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Thursday, 21 April 2011

But what good does it do?

Got some tech problems, so the links are thin, and some are kind of old. Sorry about that.

Dennis G.: "Back in 1999 I started to research Jack Abramoff and his web of corruption. I was on to the scandal years before it broke and shared details of my research with journalist, authors, filmmakers and others. Quite a bit of this work was shared before the scandal broke in 2004 and more was shared in the years since. In 2004 I started to write about my Abramoff research over at Dkos and the 280 plus Diaries with an 'Abramoff' tag can be reviewed here. Since the early 1980s Jack Abramoff was part of a troika of grifters. For decades these three scoundrels have polluted, harmed and infected American politics. Of the three, Abramoff is easily the one with the most integrity. This might seem hard to do until you realize that Jack's partners in crime were Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist." (via)

In spite of everything, the American public still knows how to get rid of deficits: "Alarmed by rising national debt and increasingly downbeat about their country's course, Americans are clear about how they want to attack the government's runway budget deficits: raise taxes on the wealthy and keep hands off of Medicare and Medicaid."

David Cay Johnston with 9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes: "The Mad Men who once ran campaigns featuring doctors extolling the health benefits of smoking are now busy marketing the dogma that tax cuts mean broad prosperity, no matter what the facts show." The only people who are making more money under our present levels of taxation are those who already have too much money.

Susie Madrak's guests on Virtually Speaking Susie were John Amato, Dave Niewart.

Sam Seder interviewed Johann Hari on The Majority Report Monday, about how British and American leaders are trying to destroy their countries.

"I probably shouldn't find this funny, but..."

Maybe most bloggers are preaching to the choir, but sometimes they're not, and sometimes, sometimes, it makes a difference.

Elisabeth Sladen 1948-2011 - I actually found myself tearing up on learning Tuesday night that Sarah Jane Smith had died. At first there wasn't much detail, but eventually it came out that she had been struggling with cancer the whole time she was making those The Sarah Jane Adventures episodes. Of course, none of us saw any sign that she was ill - or, for that matter, that she wasn't a vibrant 50 rather than over a decade older. The BBC has a story and clips, and here are A Few More Moments With Sarah Jane.

Remember when the Bee Gees were good?

13:10 BST

Monday, 18 April 2011

I dropped by to pick up a reason

Marion in Savannah, reading Villager crap so I don't have to, notes that:

The Pasty Little Putz has excreted a piece of shit he's calling 'The Middle Class Tax Trap' in which he squeals about the real cost of leaving America's entitlement programs untouched. Bobo's been busy trying to gin up a generational war, and this noisome little putz has started poking around trying to find a racial knob to turn. He also used McMegan's calculator and produced a figure of $94,900 as the median income for a family of four. It's actually about $44,500. It's an unspeakable piece of trash produced by an unspeakable little turd.
Interestingly, the Villagers expect young people to immediately fall for a vision in which old people cannot afford to retire and make room for younger workers. A vision where your aging widowed mother has to move in with you because she no longer has Social Security or Medicare and had to sell the house (the one you were supposed to inherit) to pay for medical bills - oh, but wait, she can't move in with you, because you can't find a job and were hoping to move back in with your mother. Oops!

But, hey, it's better to have you and your mom living in the streets than have to force those poor old rich people to pay their fair share of taxes! I mean, that would be bad! If the Immorally Wealthy had to put their money back into the economy, they might have to teach their kids how to do something beside eat thousand dollar lunches and insult the pool boy. They might have to give some money to actual charities. They might have to reinvest the money their companies make back into the company so there can be improved working conditions and more jobs and benefits and higher product standards. And they wouldn't even have enough left over to buy Congress and the White House! Wouldn't that just be awful?

Of course, there is a convenient set of lies trotted out by the Oligarchy to try to make you forget all this stuff, such as the fantasy that raising taxes on the rich somehow reduces jobs, or at least failing to cut taxes means there won't be new jobs created. The answer to this one is too simple: Well, we did, in fact, cut your taxes, and, amazingly, you didn't create any jobs! In fact, lots and lots of people are losing their jobs, those who are still working are working for less with fewer benefits, and the only people who have much money are people who contribute bugger-all to the economy, the culture, the community, or the country. What they are really doing with their extra money is performing the function of parasites, sucking the blood out of the economy and damaging the health of the body. Real innovation in America sank like a stone when these guys had to stop paying big taxes - and jobs began to dwindle, and paychecks started to fray as they kept stretching to cover more things that used to be better and cost less. (Yes, Virginia, there really was a Good Old Days before utilities and other natural government functions were privatized.)

Marion says you can find the "lye soap and brain bleach" you need after reading that Villager rubbish over at Krugman's column, but while Krugman does explain that the Republicans' plan is a load of old bollocks, he falls back on the nice story about democracy and the difference between "the two parties". He still isn't ready to admit that there is no substantive difference between the two parties. One may have more crazies in it, but the vast majority of rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats alike think we need to raise taxes on the rich and avoid dicking around with Social Security and Medicare. (And here's a well-kept secret: ordinary Republican voters actually like Elizabeth Warren and are desperately hopeful that she will be put in charge of controlling the financial institutions.) Yet neither the White House nor Congress seem to agree with their own constituents, even in their own parties. I know Obama will try to sound more like a liberal as he gears up for re-election, but I also don't believe for a minute that he will mean it, anymore than he did the first time. He could have given us what people believed he was promising, but he doesn't want to and he's not going to.

Because, if he wanted to, we wouldn't have the debt/deficit Noh Play continuing. Or, as Digby says:

I have zero patience with this. They can have a bogus deficit discussion around the 2012 budget and they can convene commissions galore, but attaching it to the debt limit is unadulterated bullshit. The Treasury Secretary just said on national television that the debt ceiling must be raised or a catastrophe will result and that the Republicans have already agreed. There's literally nothing more to talk about.
(Oh, yeah, Digby also got into The Hill again on DC's deficit frenzy. Nice to see someone saying it where Villagers might actually read it.)

Everybody knows, including the Democratic leadership, that Americans do not want their "vision" of a harder, nastier life, and the Democratic leadership's answer to that is that we don't know what's good for us because we are too stupid and ignorant to understand the virtue of being more miserable so that rich people can be richer.

* * * * *

I can't even believe that Ezra Klein was once regarded as the independent liberal blogosphere's go-to guy on health care. I'm glad there are still people prepared to point out where he's failing on the subject. Remember, folks: You do not get what you will not ask for. Demand an American NHS now! (via)

Matt Taibbi on why we're "broke" - and the Malefactors of Great Wealth on Wall Street And the Housewives of Wall Street. (Oh, and maybe if reporters had go through big protests to get to work, they'd think of reporting on it.)

In case anyone still has any illusions, BHO is not MLK.

"Did you just call me a socialist? The debate screeched to a halt, however, because an opponent of the Congressional Progressive Caucus's 'People's Budget' then under discussion suggested that its supporters might be socialists. Congressman Keith Ellison, co-chair of that caucus, protested the vicious accusation and demanded that the words of his accuser be transcribed for the record (and possible legal action?). The Republican congress member guilty of the horrible slander announced that he was retracting it. Rep. Raul Grijalva, the other co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, thanked him sincerely for the retraction. Although polls show socialism to be far more popular than Congress, neither Ellison nor Grijalva insisted on being cleared of the label 'congress member.'"

Ian Welsh on Why hedonics is crap, and Obama's conversation with the right-wing.

Rep. Joe Crowly (D-NY) is speechless on the House floor. Which was nicely done, shows that Democrats can do it - and then makes you wonder why they had to wait until Republicans took over the House to notice the lack of jobs bills and the low taxes on the rich.

The Rude One notices that Lady Liberty has been stamped down. (Keep goin', honey, you're almost there.)

This interview with David Simon from Bill Moyers' Journal is from 2009, but it's worth seeing (or reading). It is, of course, about The Wire, the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs, and pretty much everything else that's going on in America. (via), (via).

Commemorating the Pratt Street Riot: "Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Baltimore's biggest and most inglorious contribution to the American Civil War, city leaders joined with several dozen costumed history reenactors Saturday to rededicate and reopen for visitors the historic President Street railroad station."

That father-daughter talk

Buffalo Springfield

15:56 BST

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Keep on pushin'

The other night Stuart Zechman explained on Virtually Speaking that in Obama's speech, he (a) lied about what the Ryan plan was and (b) neglected to mention that the Ryan plan is actually the Third Way plan - the one that Joe Klein and the Democratic leadership all loved until they hated it last week in time for Obama's speech. And, as Stuart also pointed out, the form of Obama's criticism ran in pretty close parallel to the way Obama went after Hillary on health insurance mandates. The same mandates that Obama proceeded to impose in his own version of a health "care" bill. So we've gone from "mean old Hillary wants to stick you with insurance mandates" to "mean old Republicans want to do something nasty to you," and there is no reason to believe that the nasty thing his opposition wants to do isn't also exactly what he plans to do.

So, by now, of course, everyone except Kevin Drum understands that Obama's speech was just a campaign speech, which means he was really just trying to deflect attention from what he is really doing, which is trying to bring on a full-blown depression. This is why:

Shock Doctrine: Break The Economy, Lower Wages By 20 Percent. Doesn't Sound So Farfetched Anymore, Does It?
[PAUL] JAY: So President Obama's deficit commission has reported. The press, the media, and most of the political punditry all seem far more worried about government debt than depression. Why?

[MICHAEL] HUDSON: Because they're essentially appointed by the banking interests. When the government runs into debt, it has to borrow from the banks. They want to scale down government debt in order to scale down government taxes. So it's part of a one-two punch against the economy, basically. To the deficit commission, a depression is the solution to the problem, not a problem. That's what they're trying to bring about, because you need a depression if you're going to lower wages by 20 percent

JAY: And why do they want to do that?

HUDSON: Because they have the illusion that if you pay labor less, somehow you re going to make the economy more competitive, and the economy can earn its way out of debts --meaning their employers, the banks and the companies and make more profits and pay more bonuses and stock options, and somehow their constituency, Wall Street and the corporate economy, will become richer if they can only impoverish the economy.


And the function of the deficit commission is to change the tax system, to get rid of the taxes that fall on capital, and to make the taxes fall only on labor. That's going to at least free them from the government so that they can use all of the government's credit-creating power to bail themselves out.

So the second thing they want to do after cutting taxes is to cut social spending so that as much of the government spending power as possible is available to bail out the inevitable collapse when it comes financially and to give subsidies to companies.

So the idea is basically to reverse the progressive era's whole economic philosophy, and this involves impoverishing the economy in the process. But you have a mindset very much like you had in England for centuries that somehow thinks, if you can only hurt labor, you'll be helping capital. That's why England lost its industrial position. It's the wrong mindset. It doesn't work. But that's how they feel, because that's their mentality.

Read or watch the whole thing - it's worth it.

I posted a morning thread at Eschaton recently asking whether the buzz has changed on tax cuts for the rich, and one of the first comments below it was from Newton Whale, who reported:

This conversation actually took place on Morning Joe today:

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: "We have the rich enjoying wealth and income levels that they've never seen in history and then people suffering at the bottom and the idea that this going to be done just by cutting programs for the middle class and poor seems to me to be impossible. What kind of country would it be? We've never seen the wealth at the top. We see it on Wall Street, record profits. Is it really going to be that we let the rich have more wealth, a higher share of national income than they've ever had in our nation's history and walk away with that?

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) VA. "Well Jeffrey I think we ought to celebrate that success.

Prof. Sachs: "I don't see how we celebrate when people are suffering. Ninety percent of the public is suffering, Governor"

McDonnell: "That's the American Dream."

Prof. Sachs: "It's not for ninety percent. It's the American nightmare"

McDonnell: "That's what we want to achieve. That's what we want to celebrate and encourage in America is more entrepreneurship."

In the same way that Americans used to be horrified by the way American companies treated their overseas workers, the Swedes are upset at what one of their companies is doing to those poor Third Worlders...in America. And they should be. These days, when a company "goes international" in this way, it's a prelude to shafting their home country in the same way.

I keep being reminded that you can't be so afraid to lose that you don't even try. I mean, look how badly the Republicans have been doing since Goldwater lost the election.

Sam Seder interviewed Digby on Monday, Dahlia Lithwick on Tuesday, and Ari Berman on Wednesday (and Dick Gregory!) for the Majority Report.

"GE Demands Removal of Hoax Website: It seems GE isn't laughing about the hoax implemented by the Yes Men and US Uncut. Yesterday, the activist groups posted a fake press release allegedly from GE stating the company intended to donate its entire $3.2 billion tax refund to the U.S. Treasury. The website, genewscenters.com, is a fake website hosted by BlueHost (the real GE-owned website is genewscenter.com)." (PS. I think people should scroll down on The Nation's front page and look at their poll - then write in to complain that it's range of answers was far too limited. For example, "Obama always tries to sound liberal enough when he's campaigning to get Democrats to vote for him, but he's a liar and will break all his promises." Something it seems Krugman is forgetting, by the way.)

Digby is right, of course - if anyone is going to get shafted on payouts, it should be the bad guys.

Teach it, Mr. Mali!

Dana Milbank is still a jerk (and Jonathan Schwarz rocks).

Marcy Wheeler talked to a complete pratt of a pompous US ambassador who explained that, basically, we shouldn't know what our diplomats are up to, on Virtually Speaking.

Dinosaur puppet vs school kids

Banana sculptures

Peanuts for Whovians

A little bit of history, with help from The Impressions.

15:21 BST

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Fermented links

I'm afraid these items have been hanging around a bit longer than I'd planned, due to the total distraction of Mr. Sideshow having a mysterious illness that has kept him home all week driving me crazy. (And next time I offer you something for the pain, will you bloody take it?) At least one of these links has gone viral since I first typed it out here, so I apologize for the lack of freshness.

Digby on the Protection racket:

The President of the United States and the Democratic Senate are taking credit for "protecting" some line items in the budget against what --- the all-powerful Satan? I don't know if anyone's noticed, but the Republicans don't have the majority --- tey have one House of congress. The Democrats control half the congressional branch and the Executive. They aren't scrappy little underdogs here. This was an administration that originally proposed to add a 40 billion dollars in much needed stimulus in a time of nearly 9% unemployment. Today they're taking credit for puny rear guard actions "protecting" Head Start and Planned Parenthood. It's literally the least they could do.


I suppose that the governing elites are counting on American Exceptionalism to get a different outcome here. And maybe it will. After all, here in America the entire conversation among all elites in the media and government is leading people to believe that the cause of the current economic malaise and income inequality is government spending and high taxes for the wealthy and corporations. It will take years to unravel that belief at this point and until it is, there will probably be round after round of cuts to "fix" the ailing economy as average people incrementally lose their dreams and their futures. At some point, they'll catch on. But it may be too late.

Also, "Obama must really, really want that "go to China" moment on the safety net." And on who, exactly, is winning the future - and building pyramids. And proof of Kabuki.

"That Can't Do Spirit : I've commented on this before (as with most things), but I continue to be amazed at the completely pervasive can't do spirit that seems to have gripped the country. Maybe we need to win a hockey game against the Soviets or something to bounce back." (I've always said so.)
"Poorer Than We've Ever Been: And, similarly, we cannot possibly afford to maintain the basic standard of living we've been accustomed to."

Thom Hartmann just came back from trip to Germany where he talked to a lot of people from countries that aren't "the best country in the world", and got an earful of just how rotten the American standard of living actually looks to people in, say, Croatia. And after a period of talking to sane people for a while, he comes home and tries to talk to a right-winger on his show, and he completely loses his cool. Really, I've been a fan of Hartmann for years and I've seen him take on some pretty awful people, but I've never seen him do anything like this, and I've certainly never heard him use one of the seven words on the air before.

Stuart Zechman and Jay Rosen discussed the behavior of the press on Virtually Speaking Sundays, which was very meaty. (Podcast) [Note to Jay Ackroyd: The reason I capitalized "The Village People" is because it's a proper noun referring to a late-20th century pop group noted for their exploitation of iconic gay images (even though most of them were straight). Enlisting their name in the service of a joke does not mean I need a lecture on the existence of tribalism in party politics, a phenomenon I'm quite well aware of.]

John Cole has a lovely rant about how journalists can write so callously - and uninformatively - about policies that are wrecking people's lives, because they are lazy, incurious, insulated, cowardly careerist sociopaths, and well-rewarded for staying that way. (via)

There are a lot of things I like about Rachel Maddow - she's very good on talking about the importance of things like building infrastructure (which she was doing before it was cool - although, it must be said, she was also doing it before she had a TV show), but Somerby is right about her unwillingness to focus on the real Noh play on the Hill. Boeher plays his part quite well - and so does the Democratic leadership. They've both ended up where they wanted to be.

At Suburban Guerrilla, Susie finds some Prescient buzz:: "Yes, Pete Peterson 'anticipated the debate' over the budget by spending a billion dollars of his own money to create that debate. And now the NY Times thinks he's a genius! See how that works?" It just occurred to me that the NYT's new paywall system is there to discourage people from checking to see if it's necessary to write in and ask them, for example why people who claim to be so concerned about the budget and deficits propose a "remedy" that won't do a damned thing to reduce the deficit and will, in fact, make it worse. We all know how to reduce the deficit, and it has nothing to do with cutting Social Security benefits, raising the retirement age, cutting taxes on the rich, or anything else Peterson would approve. Because that would involve making freeloaders like Pete Peterson pay their fair share of taxes, and that would just be awful. Or, gods forbid, holding people accountable for wrecking the economy - I mean, holding the people who actually did it accountable.

Well, clearly, Mark Ames and Yasha Levine would have been less surprised by the treatment of their scoop about the astroturf Tea Party and the Koch brothers if they had been aware of what happened to Gary Webb and Robert Parry. But they learned soon enough that if you get a real scoop, Playboy will be cowed into taking the story off it's website when the charge is led by fruitcake Koch-whore Megan McArdle. Ames and Levine report from Russia, where they had seen this already; they had been unaware it was also going on in the United States. Via The Hunting of the Snark, where it was observed, "There's something extremely distasteful and repellent about McArdle's support for shifting all power from the individual to corporations and all responsibility from corporations to the individual. She's not selling entertainment or consumer or financial products--she's selling fascism."

Pottery Barn Libya, Part 1, Pottery Barn Libya, Part 2.

The Flapper Dictionary

Google celebrated the first human space flight for the last few days, but now they've moved on with a cute logo for Richard Trevithick.

15:38 BST

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Another bunch of links

BlogTalkRadio seems to have had a much cleaner redesign (yay!) that doesn't seem to annoy my browser as much, but I can't find the podcast link on it now. You can still stream it as usual, but I don't know when they plan to restore the ability to download the .mp3. In any case, the shows are still worth following, and on the regular Thursday Virtually Speaking, Stuart and Jay talked about the Ryan plan (and tried to unpack the current Medicare structure), and were later joined by Warren Mosler, who tried to explain Modern Monetary Theory. (You can read Mosler's book, 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds, online.)

Krugman says the Ryan plan is Ludicrous and Cruel. He is being kind. But ludicrous cruelty is just the thing to tell Obama that the "center" means being slightly less cruel but just as ludicrous.

And, of course, Obama never misses a chance to spit on the base. But, sure, having spent two years assuring his 2008 supporters that their efforts to elect him were worse than wasted, Obama knows he's not going to have that again and now is going full-right-wing to try to make up for it in corporate sponsorship. Or, I should say, more corporate sponsorship. (Ohmigod, I thought that Time cover was a joke, but it isn't. I wonder if the Democrats have noticed.)

"It's the 401K." That could be true, I dunno, but I did run into an amazing number of innocents in the '90s who seemed to believe they were automatically set for life because they had a 401K.

I think it's great that Cornel West is publicly saying that Obama is just another corporate lackey, though I think it's a bit early to say that we are "in the midst of a radical democratic awakening." At the beginning of one, I hope. But, it would be even better to have him saying it on network news. Not holding my breath for that, though.

Glenn Greenwald posted video of the panel on WikiLeaks and the Media he was on with Amy Goodman moderating.

I have no objection to highlighting Republican perfidy in ads, but I'd have a lot of respect for an organization that did genuinely non-partisan ads on these important issues, underscoring the fact that in most races you're going to be offered the choice between a right-winger and a right-winger unless you both primary the incumbent and oppose his likely opposition. That is, if there is a "Third Way" Dem in the seat, show him side-by-side with the local Republicans in the running and show that none of these people are supporting what we need, and that both are in favor of cutting your legs out from under you.

At Eschaton, Jay remembers who gave the right answer to the "Social Security Crisis" question, and Atrios sees lying liars on the Senate floor and provides some truth.

I honestly don't see the point of laughing at Sullivan when half the Democratic leadership is acting like the Ryan plan isn't all that bad and simply goes slightly too far. At least Andy admits that we need revenue and should not be cutting "discretionary" spending. Be nice if the White House were willing to fight against this crap, but they are the ones who started this ball rolling. (via) (It would also be nice if a few leadership Dems would finally bite the bullet and admit that privatization increases costs, but lately that's just pie in the sky dreaming - the Dem leadership is as loathe to admit reality as the Republicans are, truth be told.)

Just think, they could have had hand-counted paper ballots.

"No government in the world can compete with the black market in financial compensation for police officers."

On the Domestic Taliban

There's always more reasons to hate Monsanto.

"You Thought the Koch Brothers Were Bad? Turns Out They're Even Worse Than You Thought." (via)

"Grover Norquist Is Smiling." Thanks, Barack!

MadKane sums up the GOP in Limerick and haiku.

China Mieville's rejected pitch

Wow, Carol Emshwiller is turning 90. (via)


00:56 BST

Thursday, 07 April 2011

Still, it moves

Once again, the intrepid CMike has alerted me to a fine bit of work by Yves Smith, explaining a quite serious question in a satirical framework. But here's the meat:

The core claim of Academic Choice is that valid economic theories are an underprovided public good, due to a combination of academic entrepreneurship and rational public ignorance. Is this merely a prediction of the mathematical models, or is there real world evidence of this claim? Originally I did arrive at this result as a logical consequence of the theoretical model; however, the prediction has since been corroborated through empirical investigations.

Consider the following seven propositions. All of them have been effectively promoted and publicized by academic economists:

P1. (e.g. Greenspan) It is unnecessary to worry about deception in financial markets since market discipline will make sure that dishonest agents are permanently ostracized.
P2. (Clarke) A person whose income is 100 times as large as that of another person has contributed exactly 100 times as much to the general welfare.
P3. (First Welfare Theorem) Corporations, if left to themselves, will always provide employment to everyone and produce an economy featuring constant recession-free growth.
P4. (Arrow-Debreu) A necessary condition for this ideal economy is the availability of arbitrarily complicated securities that reference cash flows in all times, in all places, and in all ways imaginable.
P5. (Borrowing at the Risk-Free Rate) Economic institutions should be designed under the assumption that whenever a firm or bank tries to obtain a low interest loan, it succeeds.
P6. (1997/2008) If a Third World country has a banking crisis, bedrock principles of economics dictate that its largest banks should be allowed to fail and be acquired by U.S. and European banks. However, if the U.S. has a banking crisis, bedrock principles of economics dictate that its largest banks should be saved through massive subsidies from the public.
P7. (EMH, etc.) It is impossible for investment funds to beat the market. However, the current capital market system centered around funds trying to beat the market is this most perfect system conceivable by human beings.
As a bright high school student like yourself can clearly see, the list consists entirely of statements that are obviously wrong, and several of them are internally inconsistent. If economists were simply confused, we would expect to find no pattern in these statements. Instead, as predicted by Academic Choice, statements P1-P7 all directly enable rent-seeking by certain influential minorities (financial sector employees and corporate executives). Moreover, P1-P7 have also helped to generate market discontinuities with significant public costs, among which the recent global financial crisis.

Ian Welsh says, "When Medicare is destroyed is only a matter of when." It's pretty obvious that the fear of doing what manifestly should be done - single-payer - is so strong that the whole damn Village is committed to going in the opposite direction.

Robert Reich on what's really at stake: "Cynicism about government works to the Republicans' continued advantage."

From Eschaton
"In Their Hearts: I don't know who this was, but the truth is a lot of elected Dems do ultimately share the basic belief that there's something courageous about sticking it to your constituents."
"How They Won: Yes the economy sucked and there was almost inevitably going to be some Dem backlash. But, otherwise, they won with ads like this. [Video: 'Cut Medicare Half a Trillion? To Pay for Obamacare?']"
"Invisible Lefties: The disparity in media coverage between what right wingers get anywhere anytime and what lefties have received over the past decade is so huge that when I reach for reasons I tend to get more paranoid about news organizations than I usually am. It's hard not to see it as a deliberate decision from the top. Ignore the protesting hippies."

Atrios also thinks that Nancy Pelosi would be a good choice to lead on messaging, but he doesn't think they will let her, and in any case Susie is not optimistic after speaking to Pelosi herself.

A very linky post from Reality Chex.

"Don't Ever Let Anyone Tell You to Sit Down Again." That's the message from Wisconsin, because some people didn't stop.

Matt Taibbi recommends Sirota's latest book on how entertainment media has been party of the war on liberalism.

Note to D: Mike Papantonio is the trial lawyer who works with Bobby Kennedy (now joined by Sam Seder) on Ring of Fire.

"Okay...let's talk about dangerous places.." (via)

Aside from having something new called Shop Left over at Corrente, they could also use a bit of help. Corrente is one of the best things on the web, I hope you will support them if you can.

Gender-swap Justice League

16:03 BST

Tuesday, 05 April 2011

Everybody's talking

60 Minutes covered the Fraudclosure story - our financial wizards actually set up forgery mills to steal people's homes. Atrios posted the video. And Sam Seder talked to David Dayen about it on Majority Report.

Virtually Speaking Sunday had Daniel Ellsberg talking to Jay about "Wilileaks, the role of whistleblowers, and their endangered future" before running off to celebrate his 80th birthday. You can stream here or download the podcast.

And on Virtually Speaking A-Z, Stuart and Jay agreed with our very own commenter CMike's criticisms (in comments to this post) of their efforts to explain what the arguments in economics are. (And they'll be getting Warren Mosler on to help explain Modern Monetary Theory this week, which is very cool.) They also discussed Libya and where liberals stand on it, and where Juan Cole's support for it stands on that spectrum. (Personally, I think Cole's emotions got the better of him and he forgot who is running things - that is, people who think "spreading democracy" means imposing Wall Street on a country.) (Podcast link.) PZ Myers joined the show for the second half (podcast).

On Virtually Speaking Susie, Mike Rogers of The Raw Story talked about why he outed all those closeted gay Republicans.

And speaking of The Raw Story, I see that Arianna says the HuffPo isn't lefty anymore. They are post-partisan. Of course, I never thought of it as a lefty site - I thought of it as sort of mushy middle at best - which still would put them well to the left of the corporate media, it's true, but still. A lefty news site would have been very different. (Also: Bill Maher manages to find something nice to say about Republicans.)

Thanks also to CMike for bringing Yves Smith's article on the hand-slap Wachovia got for money-laundering four hundred billion dollars in cocain money.

Privatizing Medicare: As long as Medicare exists, it poses a threat to health insurance parasites, because it could always be extended to all of us, so the Republicans want to privatize it. So this has to be treated very seriously. Now, if any Democratic Senator wanted to filibuster this, he or she could fill the Capitol with protestors, a la Madison. So do we still have any friends on Capitol Hill?
SWAT team evicts widowed granny - because the bank refused her checks and then foreclosed on her.
"How U.S. Voters Can Wrest Control of Elections from Special Interests: Electing Elizabeth Warren in the 2012 Massachusetts Senate" (Damn, I wanted to draft her for president.)
We are one - rumors of spring for Tallahassee unions and supporters.
A nice sample letter to the editor.
New addition to the glossary: Reluction. Noun. Ostensibly reluctant yet unyielding support for a politician's reelection. Example: "Historians recall the 2012 presidential campaign as an absolute orgy of reluction, especially in the progressive blogosphere."

A massive improvement on the earlier (real) Green Lantern trailer.

"Lose the Future" (and, by the way, there are still times when you really do need a travel agent, and anyway, it's not as cheap as you think, because for some things it used to be free, for some things it costs almost as much, and you can't tell the internet site your father is dying and you couldn't book a month in advance). Also, Paarfi's T-shirt slogan (via)

"We only want to serve mankind."

Isn't it a lucky thing that Roddy McDowall had that camera?

02:10 BST

Sunday, 03 April 2011

Blog in haste, repent at leisure

I implore you to listen to Sam Seder's interview last Wednesday with Jeff Cohen, "founder of FAIR and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, on the failure of the liberal establishment and how liberal and progressive grassroots organizations have become way too cozy with Obama and the Democratic leadership." You know, he's right. The war and Jim crow didn't end because the left "strategized" with the politicians and the president and his political handlers; they always tell you to shut up, it's not the right time. We didn't listen to them - we made them listen to us.

Matt Taibbi asks, "Why is the Fed Bailing Out Qaddafi?" And why doesn't Obama's executive order barring dealings with Libyan banks apply to a certain Libyan bank? Apparently, this is just one of the many "outrageous" revelations exposed in the audit of the Federal Reserve.

From Hullabaloo:

  • The far right: "No Democratic president should sign on to draconian cuts in government spending when he's got nearly 9% unemployment, a housing crisis that isn't getting any better and is engaging in wars of choice that nobody really understands. This is not liberalism in any sense that we have ever known it before."
  • Face it, you're poor.
  • The Supreme Court decided it was okay for a bunch of prosecutors to hide the evidence that you are innocent in order to send you to death row.
  • Grassroots: "The Tea Party had a rally today in DC and hardly anyone showed up. I think it's fairly clear that unless the astro-turfed groups provide funds and pay for logistics and Fox News relentless flogs it, the "movement" isn't all that organized." But it worked really well for them.

Ian Welsh with a useful anecdote illustrating "Burning down your house to generate heat: Here's the rule, whenever greed becomes a primary motivator, and an acceptable primary motivator in a society, the society burns itself down. It extracts money by destroying actual long term value. This has been going on in the West, with its most extreme forms in the US, for over 30 years." (I've been meaning to mention that Ian joined us for dinner and pub night the other evening, and I found him a fine fellow, and I hope he makes it back some time for more.)

I genuinely did expect when I got to the very end of Kevin Drum's article "Obama, Libya, and Me" that the final line would be, "April Fool!" Jeez, he's the Britney Spears of blogdom!) Well, Obama's action has other supporters of note. And, of course, this one.

Oh, yeah, Obama is also working to defeat democracy in Haiti, too.

PCCC: "We commissioned a post-election national poll of those who voted. It showed that the 2010 electorate was much more conservative than the 2008 electorate. Many Democrats didn't show up. Neither did many independents who voted in 2008 for President Obama. Why not? Because many who voted for "change we can believe in" no longer believed that Democrats would fight for that change."

Atrios on What We're Hearing: "It's a muddle, but I've been thinking about how to boil down the basic political message people are hearing these days. What I've come up with is: one party says big spending cuts are necessary but sorta sad, one party says spending cuts are necessary and awesome."

At least one WI Republican will be facing a recall: State Senator Dan Kapanke. They've got the signatures.

Defining bias: "The Maine Department of Labor quietly took down a mural depicting the state's labor history over the weekend, after Gov. Paul LePage (R) sparked controversy last week by ordering it removed and saying it was biased against businesses and employers."

Farm subsidies: Most American farmers don't get them, but 23 members of Congress do. "This subsidy program ceased being a safety net for small farmers long ago. In fact, the bulk of agricultural subsidies go to corporations and many receive money who are not even actually farming the land."

What "business-friendly" means today.

Tom the Dancing Bug explains the Bond Vigilantes. (Hm, Paul Krugman himself seems to have forgotten - but fortunately, his first comment came from J. Galbraith. (via). I didn't realize they were arguing about this, but they are. Of course, Krugman is still the conservative in the discussion.)

Colo. Prison Inmates to Cater High School Prom.

John Lennon Street Piano, giant trashcan-lid panda mosaic, and sidewalk art.

Dept. of Everything You Know Is Wrong: Maybe salt isn't so bad for you.

Extended American Doctor Who trailer

01:01 BST

Friday, 01 April 2011

You'd better think twice

Sam Seder's interview with Jeremy Scahill Monday was downright entertaining, and never mind the exciting news that the whacko Christianist Dominionist head of Blackwater has had to go Muslim to dodge all the questions about his activities. Comedy gold!

It's not often I disagree with Susie Madrak, but the simple answer to why the Democrats won't tell the public just how badly the cuts will affect us is that Barry and the Dem leadership like cuts. Obama wants them and doesn't want to stir up any push-back from the unruly voters who still imagine themselves to live in a [fnord] democracy. This isn't just something the Republicans are trying to force on us all by themselves - Obama was the leader on this latest iteration of the idea that we have to cut the programs we think we pay taxes for so that rich people can insulate themselves from the enormity they are committing.

I think Ezra Klein has been hanging with a bad crowd. First he excuses the Obama Health Insurance Company Welfare Act, and now he wants people to support so-called Social Security reform that isn't reform at all.. I guess that makes him a "serious person" or something. (Of course, a genuinely serious person would say that anything other than raising the cap and lowering the retirement age is just blowing smoke.) Thank goodness there are people who are willing to explain it to him. Twice.

Why do they hate Elizabeth Warren? Because she wants to make things better.

Hedges: "The intrusion of corporations into the public sphere destroys the concept of the common good. It erases the lines between public and private interests. It creates a world that is defined exclusively by naked self-interest." (via)

I want to tax the rich so bad.

Ruger Schuler knows just how William Cronon feels - he's been there.

How Bill Keller strives for accuracy in the NYT - if it's about Ivana's bras. (via)

Bush on steroids - I can't believe there are still people who think they can make excuses for Obama. This is not just a good man who is in a tough situation.

"It's not a budget crisis. It's a crisis of priorities." It's happening in Albany, now - and remember, Cuomo is not a Republican. (via)

"Uterus" Now Officially a Dirty Word in Florida.

FBI spied on little kids for days at a time, documents reveal.

The Various Roles for Social Change (via)

Susie says farewell to her friend and mentor, Joe Bageant.

Google celebrates the Bunsen birthday.

I really thought Mr. Sideshow had to be joking when he told me this. That is so wrong! (Just for comparison, Aggie Christie said Joan Hickson was the best fit for the role.)

I always get confused when Atrios talks about Jim Messina.

16:46 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, April 2011

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