Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?

And then inequality happened: "But as he turned to characterize the Great Recession, Obama's speech pattern changed: He shifted to a sentence structure that excludes human actors from the subject position. 'The deck is stacked' against the working class, Obama said. Why? Because 'taxes were slashed,' he said, and 'growth has flowed to a fortunate few.' His language gave no indication of who brought about these disparities."
"Time to bury the Clinton economic legacy [...] Many Democrats want to preserve the fiction that the prosperity of the late 1990s was due to deficit reduction rather than an unsustainable stock bubble."

"From the Bullet to the Ballot: An Unfavorable Review of a Work on the Black Panther Party" - Black Agenda Report managing editor and former Black Panther Party member Bruce Dixon on how black establishment historians are deleting the history of black analysis and conscience from the record. Big afros were cool, and then Barack Obama got elected president. You'd think no one knew any Vietnam vets and that Dr. King never spoke out against war and capitalism. "No matter what Bobby Seale says these days, putting black faces in high places is not why I was there, it's not why most of us were there. If you bother to listen to Fred Hampton's patter in the movie about Papa Doc and others, you can see it's not why he was there, it's certainly not why the Illinois Chapter of the BPP was there. It's not what our martyrs were slain for, or what some of our comrades did decades in prison for, or why some of them are still serving time. We were fighting for the end of oppression of men (and women) by man, something a little broader and deeper than many of those who pass for "black power" advocates did then or do today." (Also at BAR, this news round-up says de Blasio is, sadly, not exactly reversing course from Giuliani in his pick for Police Commissioner.)

Digby: "Are we seeing the beginning of a divide and conquer strategy on wealth inequality? I wonder if anyone else has been struck by the oddity of the president and other elite luminaries responding to Elizabeth Warren's populist message for the middle class with rhetoric and policies to help the poor? If one were the least bit cynical, one might think it was a strategy to divide the left along the usual lines --- by offering the only solution as being limited to taking from average workers to help the truly desperate. Leaving the very wealthy alone. Of course." I don't think this is at all a cynical take - it's what hostage-taking is all about. Convincing us that we need to "help the poor" at the expense of making us all poorer is a canny trick, but if we let them get away with it, there will be no relief at all for the poor, which will be 99% of us.

Stupid "job creator" tricks: "At Sears, Eddie Lampert's Warring Divisions Model Adds to the Troubles [...] In January, eight years after Lampert masterminded Kmart's $12 billion buyout of Sears in 2005, the board appointed him chief executive officer of the 120-year-old retailer. The company had gone through four CEOs since the merger, yet former executives say Lampert has long been running the show. Since the takeover, Sears Holdings' sales have dropped from $49.1 billion to $39.9 billion, and its stock has sunk 64 percent. Its cash recently fell to a 10-year low. Although it has plenty of assets to unload before bankruptcy looms, the odds of a turnaround grow longer every quarter. 'The way it's being managed, it doesn't work,' says Mary Ross Gilbert, a managing director at investment bank Imperial Capital. 'They're going to continue to deteriorate.' Plagued by the realities threatening many retail stores, Sears also faces a unique problem: Lampert. Many of its troubles can be traced to an organizational model the chairman implemented five years ago, an idea he has said will save the company. Lampert runs Sears like a hedge fund portfolio, with dozens of autonomous businesses competing for his attention and money. An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company's leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance. Instead, the divisions turned against each other - and Sears and Kmart, the overarching brands, suffered."

"Inside the Saudi 9/11 coverup" - It's always seemed particularly strange to me that everyone agreed to completely ignore the fact that most of the hijackers were Saudi nationals and went from a "the hijackers were acting alone" theory straight to a "Saddam did it!" when it was time to pivot to Iraq without even a moment's eye to the country that has been exporting extremist Wahabism and nurtured the hijackers themselves. "But the White House never let it see an entire section of Congress' investigative report on 9/11 dealing with 'specific sources of foreign support' for the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals. It was kept secret and remains so today. President Bush inexplicably censored 28 full pages of the 800-page report. Text isn't just blacked-out here and there in this critical-yet-missing middle section. The pages are completely blank, except for dotted lines where an estimated 7,200 words once stood (this story by comparison is about 1,000 words). A pair of lawmakers who recently read the redacted portion say they are 'absolutely shocked' at the level of foreign state involvement in the attacks. Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) can't reveal the nation identified by it without violating federal law. So they've proposed Congress pass a resolution asking President Obama to declassify the entire 2002 report, 'Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.'"

Edward Snowden: "An Open Letter to the People of Brazil [...] They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target's reputation. American Senators tell us that Brazil should not worry, because this is not "surveillance," it's "data collection." They say it is done to keep you safe. They're wrong. There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement - where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion - and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever. These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power. [...] If Brazil hears only one thing from me, let it be this: when all of us band together against injustices and in defense of privacy and basic human rights, we can defend ourselves from even the most powerful systems."

"Colorado professor forced to retire over prostitution lecture in 'deviant sociology' course [...] Patricia Adler told Inside Higher Ed that she was offered an ultimatum: accept a buyout, or stay but risk being fired and losing her retirement benefits if any student complained about her course in the future."

Alex Pareene is doing the Hacklist, and he's done a masterful job of channeling Thomas Friedman that had me giggling away - but who can the others be when Friedman is only number 9? Oh, well, one who outranked him this time is Richard Cohen, I see.

"Chicago's 'Smart Card' Debacle and Privatisation" - Sirota read this the same way I did, that it's more like a sit-com scenario than any kind of serious plan for a city's transport - but what it's really about, of course, is massive corruption.

Atrios is one of very few guys - hell, very few people - who are willing to use their platform to make the case for female freedom in a substantive way. It's not freedom for women to be terrified all the time that some guy is going to have sex with you, just FYI, and it's certainly not freedom to have your friends and family members constantly trying to prevent it. Sex can be a lot of things - messy, embarrassing, even dangerous (especially if you have been schooled by abstinence-only "educators" who told you a pack of lies to make sure you don't know what the hell you're doing), but it can also be revelatory great fun that makes life worth living.

"I thought I'd never understand ObamaCare until I read these eleven words from a Washington Post columnist: 'Insurers look at these next few years as a gold rush.'"

7 Rip-Offs Corporations and the Wealthy Don't Want You to Know About

Ted Rall cartoon: "Why Do You Hate Obama?"
Among things that could Never Happen....

Always sad to see someone you've always admired turn into a jerk.

20 things the poor really do every day

Sam Seder for the war against the war on Christmas.

Playlist for Life: "There is mounting evidence that if people with dementia are offered frequent access to the music in which their past experience and memories are embedded, it can improve their present mood, their awareness, their ability to understand and think and their sense of identity and independence. No matter how far their dementia has progressed."

"What These Dragon Blood Trees Do Is Straight Out Of Mythology. Except It's Completely Real." They look pretty strange to me, too.

Tales from the Unexpected: Christopher Lee's heavy metal Christmas tune

Watch Sweethearts of the Galaxy Episode 3 Now!

"The greatest rock n' roll Christmas song of all time", the way it should be heard.


  1. Save us from the self-righteous Christians. Well-know biggest factor in where a person winds up economically is where that person started out. Like that old joke about clowns who are born on third base and think they hit a triple. Also reminds me of another old canard that Jesus wasn't a Christian, at least not in the smug, inhuman way, giving-it-a-bad-name way it is practiced these days.

  2. I'd tell you about living with chronic, oft debilitating pain, but you all are to fortunate to understand. That one simple goal? Get through with grace and dignity.

    Sixty thousand plus homeless veterans, more than those of us who didn't get back from Nam. Seems to me the fortunate should worry about sixty thousand angry homeless combat vets. That old canard about Bankers jumping from skydcrapers on Black Tuesday is just that, a canard. History rewritten by the fortunate. They didn't jump. They were thrown. Rightfully so.

    No fear.

  3. 9/11 was a Bush administration-sponsored false flag operation. Anyone who studies or otherwise learns the facts will AGREE
    that there was no plane crashes or real terrorists involved,

  4. Glad to be able to say that Bob Newhart has canceled his appearance before the anti-gay organization. Whether he was previously unaware of their bias, or was convinced by public pressure after the story got out, either way he's doing the right thing:

  5. de Blasio is not exactly reversing course

    Yeah, I noticed that.

  6. Merry Christmas! (Next week it's Happy New Year! I wouldn't want to keep you in suspense.)

    Darlene Love is always appreciated.

  7. Long time no comment. Just wanted to provide a little Christmas whimsy in the form of a short slideshow of Christmas decorations here in Thailand.

    Anthrosciguy, aka QrazyQat

  8. It's a Wonderful Life... if you're a Republican. Merry Xmas, everyone.

  9. De Blasio Hires Goldman Sachs Exec To Make City More Affordable