Sunday, March 9, 2014

If I had my way I would tear this building down

RIP: Bartcop, aged 60. Not just the blog,* the man*. His real name was Terrence R. Coppage, though we never knew that back then. Back in the day, I used to link to him all the time, quote him, go to his page daily. Before I started my own blog, was the focal point website for a whole lot of us. It was in Bartcop chat on IRC that I badgered Atrios about starting his own blog and gave him the link to Blogger that got him started. I met some of my favorite internet people at Bart's, found some of my favorite journalists. I've even met a few of these people when they visited London. I did not share his love of tequila, but we both loved Led Zep, I'm glad he made me aware of Shirley Manson.
The Rude Pundit, Susie Madrak and Brad Friedman have their own tributes up, and there's an article at The Raw Story.

Dave Johnson and Cliff Schecter will be tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays and will "consider why the trade deficit matters more than the budget deficit, Ukraine, Robert Duncan and the 'war on drugs.' Plus political satire from Culture of Truth.".
Isaac Martin, fiscal sociologist and author of author of Rich People's Movements: Grassroots Campaigns to Untax the One Percent, was the guest on Thursday's Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.

Adolph Reed, who recognized Obama's neoliberalism long before he became the Democratic nominee for the presidency, has an article in Harpers called "Nothing Left: The long, slow surrender of American liberals," which is only available to subscribers, but he discussed it with Sam Seder Wednesday on The Majority Report - highly recommended.
Also recently on the show, David Dayen on how the Post Office could save money, and Jodie Griffin: The Threat of The Comcast-Time Warner Merger & What Next For Net Neutrality?.
And Sam spoke to Mike Lofgren about his essay "Anatomy of the Deep State" at Bill Moyers' site.

Doesn't it bother anyone that the Israeli army is targeting Palestinian soccer players and murdering them on phony pretexts? It seems like the sort of thing you'd at least read about in the sports pages. "Just imagine if members of Spain's top-flight World Cup team had been jailed, shot or killed by another country and imagine the international media outrage that would ensue. Imagine if prospective youth players for Brazil were shot in the feet by the military of another nation. But, tragically, these events along the checkpoints have received little attention on the sports page or beyond."
Jon Stewart ponders the Fox News position on food stamp expenditure, which appears to be that poor people shouldn't eat junk food or nutritious, healthy food: "what's the right mixture of quality and class-based shame poor people should aim for in their meal planning?" (The video is Hulu so I can't see it, but text is supplied.)
And, of course, Obama is still working hard to promote the idea that Social Security cuts are a perfectly reasonable idea, once again saying they are still on the table.
And then there are Alan Grayson's ex-wife's allegations - which, true or not, could hurt him.
Why did the chicken cross the ocean? "Scores of Americans are in an uproar since Food Safety News revealed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will soon allow U.S. chickens to be sent to China for processing before being shipped back to the states for human consumption."
Aasif Mandvi demonstrates how America has the best healthcare system in the world. And a Fox News commentator tells us how to solve the problems of those who can't afford health insurance. "If you're poor, stop being poor." (Video from Crooks and Liars, so I can see it!)

We know that Paul Ryan is what he is, but Atrios did what looks like a whole blog post, not just a link, on how The Washington Post writes about his war on the poor as if for all the world it's a great big piece of social justice for the poor. "Journalists can't be this stupid, so they've just chosen to let the politicians write the story they want told. It's 'make you stupider' journalism, instead of 'inform you' journalism, which is what so much political journalism is."
Atrios also made Paul Taylor his Wanker of the Day* Wednesday after his appearance on NPR promoting generational warfare. As Dean Baker reports, "Taylor repeatedly complained that younger generations don't seem angry about their parents' Social Security and Medicare. He told his interviewer: 'Well, what's so fascinating is there isn't any tension at the moment. You have a generation coming in that isn't wagging its finger with blame at mom or grandma, in fact, they're living with mom and grandma.'" I thought that was particularly interesting myself, since the quote from Taylor contains what should be the only explanation he needs for the not-so-curious fact that kids don't want to make war on their parents and grandparents. If you're living with mom and grandma, and you know perfectly well that they can't go out and get jobs instead of collecting the Social Security that is currently supporting you, it doesn't make sense to want to take their Social Security away, since it's not going to magically supply you with a good job, and in all probability it would mean you'll just all be living together in a cardboard box. Who is the genius who believes that if old people stay in the workforce longer - assuming they could manage to stay employed longer - they wouldn't be part of the job-competition that young people have to face? You don't have to spend that much time in the workforce to know that advancement often depends on the people above you retiring. And since employers these days are much more inclined to cut staff than add to it, getting rid of the people above you is sometimes the only way to move up, which is why more and more these days, you see some people actively conspiring to push out even the most valuable older workers (and they don't have to be that much older, either). Just leaving aside Taylor's bad math, most kids are also smart enough to figure out that mom and grandma are not the people who invented overwhelming student dept and policies that export and reduce American jobs. So, basically, the reason These Kids Today are not doing what Paul Taylor wants them to do is because they are smarter than him. Also via Atrios, McClatchy reports that the CIA is spying on members of Congress.

"WTF: CIA Took Secret, 'Unprecedented Action' Against Senate Intelligence Committee [...] The [Senate Intelligence] committee has spent several years working on a voluminous report about the detention and interrogation program, and according to one official interviewed in recent days, C.I.A. officers went as far as gaining access to computer networks used by the committee to carry out its investigation.... The specifics of the inspector general's investigation are unclear. But several officials interviewed in recent days - all of whom insisted on anonymity, citing a continuing inquiry - said it began after the C.I.A. took what Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, on Tuesday called an 'unprecedented action' against the committee."
"Statement on Congress's Oversight of the CIA from U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: "The Senate Intelligence Committee oversees the CIA, not the other way around. Since I joined the Committee, the CIA has refused to engage in good faith on the Committee's study of the CIA's detention and interrogation program. Instead, the CIA has consistently tried to cast doubt on the accuracy and quality of this report by publicly making false representations about what is and is not in it. The public must be given a complete and accurate accounting of this dark period in our history by declassifying not only the full Committee study, but the Panetta Review as well. Only then can the American people understand the scope and impact of the CIA's actions and hopefully future generations will learn from these mistakes."

18th and 19th Century Paintings of London Superimposed on Contemporary Photos of the City

I have no idea what they mean about this house, which to me looks better on the inside than on the outside. Some of those carpets really have to go, though.

Reaping for Dummies

Peter, Paul, & Mary, live. Or, this very different, but interesting, cover from Garbage (that seems to forget the point that Samson tore that building down with brute strength).


  1. What happened to all your comments Avedon?

    1. I did something incredibly stupid and deleted a page of comments when I was just trying to delete a bunch of spam. I don't see an undo button for that. :(

    2. Looks like if you go to archives in the right hand column of the homepage the comments are intact from the January 26 Sideshow post back. As it happens, I've just noticed my Bloglines account has a Sideshow comments feed that's archived everything from here back to the January 15 post. It would take a little work to get things in order and code the links back in but I would do it if Avedon has enough of a trace of OCD to want them re-posted for posterity.

    3. Avedon would like that very much, CMike, if you really feel up to doing it. Those were some good comments. Except for the spam ones, of course.

  2. Bartcop taught me that the name Cubby could be fraught with evil connotations That if David Koresh was a hero of the right and claimed to be the messiah, then swearing by his name really meant something.

    I see echoes of a lot of the writing around the net. Maybe not specific phrases, more in the style and rhythm. There are a lot of little hammers out there. Kinda nice to know..

  3. Read and posted at Bartcop for a long time, but he and I finally parted company over the uses and efficacy of torture. He could be prickly and irascible online, but on the phone he was gracious and friendly. Besides, with a post title from a song by the Mighty T-Bone (and if you know where that liner note credit comes from, you might be a very old friend of mine), I just had to post.

    1. Versions of "If I Had My Way" (aka "the Samson and Delilah song") were recorded as early as 1927, and as far as I know it's generally regarded as "traditional", with no known author, but I'm not familiar with a T-Bone Walker version, and T-Bone Burnett is way too young to have been involved - and his "I Would Tear This Building Town" is so different from other versions I've heard that it is almost another song.

  4. Apropos of the Deep State, I found the following quote in the book, "JFK and the Unspeakable: why he died and why it matters" (recommended!). U.S. News and World Report is reacting to the possibility of a Test Ban treaty.

    "This question once again is being raised: If peace does come, what happens to business? Will the bottom drop out if defense spending it cut?...Talk of peace is catching on. Before shouting, however, it is important to bear some other things in mind."

    According to the author, the magazine goes on to reassure its readers that tensions with Cuba, the war in Vietnam, and the possibility of war with Red China will keep defense spending high.

    My favorite reader of Obama's character, David Bromwich, has further refined his assessment of who Obama is and what we can expect from him. (Not that it will stop some people from wishing and hoping.)

    "More than most people, Obama has been a creature of his successive environments. He talked like Hyde Park when in Hyde Park. He talks like Citigroup when at the table with Citigroup. And in either milieu, he likes the company well enough and enjoys blending in. He has a horror of unsuccess. Hence, in part, his extraordinary aversion to the name, presence, or precedent of former president Jimmy Carter: the one politician of obvious distinction whom he has declined to consult on any matter. At some level, Obama must realize that Carter actually earned his Nobel Prize and was a hard-working leader of the country. Yet of all the living presidents, Carter is the one whom the political establishment wrote off long ago; and so it is Carter whom he must not touch."

    1. Re: "Talk of peace is catching on." Did you ever read Report from Iron Mountain? It still ranks as one of the great satires of modern times.

  5. During the Better Half ® of that Majority Report which featured Adolph Reed they included another installment of that running series, "Here's why if Sam Seder and Janeane Garofalo didn't exist the Koch brothers would have had to invent them."

    1:10:03 Sam Seder: Let's go to the phones, calling from a 914 area code, who's this?

    Jermo: Oh.

    Sam Seder: Hello?

    Jermo: Hi Sammy.

    Sam Seder: Ah, Jermo! How are you Jermo?

    Jermo: I'm good Sammy. Sammy, you know, I think what I remember most from the 60's and 70's was what really hurt liberals was the Affirmative Action and the ruling with the Supreme Court. And then the word coming up, "quotas" cause I remember my father, he just, you know, "That's discrimination. You're discriminating against me." What do you think about that?

    Sam Seder: Well, there are two different arguments. That guy we had on - Tanner Colby was it? - has an argument that things like that, and particularly busing, were problematic but for a different reason. But yes, I think that folks like your father were upset at that notion of Affirmative Action because they felt like, well, "I'm not, I didn't have slaves. I was not responsible for discrimination, institutional discrimination. Why should I, in any way, be punished or why should these people get a leg up?"

    And I think it was a, I mean frankly, it was simply a lack of understanding of just how much benefit you got just by being white in society. and I think there was a certain inevitability, the bottom line is that as more people get to participate, as more people get a slice of the pie, you know it's a zero sum game and that means, and you can't do it with precision, I mean who knows what part of my success is a function of my being white, my being born to parents who are upper middle class, who, you know, etc., etc., all the privilege that's sort of baked into the cake. It's impossible to know, and it's impossible to know to what extent anybody who doesn't have those things is going to not achieve because of it.

    And there's no way to granular-ly figure that out so, yeah, I think that it was the case, there was a certain inevitability that as you provide some means of remediation of the sort of historic subjugation of people in our society, whether they were African-American or immigrant or women that there was going to be some losers but to the extent that they lost something, it was built on a foundation of some measure of privilege and so there was a certain inevitability, in fact the one question I would have, it just occurred to me that I didn't get to with Adolph Reed is, "Do we need to get to the other side of that before we can really push economics to the forefront again? Do we need to get to the point where society has progressed in terms of social emancipation, but do we need to get to the point where we are just that much more socially emancipated to where people begin to identify and see their politics in the context of, or less in the context of race or of gender, or of sexual preference to where the lines of-- the economic lines become more prominent?" That's the question I forgot to ask him but I saved one for the next time he's on.


    1. Jermo: Boy that's really interesting and in depth. There's so much to it. But just real quick, you know how much I really enjoy how much women's sports in college and high school-- how a law had to be more or less, I believe there was a law that said women deserved equal...

      Sam Seder: Title X

      Jermo: ...opportunity, right?, in sports...

      Sam Seder: Yeah

      Jermo:, coaches, and they got it, and there was no big uproar about that.

      Sam Seder: Yeah, it's true.

      Jermo: You follow my point?

      Sam Seder: It's- Arguably- It's a little less of a zero sum game, those funds have to come from somewhere but yeah, you don't hear people complaining about that as much, you'd hear it more if it was women, and I believe there's some of that, there's some statutes that allow for that, but if women were taking the place of men on these teams then you'd start to hear about it more.

      Jermo: Great to talk to you Sammy...

      CMike here: Yeah, Sammy missed out on posing a tough one to Adolph Reed, "Should Democrats spend another fifty years concentrating on creating a color blind society or, without having achieved that goal, should Democrats turn some of their attention to addressing the concerns of the working class even if that means advancing the interests of white people who have no idea just how good they, and their own working class forefathers, have had it?"

      And oh, i loved this one, just earlier at 1:11:51:

      Sam Seder: ...I think that it was the case, there was a certain inevitability that as you provide some means of remediation of the sort of historic subjugation of people in our society, whether they were African-American or immigrant or women that there was going to be some losers but to the extent that they lost something, it was built on a foundation of some measure of privilege and so there was a certain inevitability.

      CMike again: Yeah, the costs of remediation had to fall on working class whites the last thirty-five years. Who else was left for it to fall upon, the job creators?

    2. Yeah, I like Sam because he makes me laugh and gets some great interview subjects, even if he garbles the points they've made afterwards, but he's not the most incisive thinker in the world. And of course it's Title IX, it established gender equity in all aspects of education, not just sports, and it caused a backlash among men who thought funding for their college sports (the non-football ones) was unfairly cut to support women who supposedly didn't want it anyway.

      I always thought it was Germo, short for Geronimo, but I'm not sure how I came to think that.

    3. You're probably right that it's Germo, and I'm a bit surprised I didn't catch that Title IX mistake. I used to be up on that issue when it was raging and did remember a Roman numeral was involved but I see I've lost track of which numeral. (Along the same lines I'm having trouble coming up with names of authors, actors, and historical figures these days when I'm in conversation, a neurologist told me that's one of the first things to go.)

    4. Happy I'm not the only one forgetting names--I used to be the guy who could play a kick ass game of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. Anyway, a follow up thanks to you, CMike, for alerting me to Adam Curtis. Watched All Watched Over By... last weekend. Some really good content in there though I agree with one commenter who thought her cat was sitting on the remote while watching. I'd say he should draw connections more clearly for less in-the-know viewers but that's a quibble.

      The day after I finished I saw a comment by nihil obstet about The Trap. Seen that one? Also want to get to the Power of Nightmares at some pt.

    5. I thought The Trap was a bit of a slog but I am quite surprised you haven't seen the Power of Nightmares, Avedon's linked to it a couple of times and it and I can't recommend it highly enough. Over at the Daily Howler Bob Somerby got on the subject of the song Baby It's Cold Outside a few months back and I used it as an excuse to link that series [Spoiler Alert] because I had been in the habit during the Bush 43 years of taking every opportunity to ask, "Have you heard the bad news?"

      Here's a link to an outstanding transcript for Part 1 with links there to parts 2 & 3. I never could have gotten some of those names and the terminology right. But do try to make the time to watch the video, it makes the case in more powerful fashion.

      Part 1 without any BBC voice over during the credits at the end to interfere with the haunting

      Part 2

      Part 3

    6. It's always nice to know that someone is still reading those transcripts. It's been years. I even forget exactly how I got involved in doing number 3 ... somebody's old blog, around the time those films first aired, and back when I still had some energy for this stuff. As though it made any difference.

      Anyway, enjoy!

  6. Sad. And perhaps even sadder that Tony Benn and Ralph Miliband's sons were allied with Tony Blair.

  7. Thought Avedon might be interested in a better look at the subject of an Ian Welsh ReTweet. In tracking it down I was tipped by Mike Spinelli at Jalopnik dot com in the direction of some steam tech reality. In this passage Wikipedia recalls:

    >>>>>A Stanley Steamer set the world record for the fastest mile in an automobile (28.2 seconds [i.e. 2.13 miles per minute]) in 1906. This record was not broken by any automobile until 1911, although Glen Curtiss beat the record in 1907 with a V-8 powered motorcycle at 136 mph [2.27 miles per minute]. The record for steam-powered automobiles was not broken until 2009.<<<<<

    As far as I can tell, the illustration is from the updated 1918 edition of this intended to be read by children encyclopedia. Scroll down below the larger reproduction and click on the thumbnail for the highest resolution image.

  8. Tony Benn’s calcified view of the US as an imperialist force left him on the margins of mainstream opinion during the cold war, but a voice of reason to many after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    So, maybe the Guardian writer means "consistent" rather than "calcified", unless calcified has come to mean "not shifting with the prevailing winds."

  9. Just FYI, speaking of Paul Ryan, his blather and b.s. about poverty - including his CPAC speech about the little boy who had an "empty soul" because his poverty got him a free government-paid school lunch - won him my world-famous Clown Award this week.

    1. Hmm. Not sure how, but apparently I screwed up the link. Let's try that again.

      Paul Ryan is a clown.

  10. On another front, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA: Dianne Feinstein has been the biggest bootlicker of the national security state in the entire damn Congress. She has repeatedly defended NSA spying - "It's called protecting America" - and has called Edward Snowden a traitor.

    But when her committee is what’s being spied on, when it's her people that are monitored, when it's her computers that are the target, suddenly such spying is “Illegal! Unconstitutional! Outrageous!”

    The whole story will soon be online at

    Footnote: No need to follow the link unless you want to show me some love. It goes to my post where I say the same thing as here, just at somewhat greater length.