Tuesday, November 5, 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"


  1. His reply: 'They don't have any money while they're working, so why would they have any money in retirement?'"

    Ah. "We took it all while they were working, why should we give any back now?"

  2. The Virtually Speaking episodes these days I think complement the Ian Welsh posts about the netroots. I almost get whip lash from the VS episodes. One week it's, from my perspective, realists like Marcy or Gaius or David Dayen and the next we get, from my perspective, people still invested in the Ds like Digby and McJoan. I mean it's surreal one week to hear you, Avedon, or Stuart talking about what a disaster Obamacare is and then the next week to hear McJoan and Jay Ackroyd talking about what a success the APPCA is. I think it captures nicely the split in the "left" between those who are still interested in working through the Ds (Joan - donate $3 today to end the filibuster!) and those who have given up on the Ds and are looking for answers elsewhere. From my viewpoint, the D apologists seem almost as if they live in a different world, one that seems to have almost no relation to the one I see around me.

  3. Now we have to get rid of that influence.

    How to bell the cat, my fellow mice. Obama and his fellow neoliberals are the influence.

    1. Oh, my word.

      There's politics going on in Washington!

      Just teasing, ITTDGY. Lobbying by former Admin officials is a corrupt practice, and one that Obama promised to get rid of. But this has been going on for at least 50 years. Democratic corruption tends to be cheaper.

    2. Is it? Bill Clinton has earned $100 million for selling out his voters.

      Obama had a mandate for change far larger. And the example of the failure of certain Clinton policies (failure for Democratic voters that, is). For example, financial deregulation. Yet he filled his Administration with Larry Summers and the like, anyways.

      Or take NAFTA. Obama criticized Hillary for NAFTA during the 2008 primary. He knew it turned out badly for us, and he wanted us to know he knew.

      Then he secretly resumed the negotiations begun by G.W. Bush on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, aka NAFTA on steroids, in the fall of 2009.

      Don't gloss over these examples with,"There's politics going on in Washington!"

      These are the things that have made most Americans poorer, and the very richest even richer.

  4. Hillary Clinton looks so much better as a fantasy.

    I am not referring to physical appearance.

    1. I think she looks horrible no matter how you tilt the kaleidoscope but god knows voters, myself among them OUAT, believe what they choose.

    2. I still can't like her, and I keep remembering that one of the things that made Obama look so attractive at the start was that he was supposed to be the non-Clinton. How little that mattered to some once The One started to show his true stripes.

    3. She's making 200,000$/speech nowadays. Payback for all the good loving she and Bill have given the 1%-ers all these years. Doubtless there'd be far less cha-ching had she challenged a single core idea of our insane foreign policy when serving as SOS.

  5. More baffling yet is that Fukushima has not hindered Japan's exports of nuclear technology:

    "The Turkish government ... signed an agreement with a consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to build four nuclear reactors in the Black Sea city of Sinop at an estimated cost of more than $22 billion (2 trillion yen)."

    The cost-cutting measures that Cringely talks about have worked wonders:

    "TEPCO said Oct. 31 it secured a pretax profit of 141.6 billion yen ($1.44 billion) for the April-September period, a sharp reversal from a loss of 166.2 billion yen a year earlier."

    But more revenue (for them) must be secured and the only way to do it--wait on it: "Reactors must be brought back online as soon as possible to ensure a stable electricity supply." Lie. Virtually all reactors have been shut down for over 30 months now and the supply has been perfectly stable. It's simply been less profitable for them (not more expensive mind you, as costs have simply been passed onto consumers).

    But again not to worry--Abe & corporate partners TEPCO have it all under control.

    1. I've ceased to be baffled by anything involving huge amounts of money.

    2. Compare and contrast these two news videos.

      Fuku who? "[O]n Thursday, Nov. 7, CNN will air PANDORA’S PROMISE from 9:00pm to 11:00pm and 12:00am to 2:00am, a film that explores the personal journeys of several environmental experts who evolved from being strongly against to being strongly in favor of nuclear energy."

  6. I wish the cartoonist hadn't backed down on Anne Frank. What's the point of satire if it doesn't hit where it hurts?

    Also, ditto what BDBlue said.

    1. Born June 12, 1929, in hiding from July 6, 1942 until her arrest on August 4, 1944, diarist she was, the intimate friend of the imaginary Kitty:

  7. Yikes, jc.

    Is there at least a cancellation clause on building those reactors in case Fukushima goes full Chernobyl?

  8. JCAPAN,

    Forget the $10.10 minimum wage proposal the fading POTUS is all of a sudden embracing. This is getting pretty exciting.

    Says the once dead tree, now online newspaper the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

    [QUOTE]>>>>>If — it’s a big “IF” — Sawant wins, it will be the first defeat for an incumbent Seattle City Council member since 2007, when Tim Burgess easily unseated David Della. Before that, you have to go back to 2003, when the “Gamscam” mini-scandal sent three council members packing.

    [The incumbent Democrat Richard] Conlin ran a languid campaign and has already announced he won’t run again in 2015.

    A kind of Emerald City answer to Spain’s La Passionara, Sawant quoted Leon Trotsky on election night. Unlike the Bolshevik leader, however, she may be raised to office rather than sent into exile. The former Occupy Seattle activist would find herself sitting on the dais rather than storming the barricades.
    <<<<<[END QUOTE]

  9. "She shunned standard Seattle issues and lasered in on three platform proposals: a millionaire’s tax, a $15 an hour citywide minimum wage and rent control."

    Why is it so hard for the (what's left of the) left to simplify their message instead of the cornucopia usually on offer.

  10. The wheels grind slow but sure. Just finally updated to your present location on the NEW PALS blogroll, which no doubt accounts for the sudden upsurge in microscopic readers. Or the microscopic upsurge in sudden…

    I'll come in again.