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Avedon Carol presents:

The Sideshow

My motto as I live and learn is: dig and be dug in return. -- Langston Hughes
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Thursday, 19 November 2015

It looks like Heaven's lost an eye

Marcy Wheeler and Avedon Carol talked about the Paris attacks and the Democratic debates on Virtually Speaking Sundays. Marcy points out that Clinton's answer that the AUMF covers anything they might want to do (which it doesn't) is mission creep. Homework includes Marcy's article about Jihadi John and the strange mission creep of the CIA. (Sam Seder did a better job of unpacking the debate than I was able to on Mondays's MR show.) I also said that horrible people will use the tragedy in Paris to do horrible things - for example, "Cameron shamelessly exploits Paris tragedy to increase spying on all of us."

Everybody else is doing fundraisers, but much as I may need any funds I can get my hands on, I am just too tired to deal with PayPal's limit right now, so if you were planning to send my account anything, please wait until January.

Just go read Charlie Pierce, who isn't afraid to point the finger at Saudi Arabia - and Hillary Clinton: "The attacks were a brilliantly coordinated act of war. They were a brilliantly coordinated act of pure terrorism, beyond rhyme but not beyond reason. They struck at the most cosmopolitan parts of the most cosmopolitan city in the world. They struck out at assorted sectors of western popular culture. They struck out at sports, at pop music, and at simple casual dining. They struck out at an ordinary Friday night's entertainment. The attacks were a brilliantly coordinated statement of political and social purpose, its intent clear and unmistakable. The attacks were a brilliantly coordinated act of fanatical ideological and theological Puritanism, brewed up in the dark precincts of another of mankind's monotheisms. They were not the first of these. (The closest parallel to what happened in Paris is what happened in Mumbai in 2008. In fact, Mumbai went on alert almost immediately after the news broke.) They, alas, are likely not going to be the last. [...] Abandoning the Enlightenment values that produced democracy will not plumb the depths of the vestigial authoritarian impulse that resides in us all, the wish for kings, the desire for order, to be governed, and not to govern. Flexing and posturing and empty venting will not cure the deep sickness in the human spirit that leads people to slaughter the innocent in the middle of a weekend's laughter. The expression of bigotry and hatred will not solve the deep desperation in the human heart that leads people to kill their fellow human beings and then blow themselves up as a final act of murderous vengeance against those they perceive to be their enemies, seen and unseen, real and imagined. Tough talk in the context of what happened in Paris is as empty as a bell rung at the bottom of a well."
* Glenn Greenwald: "Exploiting Emotions About Paris to Blame Snowden, Distract from Actual Culprits Who Empowered ISIS" - Oddly, he didn't mention that Hatch had been telling the press we'd been tracking terrorists cellphones, way back in the '90s.
* Hezbollah chief denounces Paris attacks
* Muslims Around the World Are Condemning the Paris Attacks: Outpouring of grief shared by people of all faiths and no faith.
* Just in case you haven't seen it, Jean Jullien's graphic.
* What's really happened: Political author Gearoid O Colmain discusses the Paris attacks with RT International.
* Yes, I know about Beirut, but this is the one that captured the imagination of the media and the pols.
* Oliver Willis won the internet with this tweet: "if only we had a seasonally appropriate story about middle eastern people seeking refuge being turned away by the heartless."

Democratic Debate FULL Democratic Debate CBS 11/14/15 Democratic presidential Debate
* Not sure what kind of a "point" it is when Hillary says there's no international comparison so she supports $12 an hour instead of $15. What does that even mean?
* The 9/11 response about Wall Street set off my slap response. It's okay to be in Wall Street's pocket because of 9/11 and women? Seriously?
* No, actually, I don't think Obama deserves more credit for what he's got done despite Republican obstruction. The Republicans did not stop him from using the TARP money he still hasn't used for home-owner relief. They didn't force him to interfere with prosecutions of bankster fraud. They didn't make him declare that a president has the power to murder Americans without trial and they didn't make him go out and murder them. They didn't make him keep bringing up cutting "entitlements" over and over, push for it, and promote stupid ideas like chained CPI.
* McClatchy, "Clinton on the defensive as debate turns to terrorism."
* Bernie Highlight: "I'm Not That Much Of A Socialist Compared To Eisenhower."
* Contra Clinton, Top Economists Are Backing Sen. Bernie Sanders on Establishing a $15 an Hour Minimum Wage.

There are a number of articles like "Democratic Party Hopes No One Watches Democratic Debates" and "Did You Know There's a Dem Debate Tonight? No, Because Debbie Doesn't Want You To" floating around, but what's really strange is the Hillary partisans leaping up to defend the idea of fewer debates, as if Democrats should be happy about having fewer opportunities to make their case on national television. Look, if all you want to hear about is what Republicans have to say, we do that all year long.
* "Former Democratic Chairs Deny Consulting on Debate Schedule."

Charlie Pierce says, "The Best Speech in Iowa Didn't Come From Hillary or Bernie: It came from Dr. Cornel West."

In new shock poll, Sanders has landslides over both Trump and Bush: "In a new McClatchy-Marist poll, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) leads Republican candidate Donald Trump by a landslide margin of 12 percentage points, 53 to 41. In the McClatchy poll, Sanders also leads former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) by a landslide margin of 10 points, 51 to 41."
* "Why Sanders defeats Trump, but Trump defeats Clinton"
* Bernie Sanders exceeds Obama's historic 2008 run in crowds, donors and polling
* Bernie Sanders Won the Debate. Hillary Clinton Evoked 9/11 and Sounded Like A Republican.

"'Fifteen Bucks and a Union': Bernie Sanders Marches With Striking Workers."
* "Not For What He 'Says' But For What He Has 'Done,' Postal Workers Endorse Sanders: Declaring that 'politics as usual has not worked' and 'enough is enough,' the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) announced its endorsement of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Thursday morning, saying the longest-serving independent in the U.S. Congress is the best candidate of the entire 2016 field. 'We should judge candidates not by their political party, not by what they say, not by what we think they stand for, but by what they do," said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. "Applying that criteria, Sen. Bernie Sanders stands above all others as a true champion of postal workers and other workers throughout the country.'"

"Nina Turner changes her mind on Hillary Clinton, endorses Bernie Sanders for president: CLEVELAND, Ohio - Nina Turner, the former state senator from Cleveland and a top Ohio Democratic Party official, is ditching Hillary Clinton in favor of Bernie Sanders."

Open Letter to Hillary Clinton from a Young Palestinian Feminist

Rand Paul Challenges Bernie Sanders To Hour-Long Debate On Socialism vs. Capitalism.

Kentucky demands a public hand count of every ballot that was cast for Governor on November 3rd

AFSCME union endorses Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate - This makes no sense, Murphy is terrible and votes like a Republican. And he's running against Grayson.
* Of course, Florida Democrats are on that page, too, attacking Grayson for opposing Murphy. Make it stop.

Bloomberg: "GOP Says Big Banks Are Bad (But Don't Touch Them). It came through loud and clear in Tuesday's presidential debate: Republicans don't like Wall Street. They don't like its behavior before the 2008 financial meltdown. They don't like the bailouts that followed. And they don't like the financial power the biggest banks still wield. Here's the snag: Their contempt for Wall Street is exceeded only by their contempt for regulating Wall Street."

The Young Turks on the best line of the GOP debate.

"Obama Administration Approves Pipeline Expansion Set to Feed First Ever Fracked Gas LNG Export Terminal."

We Just Sold Another Billion Dollars Worth of Weapons to Our Frenemies in Saudi Arabia.

The Supreme Court Just Agreed to Hear a Case that Could Destroy Roe v. Wade.

The video that might rip Chicago apart - and why you need to see it

10 Shocking Realities of the TPP; Join The Revolt
* "'A Very Big Mistake': Joseph Stiglitz Slams Obama for Pushing the TPP: 'This is about who makes the rules of trade - the American people or the corporations.' [...] Yeah, so, in a sense, what you see both in the Republican and Democratic Party is a sense that something is wrong. You know, America was the first middle-class society. We're about to become the first society that ceases to be a middle-class society."
* Release of TPP Full Text Shows Victory for Corporate Rights

Supreme Court gives broader immunity to police using deadly force in chases.

Dissent Breaks Out at the Center for American Progress Over Netanyahu's Visit
* 10 Falsehoods That Netanyahu Told During His Appearance At CAP

"To Break Big Pharma's Stranglehold, Doctors Vote for Ban on Drug Ads: Prescription drug prices have already become a presidential campaign issue, with healthcare costs a top concern for American voters. In an attempt to combat the soaring cost of prescription drugs and Big Pharma's stranglehold on the U.S. healthcare system, the American Medical Association (AMA) has approved a new policy to 'support a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs and implantable medical devices.' 'Today's vote in support of an advertising ban reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially-driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices,' said AMA board chair-elect Patrice Harris, M.D., in a press statement on Tuesday. The vote took place at the AMA's 2015 Interim Meeting in Atlanta."

"Thousands To Leave LDS Church In Mass Resignation: As one of the sponsors of Proposition 8 during the 2004 election cycle, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has never exactly stood at the vanguard of human rights for LGBTQ Americans. But a new policy to ban christenings for the children of same-sex couples, and excommunicate Mormons who are married to the 'wrong' gender, seems to be the final straw for thousands of people."
* Thousands Quit Mormon Church in Mass Resignation

Mile High Comics Sells A Warehouse Thanks To Marijuana Laws

"Europe Drops Charges Against Edward Snowden, Offers Asylum And Protection: The European Parliament voted to offer Edward Snowden asylum and protection and drop all criminal charges against him. When at one time most of the world was bullied by the US government into pressing charges against Snowden and forcing him into exile, the entire European continent has now officially given him a pass."

Just in case I haven't ragged on the ACA enough lately, The New York Times is doing it for me: "Many Say High Deductibles Make Their Health Law Insurance All but Useless" That's right, you pay thousands of dollars for our medical system in taxes, then you pay more for your insurance premiums, and then when you need it, you find you can't afford to use it. Like Ian says, it's a feature, not a bug.

At this point, I really wouldn't blame anyone for concluding that Doctors Without Boarders' hospital was deliberately attacked by the US.

"Daily Life in the Islamic State: The Caliphate runs theme parks, collects taxes and picks up the garbage. Many in the West think of the Islamic State as a loose collection of fighters - rabble who kill, loot and burn. But the truth is more complex though no less terrifying."

What Is Democratic Socialism?

"Demographics and Productivity: News reports continue to obsess over the idea that China and other countries might run out of people if they don't increase their birth rates. The implication is that countries won't have enough people to do the necessary work to support a larger population of retirees. (It's worth noting that many of these same people worry about robots taking all the jobs. If it's not obvious that these concerns are 180 degrees opposite then think about it until it is.)"

"Why Don't We Know Much About Right-Wing Terrorists? Conservatives Fired The Guy Studying Them."

Reza Aslan Slams Bill Maher for Facile Arguments' About Muslim Violence
* Reza Aslan on The Jesus of History versus the Christ of Faith - This is really fascinating historical stuff you didn't know, highly recommended.

Tom Tomorrow on the Republican debates.

* P.F. Sloan, 1945-1915, legendary singer-songwriter who Dylan and others credited with helping make their own careers possible at a time when recording companies were hostile to letting songwriters perform their own work. His was the original voice on the Grass Roots hit "Where Were You When I Needed You" before the record company withdrew the record and had it re-recorded without Phil's voice. (Simels also reminds us that The Bangles did a good cover of this song.) He wrote numerous hit songs starting when he was just 14, recorded by numerous artists, most notably Barry MacGuire, who made a major hit of his "Eve of Destruction" - the first protest song to hit number 1. When Sloan played that song for the record company, they told him if he played it for anyone, they'd suspend his royalties. They did. Sloan has a credit (with a little tiny picture) on the back cover of the first Mothers album, and told Brian Wilson about suspension chords. He played the famous intro to "California Dreaming" that everyone thinks Papa John played. When the British television show Danger Man came to American TV as Secret Agent, Sloan wrote the new title song, performed by Johnny Rivers. A surprisingly wide range of acts covered his music, from Jan & Dean ("The Little Old Lady From Pasadena", "Here They Come (From All Over The World) The Theme to the T.A.M.I Show", "I Found A Girl"), The Turtles ("Let Me Be", "You Baby"), The Searchers' - and the title song to the Herman's Hermits movie Hold On, as well as a couple of other covers, appearing on the movie's soundtrack. There was a period where songs written by P.F. Sloan & Steve Barri filled the airwaves. And of course, Jimmy Web wrote "P.F. Sloan". Longtime readers of The Sideshow will recall that I've loved this guy for a long time, and when I finally met him in London a few years ago, he was very sweet to me. So this is one that hurts. You might also remember that "From a Distance" was one of my favorites. And another victim of pancreatic cancer.
* Warren Mitchell, 89, the actor who played Alf Garnett in the BBC's Till Death Us Do Part - the show that inspired Norman Lear's All in the Family - and the follow-on In Sickness and in Health. Garnett was nowhere near as loveably-drawn as Archie Bunker was, but there were still plenty of viewers who identified with him. "Comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted: 'Alf Garnett was one of the most influential and important characters and performances in comedy history. RIP Warren Mitchell.' Theatre director Rupert Goold wrote: 'RIP Warren Mitchell. A deeply soulful and erudite man who genuinely loved the theatre.'"

The 'middle class' myth: Here's why wages are really so low today: Want to understand the failures of the "free market" and the key to getting a decent wage? Here's the real story" - Short version, it's about unions. Organize. "Slaughterhouses insist they hire immigrants because the work is so unpleasant Americans won't do it. They hired European immigrants when Upton Sinclair wrote 'The Jungle,' and they hire Latin American immigrants today. But it's a canard that Americans won't slaughter pigs, sheep and cows. How do we know this? Because immigration to the United States was more or less banned from 1925 to 1965, and millions of pigs, sheep and cows were slaughtered during those years. But they were slaughtered by American-born workers, earning middle-class wages."

Wait, so the real first black president was... Dwight D. Eisenhower? Or were there some even earlier?

6 Ways Albert Einstein Fought for Civil Rights

New London Tube Map Shows How Long It Takes to Walk, Not Ride a Train. Hmph. Still doesn't show you how close Bayswater is to Queensway.

16th-Century Gothic Chapel Turned Into Starry Night Sky

Watch Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman In Manhattan Beach, In December: In 2005, Joss Whedon was hired to write and direct a live action Wonder Woman movie. It didn't happen. So he left the project and wrote and directed The Avengers instead. And everyone at Warners performed the world's biggest simultaneous facepalm. Well, Manhattan Beach comic book store The Comic Bug got a copy of the screenplay. And, with Jennifer Wenger, Curtis Fortier, Adam Marcus and Debra Sullivan and more, they will be performing the whole screenplay for the audience who attend. It's free to turn up, with popcorn and drinks, and is a sequel event to last year's Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods performance."

03:33 GMT comment

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Glad all over

Happy Dawali - the Festival of Lights, or "the Festival of Loud Bangs," as we know it here, started tonight, and it was like a war zone out there with all the fireworks going off.

Digby and Gaius Publius discussed "Rachel Maddow and the Democratic forum in South Carolina; climate change developments: Keystone, ExxonMobil, RICO; the increasingly bizarre Ben Carson." on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

TPP is released; Bernie Sanders says "Now that the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has finally been released, it is even worse than I thought. It is clear to me that the proposed agreement is not, nor has it ever been, the gold standard of trade agreements."
* Mass Mobilization To Stop The TPP Announced, As Text Is Released
* And here it is! "The Transpacific Partnership: Leveling the playing field for American workers & American businesses." Yeah, right.

Brad Friedman wants to know if the Kentucky governor's race was stolen: "Lower down the ballot, many Democrats got tens of thousands more votes than Bevin. We see, again, the nightmare scenario I've warned about for so many years: a U.S. election where all of the pre-election polls suggest Candidate X is set to win, but Candidate Y ends up winning by a huge margin instead and nobody even bothers to verify that the computer tabulated results accurately reflect the intent of the voters." I'm saying this again: If Democrats aren't willing to fight for clean elections, you can blame them for the losses, because the GOP would not be doing this stuff if Dems were putting up a fight. That goes for gerrymandering, too. People need to stop telling themselves fairy stories about why we keep losing elections and start doing something about why we keep losing elections, and one of those reasons is that the Democratic leadership likes having Republicans around to blame their crummy policies on. Paper ballots, publicly hand-counted on the night, people.

"Salt Lake City Elects Utah's First Gay Mayor: Salt Lake City voters elected Jackie Biskupski as Utah's first openly gay mayor and only the second female top executive in the capital city, according to the unofficial election-night count."

Mathematician suspicious of election fraud hires lawyer to force Kansas to hand over voting records: A Kansas mathematician said this week that she had retained a lawyer and had scheduled a discovery hearing to force Secretary of State Kris Kobach to hand over voting records after they showed evidence of election fraud. 'I don't understand why those patterns are there, the patterns are very definitely real. But we don't know what's causing them or why they're there,' Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson told KSHB last month. 'They do fit what would be expected if election fraud is occurring, and that's very concerning.' [...] Kobach, however, went to court to block Sedgwick County from releasing voting records to Clarkson." Now, why would that be?

"Christian pregnancy centers freak out after California turns tables and forces them to disclose abortion rights."

Budget Deal Fine Print Axes Benefit for Married Social Security Beneficiaries

"Clinton proposes $12 federal minimum wage: CORALVILLE, Iowa - Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday the federal minimum wage should be $12 an hour. Clinton said that figure would roughly match in today's dollars what the federal minimum wage was in 1968, the time when it was highest in terms of buying power." Except that if the minimum wage had actually kept up since then, it would be more like $21. So why is she saying $12? Why, she wants to show how moderate she is, asking for less than all those crazy lefties like Bernie Sanders and everyone else, dammit.

"There Is No Reasonable Case To Be Made For A Democratic Take Back Of The House, Not While Steve Israel Is Still There: There is virtually no serious coverage of the colossal failure of the DCCC under Chris Van Hollen and Steve Israel, two incompetent Pelosi allies who have presided over the loss of dozens of Democratic House seats in 2010, 2012 and 2014-- and for countless missed opportunities." The real reason Democrats keep losing seats is sabotage from the top of the party.

The National Journal has an important and illuminating article by John Judis on The Return of the Middle American Radical ("An intellectual history of Trump supporters") that everyone really ought to read, because I think these people can be reached.

"Sanders: I hate missing Senate votes: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he does not like missing Senate votes due to his 2016 Democratic presidential campaign. 'My job [that] I'm paid to do right now is to represent the people of the state of Vermont in the United States Senate,' he said on MSNBC's 'Andrea Mitchell Reports. 'I will miss votes, but I'm trying to miss as few as I possibly can. I am extraordinarily proud to represent my great state in the Senate," Sanders continued. 'We're working very hard on a number of issues,' he added. "And while it is difficult and very time-consuming to be a full-time candidate and to be a full-time senator, that is at the moment what I'm trying to do.' Sanders was responding to a question about Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) track record in the Senate. Rubio, a GOP presidential candidate, has come under bipartisan fire for missing votes for campaign events."

I would truly love to believe in the predictive infallibility of Western Illinois University's mock election, what with it giving Bernie Sanders an overwhelming victory. For some reason, though, I just don't. "History of the Mock Presidential Election: This simulation always takes place the year before the presidential election year, and three months before the actual Iowa caucuses. The genesis of this mock presidential election began at the University of Iowa in 1975 with two political science doctoral students, John Hemingway and Rick Hardy. In that year, students selected Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford - long before anyone really knew of Jimmy Carter. In the years that followed, Rick Hardy expanded the format and engaged thousands of students at the University of Missouri-Columbia where students registered a perfect record of selecting the subsequent winning presidential party. In 2007 and 2011, Hardy and Hemingway teamed up again to conduct a massive campus-wide simulation at Western Illinois University. In 2007, Western students selected Barack Obama as president at a time when no one thought he could win! And, in 2011, students narrowly re-elected President Obama over the GOP ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan! How's that for reality!"

2 Louisiana Officers Charged With Second-Degree Murder in Killing of Boy, 6

Bernie Sanders on Israel and the Palestinians - He's still a two-state solution man, but at least he doesn't cheer when Palestinians get killed.

"Hillary Clinton's 2008 position on gun control wasn't what it is now."

Leaked Emails From Pro-Clinton Group Reveal Censorship of Staff on Israel, AIPAC Pandering, Warped Militarism

Wow, Matt Bruening really doesn't like Hillary, he says, "My beef with Hillary is mainly that she is an enemy of the poor."

Atrios found this one a few days back and I'm starting to think the Guardian needs to label these things as their "The Tories Speak for Labour" columns.

Cocaine Production Plummets After DEA Kicked Out of Bolivia

Charlie Pierce: "Here's a plan. Stop sending weaponry to a place if you can't keep track of it. Stop trying to sort out which people doing the slaughtering are the Good People doing the slaughtering. Best as I can figure out, we're supporting some people in Iraq that we're opposing in Syria, and vice versa, and now it seems we're arming all sides, occasionally by accident. I don't mean to shout, but, honestly...? They lost four Hueys? They lost a CN-235? A CN-235 is 70 goddamn feet long! Have they checked under the cushions of the sofa? This would all be funny if, you know, it were funny."

"How and why MI5 kept phone data spy programme secret"

"Only three states score higher than D+ in State Integrity Investigation; 11 flunk."

"NASA just saw something come out of a black hole for the first time ever ."

Neoliberalism's War on Workers: An Interview With Peter Fleming

Verso announces book "From leading feminist figures like Roxane Gay and Barbara Ehrenreich to a new generation of young women writers and thinkers" about False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"Fear Of The Walking Dead: The American Police State Takes Aim While zombies may be the personification of our darkest fears, they embody the government's paranoia about the citizenry as potential threats that need to be monitored, tracked, surveilled, sequestered, deterred, vanquished and rendered impotent."

Naomi Klein's interview with Johann Hari: Does Capitalism Drive Drug Addiction?

"Confessions of a Paywall Journalist: Thanks to a booming trade press, lobbyists and other insiders know what's happening in government. The rest of the country, not so much."

"Remembered, Remembered, The Fifth Of Novembered" - the Million Mask March.

Men Just Don't Trust Women -- And It's A Huge Problem

A glowing review of Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan

Remembering Cleveland's Muhammad Ali Summit, 45 years later - mouseover the faces if you can't remember them all.

Eugene V. Debs and American socialism, a brief history.

50% female cabinet appointments lead to 5000% increase in guys who suddenly care about merit in cabinet.

You might recognize the name of the late Augustus Owsley Stanley III for other things, but he made lots of recordings of the music scene and they're all on tape and need to be digitized before they crumble. Spread the word and help preserve the works of the Grateful Dead, Big Brother, and a lot of other acts that he recorded.

The first ever photograph of light as both a particle and wave

I actually think The Huffington Post has a lot of nerve asking writers to let them use their work for free. Someone is making money off that site, and it should be the contributors, but it isn't, they aren't even paying their bills.

Bill Maher to Poor People: Stop Thinking Your Interests are the Same as the Rich - Yeah, it's Bill Maher, but this is good stuff.

Brave New Films, Whistleblower: Halliburton provided contaminated water to Soldiers

You won't learn anything illuminating from this, but I had fun watching these two windbags slugging it out.

RICHARD NIXON TAPES: Archie Bunker & Homosexuality

"'It's going to be okay.' He told her this as he watched the engine continue to burn. He told her this as he watched it fall from the plane. He told her this as the fuel lines became exposed, fire overtook the aircraft, and the plane pitched downward. He told her this knowing that every single person on that plane was about to die." Now read the rest. Really.

The Clara Theory of this Doctor Who arc

This Holiday Greeting Flowchart should help you out with Bill O'Reilly's War On The Spirit of Christmas.

Of course, you could just buy a little stool, but then we'd miss the beauty and wonder of this ad.

Rich McCor's cut-outs

Share if you agree!

The one Christmas thing you have to do in November is shop for your Advent Calendar. I don't think I'll be getting this one but I know people who'd love it. And then there's this one. Oh, wait, there's more!

Filling in the gaps in the works of Thomas Kincaid

Chalkboard art

Well, lookee there, Google celebrates Adolph Sax.
* Oh, that reminds me, they did a little game for Halloween.

Lil Buck and Yo-Yo Ma: The Swan

Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade of Pale, live in Denmark 2006

How Dave Clark mostly wrote one of the most successful bands of the British Invasion out of pop music history.

03:02 GMT comment

Thursday, 05 November 2015

And they wither with the wind, and they crumble in your hand

Stuart Zechman and Cliff Schecter discussed "the GOP debate turmoil & NBC; Gun Control/Gun Safety & American Liberty," on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Bernie Sanders releases his first TV ad.
* This is how NBC reported it.

Bernie Sanders on the Senate floor on marijuana arrests and mass imprisonment.

"Dems have 'strong disagreement' on Social Security, Sanders says."

Republicans had a fit when debate questioners didn't tip-toe around them enough and have withdrawn their agreement with NBC for further debates, thus opening up a slot Democrats may be stepping into. That would add one for the Dems, which should make a lot of people happy. (The Republican hissy-fit also gave Obama another couple of punch-lines in his stand-up routine.)

Matt Taibbi: "The Case for Bernie Sanders: His critics say he's not realistic - but they have it backwards. [...] Sanders is a clear outlier in a generation that has forgotten what it means to be a public servant. The Times remarks upon his "grumpy demeanor." But Bernie is grumpy because he's thinking about vets who need surgeries, guest workers who've had their wages ripped off, kids without access to dentists or some other godforsaken problem that most of us normal people can care about for maybe a few minutes on a good day, but Bernie worries about more or less all the time. I first met Bernie Sanders ten years ago, and I don't believe there's anything else he really thinks about. There's no other endgame for him. He's not looking for a book deal or a membership in a Martha's Vineyard golf club or a cameo in a Guy Ritchie movie. This election isn't a game to him; it's not the awesomely repulsive dark joke it is to me and many others. And the only reason this attention-averse, sometimes socially uncomfortable person is subjecting himself to this asinine process is because he genuinely believes the system is not beyond repair."

"Hillary Clinton: Being pro-business doesn't mean hanging consumers out to dry." She's right about this - monopoly capitalism is toxic.

David Sirota and Andrew Perez: "Hillary Clinton Demands Probe of Exxon After Oil Giant Stops Funding Clinton Foundation: Hillary Clinton is now supporting a federal investigation of ExxonMobil following the latest disclosures that the giant oil company worked to hide the effects of climate change. Her call for an investigation comes only months after the company decided to stop sponsoring her family's foundation. The Clinton Foundation has accepted at least $1 million from ExxonMobil, despite the company's history of financing challenges to climate science. And Clinton's State Department touted ExxonMobil as an example of how America should look at Iraq as 'a business opportunity.'"

"Make no mistake: A vote for Hillary is a vote for war: It is no great secret that Hillary Clinton is a hawk when it comes to foreign policy and the use of force. Even the right agrees, calling her the 'ultimate hawk ... who has supported every single major American military intervention since 1992.' Are we prepared to vote into office the ultimate hawk? For the reasons I describe below, I believe that a vote for Ms. Clinton means more war. We all know about Ms. Clinton's vote to authorize President Bush to use force in Iraq, which, even after several years of hemming and hawing, she has now admitted was a mistake. But does that reluctant admission signal that she would do anything differently if she had to do it all again? Not if her hawkishness as Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady is any indication."

"Hillary Clinton's Empowerment: Hillary Clinton isn't a champion of women's rights. She's the embodiment of corporate feminism."

"Hillary Might Be Better Off Next Nov. If She Doesn't Allow EMILY's List To Offend Bernie's Supporters With Their Ugly, Aggressive Lies."

"The betrayal that should haunt Hillary Clinton: How she sold out working women & then never apologized [...] "Clinton wrote that 'too many of those on welfare had known nothing but dependency all their lives.' She suggested that women recipients were 'sitting around the house doing nothing.' She described the 'move from welfare to work' as 'the transition from dependency to dignity.' Or a 'substitute dignity for dependence.' Put more simply, she stated, 'these people are no longer deadbeats - they're actually out there being productive.' In sum, she has frequently validated a pathologization of poor black women that has often served as a pretext for Republican assaults on the social safety net. She has not repudiated these remarks."

Third Way panics over Bernie Sanders. This is Thom Hartmann unpacking Third Way for listeners, but when he reads the list of who they are, well, I bet you can guess what the two little words were that made me go, "What?"

The loathesome Chris Christie says something true and right and human about drugs. I have to say I was stunned, because this is a really good speech I never could have imagined coming from him.

"Washington Post reporter removed from meeting with Kerry: A correspondent for the Washington Post was escorted out of a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov on Sunday. Carol Morrello asked a question about the State Department's critique of the Uzbek record on human rights, according to Reuters."

"After Listening To Women, Longtime Anti-Abortion Congressman Becomes Pro-Choice." Blue Dog Tim Ryan has a change of heart. "Tim Ryan, once one of the extreme voices against legal abortion is now speaking up in defense of keeping it legal. And all it took to change his mind was a real conversation with women." Not even sure what to say about this, except that, once again, it proves that sometimes you really can talk to them and change their minds.

Ohio votes against legalizing marijuana monopolies. "Ohio voted Tuesday against legalizing recreational and medical marijuana via an amendment to the state's constitution, shooting down a proposal to grant a small number of wealthy investors sole permission to operate commercial marijuana farms."

Oklahoma: "State Law Makes it a Felony to Touch a Police Officer Even Off-Duty and Out of Uniform [...] The law, which passed the legislature unanimously (always a bad sign), went into effect on November 1. In effect, this measure extends the cloak of 'qualified immunity' to cover every aspect of a law enforcement officer's life." So now they have a licence to run around starting bar fights and arresting their victims.

"Chicago police use 'heat list' as strategy to prevent violence: Officials generate analysis to predict who will likely be involved in crime, as perpetrator or victim, and go door to door to issue warnings: Robert McDaniel was puzzled when the Chicago police commander dropped by his West Side home unannounced last month. The visit was cordial, but Barbara West's message was clear: Don't commit any more crimes or face the consequences. Revealing that she had a folder on him back on her office desk, West told the 22-year-old that she knew his best friend had been slain last year in their crime-plagued Austin community. She cautioned that he could meet the same fate if he didn't change his ways. McDaniel, who has multiple arrests on suspicion of minor offenses but only one misdemeanor conviction, learned to his surprise that he had made the so-called "heat list" with more than 400 others across the city who have been deemed by the department to be most prone to violence - either as a perpetrator or victim. 'I haven't done nothing that the next kid growing up hadn't done. Smoke weed. Shoot dice. Like seriously?' an incredulous McDaniel said while recalling the recent visit from police brass with a Tribune reporter.

"New Hampshire Man Arrested For Parking In 'Predictive Hot Spot': Eighteen year-old Connor Deleire may be the first person to go to jail for parking his car in a 'predictive hot spot', an area determined likely to be a target of crime by a computer program. Minority Report seemed outlandish in its time, however many believe its day has arrived. On October 20, 2015, Connor parked his car on Merrimack Street in Manchester, New Hampshire, near Union St. What Connor didn't know was that the area he parked in had been labeled a 'hot spot' for crime and had been allotted increased patrols."

"Police Say Tasering 8-Year-Old Native American Girl Was Justified [...] Four police officers decided that this young girl who had a small paring knife was 'a danger to herself,' requiring them to taser her. "

This is the kid who took the video of Ben Fields assaulting a student, and he says the girl hadn't done anything wrong and the cop was already planning to get physical when he walked in.

"Denver Police Arrest 10 Activists, Destroy Tiny Homes They Built For The Homeless: On October 24, about 70 Denver Police Department and Denver Sheriff's Department officers, including swat units, arrested 10 homeless activists for trying to set up a 'tiny homes' village for city's homeless at Sustainability Park without proper permits. The riot police then destroyed several tiny homes created by Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) - a group 'composed of homeless people and supporters'. [...] According to the activists, the Denver Housing Authority, which owns the property, had initially removed hundreds of low-income housing units to create the park. Now the Authority plans to sell the land, currently used by three urban farms, to a private developer, 'who will build multifamily housing that will support gentrification in Curtis Park but be far beyond the reach of those for whom the Authority is supposed to exist'."

"'Absolute Crap' But Brilliant: Corporate America's Plan to 'Misbehave Without Reproach': An independent investigation by journalists featured in the New York Times on Sunday offers an in-depth look at the way American corporations have used the inclusion of "arbitration clauses" within consumer contracts to strategically circumvent judicial review of their behavior and immunize themselves from class action lawsuits - 'realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.' [...] However - and despite the success of their stratefic effort - Paul Wallis, a business observer writing for the Digital Journal responded to the Times investigation by arguing that even as this trend to immobilize consumers with arbitration clauses show that corporate crime is again 'on the rampage' in the United States, the whole legal concept is actually built on a fallacy. Though acknowledging business interests have used the strategy brilliantly to their advantage, the other way to look at contract arbitration is by recognizing that it is 'absolute crap, from start to finish.'" He says, "Therefore, actions taken under that contract are not immune to prosecution or other legal processes. You can't shoot someone or rob a bank and say 'It's OK, I have a contract.'"
* "Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Unconstitutional? [...] As it presses for the passage of TPP, the administration needs to explain how the Constitution allows the United States to agree to submit the validity of its federal, state, and local laws to three private arbitrators, with no possibility of review by any U.S. court. Otherwise, it risks securing a trade agreement that won't survive judicial scrutiny, or, even worse, which will undermine the structural protections that an independent federal judiciary was created to ensure."
* "In Arbitration, a 'Privatization of the Justice System' [...] The change has been swift and virtually unnoticed, even though it has meant that tens of millions of Americans have lost a fundamental right: their day in court."

Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century: "This paper documents a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013. This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround."

"A proven way to reduce poverty? Give poor people money."

Human rights group in Berlin starts process of indicting Bush administration officials for war crimes.

The Mystery of the Vanishing Pay Raise

Barry Ritholtz, "Money Managers Go on Offense Against Speed Traders: Stock exchanges once were operated as not-for-profit public utilities, managing the listing and trading of companies in the public marketplace. Today, they have morphed into rent-seeking, publicly traded companies in the zero-sum game of executing orders."

Students at Airline High say Christianity is being shoved down their throats while "Christians" claim to be under siege. "During health class, students at Airline High, a public school in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, read Bible passages, and their teacher asks them to identify their favorite verses. Airline students told me they are taught creationism as science and pressured into attending Fellowship of Christian Athletes club meetings. During gym class, girls are warned against contraception by a 'born again virgin' from the local crisis pregnancy center, a Christian anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-premarital-sex advocacy center.".

"Ireland to 'decriminalise' small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and cannabis, for personal use" - but only for users; you still won't be able to find a legal source.

I'm not enthusiastic about articles that insist nothing can be changed, but sometimes they are worth looking at for they key to what has to be changed. From The Boston Globe, "Vote all you want. The secret government won't change."

10 Of The Worst Moments From Morning Joe's Fawning Koch Brothers Interview

60 Minutes rips off Sam Quinones. He says he pitched his story to them and they turned him down - and then just plain stole it.

RIP:Fred Thompson, actor and legislator, living embodiment of everything that was wrong with Law & Order.

Can Gitmo ever be closed?

Forget the Bacon: Living in Poverty Means You Have An Advanced Risk of Getting Cancer

"Holy Crap, They Are Officially Making a New Star Trek TV Series."

"An Oscar-Nominated Short Film of John Lennon's Ramblings: A lot of people didn't want John Lennon to enter America, he told a teenage fan in 1969: "They think I'm going to cause a violent revolution, which I'm not." 14-year-old Jerry Levitan had snuck into Lennon's Toronto hotel room with a tape recorder and probed the English singer about the state of the Beatles, their dwindling American fan base, and the meaning behind his music. In 2007, the conversation was animated by James Braithwaite and turned into a short film, I Met the Walrus, which went on to win an Emmy and be nominated for an Oscar."

Elephants vs. giant pumpkins

Google Halloween doodle game

Ballerina pole-dance

"Leaves That Are Green"

15:22 GMT comment

Saturday, 31 October 2015

We all want to change the world

"EU Parliament Votes To Drop Charges Against Snowden: They also encouraged members to block his extradition 'in recognition of his status as a whistleblower and human rights defender.'"
* United Nations comes out in support of whistleblower protections.

"CISA Overwhelmingly Passes, 74-21" - Marcy Wheeler says the Senate has embraced "a truly awful bill."

John Nichols at The Nation: "Bernie Sanders Is Actually Quite Serious About This 'Political Revolution' Thing: With a rock concert, a rally and a key speech in Iowa, the insurgent signals that he intends to remain an insurgent."
* Harold Meyerson, "Can Bernie Sanders's followers create a true leftist movement? [...] When Sanders says - as he does in every speech - that he's seeking to build 'a revolution,' that's not just rhetoric. What Sanders understands in his bones is that every period of progressive reform in U.S. history has come as a result of massive street heat, of energized movements that push policymaking elites to the left.
* Sam Seder on Ring of Fire: Bernie Sanders - How He Should Discuss Democratic Socialism. (Actually, it's not that hard - democratic socialism is what we used to call "democracy" and it's all right there in the Preamble of the Constitution: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.")
* "Slow Burn: Bernie Sanders Ignites a Populist Movement."
* "Bernie Gets It Done: Sanders' Record of Pushing Through Major Reforms Will Surprise You."

"There Are Plenty Of Differences Between Bernie's Record And Hillary's."

Medea Benjamin, "Hillary Clinton Hasn't Learned a Thing from Iraq: The former secretary of state could shatter the glass ceiling for women, but she'd leave the old boys' military-industrial complex intact."

"Hillary Clinton Comes Out Against Abolishing the Death Penalty." I'm sure she thought she was saying something more "nuanced", but anyone who can think their way out of a paper bag knows that is just the sort of thinking that gave us Texas governors who try to set the record for killing the most people. Are there "certain egregious cases that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty"? Possibly those police officers and prosecutors who lie or withhold evidence that would exonerate the innocent raise the question, but without the certain knowledge that such people would be found, prosecuted, and executed, you can't even start to talk about "egregious".
* "Clinton Throws Out Black Lives Matter Activists During Speech On Race. Black Lives Matter protesters in Atlanta protest Hillary Clinton's defense of the death penalty." Well, at least they picked an appropriate target, this time.

"Say It Ain't So, Hillary Clinton - You're Open to the Idea of Raising the Retirement Age?" See, she's sensitive to the fact that some people's jobs are just too physical to make them keep working until they're 70, so she doesn't see any practical way to do it, but there's quite a few things missing in her thinking. One is that even "non-physical" jobs have physical components that we can't expect to do indefinitely, and another is that it's not just physical capabilities that leave you. And then there is just all the stress that comes with knowing that the older you get, the more pressure there is on you to leave, the more people find excuses to get rid of you. Sometimes people who are downright irreplaceable get forced out simply because it's convenient for someone else or they failed to play office politics effectively with the wrong person or the new Director just can't believe you can possibly be that useful at your age. Layoffs anywhere, at any time, can mean you'll never be able to get another job. What are you supposed to do when these things happen? And why would you even accept raising the age of retirement as a rational thing to consider when it's so much simpler and fairer to simply eliminate the damned cap?

"Bernie Sanders is in big trouble: You don't have to be a neoliberal shill to see the cold, hard facts" - Is he losing the Invisible Primary? Is there any way to get around it?
* Did Bernie's supporters screw it up? "And there you have it. Parachute in, treat the Democratic event with ill-disguised contempt, then leave without any meaningful interaction with the people whose support your candidate is supposed to be courting. But hey, they're not progressives, so it's okay to do that to them, eh? Granted, many Bernie backers aren't Democrats and are proud of this fact, but showing such obvious disdain for Democrats and their party functions is, well, not exactly good politics." Poor planning, perhaps - it seems they had to catch the buses that were about to leave. But whoever didn't make sure transport would be available at the end of the event itself made a pretty big mistake.
* Sanders campaign honchos commit an act of massive campaign malpractice and Bernie Sanders should fire them. I can't even begin to say how horrified I was to know that "three members of the Sanders high command - campaign manager Jeff Weaver, communications director Michael Briggs, and field director Phil Fiermonte" decided to sit down with a journalist from Bloomberg and, my god, explain their campaign strategy to him. This is the very thing the Clinton White House team used to do that convinced everyone they were nothing but cynical. But it also did something else, since once you tell the press what your strategy is, it ceases to be a strategy. Clinton's claim to fame was that he was King Wonk, they were all these smart little technocrats who had come up with ingenious strategies for "triangulating" their way into policies that, frankly, would have gotten them strangled in their beds by Democrats if they'd understood what was going on. So we were constantly picking up the newspaper and seeing George Stephanopoulos explaining their damn strategy and letting everyone know how very clever they were. We're so wonkish! Bill Clinton loves being a Policy Wonk! Whoohoo! Except that is most emphatically not what Sanders is, and his campaign is supposed to be about issues and how policies actually affect people, and by god that's all his campaign should be talking to the press about. Just stfu about what bright boys you are. (Yes, it's good that Bernie publicly criticized them, but really, they need to shut up.)

The upside of Clinton: "She has been promising DNC members that she wants to revive the party infrastructure that withered under President Barack Obama. Organizing for America point-whatever has been a bust. Super-delegates welcome the return of something resembling Dean's 50 state plan in hopes that party infrastructure will accomplish more than presidential candidates' personalities." (That party infrastructure didn't just "wither"; Obama's machine shut it right down. Anyone who wants to undo that certainly has my blessing to make it happen. But then, it doesn't take a president.)

I'm sure Charlie Pierce told me everything we need to know about Wednesday's GOP debate.

Dean Baker says, "Paul Ryan Wants to Shut Down the Government, Permanently: Everyone has seen the news stories about how Representative Paul Ryan, the leading candidate to be the next Speaker of the House, is a budget wonk. That should make everyone feel good, since we would all like to think a person in this position understands the ins and outs of the federal budget. But instead of telling us about how much Ryan knows about the budget (an issue on which reporters actually don't have insight), how about telling us what Ryan says about the budget? It is possible to say things about what Ryan says, since he has said a lot on this topic and some of it is very clear. In addition to wanting to privatize both Social Security and Medicare, Ryan has indicated that he essentially wants to shut down the federal government in the sense of taking away all of the money for the non-military portion of the budget."

The wingers at Newsbusters are up in arms when Dick van Dyke endorses Bernie Sanders on two separate shows. Don't read the comments, I warn you.

"What Ever Happened To The 9 Corrupt Democrats Who Voted For Medicare Part D?" Well, most of them lost the support of the voters, but Steve Israel is still sabotaging Democrats at every turn.

"How superdonors are gutting America: Here's the research that helps explain a political system's rightward lurch"

Ben Bernenke finds Republicans difficult. Gosh.

Demands Increase For Investigating Exxon's Funding Of Climate Denial

"New Analysis of Wikileaks Shows State Department's Promotion of Monsanto's GMOs Abroad [...] But what really stands out in the cables quoted in the report is the length to which State Department officials were willing to go for American biotech companies. In a statement to Reuters, Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said, 'It really gets down to twisting the arms of countries and working to undermine local democratic movements that may be opposed to biotech crops, and pressuring foreign governments to also reduce the oversight of biotech crops.' "

Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson review Dick and Liz Cheney's book: "Back to the Dark Side: Dick Cheney's Pax Americana" Exceptional, the new book from former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz, is not. It is nothing more than an unhinged rant that smacks of sedition." And, goodness, it's in The Spectator.

Book Review: Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception: "This book, by Nobel-winning economics professors George A. Akerlof (Georgetown University) and Robert J. Shiller (Yale University), is an extended discussion of the role of fraud in economics. The authors argue that fraud is a natural feature of unregulated markets and that fraud is as subject to economic equilibrium as any other product. They back the argument with multiple historical examples, including a short history of advertising, abuses in the pharmaceutical industry, a history of the discovery of the health risks of cigarettes."

"What the Steve Jobs Movie Won't Tell You About Apple's Success"

Health Care "by the People": An Interview With the Architect of Colorado's Single-Payer Plan

Martin Amis gets called on being a nitwit about Jeremy Corbyn.

"No-Fly Zone No Answer for Syria [...] Air power can stop tanks, but can do very little when it comes to protecting civilian populations from the likes of the Islamic State or al-Nusra. Even Assad's paramilitaries could easily infiltrate the buffer zone and inflict their share of violence. All it takes is a few bands of marauders on foot to create mayhem and all the air forces of the world would be helpless. Another unintended consequence of a buffer zone bereft of protection from ground forces is that its population would be susceptible to Islamic state's forcible recruitment of youngsters to their cause. No one, including the no-fly zone's most vociferous supporter, Turkey - much less the U.S. or the Europeans - is willing to send ground troops into this safe zone."

"What Could Possibly Go Wrong (Next) in the Middle East?" Everyone is playing each other against everyone else. Who wins?

Pulling the curtain on "democracy" in Portugal
* "Eurozone crosses Rubicon as Portugal's anti-euro Left banned from power: Constitutional crisis looms after anti-austerity Left is denied parliamentary prerogative to form a majority government [...] Anibal Cavaco Silva, Portugal's constitutional president, has refused to appoint a Left-wing coalition government even though it secured an absolute majority in the Portuguese parliament and won a mandate to smash the austerity regime bequeathed by the EU-IMF Troika."
* The Washington Post, like The New York Times, leaves out the fact that it was the anti-austerity left that won the election and claims otherwise.

Iceland: "First They Jailed the Bankers, Now Every Icelander to Get Paid in Bank Sale [...] If Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson has his way - and he likely will - Icelanders will be paid kr 30,000 after the government takes over ownership of the bank. Íslandsbanki would be second of the three largest banks under State proprietorship."

"Forget Shorter Showers: Why personal change does not equal political change"

My trigger-warning disaster: 9 1/2 Weeks, The Wire, and how coddled young radicals got discomfort all wrong

A reminder: What "block grants" means.

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters supports Bernie. He can't vote, of course, but he's afraid that Clinton "might become the first woman president to drop a f**king nuclear bomb on somebody."

"We are lifelong Zionists. Here's why we've chosen to boycott Israel."

Robert Parry's Speech at I.F. Stone Award

Dan Froomkin, "George W. Bush Was AWOL, But What's 'Truth' Got to Do With It?: The only journalistic sin worse than disastrously misreporting an important story that turns out to be untrue is disastrously misreporting an important story that is true, so no one believes it anymore."

Last year I started to see articles about how cigarettes are more deadly than ever because tobacco companies have changed how they make them. I'm not sure how long ago I started wondering what had changed - I began to notice that people who smoked one or two cigarettes a day had the same cough chain-smokers had, which never used to be the case. And it was a much more horrible cough. And in the very same rooms where a dozen people at a time had been smoking at parties for decades without any problem, suddenly just one or two people smoking in that same room for a few hours was enough to bother the eyes of a heavy smoker. And the smell stuck more. So I wasn't surprised to learn that cigarette manufacturers had changed something. But think about that: They took a deadly product and made it more deadly, and nobody sued them, no one seems to care to hold tobacco companies responsible, and just plain nobody cares. Everyone seems to be quite happy with the plan to kill smokers as fast as they can. Smoking has gone from being a generally popular habit to an inexpensive moment of relaxation for the working class to the last luxury of the lower classes. And, hey, aren't those the people we want to kill?

This Heroic Captain Defied His Orders and Stopped America From Starting World War III

"Spoken Like a Woman [...] In this programme, Anne Karpf explores, with the help of the sound archive, the way women's voices have shaped the sound of British radio, from Auntie Kathleen of Children's Hour and those formal talks of the early BBC, via the forces' sweethearts like Jean Metcalfe and Marjorie Anderson, to today's topliners like Martha Kearney and Bridget Kendall."

The Flash of Two Worlds

Drummers explain why Ringo is so cool.

"The Beatles have posted the newly restored clip of 'Revolution' from their upcoming 1+ video collection. It was filmed on September 4th, 1968 at London's Twickenham Film Studios." (From the Frost show.)

13:33 GMT comment

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Eyesight to the blind

The Intercept: "What Did Clinton Mean When She Said Snowden Files Fell Into the 'Wrong Hands'?" They fell into the hands of responsible journalists who digested the information and gave it to the public. And here's the thing: We're supposed to know.
* The New Yorker: "Hillary Clinton Is Wrong About Edward Snowden."

The Democratic Strategist cites two WaPo articles, by E.J. Dionne and Harold Meyerson, and says, "Clinton-Sanders Synergy Gives Dems Leverage. [...] Meyerson acknowledges that Clinton also wants to expand worker rights in the context of liberal capitalism and he credits Sanders with having the understanding that empowering workers is an essential requirement for Democratic advancement. Meyerson concludes with the powerful insight that 'In the United States, liberalism advances only when radicalism is bubbling, which is why Clinton and Sanders need each other, and why the Democrats need them both.'"

On the other hand, "After Dem Debate, Rightbloggers Rage Against 'That Socialist' - and Bernie Sanders."

CNN/ORC poll: Hillary Clinton wins debate, but Bernie Sanders rises: "Compared with pre-debate polling, Sanders' support is up five points since mid-September, but no other candidate showed significant change."

What does it mean when a poll asks Democrats who won a debate that only 23% of them actually watched? I'm not making that up.
* List of online polls from the first Dem debate, and what they said. I don't actually put a tremendous amount of stock in these since, even if you could believe they were scientifically accurate, you know that only a minority of eventual voters actually saw the debate to begin with. But what they will see is the continual spin from the pundits, and what they actually say on the air and in their op-eds is usually what ends up counting. In 2000, every focus group and poll of viewers on the night of the first debate gave Gore the overwhelming edge, and even Chris Matthews - who unabashedly admitted to being a Bush partisan - declared that Gore had wiped the floor with Bush. But within 24 hours, the constant litany of complaints about Gore, sneering at his perfectly accurate phrases and somehow making it seem that all the eye-rolling Bush had earned was a negative on Gore's part, had convinced everyone, including Tweety, that Bush had won.

Latest polling at Real Clear Politics shows Clinton still well ahead of Sanders, but Sanders doing better than Clinton against all Republican comers. That actually matters - Bernie would get better coat-tails (which means a better Congress), and it would be so refreshing to win the white demographic and not have to listen to the GOP patting themselves on the back about how they win with "real Americans". I want a candidate who can win with all Americans.

"Poll: More Democrats Now Favor Socialism Than Capitalism" - Now, if only we can come up with a definition for each of those words.

"Bernie Sanders' Brilliant Plan to Turn Post Offices into Banks" - Postal banking is, of course, quite normal outside of the United States, and it's baffling that we still don't have it. The Brits started it in 1861. Oh, but wait! We had one from 1911! So, what happened?
* "Sanders Calls for Probe into Exxon Mobil Claims on Climate Change: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today asked the Department of Justice to investigate potential fraud by Exxon Mobil Corp. over conflicts in what it knew and what it told the public and shareholders about the cause of climate change. In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Sanders asked for a probe into what he called a 'potential instance of corporate fraud' by the oil giant. "

Colbert on the Dem debates
* Bill Maher on the difference between what Bernie said and what Republicans heard

Bernie Sanders on Meet The Press, full Interview
* Bernie Sanders Sits Down With Rachel Maddow (Full Interview) | MSNBC

Sanders closing the gap on Hispanic support.

The media spent a couple of days promising that Joe Biden would enter the primaries. God knows why anyone thought this would be a good idea. That'd be Joe Biden, D-Financial Industry Hero, who worked tirelessly to pass a bankruptcy bill that prevents ordinary people from being able to get relief for student loans or mortgages that can't be repaid on the demanded schedule. Paul Wellstone kept fighting him to a standstill on this but once he died Biden had smooth sailing to nail the coffin lid on students and other Americans who were facing hardship.
* And then there's Biden's contribution to the prison industry with his push for more punitive sentencing. It's a hell of a legacy. More than once this year, Biden has bragged about his role in passing the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, and though the climate for this sort of thing has receded enough to loosen him up on it, he still doesn't get it. He's the wrong man.
* MSNBC: "Joe Biden is no savior for progressives" - Where he differs from Clinton, he's generally much worse, not better.
* Yglesias: "Biden and the AUMF" - Like Clinton, he voted for it, so no salvation there, either. (Remember Ray McGovern's scathing open letter to Biden? Even by 2007, Biden was still sounding like the Bush administration, going so far as to falsely claim that the weapons inspectors said Saddam had WMD. Everyone else already knew this wasn't true.)
* But - surprise! Biden didn't throw his hat in the ring!

The Republicans gave Hillary an all-day campaign ad with their Benghazi interrogation.

To solve the contentious debate issue between Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, Think Progress investigates whether or not George W. Bush was president on 9/11.

SNL's Democratic debate skit. Personally, I don't think Larry David's Bernie is in the same class with Michael Brooks' Bad-Ass Bernie impressions.
* At any rate, Bernie is the cool candidate.

Clinton Takes Her Adviser's Side, Attacking Big Banks but Not BlackRock: Hillary Clinton has received a mixture of plaudits and qualified skepticism for her Wall Street reform plan. She insists that the plan is tougher than those of her Democratic presidential rivals, because it targets more participants in the financial industry beyond the big banks. But Clinton's plan was mute on a key sector of the industry: asset management firms, like BlackRock or Vanguard or Fidelity, which control a staggering $30 trillion in global wealth. And a number of Clinton's ideas mirror the preferences of leading asset managers, who would profit from crackdowns on their competition - the big banks - while they get a pass. That's probably not a coincidence."

"Bernie Sanders Got More Done in the Senate than Hillary Clinton." But it's more than that - Sanders has an amazing record in terms of working across the aisle to get amendments passed. And amendments do matter, a whole lot.

Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel) says, "Jim Comey Describes the Dangerous Chilling Effect of Surveillance (But Only for Cops): For at least the second time, Jim Comey has presented himself as a Ferguson Effect believer, someone who accepts data that has been cherry picked to suggest a related rise in violent crime in cities across the country (I believe that in Ferguson itself, violent crime dropped last month, but whatever)."
* NYT: "F.B.I. Chief Links Scrutiny of Police With Rise in Violent Crime" - Of course, the entire construct is ridiculous. The police aren't just private citizens going about their private business, they are public servants who are supposed to be accountable. If they are really such pants-wetters that they are afraid to act legally and sanely when being observed, they shouldn't be on the force.

The Canadians got rid of Harper with jubilation, voting in the Liberals and the very dishy junior Trudeau with a clear majority. I feel nervous, though - Trudeau is not Corbyn or Sanders, and I'm reminded a little too much of the same sort of euphoria when Britain thought they'd gotten rid of the Tories by electing Blair, and Americans thought they'd gotten rid of our own Tories with the election of Obama. They hadn't, and we hadn't. So when I hear Trudeau saying there'll be a whip on TPP, I'm wondering which way. "In the end, anti-Harper voters decided that rather than elect a centrist NDP, they'd go with the Liberals who were already parked in that spot. But hopefully for folks like my parents, the incoming Trudeau government will remember the left turn that got them there."
* The best person to ask is probably Ian Welsh, who has of course been talking about the Consequences of the Canadian Liberal Majority, asking What Is the Cost of NDP Losing Canada?, and What Type of Electoral "Reform" Might Canada's Liberal Party Enact?

"Netanyahu's Record on Inciting Violence Against Palestinians" - Interview with Max Blumenthal after Netanyahu blames Palestinians for the Nazis.
* "Palestinian Attacks Fueled by Settler Violence, Senior Israeli Commander Says."

"The Banking Industry's Transparent Attempt to Weaken the CFPB: You'll never guess who's going around Washington, trolling the halls of Congress, talking about the importance of protecting the long-term health of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The banking industry. That's right: After years of trying to kill, then delay, and then defang the agency, the banking industry and their Republican friends in Congress have launched a new effort to attract Democratic support for their latest attack by claiming that they just want to help the agency and the consumers it protects. Surely Democrats will not be taken in by yet another attempt to weaken the CFPB."

From Forbes, "Credit Suisse Wealth Report: There Are More Poor People In America Than China." OK, not the way you think, but more people in America have "negative wealth" in the sense that their debts outweigh their assets.

Glen Ford is still scathing on #BlackLivesMatter: Chat Partners with Hillary. "The #BlackLivesMatter tent has already been folded up inside the Democratic Party, where slick Black "activists" on the make go to catch the express elevator to the executive suites. In less than a year, the #BLM crowd milked the incipient movement for all it was worth, presenting themselves as the interlocutors between the streets and Power. It's been one hell of a journey -- a great hustle. They have arrived at where they wanted to be: part of the age-old Black Petit Bourgeois Shuffle, dancing to the Master's tune, while complaining that their pale partners still don't have the right rhythm."

How gerrymandering can change election outcomes, in one chart

Amazingly, The Washington Post has an article exposing the creepy underpinnings of the "school reform" movement that is destroying our once pretty damned good public school system: "What are Bill and Melinda Gates talking about?" Apparently, they haven't a clue about education, but by god they are going to fix it - following the lesson plan of The American Enterprise Institute to destroy public schools.

Why Free Markets Make Fools of Us

The Trade Creature Walks Among Us!

AJC investigation: Why fatal police shootings in Ga. aren't prosecuted

"San Diego company slaps 'Pharma Bro' down by offering same cancer drug for $1 a pill: A San Diego-based company announced on Thursday that it would compete with Martin Shkreli's Turing Pharmaceuticals by offering the same drug used to help AIDS and cancer patients for $1 a pill, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported."

'Huge Step': FCC Slashes Costs of Prison Phone Calls - This is a big deal for a lot of prisoners, but it's not enough.

Police Chief Makes Unique Offer To Addicts - He announced that if they came to the station, they would be helped and not arrested.

"For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man: Today in Texas, former prosecutor and judge Ken Anderson pled guilty to intentionally failing to disclose evidence in a case that sent an innocent man, Michael Morton, to prison for the murder of his wife. When trying the case as a prosecutor, Anderson possessed evidence that may have cleared Morton, including statements from the crime's only eyewitness that Morton wasn't the culprit. Anderson sat on this evidence, and then watched Morton get convicted. While Morton remained in prison for the next 25 years, Anderson's career flourished, and he eventually became a judge. In today's deal, Anderson pled to criminal contempt, and will have to give up his law license, perform 500 hours of community service, and spend 10 days in jail. Anderson had already resigned in September from his position on the Texas bench."

"Little Guantanamos" in the United States

IPA whistleblower press conference: "full video of Holly Sterling's news conference, which was her first such appearance since her husband's trial and imprisonment. The news conference also featured Thomas Drake, Delphine Halgand, Ray McGovern, and Jesselyn Radack."

"Federal Whistleblower Investigator Fired After Blowing The Whistle On His Own Agency: Former OSHA employee says he was fired as 'retaliation' for exposing problems in the Whistleblower Protection Program."

"Families' fury over Blair's Iraq War lie: 'Smoking gun' memo reveals he backed Bush 12 months before conflict." Every now and then even the Daily Mail can get one right. "Former shadow Home Secretary David Davis said the classified memo from US Secretary of State Colin Powell was a 'smoking gun' that proved Blair had lied about his intentions over the disastrous conflict in Iraq."

"New law makes Canadian Jews second-class citizens [..] Jews are second-class citizens under this law. That's because the Law of Return gives an almost automatic right of Israeli residency and citizenship to any Jew. Every Canadian with citizenship or a right of citizenship abroad now has conditional rights to be a Canadian. It doesn't even matter that you or your ancestral family have not lived in Israel for the past 2,000 years. Because a government official could argue that the Law of Return means you won't be stateless if your Canadian citizenship is taken away, the second-class citizenship law applies to you."

Timothy Egan in the NYT: "Guess Who Else Is a Socialist? [...] Free of the label, a hybrid economy where health care, education and pensions for the elderly are provided, side-by-side-by-side with creative capitalism, works pretty well in the Nordic countries, Britain and Canada. And most of the tenets of what is considered democratic socialism have majority support in the United States." The article ends up favoring Hillary, but it's nice to see an op-ed in the Newspaper of Record acknowledging that Bernie and the public are in agreement.

Democracy NOW!: Drone War Exposed: Jeremy Scahill on U.S. Kill Program's Secrets & the Whistleblower Who Leaked Them

Marcy Wheeler on The raging irony of WikiLeaks' latest release: Inside the absurd hacking of CIA chief John Brennan: A 13-year-old has hacked America's intelligence chief and sent the spoils to Assange's crew. Here's what to know."

Judge Rejects Justice Department's Crackdown on Medical Marijuana: In what may prove a turning point in the fight over medical marijuana, a federal judge this week rejected the Department of Justice's rationale for pursuing cases against dispensaries in states where they are legal."

RIP: Cory Wells, 74, one of the three vocalists for Three Dog Night. I never went to see them on purpose, but they showed up at more than one rock festival and were always great at pleasing the crowd. Loved Cory's shirts, too. Here's Cory leading on "Try A Little Tenderness".

David Brooks' crack-up

Pro-Lifer Admits Regulating Women's Sexuality, Not Abortion, Drives Planned Parenthood Attacks

How Blacks have Irish Last Names

"The Necktie Party," a short comic by Will Shetterly

"Malaria vaccine provides hope for a general cure for cancer: The hunt for a vaccine against malaria in pregnant women has provided an unexpected side benefit for Danish researchers, namely what appears to be an effective weapon against cancer. The scientists behind the vaccine aim for tests on humans within four years."

Looks like someone at The Huffington Post has discovered "The Christian Left" - or what used to just be normal Christianity before Paul Weyrich got his hands on it.

Check out this comment from CMike from below, commenting on a discussion between Chris Hedges and Cornel West. Gotta say I agree with him.

"Palestinian Attacks Fueled by Settler Violence, Senior Israeli Commander Says: Former West Bank division commander testifies in court against right-wing extremists."

"Which Syrian Chemical Attack Account Is More Credible?: Let's compare a couple of accounts of the mass deaths apparently caused by chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21. One account comes from the U.S. government (8/30/13), introduced by Secretary of State John Kerry. The other was published by a Minnesota-based news site called Mint Press News (8/29/13). The government account expresses 'high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack' on August 21. The Mint report bore the headline 'Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack.' Which of these two versions should we find more credible?"

"White Protesters Form Human Shield To Protect Black Protesters From Police. [...] The rally took place in South Africa, where police officers had previously used brutal force against the predominantly black demonstrators who turned out to peacefully protest rising university fees."

"Universal Basic Income Will Likely Increase Social Cohesion" - Real-life experiments and observable social phenomena have shown this to be true, so there's no reason not to do it.

I hate stuff like this. It's true that Republicans are "grumpy" and hate America and Americans, but please, don't try to con me that everything is sunny in America. Things really are a mess, and a lot of that is owing to what can most flatteringly (and forgivingly) be described as the rosey assumptions and expectations of Mr. HopeyChangey himself.

Being Poor Is Too Expensive.

Famous quotes, the way a woman would have to say them during a meeting

"The porn business isn't anything like you think it is."

7 of NYC's Abandoned Subway Stations: City Hall, 18th St, Worth Street, Myrtle Ave, 91st St.

Overwhelmed by fallen maple leaves? Try eating them.
* Brain cake for you zombies

Auto Mechanics Hilariously Recreate Renaissance Paintings.

6 July 1957, John Lennon meets Paul McCartney.

Tory children's books

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official)

The Who at Tanglewood, 1970

15:17 GMT comment

Saturday, 17 October 2015

So many different people to be

Dave Johnson and Marcy Wheeler talked about the mystery of the Speakership, TPP, and Dem debates, on Virtually Speaking.

The first Democratic debate, Nevada, Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, full video.
* Afterwards, Bernie rescues Andrea Mitchell from her colleagues.

I don't know about anyone else, but I absolutely despised Clinton's answer on Social Security. When asked if she would expand it, she said she would "protect" it. Asked again if she would expand it, she said she would "enhance" it for women. Wrong answers. Disgusted with her on Iran, too.

Who won? Well, The Chicago Tribune says in an editorial, "Bernie Sanders' night: Authenticity wins the Democratic debate." Vox says, "DC insiders think Bernie Sanders lost the debate. Here's why they might be wrong." The Washington Post says, "The candidate breaking through in the Democratic debate? Bernie Sanders." The Huffington Post says, "Yes, Bernie Sanders Defeated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Debate. Here's Why," and Nathan Francis at Inquisitr concurs, and Colin McEnroe at Salon says, "This was Bernie Sanders' night: The candidate of anger and honesty won the Democratic debate." But the Nate Silver contingent says, "Did The Democratic Debate Change The Odds? Bernie Sanders had a good debate, but we're still selling his stock." They could be right: Here are some offline polls: Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll; HuffPost/YouGov Poll; One America poll.

Yes, the online polls everywhere said that Bernie won the debate, but they're online polls and their value is debatable. Focus groups are a different thing, though, and at CNN, on Fox, and at Fusion, focus groups liked Bernie. Still not the most scientific, but Guy Saperstien reminded me that they used to do snap polls after debates, but when the polls disagreed with the pundits, they stopped doing them. But the pundits thought Rubio won the earlier Republican debates and Trump was toast, and, um, they were wrong, so we really have no idea who won.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg tells us, How Bernie Sanders Raised $1.3 Million in Four Hours during the debate: "When a campaign reaches out to people on their mobile phones, it can catch them wherever they are, sweeping them up in a moment of excitement, said Erin Hill, ActBlue's executive director."

Is Joe Scarborough feeling the Bern? Sure sounds like it. Maybe they should get him to be one of the journalists who ask the questions in the upcoming Democratic debates, since they seem to be short of liberal progressives.
* I think Ellen is feeling the Bern, which is no surprise. But that doesn't mean this clip doesn't start off with a surprise.

Tuesday's polls from Real Clear Politics showed Biden, Clinton, and Sanders beating all Republican frontrunners. Thursday polling in Pennsylvania didn't look so good.

11,000 turn out for Bernie in Tucson; Bernie gets his first Congressional endorsement.
* "Keith Ellison hands Bernie Sanders his second congressional endorsement: Sen. Bernie Sanders will get a pre-debate boost from Rep. Keith Ellison, the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who will become the second member of Congress to endorse Sanders' insurgent presidential campaign Monday, he told MSNBC. [...] Ellison joins his fellow Progressive Caucus co-chairman, Rep. Raul Grijalva, who endorsed Sanders last week at a rally in Tucson, where Grijalva's congressional district is based. Sanders will face off against his rivals Tuesday at the first Democratic debate in Las Vegas."
* They've changed it, now (probably owing to some sneering responses to it), but the original headline at The Hill for this story was, "Muslim lawmaker endorses Sanders."

"GOP Extremists About To Be Hoist On Their Own Petard?" Seems they made their own rules to deal with something that already happened, and instead made their problems much worse. Oh, dear. Some pretty radical notions are popping up. Scary.
* Of course, both sides do it - that is, stab themselves in the foot. "Debbie Wasserman Schultz Has Ruined The First Debate Already-- They Should Fire Her Before She Ruins The Rest. Remember how CNN hired Rachel Maddow to host the Republican debate? No, you missed that one? Me too. But CNN did hire Fox-Republican shill Brian Kilmeade to make sure the GOP perspective was well represented in the first Democratic primary debate. Blame DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
* "The DNC screwed Hillary - now get ready for a Bernie Sanders earthquake: Limiting debates did her no favors. Now she's barely leading a 74-year-old socialist. This debate is pivotal."

Ezra Klein unnerved by Clinton's TPP opposition: "On Wednesday, Clinton came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, saying that she's concerned with the provisions around pharmaceuticals and the absence of provisions around currency manipulation. But as Tim Lee notes, Clinton strongly supported early versions of the deal - she called the TPP 'the gold standard in trade agreements" - that were worse on pharmaceuticals and identical on currency manipulation."

"Trumka calls for immediate release of TPP text [...] 'In my experience, when there is such good news to share, there is no need for secrecy,' Trumka wrote. 'If TPP will do for the American middle class all that USTR claims, releasing the text would be the single best way to prove that.' U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has said that the text should be ready in about 30 days, once the lawyers are done scrubbing the agreement. Then the 30-chapter TPP deal will be available to the public for scrutiny. In response to that timeline, Trumka said that 'creating a level playing field for American workers includes equal access to information, and the only way to ensure that is to ensure that all Americans have equal access to the text - not in 30 days, after the public relations spin has been spun, but right now.'"
* Jim Hightower: "'We Are Writing the Rules,' says Obama. Who's 'We'?"

Down in the weeds, I still have plenty of reasons not to want her to be president, but there's no denying that the press hates Hillary Clinton, and their own words tell you it's true.

"Jeb Bush At Lehman Brothers: Florida Official Joked About Bush's Influence Over State Pension [...] Bush has denied any involvement in the transactions, which might eventually cost Florida taxpayers as much as $1 billion. But a state official named Michael Lombardi -- who managed investments for the part of Florida's pension that bought Lehman assets -- invoked Bush's name in a Jan. 9 email exchange with a Lehman managing director who was announcing his new job at the firm."

Assange: UK refuses hospital visit for MRI and diagnosis: "In a press conference today, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino read out a letter from Assange's UK doctor who conducted a medical examination in August. The letter says that he is in constant and severe pain, which is growing worse and has been present since June 2015. The doctor stated that an MRI scan needs to be performed. This can only be carried out in a hospital." But the UK is refusing to grant him safe passage to a hospital and is saying he must give up his asylum in order to receive medical treatment.

The other Wonder Drug: "National Cancer Institute Finally Admits THC Causes 45% Remission in Bladder, Breast, and Liver Cancer." Among other things.

Tim Dickenson's detailed exposé of the Koch brothers in Rolling Stone apparently freaked them out.

Just 158 families have provided nearly half of the early money for efforts to capture the White House. "Relatively few work in the traditional ranks of corporate America, or hail from dynasties of inherited wealth. Most built their own businesses, parlaying talent and an appetite for risk into huge wealth: They founded hedge funds in New York, bought up undervalued oil leases in Texas, made blockbusters in Hollywood. More than a dozen of the elite donors were born outside the United States, immigrating from countries like Cuba, the old Soviet Union, Pakistan, India and Israel."

"More than 50 Labour MPs to defy Jeremy Corbyn in vote on Syria. [...] In a clear challenge to the Labour leader's authority, a group of MPs and peers is ready to work with Conservative colleagues to promote a three-pronged strategy in which military intervention by UK forces would complement fresh humanitarian and diplomatic initiatives."

"California Will Automatically Register Millions Of Voters: On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will allow the state to automatically register millions of residents to vote, using their DMV records. Starting in 2016, every eligible California citizen who goes to a DMV office to get a driver's license or renew one will be instantly registered to vote, unless he or she chooses to opt out." This is great, but I like it even better here in the UK where they actually send people to your door to make sure people who are entitled to vote are registered.

"Mom Calls 9-1-1 for Paramedics, Cop Shows Up, Shoots 4-yo Daughter."

"'Great Pause' Among Prosecutors As DNA Proves Fallible."

"GOP Governor Finally Admits His Hand-Picked Emergency Manager Poisoned Children."

Catholic Nun Slams Republicans on Their Anti-Abortion Hypocrisy: "I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."

"Gun nuts freak out over Texas students' #CocksNotGlocks open carry protest - and it's awesome." Sadly, it looked to me like someone had cleaned up all the Facebook comments by the time I got there. Oh, well. But the women came out with a clever idea with their "open carry" of dildos.

I went broke teaching your kid: The real story about life on a teacher's salary

[Video] Corruption is Legal in America - The Princeton study showing that politicians pass laws that serve the rich instead of what the public wants (and needs), illustrated.

Jeremy Cahill says "Drones are a tool, not a policy. The policy is assassination." But really, drones are terrorism.

How real news would sound

Toni Morrison: 'We used to be called citizens. Now we're called taxpayers'

Hail to the Pencil Pusher [...] But the problem was so severe that Congress eventually decided tackle it administratively. Criminalizing bad behavior wasn't enough; for the good of individual lives and the larger economy, the government would take positive steps to prevent explosions. Under the Steamboat Act of 1852, Congress mandated standards for boiler pressure and testing. Pilots and engineers would be federally licensed. And government inspectors could enforce these rules. This 'steamboat agency' seems like something straight out of the twentieth century. It relied on the Constitution's commerce clause to regulate a specific industry for personal safety. It developed these regulations based on scientific understanding. And it combined licensing, rule making, and adjudication, as the New Deal and Great Society agencies did and continue to do. It was, in sum, an early manifestation of an administrative state that contemporary conservatives insist did not exist until Progressive Era reformers built it upon the ashes of a former libertarian utopia."

Iraq For Sale: BANNED Excerpts - banned from being shown in Congress in 2007.

Every Conversation Between A Parent And A Child In Four Conversations

Fashion. Seriously. I mean, seriously. No.

Was this what inspired Alien?

The Flash season 2 trailer

Haphead, the movie

"Season of the Witch" from the lost concert tapes of Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield

00:43 GMT comment

Saturday, 10 October 2015

The homecoming queen's got a gun

A little reminder, and I still haven't heard of anyone doing anything about this: "GOP voter registration scandal widens: A Virginia official is busted for tossing voter forms. Turns out he works for the national party, too"
* Voter ID and driver's license office closures black-out Alabama's Black Belt

A Breakthrough on the TPP deal. Damn. TPP Agreement Announced, Setting Up Battle In Congress
* Sherrod Brown's statement on reports that Trans-Pacific Partnership could harm American auto workers
* Lori Wallach at Public Citizen on some questions about the process of passing TPP (.pdf)
* Techdirt: "TPP Also Locks In Broken Anti-Circumvention Rules That Destroy Your Freedoms
* "WikiLeaks Publication of Complete, Final TPP Intellectual Property Text Confirms Pact Would Raise Costs, Put Medicines Out of Reach: Final Deal Rolls Back Bush-Era 'May 2007' Access to Medicine Protections [...] The leak comes the morning after a White House meeting with pharmaceutical executives who are dissatisfied that the deal did not provide them even greater monopoly rights."

The headlines say, "Hillary Clinton comes out against TPP trade deal," "Hillary Clinton comes out against Obama's trade deal," "Clinton sides with progressives against Obama trade deal," but did she really?

This is interesting: Jennifer Rubin, part of the "conservative" slate at The Washington Post, has an article up called, "Don't forget about Bernie Sanders," and it makes perfectly good points about why Sanders might very well win the nomination. But since it's Rubin, I have to ask myself what her purpose in writing it is, don't I? Is it that she thinks taking Sanders seriously makes it a more interesting horse race for a mainstream journalist to cover? Is it that she hates Hillary Clinton? Is it that the Republicans think Sanders will be easier to beat? Or is it that she has a grudging respect for how far the old man has come? "If Sanders is simply a not-Hillary vote one could see that all shifting to Biden. But if he is - as one surmises from huge crowds - a leader of a true left-wing movement just as fed up with Washington, D.C. as their right-wing counterparts then Sanders remains the man to beat. It is tempting for non-Democrats to write off Sanders as the Democrats' Donald Trump, a flash-in-the-pan with no real chance to win the nomination let alone the presidency. But in contrast to Trump who is ideologically all over the map and personally obnoxious, Sanders is a U.S. senator, a somewhat charming figure and representative of a significant segment of the party for whom Obama's greatest fault was in not going far enough (on climate change, immigration, single-payer healthcare, etc.) or selling out entirely (on trade)."
* The adventures of Bernie Sanders and Cornell West in South Carolina
* If you're not rich and want to go to college, vote for Bernie: "College is a time for study and achievement. It can also be competitive. Students who are forced to comply with Clinton's 10-hour-per week work requirement-- which is one-fourth of a full-time job - will carry a heavy burden of time and effort. Wealthy students won't share that burden because their parents are paying full tuition."
* Bernie Sanders Brings Out Record-Breaking Crowd in Boston
* Bernie Sanders at the Littleton Opera House in Vermont
* Can Bernie Sanders win the south?

Firefighters' Union Backs Away From Endorsement of Hillary Clinton

Snowden asks to be put in US prison?

Charlie Pierce, "The U.S. Military Is Determined to Dodge Responsibility for the Afghan Airstrike: Somebody bombed a hospital."
* Doctors Without Borders airstrike: US alters story for fourth time in four days
* Greenwald, "The Radically Changing Story of the U.S. Airstrike on Afghan Hospital: From Mistake to Justification"

"U.S. to Release 6,000 Inmates Under New Sentencing Guidelines: The Justice Department is preparing to release roughly 6,000 inmates from federal prison as part of an effort to ease overcrowding and roll back the harsh penalties given to nonviolent drug dealers in the 1980s and '90s, according to federal law enforcement officials."

"Pope Francis Rejects Kim Davis's Account Of Meeting And Refuses To Endorse Her Bigotry."
* "Pope Francis expected to fire the Archbishop who tricked him into meeting Kim Davis ."

How Conservative State "Think Tanks" Will Spin ALEC's 2016 Agenda

Colbert on when Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy tell the truth.

"Elizabeth Warren Made Washington Angry Again. [...] The Beltway outrage directed at Warren for sending the letter, of course, has nothing to do with the quality of Litan's research or his ability to publish it. The First Amendment has not been repealed. Nothing prevents Litan from doing all the industry-funded research he wants and letting the public evaluate its merits. What Litan can no longer do, however, is capitalize on Brookings' centrist, scholarly reputation when performing favors for flush corporate clients. This is a scary thing in the nation's capital, where this sort of thing happens all the time. Corporate interests pay for a lot of economic studies that end up being used as lobbying cudgels. People in Washington are accustomed to cashing in on their reputations and those of prestigious institutions."

Back in February, Marcy Wheeler warned us that Loretta Lynch was a terrible choice for Attorney General, and now here's Lynch saying the government shouldn't require reports of people killed by police.

* "California Governor Signs Ambitious Renewable Energy Bill Into Law: While a whole bunch of states are suing the EPA for regulating carbon spewing from the electricity sector, other states, such as California, are moving full-steam ahead towards renewables and carbon-cutting. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Wednesday that requires state-regulated utilities to get a whopping 50 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, and hydro, by 2030. The law also requires a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings by that year. The goals were previously laid out during Brown's inaugural address. "

How America Helped Saudi Arabia Block A Human Rights Inquiry In Yemen

How Harper and the Conservatives Broke the Canadian Economy

What We Lose With a Privatized Postal Service
* Don't Put Privatizer And Payday Lender Lobbyist On The USPS Board

Air France execs' clothes torn off by protesters after layoff announcement

Patriotic Millionaires answer the question, "What Is Carried Interest Anyway?" and say the carried interest loophole should be eliminated. Why? "'At a time when wages for working people have stagnated at 1990 levels and they are paying taxes at ordinary income rates, it is an outrage for a small group of hedge fund operators, often making hundreds of millions of dollars a year, to have their income taxed at low capital gains rates,' said Patriotic Millionaire Guy T. Saperstein, Attorney."
* Who is the Retail Investor Protection Act trying to protect?

And for today's chart, American deaths in terrorism vs. gun violence in one graph.

"Women legislators turn the tables and introduce bills regulating men's reproductive health: Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner (D) isn't happy with bills that seek to control women's access to contraception and abortion. She has joined a trend across the nation by introducing a bill that would require men seeking a prescription for erectile dysfunction drugs to see a sex therapist, receive a cardiac stress test and 'get a notarized affidavit signed by a sexual partner affirming impotency.' Sex therapists would be required to present the option of 'celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.'"

'Suffrajitsu': How the suffragettes fought back using martial arts

Feminist protesters storm red carpet at London premiere of Suffragette: "Activists from Sisters Uncut, who campaign against domestic violence, attended the red carpet event saying they wanted to bring attention to the cuts to domestic violence services and declaring 'the battle isn't over yet'."

"Scientists Invent a New Steel as Strong as Titanium: South Korean researchers have solved a longstanding problem that stopped them from creating ultra-strong, lightweight aluminum-steel alloys."

Psychedelic Mushroom Compound Found to Grow and Repair Brain Cells: "The study, published in Experimental Brain Research, says psilocybin is able to bind to special receptors in the brain that stimulate healing and growth. In the case of these mushrooms, brain cell growth occurs. In mice, the researchers found psilocybin to actually help repair damaged brain cells and cure or relieve PTSD and depression."

Dept. of If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You in Prison? "Harvard Debate Team Loses to Prison Debate Team: The prison team had its first debate in spring 2014, beating the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Then, it won against a nationally ranked team from the University of Vermont, and in April lost a rematch against West Point."

RIP: Dennis Healey, 98, legendary Labour Party figure who was either too right-wing or "one of the best prime ministers Britain never had," depending on who you ask.

The Adventures of God: The Extinction of the Dinosaurs Explained

Musical glasses - Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor

"The fake horror movie trailer the internet deserves" - may not be work-safe.

The Kinsey Sicks present: "Get A Gun".

X-Files trailer

Astrophotographer Dave Lane's photos of the Milky Way over National Parks

Bernie in music:
* "Mr. Sanders, Bring Us A Dream"
* "The Ballad of Bernie Sanders"

Julie Brown, unedited

14:57 GMT comment

Friday, 02 October 2015

Playoff season

"Don't understand what's happening with Planned Parenthood and John Boehner? Carly Fiorina? Cliff & Digby shed some light. Plus Culture of Truth," on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Credo says "Tell Congress: Ban private for-profit prisons: Sen. Bernie Sanders just introduced a bill to end one of the biggest contributors to America's broken criminal justice system: private, corporate-run, for-profit prisons." They have a petition.

Chart of the day: Inequality in life expectancy widens for women.

"A mathematician may have uncovered widespread election fraud, and Kansas is trying to silence her [...] According to the Wichita Eagle, Wichita State mathematician Beth Clarkson has found irregularities in election returns from Sedgwick County, along with other counties throughout the United States, but has faced stiff opposition from the state in trying to confirm whether the irregularities are fraud or other, less-nefarious anomalies. Analyzing election returns at a precinct level, Clarkson found that candidate support was correlated, to a statistically significant degree, with the size of the precinct. In Republican primaries, the bias has been toward the establishment candidates over tea partiers. In general elections, it has favored Republican candidates over Democrats, even when the demographics of the precincts in question suggested that the opposite should have been true."

David Sirota, "Hillary Clinton Prescription Drug Plan Challenges Past Policies Of Bill And Hillary Clinton: Touting her commitment to lowering healthcare costs, Hillary Clinton this week unveiled a plan that she says will drive down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs. The initiative from the Democratic presidential candidate was billed as a challenge to the pharmaceutical industry -- but it is also a rebuke of some of the major pharmaceutical policies of Bill and Hillary Clinton."
* "Hillary Tells Biotech Indus. to Change Marketing of GMO, not Product: Americans will then Want GMO."
* "Clinton opposed LGBTQ-friendly gender-neutral passport forms: Hillary Clinton vehemently opposed the State Department's 2010 decision to use 'parent one and two' instead of 'mother and father' on U.S. passport applications, according to a newly released email from her time in office."
* "Sanders & O'Malley Object To Democratic Debate Schedule But Clinton Reportedly Only Wanted Four Debates [...] Democrats are risking a serious problem with turnout if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination in a year when the outsiders are creating all the excitement. This problem could be further exacerbated should she be the nominee by this limited debate schedule. Clinton's fear of facing her Democratic challengers could seriously hurt her should she be the candidate in the general election."

Frank Rich, "The importance of Donald Trump: Far from destroying our democracy, he's exposing all its phoniness and corruption in ways as serious as he is not. And changing it in the process. [...] Some kind of farce, nonetheless, is just what the modern presidential campaign has devolved into. By calling attention to that sorry state of affairs 24/7, Trump's impersonation of a crypto-fascist clown is delivering the most persuasively bipartisan message of 2016." Rich discussed this with Sam Seder on The Majority Report.
* Rich mentioned Chris Rock in Head of State, which I've never seen, so I looked at clips. Here he is saying, "That ain't right!"

Tavis Smiley interviews the presidential candidate from the Green Party, Dr. Jill Stein.

"Bernie Sanders claims more than 1 million donations."

"What the Pundits and Experts Fail to Understand about the Bernie Sanders Phenomenon [...] So the pundits look at Sanders, a man who is clearly not a political acrobat, and conclude he couldn't possibly win the tight-rope race. But of course Sanders isn't walking a tight-rope, he's competing on foot. So we shouldn't be asking ourselves who is faster between Clinton and Sanders, that is what the pundits are doing and it is precisely why they keep getting it wrong. The real question is can she walk a tight-rope faster than Bernie can run on the ground?"

Stephen Colbert interviews Ted Cruz. It always interests me that Republicans want things to be matters "for the states" because the Constitution says so, but they never refer to the rest of the Tenth Amendment, "or to the people". ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.") In this case, because it's already pretty clear that the people do not want to ban gay marriage.

Scott Walker drops out of presidential race; Orange Mike not happy: "My concern is that, like an abusive spouse returning from an unsuccessful business trip, he will come back to Wisconsin and beat us up some more, doubling-down on his attacks on almost every non-millionaire Wisconsinite, especially those of us with the gall to work for the public or to have unions or (shudder!) both, while shouting the management equivalent of, 'You lazy bitch! Look what you made me do!'" And that's just what he's doing.

I remember after Obama won the election and suddenly various Democratic organizations I'd never signed up for and including Obama's own organizations were sending me constant offers to sell me T-shirts and coffee mugs. Seriously missing from all of these mails were requests to come help put all that eager enthusiasm that won Obama the presidency to work. No one looking for skills, looking for warm bodies, looking to make any of that "change" we'd been hearing about. The only materials I was getting from these people that weren't trying to get me to buy promotional materials were talking points to defend Obama from whatever talking points The Enemy (sometimes Republicans, sometimes the "crazy left") were putting forward. None of it was aimed at substantively addressing the real problems of Americans, although some of it was thinly-disguised hostage-taking on behalf of terrible programs we had to pass in order to make minor improvements in systems that needed major overhauls. I cannot think of a better way to kill a budding movement. I don't suspect Jeremy Corbyn of wanting to keep all his young supporters bamboozled and sequestered in another veal pen the way Obama did, but I hope he is giving a lot of thought to how to avoid doing it wrong.

The WSJ took a poll and found out America is a liberal country. Well, yes, it's supposed to be, it's called "liberal government", that's what the whole Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are about. But anyway, Americans like the Republicans even less than they like the Democrats, and no one wants to defund Planned Parenthood. Since I can't see the original article, I don't know if they mentioned those other little issues like, y'know, the economy and Social Security and whether people are more afraid of government power than they are of banks and corporate power, but anyone who reads polls can tell you that even most Republicans are liberal on these issues.

"Democrats Victorious As Senate Passes CR That Keeps Planned Parenthood Funded."
* Unconstitutional: If corporations are people, defunding Planned Parenthood is a bill of attainder.

"Investigation: Secret Service tried to discredit US lawmaker: WASHINGTON (AP) - Scores of U.S. Secret Service employees improperly accessed the decade-old, unsuccessful job application of a congressman who was investigating scandals inside the agency, a new government report said Wednesday. An assistant director suggested leaking embarrassing information to retaliate against Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House oversight committee."

"'Snowden Treaty' Under Review By Multiple Countries: A draft of the 'Snowden Treaty,' which would expand international legal obligations to protect privacy and whistleblowers, is under review by multiple countries."

"Profiled: From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users' Online Identities."

"Three Exceptional Facts About the US: It's Safe to Be Paranoid: Exceptional Fact #1: Failure Is Success, or the U.S. Remains the Sole Superpower; Exceptional Fact #2: Americans Are Actually Safe and Secure; Exceptional Fact #3: A Culture of Victimhood Is Developing Among the Inhabitants of the Planet's Sole Superpower.

"South Dakota no longer requires kids to learn about the Constitution, Native Americans, or slavery"

Journalist David Dayen's forthcoming Chain of Title named the latest winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize. Chain of Title is the dramatic true story of how, in the depths of the Great Recession, a nurse, a car dealership worker, and a forensic expert helped uncover the largest consumer crime in American history - a scandal that implicated dozens of major executives on Wall Street. They called it foreclosure fraud: millions of families were kicked out of their homes based on false evidence by mortgage companies that had no legal right to foreclose.

CNN did an awesome interview with Ben Carson, who wants to shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood - a perfectly legal organization that does legal and beneficial things for citizens - because he wants to "protect all life", but the death penalty should be a civil matter, and Muslims can't be trusted to uphold the Constitution because (the most extreme interpretations of) their religion wouldn't allow them to prioritize the Constitution. Oh, and he wants to be president, but being asked about his position on Muslims in the presidency was too much for him, so his campaign manager stopped the interview.

CMike alerts me to Charlie Rose's astonishingly stupid interview with Vladimir Putin, as described by James Howard Kunstler. "I guess Charlie and the 60-Minutes production crew hadn't noticed what had gone on around the Middle East the past fifteen years with America's program of toppling dictators into the maw of anarchy. Not such great outcomes." (Link to the video of the interview.) CMike also linked to this little story from Putin. Perhaps it tells us something.

Scott Lemieux says David Broder still lives at The Washington Post: "Our Conclusion, As Always: Both Sides Do It [...] If I understand correctly, what being on 'the far left' means in this instance is 'opposing massively unpopular Social Security cuts.' And Obama was supposed to 'stand up' to the 'far left' by continuing to make offers to Republicans he knew they would refuse. This is one of those times where to state an argument is to refute it." I suppose I shouldn't bring up the fact that the tax bite Obama was asking for was so tiny and so unlikely to collect any real revenues as to be a laughable exchange for the quite serious sacrifice of cutting Social Security, and we should be damned grateful that the Republicans refused to bite. The very fact that Obama was asking for so little suggested his real goal was those Social Security cuts and not raising taxes at all.

"Cops Brutally Beat Police Misconduct Investigator After Turning Off Dash Cam."

"Cowardly brutality exposed: The viral video that should change the Israel/Palestine debate forever [...] One would have thought that the video would have occasioned some circumspection, or at least awkward silence, among Israelis and what remains of their rapidly thinning fan club in the U.S., but no - of course not. Israel's minister of culture took to the media to declare that the army's open-fire regulations ought to be changed to officially permit shooting unarmed Palestinians in order 'to put an end to the humiliation.' Better, then, for the soldier to have gunned the family down in cold blood than to have failed to snatch their 12-year-old. Such are the choices to which Israel now finds itself reduced." To put an end to "the humiliation." Yeah, that's a good reason.

As Atrios points out, the Volkswagen scandal is a classic case of management criminality for which people far down the chain will take the hit. Bloomberg: "Volkswagen has blamed its emissions scandal on a 'small group' of people and has suspended a number of staff as Matthias Müller was unveiled as its new chief executive. Müller, who has been promoted from his role as boss of Porsche, pledged to leave 'no stone unturned' and 'maximum transparency' in an investigation into how the company cheated emissions tests on diesel cars. The new VW boss did not reveal how many staff had been suspended or who they were, but the company said the scandal was the result of 'unlawful behaviour of engineers and technicians involved in engine development'."

The Data Are Damning: How Race Influences School Funding: Research shows that in Pennsylvania's public schools skin color, not economics, determines how much money districts get. [...] 'If you color code the districts based on their racial composition you see this very stark breakdown. At any given poverty level, districts that have a higher proportion of white students get substantially higher funding than districts that have more minority students.' That means that no matter how rich or poor the district in question, funding gaps existed solely based on the racial composition of the school. Just the increased presence of minority students actually deflated a district's funding level. 'The ones that have a few more students of color get lower funding than the ones that are 100 percent or 95 percent white,' Mosenkis said."

"Pope Francis Enters the House Chamber and Gives The Only Handshake to John Kerry. "The Pope knows Kerry from his recent work on the Iran deal, but this is also a profound shift for Kerry. Josh Lederman of the AP pointed out that Kerry was once denied communion over his support for choice for women." I keep wondering how this pope even got elected, since he was chosen by the same people who either picked Benedict or were picked by him. But he's definitely a big departure from his predecessor - he actually mentioned Dorothy Day! - and since he demoted the guy who said Kerry and Pelosi shouldn't get communion, I think that handshake was pretty pointed. More details from Rachel Maddow.
* But he's not such a cuddly pope as he appears: "Pope Francis Excommunicates Priest Who Backed Women's Ordination and Gays."
* And from back in February, "Pope Francis says trans people destroy creation and compares them to nuclear weapons."
* "How Pope Francis Undermined the Goodwill of His Trip and Proved to Be a Coward: After first refusing to confirm nor deny it, the Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis met with the Kentucky clerk Kim Davis at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, where Davis' attorney -- who made the news public after the pope's trip ended -- said Francis told her to 'stay strong.' And that simple encounter completely undermines all the goodwill the pope created in downplaying 'the gay issue' on his U.S. trip."
* But Charlie Pierce wonders, "Was Pope Francis Actually Swindled into Meeting Kim Davis?" Update: The Vatican confirms that Charlie Pierce was correct.

"Why Is College So Expensive if Professors Are Paid So Little?" Like a lot of private enterprise these days, the folks in charge think it's more important to hire a lot of overpaid "management" to run the place rather than hire and pay the people who are actually needed to get the job done.

"Debacle, Inc.: How Henry Kissinger Helped Create Our 'Proliferated' World"

What poverty looks like in America - They studied real people who live on $2.00 a day, and that's good, but I wish the authors would spend some time thinking about where jobs come from. It can't start with the private sector - that's not how things work. And this public-private partnership stuff keeps right on failing.

Driftglass' latest unpacking of David Brooks is worth reading just to get to the candy surprise at the end.

The honest campaign ad - vote for Gil!

The thing that is making me crazy is that I never know when I am going to fall asleep, but when it's time the demand comes hard and fast, and then I know I have to lie down right now. I did look outside the other night and see that the sky was clear and the moon was big and gorgeous, but the sleep thing hit me sometime around midnight and that was that. Some people did get to see the eclipse, though.

For people who are not sleeping too much and instead are being kept up by a cold, science allegedly says your best cold cure is a hot toddy. Or at least, the internet says science says it.

RIP: D. West (8 July 1945-25 September 2015), occasionally known as "Don", legendary fanartist, critic, founder of the Astral Leauge (pronounced "Loog"), major figure from Leeds fandom, author of renown - most notably of "Performance",* publisher and author of the fanzine Daisnaid (Do As I Say Not As I Do), I beat him at dominos. I'm still shocked at the notion that D. West can die. He was diagnosed with lung cancer only shortly before his death, which I guess saved him a lot of trauma from life-prolonging misery. He could be pretty scary, but he backed me up when I was trying to explain to Michael Ashley about the Beatles, so he was all right with me.

Julian Lennon has a new collection up, of photographs of Venice.

My team has clinched the division.

14:02 GMT comment

Friday, 25 September 2015

I went to see the doctor and I had my fortune read

My doctors claim I'm doing good, and I'll just have to find out what the new normal is. I could go on at length about how grumpy this is making me, but let's just say that next time someone says "a few weeks" to me, I'll be asking, "Do you mean 'a few weeks' as in three or four weeks, or do you mean 'a few weeks' as in three months?" Similarly, what does "a little darker" mean?

"Democrats to Win in a Landslide in 2016, According to Moody's Election Model." Not sure how seriously to take that when their metric seems to be that the economy is good.
* Strangely, this is from The Washington Post: "Two days later, Sanders draws five times as many people as Clinton to event at same university in N.H.: DURHAM, N.H. - Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders drew an estimated 3,000 people to a boisterous rally here Sunday night at the University of New Hampshire, about five times as many people as Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton attracted to an event two days ago at the same campus."

Astonishingly, Forbes tells the truth on this: "Can America Afford Bernie Sanders' Agenda? [...] But returning to the main point, anyone who says the federal government doesn't have the budget to manage Sanders' (or anyone else's) programs doesn't understand how modern macroeconomies work. The federal government's budget is not analogous to your own and it cannot run out of money."
* It's probably not a very big deal that "Republican Poll Shows Bernie Tied for First Place with Trump and Carson in This State" in the Republican primary when that state is Vermont.
* "Why Hillary Clinton May Not Have The Female Vote Locked Up"

Bernie Sanders at Common Dreams: "We Must End For-Profit Prisons [...] No one, in my view, should be allowed to profit from putting more people behind bars -- whether they're inmates in jail or immigrants held in detention centers. In fact, I believe that private prisons shouldn't be allowed to exist at all, which is why I've introduced legislation to eliminate them."

It's not just that they limited the debates to just six with no outside debates allowed, it's also how they scheduled them: "And check out some of these dates: Saturday, November 14. Saturday, really? Who exactly is the DNC expecting to watch a Saturday night debate? But it gets better! Saturday, December 19. Yes, the Saturday six days before Christmas. Hmm ... I could attend a holiday party with my friends and loved ones, do some last-minute shopping, or watch a presidential debate. Why not just schedule it on Christmas Eve, FFS? But let's keep going through this debate schedule: January 17. That's the Sunday night of Martin Luther King Day weekend. This is absurd."
* "Democratic Party Shutting Out Bernie Sanders!"

"Hillary Clinton Wants Poor Students to 'Work' for Tuition - Though Her Dad Paid Hers [...] I'm not going to give free college to kids who don't work some hours to try to put their own effort into their education."

Andy Borowitz: "Ben Carson Shattering Stereotype About Brain Surgeons Being Smart."

"Americans Want Congress Members To Pee In Cups To Prove THEY Aren't On Drugs: While Congress pushes for drug tests for food stamp recipients, most Americans like the idea of drug testing members of Congress even better. A YouGov poll found that 78% of U.S. citizens are in favor of requiring random drug testing for members of Congress. A full 62% said they 'strongly' favor this, compared with only 51% who feel the same way about food stamp and welfare recipients. The support for this move was bipartisan, as 86% percent of Republicans, 77% of Democrats and 75% of independents support the mandatory drug tests for members of Congress."

David Dayen, "Leaked Seattle Audit Concludes Many Mortgage Documents Are Void: A Seattle housing activist on Wednesday uploaded an explosive land-record audit that the local City Council had been sitting on, revealing its far-reaching conclusion: that all assignments of mortgages the auditors studied are void. That makes any foreclosures in the city based on these documents illegal and unenforceable, and makes the King County recording offices where the documents are located a massive crime scene. The problems stem from the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), an entity banks created so they could transfer mortgages privately, saving them billions of dollars in transfer fees to public recording offices. In Washington state, MERS' practices were found illegal by the State Supreme Court in 2012. But MERS continued those practices with only cosmetic changes, the audit found." MERS was obviously a scam from the git-go, it's sole purpose to cheat their way out of paying required filing fees. Everyone who set this up should be arrested and thrown in jail for a long time.

"What Exxon Knew About Climate Change: Wednesday morning, journalists at InsideClimate News, a Web site that has won the Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on oil spills, published the first installment of a multi-part exposé that will be appearing over the next month. The documents they have compiled and the interviews they have conducted with retired employees and officials show that, as early as 1977, Exxon (now ExxonMobil, one of the world's largest oil companies) knew that its main product would heat up the planet disastrously. This did not prevent the company from then spending decades helping to organize the campaigns of disinformation and denial that have slowed - perhaps fatally - the planet's response to global warming." (Thanks to commenter ifthethunderdontgetya for the tip.)
* "Citigroup: Tackling climate change now could save $1.8 trillion: Tackling climate change is expensive. But not as expensive as doing nothing, according to new research (PDF) published last week by global banking giant Citigroup."

It's not the hypocrisy that bothers me, it's just the fact that it's evil: "GOP Candidate Kasich Caught Providing Food Stamps to White Communities but not Black Communities. [...] In 2013, Governor Kasich could have accepted food stamp assistance for all of Ohio, as he had done for the previous six years. Instead, he limited the waivers to a handful of primarily rural counties with a large percentage of white residents. Urban regions with large minority populations and unemployment rates far above average have been denied the food stamp assistance. Furthermore, according to Kate McGarvey of the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC), Kasich had this decision rammed through with little or no debate - and for no apparent reason. She told Mother Jones, 'It was really fast - no advocates I know of were given a chance to give feedback on the wisdom of the partial waiver.'"

"Suit Alleges 'Scheme' in Criminal Costs Borne by New Orleans's Poor [...] On Thursday, Ms. Cain joined five other plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the criminal district court here, among others, alleging that judges and court officials have been running an 'illegal scheme' in which poor people are indefinitely jailed if they fall behind on payments of court fines, fees and assessments. The suit describes how fees are imposed with no hearing about a person's ability to pay, and how nearly all components of the local criminal justice system - the judges, the prosecutors, the public defenders - benefit financially to some degree."

"How an obscure drug's 4,000% price increase might finally spur action on soaring health-care costs"

This page from the Kaiser Family Foundation says, "Employer Family Health Premiums Rise 4 Percent to $17,545 in 2015, Extending a Decade-Long Trend of Relatively Moderate Increases," a price tag people in most of the word wouldn't believe could be placed anywhere near the word "moderate", but scrolling down you see deductibles have shot up incredibly.

"16 years ago, a doctor published a study. It was completely made up, and it made us all sicker."

"Nashville JCC Kicks Out Planned Parenthood." This is just crazy. But someone rides to the rescue: "The oldest and largest Jewish congregation in Nashville has opened its synagogue to Planned Parenthood for its annual Middle Tennessee fundraiser."

"Chick-fil-A Stops Anti-Gay Donations, Adopts Anti-Discrimination Policy." This may have something to do with the fact that their founder died last year.

"Anger after Saudi Arabia 'chosen to head key UN human rights panel'" - I really don't understand how this could even happen.
* "You Can't Understand ISIS If You Don't Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia."

There's a curious editorial in The New York Times complaining about how the Republican candidates are full of bollocks. It's like a blog post from 2001, except that they left out the part about how the reason candidates and political leaders and their spokesbots so confidently talk out of their backsides is that the media has been letting them get away with it for years and even encouraging it, trumpeting it, and firing people who won't play along. I'm looking at you, New York Times (and MSNBC).
* This is less surprising, from Counterpunch: "Red Neoliberals: How Corbyn's Victory Unmasked Britain's Guardian [..] Corbyn is not just threatening to expose the sham of the PLP as a real alternative to the Conservatives, but the sham of Britain's liberal-left media as a real alternative to the press barons. Which is why the Freedlands and Toynbees - keepers of the Guardian flame, of its undeserved reputation as the left's moral compass - demonstrated such instant antipathy to his sudden rise to prominence."
* "MSNBC Threw Liberals Under The Bus And Is Now The Lowest Rated News Network."

In These Times: "Why Radical Leftists Need To Stop Worrying and Back Bernie Sanders." The simple fact is that none of the other issues is going to go anywhere until we find some way to restore democracy, and we just aren't going to be able to do that unless something is done to knock the aristocracy off its perch and put power into the hands of the people, and that's about money. That's what Bernie's about, and if you see your chance, take it.
* And, interestingly, Counterpunch: "Sniping at the Sandernistas: Left Perfectionism in the Belly of the Beast."

Why Income Inequality Isn't Going Anywhere: Rich elites - even rich liberal elites - don't believe in redistributing wealth. [...] The conventional view of America as a classless society has long sided with Hemingway - the only difference is the money. But our results suggest that, at least when it comes to attitudes toward inequality, Fitzgerald is right: Elite Americans are not just middle-class people with more money. They display distinctive attitudes on basic moral and political questions concerning economic justice. Simply put, the rich place a much lower value on equality than the rest. What's more, this lack of concern about inequality among the elite is not a partisan matter. Even when they self-identify as progressive Democrats, elite Americans value equality less highly than their middle-class compatriots."

I wonder if his fans know this: "Friedrich Hayek Supported a Guaranteed Minimum Income: Not only that, he assumed it would exist."
* Oddly, David Frum, of all people, did notice it. "The Conservative Case for a Guaranteed Basic Income: Creating a wage floor is an effective way to fight poverty - and it would reduce government spending and intrusion."

These 10 Countries Are The Most Prosperous In The World, And They Don't Include The U.S.

Bruce Schneier on the Movie Plot Threat: Terrorists Attacking US Prisons: "Not just terrorists, but terrorists with a submarine! This is why Ft. Leavenworth, a prison from which no one has ever escaped, is unsuitable for housing Guantanamo detainees. I've never understood the argument that terrorists are too dangerous to house in US prisons. They're just terrorists, it's not like they're Magneto."

"David Cameron says he 'will not dignify' claims he put his genitals in the mouth of a dead pig." Ah, yes, you can almost hear LBJ saying, "But let's make the sonofabitch deny it."

"Progressive Change against Corporatism is Sweeping the World: Thom Hartmann Explains." For the record, the "s" in "Islington" is not silent. Like in "Israel".

"Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write Black Panther Comic for Marvel." Funnily enough, I actually looked at that headline and thought about Ta-Nehisi Coates writing a comic about the Black Panthers.

"Orders pouring in for Lil' Bernie Sanders dolls hand sewn by Ludlow seamstress Emily Engel." I want one.

RIP: Yogi Berra, outstanding baseball player, coach, and manager, and famous sayer of lines people had to think about, at 90. However, the AP wire got it a little wrong.

Lovelace & Babbage build the first computer - in Lego.

Howie Klien remembers Hendrix: "I met Jimi Hendrix in 1967, before he went off to England and formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience."

Steve Miller and Paul McCartney, "My Dark Hour"

14:29 GMT comment

Saturday, 19 September 2015

In a time of possibilities

"Congress just passed a bill addressing police killings while no one was looking: After watching nationwide protests unfold against police brutality, members of Congress did what they have seemed incapable of doing for years: something. A bill passed by both chambers of Congress and headed to President Barack Obama's desk will require local law enforcement agencies to report every police shooting and other death at their hands. That data will include each victim's age, gender and race as well as details about what happened. 'You can't begin to improve the situation unless you know what the situation is,' bill sponsor Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) told the Washington Post. 'We will now have the data.'"

"Fringe No More: Sanders Takes Major Lead in Key Battleground States [...] The new CBS/YouGov poll finds U.S. Sen. Sanders (Vt.) with 52 percent support among Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, while former frontrunner Clinton receives 30 percent. 'Possibly more worrying for the Clinton campaign is her performance in Iowa,' writes YouGov US and UK assistant editor William Jordan - in that key caucus state, Sanders is now ahead by 10 points, with 43 percent to Clinton's 33 percent."
* Bernie makes the cover of TIME. Story: "The Gospel of Bernie: The man who brought fire back to the Democratic Party" - good title, 'cause that's about the size of it.
* Bernie visited The Late Show. I found this intro and his response to the important question of why he doesn't feel insulted when people call him a "liberal" and a "socialist".

Pelosi says the DNC "probably should" have more debates, but DNC doesn't care.

Bernie Sanders' speech at Liberty University
* Jim, a Liberty University Alumnus and evangelical Christian, explains his reaction to Bernie Sanders' speech - and why Bernie Sanders' message is Gospel. (Full audio here, transcript here.)
* Bernie Sanders: In-Depth Explanation of Income Inequality

David Dayen at The Intercept: Wall Street Journal's Scary Bernie Sanders Price Tag Ignores Health Savings: The screaming headline on Tuesday's Wall Street Journal reads 'Price Tag of Bernie Sanders's Proposals: $18 Trillion.' This would comprise 'the largest peacetime expansion of government in American history,' the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper warns. [...] But how did the Journal arrive at $18 trillion? They added up the 10-year price tags of seven programs Sanders has endorsed in his candidacy for president. It turns out that $15 trillion of the $18 trillion, or 83 percent of the total, comes from just one of these programs: establishing a single-payer health care system. What the Wall Street Journal won't tell you is that $15 trillion in national health spending over 10 years would represent a massive savings for the United States. Right now we spend at twice that rate for health care. [...] Accounting for cost inflation in health care and extending that out for 10 years, on our current trajectory we would spend more than $30 trillion, compared to the $15 trillion of a single-payer plan, which would totally supplant it." (Jerry Friedman objected to having his figures misused by the WSJ.)
* "Andrea Mitchell Pushes Wall Street Journal Hit Job On Bernie Sanders" - not a surprise, but Bernie had no trouble responding to that one.
* Matt Yglesias is a concern troll. Listen, you putz, if Bernie Sanders betrays Democratic women the way McGovern did, you can bet he will lose. But as long as he keeps being Bernie Sanders, that's not an issue. Meanwhile, Sanders is accessible in ways that McGovern is not. There's no "nuance" to confuse people, he just says it plain. No one is going to accuse him of being "too cerebral" when he keeps right on talking like an ordinary person.
* A Pro-Clinton Super PAC Is Going Negative On Bernie Sanders: The group links Sanders to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and the United Kingdom's new Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn." (HuffPo) And "David Brock Declines to Apologize to Bernie Sanders Over Jeremy Corbyn Comparison: The founder of the pro-Clinton group Correct the Record said that the comparison the UK labor leader was 'standard opposition research'." (Bloomberg) But, "Sanders sees burst of fundraising after opposition research against him surfaces." (WaPo)
* What Corbyn actually said

USA Today admits Hillary Clinton email scandal is a sham
* Is the NY Times out to get Hillary Clinton?
* Clinton's support erodes sharply among Democratic women: "Her college plan was going to give people $17 a month, What is that? That's not even a pizza"
* Clinton uses Biden to defend bankruptcy bill vote: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday said Vice President Joe Biden was part of the reason she backed a bankruptcy bill that liberals vehemently oppose. She was asked during a campaign stop in New Hampshire about a 2001 vote she made that was supported by the credit card industry, according to the Wall Street Journal. Consumer activists argued the bill would make it harder to consumers to hold credit card companies accountable. "It was Vice President Biden who was the senator from Delaware and the Republican co-sponsor that I was talking with, so I said I'd support it even though I'd opposed it before," Clinton said, according to the Journal. The bill did not end up passing, she added.
* "Hillary Clinton Goes to Militaristic, Hawkish Think Tank, Gives Militaristic, Hawkish Speech."

Charlie Pierce has a few words about the Republican debate.

Political Smearing: Project Islington
* Losing Their Grip: the Meaning of Corbyn's Win
* Pessimism after Corbyn [...] There is war coming in the Labour Party. Already, the bad-faith resignations and rumour-mongering of leading right-wingers signals the scale of resistance Corbyn will face. And that struggle will refract through its own institutional and ideological character the conflict that cleaves society as a whole, that between exploiter and exploited, between oppressor and oppressed. And the odds in that conflict remain stacked heavily in favour of the habitual victors. The Labour right have been caught off-guard, exhausted, and weakened by the loss of a major bastion of their power the size of Scotland. Ironically, the very processes of Pasokification that threaten the survival of Labourism as a serious force are also responsible for the chinks in the armour of the old guard, which have allowed Corbyn and his allies to make this audacious dash for power. But, also ironically, Corbyn's very victory, in its shattering of their complacent, internalised claim that There Is No Alternative (to them and their project), will galvanise the Labour right. They will not forgive this humiliation. Numb inertia is no longer their instrument: they will have to remember how to fight again. And remember they very soon will."
* Ian Welsh, "So, you supported Corbyn: here is what you MUST do if he is to survive and win
* Jeremy Corbyn's debut at Prime Minister's Question Time

"For first time, Alabama schools required to teach climate change, evolution: For the first time, Alabama students will be required to learn about evolution and climate change after the State Board of Education unanimously voted to update the science standard for 2016. The last time the science standards was updated was a decade ago."

New Mexico Court Orders Mother to Take Faith-Based Classes if She Wants Custody of Her Kids: Holly Salzman was ordered by a New Mexico district court to take conflict resolution classes stemming from a child custody case with her ex-husband. That sort of thing happens fairly often in these situations. The problem is that Salzman was told to see Mary Pepper (below), a Christian who pushed God on her during the court-ordered sessions. Pepper also turns out to be a freeloader who illegally holds her sessions in the public library and makes her clients collude in keeping her name off the arrangements and paying her under the table so she won't have to rent space for sessions.

"If You're From One of These Five States, You'll Likely Need a Passport for a Domestic Flight: Driver's licenses from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, American Samoa, and New Hampshire will no longer be enough to get on a domestic commercial flight. The standard licenses from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and American Samoa are considered 'noncompliant' with the security standards outlined in the Real ID Act, which was enacted back in 2005 but is being implemented in stages. Why are these specific licenses deemed sub-par? In these five states, getting a license doesn't require proof of citizenship or residency."

Nine police California officers arrested a black teenager and slammed him onto concrete while apparently arresting him for jaywalking.

Kansas Secretary of State Fires State Employee For Not Attending Church

Glenn Greenwald, "Arrest of a 14-Year-Old Student for Making a Clock: the Fruits of Years of Fear-Mongering and Anti-Muslim Animus"

"Desperate Elephants Shot With Poison Arrows Travel To Humans For Help ." I find it remarkable that they knew to go somewhere they had never been before in search of aid.

This is a speech by Chris Hedges where he talks about how he became who he is and where it got him, and a lot of it is interesting, but the bit toward the end where he talks about prisons really got to me.

Neil deGrasse Tyson geeks out with Edward Snowden.

Video on the first showing of Banksy's Dismaland

The UK's new Star Wars stamps

The Tide commercial and the sanctity of marriage
* Another Tide commercial

"The World's Most Beautiful Library Is In Prague, Czech Republic."

John Boorman's The Matrix

Gollum meets Hal Jordan

Black Violin: "Stereotypes"
(Story here.)

The lost legacy of David Ruffin

16:32 GMT comment

Monday, 14 September 2015

Face the music and dance

Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 2015: "The 2015 Labour Party leadership election was won by Jeremy Corbyn. The election was triggered by the resignation of Ed Miliband as Leader of the Labour Party on 8 May 2015, following the party's defeat at the 2015 general election. Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader, became Acting Leader but announced that she would stand down after the leadership election." Corbyn had 59.5% of the vote against the three other candidates.
* The new Labour leader himself says, "Britain can't cut its way to prosperity. We have to build it."
* Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership race in stunning victory - as it happened, complete with Billy Bragg leading everyone (including Corbyn) to sing "The Red Flag".
* Ellie Mae O'Hagan in the Independent: "5 reasons to be happy with Jeremy Corbyn's victory"
* Laurie Penny in The New Statesman: "What the Corbyn moment means for the left: At long last, the left is asking itself whether power without principle is worth having. [...] The 'electability' conversation is where it all becomes clear. The argument that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable is being made by three candidates who can't even win an election against Jeremy Corbyn. Their arguments are backed by two former prime ministers: Gordon Brown, whose main claim to fame is losing an election to the Tories in 2010, and Tony Blair, the Ghost of Bad Decisions Past. Both of them are making the case that the ability to win a general election is the first and only important quality in a leader after years of muttering and shuffling behind Ed Miliband, a very nice man whose middle name could have been 'Constitutionally Unable to Win a General Election'."
* Someone was asking me what it all means. Well, here's a bit of history to remind you of how it evolved that there seemed to be absolutely no one around to challenge the position of Tony Blair or any other New Labour politician, no matter how they might have been despised by most normal Labour supporters. John Smith, the Labour leader at the time, had to die of a sudden heart attack at the age of 56 for Blair to become the new party leader. Everyone was so happy to finally get rid of the Tories that no one seemed to scrutinize Blair enough to see that they wouldn't be getting rid of the Tories at all, just enthusiastically electing a wolf in sheep's clothing who had gone to Australia to kneel at Rupert Murdoch's feet and kiss his ring and then run around saying things like, "We're all Thatcherites now!" He won handily and made up some obvious lunacy about how Saddam could hit us with a nuclear bomb in 45 minutes or by next Christmas, apparently by magic since Saddam had never tested a nuclear device and had no delivery systems. Everyone was upset about the invasion of Iraq, but there was a problem. The only Labour politician who seemed to be in any position to challenge Blair's leadership was Robin Cook, a vocal opponent of the invasion and never an enthusiastic New Labour supporter. Cook, at 59, had a heart attack and fell and died while on holiday. By then, Bryan Gould, who might once have been competition for Blair, had already given up and returned to academic life in New Zealand, leaving no one with a high enough profile to fight for leadership, which left us with only Blair's hand-picked successor when Blair finally decided to retire to the Carlyle Group. (There was a short moment when the wonderful and much-loved Mo Molem might have been on the list of challengers, just before we learned about her cancer. She is still much missed.) As a sidebar, Blair pretty much turned the BBC into a sheepdog by attacking it for its now-proven-true report on how the Iraq intelligence had been "sexed up" to support Bush's invasion, forcing top heads to roll at the BBC and giving us a much less believable "news" organization. And all this time, Jeremy Corbyn was on the back bench and no one so much as fantasized in public about him ever being Labour leader, until New Labour drove the party to its worst ever crushing defeat this year against an unloved Tory government, and created this sudden opportunity, enlivening the Labour base and drawing many enthusiastic young people into the party. So that's a pretty big deal, and quite possibly big enough to win the next election, if Corbyn can manage to stay alive until then.
* There's an old anecdote about a new MP sitting in Parliament for the first time and expressing a certain excitement to be facing "the enemy", to which the man seated beside him, Winston Churchill, is purported to have said, "No, that is the Opposition Party. The enemy is all around you." It's worth remembering that Corbyn's enemies in the right-wing of the party worked hard to try to keep this from happening, but, happily, their image is so tarnished and New Labour so out of touch that their rhetoric doesn't even make sense to anyone other than Tories, so it simply didn't work. (This does not mean that they aren't still trying to sabotage him.) The Democratic Party establishment, however, is much more clever and well-rehearsed these days, and quite experienced at back-stabbing its own candidates - and still has many of its supporters so completely dazzled that even now they run around daily posting little "Facebook memes" touting the brilliance of Obama for "saving" the economy and reducing the deficit, as if he hadn't merely saved the banks from facing the music after robbing the country blind to pay off their gambling debts while Obama's austerity measures sucked more and more blood out of the remainder of the economy. For half the country, we are already in a depression, and these idiots are still bragging about how Obama saved us from another depression. Even if Sanders wins the nomination, it would be a mistake to think it's just the Republicans we have to worry about.

Harold A. Pollack in The Atlantic, on Saving SSDI. You can listen to Sam Seder's interview with him here.

Billionaires Try To Shut Down Bernie Sanders Headquarters "Why don't they inherit it just like we do?"
* Oh, look, someone put Jon Stewart's bit on Bernie Sanders where I could actually see it.

From HuffPo, "Dear America: Meet Bernie Sanders. Properly, This Time [...] No candidate is ever inevitable and no candidate is ever doomed -- that is not how democracy works. A society that continually wishes to achieve political change in the most passive way possible is not a society that will ever achieve political change. A candidate is only inevitable or doomed if the voting public decides that to be the case."

Hillary trailing Bernie in New Hampshire, 49-38
Bernie Sanders takes the lead over Hillary Clinton in Iowa poll: Poll released Thursday found 41% of likely Democratic primary voters in the crucial early voting state would vote for Sanders, versus 40% for Clinton." Not so much a lead as a statistical tie, but still good news for Sanders supporters.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar is feeling the Bern.

"Bernie Sanders picks up megaphone, walks union picket in Cedar Rapids [...] Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, joined perhaps 100 Cedar Rapids-area union workers in an 'informational picket' outside Penford Products, a corn processor where the Bakers Confectioners Tobacco Grain Millers union local 100G is negotiating a new contract with the management. Sanders strolled up to the picket shortly before 5:30 p.m., picked up a sign stapled to a long stick and marched with the crowd to a park across the street from the plant. [...] Sanders' boisterous, arm-waving speech went deep into the details of the union local's disagreement with Penford - even calling out the CEO by name and criticizing her pay package. At one point the microphone went out, but he continued in a loud, hoarse voice until the man who had been leading chants during the picket approached and handed him a megaphone, which he took and used to finish his speech." There's a bit of video here where it says you can read the full story, which maybe you can, but I didn't see anything much but the video there. Browser issue, or did you get that, too?
* Also, Bernie on undocumented immigrants and what they didn't do to wreck America's economy.
* The Raw Story says, "Bernie Sanders' popularity continues to soar - despite a conspicuous mainstream media bias against him," but if you check out this CNN stream, you can see there's been some coverage of him, anyway. Of course, this doesn't tell me how much most Americans are seeing of this stuff, since it's still broadcast television that seems to be the main source of news for most people.
* Imagine my surprise at learning that Bernie's brother stood for Parliament in the UK, for the Green Party. He lost to a white South African immigrant.

Not sure why the headline for this video says "Biden Presidential Run Could Destroy Hillary's Pro-Corporate Candidacy," but we all know which candidate is the real threat to Clinton's candidacy.

Now, I'm sure you all know that I have been against another Clinton going to the White House for a long time, but not because of the "email scandal", which is only a scandal in that the press keeps running with it. I don't care how she handled it, it just is not a serious issue and has nothing to do with anything, it's like Whitewater all over again - no There there. The real scandal - and it's a big one - is that the press keeps covering it even though I'm sure most of them don't even know if she did anything wrong or not, mostly because they don't actually read up on the news so they wouldn't know that even the Republicans can't actually point to anything wrong or illegal in this. And while sexism has always been a factor, I think the Clinton Rules are a bigger one, because the press went crazy against the Clintons after Bill Clinton was nominated and they have never stopped treating every single rumor and lie about either Clinton as the gospel truth, nor failed to find a way to brand even their most innocent activities as conniving and dishonest. And after it turned out the Republicans had been hacking the Democrats' emails, I don't blame Hillary for wanting to keep her correspondence on a separate server, anyway. I wouldn't even go so far as to call it dumb. Dumb would be reducing the number of Democratic primaries and keeping a low profile while the press has nothing much else to report in the race except to cover and re-cover the email "scandal".

"You can wave your arms and give a speech but at the end of the day are you connecting with and really hearing what people are either saying to you or wishing that you would say to them? - Hillary Clinton. And are you really hearing people recoil in horror against TPP and the XL Pipeline, Madame Secretary?
* "Five Reasons No Progressive Should Support Hillary Clinton" is from way back in February, but that makes it better than more recent articles that harp on the email thing. There are many good reasons to oppose another Clinton presidency.
* "Hillary Clinton's Kinder, Gentler War on Drugs Sounds Like Nixon's."
* Hillary apparently told a closed gathering of top donors and party leadership types that while Bernie is fighting for an ideology, she's trying to save their jobs. Not your jobs, but their jobs. I mean, it's not like Bernie is going to let people like Rubin and Geithner and Emanuel ruin our economy again, is it? That's via a page at Ring of Fire headlined, "Biden Shocks Hillary Crowd by Stating 'Bernie Sanders Doing a Helluva Job'." Hm, I wonder what he was saying, there....
* If Hillary Clinton was doing debt-scare language four years ago, has she learned any better since then?
* Charlie Pierce says, "Hillary Clinton Should Fire Her Entire Campaign Staff: The flailing frontrunner's backup is all too willing to throw her under the bus."
* Even The Hill says, "DNC should increase number of debates and let Sanders (and others) battle Clinton." They also say Debbie Wasserman Schultz is kow-towing to Clinton's campaign as a way to stay in Washington power-politics, since without Clinton, nobody wants her. Not that Clinton loves her, either, but she's a handy tool for keeping down the competition. "So, it's obvious to everyone that Clinton benefits from limited debate. It's also common knowledge that more debates will give Sanders and other challengers greater name recognition, thus cutting Clinton's lead in the polls even further."

Once again, the Canadian parliamentary election season contains some unusual choices.

David Dayen at The Intercept: "Warren Increases the Pain Factor for Choosing Corporate-Friendly Democrats [...] The Obama administration, despite a clear preference for moderates with Wall Street ties for financial regulatory positions, now must consider a far broader range of personnel. Warren and company have prioritized this, believing that personnel affects policy when regulators must implement and enforce laws, or exercise independent judgment. Reducing Wall Street's influence inside those agencies will have a salutary effect on outcomes."

"Justice Department Sets Sights on Wall Street Executives [...] The new rules, issued in a memo to federal prosecutors nationwide, are the first major policy announcement by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch since she took office in April. The memo is a tacit acknowledgment of criticism that despite securing record fines from major corporations, the Justice Department under President Obama has punished few executives involved in the housing crisis, the financial meltdown and corporate scandals."

"Under new Oregon law, all eligible voters are registered unless they opt out." As it should be.

"Obama Orders Federal Contractors To Provide Paid Sick Leave." Of course, he could have done this six years ago, too.

"How many deaths of cops and those in police custody happened in Orange County since 1980? New California database has revealing numbers: Over the span of a generation in Orange County, nearly twice as many Hispanics died at the hands of police in 'justified homicides' as did whites, according to a trove of historical data released Wednesday by California Attorney General Kamala Harris."

5 facts exposing the media's lies about police shootings

Here is Michael Shermer's recent Scientific American article on "Forensic Pseudoscience, which much of what the cops use as "evidence" amounts to. Even fingerprints are unreliable, and CSI is, of course, a science fiction show. But people go to jail all the time based on phony science that has never been peer reviewed but can snow a jury that doesn't know any better and watches too many cop shows.

In The Nation, "What a Band of 20th-Century Alabama Communists Can Teach Black Lives Matter and the Offspring of Occupy

Ian Welsh, "Three Simple Policy Heuristics: First: Do no harm. Second: Be kind. Third: Remove the ability or reason for people to do harm."

Washington State Court Rules Charter Schools Unconstitutional

Three Rich Treasury Secretaries Laugh It Up Over Income Inequality. "It's just too easy for politicians to be populist and to look for scapegoats as opposed to dealing with the real problem." Proof that the people who've been running our economies have no idea how economies work or are just plain lying. I vote for the latter. You did this on purpose, you bastards!

"Court Rules Argentina Creditors Can't Seize Its Central Bank" - This is an interview with Bill Black, who explains: "Argentina dollarized its economy by pegging its peso at 1:1 with the U.S. dollar. And this was heavily supported by the right in the United States and by conservative economists, who held Argentina out as the great lesson for everybody else. But it ended in disaster. Because they no longer had a sovereign currency, as the U.S. dollar went up in value. Argentina could no longer export successfully, and there was an economic disaster. They were forced into the largest sovereign default in world history at roughly $100 billion, and this led to an economic crisis in Argentina. But also Argentina, in some sense, had no choice. The debt was completely unsustainable at $100 billion." And things might have been okay, until the Vulture Funds stepped in....

Catholics for Choice responds to Francis' statement on abortion.

Hawaii Will Turn Old City Buses Into Mobile Homeless Shelters With Showers

RIP: Candida Royalle, 64, of ovarian cancer. "She founded Femme Productions in 1984 in order to make female-oriented erotica and films aimed at couple's therapy. Later, Royalle authored How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do: Sex Advice from a Woman Who Knows.
* Judy Carne of Laugh-In, at 76
* Martin Milner of Route 66 and Adam 12, at 83

An interesting way to look at things: "Newsflash: Elite universities are supposed to produce elites. That's their job", but Tragically, elite universities are doing a terrible job of producing responsible elites. This is partly because they've become inexplicably uncomfortable with admitting that this is, in fact, what their job is..
* I'm not really sure "The Rise of Victimhood Culture" is looking at anything new. but I imagine it can feel new if you've forgotten a lifetime of watching people become downright crazy over some sense of being aggrieved, and how most people tend to either assume that "normal" people would agree with their position or try to round up supporters from their friendship or family circles and, yes, the wider community and the authorities. I do think a lot of people feel they have permission to be divas over a much wider array of interpersonal actions and to take offense in situations where the behavior involved really doesn't have to be interpreted as offensive at all. But, certainly, the attitude of, "Hey, my ox has been gored! Those bastards need to be taught a lesson! Who's with me?" is not exactly a feature of these particular times.

Please Stop Using the 'Fire in a Crowded Theater' Metaphor.

This was an amusing anti-emigration rant that apparently went viral on Facebook.

The oldest video footage of New York City

Nathan Fillion's Muppet Saunter of Shame

Safe sex with The Golden Girls

Don't you need this t-shirt? (Or you can get the decal for your computer.)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Thug Notes Summary & Analysis

Pies that look too cool to eat. Well, actually, I could be moved, especially to eat Cthulhu pie.

Fun with landscaping
* A Night on Earth

It appears I can watch one of my favorite episodes of Hamish MacBeth, "A Perfectly Simple Explanation," in a tiny, boxed and distorted video on YouTube.

B.B. King, "Guess Who"

A fine musical moment from the first Colbert Late Show

Fred & Ginger, 1936, "Let's Face The Music And Dance"

17:30 GMT comment

Thursday, 03 September 2015

Never mind the forecast, 'cause the sky has lost control

Avedon Carol talked about Puppies and science fiction, Bernie, Hillary, Corbyn, Trump, and election fraud on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd, and although there was a bit of drop-out (like when I said, "He wrote Glory Road!" which was completely gone), I'm happy to say that there were fewer technical problems than usual. (Of course, I had not yet read "Who Really Runs the Hugo Awards?" - but you can!)
* Stuart Zechman and Isaiah Poole discussed the tensions in the Sanders and Clinton campaigns with respect to popular policy, populist rhetoric and the role of identity politics in the primary process on Virtually Speaking Sundays. (I note that Isaiah mentioned Bernie's new press secretary but didn't say who she was - she's Symone Sanders, no relation.) But see CMike's comment to the previous post, where he's already commented on this VSS, about the numbers, and points out an error on Jay's part - a significant one.

On The Majority Report, Harvey J Kaye: The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great

Bernie spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Friday. I loved the name-check for Paul Wellstone. "If Democrats want to keep the White House and recapture Congress and make gains in statehouses, then establishment politics won't do it." That's the video, but there are written stories from CNN and elsewhere, and The Hill says he and O'Malley characterized the DNC's debate process as rigged: "The DNC has drawn criticism for scheduling only four debates before the early-primary states cast their votes, and six total throughout the election cycle." For a little background on how sleazy it all is, here's a story from earlier in the week that says, "In 2007, the number of pre-primary debates was 26, allowing Democrats to get a full hearing from the people in the Party running for the highest office in the nation. 6 of those debates were sanctioned by the DNC. So, according to Wasserman Schultz, nothing has changed. Except it has. This time around, there is a new rule and it states that any candidate who participates in an unsanctioned debate will not be able to participate in any of the 6 that are sanctioned by the DNC." O'Malley, of course, believes this restriction is illegal, which is why he's going to court. And at Five Thirty Eight, "Is Six Democratic Debates Too Few?

"Hurricane Katrina and Bernie Sanders: From Neoliberal Disaster to 'Political Revolution': There is only one presidential candidate who has consistently fought for the kinds of policies that New Orleans so desperately required prior to and during Katrina, and that it needs now more than ever." Adolph Reed is no starry-eyed, innocent child, so when he talks up Bernie Sanders, that's a big deal.

Meanwhile, Sanders has also picked up endorsements from Killer Mike, David Crosby, Belinda Carlisle, and from Woz.

The most interesting thing about this article may be that it's in Forbes. "Why Hillary Clinton Lacks Credibility On Criminal Justice Reform"

Guy Sapertstein and Gaius Publius, "The Racial Justice Failures That Hillary Clinton Can't Ignore [...] History has not been kind to the Clintons' record and it is possible that Bill Clinton while president, with no public objections and often with enthusiastic support from Hillary, did more damage to the black community than any modern American president."

Jeet Heer in The New Republic, "Donald Trump Is Not a Populist. He's the Voice of Aggrieved Privilege" - and how "populist" became a dirty word.

"Democratic Blues: Barack Obama will leave his party in its worst shape since the Great Depression - even if Hillary wins." I don't understand the "even if" bit - it will take a long time to repair the damage Obama has done to the Democratic Party even if Bernie wins, but if Hillary wins it will be even harder since she hasn't shown much willingness to depart from Obama's horrible policies and strategies.

It's a funny thing how right-wingers are all for "accountability" from teachers, but not so much when it's the cops.

"Supreme Court Strikes Down Unconstitutional 'Three Strikes' Law" - This is a great victory, and, surprisingly, was an 8-1 decision, with Scalia writing for the majority. The sole dissenting voice was Alito, mainly because his thinking capacity is so limited that he objected on the grounds that he didn't like the particular guy in the specific case, but even Scalia could see past that one.

EFF: "Appeals Court Falls for Government's Shell Game in NSA Spying Case:The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's opinion today in Klayman v. Obama is highly disappointing and, worse, based on a mistaken concern about the underlying facts. The court said that since the plaintiffs' phone service was provided by one subsidiary of Verizon - Verizon Wireless - rather than another - Verizon Business - they couldn't prove that they had standing to sue. The court sent the case back to U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to give the Klayman plaintiffs an opportunity to prove that their records were in fact collected. The appeals court did not rule one way or the other of the constitutionality of the mass collection program. As an initial matter, recent releases by the government make clear that the plaintiffs' records were in fact collected. Earlier this month, in response to a Freedom of Information request from the New York Times, the government released documents confirming that it does indeed collect bulk telephone records from Verizon Wireless under Section 215. Specifically, the formally-released documents reference orders to Verizon Wireless as of September 29, 2010, when they had to report a problem to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. This should mean that the plaintiffs records were collected, at least as of 2010, but likely long before and after. The government should give up its shell game here and admit the time frame that it collected the Klayman plaintiffs records, along with all other Verizon Wireless customers.

Spocko: "What good can come out of the Ashley Madison Hack? [...] Let's start demanding the organizations that hold our private data have greater accountability to protect it and more liability when it is taken.The massive class action suit against the parent company of Ashley Madison is a start, but not enough. We also need to demand nationwide reporting of breaches. It's ridiculous that if you don't live in a state with mandated reporting the company or organization never has to tell you about it. Next we need an agency who actually wants to help us protect our data. But, since the fear is no entity can be trusted, we need to push for the tools to maintain some control over our privacy."

"The Miami Herald has filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Corrections, alleging that the agency has violated the state's open record laws by withholding information about suspicious deaths and possible sexual and physical assaults of inmates at the hands of corrections officers in the state prison system.

A guy shot and killed two of his co-workers, journalists from WDBJ, live on television. But a funny thing happened to coverage of the story on CNN. (via)

"Everyone But The NY Times Realizes James O'Keefe Is A Joke "

So, how's that whole closing Guantanamo thing going?

The Greeks are now being accused of plotting a secret exit from the Euro. Of course, it would have been completely irresponsible of them not to explore what it would take to do that, since it would be the best thing they could do. But it seems it couldn't be done fast enough, which is why it didn't happen - yet. Anyway, since he was involved, TRN did an Interview with James K. Galbraith on Grexit plans.

"This week, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, The Palast Investigative Fund is offering my film, Big Easy to Big Empty: The Untold Story of the Drowning of New Orleans as a FREE download." Watch the trailer.
Harry Shearer's "The Big Uneasy" is currently available on Vimeo if you missed it five years ago or would like to see it again. (You really should.) Via Nicole Sandler's show post commemorating the tenth anniversary of Katrina, where you can listen to that whole show.

Wine Train apologizes for kicking a group of black women off the train for laughing: "'The Napa Valley Wine Train was 100 percent wrong in its handling of this issue,' said wine train chief executive officer Anthony 'Tony' Giaccio. 'We accept full responsibility for our failures and for the chain of events that led to this regrettable treatment of our guests.' [...] The company is offering the group a free wine tour for 50 people. 'You can enjoy yourself as loudly as you desire,' the company pledged." They also apologized for and took down a post on their Facebook page accusing the women of verbal and physical aggression.

"CRTC Hits Porn Channels For Not Enough Canadian Content: Who knew cable porn channels had a Canadian content requirement?"

Christopher Priest leaps to the defense of Terry Pratchett. I remember years ago reading an article in Time Out from a woman who had been assigned to write about Pratchett and proceeded to state that she had not read any so she just asked her male friends if it was just boy's stuff and they said that it was, thus proving they hadn't read it, either. She rattled on for several more paragraphs but... seriously? That's how a "professional journalist" covers an assignment? So now we have some nitwit over on the Guardian's blog pontificating on the lack of quality of Pratchett's work which he says he hasn't got time to waste actually reading it. I don't know where these people come from.

Video of the Hugo presentation is posted here in four parts. If you want to skip straight to the presentation itself, it starts at the 1:07 mark on part 2. Mr. Sideshow's highlight picks are "James Bacon accepting the Best Fanzine Hugo at 7:50 in part 3, basically because his was the best acceptance speech IMO." Also, the presenter at 6:25 in part 4, and "How the Best Novel Nominations were announced at 25.50 part 4."

John Scalzi, "A Thing Not to Do When You're Smart"

"The Women Other Women Don't See [..] Women have always made a significant contribution to the field ever since science fiction as a genre came into existence. They contributed as fans. They contributed as editors. They contributed as writers. To say otherwise is to marginalize their contribution and their work. Especially if you're pushing an agenda."

About halfway down in this interview with Patrick Stewart, he reveals something that makes you sit up and say, "How could you not know that?"

Kurosawas Dreams, Van Gogh

Twinkling solar bike path inspired by Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night pops up in the Netherlands

Why these colored water droplets seem to be alive

Irish comedian Dara O Braian on Science vs. Quackery

Novelty Automation

The Head of Franz Kafka in Prague, kinetic statue.

I admit to looking at some of these clever tiny home designs and indulging a five-minute fantasy of living that way right before I remember why that would not be possible for people who could never bring themselves to let go of our collections of books, magazines, fanzines, boxes of paper correspondence, and on, and on, and on....

I just listened to a vid from Omnibus and I lost count of the different ethnicities the music seemed to cover. Even got some Armenian church picnic in there....

A capella "Hotel California"

OK, this has three different animation sets - and ends with the one I couldn't find on YouTube the other day: The Beatles Rock Band Cut Scene Intro-Outro. (I thought the middle one was a bit of a let-down.)

Postmodern Jukebox: "My Heart Will Go On" - with doo-wops!

Laura Nyro Live at the Seattle Opera House April 10 1971

13:25 GMT comment

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Your day breaks, your mind aches

Bernie Sanders wants to end the for-profit prison industry, from his speech in Reno, Nevada. "When congress reconvenes in September, I will be offering legislation, I will be introducing legislation, which takes corporations out of profiteering from running jails."
* "The Story of How Bernie Sanders Became Famous Will Make You Love Him Even More."
"Top 10 Reasons Why Bernie Sanders May Actually Become President"
* Michael Tkaczevski, "Nothing to See Here: On Pooh-Poohing Sanders' Surging Crowds" - Why, one would almost think the establishment doesn't want to acknowledge that Bernie is a threat to the Clinton campaign.

Latest polls: Hillary is slowly sliding down, Bernie trending upward, latest poll - from FOX - shows Clinton at 49% and Sanders at 30% (up 8% from their poll two weeks earlier). Frankly, I'm thinking if protesters want to make any real headway, they should be demanding debates now. (A few are.) There had been at least nine Democratic debates by this time in 2007.

Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report: "#BlackLivesMatter Performs a Self-Humiliation at Hillary Clinton's Hands: It is painfully evident from the video of last week's meeting between a #BlackLivesMatter delegation and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that the organization is philosophically incapable of making demands on the political representatives of the rulers of the United States. #BLM's leadership is either confused as to the nature of political demands, or has decided to reject the most fundamental lessons of mass movement politics - indeed, of human social dynamics. Political movements are defined by their core demands. The video of #BLM's closed-door encounter with Clinton in New Hampshire, August 11 - after the five activists had been prevented from attending and, presumably, disrupting her campaign event - should become a staple for future political education classes on what happens when would-be movement operatives enter the lion's den unarmed with political demands: they are humiliated and eaten alive."

Touré F. Reed at Jacobin: "Why Liberals Separate Race from Class [...] This is not just wrong, but the formulation - which ultimately treats race as unchanging and permanent rather than a product of specific historical and political economic relations - undermines both the cause of racial equality in general and pursuit of equitable treatment in the criminal justice system in particular. [...] By the late 1980s, Moynihan's dystopian vision - which presumed that African-American poverty had taken on a life of its own, making it nearly impervious to economic intervention - had become liberal orthodoxy." One of the horrific revelations of getting onto the internet after having been physically separated from general discourse on the left in America once I moved to England was the discovery that some pretty high-information readers from back home harbored the illusion that Daniel Patrick Moynihan was some kind of great liberal. This was shocking to me, as I had been acutely aware of Moynihan's blind, sexist racism in his formulation of "benign neglect" from the bowels of the Nixon White House. See if you can figure out what is wrong with stating that black poverty and other alleged dysfunctions in the black community in America are caused by a "culture" in which black women in the workforce have better educations than black men in the workforce. It's that phrase "in the workforce" - and a less obfuscatory way to put it would be, "Black women must have better educations than black men in order to compete in the workforce." It's even more fun when you know that there's no control group, here - Moynihan made no attempt to determine a comparison with whites, although it is implied by making the statement as if this was a condition found only in the black community - but of course, it is also true that white women must have better educations than white and black men in order to compete in the workforce. Even way back then, this was obvious. And Johnson's War on Poverty had proven that economic action could change things - not only was poverty in the United States cut in half, but killings of black people by cops declined quite a bit as the black community started to accrue greater wealth and its middle class burgeoned. (But, ironically, not as much as it did during the earlier, real, New Deal era, when growth was strongest for everyone except the very rich, who were restricted in just how much of their income they could keep.) Of course, conservatives have eliminated or weakened Johnson's programs into oblivion and Clinton and Obama have given criminal banksters primacy over our economy, with the result that most of that hard-earned wealth has been stripped from the black community, so it's no surprise that racism seems so much stronger today than it was 30 years ago. Touré continues: "While centrist liberals like Presidents Clinton and Obama have encouraged conversations about race and have been willing to concede that racism can undercut the life chances of blacks and Latinos, they are more likely to trace poverty and inequality to the habits, attitudes, and culture of the poor than to the disastrous effects of labor or trade policies or even the health of a particular sector of the economy." Yes, indeed, the most useful thing so-called "liberals" can think of to fix our racial problems is to scold black people about their bad habits and ultimately blame the victims while throwing up their hands about the "intractable" problems that have been the result of their own atrocious right-wing policies.

They now want me to believe that our best bet for the Democratic nominee will be the Senator from the credit card companies. Longtime readers of The Sideshow will recall that Biden was right behind one of the most pernicious pieces of law imaginable, a celebration of usury and theft. It looks like he wants to be Hillary's Secretary of State, really, but that's just yet another reason to vote for Bernie.

David Cay Johnston reckons Donald Trump is all mobbed up, among other things, and gets a free pass from the media. Likewise, his extensive ties to the biggest Mafia figures in New York and Atlantic City, his history of cheating workers and vendors, and other unsavory aspects of his biography go largely unreported. I laid these out in an earlier National Memo column, but the major news organizations have tended to ignore skeletons in Trump's closet - again there are exceptions, namely Michael Smerconish on CNN; Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC. Trump gets a free ride because it's cheap and easy to cover what candidates say, but takes actual work to examine what they have done. And work costs more."

"This Democrat sits in a blue seat - and he wants to amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage: Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski is one of the worst Democrats - very possibly the worst - in the House: Among other things, he voted against Obamacare from the right, he's reliably anti-choice, and he's hostile to gay rights. But that thumbnail sketch doesn't fully convey just how awful Lipinski truly is in his heart. What follows will. [...] What's really insulting is that Lipinski represents a solidly blue district in the Chicago area that Obama won by 56-43 margin, so Democrats can and should do better. Pathetically, the establishment has long propped up Lipinski, even going so far as to remove the home a potential primary challenger from his district back in 2011. (Lipinski's father, Bill, was also a congressman; he handed his seat to his son years ago by retiring after the filing deadline.)"

As Atrios says, this is hilarious. Democrats passed a whole bunch of bills they knew wouldn't pass because Governor Paul LePage (R-Sloth) would veto them. But he forgot to.

"This is what the United States looks like if you scale states by population."

"The IRS Is Allegedly Being Pressured Into Taxing Televangelists Thanks To John Oliver."

Chevron attempts to enter Unist'ot'en Camp for fracking survey on unceded land. They brought an offering! Surprised they left out the beads.

Radley Balko, excerpted from his new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces, in Salon: "'Why did you shoot me? I was reading a book': The new warrior cop is out of control: SWAT teams raiding poker games and trying to stop underage drinking? Overwhelming paramilitary force is on the rise "
* "Former U.S. Marshal and DEA agent was told not to enforce drug laws in white areas."
* "Officer Brad Miller fired after it was determined he lied about murdering teenager Christian Taylor." And yet, he is not in jail, and the media is silent.

How much do you really know about the Drug War?

"New Ferguson Judge Withdraws All Arrest Warrants Issued Before 2015: Ferguson's new municipal court judge, Judge Donald McCullin, issued an order Monday to withdraw all arrest warrants issued before the end of last year. The order may affect thousands of people in Ferguson who have racked up exorbitant debt for traffic violations or other minor offenses. McCullin also reinstated all driver's licenses suspended solely because the driver failed to appear in court or pay a fine. Suspended license penalties tend to trap poor people into cycles of debt, as they have little choice but to continue driving to work and risk being arrested for driving with a suspended license. The defendants whose warrants have been withdrawn will be given new court dates. Pretrial release conditions will also change, the judge said. Rather than jail people, the court will come up with alternative payment plans, commute fines for people who can't afford them, or require community service."

"Picking Apart One of the Biggest Lies in American Politics: 'Free Trade' [..] When Washington became president in 1789, most of America's personal and industrial products of any significance were manufactured in England or in its colonies. Washington asked his first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, what could be done about that, and Hamilton came up with an 11-point plan to build American manufacturing, which he presented to Congress in 1791. By 1793, most of its points had either been made into law by Congress or formulated into policy by either Washington or the various states. Those strategic proposals built the greatest industrial powerhouse the world had ever seen, and were only abandoned, after more than 200 successful years, during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, and Bill Clinton (and remain abandoned to this day, as President Obama prepares to further expand 'free trade')."

"In Chicago, a new synagogue seeks Judaism minus Zionism [...] We believe that that's led to some very dark places and that the establishment of an exclusively Jewish nation-state in a land that has historically been multiethnic and multireligious has led irrevocably to the tragic issues that we're facing today."

Greek Left Platform Creates New Popular Unity Party: The new Popular Unity Party will hold up the "NO" Referendum, honor the Anti-Austerity wishes of the people, stop privatization, break up the banking system, build a new economy and exit the Eurozone."

'Go Back To Mexico' Sentiment Is Most Prevalent In States That Used To Be Mexico.

QI: Where are 1% Of Americans? "I'd very much like to say something hilarious, but something must be done!... It's slavery by the back door."

The New York Times did a story in which some ex-employees accused Amazon of being a brutal employer, and apparently Nancy Pelosi purports to be upset.
Dean Baker on Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and the Lack of Profits

"Stop the Jared Fogle 'footlong' jokes: Why do we still find prison rape acceptable, let alone funny?: I promise you this - you are not going to make the world a better place with your prison rape joke. You are not. I further promise that you can be entirely appalled by a story involving the sexual abuse of children and still not resort to gags about dropping the soap. And perhaps someday the idea that rape is not a hilarious feat of karmic comeuppance will be so widely accepted that we won't need to keep saying this. Not today, though."

"Stop calling abortion a 'difficult decision' [...] However, when the pro-choice community frames abortion as a difficult decision, it implies that women need help deciding, which opens the door to paternalistic and demeaning 'informed consent' laws. It also stigmatizes abortion and the women who need it."
"Why I am pro-Abortion, not Just Pro-Choice"

"Forgetful scientists accidentally quadruple lithium-ion battery lifespan" - Man, I hope this turns out to be true. I need some yesterday.

"Welcome to Dismaland: A First Look at Banksy's New Art Exhibition Housed Inside a Dystopian Theme Park"

I think my favorite part of this Lily Tomlin interview is where she says, " It's the same as watching what the gay community has accomplished in the past 10 years. It's staggering, the progress they've made. I want the gay community to become president - they seem to get things done."

Honor Blackman turns 90, and you still would.

Noah Ward sweeps Hugo Awards.
Jim Henley's post-Hugo summation echoes my reaction at the very beginning - a denial of service attack on better works getting on the ballot. He's also got a few interesting links up to other articles on the subject.

Peter Capaldi Shows Wil Wheaton How to Drive the TARDIS

How to grow old gracefully - advice for the ages.

Congratulations to Lines and Colors, for ten years of blogging about drawing, painting, and illustration.

Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales - with lots of nice illustrations.

Hypnotizing Translucent Waves In 19th Century Russian Paintings Capture The Raw Power Of The Sea

The Sea Organ in Zadar, Croatia

Jon Stewart interviews George Carlin - Unless it's just me, the audio drops out for a bit but it comes back eventually. (I've never seen Stewart looking that way - it was interesting just for that.)

John Lennon premiers "Imagine" video on The Dick Cavett Show, September 11, 1971.

Jeff Beck's Rock n Roll Party Honoring Les Paul 2010

Postmodern Jukebox, "All About That Bass"

Paul McCartney, "For No One"

13:24 GMT comment

Friday, 21 August 2015

Your happening world, too much

RIP: Julian Bond, Former N.A.A.C.P. Chairman and Civil Rights Leader, Dies at 75. He was a charming, witty, and very smart speaker - and in his day, possibly the best looking guy ever to be in politics, before or since. I was crushed when I woke up Sunday and his departure was the first thing I read. I always wanted him to be president - he would have been a great one.
As evidence of Julian Bond's unchanging good looks, here's a photo of him as a child, hanging out with Paul Robeson.
John Nichols in The Nation, "Julian Bond Built Coalitions, Practiced Solidarity, and Showed Us the Future."

"Is it rolling, Bob?"
* NYT: Bob Johnston, 83, Dies; Produced Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash Albums
* Guardian article, Legendary Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen producer Bob Johnston dies and obituary
* Rolling Stone Bob Johnston, Bob Dylan Producer, Dead at 83: Columbia Records staffer worked on 'Blonde on Blonde,' Johnny Cash's prison LPs and Leonard Cohen's 'Songs of Love and Hate':
And, though none of the headlines mention it, he produced The Byrds and Simon & Garfunkle, too.

RIP Yvonne Craig, 78, who played Batgirl in the Batman TV show and the green Orion slave girl in Star Trek (original series) and guested on many other popular shows of the '60s, including The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis.

Bill Scher is an old friend of The Sideshow from back when the liberal blogosphere was wild and energetic and we used to link to each other a lot between here and Liberal Oasis. But Bill is a bit more partisan and mainstream than I am, and I'm not surprised to see him with an article at Politico dropping the old line about how Bernie shouldn't be primarying Hillary because it might weaken her in the general election. Um. Well, anyway, Josh Holland says a more accurate title for this article would be "Bernie Sanders learns it's tough to herd cats," but someone thought it was better to call it "Bernie Sanders, Progressive Enemy #1." (I don't blame Bill for that - my experience is that editors always do that crap.)

It's funny, I keep hearing about how Bernie Sanders doesn't connect with people of color, but I keep seeing videos like this from people of color....

Just how bad is Bernie on the middle east? Still much better than everyone else.
* Juan Cole, "The Middle East Policy of President Bernie Sanders"
* "Bernie Sanders' Stance On Israel Has Caused Some Tension For Him In The Past"
* "Bernie Sanders Explains Puzzling Education Vote - It's Because Accountability." I need to read this one again, I'm still not sure it makes sense.

World Socialists don't think Bernie is a socialist. Actually, I think he's what we used to call a "liberal", as in "liberal government," which is the form of government Thomas Jefferson thought he was creating.

Interesting that CNN has a a fairly positive article, "Could a 'President Bernie Sanders' deliver?"

I love the way Hillary Clinton's surrogates criticize him as a socialist because he wants to expand Social Security and Medicare. I love the way they claim the media is giving Bernie a pass by never mentioning that he's a socialist - as if I have ever yet seen any coverage of him that didn't mention it. This one is very nice indeed, since the questioner is asking an intelligent question (!) for which McGaskill was completely unprepared.

Thom Hartmann on "Why Republicans Vote for Bernie" - I'm not sure Ann Coulter is serious about being afraid Bernie can beat any Republican, but she's probably right all the same. And it doesn't matter - it never has - that most Americans believe the same things Bernie does if it doesn't translate into votes. The public first has to hear his message, and with Hillary Clinton doing her damnedest to minimize debates and thereby reduce his exposure, that could be hard. And on that front, "Martin O'Malley raises legal questions with Democratic debate plan." By this time in 2007, there'd been six Democratic debates.

Ralph Nader with some good advice for Bernie Sanders.

Andy Borowitz, "Sanders Shamelessly Pandering to Voters Who Want to Hear Truth"

I realize she probably feels like she has to say this, but for me, it's a great reason to support Bernie: "Hillary Would Consider Naming Obama To Supreme Court After 2016 Win"
Hillary Clinton seems to have some rather unpleasant-looking campaign bundlers, including "Gordon Giffin, a former lobbyist for the Canadian company working to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Giffin is also on the board of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which paid Clinton $990,000 for speeches she gave immediately before announcing her presidential campaign." - and prison industry lobbyists.
* And Bruce Dixon says, "From Roosevelt Island to Rikers Island - Hillary Clinton Can't See Mass Incarceration "
* "The Clinton dynasty's horrific legacy: How 'tough-on-crime' politics built the world's largest prison system "
* In an open letter to the DNC and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz CREDO announces it will not support Hillary Clinton because of the way the debate schedule suppresses democracy - they'll take your signature.

On the other hand, "Hillary Clinton sways the doubters at Wing Ding: She attacked her speech with a vigor Iowans - and even skeptical liberals - said they'd never seen from her before."

"Donald Trump Told the Truth and You Didn't Listen."
Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic, "What Do Donald Trump Voters Actually Want?"

R.L. Stephens on the usefulness of new black leaders who connect with the white elite, "Dear #BlackLivesMatter: We Don't Need Black Leadership." I'll have to think more about whether I agree with this. It sounds true in some ways but not in all ways.

Stephen Colbert shocks South Carolina schools by funding every single teacher-requested grant

"Justice Department Says Homeless Shouldn't Be Cited, Sit/Lie Laws Unconstitutional."

"New Statue in Germany Illustrates Just How Much the Rest of the World Opposes the U.S. Police State [...] Berlin, Germany 'This past Friday life-size bronze statues of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning were unveiled in Berlin's Alexanderplatz Square in front of German politicians and activists. In Germany and much of the world, the three are considered heroes in the fight for freedom of information and speech, for their respective leaking of classified U.S. documents."

"Flamethrowers, given up by military, are now being sold to the public." What could possibly go wrong?

"When Public Servants Refuse to Serve the Public [...] Government in particular has an obligation to dismiss any employee who claims a right to discriminate against citizens."

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "America's despicable, hypocritical persecution of Chelsea Manning: Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army private who was imprisoned for giving thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, was recently threatened with torture for supposedly violating the conditions of her detention. As yet, the charges have not been officially verified. But Manning, who since her conviction has transitioned to female and been hired by The Guardian as a columnist, read the charges to one of her supporters, who posted them online. They are unbelievably petty. She is charged with: 1) sassing a guard; 2) spilling food on the floor; 3) possessing some books and magazines, including the Catilyn Jenner Vanity Fair issue; and 4) possessing an expired tube of toothpaste. There is to be a hearing on Aug. 18. This is exactly the kind of trumped-up nonsense a pissed-off bureaucrat out for revenge would come up with. And as punishment, she apparently faces unlimited torture, in the form of "indefinite solitary confinement.""

Laurie Penny in The New Statesman: "Europe shouldn't worry about migrants. It should worry about creeping fascism [...] The behaviour of the British and wider European elite towards migrants is not simple inhumanity. It is strategic inhumanity. It is weaponised inhumanity designed to convince populations fracturing under hammer-blows of austerity and economic chaos that the enemy is out there, that there is an 'us' that must be protected from 'them'. There is a reason why David Cameron's precise suggestion as to how to deal with the desperate human beings coming across the channel is 'more dogs and fences'. There is a reason that Angela Merkel's response, in June, to a demonstration where the bodies of drowned migrants were buried on the front lawn of the Bundestag was stony silence. All of this has happened before. All of this, in fact, is precisely what the European Union was established to prevent."

Since marijuana legalization, highway fatalities in Colorado are at near-historic lows.
* Medical Marijuana States See Painkiller Deaths Drop by 25%
* So, which is it? "Colorado Sells $34 Million in Marijuana in One Month: $3.4 Million Goes to Schools, and Crime Down 15%," or "Crime Is Up in Colorado: What That Tells Us About Pot Legalization"? (I admit to cracking up when I got to the claim in the last sentence that journalists "wouldn't blindly trust coal-industry statistics on the environmental effects of strip mining," since, of course, they do.)

"Matt Taibbi: America Has A 'Profound Hatred Of The Weak And The Poor'."

I'll give The Washington Post some credit for the article "Black and Unarmed" for actually being about the real issue instead of just casting it as another campaign race article. I've heard lots of people talking about the importance of BLM but damn few actually talking about police killing unarmed black people (or other people). This article is at least somewhat informative, although it still seems to express far more concern for police officers than for the citizens they kill. It's obvious to everyone that the police are out of control and something has gone very wrong with policing in America, and no, bodycams - while I think they are a great idea - are not The Answer. There is something deeply wrong with both the way cops are being armed and trained and the way politicians are using them.

"Obama Announces Ban on Sale of Military-Style Equipment to Police Departments." I almost stood up and cheered when I read that headline until I remembered that (a) this is Obama, and his good news usually turns out to be a sham, and (b) since the only charge cop departments are having to pay are shipping and handling, they already aren't selling them this stuff, they're essentially giving it away. Also, the article says that "some" equipment will no longer be sold to them, but doesn't say what. No more desk lamps? Seriously, what actual change is really being made?

Atrios reminds us that one reason some Labour Party hacks are so adamantly opposed to a Corbyn leaderships is that it would cost them their jobs.
* "Gordon Brown urges Labour not to be party of protest by choosing Jeremy Corbyn " - because there will likely be no place for Brown in a Corbyn leadership, either.

"Ex-Baltimore Cop Gives Brutally Honest Interview On Police Corruption & How The System Is Engineered Against Blacks & Latinos!" - This 30-minute video is really worth hearing.

It's official: Texas Executed An Innocent Father After Prosecutor Hid Evidence In Kids' Arson Deaths. That guy should be on trial for murder.

"It's Time to Admit It. Israeli Policy Is What It Is: Apartheid."

John Oliver exposes the disturbing world of Christian televangelists: 'This is about the churches that exploit people's faith for monetary gain'. I couldn't see the video there in "my" country, but a search on YouTube found what appears to me the same thing, and I could see this phone call.

"WATCH: Navajo Activists Chase John McCain Off Reservation: "Given the federal government's silence in the wake of the EPA's accidental Gold King Mine spill that contaminated rivers near the Navajo Nation, perhaps yesterday was not the day for U.S. Senator John McCain and Arizona governor Doug Ducey to visit the reservation. [...] To be clear, our government is doing a terrible job addressing the concerns of Natives. It is nothing short of obtuse to visit the Navajo Nation in their time of utmost need to talk about building a museum when they are in the midst of a crisis no one is paying attention to. It is foolish to think Natives would welcome anyone who has had no problem signing away sacred indigenous sites in the name of corporate greed."
* Native American Council Offers Amnesty to 220 Million Undocumented Whites
* This map is a .pdf of the tribal nations, and includes lots of names you've never heard before (including the actual name of the people who were known to whites as "Comanche"). Story here. No, no, not this map!

"How a dubious statistic convinced U.S. courts to approve of indefinite detention" - Radley Balko on fact-checking the phony statistics behind extreme laws.

Important news for convention goers: "It's About Damn Time: FCC Says Convention Centers Can't Block Wifi.

"Christians Putting Bibles in Schools Flip Out After Atheists Hand Out Humanist Literature!"
I guess I missed a similar event earlier this year: "Florida schools hand out Satanic colouring books to children"

The famous Robert Frost poem we've read wrong forever

TRUMBO, official trailer. Whew, I can't wait! (And here's an altogether different trailer for a different movie about Trumbo from the last decade.)

"Elise Andrew F*cking Loves Science" - I confess to being surprised. I've always enjoyed the posts I've seen from her page, of course, but this isn't quite how I pictured the person behind it.

Two Cellos. I'm sorry I can't figure out how to link directly to the version of this I originally saw (on Facebook), which didn't include a title so I wasn't prepared for suddenly recognizing the tune. Cracked me right up. :)

Pretty: Time-Lapse: Watch Flowers Bloom Before Your Eyes

Strangely work-safe: "The Hitachi Magic Wand Throughout Art History

Interactive kinetic sculptures by John Edmark

Miss Piggy & Nathan Fillion

Everybody has a crazy old aunt. Alas, Molly West, who was apparently too "pink" for the family, died recently, before Rick Perlstein could ever meet her. And now he knows who she was.

I haven't been able to find this on YouTube, as yet, but if you can get Facebook, this is a lovely (and short!) bit of animation, especially if you love the Beatles.

12:32 GMT comment

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Fever all through the night

I'll start with the latest headline, which made me happy: "New poll shows Sanders ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire: Sanders seen at 44 percent, Clinton with 39 percent of likely New Hampshire primary voters" - Sure, it's just one poll and it's just New Hampshire and we're more than a year out, but hey, who says he can't win?

In between sleep, I keep waking up and seeing more and more about Black Lives Matter versus Bernie. Possibly the best piece I've seen on the issue is from Doug at The South Lawn, who expresses doubt about both the efficacy of the tactics of the people who are going after Bernie and the analysis that underpins their actions, in "Black Lives Matter and The Failure to Build a Movement," where he notes that they refer to Bernie's position as "weirdo populist economic determinism" and seem to deny that these economic issues are of interest to black Americans (including the 90% of black people who say they are very much concerned about these issues). There are many articles on the web questioning the bona fides of the two women who prevented Bernie from speaking, but what bothers me is that they've said themselves that was precisely their intention. What they did not do is expand or add to the (already-existing) discussion of police violence. The media misreports that Bernie has added the issue to his speeches in response to BLM, but the fact is, Bernie isn't saying anything he wasn't saying weeks and months and years ago, it's just that the press is noticing it now (and BLM and their defenders are taking credit for it). In any case, you can watch video of Bernie's Portland rally here and judge for yourself. Meanwhile, there is no shortage of links to articles about the disruption in Seattle.
* Oliver Willis: "Right Now #BlackLivesMatter Is Wasting Everybody's Time: Representatives of the Black Lives Matters movement met with Hillary Clinton, and if you actually thought this movement was about stopping black people from being killed and reforming criminal justice issues with minorities, you should not only be disappointed but disgusted."
* Pierce at Esquire: "Bernie Sanders and Ferguson Gunfire: When Protest Loses Its Purpose"
* Seattle Times: "Black Lives Matter protesters shut down Bernie Sanders; later rally draws 15,000"
* Washington Post: "Protesters drove Bernie Sanders from one Seattle stage. At his next stop, 15,000 people showed."
* David Atkins at Washington Monthly: "BlackLivesMatter Protesters Err in Attacking Those Who Give Them the Microphone"
* "Black Lives Matter Movement Gives Bernie Sanders' Racial Justice Agenda the Push It Needs"
* Pramila Jayapal at The Stranger: "Guest Editorial: Why Saturday's Bernie Sanders Rally Left Me Feeling Heartbroken"

Somewhere along the line, I was reminded of Bill Moyers' interview with Adolph Reed last year about the demise of the American left, which seemed to me to have some salience. And here's an article by Reed from 2009, "The limits of anti-racism".

* The Hill: "Poll finds Clinton losing to four Republican candidates in Iowa [...] A recent survey by Quinnipiac showed Clinton trailing GOP candidates in the swing states of Iowa, Colorado and Virginia. Other polls have suggested voters don't trust Clinton."
"Lewis Black Endorses Bernie Sanders, Tells Bill Cosby to F Himself"
* National nurses union backs Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton
* "Almost Every Major Poll Shows Bernie Sanders Challenging or Defeating Clinton and Republicans. Here's Why" - Actually, I'm not entirely sure this piece was good support for the headline, but it's a data point that the article exists at HuffPo.
* Why Liberty University is requiring its students to attend a Bernie Sanders speech - Well, Hillary didn't accept the invitation....
* "Former Clinton Adviser Predicts Bernie Sanders Will Beat Hillary Clinton"
* Feel the Bern

Black Agenda Report: "Where's the #BlackLivesMatter Critique of the Black Misleadership Class, or Obama or Hillary?"
Also at BAR, "Why Bill Clinton's Apology and Barack Obama's Prison Drive-By, Token Clemencies Are Cynical Election Year Posturing"

Maybe Rev. Barber's Forward Together has that "All power to all the people" feel I can get behind. Here's Nicole Sanders' interview with him just after Netroots Nation, and here he is on video, delivering.

"Ferguson is our "libertarian moment," but not in the way some libertarians want you to believe"

Yes, Obama really is doing his best to make slavery acceptable.

Charlie Pierce says, "The Keystone XL Pipeline Hits a Snag: Following hearings in South Dakota to determine whether to recertify TransCanada's expired permits for the pipeline, the project must now deal with a concern for safety issue. Up in the newly formed petro-state of South Dakota, the people wishing to build our old friend, the Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death funnel, have run into a snag, having discovered that all politics is local...and unusually pissed."

MoveOn announces donor strike in response to Schumer's Iran position - Schumer is angling to replace Harry Reid as Senate leader, he needs to be stopped.

"NYPD union introduces vagrant-shaming photos to address quality-of-life issues." Hm, in the richest country in the world, who should be ashamed of people having to literally live on the streets? Time for Ezekiel 16:49, again.

Los Angeles Times fires Ted Rall and tries to ruin him completely, over BS.

Jeremy Corbyn's try for the Labour leadership seems a lot like Bernie's run, complete with "serious" people saying it's a loony idea. I always did like Corbyn, but of course, the New Labour types don't. Brian Eno likes him, too.

Meanwhile, if you're in Canada, you can geek out on this election choice.

"Global movement votes to adopt policy to protect human rights of sex workers: A crucial vote to protect the human rights of sex workers was passed today in Dublin at Amnesty International's decision-making forum, the International Council Meeting (ICM). Delegates from around the world adopted a resolution which authorized the International Board to develop and adopt a policy on the issue.'

Another High-Profile Sex Trafficking Tale May Be Falling Apart [...] It's a pretty good summary of the standard narrative on sex-trafficking these days: it's everywhere, all the time, and we don't even know it; the only way to combat it is to keep throwing cops and money and laws at it; and anyone who questions any of this is only aiding the evildoers. It's almost impossible to argue with people who buy this narrative, because the more evidence you present challenging sex trafficking's pervasiveness, the more they see proof that sex trafficking is so under the radar we need to throw more cops and money and laws at it. As we've seen time and again, however, these tactics tend to under-produce on the stopping sex trafficking front and overcompensate by targeting consenting adult sex workers - either by arresting them or labeling them victims and sending them to things like "prostitution diversion therapy" - and their clients. "

John Oliver on Sex Education, and a strangely slow Part 2. - or you can just watch the sex ed video itself at normal speed.

RIP: Frances Oldham Kelsey, FDA scientist who kept thalidomide off U.S. market, dies at 101
* George Cole, actor who played Arthur Daley, dies aged 90. The world is your lobster, and it's time again for this song.
* Wrestling legend Rowdy Roddy Piper dies aged 61. But his real name-check, of course, is for his role as Nada in John Carpenter's movie about living in a neoliberal nightmare, They Live, in which he was out of bubblegum but he kicked ass.

Strangely, they let me see the last of Jon Stewart.

A Personal Take on Go Set a Watchman from Ursula Le Guin.

"Obesity 'can cause sanctimonious, idiotic advice'."

Cthulhu Announces He's Running For President, Promises To Eliminate ISIS By Destroying Reality"

Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny and Daffy duck through an art gallery

Carol Kaye - you may not know her name, but you know her bass lines.

Bette Middler, "Fat As I Am"

Peggy Lee, "Fever"

19:40 GMT comment

Thursday, 06 August 2015

Anyone who had a heart

"Understanding US public policy, both domestic and foreign, is impossible without considering the role of intelligence operations, government, contracted to government and private. The roles of domestic surveillance, foreign infiltration, and exploits directed at US assets are not reported in traditional media unless the breaches are yawning. Marcy Wheeler is on this beat, and reports upon it at emptywheel.net. We discuss espionage and its role in contemporary policy making" on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. "Our biggest adversary knows all our biggest secrets, so let's move to a beyond-secrecy regime."

I can't recommend Thandeka's 1999 article "Why Anti-Racism Will Fail" enough, because I think there's a lot of supposedly illuminating discussion of race and racism among largely white liberals that can most charitably be summed up as a load of guilty wank, and it is definitely not helping. There's a reason Bobby Seale still says the important thing is "All power to all the people."

"What Happened To Rex Henry In A Philadelphia, Mississippi Jail Cell?: Rexdale Wayne Henry, a Mississippi Choctaw Native American activist, was arrested on July 9 for failing to pay an old traffic fine. He was found dead in his Philadelphia, Mississippi jail cell on July 14. What happened?" Statistically, Amerinds are more likely than any other group to be killed by cops.

Christy has packed up Firedoglake, and the torch is being picked up at Shadowproof.

Hm, is Ezra Klein really this dumb, or did he just try to befuddle Bernie with a bunch of DLC-style talking points? Not that Bernie fell for it, but it appears a lot of other people did. (You can watch the video of the interview Ezra did with Bernie here.)

In theory, Steve Israel is no longer running the show, but his jihad against progressives continues to weaken Democrats' chances. "More than a few highly qualified progressives told me they would never-- or, in many cases, never again-- waste their time and resources running for Congress with Blue Dog Steve Israel anywhere near the DCCC."

So, we have two candidates in the race who have never and will not get the support of the Koch brothers. One is Bernie Sanders and the other is Donald Trump.

It's a sad thing that the chair of the Democratic National Committee isn't smart enough to answer Chris Matthews' stupid question about what the difference is between socialism and the Democratic Party by simply saying, "Chris, socialism is an economic idea and the Democratic Party is a political party," but at least it's obvious she can tell he's being a jerk. In any case, it's worth clicking on this link to Matthews' attack on Sanders just to see the headline Ring of Fire gave it.

David Sirota tweeted this quote from Obama: "We've put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable." And then said, "Oh really?" - and linked to this story: "US Prosecution of White Collar Crime Hits 20-Year Low: Report." Seems the Obama administration has become adept at making deals to make sure Wall Street isn't held accountable at all.

There has never been a shortage of STEM workers. Never.

"The Fight for American Voting Rights: Inside Ari Berman's New Book [...] In Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, journalist Ari Berman looks not just at the significance of this landmark civil rights law, but at what's happened to voting right in America since Lyndon Johnson signed the VRA in 1965." Ari talked to Sam Seder about it on The Majority Report.
* Scott Lemieux in The Week, "John Roberts has been trying to gut the Voting Rights Act for decades." Thanks, Obama.

The Restrictions Journalists Agreed To In Order To Attend The Koch Brothers' Conference
Media Experts Blast New York Times Over Glowing Profile Of Koch Brothers

If you've got self-appointed "experts" telling cops to shoot first all the time, then going into court and insisting that an officer who shot an unarmed person in the back had no choice, "Even when witness testimony, forensic evidence or video footage contradicts the officer's story," yes, the cops become the most dangerous people on the streets.
Back in April and May, Tom Sullivan did two posts on this sick situation and at least one experienced cop who says the current training cops are getting is deadly wrong.

I almost didn't read far enough into this story to find out why someone sent me the link, but if you ever needed proof that it's possible to go beyond tribe and race, then read about Bryan Stevenson's legal work to keep black kids out of prison and off death row and why there's an even bigger story there.

"Alabama case fills out the police brutality bingo card: This story out of Huntsville, Ala., reads like a checklist of police brutality cases. [...] The only thing missing here is the common racial element. In this case the officer is black, his victim is white. The other cops who lied for the black cop were also white. When it comes to covering up brutality, the blue code apparently transcends race. Progress!"

Paul Craig Roberts, "Would Somebody Please Bring Freedom & Democracy To America [...] If you're starting to feel somewhat overwhelmed, intimidated and fearful for your life and your property, you should be. Never before have 'we the people' been so seemingly defenseless in the face of police misconduct, lacking advocates in the courts and in the legislatures."

This is the way to do it: "Facebook Co-Founder Giving Millions Directly To The Poor, No Strings Attached" I'm not saying we should have to rely on private charity (the kindness of rich strangers!), but squeezing out a few paltry bucks and telling people exactly what they are allowed to spend it on is a wasteful kind of "help", it doesn't allow them to make decisions and frequently locks them into bad decisions someone else made.

90 Year Old Legendary Speaker of the House Jim Wright Denied Texas Voter ID Card

Happy Birthday Copyright Bombshell: New Evidence Warner Music Previously Hid Shows Song Is Public Domain

This is interesting: Funding for students activism has been dropping all the time, but apparently the Ford Foundation is stepping up. Can't help but wonder if something might actually come of this.

"How Medicaid forces families like mine to stay poor: 'You'll have to get rid of everything'"

There's a lot of interest in this interview Laura Flanders did with Cornel West, but I was particularly interested in his remarks on music, which were something I'd never thought about before.

"Let's Go Full Crocodile, Ladies: A documentary that disappeared more than 40 years ago - available to everyone for the first time here - is a gift to modern-day feminists. It's belligerent, it's hilarious, and it reveals exactly what the Clinton campaign is missing." Actually, the Clinton campaign is missing a great deal more than what's in this video, but never mind that. Year of the Woman is the feminist movement that really was and that you never hear about - no bra-burning, no hairy legs, but raucous humor and righteous anger versus a bunch of smug, lame, guys who didn't get it or didn't want to know. And McGovern - oh, lord, he could have done the right thing and he could have chosen Sissy Farenthold as his runningmate and he could have won, but he didn't, and he didn't, and he didn't. That is a part of the McGovern loss that you never hear about, and it's just the kind of mistake Clinton is making right now by taking the wrong side in the issues of the day.

Great moments in White House history: The Richard Nixon - Ray Conniff Incident

BIG Plans to Turn 4 London Power Plant Chimneys into Tesla Coils

7 minutes of Alfons Mucha art, with pretty music

500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art

Interview by Peter Bebergal in The New Yorker, "Samuel Delany and the Past and Future of Science Fiction"

RIP: Cilla Black, singer and TV star, dies aged 72. Her image became square and dowdy as her singing career turned into a TV career, but she had the pipes, and hers is still the definitive version of "Anyone Who Had A Heart".

00:31 GMT comment

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

They decide and the shotgun sings the song

They told me the radiation treatments would make me tired. They did. On the last day, they said, "It'll get worse before it gets better." They were right, but they didn't tell me how much worse. It's like my entire body is in open rebellion. Also, alien skin. Yikes. I really gotta post these links before it's suddenly September.

Stuart Zechman was on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd to discuss The Liberal Policy Agenda and popular politics.

Apparently, Barney Frank wants me to support Hillary because William Kirstol is always right. Barney Frank is tight with the banksters, you know. The only trouble with this formula is that there is plenty of reason to believe that Hillary can't beat the Republican nominee, but Bernie can. And Bill Curry at Salon figures Bernie to win the nomination. The polls are not with Hillary.

Something strange happened at Netroots Nation. To set the scene for this, you need to know that a panel that immediately preceded the Incident was about police violence and that, of course, Bernie Sanders has talked about it all the time and in fact had done so twice in the preceding week. Bernie objected to the Clintons' Tough on Crime policies back in the day and has never changed his mind about it. So then up comes the event where two presidential candidates are supposed to address the crowd, and Jose Antonio Vargas had just asked Martin O'Malley about the sharp rise in arrests of black young people in Baltimore during his administration. So, you can understand the surprise of those in attendance when a bunch of black activists came in and appeared to accuse those present of "ignoring the issue" of police violence. Oliver Willis was not impressed. Sanders arrived at the event mere moments before he was supposed to go on stage and had no idea what had been going on; he reacted to the heckling that never let up much the same way he usually reacts to white hecklers. I'm told there was actually a lot of local infighting involved that no one from outside of the area would necessarily have been prepared for. Yes, Sandra Bland's death after a traffic stop raises lots of questions, but I'm not sure repeating a Twitter tag or even her name really addresses that. It did seem to some that it was really self-promotion. The Young Turks report. Josh Holland interviewed Charles Lenchner, co-founder of People for Bernie Sanders, and Imani Gandy, AKA @AngryBlackLady, separately on his podcast. Meanwhile, nothing has stopped the cops from making up silly stories "explaining" Bland's death, and there's still no explanation for her illegal arrest. Finally, Chuck Todd tried to sell the narrative but Bernie wasn't sitting still for it.

Elizabeth Warren's speech at Netroots Nation 2015
How Politico reported it

Warren is pushing to reinstate Glass-Steagall, but Hillary doesn't seem interested. She should be. "To this day some Wall Street apologists argue Glass-Steagall wouldn't have prevented the 2008 crisis because the real culprits were nonbanks like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. Baloney. These nonbanks got their funding from the big banks in the form of lines of credit, mortgages, and repurchase agreements. If the big banks hadn't provided them the money, the nonbanks wouldn't have got into trouble. And why were the banks able to give them easy credit on bad collateral? Because Glass-Steagall was gone."
But it sounds like Marcy Kaptur's bill to restore Glass-Steagall is better than Warren's. In fact, it's curious that Warren's bill doesn't have these virtues.

Radley Balko enlisted attorney Nathan Burney, "author of The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law, to draw up some cartoons to help explain some of the more complex issues in this area of the law." In this cartoon, "What is 'qualified immunity,' and how does it work?"
And on a related subject, the Dyller Law Firm on False Or Wrongful Arrest Or Malicious Prosecution.

Conservatives started attacking the Iran deal long before they had any idea what it was going to be, mainly because they think war is a good answer to everything. They still haven't read it but they are talking like Iran and Obama got together and bombed Pearl Harbor. The Rude Pundit knows what it's about, and here's Fred Kaplan's view of Why Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Neocons Hate the Iran Deal. Just knowing they hate it is a good enough reason to be hopeful. Funny how neocons never mind holding hands with Saudi Arabia, the country that exports extremist Wahabism all over the world, resulting in minor inconveniences like 9/11. (Not sure whether you can still get Nicole Sandler's interview with Alan Grayson about his concerns about the Iran deal, but you can try here.)

Digby at Salon, "The quiet Social Security revolution: How Democrats learned to stop loving benefit cuts. Duncan Black may turn out to be the hero of the 21st century.

Okay, the Chicago school system is officially doomed: "Senate Passes Bill Letting Schools Give Education Money To Financial Consulting Firms: As budget-strapped Chicago follows a mass school closure with a new plan to layoff more than 1,400 teachers, one set of transactions sticks out: the city's moves to refinance $1 billion in debt through complex financial instruments called swaps."

Georgia claims that publishing its state laws for free online is 'terrorism'

Froomkin, "Justice Department Watchdog Complains He's Been Curbed: The Justice Department's internal watchdog said Thursday that his independence has been undermined by the department's refusal to let him see information derived from wiretaps or national security letters without special permission. The department's Office of Legal Counsel issued a 68-page opinion Thursday saying that Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz's office should not be granted access to several different kinds of typically confidential material unless there is a clear law-enforcement or counterintelligence purpose - and that the department's lawyers, not the inspector general's, would make that determination. That would appear to rule out many of the typical goals of oversight, such as rooting out fraud, incompetence, rule-breaking and cover-ups."

UK Police Confirm Ongoing Criminal Probe of Snowden Leak Journalists: A secretive British police investigation focusing on journalists working with Edward Snowden's leaked documents remains ongoing two years since it was quietly launched, The Intercept can reveal. London's Metropolitan Police has admitted it is still carrying out the probe, which is being led by its counter-terrorism department, after previously refusing to confirm or deny its existence on the grounds that doing so could be 'detrimental to national security.'"

Some days it just seems like Obama is taking the piss. It's bad enough they claim all these trade deals will "create jobs", which of course they won't, but they tacitly acknowledge that they will destroy jobs when they start talking about "trade adjustment" to give meagre help to those who lose jobs. And then insist we have to pay for it (even though hardly anyone will need it!)... out of Medicare! William Rivers Pitt on Killing a Nation With Euphemisms: TPP-Eats-Medicare Edition.

McKinney Police Chief says cop who attacked girl at pool party was out of line, fails to defend him.

I was dismayed to see people who should know better asserting that Donald Trump is the craziest clown in the GOP clown car. Leaving aside that these people clearly haven't noticed Cruz and Santorum, I have evidence that Trump is less crazy than most of the Democratic leadership, right here. A Democratic president should have said that years ago, dammit.

The Young Turks got together with Amex, interestingly, to make a documentary about the finances of the poor, Spent: Looking For Change. Being poor is expensive.

"Class vs. Special Interest: Labor, Power, and Politics in the United States and Canada in the Twentieth Century" - or why American pundits' explanation of the decline of unions is all wrong.

The tech start-up plan

I need to stick Stirling Newberry's website, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, over on my sidebar, as soon as I can remember how.

Dan Perkins celebrates 25 Years of Tom Tomorrow.
Tom Tomorrow on the gun argument

Porn Sex vs Real Sex: The Differences Explained With Food

'Lost' material by Monkees star Micky Dolenz released.

Book review comparing To Kill a Mockingbird to Go Set a Watchman

A generous gift from Ursula Le Guin to the writing community

Apparently, it's the return of Bloom County.

And, apparently, the Lone Gunmen are coming back from the dead!

Mr. Peabody adopts Sherman and invents the Wayback; plus, Rapunzel

Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly - together.

The Who live, 1978, final performance with Keith Moon, "Won't Get Fooled Again"

11:39 GMT comment

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

She's so glad, she's tellin' all the world

Jay Ackroyd got to interview a much-read and much-admired economist on Virtually Speaking: "Henry Jacob Aaron is an American policy analyst and economist. He is the Bruce and Virginia MacLaury Senior Fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, where he has been employed since 1968, author and co author of a plethora of public policy publications, including the seminal Setting National Priorities series analyzing the US budget."
And David Dayen and Digby talked about Greece on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Atrios has a good, quick primer and summing-up of what's going on with Greece right here, a lot more straightforward than anything you'll read in most newspaper accounts. Read it all but here's the pull-quote: "Whatever it is, it ain't democracy. It's banksterocracy. The concept of central bank independence was, once upon a time, thought to be necessary to prevent irresponsible governments from doing, or being perceived as doing, irresponsible things with the money supply. Now the point of central bank independence is to hand immense power to a bunch of unelected unaccountable people engaged in revolving door careers with the banking system. Let's continue laughing at the silly Greeks and their silly corruption."
Meanwhile, the Germans (who owe their quick recovery after WWII and continued success in large part to the Marshall Plan and a generous welfare state), don't exactly have a leg to stand on when they whine about Greece not paying their debts, since Germany hasn't, either.

Alan Grayson is in - to be the Senator with Guts!

Glen Ford on Eric Holder's next trip through the corporate revolving door.

"TiSA WikiLeaked: Winners & losers of multinational trade deal [,,,] Leaked documents of TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement) negotiations reveal that the treaty is looking to undermine 'governments involved in the treaty' by supporting multinational companies instead of local businesses, according to a WikiLeaks press release. The revelations come just one week before TiSA talks resume on July 6. Negotiations have been taking place in secret since early 2013. [...] Even after the deal is finalized, WikiLeaks said that the TiSA documents are meant to remain secret for five years."

The Young Turks on What Abigail Fisher's affirmative action case is really about

America loved the marriage equality ruling - at least on Twitter.

Isn't it funny that Claire McCaskill's campaign stumping for Hillary is saying all the stuff that would make people want to vote for Bernie? Meanwhile, not sure this will endear her, either.

Just imagine if it had been the other way around. "Man Admits To Plotting To Massacre Muslims, Judge Sets Him Free Anyway."

"Florida Judge Says It's Illegal to Force Women to Wait 24 Hours Before Terminating a Pregnancy: Florida Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis blocked an intrusive bill on Tuesday that was signed by unpopular Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), reported CBS News. The bill would have required a one-day waiting period for women seeking to have an abortion."

The Prosecutor Who Says Louisiana Should 'Kill More People' [...] Within Louisiana, where capital punishment has declined steeply, Caddo has become an outlier, accounting for fewer than 5 percent of the state's death sentences in the early 1980s but nearly half over the past five years. Even on a national level Caddo stands apart. From 2010 to 2014, more people were sentenced to death per capita here than in any other county in the United States, among counties with four or more death sentences in that time period. Robert J. Smith, a law professor at the University of North Carolina whose work was cited in Justice Breyer's dissent, said Caddo illustrated the geographic disparity of capital punishment. But he said this analysis did not go far enough. Caddo, he noted, has bucked the national trend in large part because of one man: Dale Cox.

GREECE'D: We Voted 'No' to slavery, but 'Yes' to our chains: [...] fact is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Cruella De Vil of the Eurozone, will ignore the cries of the bleeding Greeks and demand we swallow austerity - or lose the euro. But, so what if we lose the euro? The best thing that can happen to Greece, and should have happened long, long ago, is that Greece flee the Eurozone. That's because it is the euro itself that is the virus responsible for Greece's economic ills."
* "Greece Nazi occupation: Athens asks Germany for €279bn"

Stanley Greenberg on A New Formula for a Real Democratic Majority - Basically, you want Democrats who sound like Democrats.

"The £93bn handshake: businesses pocket huge subsidies and tax breaks: Guardian's analysis reveals that hidden subsidies, direct grants and tax breaks to big business amount to £3,500 a year given by each UK household [..] Many of the companies receiving the largest public grants over the past few years previously paid little or zero corporation tax, the analysis shows. They include some of the best-known names in Britain, such as Amazon, Ford and Nissan. The figures intensify the pressure on George Osborne, the chancellor, just as he puts the finishing touches to his budget. At the heart of Wednesday's announcement will be his plans to cut £12bn more from the social welfare bill."

Lee Camp on Obama's Legacy - Gay marriage became legal because gay activists kept fighting for it, not because Obama did anything. Obama gave us TARP and undercut health insurance reform and prevented criminal banksters from being prosecuted and made sure the Bush administration paid no price for torture, but no, he is not responsible for gay marriage being legal.

A Johnson & Johnson's heir finds that the 1% really don't want to talk about how they've vacuumed resources out of the country.

I was always disappointed in the Cosby show for a number of reasons. For one thing, nothing about it reflected the genuinely funny comedian who warned me about ice cream and tonsillectomies or a $100 car or Sheldon Leonard. But there was also one very obvious other problem.

Macy's fireworks.

Your widely spread-out Grateful Dead Ripple moment.

This is not work-safe. And yes, I know someone who says that's just how it was where she grew up back home in Texas - they knew they couldn't "do it" until they got married, so they did everything else.

Live at Shea Stadium, "I Feel Fine".

08:55 GMT comment

Sunday, 05 July 2015

I thought our little wild time had just begun

"Legacy racism. Guns, statutes, and other artifact of our political, and social systems need to go, Fasttracking secret trade agreements. Commentary from Andrew Jerrell Jones, Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyd," on Virtually Speaking Sundays

The Supremes startled many people by deciding King v. Burwell in support of the PPACA and Obergefell v Hodges in favor of same-sex marriage, and Ben & Jerry's renamed its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream to celebrate the latter decision. Meanwhile, Antonin Scalia impressed many with his incoherent dissent in which he (this is Scalia, remember) complained that the court majority was a threat to American democracy Didn't worry about that much in Bush v. Gore, did ya, Tony? The Mary Sue celebrated, and The Huffington Post asked the nearest hippie as per Scalia's advice.

Some people were just always cool, and they stayed cool even as they got older and greyer. Bernie Sanders is one of them, and the kids know it. "Brendan Eprile remembers the first time he saw Bernie Sanders on TV. Eprile was an 8-year-old growing up in Vermont, and he recalls 'being amazed, because I understood what he was talking about, unlike all the other politicians.' Sanders was on his soapbox about Iraq -or maybe it was economic inequality? In any case, the famously blunt independent from Burlington had him riveted. Jonah Ragir has a similar recollection. When he was young, he says, his grandmother was watching Sanders on C-SPAN in her California living room. 'I asked my grandma who he was, because he didn't sound like the other guys who were speaking,' Ragir says. 'He wasn't "boring" and he wasn't "lying," were the words I used as a little kid.'" And here's a completely different kid speaking up for Bernie.

At Naked Capitalism, Yves and Robert Scheer on The Bankruptcy of America's Elites: "And I have spent my life interviewing people generally around power, in government and so forth. I've traveled with Nelson Rockefeller and David Rockefeller. You know, I have interviewed people who became president, from Richard Nixon, Clinton, and so forth and so on. And if I were to try to explain, the big shift that I've seen is long-term as opposed to short-term, that most of the people I had interviewed in the first stage of my career, say somewhere up until 1970, were people that at least were concerned what their grandchildren might think. You know? There was either through family, inherited wealth, or going to certain schools, or there was some sense of social responsibility, you know, that you could find, that we have to leave our mark, we have to leave it a better place, we have to - and just for our place in history, that it mattered. Okay? So you could be concerned, oh, we'd better get with the civil rights movement, because otherwise we're going to fall apart, or we'd better care about the economic condition of the rest of the world, because otherwise it will rebel, we'd better worry about the living condition of our own people here or they'll rise up with pitchforks and toss you out. I think what happened is we went into this madcap period of short-term greed."

"Congressional Democrats Introduce Ambitious New Bill to Restore the Voting Rights Act." To me, that's not good enough. It should simply be illegal *everywhere* to try to prevent citizens from exercising their right to vote, including to use any method that is a known voter-suppression strategy. And that would overcome the Supremes' objection, too.

"Christie's Conspiracy: The Real Story Behind the Fort Dix Five Terror Plot [..] For the Duka family, the arrests marked a tragic turn. They had escaped the turmoil of the former Yugoslavia and managed to start anew in the United States, only to find three sons publicly branded as terrorists. Dritan, Shain and Eljvir, seized when they were 28, 26 and 23, would be convicted of conspiring to kill U.S. military personnel and sentenced to life in prison, devastating the Duka family and putting an end to their nascent American dream. Beyond the sensational headlines is the story of paid FBI informants with long criminal histories who spent a year working to befriend the brothers and enlist them as terrorists. This effort, both expensive and time-consuming, nevertheless failed to convince the Duka brothers to take part in a violent attack. Indeed, over the course of hundreds of hours of surveillance, the plot against Fort Dix was never even raised with them."

Ettlin thinks it's time to write a whole new state song for Maryland, to replace An anthem from the Confederacy .

Over here they're calling it TTIP, but even the Evening Standard is beginning to view it with alarm.

We really need to rethink our relationship with Saudi Arabia. And, of course, the oil industry.

I have a dumbphone, but it's not this dumb.

Hefner: classier than you think.

I thought this was fun.

And this looks like it will be fun for some of us.

Rainbow unicorn cookies

Simels is having fun going all gay all of a sudden.

00:44 GMT comment

Saturday, 27 June 2015

She's no fun, she fell right over

I apparently missed linking this a month ago, but Stuart Zechman and Marcy Wheeler really got into it in the wake of passage of the USA Freedumb Act and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Patriot Act didn't authorize wholesale sucking up of everyone's data as is claimed, but most interestingly, they talked about why the US has this bizarrely intimate relationship with the odious regime of Saudi Arabia, on Virtually Speaking Sundays.
* And this week, Susie Madrak and Sara Robinson on Conversations with Conservatives, and why we need to start having them in this teaching moment.

Well, so much for the great Democratic rebellion and all that. Barack is triumphant, and, strangely, those horrible obstructionist Republicans cooperated with him magnificently.

"Bernie Sanders on Obama's 'Biggest Mistake'" - Well, except it was no mistake, of course. Obama wanted to pen up all those activists and shut them up so he could impose his "centrist" policies without any push-back.
"When Bernie met Hillary [...] They got their meeting at the White House that month, and the two doctors laid out the case for single-payer to the first lady. 'She said, "You make a convincing case, but is there any force on the face of the earth that could counter the hundreds of millions of the dollars the insurance industry would spend fighting that?"' recalled Himmelstein. 'And I said, "How about the president of the United States actually leading the American people?" and she said, "Tell me something real."'" And there's the difference between them right there - Bernie thinks you fight until you win, Hillary thinks you give up before you even try. But we always used to beat them with our message even though they had more money than we did. The DLC told us to stop trying, and they did that thing.

"Democrats Who Move Right Lose Elections - There Is No 'Center" - "Centrists" tell a story where there are these people in the "center" who are swing-voters or independents who would vote for Democrats if only our candidates were right-wing enough. It's implausible for more reasons than one, but the fact that most indies already identify with one party or another is a big one, and they've rebelled not because they see their party as too extreme, but because they see it as too "moderate" - that is, too wishy-washy and too compromising with the other side.

"Another Blue Dog Admits He's Just A Republican-- Switches Parties [...] Over time, Democratic voters start to understand that their Blue Dog congressman is a Republican and they either defeat them in primaries (example: Tim Holden) or sit on their hands and let a Republican win (example: Chris Carney). Sensing impending doom, many Blue Dogs, including some the founders of the rotten organization, have covered up their membership-- like Steve Israel and Adam Schiff most recently-- or have just admitted they're nothing but a Republican, jumping the fence and reregistering as such."

"Guess who's being groomed for a promotion? If you said Patrick Murphy, you'd be right. Chuck Schumer is very high on Murphy to fill Marco Rubio's Senate seat. You see, only in the Democratic Party do they go out of their way to promote from among the top 10 congressmen who vote with the other party for the Senate. This can only be because they like that voting pattern and would like more of this, (which just happened last week)"

Surely it is patently illegal to make people train H-1B immigrants to replace them. Those visas exist to bring in workers specifically when no Americans can be found to do the same job. If you are laying Americans off and replacing them with H-1Bs, you're fraudulently getting those visas for them.

All 50 states fail to meet int'l standards on lethal force by police - Amnesty

"The Saudi Finger-pointing at Iran: Parroting Israel and Saudi Arabia, much of Official Washington blames Iran for the current instability across the Mideast, but that may rank as one of the most inside-out explanations imaginable, as Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett explain."

Ray McGovern says Obama is no Jack Kennedy. Hell, I coulda told him that.

The US agency plundered by Chinese hackers made one of the dumbest security moves possible: Contractors in Argentina and China were given "direct access to every row of data in every database" when they were hired by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to manage the personnel records of more than 14 million federal employees, a federal consultant told ArsTechnica."

10 Stories That Were Missed While Everyone Was Talking About Rachel Dolezar

Here's how much more you'd make if you were in a union

Farmers find healthy soil works for crops, bottom line

Jon Stewart, unfunny, about Charleston.
In a similar vein, the Onion headline from last year: "'No Way To Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens"
Tom Tomorrow on A Confederacy of Denial

RIP: At the Firesign Theater site, it says, "Phil Austin 1941-2015: Nick Danger has left the office. Our dear friend and Firesign Theatre partner for over 50 years succumbed to various forms of cancer early this morning at his home on Fox Island, Washington, with his wife Oona and their six beloved dogs at his side. It is a tremendous and unexpected loss, and we will miss him greatly; but in keeping with his wishes, there will be no public memorial. Rest in Peace, Regnad Kcin."
Volkswagen ad

Lee Camp, The TRUTH About GMOs, The Insanity of The G7, & The Fun of Child Poverty

"What Would Jesse Ventura Do?: Declassify 9/11 Now."

The Night Tube is coming to London.

Graffiti tribute to Terry Pratchett in Shoreditch completed three months after author's death

22 Incredible Facts About The Life and Career Of Sir Christopher Lee

Wow, you could get a Lego professorship at Cambridge!

25 Of The Most Creative Sculptures And Statues From Around The World

Simels managed to find some newly-unearthed Beatles footage I've never seen, and it's the best lip-sync performance ever.

01:05 GMT comment

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Magic carpet ride

Congress was the hot entertainment Friday night as fast-track hit the floor. Amidst speculation that Pelosi would support it, she suddenly surprised everyone by announcing that she would oppose both TAA and the TPP, ultimately voting against fast-track. Despite normally treating her as the anti-Christ, Drudge's headline immediately after the vote was: "PELOSI SAYS NO TO OBAMATRADE; TAKES BRAVE STAND FOR AMERICA "

If you needed a primer on the contents of the Republican Clown Car, Digby presented it on Virtually Speaking.
Digby also reckons it looks like the DLC types are planning to use O'Malley as their faux-left stalking horse. And then, of course, there are the Zombie Blue Dogs.
I didn't realize Brendan Nyhan was up to something useful lately until he appeared with Jennifer Oellette on Virtually Speaking Science and talked about "The science of swaying popular opinion: think vaccines. Dartmouth political scientist/psychologist Brendan Nyhan specializes in the cognitive biases that come with identity politics. Jennifer and Brendan talk about the psychology of changing minds, how our beliefs and opinions are tied to personal identity, and what does and does not work in terms of strategy when it comes to swaying popular opinion." Homework includes "Study: You Can't Change an Anti-Vaxxer's Mind."

On The Majority Report, Marcy Wheeler talked to Sammy about What's Next in the Fight Against the Patriot Act.
Sammy's Casual Friday guest last week was Charlie Pierce.
Sammy also talked to Mark Ames of Pando Media about Seymour Hersh and the Dangers of Corporate Muckraking - and why it's easier to report on government than on corporations, which makes private-public partnership even more dangerous.

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate: "Dying of Excitement: Police often blame suspects' deaths on 'excited delirium.' Is that a diagnosis or a cover-up? [...] The obvious problem is this: What do we make of a syndrome that seems to occur almost unerringly when a police officer is choking, hog-tying, or stunning with a Taser someone with a mental illness or drug addiction? And why do many experts dispute that the diagnosis even exists? While excited delirium is used to explain a significant number of deaths occurring in police custody, the term has not been recognized as a genuine mental health condition by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, or the World Health Organization. Excited delirium - which sounds, to the naked ear, something like 'crazy-craziness' - is not found in the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, either. Yet medical examiners and police departments keep claiming it as the cause of death of people in custody."

Glenn Greenwald had some fun unpacking Max Boot's BS about Edward Snowden.
* Jason Leopold at Vice: "Exclusive: Inside Washington's Quest to Bring Down Edward Snowden. A bipartisan group of Washington lawmakers solicited details from Pentagon officials that they could use to 'damage' former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's 'credibility in the press and the court of public opinion.' That's according to declassified government documents obtained exclusively by VICE News in response to a long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit."

Catholics For Choice were not much pleased with Lindsay Graham's anti-choice bill.

Would you believe that jerk Jaime Dimon actually had the nerve to claim that Elizabeth Warren didn't understand global banking. She didn't sit still for it: "The problem for these guys is that I fully understand the system, and I understand how they make their money, And that's what they don't like about me."

Matt Taibbi on Judith Miller's Comeback: "This preposterous 'dog ate my homework' story is even more humorous in retrospect, now that Miller has a self-serious Twitter handle (@jmfreespeech) under which she notes in her mini-bio, 'My dog, Hamlet, really does eat my homework.'"

There is no reason to assume that Hillary Clinton can beat any potential Republican candidate. She's got a lot of baggage and Iraq is a big one. So is her State Department kick-back scheme, if the Republicans ever notice it and stop wasting time on Bengazi. It's already forced her to oppose her whole party on Citizens United. But there's every reason to believe that Bernie Sanders can beat any potential Republican candidate.
Signs of creeping Bernie-ism: Wisconsin Straw Poll: Clinton 49 Percent, Sanders 41 Percent

Hilariously, one "centrist" Dem worries that the left has 'hijacked' the Democratic Party message. I was so impressed that I left a comment.

David Dayen in The New Republic, "The Scariest Trade Deal Nobody's Talking About Just Suffered a Big Leak: The Obama administration's desire for 'fast track' trade authority is not limited to passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In fact, that may be the least important of three deals currently under negotiation by the U.S. Trade Representative. The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would bind the two biggest economies in the world, the United States and the European Union. And the largest agreement is also the least heralded: the 51-nation Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). On Wednesday, WikiLeaks brought this agreement into the spotlight by releasing 17 key TiSA-related documents, including 11 full chapters under negotiation. Though the outline for this agreement has been in place for nearly a year, these documents were supposed to remain classified for five years after being signed, an example of the secrecy surrounding the agreement, which outstrips even the TPP."
* "Now We Know Why Huge TPP Trade Deal Is Kept Secret From the Public [...] Let that sink in for a moment: '[C]ompanies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings -- federal, state or local -- before tribunals....' And they can collect not just for lost property or seized assets; they can collect if laws or regulations interfere with these giant companies' ability to collect what they claim are 'expected future profits.' [...] In sum, if corporations feel they have been denied s"expected" profits by a government regulation, ISDS lets them circumvent a country's courts and go to an international corporate tribunal with their grievance. But if labor organizers are murdered, workers and their families have nowhere to go. [...] While ISDS would give American multinational corporations tremendous powers over other governments, it places non-U.S. corporations (and, of course, non-U.S. subsidiaries of American multinational corporations) at a tremendous advantage over U.S. firms by giving only them -- not U.S.-based firms -- this right to challenge U.S. laws and regulations."

Contact Congress.

Also from Dday, "These Simple Steps Could Prevent Another Financial Crisis."

Glyn Moody at Ars Technica: "TTIP explained: The secretive US-EU treaty that undermines democracy"

"A Federal Appeals Court Just Denied Birthright Citizenship to American Samoans Using Racist Caselaw" - brought to you by the Obama administration.

"Major Monsanto Lawsuit Completely Blacked out by Media: What happens when one courageous attorney and a few citizens try to take down Monsanto? The MSM doesn't cover it, for starters."

And speaking of things you can't see, just try and Read the TPP. Hahaha.

Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

This was the stupidest thing I saw Thursday: "'Marriage is simply too important:' Christian couple vows to divorce if gays allowed to wed."
* The gay response

This post is from last year, but still worth remembering when Cory Doctorow said "Obama's regressive record makes Nixon look like Che."

Public pot scold William Bennet is back wondering how marijuana and pot dealers stopped being "seen for what they were - criminal and dangerous elements in our society." Well, that's because they weren't, Bill.

Vincent Bugliosi, 80, successful prosecutor made famous by his prosecution of Charles Manson (which he later wrote about in Helter Skelter). But he may be best-remembered by longtime readers of The Sideshow for his book about the 2000 Selection of George Bush, The Betrayal of America, in which he presented his case against the Supreme Court 5. The book expanded on his article in The Nation, "None Dare Call It Treason; it became a New York Times best-seller despite the fact that, in contrast to his earlier works, none of the major talk shows were interested in having him come talk about it. In fact, he ended up talking to bloggers, such as Carolyn Kay at Make Them Accountable, who interviewed him in June of 2001. Nicole Sandler, hearing about his death, rearranged her show schedule to replay her interview with him from last October, which I believe you can hear here.
* "Ruby Dee, a Ringing Voice for Civil Rights, Onstage and Off, Dies at 91." Such a compelling talent.
* Christopher Lee, at 93. I met him once and just went totally fangirl. Of course, his SNL guest host spot was unforgettable - introducing the musical guest, and his performance as Mr. Death.
* "Man who wrote famous New York Post 'Headless Body in Topless Bar' headline dies [...] Musetto was already working on the headline. It didn't take long to determine that the place where the torso - the 'headless body,' in tabloidese - was found was a bar, but was it a 'topless bar'? 'It has to be,' said Musetto, who had hatched the headline."

It's always worried me that people are going out of their way to avoid the vitamins you need the sun for.

What happens when they fire all the copy-editors

The new design for the London Underground map from Transport for London has been met with wrinkled noses and derision by many transport mavens, but it turns out that someone has been posting their own alternative Tube map and it has some virtues. I could not help but notice, however, that as with previous versions, Bayswater is still too far from Queensway, an error I really wish someone would fix, because I once made the mistake of changing at Nottinghill Gate, which was a pain in the hiney, to get to one when it would have been easier to just get out at the other and walk the few yards. Anyway, here's the amateur map, which also omits the accessibility symbol the standard map has.

And speaking of the Underground, a little cosplay.

Terrorizing people with Michael Jackson moves

If you can do Facebook, this is an absolutely lovely (and short!) bit of visual art.

The couple from the Woodstock album cover are still together, 46 years later.


17:58 GMT comment

Tuesday, 02 June 2015

In the back of my mind I know it can't be real

David Dayen and Gaius Publius were this week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays, and discussed the trade deals and the Sanders campaign and its coverage. Homework for this one includes Gaius' article in Naked Capitalism on the press silence on the Sanders campaign, but David pointed out that the NYT isn't being silent anymore, although of course they still say things like, "Her mix of centrist and progressive Democratic views may yet prove more appealing to the broadest number of party voters as well, while some of Mr. Sanders's policy prescriptions - including far higher taxes on the wealthy and deep military spending cuts - may eventually persuade Democrats that he is unelectable in a general election." In addition, Gaius' article at Down With Tyranny!, "Why Is Malaysia So Important to TPP?" - and The First Black President's willingness to put the stamp of approval on slavery.
* Digby and Andrew Jeerer Jones were the panelists on last week's Virtually Speaking Sundays, discussing "in the Freedom Act; differential media treatment of Wako vs Baltimore; the latest from the republican klown car," with added commentary from Culture of Truth.
* "Macro economist Dean Baker and Jay Ackroyd discuss the role public sector unions have played in the labor movement, wage rates, pensions and economic growth and income equality" on Virtually Speaking.

"I've Read Obama's Secret Trade Deal. Elizabeth Warren Is Right to Be Concerned.: 'You need to tell me what's wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago,' a frustrated President Barack Obama recently complained about criticisms of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). He's right. The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That's by design - anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I've actually read the TPP text provided to the government's own advisors, and I've given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can't share my criticisms with you."
* Meanwhile, in political drama, Gaius Publius says, "Schumer Organized the Democratic Collapse on TPP," and "Don't forget to notice "progressive" Patty Murray's role in this. As a member of Democratic leadership, she seems to have had to choose between 'following the neo-liberal leader' - in this case, Barack Obama on TPP - and standing with all other progressives in the 'Democratic coalition,' including every labor union. Murray is choosing to play ball with Senate leadership against progressives. Watch her carefully going forward. This looks a lot like the victory of careerism over principle."
* "Here's how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill" Yes, Ron Wyden should lose his job for supporting this thing.
* David Dayen suggests the pro-TTP forces may be a bit desperate if they are putting out such lame attempts at hit jobs on Elizabeth Warren.

The 1973 Helms Act has unpleasant consequences for the victims of Boko Haram.

The media's sickening Sanders double standard: How the socialist brings out their true colors [...] "This is what happens after more than three decades of economic policymaking that has enshrined tax cuts as the greatest good one can strive for. For Republicans, the policy is tax cuts everywhere and always and most especially for the rich. For Democrats, it's tax cuts for the middle class while the wealthy, who benefit disproportionately from a tax structure that is 'barely progressive,' are asked only to 'pay a little more.' We've become so accustomed to historically low rates of taxation for the wealthy that when someone like Sanders comes along and says the rich can and should pay a far higher rate, people assume he's out to lunch. But is a 90 percent top rate 'obviously too high'? Is it something one should instinctively 'flinch' at? Not really..."

Watch This Atlanta TV Station Expose ALEC's Influence On Local Legislators - Good local reporting is what we need more of.

How to Keep Down Sky-High Hospital Bills - What everyone dealing with America's commercial medical system needs is a plan that looks at bills, calls BS, and writes its own bottom line. So far it's just employers hiring them to protect them from ridiculous costs, but maybe the people who don't work for those people should get together and form a kind of "union" to hire them to protect them, too.

Krugman on The Insecure American: "We learn, for example, that 3 in 10 nonelderly Americans said they had no retirement savings or pension, and that the same fraction reported going without some kind of medical care in the past year because they couldn't afford it. Almost a quarter reported that they or a family member had experienced financial hardship in the past year. And something that even startled me: 47 percent said that they would not have the resources to meet an unexpected expense of $400 - $400! They would have to sell something or borrow to meet that need, if they could meet it at all." But our leaders think we don't need an old "antique" like Social Security.

Reading "The disdain Hillary Clinton deserves on trade" in The Washington Post is a classic experience. It's written with open contempt for anyone who recognizes the damage these "trade deals" have done; however, it baldly admits that both Obama and Clinton pretended in 2008 to want to change NAFTA to make it more beneficial to Americans, but that Clinton was unlikely to have done so and Obama clearly didn't mean it at the time: "Clinton took about the same position and attacked Obama for every hint that he didn't mean it. And, of course, he didn't. Sophisticated observers at the time assumed that Obama and Clinton weren't being honest about their intentions, that both were level-headed enough to realize that the anti-trade sentiment in some quarters of the Democratic Party is neither warranted nor wise. These assumptions were all but confirmed when word came that Austan Goolsbee, at the time a top Obama economic adviser, assured the Canadian government that Obama's anti-trade positioning was more about politics than an indication of what he would do in the White House. The Obama campaign aggressively denied the claims, but a leaked Canadian government memo subsequently indicated something like that nevertheless happened." And then it goes on to call Clinton a coward because her current line of rhetoric and refusal to come out in favor of anti-American "trade deals" encourages all that nasty populist thinking on the left. Your "liberal media".

Arthur Chu in Salon, "Sci-fi's right-wing backlash: Never doubt that a small group of deranged trolls can ruin anything (even the Hugo Awards)."

RIP: Tanith Lee (1947-2015); obits from the Telegraph, Guardian.

How Bernie Sanders Shaped the Northeast Punk Scene

This piece is a few years old but as someone whose familiarity with Rand's work is really that I saw the movie on my little black & white TV a couple times, it was nice to see the phrases that clarify why The Fountainhead never made sense to me.

"Homeless Shelter Is Transformed Into 5-Star Restaurant, Hot Food And Warm Hearts All Around"

This is cool: 3D Visualization of the Anatomy of a Tornado!

The new Tube Map

How to make a font in 9 hours

"Baltimore" by Prince

When Women Wanted Sex Much More Than Men

"The Wachowskis Make Sci-Fi Sexy: Sense8 is this summer's bingeable sci-fi must-watch." (And a second trailer here.)

BS&T, "I Can't Quit Her"

00:44 GMT comment

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Why can't I pretend?

So, these links are a little stale, and instead of just dropping hints I'll come out with it: There's been a bit of cancer surgery going on. Found a small bump a while back - self-exam had missed it, but it was right on the surface and found it by accident. (Even knowing it was there, I still couldn't find it with a self-exam.) The docs were ecstatic to see it so small, so apparently early, and so close to the surface. A "special" cancer that doesn't much metastasize. They've been all cheery and bouncy from the git-go. Me, I'm always a pessimist about these things, but I figure the worst that can happen is that it won't kill me fast enough, so I find it hard to worry. The surgery doesn't hurt - I mean, there's nothing there but fat. The lymph biopsy left a lot of soreness and made it hard to scrub my back in the shower, and with all those nerves involved there were of course all sorts of weird twinges, but anyway it was clear. I couldn't raise my arm all the way up without pain but I just figured, well, not a good time to join the Nazi Party, then. My favorite part was the blue dye they shot me up with; for three days I was peeing peacock blue. Of course, everyone I mentioned this to accused me of being a smurf. Next up I think is they want me to do three weeks of radiation therapy, or that was the plan as of when I went into surgery Tuesday. When I asked about chemo they said they didn't foresee that at all, and I said good, because I don't think I'd agree to that. I have good reasons for feeling that way.

Cliff Schecter and Dave Johnson were the panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays and talked about the game-changing nature of Bernie Sanders' announcement that he's running for president. Jay Ackroyd also had a guest post at Digby's place discussing how to take advantage of this.
Bernie Sanders on the Issues
And Stuart Zechman and Jay continued on the subject of Broadbased Politics.

I've been collecting TPP/fast-track links all along, and the situation moved faster than I could keep up with but the politics have been fascinating. Obama has been working harder on passing this passel of garbage than anything in his whole career, and just as he did during the 2008 primary campaign, he has proven again that trying to wreck the Democratic Party is just another step in his agenda. I've never, ever seen a Democratic President attack the most popular members of his party this way - a lame duck who is not running for re-election attacking leading contenders as if they were the opposition. And clearly, they are. Obama is pushing back against the astonishing, unexpected push-back from the democratic wing of the party, and the mail blasts have sent creepy little Obots out to try to spread the idea that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are lying or conspiracy theorists - and even Harry Reid is in the line of fire. When Obama accuses Warren and Sanders of sounding like Sarah Palin, you know this guy is bad news.
* "Senate Democrats Are Revolting Against Obama's Trade Plan"
* "Obama Hurls Insults at Liberals on Trade: Progressives called ignorant, insincere, and motivated by politics, sparking fury among President's base"
* Timothy B. Lee: "The Trans-Pacific Partnership is great for elites. Is it good for anyone else?"
* Down in comments, ifthethunderdontgetya says: "I say 'Obama on the TPP sounds like Paul Ryan on the TPP.' In sharp contrast to Our President, I can back my comparison up."
* David Dayen, "The 10 biggest lies you've been told about the Trans-Pacific Partnership" - David also discussed this on The Majority Report with Sam Seder.
* So, Obama decided to go to Nike to give his TPP pep-talk. This is astoundingly appropriate, and of course his minions are out in droves to tell us we aren't supposed to disapprove because we sound like the president's Tea Party detractors. Funny how that happens.
* So the Senate voted against TPP on Tuesday (52-45), but didn't stand so firm on fast-track on Thursday.

"Feingold to run for US Senate seat: MADISON, Wis. - Democrat Russ Feingold has decided to run for his old Senate seat in Wisconsin against Republican Ron Johnson, who defeated him in 2010."

Dave Ettlin at The Real Muck: "Turmoil then and now: Racial tension haunts Baltimore across chasm of 45 years."

Paul Rosenberg is back on The Family beat: "Progressives can't trust Hillary Clinton: What's behind her bizarre alliance with the Christian right?" The Family, you will recall, is a sinister group that influences policy, and probably has a lot to do with some expensive and nasty programs that owe a lot to the Clinton administration.

Radley Balko says "This isn't 1968. Baltimore isn't Watts. And Hillary Clinton isn't Michael Dukakis. [...] We did see a few examples of overt racism from city officials in the months after the Ferguson protests. But a system like this, one created by racism, will produce racist results even if none of the cops, prosecutors, or judges are racist themselves."

John Oliver on Prisons

"The Asshole Factory - Our economy doesn't make stuff anymore. So what does it make?"

14 year old girl suspended for her NSFW answers on this sex-ed condom survey - I'd be proud if that was my daughter.

If you can stand Facebook, I thought this video was good even though I still want to slap NARAL around for some of their awful "strategy" of caving in to "centrists".
* Also at FB, 3-D drawing.

An Interview With Wanksy, Penis Doodler and Pothole Avenger

* B.B. King at 89. (Guardian, Telegraph tribute). You know you love it.
* Jayne Meadows, half of one of my favorite TV couples, with her (real life) husband Steve Allen, as Erlich's parents on St. Elsewhere. They were even funnier as themselves than they were as characters. (Of course, her sister Audrey was pretty famous, too.)
* I didn't notice that Annette Funicello died last month. A lot of guys used to rhapsodize about how she was the girl they grew up adoring. And a lot of girls wanted to be her.

"8 Essential Lessons We Learned From the Vietnam Antiwar Movement: The movement for peace in Vietnam has been erased from history, unremembered and dismissed by those in power."

Just a reminder: I keep seeing people scream and cry about the prospect that people might vote for a third-party candidate rather than Hillary Clinton, and of course invoking Nader in Florida as the agent of all our misery &etc. Because I guess it's easier to blame Nader than it is to blame an incredibly long list of dishonest and illegal voter-disenfranchisement actions and vote-rigging and the Supreme Court for making everyone ignore the fact that, dammit, Al Gore won the 2000 election. (Here's the NORC recount report (.pdf) for those who want to get into the weeds.)

I don't know whether I should be happy or frightened about this headline.

Iranian Secrets

Matt Inman doesn't believe in evolution, he believes in Jibbers Crabst. I've already seen some leave Pastafarianism for this.

The Louisville Leopard Percussionists do Led Zep. Neat.

Gosh, I completely forgot about Zachariah. I didn't remember those now older and more familiar faces, either....

Blood, Sweat & Tears, "Just One Smile"

11:20 GMT comment

Friday, 01 May 2015

Happy Together

David Brin talked about how to deal with a surveillance society, history and social advances, and the fact that, as Tony Benn once said, every generation has to fight the same battles, on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.
* Virtually Speaking Sundays

Bernie Sanders is running - it's official. And everyone is going to tell you he has no chance, but they said that about Reagan pretty much right up to the last minute. So take it seriously and he might just be president. Remember, it's the primaries that matter - don't let Hillary be anointed without a fight. (People are also going to say he copped out by running as a Democrat, but he wants to be heard, and this was the only way to do it. And we definitely want him to be heard - it can completely change the game to have Bernie out front on the discourse.) A lot of people will have serious reservations on his position on Israel, but that's an equation that's not going to change in Washington until the economics change and it restores democracy at home.

Democrats' Frustration With Obama Boils Over As Trade Bills Advance
* Obama escalates push-back against Elizabeth Warren and other trade deal critics
* "Obama Says Warren On Trade Sounds Like Palin Touting Death Panels." Jeez, what is he, a weird version of Rush Limbaugh? How about "Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are worse than Hitler!" Somebody's all fraidy of those crazy democratic types. "The President's alignment with Republicans, Wall Street, and corporate lobbying organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, and against progressives, labor, and almost all Democrats to push TPP is frustrating Democrats across the board." Frustrating? *sigh*
* "Elizabeth Warren Tells Obama To Put Up Or Shut Up On Trade [...] On Saturday, Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded with a letter essentially telling Obama to put up or shut up. If the deal is so great, Warren and Brown wrote, the administration should make the full negotiation texts public before Congress votes on a "fast track" bill that would strip the legislative branch of its authority to amend it."

Gotta admit, after years of listening to the likes of Obama behaving as if Republican ideas are perfectly sincere and reasonable, it's refreshing to hear O'Malley calling them what they really are. But O'Malley has a lot to answer for himself, and if we take a look at what's been going on right now in Baltimore, it goes right to his doorstep....

Just in case you were thinking this is about race, check out David Simon on Baltimore's Anguish, where he points out that we're not talking about the classic all-white police force. Among other things: "The drug war began it, certainly, but the stake through the heart of police procedure in Baltimore was Martin O'Malley. He destroyed police work in some real respects. Whatever was left of it when he took over the police department, if there were two bricks together that were the suggestion of an edifice that you could have called meaningful police work, he found a way to pull them apart. [...] There were two initiatives. First, the department began sweeping the streets of the inner city, taking bodies on ridiculous humbles, mass arrests, sending thousands of people to city jail, hundreds every night, thousands in a month. They actually had police supervisors stationed with printed forms at the city jail - forms that said, essentially, you can go home now if you sign away any liability the city has for false arrest, or you can not sign the form and spend the weekend in jail until you see a court commissioner. And tens of thousands of people signed that form."
* Dave Ettlin remembers some lessons of his time on the police beat: "Baltimore's Riot of 2015: In the matter of Freddie Gray the 'routine' has vastly changed."
* Charles Pierce on Baltimore Burning: A Bad Night Ahead: "Why in the hell does this country never learn? Why does it never learn that invasion and occupation and bombing is not the way to spread democracy and virtually always comes to blowback and ruin? Why does it never learn that reactionary, militarized policing will inevitably lead to rioting, which will inevitably lead to repressive techniques that the rest of the country, watching on television, will approve? The whole world is watching? Yes, the whole world is watching and applauding every burst of the water cannon and every swing of the truncheon. The country never learns because, goddammit, Americans never learn. Dr. King was right about an eye for an eye. The country is blind." And "Baltimore Burning: The Morning After And The Day Ahead."
* Ta-Nehisi Coates on "Nonviolence as Compliance: Officials calling for calm can offer no rational justification for Gray's death, and so they appeal for order."

"American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, Report Says: WASHINGTON - The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists."

Judith Miller explains to Brian Lamb why she was such a lousy reporter and reported only what the government wanted her to write. And doesn't know it. Perhaps some future Lincoln can meet her and say, "So you're the little woman who wrote the lies that started this stupid war."

My favorite story from this episode of Act Out! is the story of the unauthorized installation in the park of a bust of Edward Snowden. Not the best likeness, but a great idea. I loved that when the police arrested it a few hours later, a hologram of it appeared. The Guardian has an update.

When people ask me what science fiction TV shows I watch, I always mention CSI, because it is. I find it hilarious to think that prosecutions are driven by The Evidence, which is always so remarkably precise! Which is the first thought I had when I saw the story about how the FBI has been "exaggerating" DNA evidence from hair. "The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000."

Ian Welsh explains why East Germans are missing that old regime.

"Enron Billionaire Arnold Has A Problem with Librarians' Pensions."

I think there's something missing from Rolling Stone's 10 Best Protest Songs of all Time. Baez, Cooke, Holiday, Seeger, St. Marie, Guthrie, Odetta, Ochs, Gaye, and so on. Women. Blacks. Gospel.

Ron Paul actually has a couple of insightful ideas and policies, but he also has some very crappy ones. However, his son is skating on dad's rep without having even that much substance.

Why your city needs an artist like Wanksy.

"Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party [...] Here's what my teachers' should have told me: 'Reconstruction was the second phase of the Civil War. It lasted until 1877, when the Confederates won.' I think that would have gotten my attention."

Is it objectification to think Brian Cox is hot?

Judith Tarr is guesting at Charlie Stross' place. I hadn't really thought about how all the psi stuff seems to have disappeared from science fiction, but it's an interesting piece about the rigidifying of the lines between science fiction and fantasy.

"The Photography Book London Officials Never Wanted You to See: Subterranean London compiles the images of a dozen photographers who explored the city's underground spaces without permission."

I don't know how I failed to link to the dead parrot at the time.

Things Pappy Maverick used to say

The Cau Rong Dragon Bridge in Da Nang is kinda cool. (I kinda like this video better.)

I can't believe I don't have these already.

The Turtles

20:23 GMT comment

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Some how some way, I'll find out what's the deal

Srdja Popovic talked about a blueprint for revolution on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. The page description sounds a little dry but Popovic makes some cogent points in both his prescriptions for bringing about change and his critique of earlier failures.
- Spocko and Charles Lenchner discussed pushing Hillary leftward and other strategies for changing the discourse on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Sam Seder talked to Marie Gotschalk about her book Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics The Majority Report
- John Legend launches campaign to end mass incarceration [...] "We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country," Legend said in an interview. "It's destroying families, it's destroying communities and we're the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we got to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way and that way usually involves using incarceration."
- It's worth listening again to the second half of this interview with Glen Ford we did in 2009 on Virtually Speaking to hear him talk about the damage the prison state does to the black community - and to black activism.

Michael Hiltzik on the "spectacularly punitive Kansas welfare bill" Brownback just signed that makes it even more nasty and expensive to be poor.

I still find it hard to believe that Obama or anyone else in the White House was stupid enough to believe he really was the magic man who could suddenly make Republicans behave like rational people, but maybe he's just that arrogant. I mean, yeah, he's pretty arrogant, but that arrogant? How could any of them think the choice was between picking polices Republicans in Congress wanted and picking policies that the polls showed 80% of Americans support - and spend all that time choosing to make room for the Republican policies? Is "Dan Pfeiffer's Exit Interview: How the White House Learned to Be Liberal" really a credible story?

Elizabeth Warren Hammers The Endless Failures Of Wall Street Regulators

I did like Atrios' comment on Obama's date with Castro the Younger. Gotta say it's about time.

Eric Schneiderman says, "Gov. Cuomo can unilaterally hike N.Y. wages: How his Labor Department can use its existing legal authority to raise suffering workers' pay." And Schneiderman's office is trying to do something about wage theft in New York. That could make a real difference.

Matt Taibbi isn't impressed by Hillary's "populism" - and who can blame him? "Having watched this campaign-reporting process from both the inside and the outside for a long time now, I knew what was coming after the initial wave of "Hillary the Populist!" stories. In presidential politics, every time a candidate on either the left or the right veers in a populist direction - usually with immediate success, since the American populace is ready to run through a wall for anyone who makes the obvious observation that they're being screwed by someone up above - it takes about two or three days before the "Let's let cooler heads prevail!" editorials start trickling in."
- "How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking to the World" - I think most of what Clinton did as Secretary of State was simply implementing Obama's policies, and Obama is a huge supporter of fracking. Unfortunately, Clinton was pretty damned good at doing what Obama wanted.
- "8 things you need to know about Hillary Clinton and climate change"
- Black Agenda Report: Glen Ford on The Ascent of Hillary, the $.2.5 Billion "People's" Candidate .

"Four Blackwater guards sentenced in Iraq shootings of 31 unarmed civilians" - I wonder how likely it is that any of them will actually see the inside of a cell.

Public Citizen: "ANALYSIS: Hatch Bill Would Revive Controversial 2002 Fast Track Mechanism that Faces Broad Congressional, Public Opposition."

Wyden should lose his job over TPP and fast-track, but that won't happen if no one can find a challenger. Why can't we ever seem to find challengers, lately? That in itself is an issue that has to be solved.
Texas woman invokes 'religious freedom' argument to fight $2000 fine for feeding the homeless" - Good on her.

"Wealth Inequality Is Now As Bad As It Was During The 1920s."

Britain Uncovered survey results: the attitudes and beliefs of Britons in 2015 - It's no surprise that keeping healthcare free is a primary concern of Brits and that the NHS is the most trusted institution or organization in the country. But I can't see why people would put immigration or terrorism above the economy as a concern. Well, if I didn't read newspaper scare headlines, I mean.

The Radical Dissent of Helen Keller

Even The New Republic has a feature on the Hugos: "Science Fiction's White Boys' Club Strikes Back."
- Eric Flint has some observations about awards and perceptions.
- "So far the only good thing to come out of this is #NewHugoCategories on Twitter"

RIP: Our friend Art Widner has left us, at 97. This actually surprised me. He seemed to have so much more vigor than anyone else that even though he was much older than I am, I fully expected him to outlive me.

Mark Evanier has some Stan Freberg stories: Freberg Stories #1, Freberg Stories #2,
- Mark also attended the funeral for Gary Owens and provides a tribute - and don't miss the audio clip at the bottom!

Armenian Prayer

Some entertaining posters

The Real Reason Why Christopher Eccleston Left 'Doctor Who'

13 Everyday Struggles Of Busty Girls

Imagine my surprise at seeing The Currys of Atlantis. It's so not Aquaman.

Percy Sledge, "I'll Be Your Everything"

14:22 GMT comment

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Here,There And Everywhere

On Virtually Speaking Sundays, Stuart Zechman and Dave Johnson talked about the evils of TPP and Fast-track, and argued about whether Hillary Clinton would have bad policies. (I don't understand why Dave keeps talking as if there will be no changes in the House and Senate after the next election - the one that theoretically elects Hillary Clinton. That Congress can easily be different from this Congress.)

"Wisconsin Republicans seek to take away the weekend: Born is claiming this is just an attempt to streamline the process, but it's clear as day that the actual intention here is to remove the main obstacle - filing paperwork - that prevents employers from telling you that you work 7 days a week or you lose your job. Since Wisconsin is, under Scott Walker, a 'right to work' state, the 'work yourself to death or starve' choice is now being treated like it's a non-coercive choice and that people who choose working themselves to death are somehow doing so 'voluntarily'." (via)

I guess someone wants to turn Baltimore into a plague city, because they are turning off the water for 25,000 households. This is crazy stupid, just aside from the inhumane aspects. "City officials like Department of Public Works director Rudy Chow claim that residents using water without paying are to blame for the $40 million in overdue water bills. In fact, the Baltimore Sun found more than a third of the unpaid bills stem from just 369 businesses, who owe $15 million in revenue, while government offices and nonprofits have outstanding water bills to the tune of $10 million. One of those businesses, RG Steel (now bankrupt) owes $7 million in delinquent water bills all by itself. 'It's interesting that the city isn't targeting those businesses first,' Grant said. "

Sam Seder interviewed Ian Millhiser about The Surprising Wretched History of the Supreme Court.
- Sammy also interviewed David Dayen about his article on Barney Frank's bombshell about how two presidents abdicated responsibility during the financial crises.
- Barrett Brown told Sammy why he is in prison for doing his job.
- Here's Sammy talking to Jeff Madrick about Why Economist Cling to Discredited Ideas.
- I don't get the fairy story about how Obama finally learned to ignore the Republicans - too late.

Maybe you can save enough money refusing to buy carbs like bread and cereals and pasta to afford to eat healthy food occasionally, like steak and lobster - maybe even if you're on food stamps. Only an idiot would object to this, surely? Oh, wait....

Digby in Salon on "The quiet Social Security revolution: How Democrats learned to stop loving benefit cuts [...] "That is a shocking departure from the way progressives have been strategizing for the past 30 years. Instead of being in a defensive crouch they took the offensive and tried to set a new agenda. And it worked."

"The Biggest Outrage in Atlanta's Crazy Teacher Cheating Case: One of the defining issues of this millennium has been the bifurcation of the criminal justice system, with one set of rules for ordinary people and another for elites. We've learned that justice is a commodity to be purchased rather than a universal value delivered without prejudice. That's the proper backdrop to the news of convictions in the Atlanta test cheating case. Eleven educators were found guilty of racketeering charges - something typically reserved for organized crime - for feeding students answers to standardized tests, or changing test sheets after they were turned in. If you don't remember these kinds of creative prosecution strategies during the financial crisis, that's probably because no prosecutor ever used them. Teachers ordered to falsify tests and the superiors who demanded it, amid desperation to save schools from destruction, deserve no mercy from the court. Bankers who ran a criminal enterprise to engage in the largest consumer and investing fraud in world history deserve our thanks."

"Exposing Hedge Fund Politics in New York: Two weeks ago, several busloads of New Yorkers made a pilgrimage to Greenwich, Conn., to visit the waterfront estate of the hedge fund titan Paul Tudor Jones II, where, suffice it to say, they were not invited in to see the china."

Atrios says all of these rent-a-DAs should go to jail, and he's right.

Also via Atrios, Michael Hiltzik on How Megan McArdle gets Social Security profoundly wrong.
- And "After a story is published, a minimum wage worker loses her job"

People on public benefits less likely to be on drugs than politicians who vote to drug-test people on public benefits.

Two Men Imprisoned For Homophobic Murders Just Married Each Other In Prison

"Ello, goodbye. [...] A venture-capital funded startup is a temporary company that has to convince enough people into using their platform so that they can make good on the exit they promised their investors at the very beginning. It is the opposite of a long-term, sustainable business."

RIP: The legendary Stan Freberg, Madcap Adman and Satirist, Dies at 88

A right-wing blogger got all his friends (known to the rest of the SF world as the Sad Puppies) to join the World Science Fiction Convention to block-nominate right-wing writers and writings for the Hugo Awards. A sort of hard-copy version of a DoS attack on better works and authors getting those nominations, you might say. Vox Day has responded to criticism with, among other things, a video depicting Patrick Nielsen Hayden as Hitler for daring to be dismayed that good writers and stories got shut-out of the running. (And, I have to say that, although the very idea brought us gales of laughter, the actual monologue just wasn't very clever.) Anyway, here is a Voters Guide for people who want to make sure the undeserving don't win, and here's how No Award works. (Luckily, they missed the artist category. This house supports Steve Stiles!)

John Barrowman meets River Song

Artwork made from peeps

This isn't a chameleon!

Why can't I find Boasters in my local shops anymore? They're so good!

The Beatles, and one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.

13:27 GMT comment

Monday, 30 March 2015

All I gotta do

Last week on Virtually Speaking Sundays: "Obama declaring he should have closed Gitmo on day one; Israel; Republican presidential candidates. Commentary from Susie Madrak (Managing Editor, Crooks and Liars) & Michael Brooks (contributor and producer for The Majority Report). Political satire from Culture of Truth. Jay Ackroyd moderates."
- This week, Digby and McJoan discussed how Democrats messed themselves up over Social Security, how Atrios changed the story, and victories that could reshape even the Democratic leadership with some effort on our part - Patty Murray for party leader?

"Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Text: After more than five years of negotiations under conditions of extreme secrecy, on March 25, 2015, a leaked copy of the investment chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was posted. Public Citizen has verified that the text is authentic. Trade officials from the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - are in intensive, closed-door negotiations to finish the TPP in the next few months. The leaked text provides stark warnings about the dangers of 'trade' negotiations occurring without press, public or policymaker oversight. It reveals that TPP negotiators already have agreed to many radical terms that would give foreign investors expansive new substantive" (.pdf) This is what the original Boston Tea Party was really about, you know.

I don't usually lead with climate change, but "Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say" scared the hell out of me.

Paul Krugman on the GOP budget, "Trillion Dollar Fraudsters"

Doesn't it seem strange to see an actually sensible column like "The one sensible budget in Washington", about the Progressive Caucus' "People's Budget", in The Washington Post?

"Activist pulls out of Trinity College talk due to 'restrictions' aimed at not 'antagonising' Muslims [...] Iranian-born Maryam Namazie was due to give a talk to the Society for International Affairs on Monday on 'Apostasy and the rise of Islam' but decided to withdraw from the event after college security imposed 'certain conditions'. 'I've just been informed... that college security (why security?) has claimed that the event would show the college is 'one-sided' and would be 'antagonising' to Muslim students,' she wrote on her blog." Which is interesting, since they did not do the same when someone who advocates killing apostates spoke there.
- Meanwhile, is it really safe to protect students from "offensive" debate? "'It's amazing to me that they can't distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech, between racism and discussions of racism,' Ms. Kaminer said in an email. "

At Naked Capitalism:
- "Bill Black: The DOJ and the SEC Spurn their Ace in the Hole - Richard Bowen." That would be because everyone wants to protect the banksters.
- "Epic Fail for the Postal Service: The Wrong Model and the Wrong Board"

"Waka Flocka Flame Didn't Make Anyone Say the N-Word [...] This is no defense of Waka, an awful rapper whose tracks sound like they come from a "Chappelle's Show" skit about awful rappers. But..."

What Atrios said: "If only there were some press outlets and television networks that would give some attention to Senator McCain in order to disprove his point. Oh, wait..."

Rahm needs Republicans. And it sounds like he may get them.

Erick Erickson of Red State notices a problem with his party: What the hell does the GOP stand for anymore other than 'we're not Obama'? No kidding. He's more competent. The GOP, at this point, stands for nothing and the highest bidder at the same time." Now, if only Democrats can stop standing for nothing more than, "At least we're not the Republicans," not to mention the highest bidder....

Police who stand with big sticks

Falsely-imprisoned for 39 years, former death row inmate to receive $1,008,055.80 in compensation.

Oh, God, Sheila Jeffreys has written another hateful book. Roz Kaveney reports.

Taylor Mali: "What do teachers make?"

"Okay, but it's not just about getting paid to prance around in a princess costume."

New Alzheimer's treatment fully restores memory function in 75% of treated mice.

Massive Underground Ocean Discovered on Ganymede, Jupiters Largest Moon!

Cosplay made...different.

Dalek Relaxation Tape

Minutes of the March 2015 Ankh-Morpork Assembly Transport Committee

Fireworks in Glasgow

1928 England in color

Many years ago, I was sitting around chatting with Christopher Priest and Rob Hansen and somehow we ended up with Chris talking about being a baby accountant and going up to Liverpool and finding out about the Cavern Club and meeting some people who would change his life. And we made him write it all down for us so we could make a one-shot fanzine and get a few other of our favorite people to contribute to it, and that fanzine was Chuch and that article was "Thank You, Girls".

The Beatles

21:40 GMT comment

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


Back in 2002 I talked about some authors who were in my pantheon of the Good Guys, and the gods know PTerry rated way up there with me. Like Jo Walton, I delighted in running into him at a party or convention, but I was often frankly awed by the way, in his books, he could hold up some of our ugliest traits and show us how silly and stupid we were when we expressed them - and still show us how good we can be, too. His light-hearted tone may have disguised the seriousness of his subject for some, but we weren't fooled into thinking they were just romps through fantasy's clichés. Terry Pratchett knew how awful we are, but he also knew about the rest, too: the good, the strong, the heroism of those who work in the background and know that their acts can never even be seen let alone rewarded, the heart that loves and believes. Terry made us laugh and made us love, and that is no small thing.

I chose some of these links for the pictures, because there are some great ones here. I'm mad at myself for never having thought to shoot a few of him when I was around him, but the moment never emerged, and that's life. (I am also, by the way, completely outraged that fate took Terry and Iain away from us so soon and so close together, and if I believed in "God" I would believe in giving him a good smack in the face, too.)

Obit at Tor.com

"Leaving Early to Avoid the Rush: Sir Terry Pratchett Has Passed Away at 66"

Andrew Brown at the Guardian, "Without Terry Pratchett, the world is less magical."

Tributes from some of his better known fans

"23 Of The Most Beautiful Terry Pratchett Quotes To Remember Him By"

Neil Gaiman on Thursday, 12 March, and Neil last September.

With video at the Guardian

And, of course, Roz Kaveney wrote a poem.

* * * * *

Panelists RJ Eskow and Andrew Jones talked about the Ferguson Report and the persistence of institutional vestiges of Jim Crow--and its manifestation in Oklahoma. Iran negotiations and Bibi's visit and the Republican modern Know Nothings' grasp of "foreign policy." Vanishing email and the implementation of government transparency laws, viewed through the prism of Hilary's, Jeb's, and the State Department email systems, on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

For a change I can agree with Kos without restraint: Hell yes! Donna Edwards for Senate! Stop that little weed Chris van Hollen in his tracks. And, while we're at it, we need someone to take van Hollen's Congressional seat, as well.

A social worker got fired for writing this article.

A dagger pointed at the heart of Texas, Chapter 2: "Obama absurdly declares Venezuela a security threat" - I wonder when Obama is going to start getting the Alzheimer's defense.

"Evidence the DEA Attempted to Alter Testimony on Drug War Massacre in Honduras"

William Greider, "Wrong-Way Obama? Disregard the happy talk from the Obama White House. The stagnant global economy remains at the precipice of something worse - full-blown deflation. And the so-called US recovery remains shaky, despite good employment numbers. Here and abroad, the governing authorities seem to have forgotten a key aspect of our situation: we live now in a globalized economy, in which one nation's cold can lead to another country's pneumonia. Their ignorance is shocking, but also dangerous." Well, I don't know about that - I think they re-wrote the laws that way on purpose.

Edroso unpacks Brooks: "David Brooks says he has "taken [my] column in a spiritual and moral direction of late" -- or rather he says people (presumably A-list guests at Brooks' Vast Entertainment Space) have noticed that he has -- and explains that he has seen how well rich kids behave and how badly poor kids behave and so he is convinced that America needs poor kids to have more of what the rich kids have, namely money. Ha ha, kidding! The poors must have "social repair," which is less expensive than money. His models are England's Second Great Awakening and the Great Depression, events which few of us beyond fundamentalist lunatics and Stanley Kurtz would care to live through" (via)

Will the "Congressman with Guts" become Senator Grayson? Stay tuned....

- "Rahm Emanuel allegedly screams at mental health activists - after running ad admitting he 'can rub people the wrong way'"
- "Rahm Snaps at Mental-Health Advocates: 'You're Gonna Respect Me!'"
- Chicago causing rear-end collisions for money
- Rahm Emanuel's Housing Agency Sitting On Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars With Massive Waitlist
- Just put a stake in him, Chicago.

"After Beating FBI Entrapment, Environmental Activist Eric McDavid Looks Forward"

- "The Possibility of Escape" - This is Kathy Kelly writing from behind prison walls, where the prisoners are more human than the society that put them there.
- "Private Prison Companies Foresee Increased Profits as Ruling Limits Immigrant Detentions" - The Obama administration put that loophole right up front by saying they simply can't give the "deterrent" reason for treating people horribly.
- "Jails: Time to Wake Up to Mass Incarceration in Your Neighborhood"
- "Despite Uptick in Prisoner Release, Injustices Persist at Guantanamo

"How Many Minimum Wage Hours Does It Take To Afford A Two-Bedroom Apartment In Your State? "In no state can a minimum wage worker afford a two-bedroom unit at Fair Market Rent, working a 40-hour work week, without paying more than 30% of their income."

Will Cannabis be the new wonder drug?

Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk are doing a show about two actors who used to play a space captain and his pilot and one got really famous and the other didn't and goes to conventions instead. Also featuring Gina Torres and other actors from the Whedon stable.

"18 reasons Buffy The Vampire Slayer was the best show on TV" - Happy 18th birthday. And I still miss Xander.
- Joss Whedon's original movie script for Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Traffic - Live In Stockholm

14:05 GMT comment

Wednesday, 04 March 2015

All in time

Okay, since a few people know and a lot of other people have guessed, I'll admit that this medical crap is kind of suppressing a lot of my ability to focus on blogging. If my doctors are to be believed, I will be just fine, although there will be some period where I will likely be very short of enthusiasm for, well, moving.

RIP Leonard Nimoy, at 83. I never met him or anything like that, but everything I knew about him told me he was cool, kind, and fun. Lot of sadness in my world the moment the news broke. And here's Leonard Nimoy's last tweet.
William Shatner stole Leonard Nimoy's bike.

Appropriately, as a guests on Virtually Speaking Sundays, Spocko and Digby, both commentators on media, commemorated Leonard Nimoy and discussed his impact on our way of thinking in his most famous role. And how far we have veered away from that.

"FCC overrules state laws to help cities build out municipal broadband: Before it tackles net neutrality, the FCC is setting a major precedent for municipal broadband: it's just voted to preempt state laws that were preventing two cities from building out their own locally run broadband networks. The decision was prompted by separate petitions from Wilson, North Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee - both cities that've established high-speed, gigabit internet services, but have been barred from expanding to neighboring communities due to existing state laws. So far, 19 states have similar regulations to those that the FCC is overriding in Wilson and Chattanooga, but today's ruling affects only those two specific cases." We need to make this national.

If you heard that Obama vetoed the Keystone Pipeline, understand that that's not quite true. He vetoed a step of process, not the bill. But gee, it I'm sure it sounds good to uninformed Obama supporters.

Charlie is on A different cluetrain and lists the axioms of a paradigm shift in political reality as the Robber Barons once again take control of the terrain.

Google decides to do evil, then relents. Banning adult content was obviously a stupid idea. I can't imagine who came up with it in the first place. What were they drinking?

This is interesting: "Actress Emma Thompson and her husband refuse to pay 'a penny more' in taxes until HSBC tax evaders go to jail. [...] 'I want to stop paying tax, until everyone pays tax,' Wise told the Evening Standard. 'I have actively loved paying tax, because I am a profound fucking socialist and I believe we are all in it together. But I am disgusted with HMRC. I am disgusted with HSBC. And I'm not paying a penny more until those evil bastards go to prison.'"

Atrios has been keeping me up to date with Rahm Emanuel's problems (and also makes a side point about the reason something called "neighborhood schools" used to be universally regarded as a good thing) and why he's having them. And he really, really is a horrible person. And the revelation that the Chicago police have their very own black sites certainly didn't enhance his image as a man who stood for Truth, Justice, and The American Way. The possibility that Chicago could be getting rid of Rahm and replace him with someone who actually cares about citizens seems almost too good to be true.

"Israeli Claims About Iran Nuclear Program Denied By Own Spy Agency"

Debunking the Corporate Case For Fast Track Trade Authority

From the only official to go to prison in connection with torture: "CIA Torture Whistleblower: US Government Lacks 'the Guts' to Face Its Crimes: John Kiriakou's advice to future national security whistleblowers: 'Get a lawyer first.'"

No one could have predicted that Obama would support Rahm Emanuel's campaign.

An incomplete list of lies our news media told

Suppressing the Republican vote

Greg Benford has posted his Trapdoor article about the legendary Sidney Coleman online. There's a reason why some of our friends thought Terry Carr must have made him up, but I can testify that he was very real and just as cool and funny as the legends specified.

"Chocolate snorting offers new way to a cocoa high."

Wonder Woman with curves

If you can do Facebook, 365 days in 40 seconds

Trailer for Joss Whedon's In Your Eyes

The Motown Sound - 16 Big Hits Vol. 7 (1967)

Marvin Gaye, "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby"

The Fireflies

14:04 GMT comment

Friday, 20 February 2015

One less bell to answer

This is a big bunch of catch-up, here, 'cause it's been a helluva few weeks.

Gaius Publius interviewed Alan Grayson on Virtually Speaking, where Grayson discussed "how he 'cracked the nut' that allows him to get progressive legislation passed. Part of his secret - his goal is to be a person who 'gets things done for the progressive movement,' not a person who introduces bills and 'then does nothing' with them. In the last two weeks of the last Congress alone, for example, he passed 15 progressive amendments."
- Cliff Schecter and Spocko discussed Boehner's independent Israel summit mistake and Brian Williams' little fibs and what the current media tone means, and how to try to take advantage of the current state of embarrassment in the media to try to get more opposing voices into the discussion of war, on Virtually Speaking Sundays, where Culture of Truth also reported on a question never asked before on the Sunday talk shows.
- Matthew Sutton, Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor of History at Washington State University, discussed his book, American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism, on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. "The book describes the rise of the pre-millenialist foundation of modern evangelicalism, and how it has affected social and political participation of the very large fraction of Americans who believe the Second Coming is something we can expect to experience in the next generation or so."
- Dave Johnson & JoanMcCarter, "Which lies really matter, Brian WIlliams' or Dick Cheney's? GOP governors and Medicaid expansion encapsulated in King v Burwell and the tension in the party between doing as the Koch's command and what their constituents need.," on Virtually Speaking Sundays

Obama's progressive picks!
- Marcy Wheeler, "Loretta Lynch: Not Enough Evidence to Charge HSBC Banksters"
- Ring of Fire, "Only Obama and Wall Street Criminals will Love Loretta Lynch as AG"
- Crooks and Liars, "After Laundering $800M In Drug Money, How Did HSBC Executives Avoid Jail?"

The FCC Chairman's plan to ensure network neutrality.

The newspaper many of us refer to as the Torygraph nevertheless has some great news coverage compared to most other British newspapers, but a funny thing happened with their HSBC coverage....

Dean Baker, "Throw the Truth Out the Door: President Obama Has to Pass a Trade Deal: Wow, this stuff just keeps getting worse. Apparently anything goes when the big corporations want a trade deal. Otherwise serious people will just make stuff up, because hey, the big campaign contributors want a trade deal to make themselves richer. The latest effort in creative myth-making comes from Third Way, which tells us that post-NAFTA trade deals aren't job losers like NAFTA." Yeah, right.

A "meritocracy" is a society in which people who have too much money think they are better than you even though they are as manifestly stupid as this rank stupidity from Michael Bloomberg.

Natasha Chart is glad that her heartbreaking situation wasn't made worse: "I Had an Ectopic Pregnancy, and Anti-Choice Laws Could Have Made My Experience Much Worse."

Ian Welsh, being tempted by thoughts of Revolution, but like some of his commenters, I think that road leads to madness. He revisits the subject here.

Bernie Sanders speaks at The Brookings Institution.

Lee Camp talks to Presidential Candidate Jill Stein on Redacted Tonight.

John Oliver on Doctors who market to doctors.

A sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, written in 1960.

David Tennant receives National Television Award for being Best David Tennant.

Photo: Something seems wrong here.

Gnome Liberation Front strikes Boulder.

RIP: Gary Owens, 80. He wrote for Rocky & Bullwinkle and Fractured Flickers, but we heard his voice our whole lives, the man who minted the phrase "Beautiful Downtown Burbank" and was the on-camera announcer on Laugh-In, and a lot of other things. We loved him.
- Lesley Gore, 68. She sang one of the great early feminist pop anthems.
- Joe Challmes, fondly remembered newsroom character at The Baltimore Sun. Ettlin left out that although at first he didn't look like much, he sure had beautiful eyes.

If you can deal with Facebook, Lenny Kravitz posted a neat little video from New Orleans.

It's not unusual for science fiction authors to have a sideline.

Everything we know about corsets is false?

Keb' Mo'

Fifth Dimension

00:11 GMT comment

Monday, 02 February 2015

Take my hand as the sun descends

I am going to be a little busy for the next few days. Wish me luck.

On Virtually Speaking, Charles Lencher joined Jay to talk about corruption in New York politics and Andrew Cuomo.

"Barrett Brown Sentenced to Five Years, Vows to Keep Investigating Government Wrongdoing [...] 'The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they're now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex,' Brown said mischievously in a written statement following his sentencing. 'For the next 35 months, I'll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world's greatest prison system.' 'Wish me luck!' he added."

There is simply no excuse for Hugging the Saudi floggers

Nice take-down by Alex Pareene of Jonathan Chait's latest freak-out against political correctness - or rather, of people failing to show proper respect for Jonathan Chait. And Glenn Greenwald said: "It would be wonderful on one level if all criticisms were expressed in the soft and respectful tones formalized in the U.S. Senate, but it's good and necessary when people who wield power or influence are treated exactly like everyone else, which means that sometimes people say mean and unfair things about you in not-nice tones. Between erring on the side of people with power being treated with excess deference or excess criticisms, the latter is vastly preferable."

12-Point Platform - I think I might quibble with this but it's good for thinking about.

Ice cream made easy

"Prize-Winning Animation Lets You Fly Through 17th Century London" - Strangely reminded me of the Ankh Morpork simulation in Second Life.

The Langston Hughes Google Doodle

We haven't had much news lately from the shadowy Gnome Liberation Front, but I think we may know who is stirring up all the trouble.

Susie Bright at the church of Patti Smith

10:47 GMT comment

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The long struggle for sleep

This looks like some genuine good news, for a change: "Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without warrants or criminal charges. Holder's action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs." Oh, but wait: "Holder's decision allows limited exceptions, including illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives and property associated with child pornography, a small fraction of the total. This would eliminate virtually all cash and vehicle seizures made by local and state police from the program." So, they can still take your house for child porn, eh? Watch for a sudden upsurge on that one, because it's really easy to frame someone for it. Susie Madrak talked about this in more detail on Virtually Speaking Sundays. Or, in short form: "Good, this should help. But this still leaves a double standard in place for some crimes. What this means, as a practical matter, is that local and police state departments will focus their energies on the firearms and child porn busts, because they'll be determined to fill those gaping holes in their budgets."

Johann Hari has written what sounds like a really good book on the War On (Some People Who Use Some) Drugs, and Sam Seder interviewed him on The Majority Report - recommended, there's some stuff in there that even I didn't know.
- Sammy also talked to Scott Horton about Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America's Stealth Warfare and to Karl Widerquist on The Case for a Basic Income.

"It's not just Fox News: How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe for Wall Street"
- "The Fault, Dear Voter, Lies Not in Our Stars, But in Our Democrats - Thomas Frank Adds His Voice"

"Perhaps the Most Important Question About the Democratic Party Right Now: Over at U.S. News & World Report, Pat Garofalo has a very interesting piece up that asks 'Are Democrats Trolling the Left?' This question deserves some serious consideration, because the answer could tell us a huge amount about American politics over the next several years."

Yves Smith, "Senator Warren and America Win in a Skirmish in a Long Struggle Against Wall Street's Coup."
- Also at Naked Capitalism, "MMT Versus the CBO: Replacing the Budget Constraint with an Inflation Constraint" - now that Stephanie Kelton is the Chief Economist of the Senate Budget Committee.

"It's Not Just the Cops: Public defenders know that the trouble with our justice system extends far beyond abusive policing"

"Most of America's rich think the poor have it easy" - you know, because of all those wonderful benefits they get.

James Fallows on "The Tragedy of the American Military: The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can't win."

"Prosecuting corporate culprits" - There are crimes that normal people get prosecuted for and go to jail. When you do it large, you should be tried for those crimes, too, right? Maybe it's starting.

Commenter ksix reminds us that Mario Cuomo was no great liberal hero - but my point was that he came outta nowhere with a message that spoke to the people, and with a little help from Jimmy Breslin, he became governor of New York. Now, if we could only get a real one....

"Speaking While Female" - You already know this, but every now and then someone does a study or writes an article about how women get interrupted more or guys grab their ideas and take credit for them or whatever. It's particularly fun when you're the one person in the room who can actually answer a question, or has any expertise in the subject, or even has an idea, and they still won't let you finish what you're saying. (And hey, remember this?)

- Faith Seidenberg, 91, one of the women who invaded McSorley's all-male bar.
- Al Bendich, 85, successful free speech lawyer for Ginsberg, Ferlingetti, and Lenny Bruce.
- Kim Fowley, 75, music producer and influential background figure from doo-wop to heavy metal, P.J. Proby and the Runaways, all over the industry. You can blame him for this: "Introducing John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band at a festival in Toronto in 1969, and knowing that Lennon was experiencing a bout of anxiety at the prospect of facing a crowd of 20,000 with a new band, Fowley invited the audience to welcome the musicians by striking matches or holding up lighters - the first recorded instance of what would become a rock and roll tradition."

Beth Moon's photos of ancient trees

Bev Doolittle, How many horses?

Gourmet Paper Mache Dragon

"That Doesn't Make Sense"

The Beatles in A Midsummer Night's Dream

"I'm Only Sleeping"

00:03 GMT comment

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

It's The Same Old Song

In the further adventures of Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman on Virtually Speaking Sundays, topics discussed included France declaring war on terror, James Fallows on the military industrial complex, and NYPD vs the Mayor and the Commissioner, with Political satire from Culture of Truth.

Gaius Publius, "'Open Rebellion' Pays Off - Warren & Progressives Sink Obama Nominee Antonio Weiss" - which sounds like good news. Now they just have to stop Loretta Lynch.

And now, the moment Obama has been waiting for, his big chance to finally get The Grand Bargain to save the disability hostages! "New GOP Congress Fires Shot At Social Security On Day One [...] The House GOP's rule change would still allow for a reallocation from the retirement fund to shore up the disability fund -- but only if an accompanying proposal "improves the overall financial health of the combined Social Security Trust Funds," per the rule, expected to be passed on Tuesday. While that language is vague, experts say it would likely mean any reallocation would have to be balanced by new revenues or benefit cuts."

"Democrats, in a stark shift in messaging, to make big tax-break pitch for middle class" - Well, it's not that big, and it's just amazing how they didn't get these bright ideas before 2010... Oh, wait.

Kudos to O'Malley, because whatever other complaints we may have about him, his actions to get rid of the death penalty in Maryland have genuinely been fruitful, and his commutation of the last DP sentences left is a very good thing.

So, it turns out that Justice doesn't want James Risen to testify after all. "As Josh Gerstein first reported, the government has just asked the judge in the Jeffrey Sterling trial, Leonie Brinkema, to declare James Risen unavailable as a witness. After having defended their own right to call Risen as a witness all the way to the Supreme Court, claiming all the way they need Risen to prove their case, they're now saying Sterling should not be able to call him." I guess they're pretty miffed that he won't disclose his sources.

So, this Councilman tells the local newspaper that he's gonna send his lawyers after him for using his name in stories without his authorization. That's right, he thinks he can do that. And the editorial response is very entertaining. There's only one problem: Although they stress the whole "free speech" idea, they make no mention of the public servants are accountable to the public idea.

A little truth from David Horsey

You would think, in the current climate, that the governor of Missouri would have pardoned a 61-year-old man who is serving life without parole for possession of five pounds of marijuana. But not Jay Nixon.

For the first time ever, an Albuquerque PD cop will be charged with murder for killing someone: "The APD has one of the highest rates of officer involved shootings in the country and the body cam footage of James Boyd's execution helped to raise national awareness to this problem. James Boyd, 38, had been camping in a spot deemed 'illegal' by the state in March of last year. APD officers were dispatched, in full paramilitary force, to remove the man from his camp site."

Chris Floyd, "Hunger Games: Western Terror Warriors Spurn Their Innocent Victims : So now there is no money left for the Syrian refugees created by the civil war fomented and fanned for years on end by Western governments. (Who, bizarrely, then prosecute any of their citizens who go off to fight in the war their governments promote as a noble and worthy cause.) For want of $64 million - the amount of money the US spends in an eyeblink on its drone campaigns and death squads, the kind of money that's just chump change for, say, oligarchs who prowl the world destabilizing governments and monetizing misery for their own pockets - the UN says it must halt a vital support program for Syrian refugees."

I like the way the Mirror reported this story: "Cancer caused by 'bad luck' more than 'lifestyle choices' according to shock new study"

We got a nice name-check from The Raw Story: "Scientists confirm there are two different forms of female squirting during climax". The link to our original paper (and the BBFC's reply) is here.

Gotta admit, I got a fine giggle over the Muslim City of Birmingham story. I always get a chuckle out of the tales of Sharia law haunting the streets of London.

Blasts from the past:
- Pete Hamill, 1969, "The Revolt of the White Lower Middle Class [...] The White Lower Middle Class? Say that magic phrase at a cocktail party on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and monstrous images arise from the American demonology. Here comes the murderous rabble: fat, well-fed, bigoted, ignorant, an army of beer-soaked Irishmen, violence-loving Italians, hate-filled Poles. Lithuanians and Hungarians (they are never referred to as Americans). They are the people who assault peace marchers, who start groups like the Society for the Prevention of Negroes Getting Everything (S.P.O.N.G.E.), the people who hate John Lindsay and vote for George Wallace, presumably because they believe that Wallace will eventually march every black man in America to the gas chambers, sending Lindsay and the rest of the Liberal Establishment along with them. Sometimes these brutes are referred to as "the ethnics" or "the blue-collar types." But the bureaucratic, sociological phrase is White Lower Middle Class. Nobody calls it the Working Class anymore."
-2009, "The High Cost of Poverty: Why the Poor Pay More"

I'm not sure how to sum up this little story without spoilling it, but it's the kind of thing you always wish would happen - and, apparently, it did.

"Once-In-A-Lifetime Chance To Spot The Green Glow Of Comet Lovejoy - Chance would be a fine thing for a clear night and remembering to go out and look.

I think these photos are meant to be someone dancing with clouds of powdered coffee creamer.

A love story told in lattes

Renaissance superheroes and Star Wars characters

Toolbox in your hair

The Four Tops

16:24 GMT comment

Thursday, 08 January 2015

Were you telling lies?

On learning that Mario had died just a few hours after his awful son was sworn in for another term, my first thought was, "He probably couldn't stand the thought of watching Andrew do even more damage to the state he once governed, as well as the family name." I was just going to post a link to an obit and a link to the famous 1984 speech, but Roy Edroso has it covered here, along with what should also be the epitaph of several pernicious neoliberals along the way. Cuomo did have something going for him that no future potential candidate will have, which was Jimmy Breslin. But when you think about what he was and where he came from, you remember what people do to defeat bad candidates, which is run good candidates. And we will not get rid of the bad ones until the good ones stop waiting for a hero and start being that hero.

"Let's abandon the Democrats: Stop blaming Fox News and stop hoping Elizabeth Warren will save us [...] It took more than the usual civic sloth to produce the lowest turnout in 72 years. It took alienating vast voting blocs, including the young and the working class of both genders and all races. The young now trend Republican. Voters of all ages migrate to third parties or abandon politics altogether. It's the biggest Democratic defection since the South switched parties in the 1960s. If Democrats don't change their ways, their 2016 turnout will be a lot harder to gin up than they think."
- Americans Are Sick to Death of Both Parties: Why Our Politics Is in Worse Shape Than We Thought [...] But our cautious guess is that turnout in this year's Congressional races will finally weigh in at around 36 percent of the potential electorate that had legal rights to cast a ballot."
- "Why the Democrats Need Labor Again" is an interview by Timothy Noah of Thomas Geoghegan, author of Which Side Are You On? Trying To Be For Labor When It's Flat On Its Back and now Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs A New Kind of Labor Movement.

Bill Moyers episode, "American Indians Confront "Savage Anxieties": Earlier this month, as part of the $585 billion defense bill for 2015, Congress passed a measure that would give lands sacred to American Indians in Arizona to a foreign company. The deal gives the Australian-English mining firm Rio Tinto 2,400 acres of the Tonto National Forest in exchange for several other parcels so it can mine a massive copper deposit."

"Congressional Research Service Report On Tax Cuts For Wealthy Suppressed By GOP (UPDATE): The New York Times reported on Thursday that Senate Republicans applied pressure to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) in September, successfully persuading it to withdraw a report finding that lowering marginal tax rates for the wealthiest Americans had no effect on economic growth or job creation. "The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical," the Times reported. Democrats in Congress, however, have resurfaced the report and published it in full. It can be read below. Republicans told the Times they had issues with the tone, wording and scope of the report, but they clearly objected most strongly to its findings, which undermine the governing fiscal philosophy of the party, that tax cuts for the wealthy will spur growth and benefit everybody." Actually, I think tax cuts for the wealthy do indeed have an impact on job creation, in that the wealthier the wealthy get, the more power they have to effect policies that make them richer and everyone else poorer. The situation is now so bad that we not only need a 91% top marginal rate, but we need an actual wealth tax that takes money away from people simply because they have too much of it - flat-out confiscation of anything over $10m would just be a start.

The NYPD really does have the worst, stupidest reason in the world to hate Bill de Blasio. (There's a certain irony in watching Giuliani pretend the cops never demanded that he stay away from their funerals, but the question still remains: Why is he still on TV?)

"Who Is Watching You? Companies and institutions track us almost indiscriminately. Is this the world we want to live in?: Who is watching you? This was once a question asked only by kings, presidents, and public figures trying to dodge the paparazzi and criminals trying to evade the law. The rest of us had few occasions to worry about being tracked."

"Glenn Greenwald: "On March 6, 2012, six British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by a roadside explosive device, and a national ritual of mourning and rage ensued. Prime Minister David Cameron called it a 'desperately sad day for our country.' A British teenager, Azhar Ahmed, observed the reaction for two days and then went to Facebook to angrily object that the innocent Afghans killed by British soldiers receive almost no attention from British media. He opined that the UK's soldiers in Afghanistan are guilty, their deaths deserved, and are therefore going to hell [...] The following day, Ahmed was arrested and 'charged with a racially aggravated public order offense.' The police spokesman explained that 'he didn't make his point very well and that is why he has landed himself in bother.' The state proceeded to prosecute him, and in October of that year, he was convicted 'of sending a grossly offensive communication,' fined and sentenced to 240 hours of community service. [...] In sum, this is not merely an attack on free speech but on specific ideas. Writing about Ahmed's case in The Guardian, Richard Seymour described him as 'the latest victim of a concerted effort to redefine racism as "anything that could conceivably offend white people."'"

"If Florida Counties Have To Marry The Gays, They Just Won't Marry Anyone. Happy Now, The Gays?"

"Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use" (.pdf) "The reality of self-defense gun use bears no resemblance to the exaggerated claims of the gun lobby and gun industry."

My horrible right-wing past: Confessions of a one-time religious right icon

Ever wonder what it would look like if the Grand Canyon got covered in snow? Well, now we know. Must mean Al Gore is fat.

Joseph Califano says the movie Selma tells a false story about LBJ. "As a result, the film falsely portrays President Lyndon B. Johnson as being at odds with Martin Luther King Jr. and even using the FBI to discredit him, as only reluctantly behind the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and as opposed to the Selma march itself. In fact, Selma was LBJ's idea, he considered the Voting Rights Act his greatest legislative achievement, he viewed King as an essential partner in getting it enacted - and he didn't use the FBI to disparage him."

Police Stop, Handcuff Every Adult at Intersection in Search for Bank Robber.

More scary news about water.

How to control the masses
True story


The Honest Tube Map

My .gif of the day

I think this is the recipe my mom used to use. I loved them. I miss them. Maybe I should try to make some. If I can get off the internet long enough....

Gosh, I never knew this!

This ain't tap dancing, but I have finally seen something I would class with the Nicholas Brothers. Breathtaking.

The Beatles, perfect through your car radio.

00:01 GMT comment

Sunday, 28 December 2014

You can leave your hat on

Christmas ran away with me completely this year. A 3-yr-old helped me decorate my tree, and her favorite color is pink, so there were lots of bright pink balls clumped together at the bottom where she can reach. I was going to leave it that way and take a picture with the camera I'm supposed to be getting for my birthday (the old one having decided this was a good time to die), but shortly thereafter the Christmas lights stopped working and had to be replaced, which meant some of the decorations had to come off the tree, and Mr. Sideshow did not preserve the baby hurricane's unique contribution to the tree-trimming in the process, since he thought the distribution of pink balls should have been more even and made it so. I will report that I now have Betty Boop earrings, Betty Boop slipper-socks, and Betty Boop perfume (a different one), but the traditional Christmas post kinda got lost in the battle for time and/or sleep, so here are the traditional links, but without the fanfare:
- Mark Evanier's wonderful Mel Tormé story, and here's the man himself in duet with Judy Garland.
- Joshua Held's Christmas card, with a little help from the Platters.
- Brian Brink's virtuoso performance of "The Carol of the Bells"
- "Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime."
- Ron Tiner's one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol

Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman struggled with the question of What is to be done? on Virtually Speaking Sundays. I don't think they came up with any answers, but they raised some more good questions. Like, now that you know that other people are yelling at the television, what are you doing about it?

"St. Louis prosecutor admits witnesses likely lied under oath." Gee, I wonder why people are mad?

I guess it's a measure of how awful the leadership Dems have been that I was actually shocked to hear that one of their rancid number actually did something good when "Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State." It's such an obviously right thing I just assumed he wouldn't do it.

"Snyder signs suspicion-based drug testing bills: LANSING - Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation today that creates a drug-testing program for adult welfare recipients who are suspected of using drugs. The Republican-backed proposals, House Bill 4118 and Senate Bill 275, were among several bills approved by Snyder. The one-year pilot program will be implemented in three counties that have not yet been determined. Under the program, welfare recipients or applicants suspected of drug use will be required to take a substance abuse test. Refusal to take the test will result in being ineligible for benefits for six months." Think about that. Why would you have such a thing? If people are on drugs, doesn't that mean they need more help?

"Investigators Said to Seek No Penalty for C.I.A.'s Computer Search [...] A panel investigating the Central Intelligence Agency's search of a computer network used by staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who were looking into the C.I.A.'s use of torture will recommend against punishing anyone involved in the episode, according to current and former government officials." [froth..sputter...gnash]

Scalia doesn't mind if employers break their contracts and reneg on promised benefits.

It's true that Elizabeth Warren did not get Larry Summers and Tim Geithner thrown in jail where they belong, but I really don't think it was her intention or her doing to make him look elsewhere for a job that made him even richer. Yet, the Bloomberg story makes it look like she set up some kind of special deal to load him up with too much money. It's a weird article from start to finish, almost suggesting that she manipulated the situation for Summers' benefit, but also saying, "Nyaah, nyaah, nyaah, Elizabeth Warren! Larry Summers is even more filthy rich and it's all because you wouldn't let him run the Federal Reserve!."

Robert Kuttner, "Schumer's Delicate Dance with Wall Street: Last week, I wrote a piece in this space lamenting the fact that so many Democrats had voted for a budget package that gutted a key provision of the Dodd-Frank Act. The so called swaps push-out provision, now repealed, required banks to separate their speculative business in derivatives from depository banking covered by government insurance and further protected by the Federal Reserve. The broader budget deal, technically a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through next September, also cut a lot of needed public spending and added several odious riders, including one that raises the ceiling on individual campaign contributions to party committees about tenfold. Had Democrats resolutely opposed the deal, I argued, it would have revealed Republicans as friends of Wall Street and enemies of Main Street -- a useful party differentiation between now and 2016. As it happened, the bill narrowly passed the House, over the strenuous objections of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and most of the Democratic Caucus. But 57 House Democrats voted for the deal, blurring party differences. In passing, I referred to New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, the chair of the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), as an "enabler" of the broader budget deal. Schumer, as the number-three person in the Senate leadership, supported the deal, and, I later learned, refused entreaties to use his influence to rid the measure of the gutting of a key provision of Dodd-Frank. I soon received an outraged phone message and email from Matt House, demanding that I issue a correction. House, the Communications Director for Schumer on the staff of the DPCC, dictated the Correction he requested me to run..."

David Dayen, "Elizabeth Warren's real beef with Antonio Weiss: What her fight against him is actually about [...] Warren believes that Weiss not does carry the necessary experience for the Treasury position, which oversees many elements of financial reform. She also believes that continually plucking top government officials out of Wall Street closes off alternative perspectives and ensures policies favorable to their interests. For their part, former Treasury officials who have held this position defended Weiss, calling him 'very well qualified' for the job. The nomination has become a proxy fight for a battle inside the Democratic Party over how to handle the financial industry. But that has paradoxically released some of the pressure on Weiss himself, and his investment banking career. In fact, Weiss' history symbolizes what has gone wrong with American-style capitalism, with its focus on financial engineering rather than creating good products people might want. His deal-making has led directly to tens of thousands of lost jobs and billions in bonuses and stock options for top executives and money managers, who in many cases loot the companies they acquire."

David Dayen, "Finally, a Financial Executive Is Sacked for His Company's Misdeeds."

Stunningly, the NYT editorial says, "Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses."

"Howie Kurtz mansplains the news: Fox's media reporter has some advice for lady journalists: President Obama caused something of a stir last Friday at his end of the year press conference when he made a point of only calling on women to ask questions. That had never happened before at a presidential press conference, and the reaction from most corners was one of approval - political journalism has long had a backslappy aura of 'boys club' bullshit attached to it, and anything that helps break down that nonsense can't be anything but positive. Not everyone was on board with the program, however."

"Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit, Challenging the Divine Right of Big Energy"

Uh oh: "Republicans Block Reappointment of CBO Chief Doug Elmendorf: Conservatives would like to change the way the CBO conducts its budget analysis."

"Why automatically believing all rape accusations actually makes it harder to fight rape"

RIP: Daughter of the Beast. Except, she seems to have lived an exemplary life, despite the fact that her father really was the man they called The Beast (before they started using that term for Ken Livingstone, of course): Aleister Crowley. Louise Shumway Muhler, 93. (Amusingly, I have learned that there are rumors Crowley had another daughter. How did I miss this!?)

Turns out my favorite book was the result of the best Christmas present ever.

John Cleese in conversation with Eric Idle at Live Talks Los Angeles (I only realized this exited because someone pointed me to this illustrated transcription of some of Cleese's remarks about Chapman toward the end.)

Martha Stewart's eggnog recipe
Joy of Cooking eggnog recipe

Your corset link for the day.

A Scientifically Accurate Version of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"

"The Future is Gold" ad

It's funny, it used to be near blasphemy for anyone who wanted rock cred to try to cover a Beatles song (because it was understood that you couldn't improve on the original), so not a lot of people tried. One guy had a good, long, run with it, though. Joe Cocker - With A Little Help From My Friends - Hammersmith Apollo, London - May 2013. (Huh, I never noticed that the lead guitarist on the record was Jimmy Page*.)
Joe Cocker - You Can Leave Your Hat On - Köln 2013
I can't remember now whether I first saw him at the Fillmore East or at Emergency. I think he may have been opening for the Jeff Beck Group. I just remember that no one seemed to be able to remember whether his name was "Cocker" or "Crocker". But everyone loved him instantly. RIP.

16:57 GMT comment

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Blue Christmas

Avedon Carol and Stuart Zechman were the panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. First topic was generated by Matt Stoller's piece, previously referenced here, on Why the Democratic Party Acts The Way It Does. Other homework for that segment includes the DLC document "The Hyde Park Declaration: A Statement of Principles and a Policy Agenda for the 21st Century". But the other topic was how we came to be the kind of country where respecting the authority of the police in all circumstances is so important that citizens can be killed for not doing it. So maybe homework should include this article from 2005: "Justices Rule Police Do Not Have a Constitutional Duty to Protect Someone."

Maybe we should call them the Supreme Clique, anyway, since they won't talk to anyone who isn't on the same page and they can't even figure out what the cops are supposed to be for. I mean, seriously: "Supreme Court: It's OK for Cops to Guess Wrong About What the Law Is: A robust 8-1 majority of the Supreme Court ruled today that, contrary to folk belief, ignorance of the law is a perfectly good excuse - as long as it's a cop who's claiming ignorance." 8-1! Well, thank goodness Democrats keep appointing all those liberals to the bench, eh? I was almost afraid I'd find out the dissenter was one of the Republican appointees, but it was Sotomayor.
- And then there's always more from Scalia, who unsurprisingly found an interesting defense of torturing suspects on the grounds that it isn't "cruel and unusual punishment" of people who've already been convicted.

"Why it's so rare for police to be prosecuted for killing civilians, explained in 2 minutes" - Well, no, it explains why it's hard to convict them (because that's a defense argument), but it doesn't explain (a) why grand juries just don't happen to indict them and (b) why seeing someone being perfectly non-threatening scares a supposedly trained police officer to the point that they shoot them without, at the very least, being laughed off the force for being a pants-wetter. It doesn't explain how someone with so little sense of proportion that they kill harmless old men who don't want to go to the hospital or guys who are suspected of not paying a parking ticket or any number of other non-violent, non-felony infractions is on the force in the first place. Even cops who very definitely are not even close to following procedure use fatal choke-holds on such people and don't get prosecuted - but worse, the head of the police union describes this behavior as "good police work". What's that about? Claiming you shot an elderly gent in wheelchair because you were "in fear for your life" should be a firing offense just on the grounds that no one that easily frightened should be on the force, period. And these are the things the media should be talking about, instead of crap like this.
- Cenk says, "American Cops Kill With Startling Frequency Compared To Other Nations"
-Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post, "What America's police departments don't want you to know"

There were some demonstrations recently. All over the country. People just don't seem to like the idea that the cops can shoot you with impunity, it seems. Anyway, the media worked pretty hard to give the impression that nothing much happened that day and hardly anyone turned out for it, but that doesn't appear to have been true.

"Rabbis Recite Kaddish, Jewish Mourning Prayer, For Eric Garner, Later Arrested In NYC Protest"

The Constitution-free Zone

Mary Landrieu's bitter end: Why her complaints about Democrats abandoning her ring so hollow

Journalism furore: Buncha writers quit The New Republic in outrage and solidarity. Lotta people wonder where these principled journalists were when they did things like, oh, publishing all that crap on The Bell Curve as if it weren't a bunch of already-debunked racist crap. Ta-Nahisi Coates, for example. Wonkette explains what happened and puts it all in context. Via Atrios, who referred to it all as "The Most Entitled Whinefest In History."

The Mary Sue, "New UK Legislation Bans Female Ejaculation, Facesitting, Some BDSM From Streaming Porn"
- The F Word, "Restrictions on porn that protect no-one"
- Guardian, "Bound and gagged: the women urging a repeal of the porn laws"

History Department: Robert Moses, The Power Broker, and why the public wasn't overwhelmingly grateful.

"South Dakota Sadly Forced to Cancel 'Don't Jerk and Drive' Campaign ."

Stephen Colbert interviews Jamie Dimon Smaug.

Smokey Robinson on being black

Damn, I missed my chance on day 10 of the Headline Advent calendar.

"Virginia DMV Revokes World's Greatest License Plate"
- Well, I rather liked this one, too.

Hark! A Vagrant is a different kinda comic. Michael Abbot particularly wanted to call my attention to the one on Ida B. Wells.

Nichelle Nichols, still inspiring them.

James Brodie's comment on an earlier post's link to Dobie Gray performing "Drift Away" was, "The Neville Brothers would cover Drift Away. While Aaron would be the obvious lead, I can hear Art in there too. Poppa Funk!" And I thought, "That is such an obviously perfect idea that it must already be on YouTube." But, truthfully, I was disappointed. Gray's slower tempo leaves more room for the kind of vocalizations Aaron is so good at.

Stonehenge by Ikea

A Game of Shoes

The Avengers: An photograph

"Scottish Colloquialisms" featuring Karen Gillan

Enterprise Dance Floor (Star Trek Stabilized!)

Dear Santa

The annual Christmas porn

I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy. I love the comics and I enjoyed the movie, although I had a little trouble with Gamora as the bleeding-heart liberal of the group. And I think they should have gone with Drax's tats from the comics - he looks a bit pink with the ones he has in the flick. But hey, they got Rocket and Groot perfect, and that's what matters! Anyway, here's an Honest Trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy.

Moshe Feder says, "Chanukah starts Tuesday night and these guys do a great job with three holiday standards. (It's an irony of Jewish-American culture that our songwriters have written great Christmas songs, but nothing for Chanukah.)" This was fun to listen to.

"Blue Christmas with Porky Pig"

16:53 GMT comment

Monday, 01 December 2014

Time and tide

This is my Thanksgiving and Advent post. As always, I am grateful to all of you who have been a part of The Sideshow and made it possible. It's been a pretty busy period, what with having two separate Thanksgiving dinners to throw on the nearest Saturdays, along with a death in the family. So I don't have an Advent calendar list ready, but check out the Christmas Countdown Calendar Hunt Emerson is doing this year for Cancer Research UK, which unfortunately doesn't start until the 1st of December. Meanwhile, the addresses from last year often work, so give them a try. Oh, and of course, it's "Carol of the Bells" time.

"Ohio Could Pass the Country's Most Extreme "Secret Executions" Bill" - the most extreme, but by no means the only law that would eliminate checks and balances from the process.

William Greider, "How the Democratic Party Lost Its Soul [...] Instead of addressing this reality and proposing remedies, the Democrats ran on a cowardly, uninspiring platform: the Republicans are worse than we are. Undoubtedly, that's true - but so what? The president and his party have no credible solutions to offer. To get serious about inequality and the deteriorating middle class, Democrats would have to undo a lot of the damage their own party has done to the economy over the past thirty years. [...] Long ago, the party abandoned its working-class base (of all colors) and steadily distanced itself from the unglamorous conditions that matter most in people's lives. Traditional party bulwarks like organized labor and racial minorities became second-string players in the hierarchy that influences party policy. But the Dems didn't just lose touch with the people they claimed to speak for; they betrayed core constituencies and adopted pro-business, pro-finance policies that actively injure working people."

Here's Gaius Publius on "Harry Reid, Tax Extender Basics, And A Suggestion For Senate Progressives," or pushing back on stupid Democratic "deals".

Dean Baker tweeted, "Have fun with right-wing uncle, ask them why they favor government patent monopolies on prescription drugs," and linked to "Current drug-patent system is bad medicine [...] This rapid run-up in costs is exactly what economists would expect from an industry that is protected from competition by the government. Just as the old system of cost-plus contracts in the military sector led to outrageous charges for weapons purchased by the Defense Department, the system of government-granted patent monopolies gives companies little incentive to control costs and reduce waste. For this reason, it would not be surprising to find that major drug companies are seeing runaway cost increases. [...] This is why it is very bad news for people in the United States, India and the rest of the world that India is now reviewing its patent policy at the insistence of Barack Obama's administration. The White House wants India to adopt a much stronger patent regime that would limit the ability of its generic industry to provide low cost alternatives to expensive drugs in the United States."
- In related news, the real drug pushers. (via)

RJ Eskow, "Prosecute Now: The Justice Department Can Still Act Against Bad Bankers: It's been a grim period for American justice. Despite compelling evidence of widespread bank fraud in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis -- and despite all those billion-dollar settlements -- prosecutors have not indicted executives at any major U.S. bank. This stands in contrast to the much smaller savings and loan scandal of the 1980s, which led to the conviction of more than a thousand bankers. And as the Justice Department's criminal division remained idle in the aftermath of 2008, the statute of limitations passed for most of bankers' crimes. But there's a ray of hope: The bankers' own deep-seated propensity for cheating and corruption may have given prosecutors a new opportunity to indict them. With the upcoming departure of Attorney General Eric Holder, there is the chance to forge a new approach toward Wall Street lawbreaking by pursuing evidence of wrongdoing wherever it may lead."

Ta-Nahisi Coates on The Gospel of Rudy Giuliani, which is that, for some unclear reason, people should be more worried about "black on black violence" and not just about being murdered by cops. That's, you know, seriously needing a red-herring.

Hm. It's rather unusual for a prosecutor to go before a Grand Jury and present the defense for the accused. Boy, that guy really didn't want an indictment.
- "A prominent legal expert eviscerates the Darren Wilson prosecution, in 8 tweets"
- "It's Incredibly Rare For A Grand Jury To Do What Ferguson's Just Did"
- August's fine rant from Jon Stewart on Ferguson and race
- John Oliver last August on Ferguson, MO and Police Militarization
- "Video of Police Shooting of 12 Year Old Child Looks Almost Like a Drive-By"

What's wrong with this story? I think I'm being told that it's okay for cops to kill people if they are obnoxious first. And also that I shouldn't worry about it if I learn of it from a libertarian.

You can see why they want us to forget what Black Friday was.

Adam Serwer writes the RIP for The Mayor: "Why D.C. Will Always Love Marion Barry [...] From the outside, observers could see only Barry's flaws, his corruptions and addictions. The mystery of Barry's political survival despite numerous run-ins with the law, mismanagement of the city government, and numerous allegations of sexual assault is easier to solve if you know the history of the city. Barry didn't bring corruption to D.C. He changed who benefited from it." In The Chocolate City, the beneficiaries had all been white men until Barry came along. And boy, they punished the voters for re-electing him, too. The District of Columbia gets a substantial part of its budget from the rent it charges the government for use of its lands. Congress got so mad at Barry that they actually withheld the rent for several years running - and then blamed Barry for the budget problems. (via)

Stu Shiffman (1954-2014): Stu was our friend and brother and co-conspirator for the best part of our lives, a talented, funny, wonderful artist and dinner companion. I am grateful for the many gifts he brought us, and so, so sorry we will never hear his jokes or see his smile again.

066:33 GMT comment

Sunday, 23 November 2014

I look for the light through the pouring rain

Digby and David Dayen (dday) panelists last week on Virtually Speaking Sundays, discussing the "Supreme Court decision to revisit the constitutionality (!) of the PPACA exchanges; speculated on a GOP with control of the legislature, but no chance of overriding a veto; and celebrated (!) the hopeful news on net neutrality. Plus the Most Ridiculous Moment from satirist Culture of Truth."

David Dayen at Salon: "Grossest midterms winner not GOP! Why K Street is readying an 'orgy of lobbying': The saddest people in Washington during the past two years of unrelenting legislative gridlock ply their trade on K Street. When there's no hope of passing laws, there's no reason to hire expensive lobbyists to push for them. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, lobbyist spending fell 12.5 percent in 2013, and is on target to decrease even more this year. Some have speculated that lobbying has just gone underground into less-regulated spheres, funneled through nonprofits and 'astroturf' organizations. But if that were the case, K Street firms, mired in a three-year slump, wouldn't be so enthralled by the imminent transfer of Senate power to the GOP. 'We're very excited,' said one Republican lobbyist. 'There's going to be more activity ... Corporations and trade associations affected by Washington power will be looking to invest in those policy decisions.'"

David Dayen at The Fiscal Times: "The So-So Society: Democrats Have Forgotten What Made Them Great [...] Whether or not these points have merit, they are limited by the narrow range of mainstream party ideology. This is not the Democratic Party of your great-grandfather's New Deal or your grandfather's Great Society. The takeover of the party by more business-friendly interests - which ironically (or perhaps not) dates back to right around 1973, when wages decoupled from productivity - necessarily impoverishes the imagination around issues of economic security and prosperity."

Matt Taibbi, back at Rolling Stone, on "The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst Nightmare - she was there and she saw the disaster unfolding as Jamie Dimon's fraud machine went into action. But then she watched as Eric Holder made sure no one was held to account: "Fleischmann winced. Fully fluent in Holder's three-faced rhetoric after years of waiting for him to act, she felt that he was patting himself on the back for having helped companies survive crimes that otherwise might have triggered crippling regulatory penalties. As she watched in mounting outrage, Holder wrapped up his address with a less-than-reassuring pronouncement: 'I am resolved to seeing [the investigations] through.' Doing so, he added, would "reaffirm" his principles. Or, as Fleischmann translates it: 'I will personally stay on to make sure that no one can undo the cover-up that I've accomplished.'" Sam Seder interviewed Taibbi about the article on The Majority Report.

Matt Stoller at Naked Capitalism: "Why the Democratic Party Acts The Way It Does [...] Everything is put on the table, except the main course - policy. Did the Democrats run the government well? Are the lives of voters better? Are you as a political party credible when you say you'll do something? This question is never asked, because Democratic elites - ensconced in the law firms, foundations, banks, and media executive suites where the real decisions are made - basically agree with each other about organizing governance around the needs of high technology and high finance. The only time the question even comes up now is in an inverted corroded form, when a liberal activist gnashes his or her teeth and wonders - why can't Democrats run elections around populist themes and policies? This is still the wrong question, because it assumes the wrong causality. Parties don't poll for good ideas, run races on them, and then govern. They have ideas, poll to find out how to sell those ideas, and run races and recruit candidates based on the polling. It's ideas first, then the sales pitch. If the sales pitch is bad, it's often the best of what can be made of an unpopular stew of ideas. Still, you'd think that someone, somewhere would have populist ideas. And a few - like Zephyr Teachout and Elizabeth Warren - do. But why does every other candidate not? I don't actually know, but a book just came out that might answer this question. The theory in this book is simple. The current generation of Democratic policymakers were organized and put in power by people that don't think that a renewed populist agenda centered on antagonism towards centralized economic power is a good idea. The book, however, is not written by a populist liberal reformer. It's written by one of the guys who put the current system in place. And it's a really good and important story. The New Democrats and the Return to Power is the book, and Al From is the man who wrote it. From was one of the key organizers of this anti-populist movement, and he lays out his in detail his multi-decade organizing strategy and his reasons for what he did."
- John Emerson, "- Anti-populism one more time"
"Open Letter to Democrats From a Disillusioned Young Voter"
- Mike Flannigan on how "centrist" Democrats and their lies are a gift that keeps on giving - to the farthest right Republicans.
- Down With Tyranny!: "The Class of Rahm -- Why Not Move Beyond That Kind Of Disastrous Politics" (Related: "Rahm Took Campaign Cash From Companies Doing Business With Chicago" - He's a criminal. We need to get rid of this creep.)

"Local Officials Encourage Police To Seize Cars, Flatscreen TVs, And Computers From Civilians: Cops have the authority to seize items they suspect are linked to a crime, most individuals can't afford a lawyer to fight the forfeiture. And once the property is taken, it's extremely rare that they ever get it back." The perfect robbery - steal people's property and dare them to try to get it back. With a great presentation from John Oliver on Civil Forfeiture.

Uncle Sam's Databases of Suspicion

Fight to expand Social Security

Banksters ignoring the courts some more - collecting on debts you no longer owe.

For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man

Yves Smith updates us on the AIG bailout and tells us ISPs are removing customers' email encryption.

"Extreme Wealth Is Bad for Everyone - Especially the Wealthy" (Actually, I still don't buy "especially the wealthy" - it doesn't actually kill them.)

Man, I used to see McPherson in the WaPo for years, it's kinda scary and depressing to see him writing about what it's like to be poor - this was a guy who was the epitome of success for journalists, a Pulitzer winner and all. But it's a good piece.

Mrs Tara Plumbing: "Why I don't think Julien Blanc should be banned and I won't sign the petition" - I do wonder about people who even have time to get so exercised about such garden-variety sexism when the whole country is being taken apart from the top.

Benedict Cumberbatch on what Sherlock would be like on a date.

Two minutes of baby elephants.

Steve Winwood performing "Georgia on My Mind" with The Spencer Davis Group, 1967.

Dobie Gray, "Drift Away"

18:11 GMT comment

Monday, 10 November 2014

You just have to come to your own conclusion

This week on Virtually Speaking Sundays David Waldman (KagroX) and Dave Johnson did the election post-mortem.

Elsewhere, everybody's talkin' like the Democratic Party and "the left" took a beating in the election Tuesday, but by my lights the public did us all a favor by refusing to vote for Democrats whose only selling-point was that at least they weren't Republicans. Oh, yes, Begich lost, too, but no one really expects Alaska to turn blue, and he came a lot closer than people expected - although I expect he could have done better if he had gone stronger. And, unfortunately, the Democratic Party leadership was deliberately sabotaging anyone with a progressive message or record, so no surprises there. I mean, how can you lose when you have this great record to run on? Happily, however, we got rid of some of the worst Dems in the party, and no doubt those who don't get cushy jobs as lobbyists will all have to become talking heads on Fox and Press the Meat for a while. Harold Ford, move over!

Oh, but the carrying on! I can't believe that even on Alternet, there is nonsense about how the party might purge progressives in the future because the strong progressive message failed to bring Dems past the post. Y'what? Did Mark Pryor campaign on a strong progressive message? Did the national party project a progressive message? They did not. And the reason they did not is that they have already purged or whipped most of the progressives (such as they are) in the party and talk about crap like Social Security benefit cuts and hang out with people like Pete Peterson.

Progressives did badly? Oh? Remember what a nail-biter it was waiting for Franken to win Minnesota back in 2008? Well, that wasn't a problem this time around. The incumbent Democrats who got hammered in this election - lost, or came painfully close to losing - were Blue Dogs and DLC/Third Way/New Democrat types. No one really wanted to come out for them and so their "easy wins" never materialized. As Cliff Schecter pointed out on Friday's edition of The Majority Report, Third Way lost a bunch of its elite in this one. Not that it's stopped them from pretending the party needs to move to their "center", but that might just be a hard sell.

And where the voters had the chance to vote on issues, the left won handily. Ballot initiatives for legalizing weed, raising the minimum wage, and curtailing corporations did very well, even in states where Democrats lost. The details on who and what lost or won tell you a great deal. The so-called "left" - which these days seems to mean anyone who is not in the centers of power in DC and on Wall Street - seems to have won where they ran; it was right-wingers with a D after their names who took a bath. Which could be great news for the rest of us if only some real liberals decide to capitalize on it and jump into the ring.

No, it wasn't "the left" who lost the election, it was Obama's right-wing economic policies. Let Howie Klein and Ian Welsh tell you that story, with the help of a couple of pretty scary charts.

As our feathered friend says: "But I'd like to look back at something else. A while back, I wrote, 'To win the next election you have to deliver. Obama didn't deliver on jobs, housing, and banking, and it's pretty hard to message that away,' and also 'Faced with an election that is the crystallized result of essence of policy failure, Obama decides that he...sent the wrong message.' No, you idiots. You didn't send the wrong message. You bailed out the bankers and not the public. You let people be thrown out of their homes through rampant fraud. Six years after the crash, people are still out of work and you bargained away the unemployment insurance extension. Salaries have gone down. Most of us have gone through our savings and you have done nothing to help." That's a record to crash and burn on. See, it's still the economy, stupid.

Meanwhile, on the avowed anti-Obama right, there's just a little bit of dismay over the fact that Republicans now want to give Obama more power for the dreaded fast-track. (We can argue with whether people voted for Republicans rather than simply refusing to turn out for bad Dems, but it's hard to argue that The People voted for fast-track.) "This would be a Republican ratification of the policies of Bush I and II that produced $10 trillion in trade deficits, hollowed out our manufacturing base, and sent abroad the jobs of millions of Reagan Democrats. Globalization carpet-bombed Middle America and killed the Nixon-Reagan coalition that used to give the GOP 49-state landslides. Why would Republicans return to that Bush-Clinton-Obama policy that ended the economic independence of Eisenhower's America? The party should re-embrace economic patriotism, stand up to Japanese protectionists and Chinese currency manipulators, and put American workers first, ahead of corporate outsourcers."

The Election map - read it and weep.

Bill Hicks on what happens after an election

In other news that isn't actually unrelated to the foregoing:

I can't even think about the so-called "school reform movement" without wanting to slap some people.

"E-mail points to White House involvement in USDA's firing of Shirley Sherrod" - Did anyone really think Obama's fingerprints weren't on this somewhere? He may not listen to the voters, but he listens to Breidbart.com.

Frank Serpico says, "The Police Are Still Out of Control [...] Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he's typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets - this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And we still don't know how many of these incidents occur each year; even though Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 20 years ago, requiring the Justice Department to produce an annual report on 'the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,' the reports were never issued.)"

"Verizon is launching a tech news site that bans stories on U.S. spying: Verizon is getting into the news business. What could go wrong? The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called SugarString.com. The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game. There's just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today."

Lee Camp: States Criminalize Off-The-Grid Living

Racism Insurance, and other stuff.


Huh. Movies That Passed the Bechdel Test Made More Money in 2013.

Why, yes, I would like to watch a fantasy TV series with a superhero team called The Librarians. Is it any good?

John Scalzi's erotic Watchmen fanfic novel

Traffic, "Don't Be Sad"

16:16 GMT comment

Tuesday, 04 November 2014

The crowd called out for more

On Virtually Speaking, Marcy Wheeler talked with Patrick Eddington, a former CIA officer, and former intelligence staffer to Rush Holt, about the nature of "intelligence" and the loss of Congressional oversight. Homework for this one: Senator Frank Church on Meet the Press: The Intelligence Gathering Debate, 1975. "There would be no place to hide"

The Democratic Party's Tea Party faction in action: Obama's friends may successfully defeat Progressive Caucus member Mike Honda. Because another odious technocrat is just what we need. (Thanks to commenter ksix for the tip.)

Right now even the most optimistic Dem prognosticators are talking about hanging onto the Senate by a hair and probably losing some Congressional seats as well. And yes, we can blame the media for some of it, but let's not get carried away, because the Dems barely lifted a finger to try to give voters something to vote for. Robert Kuttner is right, even if the Dems aren't "routed" - this should have been an easy win.

This is the most recent video I've found of the remarkable performance of a certain candidate behaving like a petulant 6-year-old during a very lamely-handled interview by a soft-baller at The Cleveland Plain Dealer, which the paper for some reason keeps making people take down. Ah, here's an update of the story at PressThink.

Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, and John Cook's statement on why Matt Taibbi quit First Look: "Taibbi's dispute with his bosses instead centered on differences in management style and the extent to which First Look would influence the organizational and corporate aspects of his role as editor-in-chief. Those conflicts were rooted in a larger and more fundamental culture clash that has plagued the project from the start: A collision between the First Look executives, who by and large come from a highly structured Silicon Valley corporate environment, and the fiercely independent journalists who view corporate cultures and management-speak with disdain. That divide is a regular feature in many newsrooms, but it was exacerbated by First Look's avowed strategy of hiring exactly those journalists who had cultivated reputations as anti-authoritarian iconoclasts."

It's going even farther than usual to say, "Government didn't build my business, I did," when your whole town wouldn't exist without the government.

Via Atrios, "The Red Cross' Secret Disaster" tells you what happens when you put a relief agency in the hands of people who come from today's Glorious Leaders.

You'd think the Crown Prosecution Service would at least hire people who are smart enough to tell a spoof video from real porn. But they never have been, and the stupidity of the law makes it easy for them to get carried away.

Remember when Samantha Power called Hillary Clinton a "monster"? Well, that's pretty rich, coming from Obama's Atrocity Enabler.

Making the point? "Muslim Company Forcing Christian Employees to Wear Headscarfs: A Muslim-owned arts-and-crafts store in Dearborn, Michigan is forcing its female Christian employees to wear traditional Islamic headscarves while on the job. According to local reports, Khilaf Krafts began requiring its eight female employees to wear hijabs last week, following the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which gave religious rights to family-owned businesses. Although five women working for the company are Muslims, the remaining three are practicing Christians. The company has threatened to fire any Christian woman who does not comply."

Elizabeth Warren may have just opened the door to a White House run

Everything You Need to Know to Vote in the 2014 Elections

Sean Wang says, "Midterm National Senate Polling Error Is Five Times Larger Than In Presidential Years." So, either way, don't count your chickens.

Blast from the past: Whenever I hear anyone talk about Al Gore's lack of charisma, I remember seeing the video (which, alas, I can't find now - a real shame because it's even more obvious how much more visually dynamic Gore can be) of Gore talking to some students at Concord High School in New Hampshire, and answering a question about how individuals can make a difference, and his story about how the poisoned water at Love Canal was exposed by a high school student who wrote to her Congressman. This American Life preserved the audio, fortunately, in a segment about how different candidates - with the example being Gore - are from the way the media middlemen paint them. Some interesting student comments: "He wasn't as stiff as people say he was. He comes out, takes his jacket off or whatever. He walks around, he asks for audience participation, he talks to the audience." "I mean, he was still Gore. But he wasn't quite as stiff as like-- he didn't just get up and talk like the other candidates did. He's kind of a neat speaker to see." Some of you may remember how the media turned this event into what had to be a complete nightmare for Gore - all, apparently, because MoDo and the Spite Girls thought George W. Bush (George W. Bush!) was hotter than Al Gore.

Kosher Halloween

What emphasis is for: "I never said she stole my money."

Our friend Pavl Duke, playing all the instruments.

Award-winning shadow-casting sculpture - We've seen a couple of these before and enjoyed them, but I have to say I was touched by the background of this one, which the artist says was based on a design from the Alhambra fortress in Granada, Spain, "which was poised at the intersection of history, culture and art and was a place where Islamic and Western discourses, met and co-existed in harmony and served as a testament to the symbiosis of difference."

Original 1967 video of "Whiter Shade of Pale"

16:06 GMT comment

Sunday, 26 October 2014

When lights close their tired eyes

Happy Dawali!

Last week, Gaius Publius and David Waldman (KagroX) were panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays, discussing moving the conversation and how "Centrist" Democrats have been Tea Partying the Democratic Party.
Joan McCarter and David Dayen were the panelists this week on Virtually Speaking Sundays, discussing banksters and Senate races.

Longtime readers will know this is of special interest to me: Ryan Grim: Kill The Messenger: How The Media Destroyed Gary Webb - Grim spoke to Sam Seder on The Majority Report.
On The Majority Report, Sam talked to James Risen about Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War, his book about the corruption in the War on Terror, and about the fact that the government went after him for reporting the truth.

Citizenfour, Laura Poitras film about Edward Snowden.
Glenn Greenwald's TED talk on Why Privacy Matters.

The Raven has written a short series of short posts on what Adam Baldwin has dubbed "Gamergate", which, depending on how you look at it, is either about corruption and cronyism in game reviewing or, um, not. For the Raven, it's something very scary, as his post titles may suggest: "In Which Open Political Terrorism Against Women in the USA Becomes A Thing", "GMRG8 and Censorship ", and "GMRG8 and Law". Matt's been covering this on The Majority Report, and had a good interview with Brianna Wu explaining the whole thing.

I know Kevin Drum has always been too credulous about centrism and all that, but he's one of our longest serving members of the left blogosphere and has always been a nice guy, so best wishes to him.

Has Krugman gone full-on Obot? Because he seems to be hippie-punching, lately. Bill Black isn't impressed when he bashes liberals for criticizing Obama, even though he has made the same criticisms himself.

"Gretchen Morgenson on the Damage of Private Equity Secrecy: The short version is that if the private equity industry had nothing to hide, they wouldn't be hiding it."

"Economists Say We Should Tax The Rich At 90 Percent" - Gee, y'think?

Recommended reading: Julian Assange, "Google Is Not What It Seems [...] Since at least the 1970s, authentic actors like unions and churches have folded under a sustained assault by free-market statism, transforming 'civil society' into a buyer's market for political factions and corporate interests looking to exert influence at arm's length. The last forty years have seen a huge proliferation of think tanks and political NGOs whose purpose, beneath all the verbiag1e, is to execute political agendas by proxy. [..] By all appearances, Google's bosses genuinely believe in the civilizing power of enlightened multinational corporations, and they see this mission as continuous with the shaping of the world according to the better judgment of the 'benevolent superpower.' They will tell you that open-mindedness is a virtue, but all perspectives that challenge the exceptionalist drive at the heart of American foreign policy will remain invisible to them. This is the impenetrable banality of 'don't be evil.' They believe that they are doing good. And that is a problem."

I wonder if this is true. It would be fun just to sneer at the media.

No one counts the number of people who have been killed by cops.
But someone is looking at police lawsuit settlements, and it's no wonder Philly has budget problems. (Well, that and other graft and corruption, but still, maybe the teachers union should start including that in their arguments - "If you're running out of money, tell the cops to stop abusing their power!")
"Documents Show NYPD Has Paid $428 Million in Settlements Since 2009"

Over 100 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt said: "So long as governmental power existed exclusively for the king and not at all for the people, then the history of liberty was a history of the limitation of governmental power. But now the governmental power rests in the people, and the kings who enjoy privilege are the kings of the financial and industrial world; and what they clamor for is the limitation of governmental power, and what the people sorely need is the extension of governmental power."

How many lattes do you have to give up to get rich?

Milt Shook, "Toward a better understanding of religion: Muslim edition" - This is pretty reasonable, although I would argue that you can make sense of the Bible only if you read it as economic history, where it doesn't' actually fare badly. Societies get too unequal and mean and money-centered, God smites 'em. Which is another way of explaining the fact that those societies destroy themselves, and God didn't do it at all. (Also: Good on Ben Affleck.)

Via Lee Camp, the only people who ever drove Jesus to violence - and it wasn't just because they were there, but because of what they did: He called them thieves.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comics.

The BBC has launched BBC Music, and if you can't see/haven't seen it yet at the BBC site, it's worth taking a look at the version of "God Only Knows" they put together to celebrate it. You'll recognize a few faces.

Cream, live. I always thought Jack Bruce deserved better than to be overshadowed by his bandmates to such a degree. RIP, Jack. Ah, what the hell, listen to the whole album.

I can't believe I'm having so much trouble finding more of my favorite type of hair-clip. They used to be everywhere, they were simple with only one piece, and now I can't even find a photo of them on the web. This is close, although it looks like it may have a decorative layer, and I'm just happy to have the plain ones. If you find any, let me know.

More liberal media at The Sideshow.

17:30 GMT comment

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Woke up this mornin' with my mind stayed on freedom

After the first time I saw Gaius Publius talking about this, I bugged him to post it where I could link it, and I attempted to sum it up last time I was on Virtually Speaking Sundays, but Gaius has finally posted "Are Democratic Leaders Already "Tea Partying" The Progressives?" In the context of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party talking about Tea Party tactics to get the "centrists" out of party leadership and replace them with liberals, the joke is that the "centrists" are the ones who are always warning us of the dangers of allowing the Republicans to win, while, of course, they have been putting up terrible "centrist" candidates all over the country promoting policies the public detests. "As DWT readers know, Steve Israel, the DCCC, and to a lesser extent the DSCC, have been disasters for the Democratic Party, if "success" means "taking or keeping control of Congress" and "disaster" means "failing to try to do that." These Democratic train wrecks have been well document on these pages-- for example, here and here. But click any link tagged "Steve Israel" or "DSCC" to get the gist."
Democrat takes liberal position in Senate race: "Democratic Senator Mark Begich of Alaska is embroiled in one of the toughest reelection campaigns in the country, and control of the Senate could be at stake. So he's going to ramp up his push for a proposal that is treated as marginal inside the Beltway, but could nonetheless prove to have appeal even in a deeply conservative state: The proposal to expand Social Security." Press amazed.
DCCC recruits torturer for Congressional race.
"Centrists' clueless obsession: Why do so many want to cut Social Security?"

Why do miners have benefits denied when they obviously have black lung? Well: "Like many other miners, he had lost primarily because of the opinions of a unit of doctors at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions that had long been the go-to place for coal companies seeking negative X-ray readings to help defeat a benefits claim. The longtime leader of the unit, Dr. Paul Wheeler, testified against Steve, and the judge determined that his opinion trumped all others, as judges have in many other cases." Of course, the autopsy shows Dr. Wheeler was wrong. Now, how does that happen?

Maybe Krugman jumps the shark once a week, but in a way, he's right. Obama is one of the most successful presidents in history, more consequential than Reagan, if his mission was to destroy the opposition to the Tory agenda and render the Democratic Party no more than a tool of arch-conservatives. He's done that.

Yes, talk about pensions is exciting! But look again at the "centrist" bias of the NYT article referenced.

"Asset seizures fuel police spending" - on stuff they don't need but convince themselves they have to have, so they look for opportunities to steal people money and cars and homes, even when those people haven't been formally charged let alone indicted for any crime. And good luck getting it back if you are exonerated.

An enemy nation could just buy into a multinational corporation and arrange to attack our land, poison our water, and make our air unbreatheable. In fact, they already have.

RIP Fred Branfman, journalist who exposed the truth about America's horrifying devastation of Laos in his 1972 book, Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life under an Air War, and continued to try to tell the truth for the rest of his life.

Gaius Publius interviewed Stephanie Kelton, and she had this great idea: To guarantee a living wage, make government the employer of last resort. "If [FDR-style jobs programs] were created the right way, and you said, 'Anybody who's ready, willing and able to work, or unable to find a job in the private sector - or if you just don't like that job - you can come and take this [government] job. We're going to create one for you at a living wage with these benefits ...' You create a package for the worker that then becomes the minimum, [which] everyone else has to provide - or they're not going to get workers. That becomes the de facto minimum. - We're not going to let you starve in America." And that means people have money to spend in the real economy, which creates demand, which creates jobs....

Via Atrios, Frank Bruni, who I normally ignore, actually has a decent piece in the NYT about selective enforcement of religious doctrine by the Catholic church.
Also via Atrios, Will Bunch describes "A heartbreaking act of staggering cowardice" - or out and out theft from the public when the state of Pennsylvania strips its teachers of health benefits and allocates nothing for textbooks. Presumably because they needed that money to offer Shell Oil $1.7bn.

Commenter ifthethunderdontgetya points out that it's not just Steve Israel sabotaging the Democrats, but there's a history with Debbie Wasserman Schultz refusing to fight for seats the same way. "Liberal bloggers are irate that Wasserman Schultz, who co-chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Red-to-Blue program, has declined to endorse the Democrats running to unseat Cuban American Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and his brother, Mario Diaz-Balart. Wasserman Schultz says she doesn't want to stab GOP members of her own delegation in the back. But liberal bloggers say she's killing her own while aiding and abetting the enemy." Stab them in the back? What the hell does that mean? She was supposed to be trying to beat them.

Some rich liberal democrats are looking for the non-Hillary choice. Well, it's nice to think they are starting to get a clue, but then last time they went with Obama. I really wish I could get them in a line and slap their faces before they donate again.

Your Taser Outrage of the Day, or How to Get Paid Leave: "Florida officer tases 62-year-old woman in the back just for the hell of it: After police arrived on the scene of her Tallahassee, Florida, neighborhood, 62-year-old Viola Young asked them why they were there. Told to turn around, Young did so and walked away. While walking away, at just about 2:31 in this video shot by a local resident, the officer brutally uses his stun gun to tase Young in the back. Immediately, she falls flat on her face. It's brutal. No charges have been brought and the officer is currently on paid leave."

Scalia wants to know how deep prison inmates' religious beliefs go, among other things. "Justice Antonin Scalia questioned just how deep those beliefs were. Holt is supposed to have a full beard, so why does he compromise? Scalia asked. Laycock said Holt was trying to meet prison officials halfway and shouldn't be penalized for trying to be 'reasonable.' 'Well, religious beliefs aren't reasonable,' Scalia said. 'I mean, religious beliefs are categorical. You know, it's 'God tells you.' It's not a matter of being reasonable. God be reasonable? He's supposed to have a full beard.'"

In The Raw Story, "David Simon: Corporations 'the cancer' that are slowly killing American middle-class: The writer's next show, Show Me a Hero, is the true story of a battle over public housing that convulsed New York in the 80s. Here, on location in Manhattan, he talks about how money corrupts US politics, the erosion of the working class, why it's a crime to be poor in America - and why he likes to argue"

"The Wisdom of the Commons [...] One of Menzies' first tasks in her book was to correct an erroneous impression of the commons. Over the course of a century, from about 1750 to 1850, public use of the common lands in Scotland and England were systematically eliminated by the British House of Commons - ironically named after the same democratic and egalitarian commons that they legislated out of existence. Justification was based on the misconception that the competitive character of people would cause the land to be abused and exploited to the point of exhaustion. This fallacy, popularized in an 1832 pamphlet by the Oxford mathematician, William Forster Lloyd, was abetted by the new thinking about the economic merits of private ownership, capital investment, industrial agriculture and market competitiveness that were forming the basis of modern capitalism. In reality, if anyone had bothered to check, they would have found that the commons in Scotland and England were operating sustainably, cooperatively and democratically, just as they had been doing for centuries."

"Simple chart confirms where stock market is heading." (via)

"Has Neoliberalism Turned Us All Into Psychopaths?" - It's a kiss-up/kick-down kinda world.

To Ferguson, in solidarity, from around the world

Tom Tomorrow with a nice little wish-fulfillment fantasy

I remember this photograph, but I didn't know this story.

This sculpture by Issac Cordal in Berlin is called "Politicians discussing global warming".

File 770 says, "Ellison In Hospital Following Stroke: Harlan Ellison suffered a stroke on Thursday, October 9 and is hospitalized. Harlan's right side is paralyzed, his wife Susan told readers of his forum. Mark Evanier adds he has been told Susan says Harlan's mind is sharp and the rest of him seems unaffected."

I've never actually heard anything interesting said before about the movie Six Degrees of Separation, but then, I don't pay attention to that sort of thing much anymore. However, I noticed this link in a thread that started when Robert Whitaker Sirigano said, "Name a book that has heaps of critical praise and positive reviews that you absolutely found impossible to read, finish and/or like." More than one person listed this book that, long ago, my best friend recommended to me and for the life of me I never understood why. So many people rave about that book, and to me it was boring and I could never identify with main character. God knows I was as confused a teenager as anyone else ever was, but the book didn't speak to me at all. Here is Will Smith's monologue in Six Degrees of Separation on The Catcher in the Rye.

Historical note: "Al Gore's support of the Internet," by V.Cerf and B.Kahn, or how Al Gore really did invent the internet, even though he didn't claim credit for doing so.

Footage from the Great Martian War

The Barbie doll I never expected to see

Controversial scene from Hedy Lamarr's Debut Film, Ecstasy, 1933

Sun dogs - pretty!

Ruthie Foster, "Woke Up This Morning"

04:00 GMT comment

Friday, 03 October 2014

Stuff that happened, stuff they said

Avedon Carol and Dave Johnson were panelists on this week's Virtually Speaking Sundays, discussing perpetual war, climate change, and whether Hillary Clinton should be a candidate for president. Background includes this article on shopping for homes that won't be washed out by climate change. And here's two recent articles by Dave, "The Extortion Game Corporations Play To Cut Their Tax Bill" and "Voters Will Oppose Politicians Who Support 'NAFTA-Style' Trade Deals".
On Thursday's Virtually Speaking: "Gaius Publius & RJ Eskow explore[d] the consequences of Democratic party leaders' continued espousal of unpopular positions in a time of progressive change. What does the New York Democratic primary battle tell us? What does it mean for the party in 2016?"

On Wednesday of last week, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court ruling that expanded the state's early-voting period by a week, and added weekend and evening hours leading up to the Nov. 4 election. But that could still change because Secretary of State Jon Husted is appealing the decision by a three-judge panel to the full appellate court, based in Cincinnati.

This American Life, "The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra: An unprecedented look inside one of the most powerful, secretive institutions in the country. The NY Federal Reserve is supposed to monitor big banks. But when Carmen Segarra was hired, what she witnessed inside the Fed was so alarming that she got a tiny recorder and started secretly taping." Bloomberg seems to think this is an important revelation about regulatory capture.

The public isn't as stupid as some people would have you believe: "He cites specific states, such as Colorado, where data 'shows that the Koch brothers have a net favorability of negative 14 percent among all likely voters.' The issue is being used to push against Republican Senate hopeful Cory Gardner there. In Michigan, where Koch-aligned groups recently stopped running ads, the Kochs are at a negative 23 percent favorability, according to the memo. And in Iowa, 71 percent of likely voters said they were 'less likely to support a candidate if he or she was being bankrolled by the Koch brothers.'" It's amazing how smart people get once they are kept informed. Gee, I wonder if this could work for Democrats who want to promote good policy... Oh, wait, first they would have to want to promote good policy. Now, if we could just get people informed about how regressive their state and local taxes are....

"Largest City In Vermont Now Gets All Its Power From Wind, Water And Biomass: The 42,000 people living in Burlington, Vermont can now feel confident that when they turn on their TVs or power up their computers they are using renewable energy. With the purchase of the 7.4 megawatt Winooski One hydroelectric project earlier this month, the Burlington Electric Department now owns or contracts renewable sources - including wind, hydro, and biomass - equivalent to the city's needs. " See? It's not that hard.

"Inside the Koch Brothers' Toxic Empire: The enormity of the Koch fortune is no mystery. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they've cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Their political network helped finance the Tea Party and powers today's GOP. Koch-affiliated organizations raised some $400 million during the 2012 election, and aim to spend another $290 million to elect Republicans in this year's midterms. So far in this cycle, Koch-backed entities have bought 44,000 political ads to boost Republican efforts to take back the Senate. What is less clear is where all that money comes from. [...] But Koch Industries is not entirely opaque. The company's troubled legal history - including a trail of congressional investigations, Department of Justice consent decrees, civil lawsuits and felony convictions - augmented by internal company documents, leaked State Department cables, Freedom of Information disclosures and company whistle­-blowers, combine to cast an unwelcome spotlight on the toxic empire whose profits finance the modern GOP."

"Naomi Klein's New Book Is a Manual for a Movement"
Naomi Klein: 'We Can't Dodge This Fight' Between Capitalism and Climate Change [...] In This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, she explores the failures of 'Big Green' environmental groups and supposedly benevolent CEOs, the right-wing climate deniers who actually understand the stakes of climate change better than many progressives, and the grassroots movements coalescing to fight climate change. Klein spoke with In These Times from her home in Toronto."

"Court rules Wal-Mart must compensate workers: OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) - Canada's Supreme Court ruled Friday that Wal-Mart must compensate former workers at a Quebec store that was closed after they voted to become the first Wal-Mart store in North America to unionize. [...] The court ruled in a five-to-two decision that the world's largest retailer modified working conditions for the employees without a valid reason when it shut down. The court ruled an arbiter will determine appropriate reparations, possibly with damages and interest. The store never re-opened."

"Pelosi's Worst Mistake Comes Back To Plague House Democrats: From the moment Nancy Pelosi announced she was reappointing failed Blue Dog Steve Israel to be DCCC Chairman again, it was apparent to anyone who pays attention that the Republicans had nothing to worry about in regard to losing the House majority. Once Israel started announcing his recruits-- garbage conservative Democrats in unwinnable red districts like anti-Choice, antigay,/pro-NRA, pro-fracking Jennifer Garrison in OH-06 and a trio of CIA stooges from Michigan and Pennsylvania the agency is trying to use to infiltrate Congress."

"How Dangerous is Being a Cop in the US? [...] On average a police officer dies in the line of duty in the US about every 55 hours (everything you need for this calculation is above so I'm not going to insult your intelligence by including it). On average a police officer kills a civilian (about 400 annually) about every 22 hours. So I think we have more to worry about from them than they do from us."

"Policing for Profit [...] FBI agent and researcher Gregory Vecchi and criminal justice professor Robert Sigler note, '[W]hat is evident from their behavior is that federal, state, and local governments use assets forfeiture to generate revenue, despite their claims otherwise.' For example, the U.S. Attorney General stated in 1990, 'We must significantly increase forfeiture production to reach our budget target. Failure to achieve the $470 million projection would expose the Department's forfeiture program to criticism and undermine confidence in our budget predictions. Every effort must be made to increase forfeiture income in the three remaining months of fiscal year 1990.'"

Extract from Richard Vague's The Next Economic Disaster: Why It's Coming and How to Avoid It at Naked Capitalism, "How Private Debt Strangles Growth, Stokes Financial Crises, and Increases Inequality [...] The primary issue is not public debt but private debt. It was the runaway growth of private debt - the total of business and household debt - coupled with a high overall level of private debt that led to the crisis of 2008. And even today, after modest deleveraging, the level of private debt remains high and impedes stronger economic growth. Rapid private debt growth also fueled what were viewed as triumphs in their day - the Roaring Twenties, the Japanese 'economic miracle' of the '80s, and the Asian boom of the '90s - but each of these were debt-fueled binges that brought these economies to the brink of economic ruin."

"Bernie Sanders: Longterm Democratic strategy is 'pathetic' [...] People are furious about it. We have a very conservative Senate and House. Congress is dominated by large campaign contributors who exercise enormous influence. I think, the people here [in Washington] have almost developed an instinct not to attack the people who put money into their coffers. Obviously the Republicans are beholden to these guys. But too many Democrats are nervous about talking about issues including income and wealth inequality. But in fact, the American people absolutely want to hear about it. I talk about it all the time. I give a lot of speeches and large crowds come out. People are very, very concerned about the overall impact of income and wealth inequality in terms of morality, in terms of economics, in terms of - with Citizens United - what it means to our political system."

"Why is 2 percent the Federal Reserve's inflation target? Because it is." And there is definitely a bias in favor of suppressing wages - and jobs.

"Who Stole Television News? [...] In 1978, Roone Arledge, then President of ABC Sports was also made President of ABC News. In an instant television news went from broadcast journalism to "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." This winners and losers mindset became the narrative model. And behind the scenes, TV station owners injected the influence of the yet-not-public Powell Memo into the bloodstream of network and local news."

Gosh, they're going to make Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy into a TV series.

When I first saw the Qwerkywriter, I instantly thought, "I want one!" But that was when I'd been up too late. In the cold light of day, I realized that, cosmetic or not, that carriage return was gonna drive me nuts forever.

1958: Marilyn Monroe Poses for Life Magazine and Richard Avedon - as Lillian Russell, Theda Bara, Clara Bow, Jean Harlow, and Marlene Dietrich.

Miss Piggy and Christopher Reeve

"Nikola Tesla Dood"

Peter Capaldi as George Harrison

A long, long time ago, I heard this "Memphis Blues" for the first time at the Memphis Blues Festival and it was my first clue about how the blues was banned on Beale Street.

05:07 GMT comment


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Avedon Carol at The Sideshow

And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.

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