respectable conservatives, speaks for chambers of commerce, civic clubs, banks, corporations.' Russell was probably a bit to the right of the median Southerner in Congress. But it is a mark of how different that time and place were that Russell declared the proudest accomplishment of his forty-year Congressional career to be the National School Lunch Act, which he spearheaded in 1946 and then doggedly defended over the years whenever its funding was challenged: 'No one,' he charged, 'should seek to deny a poor child in a poor state a lunch at school because both child and state are less able to pay than a wealthier child in a wealthy state.'

The notion that this brand of Southern Democratic politics prefigured modern-day Rush Limbaugh-style Tea Party Republicanism is fallacious. If, today, there are modern-day equivalents of Russell's genre of Southern Democrat - on issues other than civil rights - they are not Eric Cantor or Ted Cruz, but rather Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, John Breaux, or Claire McCaskill. In other words, the closest modern-day equivalents of the conservative Democrats of the 1940s are modern-day conservative Democrats.

* * * * *

Mark Millar at Reuters, "Can expanding Social Security solve the retirement crisis?: I asked a financial services executive recently how our retirement saving system can be considered a success, considering that all but the highest-income households are approaching retirement with next to nothing saved. His reply: 'They don't have any money while they're working, so why would they have any money in retirement?'"

Michael Hiltzik in the LAT, "How much are we willing to pay for the pursuit of happiness? Research by Notre Dame political scientist Benjamin Radcliff suggests that social programs produce a happier population." Even better, we don't have to "pay" more for it, because these so-called "social" programs feed a healthier economy, as well.

Naomi Klein's article "How science is telling us all to revolt" in the New Statesman was an inspiration to Lee Camp, who did a video just for that, "Scientific Models Now Showing Revolt Is Our Only Chance?" (The Klein pieces is, of course, in the Russell Brand-edited issue.)

I don't know why David Sirota says "liberal-washing" is new. Stealing our language has been going on for over 30 years and Obama may very well be its pinnacle. Anyone remember during the Iraq war propaganda build-up how people who are completely hostile to women's rights suddenly kept pointing to how unfeminist Iraq is? (Boy, I bet those women are really grateful we destroyed their homes and made them all wear headscarves.) They've got Cory Brooker tagged as some kind of "liberal" even though he is one of the most important factors in the push for charter schools. And there's nothing like a famous Jewish civil liberties lawyer explain why torturing Muslims is perfectly fine to "liberal-wash" an evil, right-wing policy.

Alex Pareene, "Obamacare is a mess, and liberals need to fix it." Too right. People need to stop defending Obama and start pushing to make the problem workable. Yes, the program is a mess, because they let conservatives and the insurance companies influence policy. Now we have to get rid of that influence.

Robert Reich, "Why Washington Is Cutting Safety Nets When Most Americans Are Still in the Great Recession [...] Get it? The bottom 90 percent of Americans - most of whom are still suffering from the Great Recession, most of whom have been on a downward escalator for decades - have disappeared from official Washington." You know, lobbying your representatives used to be a perfectly honorable part of democracy. We need to figure out how to get back into that in a way they need to pay attention to. That used to be what demonstrations were about, of course, but they've found ways to put a stop to that. But people who represent the bottom 90% aren't running for office, either. They're not even trying to be a nuisance to the bad guys in primaries anymore. Where are they?

Poll: Growing Number of Republicans Dislike GOP. Now, if only all the people who hate their party leaders could get together....

"Coal Baron and Major Ken Cuccinelli Campaign Donor Sues Blogger for Defamation, Invasion of Privacy [...] Filed on September 25 in Belmont County's Court of Common Pleas, Murray's complaint accuses Mike Stark, creator of FossilAgenda.com and Stark Reports, and The Huffington Post of defamation and invasion of privacy stemming from Mr. Stark's September 20 article, 'Meet the Extremist Coal Baron Bankrolling Ken Cuccinelli's Campaign"."

Tom Tomorrow and Dr. Hand

To Flatten A Heroine: Artist Puts Disney Princess Filter On 10 Real Life Female Role Models

Yes, it's Diwali again. You would not believe the noise outside my window.

Barbara Lewis, "Make Me Your Baby"