Monday, July 7, 2014

Make me an angel

Last week's guests on Virtually Speaking Sundays were David Dayen (dday) and David Waldman (KagroX), who discussed the hollowing out of the middle class in a slow growth economy, a solution for the absurdly high college tuition and student loan burdens as an example of counterproductive public policy, and #gunfail. And I was already going to link this story they discussed:
He got disgustingly rich by seeing the emerging patterns and knowing where to bet, and now Nick Hanauer says, "The Pitchforks Are Coming - For Us Plutocrats [...] But let's speak frankly to each other. I'm not the smartest guy you've ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I'm not technical at all - I can't write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now? I see pitchforks."

I hadn't been aware of the nanny from Hell story, but as Atrios points out, it's a real mark of how much we value kids that we expect to pay their caretakers (nannies or mothers) nothing. Don't like paying teachers much, either, for that matter. And Thursday, Sheila Bapat was on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd to discuss Economic and gender justice are the focus of Part of the Family? Nannies, Housekeepers, Caregivers and the Battle for Domestic Workers' Rights (reviewed here). Note that Alito actually invented a new category of employee just to prove that he is either stupid beyond credence or will literally say anything, no matter how nonsensical, to get an anti-union ruling out of it.

A new poll says Mitch McConnell's got trouble, but it also says this: "The survey shows that by an almost six-to-one margin, 80% to 14%, voters are more likely to vote for 'a candidate who wants to close loopholes to make sure millionaires do not pay a lower tax rate than the middle class.' Wide majorities of Democrats (87%), Republicans (70%) and independents (80%) support this position. The poll also reveals that by more than four-to-one, 76% to 17%, Kentuckians would be more likely to vote for 'a candidate who wants to make sure that the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes,' including 88% of Democrats, 57% of Republicans and 83% of independents. But they would be less likely by a two-to-one margin, 63% to 31%, to vote for 'a candidate who wants to cut the taxes of the wealthy and corporations.' Voters also said by more than a two-to-one margin, 66% to 27%, that they would be more likely to vote for 'a candidate who wants to end tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas.'" What a shame McConnell is just going to be beaten by another "centrist" Dem and not someone who would campaign to give the public what it so obviously wants - and needs. Just think, if we had a politician who would simply vote for what most of these red state Republican voters want, we'd have more liberal policies than the "centrist" Democratic leadership is giving us.

"Flawed Oversight Board Report Endorses General Warrants [...] The board skips over the essential privacy problem with the 702 'upstream' program: that the government has access to or is acquiring nearly all communications that travel over the Internet. The board focuses only on the government's methods for searching and filtering out unwanted information. This ignores the fact that the government is collecting and searching through the content of millions of emails, social networking posts, and other Internet communications, steps that occur before the PCLOB analysis starts. This content collection is the centerpiece of EFF's Jewel v. NSA case, a lawsuit battling government spying filed back in 2008. The board's constitutional analysis is also flawed. The Fourth Amendment requires a warrant for searching the content of communication. Under Section 702, the government searches through content without a warrant. Nevertheless, PLCOB's analysis incorrectly assumes that no warrant is required. The report simply says that it 'takes no position' on an exception to the warrant requirement when the government seeks foreign intelligence. The Supreme Court has never found this exception."

It would be nice to replace the creeps in the Supreme Court with people who are better, but that doesn't usually happen unless other things happen first. It's a mistake to just wait on the Supreme Court. It's also crazy-making to have people talk about how important it is to have a Democrat in the White House to make sure crazy judges don't get appointed when we elect Democrats who go out of their way to protect the nomination of someone like Roberts. Roberts is a radically crazy judge and that was obvious from the outset. People really have to stop thinking that sociopaths can't come in the form of soft-spoken or mild-mannered folk; actually, it is the mark of a really effective sociopath that they don't foam at the mouth.

Charlie Pierce, "The United States Of Cruelty: We are cheap. We are suspicious. We will shoot first. It does not have to be this way. Like Lincoln before us, it is time to do something about it."

Some people complained that they couldn't get the Beth Schwartzapfel Great American Chain Gang piece, so here's the direct link for "Modern-Day Slavery in America's Prison Workforce" in The American Prospect.

John Oliver on Hobby Lobby

Barbara Ehrenreich On Marriage Equality & 2-Party System

Annie Lowrey in the NYT, "Recovery Has Created Far More Low-Wage Jobs Than Better-Paid Ones" The deep recession wiped out primarily high-wage and middle-wage jobs. Yet the strongest employment growth during the sluggish recovery has been in low-wage work, at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants. In essence, the poor economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones. That is the conclusion of a new report from the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, analyzing employment trends four years into the recovery.

Surviving the 'Pit of Vipers'

RIP: Frank M. Robinson (1926-2014), author, editor, fan, and Harvey Milk's speechwriter.
Felix Dennis, former hippie street vendor and eventual staff-member of the alternative newspaper Oz, who became frighteningly rich as your basic cut-throat magazine publisher in later years. Christopher Priest, who once shared a flat with him, doesn't remember him fondly.

The Guardian, 100 years ago: "'It is not to be supposed,' wrote a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian analysing the significance of the assassination 100 years ago on Saturday, 'that the death of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand will have any immediate or salient effect on the politics of Europe.'"

"Orphan Black Embodies the Female Gaze Better than Anything Else on Television: As a show chiefly concerned with the ways women's bodies are commodified and controlled, Orphan Black is careful not to view its female characters with that same hungry eye. This is a triumph: On so many shows, the camera works at cross-purposes to the high-minded themes."
"Fandom Fixes: Don't over-dude it, Orphan Black [...] Orphan Black is also the TV embodiment of the modern LGBT community's most perplexing question: Are we born this way? It takes that Pride anthem and flips it on its head, offering up clones created from the exact same DNA who have completely different ideas about sexuality and gender. 'Sexuality is a spectrum,' Delphine says in season one, after finding herself attracted to Cosima. 'But social biases codify sexual attraction, contrary to the biological facts.' And that certainly seems to be Cosima's take on it as well. She's attracted to who she's attracted to. 'It's the least interesting thing about me,' she says."

See the Earth LIVE! ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment

Yes, kids get into everything.

Who's the mastermind behind this?

Where armor meets corset - and before you ask, yes, they are leather.

When radiologists take a selfie

Well, I had no idea that Harlan was a Scooby-Doo! character. It's the kind of thing you just have to look up.

Donnalou Stevens is hawt.

4th of July Cake Wrecks

Bonnie Raitt, "Angel From Montgomery", live.


  1. [So I logged in and it ate my comment. Phooey.]

    I am beginning to think that there needs to be an income/wealth ceiling for office-holders. (Which might involve counting units of influence or something like that as wealth.) Since at this point only rich people can run for high office, and they still seem susceptible to bribery-under-the-cover-of-horsetrading.

    It is early enough in the morning that I wondered when Christopher Priest had lived in San Francisco before I noticed the intervening name.

  2. Jerry Brown isn't a Clinton-style Centrist Dem, but still shockingly unresponsive to popular will.

    Meanwhile, influential political analysts are cheering Brown's fracking stance., The Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters, said that his refusal to cave into anti-fracking hecklers was only going to help his re-election. That analysis typifies mainstream political thinking where climate change policy, from fracking to cap and trade, all take a back seat to shorter-term economic priorities.

    “It helped Jerry because it reminded everybody that he stands between the Democratic Party’s left wing, and everybody else,” Walters said right after the 2014 Democratic Convention. “It reminded, particularly business, that they need to have Jerry Brown in place to prevent the left-wingers from taking over the party entirely, and doing things that business doesn’t want, like banning fracking, raising taxes and what not. It was a perfect thing for Jerry. Almost a campaign commercial.”

    By "everybody else," Walters doesn't mean the 68% of Californians and 78% of CA Democrats who support a fracking moratorium, he means some influential businessmen.

  3. Just think, if we had a politician who would simply vote for what most of these red state Republican voters want, we'd have more liberal policies than the "centrist" Democratic leadership is giving us.

    That's the last thing Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Steve Israel (the newest Rahm Emanuel) want. Not to mention, the people who put them in charge of the DNC and DCCC.

  4. Put me down with the same crowd that whines about Matt and Mike spoiling plots on the Majority Report while they claim if you haven't watched something within a couple of years of its first run, tough. Over here on the left shore, if you don't have BBC America or Amazon Prime there's a real good chance you haven't gotten started with the Season 1 of Orphan Black and therefore would be best served by a recommendation to buy or otherwise access it unaccompanied by much of a heads up about its content. (I say bite the bullet, sign up for Amazon Prime and get Rome and some of the other HBO stuff while you're at it. As far as Amazon being an evil behemoth- I think it's in the right about ebook pricing. Why should an ebook cost 80% of a dead tree version? I'm not too offended by it not taking pre orders on some items to make its point. Because of today's technology I don't think there's any reason for publishing houses going forward to remain the dominant players in the print industry as both the gatekeepers and profiteers that they have been for two centuries.)

    The overarching story line aside, for me the first two episodes of Orphan Black had too many plot holes while introducing one unappealing character after another, and I only stuck with it because esteemed film critic Paul Krugman was so enthusiastic about the series. I was starting to think it was headed into a rut and going to get monotonous. How wrong I was, in short order thereafter I found myself getting hooked and ended up being willing to sign up in advance to pay for Season 2 and, I think, that remains the only video content I have ever paid for a la carte, since I started streaming anything.

    Once I finally did get my suspension of disbelief on I got walloped in a good way by two plot developments I did not see coming- the first in a suburban scene in Episode 10, of Season 1, the second in an out in the countryside scene in Episode 3 of Season 2. In another scene having to do with child care I found myself getting a dose of enlightenment after I got to thinking about it a few hours later.

    As for the acting, brava!, brava! Pretty impressive.

    1. Amazon!? CMike really? As if their being evil has ever simply been about pricing or their battles with the dead-tree publishing industry.

      You can't be for a new new deal and be down with companies like Amazon and Walmart.

    2. Agreed, working in those warehouses is a tough gig. Can't speak to everywhere in Europe but in the United States we are locked into a permanent state of high unemployment which means that wages and working conditions will deteriorate over the years until some rock bottom is reached with plenty of workers all ready convinced working at an Amazon warehouse is the best option they have at present.

      The purist can do their part on behalf of labor and seek to do business with those firms which they suppose are treating their workers well. Maybe unorganized boycotts would show up in some corporate research polling data and lead to companies to start treating their grunt labor better, but I doubt that's the way it is likely to play out. Since before the days of George H. W. Bush, I've never been much of a fan of volunteerism, being one of "a thousand points of light" in the political economy, as an approach to setting things right.

      As a consumer should I avoid buying clothing made in Asia or South America to reduce the certainty I'm exploiting child labor or is not buying anything from this year's shamed celebrity clothing line enough of a humanitarian message for me to be sending the textile industry and retailers? Does paying an extra $8 a pound for coffee so that I can be told peasant growers are getting $2 of that for themselves seem like the right way for me to go about helping agricultural workers in undeveloped countries?

      Even though I don't eat meat I know, nonetheless, there are endless untold tales of labor and animal woes that I deserve to be served along with a lot of the rest of what I do eat not to mention environmental degradation I'm contributing to with each meal I consume.

      Understanding that cash is fungible and fessing up that I do, from time to time, use the Amazon Prime "no additional delivery charge" feature, I won't claim mitigation, that I'm avoiding the warehouse services by my practice, in the main, of buying ebooks and streaming entertainment. However, one of the problems with boycotting Amazon is that because of the success of its warehouse practices lots of companies which sell over the internet subcontract Amazon to distribute their merchandise . To boycott Amazon one would have to do a little research and generate a long list of retailers. And that's while keeping track of all the Koch Industry products one shouldn't be buying because of how publicly visible those brothers are, those two otherwise being like the standard issue business sociopaths that we should be buying from instead.


    3. ...continued

      I live in the midst of a leviathan-ian system. There are all sorts of things I can do to be a hero in my own mind -like shop at Target instead of Walmart- but such defiant acts won't, in the end, make much of a difference to anyone but myself. Joining in large scale organized boycotts might make a difference but that tactic is likely to get hijacked or otherwise misdirected often enough for it to prove counter productive.

      For me, it seems the way forward to challenge the status quo within the course of the coming several years in other than symbolic ways is to use the power of government to re-empower the working people of this country with; a $15 to $20/hr minimum wage for the first 40 hours of any work worker's week, enforced safety and health regulations in the workplace, a progressive tax code that captures a share of passive income and profits and for which liberals are unapologetic, a single payer health system with no supplemental options for the better off to sign on to, lifetime free vocational training, tariffs that compensate for any wage differentials subsidizing the cost of imported goods (and services), starting up government projects and expanding government services to the extent necessary to employ enough people to drive the unemployment rate below 4%, a guaranteed income for all minors as a jumping off point to a necessary transition to our post-industrial economy.

      My sense is that the best answers for how to improve society, answers which I certainly do not have, are most likely to be generated from the ranks of a society in which prosperity and economic security is wide spread and, therefore, that's what we should be focused on creating.

    4. CMike, thanks for the long, thoughtful response. Obviously, I agree with your entire platform which transcends the "symbolic." But I wouldn't dismiss people who make individual ethical choices as purists. Can we know the dirt on every single retailer or vendor, probably not, but we can certainly punish the most egregious and powerful corporations who are actively scorching the earth. And Amazon and Walmart are arguably the two worst examples. Likewise, given my media criticism, why would I give a dime to WaPo (my once beloved hometown paper) or the NYT, knowing what their editorial boards have stood for in recent years. Given my environmental convictions, why would I refuse to buy locally and organically. Mind you, I would never shit on poor people for buying the cheapest goods available, however painfully ironic that is. And finally as an FDR liberal who's been leaning more radically in recent years, I sure as shit can't argue for all those beyond symbolic actions you just mentioned and then go and vote for neoliberal swine every 2 to 4 years.

      Will any of the above change the world, probably not. We're probably all fucked anyway, but it helps me to sleep at night.

  5. Harlan


    Do you suppose that he'll ever publish The Last Dangerious Visions ?