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Thursday, 30 December 2010

What happened to that funny face?

As you may recall, I'm not done with Christmas yet, since of course it's not really Christmas until January 6th. And I like to keep as much of the child-like wonder in it as I can, but you know it's bitter-sweet, because we're not children, and we know that next year our troubles won't be "out of sight". Garland's performance of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" seems, to me, to capture that sense of hope tempered by knowing in a way most seasonal songs do not, but I was still surprised to learn that the pollyanna-ish opening lines were changed by the composer at her request because she thought them too depressing.

Did you know you can get a whole can of Whoopie in Tom the Dancing Bug's Christmas Super-Fun-Pack? (Also: Some nice pics from the Harben Ice and Snow Festival.)

I'm still trying to take a holiday from reality, but Atrios flagged a story today that made me seethe, about Bank of America's steal your house program: "The largest bank in the United States earlier this month notified Shock Baitch and his wife Lisa (Friedman) Baitch that foreclosure action will start today - Christmas eve - unless the couple agrees to put their home up for a forced sale. Why? Because another unit of Bank of America erroneously reported to credit agencies that the family was seeking a loan modification, ruining their credit rating and as the result putting their mortgage into default." I still find it stunning that this process seems to be automatic - that on any or no pretext, your (even nonexistent) request to know about loan modification gets reported to credit agencies, and even though you are not in default yet and may never be, your credit rating is ruined and then your mortgage is in default. Surely non-payment should be the only thing that could put you into default. How can anything else precede that?

Chris Hedges, "2011: A Brave New Dystopia [...] Now that the corporate coup is over, we stand naked and defenseless. We are beginning to understand, as Karl Marx knew, that unfettered and unregulated capitalism is a brutal and revolutionary force that exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse." Also, Bob McChesney's interview with Hedges. (And a reprise of McChesney's interview with the late Chalmers Johnson.)

The principle cause of malpractice suits is malpractice, plus the fact that no one wants to pay thousands of dollars to be malpracticed on.

Sam Seder is sitting in for Olbermann on Countdown this week (27-30 December. You can watch here.

Little did I know that Ernestine had left her job at the phone company to work for someone else who doesn't care, because they don't have to, either.

Still looking for a way to express the spirit of giving? You could do some good by contributing to Bradley Manning's defense.

Some non-traditional Christmas, courtesy of PZ Myers and Tim Minchin.

Have a Doctor Who promo for BBC America. (Meanwhile, Wikipedia has a little Marilyn and the Doctor trouble.)

Skiffy trailers for Falling Skies, and, well, this one is just for a Transformers movie, but it's still a cool trailer.

I'd like to ask a little favor of commenters, even though I know Echo goes out of its way to make it difficult: Put the link to your blog at the end of your posts. I could click 'em automatically back in the good-old Haloscan days (I used to laugh when people complained that "Haloscan sucks" - oh, you naive things, didn't you realize how much worse it could get? Well, now you do!), but Echo wants me to know as little as it can manage, so please do what you can to repair the broken circuit.

Oh, yeah, it's my birthday again. I can't believe how long I've been doing this.

15:11 GMT

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas

In celebration of Chuch Harris' Birthday, here's Lonconfidential, complete with scans of Atom's original illos - and Chuch's own version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

The last few years when I've tried to find a good version of Mel Tormé singing "The Christmas Song", I've washed out, not sure why, but this year I found this one - not only gorgeous, but somewhat amazing given that he was somewhat older when he did it and yet his vocal control is simply - well, it's absolute Velvet Fog. Of course, what started me on the quest to find this was that traditional link to Mark Evanier's lovely Christmas story about Mel Tormé, which still makes me smile. And, well, to be honest, it gets my eyes a bit wet.

And the other traditional Christmas links:

The lyrics to Tom Robinson's song about the 1914 Christmas Truce, and the truces we make every year at this time. At my request, Tom has posted the too, too.

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 - or a live version done in Christmas lights!

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!"

I wish you all the best, today, and for the time to come.

14:46 GMT

Friday, 24 December 2010

Dodging the Grinch

And now it's time for Brian Brink's wonderful tour-de-force performance of "The Carol of the Bells"!

Huzzah! A good version of the Mel Tormé and Judy Garland performance of "The Christmas Song" is up on YouTube! I don't know why I couldn't find it last time. And a more recent solo by Mel, with a brief explanation of how the song got written, too.

Pat Robertson Wants to Decriminalize Pot, and thus marches way out to the left of the Democratic leadership.

Luckily for you, I didn't find much news since I'm busy having Christmas, but here's a few:

WTF: "The CIA has launched a taskforce to assess the impact of 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables. Its name? WikiLeaks Task Force, or WTF for short."

Obama to Issue Indefinite Detention Orders We Can Believe In.

Dennis Kucinich says he won't primary Obama. Actually, I think I've come to the conclusion that if anyone from the left primaries Obama, they should be someone genuinely out of left field (a commie?), and they should be black. Someone needs to remind people what "the left" actually is, and nobody white better be going after The First Black President. (Also: Further evidence that nothing looks more stupid than men displaying or admiring testosterone.)

Al Franken didn't think much of the fake Net Neutrality rule, and Eli wasn't much convinced by their totally convincing explanation. (There's nothing "open" about Android. What are they even talking about? And that has nothing to do with net neutrality, anyway. In the US, the carriers pretty much have monopolies in many areas, and what phone you use is irrelevant to whether your carrier is blocking or overcharging you to reach certain content.)

Having worked at any number of businesses in my life, I never put much stock in the insistence that somehow government would be more efficient and somehow better if it "worked like a business". My experiences was that businesses are often full of stupid, inefficient crap that, as we have seen, no government should be able to get away with. But I'm thinking it's time to start asking people to go back over the question of what a good idea it is to have government work like a business. Most of these guys can't even add.

The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas

A Christmas card for you.

16:25 GMT

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Baby, it's cold outside

Every year I post a link to this excellent Christmas Card from Joshua Held, Irving Berlin, and the Drifters - and every year I have to go dig up a fresh link for it because the old one has died. This year when I found it again, I also found that it had so inspired one person that they put it out for real in Christmas lights!

This Christmas, some of our friends could use your help.

Sammy talked about the demise of net neutrality on yesterday's show.

For 98% of the country, "uncertainty" about jobs, a roof over their heads, food on the table and a future doesn't matter, but when it comes to rich people, well, God forbid they should have to be uncertain of whether they will be listed in the Fortune 500 next year.

Suburban Guerrilla: "Yeah, I guess the SEC regulators are right - we 'wouldn't understand' and we'd just take this information 'out of context,' wondering why no bankers have been indicted." Plus, the Quote of the day from Stephen Colbert: "If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it."

Apparently the "Christian" right has discovered that Christianity is unAmerican.

But who knows, maybe the banks will have to answer for their sins after all. That would be a nice change. (via)

Palast Arrested by BP in Azerbaijan.

Veterans Want YOU for Civil Resistance!

Thanks for the kind words at the end of your musings about politics, Spacecrab.

I am doomed: "The Loop Current which gives Britain a moderate climate has stopped, says a noted scientist with years of experience in analyzing it. If so, the ramifications are staggering. The current weather in Britain is the coldest in 100 years. Is this a one-time anomaly or a precursor of things to come?"

I'm told this is a good video of the Solstice morning solar eclipse, but I haven't had a chance to watch it yet.

Freezing water in Lake Erie creates "a rather unusual work of art".

A bunch of pictures, two of which are so cute that even I went, "Awwwww, kitten!" (Not to mention the photo of the Golden Girls playing Dungeons & Dragons with Wil Wheaton - framed in bacon!)

I just finished Unseen Academicals, and I liked it a lot. It's not at all like that other school for wizards and their local sport.

I think they fell down a bit on the harmony in this arrangement, but it's still a fine performance.

16:35 GMT

Monday, 20 December 2010

Facing a dying nation

I was distracted by the snow. I can't help it, it feels like Christmas every time I look outside.

Gays in the Military, 1779; the love letters of Alexander Hamilton. Also, a note of appreciation from the rich.

"Hi-tech terrorist"? Is that like "Hi-tech lynching"? I will admit there has been some good news: Repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell finally passed, and so did the Local Community Radio Act. The former will get all the attention but the latter may have the most positive impact if we take advantage of it fast. Grabbing a spot on the airwaves is something that could really make a difference. Susie talked about these and other things with Digby on Virtually Speaking Sunday

Chris Floyd: "Tonight Bradley Manning is being tortured and destroyed in a prison cell because he has been accused of trying to tell the truth about war that all so-called enlightened people know: it is brutalizing, senseless, futile and cruel. He is also being tortured in the hope that he can be used as an instrument to stop Julian Assange from telling the truth about war and the corruptions of power that all so-called enlightened people claim to know." Also, Obama's highway to hell in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

John Cole: "There is absolutely no reason for this whatsoever, other than the fact that the United States has morphed into a brutal and repressive regime that is terrified of dissent. The only difference between this treatment and what we imagine third world nations do is that we have cleaner and more modern facilities." Eric Martin: "The treatment of Bradley Manning is microcosmic of a broader trend that does not speak well for the degree of civilization in our society. And yet we continue to lecture the world as if we were somehow exceptional."

The Poor Man: "So I got to thinking: Maybe we shouldn't take foreign policy cues from Saudi elites. [...] "I do wonder how the Arab world could have come up with the crazy idea that the United States would ever be willing to act as the outsized proxy of much smaller Middle East powers, like some ferocious dog being wagged by its tail. I mean, really."

Ian Welsh on The Kabuki Congress and Presidency, and on sending a message in The Torture Culture.

Down With Tyranny! "The Obama Administration definitely sees passage of the job-killing/Social Security-harming tax break for billionaires as a way station on the path to Obama's reelection. They're very much in tune with right-wing polemicist Charles Krauthammer, who has convinced himself that by turning sharply right and repeatedly spitting on the base that elected him in 2008, Obama is headed for a win in 2012." Is it possible that Obama is actually stupid enough to believe the things he says?

Two from Cloggie: "Dylan Horrocks: better to be pirated than to be forgotten," and "Wikileaks saved Afghan asylum seekers from deportation."

From The Raw Story:

Republicans vote for child rape.

"Hello! Welcome to the Progressive Internet Forum!" I loved this one. (Thanks for the tip, Ruth!)

Tom Tomorrow fights the War on Christmas.

Doctor Who Meets Star Wars, and wishes you a merry little Christmas..

"The Flesh Failures"

14:43 GMT

Friday, 17 December 2010

Short take

My garden is all white again and it was snowing when I sat down here, but now the sun is out. Oh, well.

Jay Ackroyd: "Suppose you're in good standing on your Jumbo mortgage. But you get to wondering whether your title is secure, and so you use the SEIU's "Where's The Note?" page. You may find your credit score lowered." This is one of the things that really scares me about the information age. Used to be, if you wanted information that wasn't in your paper this morning or in your household encyclopedia, you had to go to the library, and librarians would not tell the FBI what books you were reading - for good reason. The internet tells everyone. Well, it's not the thing that worries me. I'm worried all the way around. And as far as the things I love about the internet, well, they're taking care of that. Even my best friends think I'm being a crank when I make remarks about how I'm going to miss the internet when it's gone, but this is no joke.

The Guardian interviewed Bill Keller and was somewhat horrified by Mr. Newspaper of Record's statement (I would have said "admission", but he wasn't admitting, he was kinda bragging) that they let the government vet their material before it appears in the NYT.

Just in case you forgot this little detail about the WikiLeaks material: "More than 3 million US government personnel and soldiers, many extremely junior, are cleared to have potential access to this material, even though the cables contain the identities of foreign informants, often sensitive contacts in dictatorial regimes."

"Why is Marijuana Illegal? [...] Racism; Fear; Protection of Corporate Profits; Yellow Journalism; Ignorant, Incompetent, and/or Corrupt Legislators; Personal Career Advancement and Greed " (Actually, he left out the fact that Anslinger was also a member of the Mellon family, one of a small group of distillery owners who had just engineered prohibition of alcohol in order to corner the market.)

Maybe I'll post more often if I stop thinking I have to just look at five more blogs first.

15:30 GMT

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Next week we've got to get organized

I was actually too distracted to research all the Advent calendars, but if you're in the mood for one, try this, or this. or this,

American Extremists

I'm embarrassed to say that I overlooked posting this one at the time, but Jay actually managed to get James Fallows and Jay Rosen together on Virtually Speaking last Thursday, and you can stream it at that link or grab the podcast. (You might also like to get the podcast for Athenae's visit with Watertiger, with a surprise appearance from Susie Madrak.)

Moody's says the United States's credit rating might just get downgraded. Charles says, "Schedule the IMF riot for April."

I'm always a bit worried about people who define "the" problem, because I think there are several problems, not least of which is media consolidation. Campaign finance is a problem, but perhaps less crucial than many people think, because it hardly matters what advertising the candidates' campaigns pay for when they have the whole media behind them giving them and their ideas free promotion all year long. Create a situation where it is impossible for the respective campaigns of the candidates or their parties to spend unequal amounts on the official campaign and you automatically advantage the more conservative candidates who are backed by the corporations that own the big media outlets. Moreover, it's not the campaign money that really buys the candidates (many of the most bought-and-paid-for officials got at least as much from ordinary small contributors as they did from corporations), but rather the prospect of the kind of jobs they will be getting once they retire from elective office - big bucks for little or no work paid by those huge corporations who have found a much more efficient way to bribe them to serve the masters while still in office. (The beauty of this method is that since the bribes don't appear as cash-in-hand at the point of sale, they aren't officially bribing public officials. There's no money trail to embarrass the officials while they are still in office, so there's no worry about being busted for bribery. And afterwards, well, hey, it's just that the officials happen to find cushy jobs with them after they retire, you see.) The real problem is that there is just too much concentration of money at the top, and we used to prevent that by taxing the hell out of the rich. So it may be reasonable to argue that "Tax Pandering is the Problem." (Also: A judge declared the Health Insurance Subsidy Bill unconstitutional. I'm pleased to see that Atrios doesn't think that's completely insane. I actually don't really mind if the individual mandate goes down in flames, since it's actually lousy policy that could have been avoided by, well, having a real health care option.)

It's not just that Obama gave the Republicans so much more than he got back for the rest of us that really ticks me off, it's that he even gave them more than they asked for. (via)

Sam Seder at Huffington Post, "I don't trust Obama with my retirement insurance, do you? [...] What's truly stunning, and should be terrifying to the 85% of Americans who oppose Social Security cuts, is who believes that 'most of our long term debt and deficit has to do with Social Security.'" Well, he says he believes it, but I think he's just a liar, and I suspect that Sammy does, too.

Disgustingly, CREW actually joined the Insider Attack Squad against WikiLeaks. CREW, for chrissakes! So Glenn Greenwald resigned from their board in protest, and they actually whined about his having failed to keep his disagreements with them in-house. Like NARAL with their steadfast support for Lieberman and so many other nominally liberal/progressive established groups, CREW has turned out to be yet another weapon that's been turned against us. Where do we go from here? (Sam Seder devoted both Monday's and Tuesday's shows to interviewing Glenn on this subject.)

Stuart Zechman thinks it's time Michael Scherer learned that Larry Summers is an architect of financial disaster, and not so much of a liberal.

From Suburban Guerrilla:

  • Bernie Sanders tells the truth to Tavis Smiley.
  • "Are you aware the anti-terrorist squad are looking at your Facebook account?" A schoolboy in David Cameron's district is organizing a protest of cuts, and he gets a talking-to from, well, terrorists.
  • * On the Overton Window, from BTD at TalkLeft: "But think about this - Barack Obama won a landslide in 2008 had historic Democratic majorities in Congress, indeed a much more progressive Congress than Bill Clinton ever had, and he can not even restore the Clinton tax policy. Instead President Obama is continuing the tax policy of a President who was as repudiated as any since Nixon. This failure is the signature moment of the Obama Presidency so far. Unless he can reverse that in 2012, I certainly will consider the Obama Presidency a failed Presidency. YMMV." (Depends how you define "success".)
  • * Nobody knows how many thousands of people may be unable to get jobs because of bad data from background checks.
  • Saying goodbye to Elizabeth Edwards, Fred Phelps' way. (Really? Anderson Cooper didn't know what "bailiwick" meant?)
  • And, of course, one of my favorites, getting more appropriate every year.

Riverdaughter on Planes, Trains and the Obama-McConnell deal

I'm delighted to know that Republicans have finally told us what are "wasteful earmarks. I mean, like, food safety. Wouldn't want a couple of hundred thousand dollars wasted on that!

The Pirate Bay is trying to find a way to make sure there's still an internet when the bad guys take over and destroy the one we have now. Except, well, no one is quite sure how.

I move that we replace Chris Matthews with this woman. (May not be work-safe.)

The entire atheist hymnal, provided as a musical interlude to this guide to the Christian code for C&E (Christmas and Easter) Christians.

Ruth Calvo keeps complaining about the lack of lingerie, but I'm just in a Christmas tree mood, and anyway, I have to say I've been disappointed with a lot of what Figleaves is promoting lately (and how they're doing it. What happened to their old photographer, anyway?), but maybe she'll like this one.

Luridly pink

15:20 GMT

Monday, 13 December 2010

And the pattern never alters until the rat dies

Watertiger and Athenae will be tonight's guests on Virtually Speaking at 5:00 PM Pacific, 8:00 PM EST.

Andy Kroll, "The New American Oligarchy: Creating a Country of the Rich, by the Rich, and for the Rich."

Amazingly, there is a post at DKos called, "President Obama is neither weak nor stupid... nor a progressive." And he doesn't appear to have been banned yet. "The Obama Paradox presumes that the president is a liberal or a progressive, and that he is ceding his principles based on faulty strategies or a disinclination to face confrontation. Many of the president's more ardent supporters also buy into this presumption, but rather than accept that the buck stops in the Oval Office, they concoct a series of ever more ridiculous rationalizations. It's always someone else's fault, and the blame usually falls on Congress, particularly the Republicans, the Conservadems, and the Blue Dogs. But it's time to consider the possibility that the problem lies with the presumption underlying all these questions and explanations. It's time to consider that the president accepts centrist and conservative policies because he himself is a centrist or conservative."

"Justice Department Prepares for Ominous Expansion of "Anti-Terrorism" Law Targeting Activists: Seizing on this overbroad definition of "material support," the US government is now moving in on political groups and activists who are clearly exercising fundamental First Amendment rights by vocally opposing the government's branding of foreign liberation movements as terrorist and supporting their struggles against US-backed repressive regimes and illegal occupations."

James Fallows on the recent move from the Obama administration of Peter Orszag to CitiBank: "When we notice similar patterns in other countries -- for instance, how many offspring and in-laws of senior Chinese Communist officials have become very, very rich -- we are quick to draw conclusions about structural injustices. Americans may not 'notice' Orszag-like migrations, in the sense of devoting big news coverage to them. But these stories pile up in the background to create a broad American sense that politics is rigged, and opportunity too. Why do we wince a little bit when we now hear 'Change you can believe in?' This is an illustration."

Mercury Rising: "But it's actually worse than that. If a state defaults, interest rates for everything go up. Higher interest rates will impact states that are not in deficit, will make houses harder to sell, and will cause corporations to lay off even more people, meaning more unemployment. If you read the comments at Krasting's site, you'll realize that the end game of the right is destroying the United States. There are people who think that the only way forward is to force the states and eventually the federal government into bankruptcy. This is a recipe for disaster, concocted by the party that brought you the Great Depression, doubtless licking its chops at the prospect of blaming a Democratic president for creating the Second Great Depression."

One of the two movies Marcy Kaptur recommends all Americans should see is Inside Job. The other is Capitalism: A Love Story.

Jim Morin on poker, and Mark Fiore in the Dojo of Democracy.

More strangeness in the WikiLeaks case as an accuser disappears, allegedly to the Middle-East, and is reported not to be cooperating any longer with the authorities,, and Assange continues to be held without charges.


Bacon Nativity Scene

An interview with Nathan Fillion

Jay reminded me that for some time now I have been meaning and forgetting to read the late Janet Kagan's seasonal short story, "The Nutcracker Coup". That was a gift.

Simon & Garfunkel

00:45 GMT

Saturday, 11 December 2010

When the truth is found to be lies

Who will tame the giant vampire squid?

Not Obama. Atrios flagged a CJR story on how the press - even the NYT - has been running some sharp material blowing apart the Obama administration's PR in which they falsely claim to have a new operation in progress that has produced a sweep of arrests and convictions for financial fraud. Bloomberg's Jonathan Weil: "The statistics looked squirrely on their face. Some of these cases began years ago, long before the multiagency task force was formed. It's obvious what the prosecutors did here, too. First they tracked down every small-fry Ponzi scheme, affinity fraud and penny-stock pump-and-dump they could find that had advanced through the courts since mid-August. Then they totaled them up and called it a sweep, lumping together cases that had nothing to do with each other." Of course, none of the people whose fraud actually caused the financial crisis have been called to answer for their crimes.

Why the Obama tax deal with Republicans is insane "In order to get as much of society's financial resources into the hands of the rich - the people in the private sector who supposedly would do a better job investing it - Reagan, the Republican Party, and American conservatives in general developed a simple-minded faith in tax cuts, especially in reducing taxes on the highest incomes. What are the results of this thirty year experiment [in low taxes for the rich]? The Reagan / Republican / conservative theory DOES NOT WORK. For the first time in American history, we now have a generation that has less education and worse economic prospects than their parents did thirty years ago. [...] In fact, there have been three grand multi-year national experiments with Republican / Conservative tax cutting over the past century. And all three experiments resulted in the average American becoming poorer, the real (industrial) economy in tatters, and spectacular financial crashes." Tony Wikrent explains how it works.

Bernie Sanders filibusters, even though technically it isn't a filibuster, but at least he's explaining why nobody wants the Obama tax-shift plan.

You remember this creep from his recent tenure in the Obama administration? Digby reminds you why we hate him: "Peter Orszag really has it in for the social security program. We already know that he's selling the ridiculous idea that if the Democrats agree to cut social security they will be rewarded for doing it. Now he's introducing the new image of the "disability queen" to weaken the program even more." Right-wing conservatives always revive these creepy tropes in the service of the continuing destruction of our country. Nothing has changed. They can call themselves "centrists" or "moderates" or "pragmatic" or "serious" or "responsible", but it's been the same damn thing since the founding of the nation and it is not going to change. The only questions we might have are whether people like Obama are actual Tories or just useful idiots, but whatever they are, they are not on our side. (Last try.)

Must See TV: Wendell Potter's confession that he was paid to run a fake "independent" campaign to smear Michael Moore and Sicko netted a face-to-face on Countdown between Potter and Moore.

Sam Seder hosted Countdown earlier this week and, in examining Petulant Obama's funky new deficit expansion plan, got Sam Stein to say that Mr. Hopeychangey is going to have trouble getting Democrats to trust him two years from now. (And a report on Assange that features a brief look at his lawyer, my old pal from anti-censorship debates.) Seder also noted that the Tea Party asked Sarah Palin to be the party chair - a job that would prevent her from running for president. So, who, exactly, wants her to run?

Mysteriously, Diane found that Blogspot wouldn't publish her post until she turned it into .gifs so it couldn't read the words.

Ian Welsh on Wikileaks And The End of the Open Internet: "Let's just state the obvious here: we're seeing the end of the open internet with what is being done to Wikileaks. It's one thing for Amazon to toss them, it's another thing entirely to refuse to propagate their domain information. [...] When the only way to get your product to market is an unregulated monopoly or oligopoly they will take it all. The result isn't just unprofitable businesses, it's failed businesses and businesses that never get off the ground, because they can't afford to pay the freight, or more accurately, the vig. Oligopolies in between producers and consumers always strangle the economy. Always. And, on top of p0litical repression of free speech, that's what's coming to the internet near you. The essentially free and open internet is dying and it will soon be dead."

Herbert on class war: "Recessions are for the little people, not for the corporate chiefs and the titans of Wall Street who are at the heart of the American aristocracy. They have waged economic warfare against everybody else and are winning big time."

The Great MERS Whitewash: Rep. Kaptur with MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan - and she recommends some movies everyone should see in order to get a sense of what's going on.

Greenwald re Assange

Tom Tomorrow on the amazing adventures of MiddleMan.

On the streets of London, a new generation of students learns that they will have to answer the question,"Which side are you on?" It's amazing how articulate 15-year-olds can be once you give them a righteous cause.

Don't be fooled - the new estate tax cut will not be stimulative, and is worse than under Bush.

An Irishman explains what's going on.

More on 4Chan/Anonymous.

If enough people knew about this, you could probably get all sorts of people to join a boycott of Heinz.

The Muppets perform "The Carol of the Bells". (And here's a prettier version by George Winston, with prettier pictures, too - great shots of snow, ice, and of course, bells.)

Jefferson Airplane, Monterey Pop

22:56 GMT

Thursday, 09 December 2010

Just another week in America

Sammy's Wednesday show featured laughs and tears and is worth listening to for a solid explanation of what's going on. It started off with what may qualify either as comic relief or something that might make the "religious" right useful: "US politician: 'homosexual agenda' behind TSA groin grope: The next TSA official that gives you an 'enhanced pat down' could be a practicing homosexual secretly getting pleasure from your submission,' Loudoun County, Virginia, supervisor Eugene Delgaudio wrote in an email to his followers in the conservative organization Public Advocate, of which he is president."

But it wasn't very funny after that, especially the part about how one of the things Obama is giving the Republicans (not to mention strangling Social Security! And making people who make less than $20K a year pay for keeping rich people richer than God!), is not extending Build America Bonds, which will result in (a) states going bankrupt and (b) thereby breaking their union contracts - part of a plan that was already spelled out quite a while ago by the "centrist" right-wing.

And then there is listening to Obama whine and moan about how the mean old left just doesn't appreciate the classy way he passed Republican policies for us and keeps leaving us up the creek without a paddle

It's not that "the left" doesn't praise your policies, it's that you keep passing policies nobody likes. You're all lies and no fight. (Isn't it amazing how he can never push things any farther left than way out to the far right?). We would have loved it if you'd at least compromised on health care, Mr. Petulant, but you didn't - you just gave the store away, and now you want to give away the rest of the block - and then dismiss objections to destroying the lives of 98% of the country as a fight for "an abstract ideal". It's not an "abstract ideal", you little creep, it's our country and our families and our lives. It's food on our tables and a home to live in and getting the heat up above freezing in the winter and preventing your children from dying unnecessary deaths. It's honest work for honest pay versus begging and bowing and slavery. A roof over your head and food in your belly are not "an abstract ideal", you putz. Don't ask me to thank you.

* * * * *

"Finally, the reaction of governments to these leaks should scare the hell out of you. The seemingly inevitable arrest (via Reddit) of Julian Assange by British authorities on Swedish sexual assault charges as encouraged by the American government likely represents a 21st century remix of the classic honeypot, and the willingness to use it on such a high profile individual should be worrisome irrespective of the veracity of the charges."

Ellsberg: "EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time." [...] "The media: again, the media is key. No one has said it better than Monsenor Romero of El Salvador, who just before he was assassinated 25 years ago warned, 'The corruption of the press is part of our sad reality, and it reveals the complicity of the oligarchy.' Sadly, that is also true of the media situation in America today."

The whole WikiLeaks thing is really about more than just a few impolite musings by and about diplomats - it's actually important to exposing the connections between the people who run the world. Susie Madrak said some interesting things about it Thursday on Virtually Speaking (.mp3 podcast). (And while you're there, check out the session with Marcy Wheeler and Stuart Zechman from Virtually Speaking Sundays (podcast).)

Digby: "I don't know why Wikileaks would be guilty of espionage but all other newspapers which have possession of all 260,000 documents aren't. Not to mention all the "bad citizens" all over the country and the world which have published them and written about them. Wikileaks didn't "leak" the documents --- they published them on the internet in conjunction with these other newspapers, which also published them. The "leakers" are those who leaked the documents to Wikileaks and its partners. It's no different than the New York Times publishing the Pentagon Papers (and 15 other papers re-publishing in solidarity.) Ellsberg was the leaker and was tried in a separate case --- the paper was the publisher."

4Chan's Anonymous goes after bad guys (like MasterCard and PayPal) who have been trying to freeze out WikiLeaks. Anonymous' previous victims have included the RIAA, another arm of the devil.

There is something delicious about the fact that Matt Taibbi has gone after one of my favorite targets, the revolting Matt Bai: "Here's what this all comes down to, dogma or no dogma: who is going to pay for a) the Bush tax cuts b) the bank bailouts and c) the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? If you want to get there by making janitors and pipe-fitters wait until they're 69 to retire, raise your hand. If you want to get there by making Jamie Dimon rent out his 900-foot rooftop terrace in Chicago two nights a year, raise your hand."

Fareed Zakaria interviews Bill Maher on CNN, via Suburban Guerrilla.

The Return of Get Your War On, via almost everyone.

Josh Silver on Democracy Now! about the end of Net Neutrality.

Note to self: Listen to the archive stream of the Backbone campaign and the Coffee Party talking on BTR. (.m3p podcast)

All You Need

14:18 GMT

Sunday, 05 December 2010

A strange kind of love

I'm not entirely sure how much more Obama can "reach out" to the Republicans, unless he's proposing to bring back slavery. Which, the way he's been going, is not as far-fetched as it once might have been.

McClatchy reports that the Fed is trying to find ways to make it harder for you to prevent banks ripping you off. As Atrios points out, this is evil.

Krugman on Freezing Our Hope: "After the Democratic 'shellacking' in the midterm elections, everyone wondered how President Obama would respond. Would he show what he was made of? Would he stand firm for the values he believes in, even in the face of political adversity? On Monday, we got the answer: he announced a pay freeze for federal workers. This was an announcement that had it all. It was transparently cynical; it was trivial in scale, but misguided in direction; and by making the announcement, Mr. Obama effectively conceded the policy argument to the very people who are seeking - successfully, it seems - to destroy him. So I guess we are, in fact, seeing what Mr. Obama is made of."

Organizing for America finally bottoms out trying to get supporters to write letters to the editor praising the federal wage freeze, and wins Atrios' coveted Wankers of the Day award. In case the point hasn't been driven home yet, taking money out of the public sector also takes money out of the rest of the real economy and thus not only makes more people jobless and miserable, but increases the deficit. Three mints in one!

Sammy interviewed David Dayen (dday) on Thursday's show. Man, it's so refreshing to hear two people who can read and understand things talking about them in plain English. See, this banking thing is only "complicated" in the sense that the banksters came up with a lot of rubbishy "explanations" for why they were cooking the books. They're just criminals. Book 'em.

Dan at Pruning Shears points out that the destruction of the internet includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actually seizing dozens of websites, apparently under a piece of legislation that was proposed but in fact never passed (but with the help of a judge!), and using dubious evidence of any alleged illegality in the first place: "ICE went before federal magistrate judges with goods 'confirmed as counterfeit or otherwise illegal' in order to obtain the seizure orders. Did it have goods from each of the eighty-two sites? In at least one case - TorrentFreak - the site in question does not deal in goods at all. It provides search results for torrent files, just like Google does. Is Google going to be seized as well? Alternately, since it is literally impossible for ICE to have obtained any goods, legal or otherwise, from TorrentFreak, what evidence was presented to the presiding judge? What was the basis for the ruling?" Of course, This Week In Tyranny, the whole WikiLeaks story is much more interesting and complicated than you might have imagined, and for that matter so is the "sex by surprise" charge against Assange. (Dan also reminds me that it's that time of year again, and he's chosen a nominee for The Sideshow's Greatest Hits of 2010, in a single paragraph in this post regarding the Eric Alterman article on Kabuki Democracy.)

Digby: "There are many progressive initiatives that liberal interest groups could be spending their time and money working on rather than defending the social safety net from people who would destroy it. It's a sad comment indeed that it was necessary to mobilize like this under a Democratic president and congressional majority." I dunno, I think a primary challenge would be a good thing, as long as it comes from the left of Obama, but I don't think it will happen, either. For one thing, we've already seen that anyone who tries to stand up to Obama on anything ends up having Kos go on TV to say they should be primaried. For another, where would this white knight come from? Not from the Democratic Congress that's let Obama get away with all this, I think. There is only one party, and they hate us all..

Live-action Roadrunner

Who knew the Doctor Who theme music had lyrics? (Watch it three times.)

NIN in a box

19:00 GMT

Thursday, 02 December 2010

When worlds collide

Blimey, it snowed. And again! This sort of thing excites me because it has been so rare, but... Oh, well, it's a distraction from just being grumpy, I guess.

Naomi Klein says the wrong people are in jail and there's a war on activism, but she still believes we can come together and fight back. That's actually the most optimistic thing I've heard anyone say in a long time. But then, she is talking about Canada. Can we come together and fight back?

In America, Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, and Medea Benjamin plan to rally on December 16th with some military vets outside the White House to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and afterwards will try to chain themselves to the White House fence, because, "Hope, from now on, will look like this. Hope is not trusting in the ultimate goodness of Barack Obama, who, like Herod of old, sold out his people. It is not having a positive attitude or pretending that happy thoughts and false optimism will make the world better. Hope is not about chanting packaged campaign slogans or trusting in the better nature of the Democratic Party. Hope does not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil or the government. [...] Hope has a cost. Hope is not comfortable or easy. Hope requires personal risk. Hope does not come with the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is an action. Hope is doing something." (You might also want to check out the good interview with Chris Hedges in the first hour of The Sunday Show at KPFA, where he talks about the death of American liberalism.)

In the Department of Information Wants to Be Free, and hot on the heels of the UK opting for a two-tiered internet that nobody wanted, the FCC is being pushed into treating the internet as the property of cable companies (more here), Amazon has terminated the WikiLeaks webhosting account, the US has announced it is investigating whether WikiLeaks violated our espionage laws, and Interpol has issued a Wanted notice for Julian Assange. I used to tell libertoonians that no, the internet did not change anything, and they didn't believe me. Technology had eliminated censorship! Hahaha. You have to be mighty rich to say what TPTB don't want you to say.

Thanks to Buzzcook for calling my attention to this rendition of "Silver Bells".

20:10 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, December 2010

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