eXTReMe Tracker

The Sideshow

Archive for August 2012

Check box to open new browser windows for links.

Monday, 27 August 2012


Every Democrat or "lefty" who never fell in love with a Clinton or Obama, or who continues to View With Alarm the behavior of the Democratic Party, gets asked the question. The answer is at least more interesting and more constructive than the latest Red Alert about something Sarah Palin said or how evil the Republicans are. Here's one answer from Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Report:

Why We Don't Spend As Much Time Denouncing Republicans As We Do Democrats

We know who and what the Republican party is. Back in the mid 1960s, when Democratic president Lyndon Johnson, under relentless pressure from the Freedom Movement embraced enforcement of the Voting Rights Act in the South, Republicans opened their doors wide to welcome the exodus of white supremacist voters and politicians who'd been Democrats until that time. The modern Republican party re-made itself into the permanent white man's party not just in the South, but across the country, the party whose brands are rancid racism, pretentious piety, monstrous misogyny and shameless warmongering.

When you match Republican brands against those of Democrats, who claim to stand for tolerance on racial and sexual fronts, who cloak their imperial wars in the garb of "humanitarian interventions,'" but who agree with Republicans that wealthy corporations do have the right to rule over us, that presidents possess the right to imprison, torture or kill us at a whim, the difference isn't black and white, but it's clear enough. The Republican brand is odious and deeply scary, easily more frightening than that of Democrats.

In today's political ecology, the job of Republicans is to provide political camouflage to right wing Democrats like the last two Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama, by moving still further rightward, even past the boundaries of lunacy. When Bill Clinton was busy passing NAFTA and ending welfare as we knew it, both measures tried and failed at by Bush 1, Newt Gingrich provided covering babble about taking poor children from their homes. While Barack Obama offered to put Medicare and social security on the deficit cutting table and enacted a so-called "Affordable Care Act" first passed as an insurance company bailout by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in 2004, Republicans threaten the piecemeal repeal of Rove V. Wade and cuts to unemployment compensation.

The fact is that 120% evil Republicans offer the only justification for our support of 100% evil Democrats. And with the dissolution of what used to be the black consensus for equality, civil liberties, full funding for public education, and opposing war spending and corporate privilege, Obama-era Democrats continue to flee rightward toward war, privatization and austerity.

This deformed puzzle is not the political logic of free and responsible people. It's the cramped and twisted reasoning of someone trapped in a box urgently trying to convince himself that it's not really a box, that pragmatic acceptance of the box as the whole of the great and free universe is really all that can be hoped, struggled and strived for. It's not. Only a beaten, cowed and enslaved people can imagine their forbears sacrificed and struggled for them to choose among greater and lesser, but both still monstrous evils.

We at Black Agenda Report spend more time denouncing Democrats because they act like and enable Republicans. We don't spend as much time denouncing the party of white supremacy because Republicans rarely bother to pretend to be anything else. African Americans haven't voted Republican in 50 years. But we're more unemployed than we've been in seventy years, and more imprisoned than we've ever been.

Dixon recommends getting out of the two-party, lesser-evil box and preparing for something new. I don't know how to do that, but I do know that blacks and whites alike are "more unemployed than we've been in seventy years, and more imprisoned than we've ever been," and I'm horrified at every "progressive" who somehow thought it was more important to defend Obama's presidency than to defend the Democratic Party and the nation against this rightward push, to the point where even primary challenges to bad Democrats were out of the question. Paul Ryan and other Republican Horrors are people who the Democratic leadership actively protected against real challenges in their districts. The only reason there are any Republicans in Congress from New York is that the Democratic leadership makes sure that happens.

Dixon is right: The Republicans are giving the Obamacrats cover to pass a right-wing agenda. The Democratic leadership may give - or even believe (how stupid can you be?) - different reasons for why they have to pass that agenda, but it's been the right-wing agenda for longer than I've been alive (and, to be honest, back to colonial days), and it is being effected for them by Barack Hussein Obama and his band of Third Way Tories. We should be just as afraid of them as we are of the Republicans. (Nice editorial cartoon there, by the way.)

* * * * *

Dave Johnson and RJ Eskow were this week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

You'd think it was time for some high-profile legislator to call for breaking up the big banks. And higher capital requirements for big financial institutions. And Bernie Sanders has, of course. And Sherrod Brown. But you might be surprised at who else is calling for a break-up of TBTF banks.

David Sirota notices a a curious turn in advertising: "One spot for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (read: the casinos) shows a woman climbing onto her desk to demand a vacation. Another for McDonald's implores us to fight back against employers and 'overthrow the working lunch.' Still another for a Coca-Cola subsidiary seizes on the stress of harsh working conditions to create buzz for a branded 'Take the Year Off' contest. 'Marketers are adopting the theme of workers' rights at a time when unions themselves are confronting declines in membership and influence,' notes the Times. 'In effect, some labor experts say, they are turning a pro-worker theme on its head to serve the corporate interest.'" He calls it "workerwashing" - like greenwashing, only different.

Every now and then I'm brought up short by the realization that a lot of people still don't know what Third Way is, even though they regard themselves as well-informed. To some it even sounds a bit like conspiracy theory. It might be useful to point them to the piece Yves wrote last year explaining that these people, who run the Democratic Party these days, are committed to institutionalized looting.

I see (via) there's a deadline coming up for all sorts of musicians who have stuff streaming somewhere online to collect their royalties from SoundExchange. Let your musician friends know before 15 October.

I had no idea it was possible do this.

17:05 BST

Friday, 24 August 2012

I just can't think of a title for this post

David Waldman (KagroX) joined Jay Ackroyd on Virtually Speaking Sundays to discuss the "origins and logic of voter suppression, voter ID efforts, drawing upon military history; Rep.Todd Akin's 'black magical' assertions that 'legitimate rape' does not result in pregnancy; media non-coverage of false claims and assertions made by political campaigns and possible remedies."
Jo Paoletti, an associate professor at my alma mater, talked about gender identity on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.

While everyone is defending Obama against Naill Ferguson's spurious claims (and many are noting that Ferguson makes a habit of talking rubbish in the service of his masters), Dean Baker notes that Obama's critic's missed a bet: "But Ferguson got the nature of the failure wrong. Obama and his economic team, like the rest of the economics profession, badly underestimated the severity of the downturn. Being world class economists it was too difficult for them to recognize something as simple as an $8 trillion housing bubble and to understand the damage that would be done by its deflation. They certainly deserve to be haranged for that, but unfortunately all of Ferguson's friends would be equally guilty on this count." And it's much the same with all of Obama's other failures - no Republican will ever point them out in a straightforward manner, because those failures are, in every way, right-wing successes.

Susie says, "We Could Use Some Pussy Riots Here in the U.S.A." Aye, and everywhere. I was reminded, though, that Peter Tatchell also put his body where his mouth is and outraged the citizenry by protesting in the pulpit against the then-Archbishop of Canterbury's attitude toward gays, interrupting his Easter sermon. He only faced a maximum possible two months of incarceration and a £200 fine, but the judge was clearly not sympathetic to that idea and fined him a derisory £18.60, which most of us assume was a pointed reference to the year the law was passed. (I am proud to say that I personally wrote the check - er, cheque - to pay the fine, on behalf of Feminists Against Censorship.) Although I've had my arguments with Peter, we've usually been on the same side and I've always admired his courage. Although he's suffered many verbal and physical attacks (the media even put his private address on our television screens at one point while they were having a go at him), had his flat firebombed and been personally injured, he doesn't stop. He is well-known to the public for his activism on behalf of the LGBT community, but his horizons are larger than that.

Suddenly, everyone from James Fallows to Garance Franke-Ruta to Alec MacGillis to Jay Rosen to The Economist is worried about "balancing" lies with facts. Or, more to the point, dealing generally with lies. Fallows thinks the lying has finally gotten so far out of hand that some members of the press are beginning to think maybe...well, something. But even people on the right are getting pissed off with it.

Neal Barofsky on Up about how they deliberately blew it on TARP. And I'm sure there's more coming our way.

Freedom? Liberty? No issue could be more symbolic of that, nor more fundamental. Where have the Democrats been on it? Nowhere. Charles Pierce on "The Democrats' Problem with Abortion: What Happened to the Pro-Choice Movement Anyway? [...] I would like to see the Democratic Party make a national campaign issue out of the fact that this perfectly legal medical procedure is unavailable to women wishing to exercise their legitimate constitutional rights to it in most of the nation. I would like to see the Democratic Party make a national campaign issue out of repealing the Hyde Amendment, which never made any sense in the first place, and which makes sense only if I can withhold that part of my taxes that go to pay for Antonin (Short Time) Scalia's salary. I would like to see the Democratic Party make a national campaign issue out of the fact that the real target here is not, and never has been, Roe v. Wade. It has been, and always will be, Griswold v. Connecticut. It is axiomatic among movement conservatives that the right to privacy derived from the Bill of Rights in that decision is a constitutional fiction and an example of unfortunate liberal judicial overreach. The sudden, bizarre attack on contraception this year didn't come from nowhere; that was the issue over which Griswold was decided. I would like to see the Democratic Party make a national campaign issue out of the fact that an assault on a woman's right to privacy over her reproductive decisions is the first step in the assault on your right to be private in any and all decisions you make. (Again, if you disagree, I suggest you take it up with Planned Parenthood.) I would like to see the Democratic Party make a national campaign issue out of the fact that, the recent events at the Family Research Council aside, only one side of this dispute has a legitimate body count. Only one side is clearly possessed of a violent, terrorist fringe. That ought to matter. Eric Rudolph ought to be as much a part of this ongoing debate as Sandra Fluke has been (and continues to be)." (My emphasis added.)

Atrios goes a little longer than usual to talk about the idea that the poor have it too good. And this goes back to something I want to emphasize, about how southern conservative legislators keep making their constituents poorer and those constituents vote for them in response, because if you can make white people resentful that they're not getting more help when, allegedly, "certain minorities" are getting much more help, they're going to really resent that idea of "government handouts" - even though, in reality, they are getting those very same handouts. The perception that Obama must be doing things especially to help poor blacks because he is black is one that seems to hold particularly well with these people, despite the fact that Obama clearly could not care less about blacks or the poor if he tried.

Will Bunch anticipates bad weather: "That said, the postponement/cancellation of a national political convention would be a big deal because...not a single person would miss it, and that could mean the end of future conventions as we know them, starting in 2016. There is a solution: Move the RNC to where it should have been all along: Sheldon Adelson's Venetian casino in Vegas (actually, Adelson's casino in Macao would have been better, but as Mitt Romney could tell you, "offshoring" takes time!). After all, Adelson is one of the only three voters Romney and Paul Ryan care about, along with Charles and David Koch. Wouldn't it be great to see the R&R Boys entering the convention on a gondola on one of those fake canals. Todd Akin could paddle."

Sam Seder did some great interviews on The Majority Report with Scott Horton on Assange and Ari Berman on vote suppression.

First they came for ACORN, and now they're going after the Southern Poverty Law Center.

People are having to fight big, thieving corporations when they have no money to hire lawyers. There's no money for public defenders. There's a real crisis in the courts, and people are having to be their own lawyers without legal training. (via)

Editorial cartoons: Voter ID

A lovely tribute to the Copernicus project.

16:42 BST

Monday, 20 August 2012

More of the same

Jay sent me another picture from a slideshow he says he's working on - click on it for a larger image. If it was me, I'd remove the dividing line in that top triangle and just make it "Neocons & Neoliberals". I also wonder where the rank-and-file Republicans who identify as "conservative" but support New Deal programs and are really much more mainstream in their views on social issues generally fit in this model. They may think of themselves as Christian but they don't identify with the "Christian" right, they don't actually care much about gays or abortion, and they think everyone is entitled to health care. They're Republican because their parents were and they always have been and they don't identify with the hippies they think of as liberal and, like everyone, they despise the bloodless centrists who are represented on television as "liberals". Some of them still remember, and hate, the corrupt Dixicrats of old. You see them all the time in poll numbers and once in a great while see them quoted, but almost everyone talks like they don't really exist. (In fact, when I refer to them here, I often get a "Guest" commenting that such people don't exist. But, again, someone is answering poll questions and voting Republican who corresponds to this description, and in real life, I actually do talk to these people from time to time. They may disagree with me completely on certain rhetorical pathways, but when it comes to issues, they are not really much farther right than I am.)

Wielding the People: "As though the people in question were a stick. I've seen some seriously nasty efforts to bully people into voting for the Blue Plate Special, but this year's Democratic hystrionics are way off the scale. The surface problem is obvious. As Bill Fletcher, Jr. observed, advocacy based on the Democratic record collapses under the weight of its own stench. There's no positive record to work with. The "nice" brand of advocacy has to take the form of pleas to participate in deranged comparison shopping. This is not just any lemon, ladies and gentlemen, this is a genuine proletarian lemon, certified by veterans of Students for a Democratic Society. It's far superior to the bourgeois wingnut lemon. It enhances your unique sense of self. The neighbors will feel like fools when you drive off the cliff in style."

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Obama's (Perceived) Transformation: "During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama earned the G.O.P.'s mockery. Now he has earned their fear. It is an ambiguous feat, accomplished by going to the dark side, by walking the G.O.P.'s talk, by becoming the man Dick Cheney fashioned himself to be."

"Romney slams Obama over Medicare, pledges more help for 'poor' and 'sick'." Maybe Romney isn't so dumb. Of course, he's being totally misleading (and trying to make means-testing sound generous), but he's also appearing to care about Medicare, the old, and the poor more than Obama does.

John Quiggin has noticed the marketing of the generation game and says, convincingly, I think, that it's really no more than the age-old formula of complaining about the moral degeneration of the young and the errors of the old(er). Although, since someone had to leap in and say the article was incomplete without throwing a heap of blame at the Boomers, I was interested in this counter-theory from Josh G. at 26: "What you are probably thinking of as 'baby boomers' in the Tea Party context is actually in large part a previous cohort, the Silent Generation (born 1925-1945). This is the 'keep your government hands off my Medicare' crowd. Too young to fight in WWII, too old for Vietnam. With the exception of early childhood (where some of them went through the Depression), they basically lived a charmed life, entering the job market when wages were skyrocketing far faster than inflation, even for workers with only a high school diploma. And if they did want to go to college, it was usually cheap or free. They bought houses when they were dirt cheap and interest rates were low, and got to sell them at far higher prices once they moved into their empty-nest phase. But, like most people, they convinced themselves that their success was all their own doing (nothing to do with the New Deal and Keynesianism!) As soon as they were done with the universities, they voted to de-fund them for the next generation. They gladly accepted two-tier labor deals that would screw over younger workers. They voted for Ronald Reagan. They outsourced jobs and jacked up credential requirements, forcing their successors to work harder for lower pay than they ever had. No wonder the Republicans think they can pull their 'over-55' switcheroo with Medicare; the Silent Generation has been willing to sell out their children and grandchildren every other step of the way."

Pussy Riot, sentenced to two years in a penal colony, release new anti-Putin single.

Dean Baker catches the WaPo again, with their new vocabulary using the word "tweak" to mean cuts in Social Security.

"Assange and Wikileaks: the basics [...] What Assange did, with Wikileaks, was engage in actual journalism. He was the last attempt to play under the rules of the current, corrupt system. What Wikileaks did was straight up journalism, no different than the Pentagon papers. Immediately afterwards, VISA, Mastercard and PayPal shut down all donations to Wikileaks, despite the fact that Wikileaks had been convicted of no crime. If an individual or organization can be shut out of the modern payments without any legal procedings, then there is no rule of law that matters. It is impossible to live in the modern world beyond a subsistence level if one is shut out of the electronic payments system. [...] Britain itself has given asylum to people accused of far, far worse crimes than Assange, and yet they are willing to trash the Asylum system over this? This isn't about sexual misconduct. Anyone who is stupid enough to think that anyone not named Assange would have caused Britain to threaten to violate an embassy is too stupid to be allowed out in public." Chris FLoyd reckons the US will go after Ecuador.

PA judge upholds voter ID law despite the fact that there is no structure in place to implement it in time for election. Sam Seder discussed this on The Majority Report.

Private justice: How Hollywood money put a Brit behind bars: " [...] This is a new development for anti-piracy efforts. Organizations like the MPAA, RIAA, IFPA, and FACT have long lobbied law enforcement officials to prosecute 'rogue sites' and have provided them with information and logistical support to do so. But public prosecutors generally have the final say on who will be indicted. In the Vickerman case, the public prosecutors concluded that there wasn't enough evidence to merit prosecution. FACT disagreed and invoked what one lawyer told us is an 'archaic right' for a private organization to bring criminal prosecutions against other private parties." Needless to say, you need money to launch an investigation like this - and to defend against one. Freezing the victim's assets meant that, among other things, he couldn't even pay his ordinary bills. And then there is that little conflict-of-interest business....

Trust people who have an easy life to talk about how workers are lazy.

Every Biblical Argument Against Being Gay, Debunked Biblically

Riverdaughter says Ira Glass asked a good question.

American Extremists:
Paul Ryan Bingo for "Progressives"
De factoid

Craig Ferguson, mail call

13:48 BST

Friday, 17 August 2012

Burning Down The House

Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyd discussed "neocons, where they came from, what they believe, and how they fit into the Conservative, Liberal, Centrist triangle that controls US policy and politics" on Virtually Speaking A-Z. I'll have to listen to this a couple more times to figure out whether this means the neocons are neoliberals are centrists or not. (I have odd technical difficulties listening to Blog Talk Radio live, lately - I think it's some unexplained packet-loss, but who knows?) I expect I will still come down (with Gaius Publius) to thinking that it's the same product with two different versions and targeted advertising campaigns. Even if it hadn't been true before, it's clear that as of 9/11, the crazy right-wing ex-trots had A Two-President, Three-Term Policy Coup in the service of an ideology most people would be appalled by. Wesley Clark thinks it's because nobody knew what to do after 9/11, but obviously, somebody got just what they wanted. Whatever it is, they sure didn't like the hippies, but they liked the Likudniks just fine.

And, of course, there is Social Security, which Eric Laursen (The People's Pension) discussed on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. Laursen says the biggest danger to Social Security isn't the Republicans, whose position is well-known, but the "center-right" (or just "centrist", according to them) Democrats who are so thoroughly absorbed in the "Social Security failure" ideology.

Yes, you hear a lot (especially from "progressives") about "adverse selections", but the real profit model of insurance companies is not paying out, even if they have to pay a phalanx of lawyers and other professionals to make sure they don't.

Yves on: Washington state Supreme Court smacks down MERS: "Today, Washington State, which is a non-judical foreclosure state, gave MERS a serious setback. Its finding in Bain v. Metropolitan Mortgage, that MERS may not foreclose in Washington, is not as bad as it sounds, since MERS instructed in servicers to stop foreclosing in its name in 2011. But the reasoning of the ruling is far more damaging. And the court has opened up new grounds for litigation against MERS in Washington, in determining that it false claim to be a beneficiary under a deed of trust is a deception under the state's Consumer Protection Act (whether that can be proven to have led to injury is a separate matter)."
Quelle Surprise! SEC Plans to Make the World Safer for Fraudsters, Push Through JOBS Act Con-Artist-Friendly Solicitation Rules: "If you merely looked at the SEC's record on enforcement, you'd conclude that it suffered from a Keystone Kops-like inability to get out of its own way. The question remains whether that outcome is the result of unmotivated leadership (ex in the safe realm of insider trading cases) and long-term budget starvation leading to serious skills atrophy, or whether the SEC really, truly, is so deeply intellectually captured by the financial services industry that it thinks industry members don't engage in fraud, they only make 'mistakes'?"

Ian Welsh on Police: "Police exist primarily to protect property arrangements. The war on drugs has paramilitarized police, with a heavy emphasis on overwhelming force. While police have always considered themselves above the common herd, and have always looked after themselves first and civilians second, it's very clear that police today are much worse in this regard than they were 10 years ago, and 10 years before that, and 10 years before that. Police are well aware that they have near full immunity: they can beat people, kill people, plant evidence on people and they will, in most cases, get away with it. Even if caught on tape, the worst punishment is likely to be paid suspension."
"Pinochet had women raped by dogs and Britain wouldn't extradite him. Yes, he did. So I don't want to hear anything from Britain about how important extradition is to them or how important rape accusations are."

Nobody believes the news anymore.

Chinese companies pull out of US stock markets

If this guy can figure out that porn never did him any harm, I wonder why he can't take the next step, but instead says things like, "Look, we were young boys. We didn't know any different. But we weren't meant to see what we'd just seen: it should have been kept from us, until such time as we reached the maturity to see it; our plastic minds could have been damaged by what we saw, and read." Like, why should it have been kept from you? How could your "plastic minds" have been damaged? What would you have been learning about sex and women in the meantime (largely from your ignorant peers and nervous parents) that would make you prepared to see pornography at a more "appropriate" time? When are you going to admit that a lack of adequate sex education is a much greater danger than pornography?

RIP Harry Harrison, who gave us Bill the Galactic Hero, The Stainless Steel Rat, and of course wrote Make Room! Make Room!, on which Soylent Green was based. A lot of people will miss him.

Panoramic view on Mars

The Road to Fifty Shades of Grey, via The Magic Mimeograph (And, of course, the painting by Dan Steffan shown as the "original" cover of The Enchanted Duplicator is no such thing. That story is here.)

Steampunk laptops

Tyrone Power vs. Basil Rathbone - To the death!

Palmer and Byrne

17:15 BST

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Slow glass

This week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sunday were Avedon Carol and Marcy Wheeler. Jay wanted to talk about zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan. Officially, this silliness (via) is supposed to be the press tale, but as Marcy pointed out, the staffers are distancing themselves from the Ryan pick like crazy. For my part, I'm still thinking that with almost no one trying to run cover for Romney (and even when they do, these are the worst performances on behalf of a Republican candidate ever), the people who run everything (including both parties) really aren't interested in defeating Obama, because they like him right where he is, passing right-wing policies with barely a whimper from Democrats and "progressives". (Homework links: Lizza on the ascent of Paul Ryan, Ezra saying Ryan isn't a "deficit hawk", he's an ideological crackpot who wants to privatize SSI and Medicare and, "Ryan has even sponsored legislation ending the requirement that the Federal Reserve work to achieve full employment" - that is, he's actually anti-jobs. Also, Marcy on Romney. Also, Paul Ryan's opponent.) Of course, it could just be that Romney wanted to make the story about something beside his taxes....

Last week, Stuart Zechman pointed a sentence out to me in this article about Virgil Goode's fantasy challenge to Romney: "Many supporters in Farmville support Goode for his conservative economics and social policies. He wants to eliminate foreign aid, issue a moratorium on 1.2 million green cards, and audit the Federal Reserve." Stuart noted (Time apparently doesn't want me to be able to link to individual comments anymore) that auditing the Fed is being couched as a "conservative policy" even though the audit that actually took place resulted from the Paul-Grayson amendment, and, "By December, 2010, the Fed audit bill had 100 Democratic House co-sponsors, almost all of which were Progressive Caucus members, including Dennis Kucinich, who became the 218th sponsor. The Senate's version of the Fed audit bill (S. 604) was named "Federal Reserve Sunshine Act of 2009" and introduced by Bernie Sanders, also an advocate for enforced, statutory transparency with respect to Federal Reserve policy. Leading movement liberal and left-wing economists and financial writers, such as Dean Baker, Yves Smith, Naomi Klein and Bill Black were all vociferous in their support for auditing the Federal Reserve." Of course, the right-wing just wants to be able to trash-talk the Fed in order to abolish it, but transparency for the Fed is part of the (real) liberal agenda. One reason for that is that the Fed is supposed to be trying to get full employment for Americans. That's its job. It's not doing that, and no one seems to be asking why. Interesting, isn't it, that we didnt hear anyone mention Ryan's attempt to eliminate the requirement altogether. And by "anyone", of course, I mean Democrats, who are supposed to believe in that sort of thing.

"Bill Black: Krugman Now Sees The Perversity Of Economics' 'Culture Fraud'" - Yves introduces the piece this way: "Wow, is Black fast. I had just seen the Krugman post decrying how the three academic authors of Romney's white paper on economics - Glenn Hubbard, Greg Mankiw, and John Taylor - repeatedly and aggressively misrepresented research they cited in support of their positions, and wanted to say something. As much as it's good to see Krugman call this sort of thing out, it nevertheless raises a basic question: where has he been?" Alas, we know where he's been, because in order to avoid seeing through Obama, he has had to avoid noticing this - until now. But Bill Black does supply a reminder of what makes Alan Greenspan the kind of expert we should listen to: "Similarly, a generation of American lawyers who have studied corporate law have been reading Frank Easterbrook and Daniel Fischel's assertion that: 'a rule against fraud is not an essential or ... an important ingredient of securities markets' (Easterbrook & Fischel 1991). They do not inform the reader that Fischel, in his capacity as an expert economist for Charles Keating (who looted Lincoln Savings), tried applying this fraud-free dogma in the real world. He, and Greenspan (who served as both an economist and lobbyist for Keating - Keating used Greenspan to recruit the five senators who became known as the 'Keating Five') opined that Lincoln Savings was a superb S&L with stellar management. Lincoln Savings proved to be the most expensive S&L failure and Keating the most infamous fraud."

Of course, Paul Ryan is indeed a nasty piece of work, and yeah, voters find it disturbing when Republicans try to cut Medicare, but what will happen when Democrats grand-bargain everything away?

"NYPD, Microsoft Launch All-Seeing "Domain Awareness System" With Real-Time CCTV, License Plate Monitoring." Land of the free, home of the brave.

Even George R.R. Martin is getting pissed off with the police state where you have to show your papers to travel or vote.

Message from Yoko Ono to Yekaterina Samutsevich of Pussy Riot

First meeting: "In 1989 I was working at a local movie theatre. That summer Tim Burton's Batman had just opened and I was really jazzed to see it. For some reason, I was asking people leaving a showing what they thought of it and one sweet older woman was telling me how wonderful it was. Then she asked me if I read comics. With the answer of 'yes,' she took the arm of the man with her and said 'This is the man who created 'Captain America.' We shook hands and I couldn't say anything. Jack Kirby gave me a firm pat on the shoulder and said, 'Don't worry about it' in response to what I believe was my expression of total awe."


Like I do every year, I went out and looked at the sky to not see the Perseids.

Don't know why I always forget about Circus Maximus. Always liked 'em.

16:18 BST

Friday, 10 August 2012

Hope you die before you get old

The age war is heating up, and a lot of those sharp, cynical, disaffected smarties are falling for it. One of them has been in my comments for a while now, saying stupid things about how if only the Boomers would die off, things would be fine. In response to my last post, Soullite writes:

As long as you defend boomers, no sane millenial will ever listen to you.

We know enough about the world their parents handed them. We've seen enough of the world they handed us.

Nobody cares what kind BS you have to spew in their defense.

The parents of the boomers were, by and large, born in the 20th century and doing whatever they had to in order to get by; they were not the decision-makers who "handed" a better world to the boomers. That was done by the generation that preceded "the Greatest Generation", especially one man in particular named Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt was born in 1882 and handed the parents of the boomers that comfortable, enviable world. And since then, you will find few members of any generation who will say that was a bad thing, who think Social Security Insurance was a bad idea, who disagree with Roosevelt's belief in economic freedom, good education, and health care for all.

Nor will you find many "millenials" who think it was a bad idea to oppose racism and support equal rights for all, or oppose stupid wars as so many of the boomers did.

For nearly four decades, now, the Elites have pauselessly campaigned to convince the public that Those Hippie Boomers ruined America, but millennials by and large share the very same values the boomers campaigned for.

Who is it who supports depressing wages and making students pay a lifetime's wages out of their own pockets just to get enough of an education to let them earn those wages? Not the boomers, who were just starting jobs or in college themselves when, to their horror, they heard their elders announce that from now on student aid would be morphed into student loans. And it was no boomer who decided that every male in their generation would have to worry about their draft classification and whether they would be sent off to kill or be maimed or die in some stupid war in a country most of them had never heard of before.

No, the horrible world millennials were "handed" is one that people born in 1900 and 1907 (especially) and 1911 and 1913 and 1924 and 1926 and 1932 and 1935 (and 1935) handed all of us. Although they have had some latter-day help from 1946 (twice), and 1961, the die was cast by the time they got there, and it may be important to note that we've never elected a president who was born in the great lump in the middle of the baby boom in the 1950s. (Almost - that is, we elected someone who was born in 1948, which is at least nearer to the '50s, but a funny thing happened, there, thanks in large part to 1924, 1930, and 1936.)

Thanks to FDR, the boomers paid for their parents' retirement through Social Security Insurance. They have already paid for their own, as well.

Don't you be up in my face telling me how much you hate the baby boomers just because you were told to hate them by a bunch of rich toffs who want to steal money from people who earned it so they can make us all their slaves.

You know why they want you to hate boomers and refuse to listen to their counsel? Because boomers are the last generation that remembers.

Boomers remember that free education, Social Security Insurance, and heavy public investment in infrastructure, science, and scholarship made our country rich and gave us all the opportunity to improve ourselves and our world. And that every miserly penny pinched in public expenditure on the public has made us weaker and poorer.

The Age War is a creation of the Elites, meant to manipulate you into redirecting blame. Or, as Jcapan reminds us in comments:

I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half. - Robber baron Jay Gould

Meanwhile, the Greatest Generation has been listening to Bill O'Reilly, because he is loud enough to hear.

* * * * *

Last year Jay Rosen joined Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman to talk about the media. It was the week David Broder died, an event that did a great deal to highlight the insularity of the Royal Scribes in the Washington press corp. And Stuart spent another hour talking to JR about their Church of the Savvy, as Rosen calls them. These discussions were rebroadcast Sunday and deserve a fresh listen. Stream or download the podcast here.

And now, a few words from Bernie Sanders.

Making sure your vote doesn't count: Wisconsin to buy "all new voting machines".

Education has become a trillion dollar industry. Someone wants to make a killing. Who is behind privatization? Gates, Broad, KIPP, Pearson, EdWest, The Gulen Schools.
Education Profiteers Gather In New York To Cheer Privatization Of American Schools.

Sandra Day O'Conner "disappointed". Well...

It's true, it's been a while since I talked about how a good reason why the rich should pay more taxes is that the rich suck the most out of the trough. In every way, from municipal stuff like garbage pick-up to those giant contracts, they eat our money constantly. So, of course, they hate to see "their" money go back to the rest of us, but even more, they hate the thought of losing that gravy train. (Even so, CNBC itself is saying the rich are cash-hoarders, not job creators - and even they think taxes should be raised. I hope they mean their own taxes.)

Unemployment stories: Pride and Pain.

At the Porn Trial: Britain's stupid "extreme porn" law was used by the ridiculously aggressive Crown Prosecution Service to ruin Simon Walsh's career, something the acquittal can not remedy. (I can't even believe they went so far in the Peacock case as prosecuting under the '59 Obscene Publications Act, as if anyone is left who takes the "deprave and corrupt" standard seriously.) Good to know the High Court overturned the conviction of that poor guy who tweeted about his frustration with not being able to see his girlfriend.

Urban Dictionary: Man, everything is so lindened.

I don't usually mind spoilers very much, unlike Mr. Sideshow, who hates them. Apparently, though, I'm hardly alone. (via)

Medical reviews of House, Season 8 (via)

Mark Twain filmed by Thomas Edison - grainy, but cool.

The Rock Bottom Remainders played Ferguson, and Craig interviewed Steve and Dave, which was fun (and now I realize just how long it's been since I've seen Steve - the last time I saw him he was a lot bigger and his hair was black). But I love the way Craig does that little George Burns thing in the beginning.

Cockneys vs. Zombies trailer

17:20 BST

Monday, 06 August 2012

Circling the drain

It's one thing to see this story in Salon (with far less discussion at the time than it should have received), but it's another when it turns up at The Washington Times:

'Anti-Occupy' law ends American's right to protest:

Thanks to almost zero media coverage, few of us know about a law passed this past March, severely limiting our right to protest. The silence may have been due to the lack of controversy in bringing the bill to law: Only three of our federal elected officials voted against the bill's passage. Yes, Republicans and Democrats agreed on something almost 100%.


The First Amendment to our Constitution guarantees us the rights of free speech and assembly. A fundamental purpose of our free speech guarantee is to invite dispute. Protests can and have been the catalyst for positive change. Thus while we despise that protestors can burn our flag as protected political speech, and we hate that Neo-Nazis can march down our streets, we recognize the rights of these groups to do what they do and we send our troops across the world to fight for these rights.

Last year's "occupy movement" scared the government. On March 8, President Obama signed a law that makes protesting more difficult and more criminal. The law is titled the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act, and it passed unanimously in the Senate and with only three "no" votes in the House. It was called the "Trespass Bill" by Congress and the "anti-Occupy law" by everyone else who commented.

The law "improves" public grounds by forcing people - protestors - elsewhere. It amends an older law that made it a federal crime to "willfully and knowingly" enter a restricted space. Now you will be found guilty of this offense if you simply "knowingly" enter a restricted area, even if you did not know it was illegal to do so. The Department of Homeland Security can designate an event as one of "national significance," making protests or demonstrations near the event illegal.

The law makes it punishable by up to ten years in jail to protest anywhere the Secret Service "is or will be temporarily visiting," or anywhere they might be guarding someone. Does the name Secret tell you anything about your chances of knowing where they are? The law allows for conviction if you are "disorderly or disruptive," or if you "impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions." You can no longer heckle or "boo" at a political candidate's speech, as that would be disruptive.

After you swallow all of this and correctly conclude that it is now very easy to be prosecuted for virtually any public protest, you should brace yourself and appreciate that it is even worse. Today, any event that is officially defined as a National Special Security Event has Secret Service protection. This can include sporting events and concerts.

The timing of the law was not coincidental. The bill was presented to the Senate, after House passage, on November 17, 2011, during an intense nationwide effort to stop the Occupy Wall Street protests. Two days before, hundreds of New York police conducted a raid on the demonstrators' encampment in Zucotti Park, shutting it down and placing barricades.

This law chips away our First Amendment rights. Its motivation is 100 percent politically based, as it was designed to silence those who would protest around politicians giving speeches. Both Republicans and Democrats agreed they did not want hecklers at their rallies. If you want to protest a politician speaking to a crowd now, you can do so maybe a half mile or so away.

And that puts it far better than Salon did last March.

* * * * *

How is it that, magically, the prosecutors fail to make the case? The SEC is corrupt, and that's a very, very bad thing.

I see Paul Compos is on the generational warfare bandwagon. The weird thing is that the things "the Boomers" are supposedly responsible for - in this case, myths they (by which we really mean a few quite privileged people) tell young people - are things that Boomers heard from their parents in The Greatest Generation. These are memes that go back to the Bible - it's always the fault of the old or the fault of "these kids today", but never the fault of the people who actually were in a position to do something about it. Gee, I wonder how that happens?

Matt Taibbi: "Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail: The bank has defrauded everyone from investors and insurers to homeowners and the unemployed. So why does the government keep bailing it out?"

Why doesn't Obama get rid of Ed DeMarco? Personally, I find it hard to believe DeMarco would be stepping so far out of line if he didn't know the president has his back.

It's Hip! It's Cool! It's Libertarianism!: "Libertarianism isn't some cutting-edge political philosophy that somehow transcends the traditional 'left to right' spectrum. It's a radical, hard-right economic doctrine promoted by wealthy people who always end up backing Republican candidates, no matter how often they talk about civil liberties, ending the wars and legalizing pot. Funny how that works." Libertarians think it's oppression when the government pays for your health care, but freedom when your boss monitors your every move and can fire you on a whim. (via)

A man walks into a house of worship and starts shooting. Six people die before the police take him down. It dominates the media for days with people discussing the causes of these horrible mass shootings with passion. Oh, wait, it doesn't.

This week in the War on Workers: Astroturfing and nondisclosure with StudentsFirst

"So, why is Machiavelli really so important?" (via)

Messages on the London Underground (More here.)

17:50 BST

Saturday, 04 August 2012

The more things change

At the top of comments, Echo has a message saying, "This commenting widget will be discontinued on October 1st, 2012." So, I'm looking into moving to Blogger. I opened up a new blog under the new style (because the built-in comments seem pretty simple and comparatively clean), and I can't find the code (like I could with the old style) for the template, and I haven't figured out how to put in a blogroll, and I don't see a way to change the date and time of the post, or any of the other things I could do on the old version of Blogger. It looks like I'm just going to have to lose the old comments - I can export the existing comments into an .xml file (Echo claims), but making it all work online seems problematic at best, even if I had an army of elves to do it for me. Getting the basics right would be nice, however, so any help (I'm looking at you, Steve) would be greatly appreciated.

Melissa Thomasson spoke about the history of our health insurance system on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd (and a bit of help from Stuart Zechman). You can also read her paper "Health Insurance in the United States" online, listen to her on This American Life, or watch her here. It's unfortunate that she spends so much time around economists who pretend there is something about the American character that we go to the doctor in a different way than people elsewhere do.

Sam Seder talked to Glenn Greenwald about normalizing extremism, on The Majority Report.

"Pussy Riot: will Vladimir Putin regret taking on Russia's cool women punks? [...] For two very full, very long days in Moscow, I have talked constantly to people about Pussy Riot. About how, back in February, three young women from a feminist punk-rock band sang a song in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. How they were arrested, imprisoned, refused bail, and now face up to seven years in jail. How the orders for this seem to have come right from the very top of the Russian government. And how their trial - starting tomorrow - seems certain to become a defining moment in Putin's political career." Thanks to Dan (of) for providing the link down in comments - he reckons the American media will ignore the importance of this story completely, but CMike says The Christian Science Monitor cuts to the chase. And the Guardian has The Pussy Riot trial - in pictures.

Once again, we are forced to wonder why Republicans are so prone to voter fraud.

"Viewpoint: G4S and the echoes of the East India Company"

How the RIAA "defends" artists: "The record labels that successfully sued The Pirate Bay for millions on the grounds that the network had infringed upon artists' copyrights have announced that it will not share any of the money it receives from the suit with those artists. Instead, the money will be used to bankroll more 'enforcement' -- that is, salaries and fees for people who work for the industry association."

What Surprises First-Time Visitors to America

Olympic Wi-Fi Police

Chris Floyd: Listen to the Lion: The Enduring Legacy of Gore Vidal
Cavett: Gore Vidal hates being dead

Lunch with George R.R. Martin - and how A Song of Ice & Fire is a story about turtles.

Panties mystery solved.

Photos: Iggy Pop and the Stooges Playing at a High School in 1970

Early color photos: "In the early part of the 20th century French-Jewish capitalist Albert Kahn set about to collect a photographic record of the world, the images were held in an 'Archive of the Planet'. Before the 1929 stock market crash he was able to amass a collection of 180,000 metres of b/w film and more than 72,000 autochrome plates, the first industrial process for true colour photography."

The Doors sing "Reading Rainbow". Sorta.

At Long Last, Here It Is: The Series 7 Trail - Amy, Rory, Daleks, River - yep, the gang's all here.

I stole most of the fun links from Ray Radlein.

16:20 BST

Wednesday, 01 August 2012

All sorts of stuff happens

People have a lot of stupid ideas about the vast riches that recipients of disability, or welfare, or SSI have to roll in, but the thing that gets me is that you don't have to press too hard to get these people to tell you that they assume those recipients are precisely the people they wouldn't want to hire and sure don't want to work with. If you really think someone is lazy, shiftless, a doddering old fool or whatever other stereotype you impart to "losers", there's no way you want them working with you. "They don't want to work," you hear them say, and when they insist that such people should just "get a job," well, what do they think such people could contribute to their workplace? What I know is that the world is full of people who don't fare well in the workplace, who are inept at office politics, don't have whatever attitude is fashionable at the moment, don't even know how to dress the part, and though they may be very bright indeed, they end up losing jobs because they simply don't fit in. And the people who force them out of those jobs don't seem to worry much about where they will go next. To another place where they are unwanted? To a cardboard box in the sewers? To your office? Whether they are bright but inept at the office game or simply lazy people who "don't want to work", just what is the virtue of torturing them and those around them by forcing them to search for jobs they will function poorly at and ultimately lose? Personally, it seems to me that in an ideal world, it would be a jolly good thing to have the government pay people who can't function in the workplace to stay out of the way of those who are trying to get things done. Who knows, maybe if they had a guaranteed living income and could just sit around reading or playing games on their own, they could come up with some bright idea that would create jobs for other people who, you know, want to work. Hell, the worst that could happen is that a bunch of "losers" would be spending money in the economy and creating demand.

I guess I can't call Gore Vidal a national treasure since he seemed to belong to the world - at least, the English-speaking world.
Attaturk: RIP, Gore Vidal
Guardian: "Gore Vidal, US writer and contrarian, dies aged 86"
BBC: "US author Gore Vidal dies aged 86"
Gore Vidal : There Never Has Been Democracy in the United States, and other interviews.

The other day when Sam Seder was talking to Matt Taibbi on The Majority Report, he referred to a Glenn Greenwald post on the Imperial Reporter himself ("I say this with all sincerity. If I had to pick just a single fact that most powerfully reflects the nature of America's political and media class in order to explain the cause of the nation's imperial decline, it would be that, in those classes, Tom Friedman is the country's most influential and most decorated 'foreign policy expert.'"), and down at the bottom of that post, the audio of an interview Friedman gave during his book tour in New Zealand, where a well-known host gave him a whole show's worth of rope to hang himself with. His performance of speciousness and short-sighted rhapsodizing is itself amazing, but it's worth listening all the way through to the end where she makes him completely lose his composure by asking him how rich he is, and how much tax he thinks a rich person should pay. For someone who purports to be some sort of policy maven, he really sounds stupid when it comes to the "complex" nature of taxation. (And, for a bonus, The sociopathy of Thomas L. Friedman: A compendium.)
Sammy has also talked this week to Eliot Spitzer about Timothy Geithner and LIBOR, and to Neil Barofsky, "the first Inspector General of the TARP program... to talk about his new book Bailout: An Insider Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street. Turns out Tim Geithner was more focused on rescuing banks than homeowners."

Opening ceremonies: Of course, you know I loved it when Danny Boyle made a big deal of one of Britain's true crowning jewels, the NHS (and then showed it menaced by Dementors who looked to me just like Thatcher and Blair and Cameron and Osborn - and a bit like Norman Tebbit, of course). Perhaps less obvious to you, I loved it that Boyle or his camera crew or whoever made the decision lingered on that big bell so long and so often, and showed it from the back, where the name of its makers was engraved. That wasn't supposed to happen, because unlike all the other brand names you're seeing, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry was not a corporate sponsor, but simply a local firm that was hired to make a bell (as is often the case with big, national events). That small, family-owned local firm is, of course, the oldest manufacturing company in the UK (est. 1570) and the original makers of the two most famous bells in the world - the Liberty Bell and Big Ben. (But not this bell.) Kudos to Boyle et al. for giving such a showcase to the work of simple working people, both in symbolism and reality. (Lots of photos here from the day.) Meanwhile, U.K. military at Olympics outnumber U.K. troops in Afghanistan.

"Reporters Know What the 'Voter ID' Push Is Really About. Why Don't They Just Say So? This is not simply another gratuitously partisan act by the GOP. This is an attack on the very notion of democracy. The voter ID push, along with intimidation of voter registration groups and purges of voter rolls have only one goal: blocking legitimate but probably Democratic voters from exercising their constitutional rights. It is a poll tax with a new twist. [..] And the pursuit of this goal ostensibly in the name of voter fraud is an outrageous deception that only works if the press is too timid to call it what it really is. For reporters to treat this issue like just another political squabble is journalistic malpractice. Indeed, relating the debate in value-neutral he-said-she-said language is actively helping spread the lie. After all, calling for someone to show ID before voting doesn't sound pernicious to most people, even though it is. And raising the bogus issue of voter fraud at all stokes fear. 'Even if you say there is no fraud, all people hear is 'fraud fraud fraud',' said Lawrence Norden, a lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. [...] All reporters should get every candidate they can on the record about the issue of ballot access, make it clear to readers whether those candidates want to make voting easier or harder, and then assert the simple truth that there is no plausible justification for making it more difficult to vote, other than partisan trickery at the expense of the rights of minorities and the poor."

Familiar territory: Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the GOP has a long history of voter suppression and is perfectly happy to do anything, legal or illegal, to keep likely Democratic voters from having their votes counted. The list of methods is long. The fact that they have proudly admitted to it isn't really news. And yet, people still call you a conspiracy theorist if you point it out. (Also: Why the right-wing hates Elizabeth Warren (because they don't understand that capitalism can't exist without regulation), and a toon about ALEC.)

Most of this about McCain is true, but it goes back much farther than the '90s, and signing on to "liberal" (ish) causes was more a matter of burnishing his deeply-soiled (S&L scandal) image than of being reasonable, mavericky, or anything else. He needed to make "integrity" points and McCain-Feingold was harmless.

"A Self-Made Man Looks At How He Made It" - John Scalzi writes the Acknowledgement page we all should have in the front of the book or our lives.

Panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays were McJoan and KagroX. I wanted to pound my head against the desk.

Editorial cartoons: Voter fraud?

Stack ranking - How to really screw up your company.

Sign of the times.

Cyclists banned from Newham for the duration of the Games - God forbid Critical Mass should get a wheel in.
The Rolling Stones' 404 error page (via)

This is what 65 years of hoarding technology looks like

17:50 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, August 2012

July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
Is the media in denial?
Back to front page

And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image. AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike