Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Moonlight through the pines

Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Alexa O'Brien and others sue Obama over a clause of the NDAA. "The Barack Obama administration, determined to thwart the attempt by other plaintiffs and myself to have the courts void a law that permits the military to arrest U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and indefinitely detain them, has filed a detailed brief with the Supreme Court asking the justices to refuse to accept our petition to hear our appeal."

"US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy: 'Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, ...' and then they go on to say, it's not true, and that, 'America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened' by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead 'the nearly total failure of 'median voter' and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.'"

Digby on the Oligarchy, complete with a link to Phil Agre's indispensable 2004 article, "What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?", which has been on my sidebar forever and gets frequent links on the front page because everyone should read it and recommend it.

At Suburban Guerrilla
David Cay Johnson on Too Big to Jail
Krugman on Gordon Gekko's daughter and America's inherited wealth problem - I can see why Susie excerpted this, but Naked Capitalism has the full interview with some commentary, and there's an article called "What the 1% Don't Want You to Know" with it over at the original Moyers page.
Oklahoma wants to charge homeowners who install their own solar panels

Thom Hartmann in Salon, "Reaganomics killed America's middle class [...] You can see this trend today in America. When we had heavily regulated and taxed capitalism in the post-war era, the largest employer in America was General Motors, and they paid working people what would be, in today's dollars, about $50 an hour with benefits. Reagan began deregulating and cutting taxes on capitalism in 1981, and today, with more classical 'raw capitalism,' what we call 'Reaganomics,' or 'supply side economics,' our nation's largest employer is WalMart and they pay around $10 an hour. [...] According to Piketty, the post-World War II middle class was created by two major things: the destruction of European inherited wealth during the war and higher taxes on the rich, most of which were rationalized by the war. This brought wealth and income at the top down, and raised working people up into a middle class."

Schneier's Crypto-Gram includes lots of meaty stuff, including what the public-private partnership means to cyber security and privacy, and what IBM doesn't say.

"Elites Discover So-Called 'Free Trade' Is Killing Economy, Middle Class" - Yes, you'll never guess what The New York Times will notice next.

This story makes no sense at all: "NBC hired a ‘psychological consultant' to find out what is wrong with David Gregory's ratings [...] Last year, the network commissioned a psychological consultant to interview Gregory's friends and wife. According to a network spokeswoman, Meghan Pianta, the network wanted 'to get perspective and insight from people who know him best,' a project some at the network found unusual given his almost 20 year tenure at NBC." Funny they didn't ask the viewers and non-viewers, who might actually know.

"Inspired by the Daily Mail's brave exposé of the fact that charities will give emergency food packages to undercover journalists fraudulently claiming to be destitute and hungry," The Daily Mail Timeline of Shame.

A really small fish makes the case against despair.

This is probably the only truly credible threat I have heard about Al Queda since 9/11. "FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States: WASHINGTON - Putting the nation on alert against what it has described as a 'highly credible terrorist threat,' the FBI announced today that it has uncovered a plot by members of al-Qaeda to sit back and enjoy themselves while the United States collapses of its own accord."

"Farscape Creator Confirms That A Movie Script Is In The Works."

Scattered: Short film adapted from Ken MacLeod story

This is not the ad I saw previously when I clicked that Steam Powered Giraffe link, but I decided I wanted to play the song again and was instantly mesmerized by the new ad.

Ray Charles, "Georgia On My Mind"
Boz Scags, "Georgia"


  1. Thom Hartmann in Salon, "Reaganomics killed America's middle class."

    Indeed. And it has continued under both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

    Should we just call it corporatism?

  2. Next time Jay Ackroyd (interpreting Piketty) says that "socialism and communism clearly failed," send him over to Richard Wolff for a more complex view:

    "In short, some agents of socialism's extraordinary global expansion across the century before the 1970s morphed into obstacles and barriers to further success. Likewise, socialism's enemies often found the resources and the ways to slow, stop or reverse its progress. In any case, socialism's history provides key raw materials for making the changes needed now to fashion a socialism for the 21st century. Its past achievements and failures, when faced honestly, are informing a new socialism capable of moving beyond a capitalism riddled with environmental as well as economic crises as it deepens profoundly divisive and unsustainable inequalities."

  3. Ian Welsh points to a "smart piece" wherein Matt Stoller declares:

    [QUOTE] A lot of people are misreading this Princeton study...

    What the study actually says is that American voters are disorganized and their individualized preferences don’t matter unless voters group themselves into mass membership organizations. Then, if people belong to mass membership organizations, their preferences do matter, but less so than business groups and the wealthy.

    Furthermore, the study says that the only mass groups that truly represent citizen preferences are labor unions and advocacy groups like the AARP.

    I would point out one of the smartest things the Democratic elite has been able to do over the last forty years is train the most ardent among their rank and file that only conservative morons turn themselves into single issue voters who draw lines in the sand over issues like gun rights and abortion while the conscientious "big brain" Democrat should always be willing to compromise because the conscientious Democrat knows he, and especially she, has to be looking not in the near term at any particular issue but at the long haul and the big picture. Of course, if you find yourself in the present always willing to give up on what you value the most before too long you'll find yourself, if you take a moment to review, that you're compromising on every one of your values interminably which is just what the Democratic elite want from their voters. (See HeritageCare as an example of this phenomenon.)

    [Me, for several years now I have voted against any Democrat who won't unequivocally support maintaining (or expanding) Social Security benefits according to the currently in place schedule and cost of living adjustment methodology and against any Democrat who won't advocate for single payer health care. These days I'm adding in the requirement to win my vote in a general election that the Democrat on the ballot has to unequivocally support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour or higher.]

  4. One of the odd things about the USA, seen from Europe, is that you still have range wars. You still have the myth of The Frontier as something close to reality. Yes, Russia is still in Europe, and has some of that sense of the Frontier in Siberia, but it is not really something European.

    Which, apart from prompting the thought, so that's why the Ukraine, as the Frontiers of the USA and Russia meet and challenge each other, may be part of why socialism is such a strong element of politics in Europe. We've had a lifetime of sometimes uneasy peace, but part of why that happened is that we knew we were stuck with out neighbours, and things like doing a deal, and cooperating, are better than fighting, or trying to vanish over the horizon.

    I'm put in mind a little of Shane. We Europeans are the farmers. We've set down roots. We can't pack up and move. And we can be hard pressed to tell whether the USA is Fletcher or Shane. In the book, Shane is trying to step away from his violent past. and I can't say I see any of that in the way the USA behaves.

    And the Conservative Party, ruling Britain, seems to be made up of Fletcher-clones too.

    1. There may be some truth in that, but hasn't the EU behaved more like a marauding band of outlaws than the local sheriff?

      Michael Hudson is as alarmed as everyone should be by the destabilizing effects of Western policies on Ukraine. He also says in this interview that countries demoralized by the effects of austerity tend, like Latvia, not to vote out the people who imposed it on them but suffer Stockholm syndrome and keep them in. *At one point Hudson refers to the "Russian" tv station ARD when I'm sure he means "German."

  5. A little behind the times here. Supreme Court rejected Hedges v Obama.

    1. You can't sue to prevent indefinite detention unless you've been detained indefinitely, in which case you can't sue. Catch 22.