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Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Waiting for the end of the world

I'd like to take this opportunity to say thanks for all your birthday wishes, and for your help finding good links all year, and smart comments down in the threads. Thanks to Ruth for the thoughtful flowers and to Dan for the books. (Thanks, always, to Patrick for all the books.) As always, special thanks to Dominic for keeping the boat afloat with invaluable tech support unmatched anywhere. And a heartfelt thank-you to everyone who has sent me links to pretty pictures and things that make me laugh and good music, or provided the physical objects, without which I don't think I would be able to stand all the unrelenting bad news. And thank you all for reading, even when the going gets hard.

Edroso has Top-10 list of stupid rightblogger tricks over at The Village Voice, but just for us blog-reading DFH types, he's posted a bonus section at Alicublog.

Lawrence of Cyberia on The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Too Complicated For Our Beautiful Minds: "There are so many words written about the "root causes" of the Arab-Israeli conflict, you might think the underlying issue is difficult to understand. But you'd be wrong. For all the mythology that interested parties want to wrap this conflict in, it's really not difficult at all to understand the confrontation that has been going on in Palestine for more than a century now. All you have to do is try to imagine that what happened to Palestine happened instead here in the U.S. Then ask yourself, 'What would Americans do in this position?'. And at that point, you find it miraculously stops being difficult to understand."

Bernard Chazelle on Bush's 'Peace In Our Time'; "People call me a pessimist regarding the Middle East. I should really try to snap out of that. I mean, what's the matter with me?"

Judgment: "We should also remember how we got to Nuremberg in the first place: millions dead, a continent brought to ruin, and two cities devastated by the most horrendous weapon ever devised. Those who rose to power in Germany, Italy, and Japan, who either believed or merely perpetuated, for political purposes, the idea that God was on their side, were not the kind of people who would give up that power without a fight. And while the methods being used by our current administration are subtler, less obvious, there's no reason to believe they would[] hesitate to go as far as they did. I for one would rather they never got the opportunity."

Congratulations, Sir PTerry: "Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld series of novels that have sold more than 55 million copies worldwide, said he was "stunned, in a good way" after receiving a knighthood in the New Year's Honours List." Bobby Plant gets a CBE, too.

Elvis Costello

12:24 GMT

Dropping in

I've been kinda busy celebrating my birthday. This involved, among other things, Steak Diane and watching Stardust. I liked them both. Also, seeing Neil's name across the screen like that really drove the point home that, y'know, our boy truly is getting kind of, well, famous.

It didn't take a genius to get it right about the impending financial crisis, but I don't fault The Agonist for wanting to have a good brag. Hell, I was saying a long time ago that they were going to make America into a Third World nation if they continued their policies, and I won't swear they haven't done it. What else do they think a "service economy" really is? Jerks.

I don't know, is it supposed to be a revelation that Katrina really hurt Bush's popularity?

Julia always seems to find these fun little facts, like that Bush sold his handshake to the father of Pardon Guy. That picture comes from the actual fundraiser - so, um, how was it that Bush didn't know he was a contributor, again?

The Grey Matter seems to have been inspired not to a year-end post, but a Bush administration-end post. And so, of course, has Tom Tomorrow.

00:15 GMT

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Paths of glory

"The Successes Of The Unitard: I tend to marvel at the sheer incompetence of George W. Bush and his administration when I look back at his tenure: Iraq and Afghanistan, Katrina, the economy. However, some of his policies succeeded brilliantly, most notably his drive to nuke civil liberties back to the Stone Age." I still have my doubts about whether Katrina was truly a failure in terms of the conservative agenda, but never mind. Either way, we have been dealing with crazy people, and the only question is whether there is anyone left in government who is sane enough to understand how deep the damage is and how far we have to dig to root it out.

Nicole Belle had a bit of a rant after Rich Lowry, on Meet the Press, tried to blame Bush's failures on the "Bush Derangement Syndrome" of, well, everyone who disagreed with Bush, which he seems to think was merely inspired by a partisan desire for revenge or something. Note to Lowry: Republicans refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of Clinton's presidency because he was only elected with a plurality of the vote and not an actual majority; Democrats rejected the legitimacy of Bush's presidency because he wasn't elected at all. There's a bit of a difference, there. And the rest follows the same pattern.

"You Know Who We Really Hate? For nearly 30 years we have done our best to dismantle the safety net for the poor and struggling among us. I keep praying that we have reached the end of this folly. At 42, these policies are what I have known my entire work life. I dream about social service programs and rules that would treat people like human beings, rather than as an undesirable applicant to be culled out. I want so badly for us as a nation to stop punishing people for being poor, or elderly or a child of poor people. This holiday season was hellish as I watched scores of our clients navigate the realities of a holiday with nothing but further grinding poverty. Some days I am just weary from the strain of witnessing the suffering that goes on around me. It takes a toll that is more than physical, it eats away at the soul to see people ask for so little and receive far less."

Atrios is quite right that the "failure" of the virginity pledge/abstinance-only programs is really a feature, not a bug, as far as the people who promote this stuff are concerned. They don't care about reducing unwanted or early pregnancies or even abortions. This is about something else.

Jon Swift has his Best Blog Posts of 2008 up. Well, not his, exactly. I still couldn't choose from my own, or even from the ones commenters suggested, so I just sent him your nominations and let him pick one.

1325 GMT

Monday, 29 December 2008

More holiday cheer

Senator Bernie knows how deep are the problems we face, but: "The very good news is that we are finally seeing the end of the most incompetent and reactionary administration in the modern history of this country. It is my hope and expectation that, in very short order, President Obama will begin moving this country in a very different direction from where Bush has led us, and I look forward to working with him in that effort. The time is long overdue for the U.S. government to begin representing the needs of our middle-class and working families, and not just the greedy, the wealthy and the powerful."

At Welcome Back to Pottersville, the Dropping the Crystal Ball Edition of Assclowns of the Week, and at Cab Drollery, a reminder that it's the time of year again when FAIR does it's annual P.U.-litzer Prizes for stinkiest media performances of the last 12 months.

"Study Shows Teens Unfaithful to Virginity Pledges. What do Americans who took virginity pledges have in common with those who voted for George W. Bush for President? For one, many people in both groups later denied they did any such thing. And to be sure, they got screwed just the same."

Down in comments, CMike responded to the issue of charity with what could serve as a blog post on its own.

"We will kill you if you go to school."

21:43 GMT

Life takes a holiday

Krugman says, "Barack Be Good: Times have changed. In 1996, President Bill Clinton, under siege from the right, declared that 'the era of big government is over.' But President-elect Barack Obama, riding a wave of revulsion over what conservatism has wrought, has said that he wants to 'make government cool again.' Before Mr. Obama can make government cool, however, he has to make it good." Only he also doesn't think the Democrats are off to a terrific start on that score. Because I guess they've been listening to too many conservative lies, too.

Meanwhile, Timothy Egan warns that the Republicans are already blaming President Obama for the last eight years of Republican misrule (and, for that matter, for what 30 years of conservative policies have done to us). I'm sure the rest of the media can be relied on to try to make this craziness sound like it isn't completely insane.

Serial Killers vs Bush - Can you tell them apart?

Jason Linkins has his list of The 10 Worst Media Moments Of 2008. Via CathiefromCanada.

Via Lambert, I see WKCR's annual Bach Festival is streaming now through to noon of the 30th of December.

13:33 GMT

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Look through any window

Simone Perele Dress Code half cup braBra of the Week

Newsweek is talking like prosecutions of Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, "and other top Bush officials" might not be out of the question. Wouldn't that be nice?

It is, of course, unsurprising that the media helps spread the lies about the Employee Free Choice Act.

The RIAA claims they've stopped initiating lawsuits, but they've still got plenty in the pipeline.

John Cole notes that it was a Banner Year for Wanking, between the corporate media inventing right-wing stories and the right-wingers running with them.

Another worrying appointment: "Barack Obama's selection of Arne Duncan for secretary of education does not bode well either for the political direction of his administration nor for the future of public education. [...] Under Duncan, Chicago took the lead in creating public schools run as military academies, vastly expanded draconian student expulsions, instituted sweeping surveillance practices, advocated a growing police presence in the schools, arbitrarily shut down entire schools and fired entire school staffs." (via)

A feature story on communion wafers, via Onyx Lynx.

You gonna be ready in February to Blog for Darwin?

Bonnie recommends a malware cleaner.

Earth pix by NASA

20:53 GMT

On watching train-wrecks

Atrios startled me last night when he wrote:

Nobody Could Have Predicted

Actually I didn't because I had no idea lending practices had gotten so absurd. I did know that people were getting loans [that] were bad ideas for them, I just didn't know that they were getting loans which were bad ideas for the banks.

Atrios shares so many assumptions with me, and is so astute, that I often forget that he's not actually a member of my generation. He probably wasn't even old enough in the 1980s to pick up the papers and have his blood run cold reading about how the Reagan administration was dismantling all the regulations that existed to prevent another Republican Great Depression. Of course, the newspapers, at the time, did not note that these were regulations that existed for that purpose - they simply repeated all the lies about how "too much" regulation was fettering business and hindering the development of wealth &etc. But I knew it, and at the time I just hoped that at some point people with sense would re-take control and restore those regs before it was too late. Then I realized that wasn't going to happen. When I saw that housing prices had jumped while wages had remained stagnant, I saw doom written in the windows of every real estate agency.

Bob Herbert says he has a slogan for the new year, but I think the title of his column about it makes a better one: "Stop Being Stupid." Because all that deregulation, all those tax policies that actually reverse the direction of previous policies meant to protect America's real wealth, all the attacks on unions and conglomeration of corporations and squeezing of the middle class - that has been stupid, pure and simple. Allowing conglomeration of the media into the hands of a small number of greedy and vicious conservatives has been the stupidest thing of all, allowing virtually our entire public discourse to be in the control of stupid people and liars.

Liberals have always been against this stuff because the outcome is obvious.

14:39 GMT

Saturday, 27 December 2008

A box of Lindors is calling to me

This image was stolen from the invaluable Maru, who also alerted me that the Grauniad chose these as great TV title sequences.

Another Bushco disaster that the media refuse to cover - Just not interested in the TVA? All disastered-out? Or maybe they just don't want to remind people that coal is dirty. (Also: Justice costs money, and there's no money. This sounds like a cue for a song, but, unbelievably, I couldn't find it on YouTube, though I thought I remembered linking to "Justice" at some point in the past.) There's a slightly bright note, though, in that Bush/Cheney's case for Guantanamo has been losing in the courts, because it's just plain legally wrong.

Conservatives claim to believe in replacing government services with charity, but a funny thing happens to charity when we follow conservative policies - the people who normally give can't afford it and are on line at the soup kitchens themselves, and the tax policies that encourage giving also disappear, with substantial donations going with them. What's left is cash-strapped states, with legislators that find it politically convenient to refuse to raise the funds to help, or even create "innovation" that could make things even worse. So that leaves the federal government, and we still don't know what to expect there. (But it's also a cue for a song.) And, again, it's not just the poor getting poorer.

To my complete astonishment, Xymphora presents a defense of Rick Warren.

I have to disagree with Ezra, who says that, "70+ percent of the country doesn't agree on all that much." Actually, we do - we just don't agree with The Villagers on all that much. That's where the division in America really resides - the conservative enclave on Capitol Hill versus the United States of America. Americans, for the most part, share the same real goals on issues, and are in tune with each other even in some surprising areas.

Little did I know there is a widget that provides you with a selected member of the Bailout Hall of Shame.

I wonder what he meant by that....

14:22 GMT

A group of links

I saw Josh Marshall on Washington Journal talking about whether Bush can rescind a pardon, and was interested to learn that it's been done before, although apparently the current position is that all that has been superseded by a court ruling that signing a pardon is a public act that can't later be rescinded. He talked about that on his blog, too, here. And Digby says this isn't about Bush being embarrassed, it's about clearing a path to attacking Eric Holder.

Mark Adams has a list of year-end lists, and also explains why both Cheney and Sullivan have it bass-ackwards on the War Powers Act.

Walter Brasch remembers the Cheney years.

How to Pay for National Health Insurance - the Barry Ritholtz plan. Dammit, it could work!

Krugman has another question for FDR detractors: Would cutting wages help the economy now? Then why would it in 1935?

I guess Sandra Day O'Connor's post-Supreme PR efforts are working - The University of Illinois has decided to give her the Paul H. Douglas Ethics in Government Award.

Well, I'll say one thing for Biden: I can't imagine Dick Cheney doing this. At least not without poisoning the food.

I sometimes find it hard to resist little stories like this, even though I look at the other side all year long.

Gen. JC Christian is disclaimed.

03:06 GMT

Friday, 26 December 2008

Boxing Day clean-up

My father, who lost most of his hearing during WWII, had a very small record collection, but one of the things in it was a 45 by Eartha Kitt (I couldn't find either side on YouTube, but QrazyQat dropped a favorite into comments), so I knew her voice even when I was small. We've all found reasons to love her since then. Rest in peace.

In comments, Bruce Baugh worried about the meaning of Bush's unpardon of the mortgage fraudster, and Don Fitch talked him down.

In comments, wmr asked if I'd seen the story of the Christmas party in Vietnam. I hadn't.

Congratulations to the winners of The 2008 Golden Monkeyfist Awards.

Susie's Christmas wish for us. (And isn't it amazing how smelly names like Ken Starr keep turning up when there's dirty work afoot?)

Cool aerial photos of London by night (and thanks to Moshe for the tip).

Microwave Xmas.

VastLeft made me watch this video as his Christmas message. Dan has his Best Music Of 2008 post up, and I might actually listen to them in the course of the day. Meanwhile, the track that tickled me the most to hear coming out of my radio this year was this, thanks to it being new to millions after it showed up in a baby product commercial. (And I had no idea that this version existed.)

Ha, you didn't think I was done with Christmas yet, did you? I don't quit celebrating 'til the 6th of January, so you're stuck with it. Yesterday was celebrating the birth of Chuch Harris, right?

12:48 GMT

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Traditional Christmas Post

I admit a was a bit surprised to watch a straight news report last night on how NORAD was tracking Santa's travels across the globe as he delivered his gifts, and you could follow him on the web. At no time was there any suggestion that this might not actually be true.

I guess most of you know by now that I do this every year, but after eight Christmases of blogging, you collect a few things you just have to share:

Mark Evanier's wonderful little Christmas story about Mel Tormé and "The Christmas Song". Here's the well-known Nat Cole version.

Every year I've presented the lyrics to Tom Robinson's song about the 1914 Christmas Truce, and the truces we make every year at this time. Then it occurred to me to ask Tom if he'd post the track itself, and he did. It may have particular resonance for some of us this year.

And The Daily Brew's post of the letter about the truce from someone who was there.

From Jo Walton, The Hopes and Fears of All the Years.

An excellent Christmas Card from Joshua Held, Irving Berlin, and the Drifters. (I gave up looking for posts of the original, superior version, since it always disappears by the next Christmas, and I've resorted to YouTube, which at least most people can open.)

And I just like this.

Ron Tiner's one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol from an ancient Xmas edition of Ansible.

And a bit of Marley's speech:

"It is required of every man," the Ghost returned, "that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world -- oh, woe is me! -- and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!"
"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

Scrooge trembled more and more.

"Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, "the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!"
"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

And the blessings of the season to you all.

21:54 GMT

Merry Christmas

Mostly music under the tree this year, and I'm still getting myself together, so here are some small news prezzies while I do that.

Senator Franken.

Corzine's stimulus proposal.

Bush cancels a pardon after it gets too embarrassing even for him. The subject was a mortgage fraudster.

Some different Christmas songs. (I didn't see a permalink to this post, but maybe I'm just blind.)

12:31 GMT

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Not a creature stirring, etc.

"Is 2009 the Year of Credit Card Reform?" - Though new rules slated to come into effect in 2010 are a good start, they're a late start, and Barney Frank is quite right to say they aren't enough. But that doesn't mean the credit industry won't fight to prevent better laws.

Terry Jones thinks it would be wise of Bush to pardon Muntazar al-Zaidi, but when did Bush ever do the wise thing?

Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians, which so inspired John Dean, is now available online. You can also get the audiobook.

MadKane has been driven once again by the bailout to limerick.

Before becoming Susie Sexpert, Susie Bright was once a high school swim team score-girl - which is how she got to touch the bunny-tail.

The delightful holiday whimsy of Michelle Malkin

I think this was my favorite when I was a kid and we had to sing them. (I was going to link the one from St. Paul's Cathedral, but they did it as a dirge.)

23:34 GMT

And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Mark Danner at The New York Review of Books, "Frozen Scandal: Scandal is our growth industry. Revelation of wrongdoing leads not to definitive investigation, punishment, and expiation but to more scandal. Permanent scandal. Frozen scandal. The weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist. The torture of detainees who remain forever detained. The firing of prosecutors which is forever investigated. These and other frozen scandals metastasize, ramify, self-replicate, clogging the cable news shows and the blogosphere and the bookstores. The titillating story that never ends, the pundit gabfest that never ceases, the gift that never stops giving: what is indestructible, irresolvable, unexpiatable is too valuable not to be made into a source of profit. Scandal, unpurged and unresolved, transcends political reality to become commercial fact."

Barry Ritholtz writes the obituary: "RIP Chicago School of Economics: 1976-2008." I just hope they remembered to put a stake in its heart and cut off it's head.

Seven years ago, Barron's warned us about Maddoff, but no one seemed to be listening.

In Jordan, students rebel against cronyism and corruption by joining the Islamist movement. This all sounds so familiar....

Ruth was interested to see that Caterpillar is actually cutting compensations for executives and not just letting the blue-collar types shoulder the sacrifice by themselves. Sounds like they must have someone in charge who didn't learn everything they know about management at Harvard's business school. Meanwhile, Diane has a righteous rant when the LAT repeats the Marcus theory that if you want to stop lawless government, you... shouldn't do anything about it.

14:36 GMT

It came from out of the woodwork

Another thing Obama really must fix is the big poison pill the Republicans have been heaping on Medicare in their efforts to destroy it. (And yes, they've admitted that's what they're planning.)

Dean Baker finds a flaw in The Washington Post's article on trying to limit executive pay, which they clearly are not interested in doing. And, I guess, neither is Congress.

I heard a rumor that real newspapers, unlike bloggers, have editors and fact-checkers and lawyers and all kinds of people to make sure this amateur-hour stuff doesn't happen.

Now here's a question I like: Why do executives need extra bribes just to do their jobs?

Cosanostradamus reminds me in comments that the Pentagon brass is always doing that crap to Democratic presidents.

Rightwing hack watch: "Former RNC chair Ed Gillespie is at it again. His "fact check" of George W. Bush that purports to separate fact from myth has got to be the longest sustained Koolaid gargle in Internet letters." You just wouldn't believe how great things are in Gillespie's parallel world.

Since there are southerners named for Obama's cabinet, it seems odd that there are complaints that he is "snubbing" the south by not naming any southerners. Oh, they mean those kind of southerners...

There doesn't seem to be much argument over who is the worst VP ever: "So, as the draft-dodging, corporation-coddling, obscenity-spewing, torture-sanctioning shredder of the Constitution prepares to leave the position he should have been forced from by Congress, almost two-thirds of Americans rank Cheney as bad or worse than Spiro Agnew."

So, if you were going to make a Christmas gift for a blogger who really likes long, dangly earrings, what would it look like? (Thank you, Dominic!)

00:14 GMT

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A few things

I don't know what to be more awed by, Treason in Defense of Slavery's amazing interpretation of economic history, or Gavin's willingness to read it and address it.

Why is a man in a dress warning me against gender-blurring?

Thanks to Nicole Belle for drawing my attention to this Katha Pollitt quote from the LAT: "Only Democrats, it seems, reward their most loyal supporters -- feminists, gays, liberals, opponents of the war, members of the reality-based community -- by elbowing them aside to embrace their opponents instead." Also: Yes, the guys at the American car companies do make a lot more than the guys at Toyota - no, not the union guys, I mean the CEOs. And Mike's Blog Roundup contains a lot of Holy Crap.

Yes, of course right-wingers are suddenly concerned that Obama's pick to head the Department of Labor is not as "fair and balanced" as they would like. Kevin Drum says he doesn't remember hearing that concern about the one-sided allegiances of Bush's pick, Elaine Chao, and neither do I. And, in fact, the head of the Labor Department is supposed to be concerned with labor, not just corporate rights.

Blog kerfuffle: Steve Benen has the story and follow-up of The Offending Post by acting CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund Jennifer Palmier on Matt Yglesias' blog, which, to the dismay of almost everyone, was a hit-and-run disclaimer of Matt's views on Third Way Dems. Chilling Effect or Tempest in a Teapot? You decide.

RIP: Robert Mulligan, director of To Kill A Mockingbird, dies at 83.

It may be global warming, but it's still a nice snow picture.

17:03 GMT

Stuff to check out

Dday notes that there seems to be a bit of a mutiny planned by our Pentagon brass over attempts to wind the Iraq occupation down. Kinda creepy. And Digby has the latest on what constitutes a proper death-penalty offense when tasers are involved.

"All Infrastructure Is Not Created Equal" and other interesting links.

It's amazing how if you have a completely stupid policy on sex education and condoms, the incidence of AIDS increases.

After two days, I still haven't stopped laughing at the image of a US Senator having to advertise on the web for an economist who will please support his totally nutso policy position. (Also: David Frum advises GOP to move to the left without realizing it.)

Media Matters awards the Most Inane Punditry of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Regarding Torture, Detention, and Morality, and Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Freebase Fruitcake. PLUS: Lizz Winstead talks to The Rude One!

Armstrong & Miller in the RAF.

01:36 GMT

Monday, 22 December 2008

Happy Chanukah

Jay Ackroyd linked this morning to two posts by Hilzoy on the outrage of having American's tax money sent over to pay the bonuses and chauffeur's costs of those bigshots on Wall Street - worth reading. Jurassicpork blames the Dems in Congress for caving in to this crap with no accountability. And we're all justly furious that for some reason the autoworkers are the only people who are expected to answer for the mess the CEOs have been making. These people have a belief - a religion, really - that they are entitled to our work and our money and they shouldn't have to take any responsibility, they shouldn't have to give us anything in return, they can't even manage to avoid destroying the nation's economy - or the world's - and it's their god-given right. They - and I include people in Congress in that "they" - can't believe the temerity of union workers who think they should have a right to make contracts and be giving an honest wage for honest work. Equally, they can't believe anyone expects honest work out of them. Because god ordained them to take our money and rule us for their own benefit.

I wonder if there's any place left in America where Cheney can safely live. I also wonder whether he believes crap like: "Echoing remarks by Bush in recent weeks, Cheney said the lack of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, 'is a remarkable achievement.'" What's so remarkable about it? Osama bin Laden accomplished everything he needed on 9/11 and got everything he wanted. He pretty much destroyed the US and got US troops out of Saudi Arabia, thanks to Bush and Cheney and their marvellous ideas. Cheney is a nasty, nasty thing, and the worst part is that he had so much help from Democrats, who are not going to make him pay a price.

Krugman thinks there's no help from Europe, and that means things are going to get even worse than they have to be. (And yet, he's still more optimistic than I am about how bad things are going to get, and for how long.)

Things like this make it hard to believe that the Bush/Cheney/McCain IT guy's plane going down was just an accident (even if everything else wasn't already suspicious). Amy Goodman talked to Marc Crispin Miller about it on Democracy NOW! and they didn't sound entirely convinced.

Doctor Who...the musical?

16:51 GMT

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Happy Solstice

"A Declaration Against Interest: Dick Cheney confessed to war crimes this week in an interview with ABC news. Well, it wasn't really a confession, more like a boast." (And speaking of Cab Drollery, Ruth suggested this as another of my greatest hits.)

Although there was a bright spot in This Week In Tyranny, it might be instructive to look at what Cheney has been up to since his first days as "vice president" - something I hope the Obama team is paying very close attention to.

Eugene Robinson: "The Republican senators who voted to kill the bailout knew full well that the White House was determined to find some way to tide the automakers over. It was as if they couldn't help themselves. Even lemmings must be shaking their heads in dismay."

Bernard Chazelle has a good article on the virtues of throwing shoes at presidents which may be helpful to Rick Perlstein; Jonathan Schwarz answers P.J. O'Rourke's questions; and we learn via ATR that Carol Chomsky, 78, Linguist and Educator, has died.

Checking out the comment thread to this post, I scrolled down to find the second comment, with the headline: "OBAMA TEAM TO INCLUDE KLANSMEN AT INAUGURATION".

Libby has a collection of non-toxic links.

Blast from the past: "Natural gas is hemispheric. I like to call it hemispheric in nature because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods." Oh, man, am I not gonna miss having a "president" who talks like that.

For those who are of a different mindset about the holiday season.

17:10 GMT

Loose ends

Ah, now here's a good Paranoia Report:

Bush Insider Who Planned To Tell All Killed In Plane Crash: Non-Profit Demands Full Federal Investigation

WASHINGTON, Dec 20, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Michael Connell, the Bush IT expert who has been directly implicated in the rigging of George Bush's 2000 and 2004 elections, was killed last night when his single engine plane crashed three miles short of the Akron airport. Velvet Revolution ("VR"), a non-profit that has been investigating Mr. Connell's activities for the past two years, can now reveal that a person close to Mr. Connell has recently been discussing with a VR investigator how he can tell all about his work for George Bush. Mr. Connell told a close associate that he was afraid that George Bush and Dick Cheney would "throw [him] under the bus."

A tipster close to the McCain campaign disclosed to VR in July that Mr. Connell's life was in jeopardy and that Karl Rove had threatened him and his wife, Heather. VR's attorney, Cliff Arnebeck, notified the United States Attorney General , Ohio law enforcement and the federal court about these threats and insisted that Mr. Connell be placed in protective custody. VR also told a close associate of Mr. Connell's not to fly his plane because of another tip that the plane could be sabotaged. Mr. Connell, a very experienced pilot, has had to abandon at least two flights in the past two months because of suspicious problems with his plane. On December 18, 2008, Mr. Connell flew to a small airport outside of Washington DC to meet some people. It was on his return flight the next day that he crashed.

On October 31, Mr. Connell appeared before a federal judge in Ohio after being subpoenaed in a federal lawsuit investigating the rigging of the 2004 election under the direction of Karl Rove. The judge ordered Mr. Connell to testify under oath at a deposition on November 3rd, the day before the presidential election. Velvet Revolution received confidential information that the White House was extremely concerned about Mr. Connell talking about his illegal work for the White House and two Bush/Cheney 04 attorneys were dispatched to represent him.

An associate of Mr. Connell's told VR that Mr. Connell was involved with the destruction of the White House emails and the setting up of the off-grid White House email system.


Our prior request to have Mr. Connell protected went unheeded and now he is dead.

Meanwhile... OK, these are readers' suggestions for my 2008 Greatest Hits. Any preferences or additions?
What Reagan did
The way we were
The Supreme Court was right about this
This post is not an instruction in how to vote
The program
The road was a ribbon of darkness

13:43 GMT

Items of interest

Just Peachy underwired lace balconette braBra of the Week

I have a note from Dave Langford that says:

Craig Murray's new book to be posted on web Due to legal threats, the original publishers have backed out of publishing Craig Murray's new book: [Link]

He's intending therefore to make it freely available on the web, and is asking for alternate hosting (especially in other jurisdictions) and links: [Link]

More on that here.

30 years ago, Mayor Kucinich saved Cleveland's electric company.

I was pleased to see that Glenn Greenwald interviewed Pam Spaulding on his radio show about Obama's choice of Rick Warren. It's a good discussion, and Glenn has also posted Jane Hamsher's CNN appearance on the same subject, where she was interviewed by a wanker. And today he has a post up about an astonishing Ruth Marcus article in which she argues that we can't punish people who've broken the law, we just have to make sure it doesn't happen again. Only, of course, she just means certain people....

Jamison Foser is interested in the prospect of Tweety running for office for Arlen Specter's Senate seat from PA. Has anyone asked which party he plans to represent? And can he explain his antipathy to orange juice?

John Emerson thinks he knows what really caused all the madness on Wall Street - amphetamines.

01:01 GMT

Saturday, 20 December 2008

The endless search for more coffee

That bastard Jon Swift is asking me what my best post this year was, again. I can never do this. I don't know what I wrote all year. Anyone have any suggestions?

Joan Walsh is disappointed by the choice of Rick Warren at the inauguration. (And I, too, am annoyed that people keep talking about how Obama has "upset the LGBT community" or "gays" with this choice. Leaving aside the fact that gay issues are only part of the ugly package, I don't think you have to be gay to be pissed off at some creep who makes a living out of promoting hatred being held up as a symbol of unity for the country. I think decent people are upset by having Rick Warren shoved in our faces.)

For more on Rick Warren, Lance Mannion has been reading around on the subject, and provides a link to this by Digby, which links to another of her pieces that explains how the emergence of Rick Warren as a favorite "moderate" evangelical is all about marginalizing the religious left: "The Religious Right is a creature of the village and now that the conservative movement is on the decline, they've decided to manufacture a "liberal" version for the same purposes. They can't allow the real religious left to have any influence, but they have fetishized religion in politics to such an extent that it's going to be hard to keep them out unless they create a useful substitute. This battle isn't just happening in politics. Clarkson and other have documented the assault on the religious left from the religious community itself. This is a full-on campaign to delegitimize any religious belief that isn't socially conservative. And the consequences of that are becoming clear."

Jane Smiley is pissed off because Joe Biden asked her for money right after Obama kicked her in the teeth: "Rick Warren gets a free ride, tax-wise, from me, because his political action committee is disguised as a "church". That's bad enough, and I plan to work hard to take away his free ride, but what's worse is that Joe Biden is asking me again and again for a donation so that he and Barack Obama can give Rick Warren, hate-monger, a platform. Joe, I've watched the transition and I've held my tongue and given you guys a chance to show your true colors. But don't ask me for any more money until you figure out that Rick Warren hasn't been buttering your bread. People like me have been doing that, and we are getting a little ticked off."

Will Bunch wants to tear down the Reagan myth, he wants to alert people to how that myth fueled the housing bubble, among other things. And he adds a note of caution against Obama making the same mistake Clinton made in believing too deeply in the Reagan Myth.

Freed Bosnian Calls Guantanamo "The Worst Place In The World".

You know, I keep thinking the name "Blair" has been ruined for all time by all the bad people running around wearing it.

He had no time for any subtitled interviews with jihadists raging about Palestine.

14:10 GMT

Late notes

Some former presidential press secretaries and Dana Perino got together for a conference, and, after a question about how a press secretary deals with the fact that the White House's official story is a lie, somehow Perino found herself explaining that they didn't torture because they got their lawyers to say it wasn't torture. (Starts about 01:11.) My god, I actually think she may really be dumb enough to believe the crap she's saying.

The Point at which Ken Houghton stopped giving Barry O the benefit of the doubt. (I like the irony of John Aravosis finally getting that there might be reasons to distrust Obama.)

Good point from Mark Adams, who says, "You can stop calling banks or investment firms a financial services 'industry' while you're at it."

If it turns out that the voting machines you bought without ensuring their quality screwed up your election, just make another stupid purchase instead: "The bad news, as longtime local election integrity advocate Dave Berman detailed this week, is that Crnich has decided to jump out of the frying pan, and into the fire with a different op-scan system, made by a different private vendor, using similarly secret software, with many of the same problems found in the crappy Diebold system she's finally tossing over the side."

So, it looks like Franken is winning after all.

"Sex with robots is more common than most people think."

Unmourned in these quarters: Paul Weyrich, 66.

03:30 GMT

Friday, 19 December 2008

Awkward instants

Matthew Alexander: "In Iraq, we lived the "ticking time bomb" scenario every day. Numerous Al Qaeda members that we captured and interrogated were directly involved in coordinating suicide bombing attacks. I remember one distinct case of a Sunni imam who was caught just after having blessed suicide bombers to go on a mission. Had we gotten there just an hour earlier, we could have saved lives. Still, we knew that if we resorted to torture the short term gains would be outweighed by the long term losses. I listened time and time again to foreign fighters, and Sunni Iraqis, state that the number one reason they had decided to pick up arms and join Al Qaeda was the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the authorized torture and abuse at Guantanamo Bay. My team of interrogators knew that we would become Al Qaeda's best recruiters if we resorted to torture. Torture is counterproductive to keeping America safe and it doesn't matter if we do it or if we pass it off to another government. The result is the same. And morally, I believe, there is an even stronger argument. Torture is simply incompatible with American principles. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln both forbade their troops from torturing prisoners of war. They realized, as the recent bipartisan Senate report echoes, that this is about who we are. We cannot become our enemy in trying to defeat him. (...)" Via Hilzoy.

Rachel Maddow on Rick Warren, with Gavin Newsome. And Glenn Greenwald on how very Clintonian Obama's destructive behavior is starting to look: "Reasonable arguments can certainly be advanced in defense of the virtues of Obama's post-partisan theory of politics. But it's simply unreasonable to depict any of it as new. It's exactly what Democrats have been clinging to, desperately and mostly with futility, for two decades at least. Trans-partisan harmony comes only when Democrats agree to sacrifice what they claim their beliefs are, and even then, the "harmony" is fleeting, insatiably greedy and inch-deep. It's certainly possible things will be different this time around, but in the absence of evidence that it will be, it's hard to understand why so many people have become convinced that it will be." If something doesn't work, keep doing it.

Altercation: "Still, McCormick was stubbornly asking about Emanuel's contacts, inviting the president-elect to defy a U.S. attorney and kneecap a corruption investigation, and Obama interrupted him. This specific exchange drew not only a comparison to Bush from Milbank, but this warning from the new NBC Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker: "Our job is to hold him to account ... we're going to have to get tougher." The press is finally asserting itself, and only eight years too late."

Happy birthday to a "closet mensch".

Party time at Shakesville, where Tara and Giles celebrate another big Rocky Horror anniversary.

15:22 GMT

Things I saw tonight

Rest in peace, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, 1932-2008. Once, back in the '70s, my friend Joanie introduced me to a few Star Trek cast members, including Majel Barrett, and I was stunned by how beautiful she was - as she never had been on television. I couldn't help remarking that the camera had libelled her. She laughed - she knew it. Our meeting was brief and I can't claim to have known her, but she seemed likeable and had a lovely and genuine smile, and it seemed a shame to me that so many people would only ever know her as the somewhat dowdy Nurse Chapel. I was pleased that at least she got a better role in her occasional appearances as Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation. (And recalling that story made me look up the friend who introduced us, and I see that she died in September and I didn't hear of it.)

Go read Harold Meyerson, who provides some useful history in his article on Destroying What the UAW Built: "Narrow? Parochial? The UAW not only built the American middle class but helped engender every movement at the center of American liberalism today -- which is one reason that conservatives have always held the union in particular disdain. Over the past several weeks, it has become clear that the Republican right hates the UAW so much that it would prefer to plunge the nation into a depression rather than craft a bridge loan that doesn't single out the auto industry's unionized workers for punishment."

The Least Dangerous Game: "Hurricane Katrina was certainly one of the greatest natural calamities to strike the United States but people like the Algiers Point militia, these little Count Zaroffs in waiting, far from acting out of any understandable concern for their property, used the total lack of law enforcement as an opportunity to murder black people simply for being black and getting caught on their turf. Far from being a siege mentality, the center of Algiers Point descended into barbarism at the first available opportunity, the minute the blue uniforms disappeared. The mere absence of law enforcement, in their minds, gave them a license to kill."

Bernard Chazelle on The Funny Economics of Senate Seats: "Schumer is a player. Unlike [Blagojevich], he understands the subtle difference between a senator's seat and a senator's soul: the first one you buy; the second one you sell." (But we haven't had a good Paranoia Report for a while, since everything is now All Paranoia All The Time, so we trot over to good old Xymphora and find the question it never occurred to us to ask: Did Blagojevich have to go down because he was an enemy of Bank of America?)

Connecticut Dems back down on censure motion, fail even to come up with a Sternly-Worded Letter, and settle for expressing their "disappointment" with Lieberman, despite the fact that "a new Quinnipiac University poll showed only 38 percent of state voters approve of Lieberman's job performance."

Shortest Tom Friedman.

Chicago Dyke is a fox.

01:33 GMT

Thursday, 18 December 2008

I'm going outside - wish me luck

"Equal Protection: Is Norm Coleman really trying to prevent ballots in the Minnesota senate race from being counted by using Bush v. Gore as precedent for an Equal Protection Clause claim? The same Bush v. Gore decision that was so contrary to previous conservative opinion that the court specifically (and to considerable mockery) stated that "Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances"? Why yes. Yes he is. The mind reels."

Although I agree with Atrios that it would be nice to get him out of the Senate, I'm not sure the Secretary of the Interior should be someone who is praised by the oil and mining industries for his "open-minded" refusal to be "doctrinaire" - by which they mean he thinks just like they do. I see no reason to disagree with Caruso's evaluation.

Ah, but maybe it's all a clever ploy, eh? Maybe the whole Rick Warren thing is, too - just a clever way for Obama to brilliantly sneak progressivism in without the Villagers actually noticing! I am reminded by eRobin that last July Nathan Newman characterized Obama's faith-based thing as a genius move to do just that.

I know a lot of economists just can't resist reading Kudlow, even though they know he's full of it, but I don't know why. I mean, you guys know better. On the other hand, Brenda Rosser notes an interesting development in Ecuador, where a debt audit commission has charged that their debts are illegitimate. That's actually a pretty big deal.

The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie

17:31 GMT

A bunch of links

So, what's it mean to have an Institute of Peace?

I think the thing I like best about Reuel Marc Gerecht's retroactive prognosticating is that on the 7th of September, 2001, we already had as much information as we needed to plan against the 9/11 attacks, without having tortured anyone. The trouble wasn't that we weren't "tough" enough, it was that Bush and Cheney didn't bother to follow it up.

"Of course he's a hero. Tamm risked everything to defend the law against an Administration that systematically engaged in violations of the law. He lost his career as a result - with his freedom still at risk. Fortunately, the new Administration will make the decision on whether to prosecute Tamm. Let's hope they act with alacrity to remove the cloud hanging over him." (And yes, it is kind of perfect that the special agent in charge of finding out who exposed massive administration lawlessness was Special Agent Lawless.)

Uh oh, Maddoff got some good people's money: "The JEHT Foundation is a little known foundation in New York that has quietly been at the forefront of human rights and civil liberties since 2000, by underwriting important yet underfunded and sometimes unpopular work for criminal justice, international justice, juvenile justice, and fair elections. "Thanks" to Bernard Madoff, they'll have to shut down.

Condi Rice says Blackwater's contract shouldn't be renewed. (And Frank Gaffney has a cockroach for a soul.)

Virgo Tex wants it explained - and so do I.

Note to Libby: Dana Milbank has been like this for years.

All Your Firewall Are Belong to Us - Ken McLeod on what he saw and what we might see.

Lance Mannion explains about cars for Dumb Tom Friedman.

Free Muntadar Zaidi now! Plus: Throwing stuff at Bush (via), and Bush Dodges Everything (via).

Vital Statistics (Thanks to Dominic.)

01:43 GMT

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Yes, he's a wanker

You'd think a guy who wanted to be a president for all Americans, someone who wanted to be inclusive and eschew partisanship, would at least have the decency to choose someone who wasn't already a famous, political, controversial, pseudo-moderate right-wing creep to give the invocation at the inauguration, wouldn't you? Someone who wasn't a pants-on-fire bigot? Maybe someone who had read the Gospels closely enough not to...

His public support for California's Proposition 8 - the measure that successfully passed and called for outlawing gay marriage in the state - sparked the ire of many gay rights proponents, who seized on a comment in an October newsletter to his congregation: "This is not a political issue - it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about."
Actually, no, the only things the Biblical God has ever been that clear about are, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," and, "Whosoever believeth in me shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Then there's some thou shalt not kill/steal/bear false witness stuff, and the Golden Rule, love-thy-neighbor, and a few parables, none of which have anything to do with homosexuality. For good measure, there's Peter's dream, which pretty well dispenses with any of the crap from Leviticus (including the homosexuality business), plus the fact that Jesus didn't seem to like rich people very much.

I'm sure Obama could have found a preacher who hangs out with the Jesus of love, hope, and charity if he'd really wanted to. But instead he picked a public clown. This crap does not bring the country together.

So, yeah.

23:44 GMT


I still can't seem to read very fast or for very long, but at least I seem to be managing to stay awake longer after doing anything.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll says, "New Poll Shows 63% Are Already Hurt by Downturn: The deepening recession has eroded the financial standing and optimism of a broad swath of Americans, nearly two-thirds of whom say that they have been hurt by the downturn and that the country has slipped into long-term economic decline."

As Atrios sums up in pointing to Jamison Foser's "Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't", there will be no sensible, acceptable course for Obama to take with regard to Fitzgerald's investigation - either way, the right-wing "liberal media" will always explain that there is something dirty about whatever he does. It's a rule for Democrats. There are lots of interesting rules that consistently let Republicans off the hook and just as consistently condemn Democrats. The same way Clinton had to be impeached for something that, allegedly, might barely have met the definition of perjury if it had been germane to the charges, but Irve Libby shouldn't be punished for genuine, red-handed perjury. Last month, Eric Boehlert noted that the same rules that made John McCain so beloved of the press corps had an entirely different outcome when the subject was the Democratic vice presidential candidate, for example. Just like a guy who allowed our country to be attacked from without on his watch was a really great president we should be glad was in office on 9/11 instead of that other guy, who would have been impeached if he'd done the same thing.

Dave Ettlin says newspapers were already self-immolating without the help of the internet. He left out one thing, though: slant of content. Even in liberal metropolitan areas, newspapers have made editorial decisions to follow the Washington press corps' lead toward the right, despite the fact that their readership is really not on that page at all. The newspapers simply aren't aimed at ordinary readers, today, unless you count the coupons in the food section. Papers rarely acknowledge that the stability of jobs is at least as important as how well some rich guy's stock portfolio is doing, they treat all unions (even the teachers!) like a bunch of gangsters, and they don't even defend freedom of the press (unless it's Judy Miller) anymore. They're aimed at a constituency that is only a tiny part of the population, and people can get that free-to-air on AM radio all day long. It's not that there isn't still good content in papers, but it's buried, and you need to read way too many different newspapers to find those gems. The internet becomes necessary to deliver the contents page for one good newspaper culled from many sources.

"There's No Pony: European financial concerns are very concerned, because they are well aware that regulation needs to be imposed so that investors will return to U.S. Treasury bonds. As it stands, the Fed has allowed 'fails to deliver' to be the result of investment buys, in an increasing amount. What this basically means is that when a purchase is made, the bond is expected to arrive, but it hasn't been arriving. That is something like the old horsetrader trick, you advertise something for sale, take the money, and yes, 'fail to deliver'. In horsetrading, you had made the pony up. In international financial terms, the Fed is printing money, or making it up. In October, 20% of daily trading had become those fails."

Hips & Curves might have that lingerie you were looking for. (Thanks to Dominic.)

12:25 GMT

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Feeling marginally better

The Madoff story is making me crazy. Like I said before, Madoff admitted that he'd been running a big ponzi scheme, but now attention is focused on him as if he were the only guy who did anything wrong, when in fact it's all been one big ponzi scheme, right on up to Paulson soaking American taxpayers for $700bn. There's always a distraction like this where they find some guy to pin the tail on so they won't have to admit that they've all been playing the same game. They rewarded each other for being swindlers, so people swindled. Don't try to con me that this is the one bad apple. It was always obvious that this game stank.

"Iran Says Has Proof U.S., UK Back Police Killer Group: Iran has documents to prove the United States and Britain, the Islamic Republic's two Western arch foes, back a group that killed 16 abducted Iranian police officers, state radio reported on Saturday."

Note to Rick Perlstein - With all due respect, my brother, the only thing that usually prevents the rise of murderous tyrants is the realistic fear among leaders that if they abuse the public trust, they will end up with their heads on pikes. The arrogance of our current leadership owes quite a lot to the certainty on their part that nothing is going to happen to them as a result of what they've done. Ian Welsh is right - there's something wrong with the idea that we have to lock people up for a long time for petty offenses like throwing shoes at a thief and murderer. Especially throwing shoes at war criminals who are responsible for upwards of a million deaths. What's wrong here isn't that a guy threw shoes at Bush. What's wrong here is that having shoes thrown at him is likely to be the only goddamn thing that happens to him. (Also: Jello Biafra Writes An Open Letter To Barack Obama.)

And now I'm already sleepy again. Oh, well, nice try.

17:08 GMT

People tell me sleep is good

I was propped in front of the TV yesterday when suddenly the top headline came on, with some guy throwing shoes at Bush. I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was. Why, it was almost enough to make me blog it. (And, clearly, he has inspired many.) But it's like everything else - I can't complete a thought, and any effort seems to drain me dry. Earlier I washed a few dishes, by which I mean literally "a few dishes", and I barely made it to the couch to sleep it off for a couple hours.

Anyway, my commenters have been helpful, as usual. But don't miss this story which appears to indicate that Spitzer was taken down by our fabulous illegal wiretapping program.

The "sensible" voices are all over Obama to keep doing all the insane stuff Bush has been doing, but spitting at "the far left" on things like torture and illegal spying won't help Obama if he really means to be a respected world leader. Meanwhile, of course, the press is already trotting out The Clinton Rules for Obama, a la Whitewater, of tying him to corruption without a shred of evidence. Gosh, I wonder what causes that....

I have also learned (and not to my surprise) that everybody hates the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Hm, now that I think of it, it doesn't look like much has changed while I've been semi-comatose. Maybe it's safe to go back to sleep.

00:14 GMT

Sunday, 14 December 2008

What did I do with those cold meds?

Passionata White Nights push-up braBra of the Week

I apologize for the poor showing here this weekend, but I don't seem to have the attention span to get to the end of a sentence.

So, here's a reminder of what it meant that the grown-ups were in charge (via).

Among the things the commenters have been pointing out to me while I've been away, Elizabeth Warren doing the heavy lifting with the Congressional Oversight Panel.

Glennzilla makes links to his recent appearances easy to find here.

How come Obama is advised to release everything? I don't remember George H.W. Bush telling all about his affair.... And how come the news organizations don't find a Republican scandal at all interesting?

What Happens To Your Body If You Drink A Coke Right Now? and other educational stuff I found at Biomes Blog

I've seriously got to lie down some more.

17:07 GMT

Saturday, 13 December 2008

A hot cuppa and a warm blanket

Um, I was going to post this a lot earlier, but I think I'm coming down with that scratchy-throat-and-chills thing that's going around. Thanks to various friends and commenters for the help.

Rest in peace: the fabulous Bettie Page, 85.

Paul B. Farrell at WSJ's MarketWatch with "Wall Street's 'Disaster Capitalism for Dummies'."

Bush's criminality is all neatly documented at this point, and yet Impeachment Is Still Off The Table.

The Rude One has more reasons to hold your nose when Grassley is on the Senate floor, and it reminds me a little bit of Margaret Thatcher telling jokes that were written for her and she didn't understand. (Also: Collateral Victory.)

Mukasey still disgraceful.

Theoreau informs us that Cracked has compiled the 7 dumbest exploits of the TSA, and Mona advises that Glenn Greenwald will be talking to Bill Moyers tonight, and spoke to Rachel [dynamic links - .wmv, .mp4] last night.

01:06 GMT

Friday, 12 December 2008

You only give me your funny papers

My whole life I've heard Republicans justify the things they do, particularly wars, on the grounds of creating jobs. They haven't bothered lately, of course, since they've been brazenly open about the fact that what they want is cheap labor and that depends on reducing the availability of decent jobs, I admit. But, still, the fact that they are making it clear that they are prepared to destroy the American car industry in order to break what's left of workers' rights is something that a good opposition party would really make hay out of. Sure wish we had one.

To Molly Ivors: Yes, you have that right.

What's interesting about this guy Madoff, about whom my commenters have been helpfully informing me, is not that he was running a ponzi scheme and ripping off lots of money, but that he actually admitted it was a ponzi scheme.

James K. Galbraith says, "Stimulus Is for Suckers: The historical role of a stimulus is to kick things off, to grease the wheels of credit, to get things "moving again." But the effect ends when the stimulus does, when the sugar shock wears off. Compulsive budget balancers who prescribe a "targeted and temporary" policy followed by long-term cuts to entitlements don't understand the patient. This is a chronic illness. Swift action is definitely needed. But we also need recovery policies that will continue for years."

Krugman on the Nosedive: "So are we now losing jobs at the rate of 600,000 a month? 700,000? If fiscal expansion takes, say, 8 months to kick in (and that's optimistic), where will that leave us?"

Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight

15:49 GMT

The landscape

Must-read from Stiglitz on Capitalist Fools: "Behind the debate over remaking U.S. financial policy will be a debate over who's to blame. It's crucial to get the history right, writes a Nobel-laureate economist, identifying five key mistakes-under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II-and one national delusion." Those five mistakes in a nutshell: 1. firing Paul Volcker and replacing him with Alan Greenspan; 2. repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act; 3. tax-cuts for the rich; 4. not rectifying bad accounting and the effect of stock options; 5. the atrocious Wall Street bailout package.

"9/11 families condemn tribunals: Thirty-three relatives of people killed in the 9/11 attacks on the US have denounced the Guantanamo war crimes trials as illegitimate and unfair. In a letter posted on a civil liberties website, the relatives say the military trials are politically motivated."

Cernig on what Iran's leaders think about Obama: "Gareth Porter's just back from a 12 day fact-finder to Iran, where he asked several senior Iranian figures what they made of Barrack Obama. Some here in the US will see it as a plus point that some of Iran's leadership are worried that Obama's picks for his foreign policy team indicate he doesn't mean what he says about negotiating in good faith. Others, not so much."

What Atrios said: "I don't really understand why the Democrats don't say they're trying to pass the "Christmas Rescue Act of 2008" and accuse the Republicans of trying to kill Santa. Every time they place nice with the Republicans so they don't start in with their patented "Well, we wanted to pass this bill but then the Democrats hurt our widdle feelings..." But then they don't actually pass anything and the public has no sense of who the good guys and bad guys are, especially when the compromise bill that fails to pass also kinda sucks."

01:20 GMT

Thursday, 11 December 2008

And I'll show you a young land with so many reasons why

Can you guess who's decided to get himself a profile again? It's Arlen Specter, who seems to be making a fight over the Eric Holder nomination! The joke is that Specter has "concerns" over Holder's role in the Marc Rich pardon - that'd be the same Marc Rich pardon whose leading advocate was Irve "Scooter" Libby, about whom no one ever had concerns. Funny how that works. Josh Marshall says: "Arlen Specter never stops breaking new ground in the contest of political opportunism poseurish chest-thumping." And Republicans will never stop pretending that the Marc Rich pardon was a million times worse than dozens of other pardons by Republican presidents, and "reasonable" Democrats will never stop falling for it. Marc Rich wasn't given a free pass on anything, he was merely relieved of one over-the-top charge that appears to have been politically motivated and made no sense. (Also: In the contest for most corrupt state, Nevada and Arizona want in. And TPMTV talks to Scott Horton.)

Condoleezza Rice: "Well, you know that I'm going to have to object, because the United States has always kept to its international obligations, which include international obligations on the convention on torture. The United States, the president, was determined after Sept. 11 to do everything that was legal and within those obligations, international and domestic laws, to make sure that we prevented a follow-on attack. And information to prevent an attack is the long pole in the tent when you're dealing with terrorism. You can't wait until somebody's committed a crime and then go and punish them. ... [...] I was national security adviser, and, quite clearly, you would expect the policies of the United States to come through the National Security Council. But I absolutely was - believed and was told and continued to believe that we were doing so under our treaty obligations and under our domestic laws. And in those circumstances, I really do think that the president of the United States and those responsible, in positions of responsibility, have an obligation to try and protect the American people." (And some interesting diaries - check out the one on The Failure of the Great Globalist Vision.)

How the hell did Rick Warren get this image as some sort of more "moderate", non-crackpot Christian, when he's obviously just another creep?


13:30 GMT

A little night blogging

From a profile of Gary Wills: "He was contemptuous of 'the obsessive old men who have risked all credibility, order and good will within the church to uphold their animus against human intercourse.'" (via)

Tariffs made easy - I am continually amazed by the latest efforts by neocons to re-write the history of the Great Republican Depression.

Nancy "Marie Antoinette" Pelosi

The Editors appears to be depressed by the realization that, "there is no amount of crazy crap you can say which is crazier than what your average wingnut is prepared to believe." Meanwhile, there is even more crap than I could imagine.

City of the future, (via)

Six bad Christmas gift experiences, and six affordable gifts, (via). Also: This picture, which I considered stealing.

01:31 GMT

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Stops on the Infobahn

Climate-change gibberish - George Monbiot on the crap the oil companies pay people to spread, and the mysterious case of David Bellamy's history as a climate change skeptic, and how it grew.

Bush's exit strategy: Do as much damage on the way out as possible.

Do you think Al Gore purposely refused to lose weight until someone else had safely been nominated as the Democratic candidate, to avoid it turning into a Big Point of Speculation in the media? Nice photo accompanying the story of his meeting with Obama, which Libby tipped me off to in one of her linky posts, where I also learned about the Attack of the Invisible Hand of the Free Market!

I may just be a blogger, but I'd never put text on the cover of my magazines that I couldn't even read.

Bad courtroom sketch-art

The most embarrassing people in Congress. (Also: Zero percent interest - a sign of a good economy gone bad.)

A great Christmas gift idea.

LOLcat blogger at the New York Times.

Portrait of NGC 281

18:18 GMT

Why good journalism is out of fashion

It's that time of year again, when Robert Parry remembers how We All Failed Gary Webb, and how we will continue to fail as long as we don't find a way to create a progressive media that can both counterbalance the corporate media and sustain good journalists who tell the truth and are frozen out of jobs they could make a living at. Parry provides the details and background of the important story Webb wrote and was destroyed for telling. No apologies were forthcoming when everything in that story was ultimately confirmed.

Webb's suicide offered the New York Times, the Washington Post and the L.A. Times one more chance to set matters right, to revisit the CIA's admissions in 1998 and to exact some accountability from the Reagan-era officials implicated in the contra crimes.

But all that followed Gary Webb's death was more trashing of Gary Webb.

The L.A. Times ran its mean-spirited obituary that made no mention of the admissions in the CIA's Volume Two. The Times obituary was republished in other newspapers, including the Washington Post.

No one reading this obit would understand the profound debt that American history owed to Gary Webb, who deserved the lion's share of the credit for forcing the CIA to make its extraordinary admissions.

Though a personal tragedy, the destruction of Gary Webb had a larger meaning, too. Gary Webb was a kind of canary in the mine shaft, whose fate represented a warning about the dangers that can befall a nation whose journalists care more about their salaries and status than the truth and the public's right to know.

Webb's death should be a warning to the American progressive community, too - that it is long past time to build a media infrastructure that can support brave journalists who lose their mainstream jobs for telling difficult truths.

11:11 GMT

Quick links

Gotta warn you, peeps, I just got e-mail from Haloscan saying they are going to upgrade the service and make it better! You know what this means....

What Would Obama Do? - Chris Bowers says he would encourage vigorous debate.

Chad Rubel says, "Meet Pat Quinn: the man who might pick Barack Obama's Senate replacement" - and he says Quinn is more progressive that Rod Blagojevich, just aside from not having been arrested lately.

Meanwhile, I know why the Dem leadership is having conniptions about Blagojevich, but it still stinks up the house after they spent the last several years ignoring the vast galaxy of graft and corruption surrounding the White House.

Auto Workers Make Case for Bailout.

McDonald's is not lovin' card-check.

Peter Daou reflects on how the internet played in the election, and what more it might do.

Blog posts collected as a "book" - The Great Meltdown.

01:37 GMT

Tuesday, 09 December 2008

Travels and transitions

The Bush Legacy - It seems he was a great president because he didn't have any sex. (More here.) (And a whole bunch of news round-up links from Steve Benen.)

I'm having trouble even processing this thing about how Sam Zell bought Tribune. It seems that every time I look up, rich creeps are finding nastier and nastier ways to enrich themselves at the expense of, well, everything and everyone. (My prescription is that Tribune be saved by simply giving whole ownership of the paper to Tribune employees while recognizing the debts as belonging to Zell.)

It's not too late for Bush to appoint another creep (to the board of visitors at the US Military Academy).

"Apparent Evolution", or the "nuanced" position of Obama on Iraq.

An Oral Roberts protegee has a moment of enlightenment, and finds another path.

I really wish Julie Bindel knew what she was talking about, but anyone who takes the word of the police Clubs and Vice Unit on anything having to do with "vice" is already foundering on the rocks. It is certainly not useful to call their propaganda "studies", and conflating prostitutes who happen to be foreign with "trafficked" prostitutes is either stupid or dishonest.

Jobs with Justice Week of Action for a People's Bailout Now!

16:04 GMT

It's easy if you try

Apparently, the Maryland cops have admitted that maybe they shouldn't be listing pacifist nuns and puppet-makers as terrorists.

Glenn Greenwald has more on the way the press has been regurgitating the whispers they get from their friends in the CIA about how Obama needs to do what the CIA wants him to do.

Jane says Obama's deputy is telling "the left wing of the party" to STFU, but Atrios still thinks there's a possibility that this is all in aid of doing what needs doing: "For years we've had Democrats railing against those crazy hippies as an excuse to not do all of those things. If Obama's people are going to rail against the hippies and use it as an excuse to do them, fine with me. If." (But all three of us agree about Caroline. She's never been political before, jumping into the US Senate is not the place to start.)

Gosh, I had no idea that Susan of Texas was reading all these wingnuts so I don't have to.

Interesting T-shirt pricing - at first I was so distracted by how crappy the shirts were that the only thing I registered about the price was that it was too high.

"Imagine", live.

00:50 GMT

Monday, 08 December 2008

This time John Ziegler is out of his league

I woke up and found John Ziegler in my comments:

Thanks for essentially acknowledging the truth that Silver go this ass kicked in our duel interview. Now, if you just admit that Silver is a total fraud you will really be close to telling the truth.
Well, except that Nate Silver is not a total fraud, unlike your silly poll. He was right that your poll existed to create a false perception - he just hadn't crystallized the point well enough to articulate it properly.

Nate Silver doesn't pretend to be a political analyst, he's a guy who understands numbers and was one of the more accurate prognosticators in the last election. He understated the misleading nature of your poll, and that's where he fell down. Give him a little more experience in debating and next time he will wipe the floor with you.

You asked Obama voters which of the candidates' careers got started in the home of a terrorist, and the correct answer was "None of them," but you think the fact that most did not answer, "Obama" represents some fault of "the media" or of Obama-supporters' news choices. It doesn't. If McCain supporters had said "Obama", you would not have acknowledged that they, too, had it wrong. You even tacitly admitted the dishonesty of how you had phrased the question by making it more accurate when you polled McCain-supporters.

Because you started with a false assumption.

Similarly, you misread the fact that people assume Republicans control Congress as ignorance when it's perfectly clear that conservatives still control Congress. Yes, right-wing media is more likely - now - to emphasize the fact that the Democrats now "control" Congress, because they are very busy trying to blame two years of Democratic majority for the mess Republicans have made of our nation's economy and position in the world for the last eight years. But most people have figured out that the real control has been in the hands of the right-wing, and that's why we're in the mess we're in - and that's why they voted for Obama, despite the fact that neither he nor the so-called "liberal" media have ever truly emphasized the point that what we are seeing is Republican-conservative policies and ideology blossoming into full flower.

The "media" is not liberal. There is a center-right media on the broadcast networks and on cable, and there is a far-right media at News Corp. (newspapers and Fox) and all over the AM dial. The Washington Post is editorially a bunch of neocons, and The New York Times can't actually remember what liberalism is.

What little there is of liberal media - Democracy NOW! and Bill Moyers' Journal, The Nation, Mother Jones, two shows on MSNBC's otherwise Republican-conservative line-up, and Air America Radio - gets very little traction from "the MSM" and is constantly under siege from the Rolls-Royce Republicans who do things like buy up AAR stations so they can switch them to all-sports or Spanish-language or Christianist stations in markets that are already over-saturated with the same.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the rest of the media owners ganged up a while back and got Congress to pass a postal increase directly aimed at hurting magazines like The Nation and Mother Jones, but not Time and Newsweek. Why, exactly, do you think that happens? It certainly isn't because liberals want to privilege liberalism.

The media had an opportunity to promote a candidate who had a liberal position in this election - even if you dismiss Kucinich, there was still John Edwards and his condemnation of the right-wing's Kill-the-Poor-and-Impoverish-the-Middle-Class ideology. It's a position that was once, and in truth still is, pretty mainstream, but it was cast out as too "far left" and the media went to town belittling him. If liberalism had had anything to do with their biases, they would have made him the star of this election and treated Kucinich with at least the respect they always afforded Nader. They didn't.

The right-wing media that tried to centralize Bill Ayers' purported influence on Obama exists for the sole purpose of muddying the waters with false memes, and you are complaining because they were unsuccessful this year - forgetting how well they have succeeded in getting the same so-called "liberal" media to carry these outrageous lies in previous years. So-called "liberal" commentators like Chris Matthews and Tim Russert openly supported Bush in both of the previous elections despite the fact that he blatantly lied in his 2000 campaign about how his tax proposals would work, allowed 9/11 to happen on his watch, and embarked on an insane invasion of Iraq. Even after Katrina they still refused to admit that Bush wasn't a really great and popular president.

This is the media that also made up lies about Al Gore in 2000, and before that refused to acknowledge that there was no substance to charges against the Clintons in Whitewater. The same media that gave Ronald Reagan an eight-year honeymoon. The same media that still wants to pretend that privatizing Social Security will somehow "save" it. The very same media that turned on George Herbert Walker Bush not because of his deviously treacherous manipulation to keep Americans hostage in Tehran (in order to win the 1980 election), but because he saved the economy from going into the tank by going back on his "no new taxes" pledge.

This is the media that, in 2000, went out of its way to promote the idea that there was something unsavory about counting the ballots in an election, and in 2001 buried the fact that the NORC recount had shown that Gore won the election, in the 43rd paragraph of an article whose headline declared Bush the winner.

The media never really told Americans what a dreadful president Bush was or what a dreadful candidate McCain was, but the American people managed to figure it out for themselves because they knew from their own experience what a dreadful America these people were creating for them to live in, and that's why they voted for Barack Obama. We had to.

My God, it's a testimony to how much right-wing bias the media still shows that McCain was able to get any votes at all.

13:57 GMT

Why Nate Silver should talk to Avedon Carol before he goes on TV again

I really felt frustrated listening to Nate Silver arguing with John Ziegler, because Nate's verbal karate just isn't that good. Ziegler's poll really wasn't a push poll in the usual sense, and Silver would have been best served to say that no, it may have been worse - it was a poll that treated right-wing talking points as facts, and it existed to push the meme that the media was "liberal" and unfairly biased toward Obama.

Oh, there's no question that the media was biased toward Obama before the end of the campaign, f'sure, but they started off biased toward McCain and they never, ever stopped promoting McCain's talking points and letting his PR team drive the news. The fact that Obama-voters were not as alert to far right-wing media spin points that were mostly distortions or falsehoods doesn't mean the media was unfairly biased toward Obama, it means they were such crappy spin-points that even the twerps in the media couldn't be moved to repeat them. So what? They also said precious little about McCain's sordid history, and continued to call him a "Maverick" with admiration, painting him as a "moderate" well after it was clear to everyone that he was nothing but a right-wing hack. Most people never knew what a truly nasty piece of work McCain was because the media had a lot of affection for him and didn't want to spill the beans.

Would they have made fun of Sarah Palin if she'd slipped and said she'd visited "57 states"? Of course. But that's because she had a habit of saying really stupid things, and most of the time they weren't slips; there's no doubt in my mind that saying "57 states" is a slip anyone could conceivably make after, I dunno, having recently seen a commercial from Heinz - but I don't believe that Obama thinks there are 57 states, and neither did anyone in the media. (I mean, gosh, Sarah Palin's hair-do cost a lot more than John Edwards' haircut, and they didn't make the same stink about it, did they?)

The real bottom line, though, is that the media is driven by their own feelings about personalities, and it has nothing to do with being "liberal" - if it did, they would always have despised McCain and exposed his history of bribery and corruption a long time ago. They would have called him a "screw-up" rather than praised him as a "maverick". They would have condemned his participation in the S&L scandal and his long history of trying to create the conditions that have brought on the current financial melt-down, and then they would have laughed him off the stage.

No, the media fell in love with the Obama narrative, probably in part because they saw him as the hero who came to vanquish The Evil Clintons, toward whom they harbor a profoundly deranged and obsessive hatred. Having backed him then, they were torn between him and their previous hero, John McCain - and McCain managed to piss them off just at the point that they had fallen in love with the idea of The First Black President (and Hillary-beater). End of story. Liberalism had nothing to do with it.

I mean, m'god, these are the same "liberals" who think that the people to ask about what liberals (or bloggers) think is to ask right-wingers to explain it to them. And they don't even know enough to be embarrassed to admit that right-wing politicians are so grateful to them for their obvious right-wing bias that they favor them with special interviews as a reward.

01:01 GMT

Sunday, 07 December 2008

News and stuff

Mary has a question about democracy in California (and maybe some other places, having to do with why it takes only a 50% majority to get what people say they want, but a 2/3rds majority to get what people just might need.

Barack Obama will put forward retired Gen. Eric Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs in his cabinet - which is good, because if they'd listened to Shinseki, there wouldn't be so many vets desperately needing help in the first place.

What happened when Obama phoned a Republican.

Bush administration to eliminate Congressional authority.

The Real Bill Ayers by William Ayers in The New York Times.

Looks like the Bushistas have turned Somalia into a libertarian paradise.

This article about something else entirely is also a good example of why pounding on Congress to get its act together is going to be an uphill battle - but it's one that needs fighting. (We're on the outside of the cage; we need to turn the hose on them at the right moments.)

Bad portraiture - no, wait - bad subject.

Meanwhile, the head-patting continues.

This is reality.

A buncha music.

16:27 GMT

Hope springs eternal

Wouldn't it be nice if it turned out that the new administration signals an end to letting right-wing spin factories get the last word on how to look at the law?

Workers fighting back in Chicago: "Well, now: it finally happened. Workers not only woke up to the fact that all of the federal bailouts weren't going to do them a bit of good, they also decided to do something about it. [...] about 250 workers have occupied their employer's factory after the company shut its doors without any notice. They intend to stay there until severance and vacation pay due them is guaranteed." Sounds like somebody took the meaning of "Make me do it" to heart.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is sick of it: "LEAP's members want to legalize drugs because they're tired of being shot at in a war they can't win. They're tired of making new business for dealers every time they arrest a competitor. They're are tired of busting people in the streets of America's cities over an ounce of cocaine, while the Andean region produces over 1,000 tons of it a year. They're tired of enriching terrorists."

As always, Pruning Shears has plenty of interesting links in the This Week In Tyranny post, but I'll quote from this installment of: "UNPACKING JANE: On page 144 Mayer mentions the Phoenix Program in Vietnam. Between that and the recent suggestion (via) "that very little has been going on since [Sept. 11] that hasn't gone on for the last 30 years" we might want to get ready for lots of moral relativism and suggestions that this is what we've always done. Yes we have unsavory episodes in our past, but the systematic implementation of it in the last eight years, especially in light of the reforms put in place the last time intelligence agency excesses were exposed, make this time around very different. Don't be fooled."

Looks like the Telegraph is getting the willies, going by this headline: "1930s beggar-thy-neighbour fears as China devalues: "China has begun to devalue the yuan for the first time in over a decade, raising fears that it will set off a 1930s-style race to the bottom and tip the global economy into an even deeper slump."

"Look Over Your Shoulder"

13:56 GMT

Smoked meats and gourmet breads

Naturana Minimising underwired braBra of the Week

"Ninth Circuit Deals Blow to `Don't Ask, Don't Tell': On Thursday, the Ninth Circuit denied the Air Force's request for the full court to review an earlier decision against the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. In May, a three-judge panel determined that the Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision granted new protections to gays and lesbians and as a result, the military could not discharge service members just because they were gay. The ruling stated that the military would have to demonstrate specific cases in which a servicemember's sexuality disrupted so-called unit cohesion." (via) (Also: Five Blackwater Guards To Face manslaughter and assault charges Next Week.)

I remember saying this quite a while ago, but I'm always happy to see someone else say again that bills of attainder and ex-post facto laws are contrary to the Constitution. Plus: Deep Sea People, and The Republican habit of treason - it's how they win elections.

It's funny how the "liberal" media was so full of praise for years of right-wing netizens and their promotion of liberal-hating, but even The New York Times can't give an honest citation of liberal bloggers who played a significant role in a story.

Yes, I agree that Obama should grow a beard.

The General has some help for witchfinders.

01:58 GMT

Saturday, 06 December 2008

A few links

You never had it so good: "Ford's Address before a joint assembly of Congress on January 15th 1975 goes back to nearly 34 years but the numbers President Ford mentioned, the ruinous legacy left to him by Richard Nixon, look absurdly small by conspicuous relief. A national deficit of $30-45 billion? A national debt of half a trillion? Oh, if only we got off that easy under Bush!"

Al Jazeera reports on Bush's Middle-East vision: "But reality doesn't work that way and that has been Bush's biggest enemy - reality."

Is there going to be another Hollywood strike?

Charles Mingus helps you train your cat. No, really. (via)

Financial Crisis: The Musical

Tributes to 4SJ Ackerman at Ain't It Cool and of course from Mark Evanier.

14:06 GMT

4e, 1916-2008

RIP Forrest J. Ackerman, who spent most of his life being such a lover of science fiction that it occasionally made the papers. He was a founder of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society and, since he'd attended almost every WorldCon since long before I was born, most of us had met him a number of times. He had turned 92 just a couple of weeks ago. De Profundis Ad Astra

(Via Onyx Lynx, where I also learned that Minstrel Boy has won a battle in the war on Christmas.)

00:29 GMT

Friday, 05 December 2008

Low-energy blogging

Robert Reich ask, "Shall We Call it a Depression Now?" He says, "We are falling off a cliff. [...] When FDR took office in 1933, one out of four American workers was jobless. We're not there yet, but we're trending in that direction."

Mukasey says there's no need for Bush to pardon anyone since no one did anything wrong. I keep hoping it's all a big fake-out so Bush manages to believe that everyone agrees Bush can't be prosecute, and therefore he won't pardon anyone - after which prosecutions can begin in earnest.

Mark Kernes reminds us (here and here) of another reason US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan should be fired if she won't go willingly.

Stuart Taylor thinks Obama Should Conduct Illegal Surveillance. (via)

Who said: "I knew my show couldn't be ideological," he said. "Going up against [Rush] Limbaugh, that would be suicidal. Why would a listener who's already got Rush turn to someone else to hear the same things? So I was doing a show that was fact-based."

The Gay Bible

23:57 GMT

Slothful Friday blogging

Born in the USA: FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed [Obama's] original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as "supporting documents" to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said. This still doesn't shut some people up, and though my commenters have speculated* that Justice Thomas' move to examine the issue is meant to close the book on it once and for all, I don't think that will shut the loonies up, either. Nothing ever does. In fact, I think having the Supreme Court look at the issue only gives it an undeserved legitimacy.

So, one of Bush's more repulsive minions - one who hired Monica Goodling, in fact - is a US Attorney who didn't get fired, because she was noted for having aggressively politicized everything she touched, and she's saying she'll refuse to offer her resignation when the new president begins his term.

New Study Refutes Justice Kennedy on Post-Abortion Syndrome: "In one of the most condescending and baseless Supreme Court opinions in recent memory, Justice Anthony Kennedy in April 2007 upheld a federal late term abortion ban on the grounds that "some women come to regret their choice." Now 18 months later, an exhaustive study of 20 years of research concluded that there is no evidence to support the mythical "post-abortion syndrome" hyped by anti-abortion forces - and regurgitated by Justice Kennedy in Gonzales v. Carhart."

Annie had a really depressing idea for an "Advent calendar" set of blog posts - ghosts of Christmases past. (For another look back, over the four years since she started blogging, here's Alicia.)

18:05 GMT

More stuff

I seem to be failing to communicate what is so urgently on my mind, so let me try again: The oil companies will continue to have a seat at the table. The Bigshot Financiers who've been wrecking our economy will continue to have a seat at the table. The warhawks will continue to have a seat at the table. There is nothing wrong with the rest of us also demanding a seat at the table, and doing it now, not five months from now when we start to notice that no one has sent us an invitation. Just as an example, the insurance companies seem to have most of the seats at the healthcare debate table covered already, and the people who are looking at "reform" look like they're all ready to throw the fight, so the time to start screaming is now, not later.

The Latest Threat to Domestic Security is the same one we've been watching so blatantly attack us for the last eight years - the wholesale destruction of our nation's response apparatus by the right wing. And they want to do more of it.

It's my bet that if The Village says someone is a "moderate" religious leader, they're wrong. (via)

I haven't had much to say about what happened in Canada, but Patrick found it quite exciting (and got an assist here), and I just happened to find a Canuck blog called The Woodshed which has its own take and a bunch of coverage.

The General has posted a little treat over at the Thinking Liberally site's weekly schedule, so check out some Alicia Morgan tracks.

00:39 GMT

Thursday, 04 December 2008

I saw this

Oh, look, not only is Blackwater a private army, but they're getting their navy going, too.

Novak on whether he would out Plame if he could go back in time: "I'd go full speed ahead because of the hateful and beastly way in which my left-wing critics in the press and Congress tried to make a political affair out of it and tried to ruin me. My response now is this: The hell with you. They didn't ruin me. I have my faith, my family, and a good life. A lot of people love me - or like me. So they failed. I would do the same thing over again because I don't think I hurt Valerie Plame whatsoever." (Translation: "I would betray my country because after I did it people said rude things about me, so nyaa nyaa nyaa, and anyway, destroying Plame's career didn't hurt her any.")

Bush, Rove Get Stories Crossed on WMD and Iraq: "From part-time CNN analyst and full-time Dick Cheney hagiographer Stephen Hayes comes word that Karl Rove is spearheading a "Bush legacy project." If so, Rove and Bush might start with getting their stories straight on the Iraq war and whether it was the right course for the United States in the absence of weapons of mass destruction."

Prop 8 - The Musical

17:38 GMT

Your happenin' world

Clarence Thomas officially nuts: "In a highly unusual move, U.S. Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has asked his colleagues on the court to consider the request of an East Brunswick, N.J. attorney who has filed a lawsuit challenging President-elect Barack Obama's status as a United States citizen." Funny, he didn't have much to say about the fact that Bush and Cheney were both from Texas, or that McCain was born in Panama....

"There is no level of gay-bashing to which the Catholic Church will not stoop." (Via the very linky Twistedchick.)

"Untold Story of Election 2008: The Death of the NRA: But sensational stories about booming holiday-season gun sales obscure a more profound phenomenon: the coalescence of a new consensus, joined by the majority of the nation's gun owners, in favor of what gun controllers call "commonsense reform." A subtext of this phenomenon is the evaporation, first witnessed in 2006 and reinforced last month, of the idea that guns are a sure thing conservative wedge issue."

Not interested in your pile of crap: "The head of China's sovereign wealth fund said Wednesday he had lost confidence in western financial institutions during the global economic crisis and would not be investing in them, a report said."

Keith Olbermann talked to Michael Moore about the car industry bailout, and a fine rant it is, too.

Langford updates his warning: "Since I spread the word about their unannounced price rise, the Eastercon people have had a rethink and decided that in the interests of PR and the Festive Spirit they should delay this until midnight on 29 December. Adult memberships can still be had for £50 until then."

13:13 GMT

A small assortment

Earlier, Atrios had the Creepy Cosmic Thought: "Do Brookings and CFR exist to provide employment for the stupidest of our citizens?" And it seems to me that Driftglass is mapping out that same territory: "The problem with absolving Sullivan isn't that he is late to the party. It's that he is Very Late. A suspiciously large number of decades late -- especially for someone who actually gets extremely well paid to be an astute observer of politics and culture -- which leads to that second credibility problem: Timing and money."

I'm so excited that someone is fighting for the right to buy an individual health policy.

"7 in 10 Terrorists Believe Obama is Fellow Muslim." (Um, most of the terrorists in America quite possibly do believe that, but they're not "fellow" Muslims, they're Christianist nutbars and Aryan Nations maniacs.)

Rob Hansen has been scanning old copies of Futurian War Digest and posting them at his newly-redesigned website, if anyone is interested in seeing how British SF fandom got through World War II.

01:14 GMT

Wednesday, 03 December 2008


The anonymous ex-interrogator and Scott Horton, were interviewed this morning by Amy Goodman on Democracy NOW!.

Langford issues a warning about Eastercon memberships: "Before going to press with the December Ansible, I checked the 2009 Eastercon website and (some days earlier) asked the committee if any price rise was on the way. Ansible went out yesterday and today they helpfully tell me that -- although as I write their website still says nothing about this -- adult membership is rising to £55 and supporting to £30 on Friday 5 December. Better get a move on if you want to go and haven't yet joined."

15:13 GMT

I'm gonna spread the news all around

The Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar 2008! (Thanks to Randolph.)

Michigan to license the use, preparation, possession, and prescription of medical marijuana.

So, the recount in Georgia says the vile Saxby Chambliss won re-election, but let's not forget that there's every reason to believe he "won" the seat the first time by stealing the election.

At Newshoggers, "Mumbai: Tortured Confessions and The Justification For War", Pakistan's priorities, and why the Taliban are beating us in Afghanistan.

Gary Farber has posted some of his favorite quotes from the Nixon tapes. Fun reading.

Playing For Change: Song Around the World "Stand By Me" - this is really kind of neat.

Odetta sings "Bourgeois Blues" (and other things). Rest in peace.

13:17 GMT

A few things

Murderers' choice: "The jury at the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes will not be able to consider a verdict of unlawful killing, the coroner has said."

A prosecutor at Gitmo has resigned as a matter of conscience, and is now free to express his horror about what's going on there. Also, more on the plan to let religious nuts deprive you of birth control, and on the Holy Land Foundation case.

Cheney/Gonzales indictments: Dismissed.

Media Bloodhound on the AP's contribution to the propaganda about Iraq deaths

James Wolcott praises the restraint and discipline of Brenda, who has started a blog.

00:43 GMT

Tuesday, 02 December 2008

On the job

"Nominee Would Lead ID Program She Opposed: As governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano, President-elect Barack Obama's choice for homeland security secretary, pledged that her state would not cooperate with a major domestic security initiative, the Real ID drivers' license program." Wouldn't it be cool if this signals a reversal of the odious push for Real ID?

Apparently, Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd have finally tumbled to the fact that their jobs can be outsourced, too! Molly and Julia report. (Special points for the Costello, Molly!)

Brad DeLong says, "Paul Krugman Sets the Bar Far too Low... ...when he says that Keynes's greatness is illustrated by the fact that he understood things that George F. Will does not. A six year old child could write more intelligent columns about economics than George F. Will. The fact that Fred Hiatt has not yet fired George F. Will and replaced him with a six year old child is yet another piece of the wreckage of the crashed-and-burned Washington Post detritus scattered around the landscape. [...] But George F. Will's salary doesn't depend on his not understanding that we are now for the first time since 1982 faced with the prospect of a depression, or upon his not understanding that if Amity Shlaes disagrees with Ben Bernanke on the Great Depression one would be well-advised to bet on Ben Bernanke." And here's Krugman himself explaining why Keynes makes more sense than George F. Will or Amity Shlaes, and there's more take-down of Shales at The Edge of the American West, all via Lawyers, Guns and Money.

"Broader medical refusal rule may go far beyond abortion: The outgoing Bush administration is planning to announce a broad new "right of conscience" rule permitting medical facilities, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare workers to refuse to participate in any procedure they find morally objectionable, including abortion and possibly even artificial insemination and birth control." Remember being accused of crazy left-wing paranoia for pointing out that these people weren't just about stopping abortion? I sure do.

Whovian code. (Also: I just assumed everyone had noticed that David Tennant has always said he'd probably leave the show after about three years and had recently made it official that he'll go once the specials are completed. Obviously, I was wrong.)

15:42 GMT


Here's a little something that makes me want to just smack the little schmuck:

President George W. Bush said the biggest regret of his presidency was flawed intelligence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and told ABC "World News" in an interview airing on Monday that he was unprepared for war when he took office.
No kidding! Maybe if you'd considered the possibility that your father actually had a reason for referring to Cheney and Rumsfeld and their pals as "the crazies", it might have dawned on you that these weren't people you could rely on for good ideas and honest dealing.

But, no, you were listening to other crazies talk about Rumsfeld's magnificent résumeé. You. Little. Putz.

Gosh, I wonder whose job it was to rein Cheney in and stop him from screwing around with the intel. I wonder whose job it was to find out what the real intelligence services had to say about WMD and whether Cheney's specially-selected cocktail of forgeries and lies had any validity. I wonder whose job it was to pay at least a little attention to the fact that Colin Powell didn't seem to be buying this stew of manure.

Man, I hope Obama is as smart as the Rude One thinks he is, because if he's listening to the Villagers, it's gonna be rocks in your ass all the way down this hill.

12:26 GMT

More sleepy blogging

Well, it turns out the most important news of the day, passed on to me by brilliant and alert commenters below, is that the rumors are true about the Bravissimo Advent calendar! Sadly, however, it doesn't look like they are going for a Bra of the Day approach.

Now that whatever was left of the Secretary of State's prestige and duties of office has pretty much been flushed by the position's recent occupants, I don't know what all the upset is about Obama giving the job to Hillary Clinton - a woman who you may not have noticed gets a good deal more respect abroad than she does at home. What does worry me is who is being talked up to replace her in the Senate, one Thomas Suozzi, last seen running against Eliot Spitzer for governor because of Spitzer's known hostility to criminally negligent bankers. Suozzi's candidacy was, of course, backed by a lot of criminals and other Republicons.

Neil Gaiman has a long post on censorship andwhy we fight to defend the icky stuff that's really worth reading. Via Roz.

Good-bye to Calculated Risk blogger "Tanta" - Doris Dungey - dead of ovarian cancer at 47.

Time for Brian Brink's tour-de-force performance of The Carol of the Bells. And if you want more of him, just open up his MySpace page.

02:38 GMT

Monday, 01 December 2008

Happy fake Advent!

Yes, 'tis the season when I celebrate the holidays as gaudily and noisily as I can to drive off the cold and dark. And of course, we always start off with the midi of the "Carol of the Bells" to get into the mood.

As you may have learned to expect by now, there are the Advent calendars, which mostly start today even though Advent isn't today. Feel free to tell me about any other online Advent calendars you find. Meanwhile, going through last year's links I see that Woodlands Junior School is still doing their Advent calendar, as are the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, North Pole, St. Margaret Mary, Electric December, Liverpool Museum, and Westminster City Council.

Then we have Auntie Beeb's Religion & Ethics and Bach offerings - and, oh, yes, there's a Doctor Who calendar on their front page.

Via Bob Brixon, we find the New York Carver Medieval Advent Calendar and Boowa & Kwala Advent Calendar, as well as the crushing news that, "Rumors of a Bravissimo lingerie advent calendar are unfounded." So, no Bra of the Day for me....

I knew something like this was bound to happen for the man whose AIDS policies have only made the problem worse: "President George W. Bush will be presented with the "International Medal of PEACE" by Dr. Rick Warren on behalf of the Global PEACE Coalition during the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health, to be held at the Newseum in Washington, on the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day, Dec. 1. This award is in recognition of the President's tireless efforts and unprecedented contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases." Happy World AIDS day.

Kevin Drum is cheating - New rule, if you use a formulation that goes, "If x happens, I'll eat my hat," and the hat turns out to be made of chocolate cake, you have to wear it.

17:50 GMT

Stuff to read

Ehud Olmer seems to be admitting that his Likudnik positions have been wrong. These moments of enlightenment always seem to come when they can't do any good anymore.

Phoenix Woman: "Last Friday morning, I reported that the state canvassing board had avoided making a ruling that would commit them to reviewing the thousands of rejected absentee ballots in the November 4 election. This action is cowardly in the extreme, being done largely because the board members are afraid of being mobbed by mindless hordes of local right-wing radio listeners. The local lawyers I know say that the board does indeed have the right to rule on the ballots -- and that everyone knows full well that the right thing to do is to reexamine those ballots as part of the full recount (since that is what a full recount is about, non?) In fact, officials in Itasca County have already gone ahead and decided, without waiting for the canvassing board to stop being so damned scared of the GOP Noise Machine, that they are going to go ahead and reopen their recount because of three wrongly-rejected ballots in their county. Pressure is mounting on the canvassing board's members to grow spines." (Also: The FDL Book Salon had Erica Payne's The Practical Progressive, going from how the vast, right-wing conspiracy built their power to how those to the left of them are trying to build ours.)

Laura Bush says she's proudest of how we liberated the women of Afghanistan, so Digby has a look at Mrs. Bush's legacy: "Needless to say, things are not better for Afghan women. The Taliban and the rough Islamic culture of the area are barbaric.Indeed, the plight of women in Afghanistan was a cause among feminists long before anyone gave a damn about the place. Also needless to say, Laura wasn't among them." Nor does anyone seem to care about how we made life much, much worse for the women of Iraq, who had a great deal more freedom before we "helped" them.

Ask the pilot: To President-elect Obama: From air traffic control to security, here are six things we should do to improve the state of our skies. [...] What we need is a TSA willing to concede that the real nuts and bolts of keeping terrorists away from planes take place well out of view. We need to immediately rescind most of the rules restricting sharp objects and liquids, with a return to basic screening for firearms and bombs. With respect to the latter, the emphasis should be put squarely on improved anti-explosives screening of all luggage and cargo." Via Southern Beale, who is mighty pissed off about how screwed-up the whole process of having security theater heaped on incompetently run airports.

14:39 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, December 2008

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