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Friday, 30 December 2011

Gimme Shelter

It's my birthday, I'm a little busy.

Since it was after midnight, the first thing I did last night to celebrate my birthday was listen to Jay and Stuart trying to work out the economic theories of the idiots who are running the country on Virtually Speaking A-Z, and then Eve Gittelson (nyceve) came along to discuss the year in health insurance policy. Digby was the guest on Virtually Speaking Susie, with a couple of interesting call-ins, one from Stuart Zechman joining arguments about whether voting for Obama and his friends in the coming election is useful. And why is even Newsweek publishing articles suggesting that if the idiots in charge don't pull themselves together, there's gonna be a revolution and their heads will end up on pikes? (Of course, Andrew Sullivan already said he had learned to love hippies...)

"Anonymous denies Stratfor attack: 'The Stratfor hack is not the work of Anonymous. Stratfor is an open source intelligence agency, publishing daily reports on data collected from the open Internet. Hackers claiming to be Anonymous have distorted this truth in order to further their hidden agenda, and some Anons have taken the bait,' the group claimed in an online communiqué."

Bloomberg, "Copyrights Are No Longer About Copies (Part 1) [...] Copyright laws can, in fact, serve valuable purposes: They can ensure that once works are created, their authors are able to protect them and benefit from them economically. But copyright laws rarely cause people to create things they otherwise wouldn't have. Nor are copyright laws responsible for either commercial or critical success. The benefits from ownership of copy rights have always flowed disproportionately to gatekeepers who are interested in artificial scarcity and monopoly profits, rather than abundance and diversity. [...] The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a prime example of our march backward, of how our laws are used to thwart innovation and creativity. It's the reason you can't load lawfully purchased copies of your DVDs into your iPod, why you can't transfer copies of many lawfully purchased works from one electronic device to another, why DVDs bought in one country may not work in another. (This is something that should have greatly embarrassed President Barack Obama when he gave then-U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown a set of DVDs of American movies, which couldn't be lawfully played on Brown's player.) Under this law, both consumers and technology are treated as the enemy."

Seriously, what kind of newspaper reporter gets the dope and then waits years to publish it? Oh, yeah, Bob Woodward.

Matt Stoller, "Why Is The Term 'Financial Repression' Being Sold? Over the past few months, the concept of 'Financial Repression' has come into the lexicon and is increasingly used to describe a possible set of government strategies that constrains the financial sector. It has far more political significance than its users would have you believe." I can take a wild guess....

I used to have complaints like this. The best part about visiting my cousin Greg at Christmas was getting to play with the cool toys he got.

Yves came in and said "I made a song!" His English isn't so good, but it's actually a lovely piece.

Your musical interlude from the best Rolling Stones album ever. [Update: Lambert just turned me on to this great live performance of it.]

16:00 GMT

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Back to the fray

Dave Johnson, "What Next In The Fight Over Who Our Economy Is For? [...] To provide cover for the operation these agents of the 1% spread a thick blanket of propaganda, using every technique in the modern marketing book. They divided us by race, religion, gender, sexual preference, even pitting people who like quiche and lattes against those who like beer and sausage. To cripple potential opposition they infiltrated and fractured key institutions, and turned the public against the news media. They developed a professional career-path system that rewards those who play along with the corruption and destruction and punishes those who do not. To cripple dissent they used ridicule, shame and intimidation."

Bipartisan: Don't say "Paul Ryan" when you mean "Paul Ryan and a bunch of Democrats" are working together to destroy Medicare. And, no, it's not just "Blue Dogs" - it's "progressives", too: "Some commentators have wrongly dismissed Wyden as a 'crackpot' risking political suicide; in fact, Wyden is a cautious, 'pragmatic' politician, i.e. he blindly follows party leaders and their corporate bosses. [...] By attaching his name to Paul Ryan (the anti-Medicare crusader), Wyden is now revealing the ultra-right, pro-corporate trajectory of the Democratic Party leadership. And although the White House has spoken against the bill, Obama's own health care reform bill created the framework now copied by the Wyden-Paul plan."

Matt Taibbi responds to A Christmas Message From America's Rich full of moaning and whining about how poor people don't pay enough income taxes and therefore have "no skin in the game": "But it seems to me that if you're broke enough that you're not paying any income tax, you've got nothing but skin in the game. You've got it all riding on how well America works." Exactly. The billionaire class is so well insulated that they don't even come close to having skin in the game. Obama couldn't even bring himself to make his bankster friends take "a haircut" for breaking the law, so he decided instead to take their victims' scalps. Via Pruning Shears, where a quote from Econned also explains what this has to do with the price of sardines.

"2011 in Review: The Year Secrecy Jumped the Shark: As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2011 and discussing where we are in the fight for a free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. The government has been using its secrecy system in absurd ways for decades, but 2011 was particularly egregious. Here are a few examples..." Though nothing could make the Thatcher government seem reasonable, Obama is making a fabulous try.

"'Anonymous' hackers target US security think tank: The loose-knit hacking movement "Anonymous" claimed Sunday to have stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to clients of U.S.-based security think tank Stratfor. One hacker said the goal was to pilfer funds from individuals' accounts to give away as Christmas donations, and some victims confirmed unauthorized transactions linked to their credit cards."

"How the feds fueled the militarization of police [...] The militarization of America's metropolitan police forces was on full display in recent months as police from Los Angeles to New York cracked down on Occupy protests, decked out in full SWAT gear and occasionally using strange pieces of military hardware."

Wouldn't it be cool if we cold vote for a straight ticket of guys like Rocky Anderson?

"Five Mistakes Band & Label Sites Make" - Actually, there are lots of sites that make these mistakes.

"Whole Foods Parking Lot". I bet no one will remember why this made me think of Martin Mull.

Remember, Christmas isn't for another six days. Here's a carol you probably haven't heard over and over, yet.

And these are just pretty.

The Christmas Doctor Who episode made my eyes all tear up, I really liked it, and it made much more sense than last year's.

15:20 GMT

Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Traditional Christmas Post

I was about to be overjoyed that none of the links I expected to have linkrot from the traditional Christmas post had rotted since last year, until I found out that the one link I assumed would still be there was gone. That was the .mp3 of "Truce" that Tom Robinson had put up at my request, and I can't find it anywhere else (but, since we all know how bad I am at finding the right keywords, you're welcome to try). You can still find the lyrics here, and of course the original letter about the event to which the song refers is still up at Brew's site. [Update: A commenter directs me here for an .mp3 download.]

I can always get into the mood with Brian Brink's tour-de-force performance of "Carol of the Bells."

The link that has rotted every year, until now, was to this excellent Christmas card from Joshua Held, Irving Berlin, and the Drifters - but this year it was right where I left it, and so is the version of the same thing I found done in Christmas lights.

I still just like this.

Dave Langford always makes sure I can find Ron Tiner's one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol from that ancient Xmas edition of Ansible.

In all these years, I have never gotten tired of re-reading Mark's wonderful Mel Tormé story. Last year I finally found a good video of Mel singing his famous song with Judy Garland (that association with rainbows must just be too strong), and I also found a good, relatively recent solo performance by the man they called The Velvet Fog.

And now, as always, a few words from Marley's Ghost:

"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!"

Merry Christmas, and may the truth finally set us free.

18:45 GMT

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Did I say "overlords"? I meant "protectors"

For those who asked: I hit the Start button and I typed "mouse" and ran it, and it gave me a picture of the pointer that I clicked and that gave me a dialog with a tab for "touchpad". Try messing around with that and see if it helps. I think enabling "Touch Check" may have improved things.

Atrios is quite right, and so is David Weigel, about the failure of PolitiFact in its ability to fact-check, but there's a great deal more to this story, and it's worth listening to what Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyod said about it on Virtually Speaking A-Z. And that was followed by Jay's interview with C.W. Anderson about the failures of media.

And here I want to insert a note to Stuart about our continuing argument on whether there is any real distinction between the "centrists" and the "conservatives". Because, judging from statements the Centrists have been making and from what conservatives have done all along, the apparent difference between them and their rationale for doing the same things is an opposing set of beliefs in what is real and what is not.

The arch-conservatives believe that the rich - the aristocracy - should run everything, and the rest of us should be "losers" who are poor and miserable and have to live a hard-scrabble existence in which we literally have to beg them for jobs, alms, and mercy. They recognize that the world can be ordered differently, that there can be democracy and freedom and a decent living for everyone, they just think it shouldn't be that way, it should be their way, because they are morally better than us and should be able to lord it over us. They have worked tirelessly (and effectively) for more than 30 years to undo democracy, and they knew just what they were doing.

The Centrists, by their statements and position papers, believe this choice no longer exists - that the "new rules" of "globalization" mean that democracy and a better life, decent wages, worker safety and all that jazz are just no longer possible. We will have to live according to the desires of the arch-conservatives - not because it is morally right, but because there is simply no other option. We are no longer in an aberrant situation where democracy can be a realistic hope and workers can be treated like human beings. We "have to" "compete" with China, and that's that. Somehow, these centrists have all managed not to notice more than two centuries of American and European history and thousands of years of world history, not to mention many changes in their own lifetimes. They have failed to read any economic charts or to make any coherent conclusions about the direct and visible results of policy choices.

If this is actually the case, it is clearly the Centrists who are most stupid, since they are unable to recognize that these options are the result of choices and not simply what must be. We can choose to redistribute wealth so that we have a healthy economy that reduces the power of the aristocrats and allows a return to government by, for, and of the people. We can, if we want to, have full employment and reasonable interest rates, controls against monopoly/duopoly capitalism, and a return of real innovation and choice. Steps were taken to create those things, steps were taken to eliminate those things, and we can see that the choice is there to take the steps we want to take to create the country we want to create.

The trouble is, I'm not sure I believe the Centrists are as stupid as they purport to be. Again I return to this statement by the ubiquitous unnamed White House official who claims that the public does not agree about liberal policy with us flaky liberals who think that the White House should be using its "bully pulpit" to make the liberal case. I don't believe these people can't read the polls - I know they are reading the polls and I know they know that it is us, and not them, who the public agrees with about essential liberal programs and how government should function to serve the public. And I also know they have admitted amongst themselves that deception is necessary to bring their policies into being - just as the arch-conservatives have always similarly observed to each other. The only thing liberals have been asking the White House to do is to tell the truth about the greater efficiency and promise of liberal programs and quit lying about the necessity of making us all live like Chinese slave laborers. Tell the public the truth about real single-payer medical systems, and then they won't worry about having to pay more taxes for a single-payer system. Tell the public that Social Security is not broke and that there is no reason on earth to raise the retirement age. The public already supports SSI, as the Dem leadership knows, which is why they keep lying about it to make it less popular. The truth is that the White House is perfectly happy to use the bully pulpit to push right-wing memes they know are false in order to try to make the public less likely to put their heads on pikes for trying to wreck Social Security and Medicare.

And, aside from that, I know that the DLC and Third Way and whatever re-brand they come up with next time are just spin-tanky groups who are funded by the very same people who fund the right-wing spin tanks, and I see no reason to believe they are doing anything other than what the right-wing groups are doing, which is coming up with targeted new language to push the same old right-wing programs. They have always done this and they always will.

* * * * *

Glenn Greenwald says that it has to be "the single most amusing phrase ever to appear unironically in the Paper of Record: Twitter terrorism." In a separate post, Glenn recommends a number of articles, including: "There are two new must-read articles on one of the worst legacies of the Obama presidency thus far: the failure to prosecute Wall Street executives for the criminal behavior that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis. The first is from Jeff Connaughton, the former chief of staff to former Democratic Sen. Ted Kaufman, who chaired Senate oversight hearings on financial fraud prosecutions; Connaughton documents what he calls the 'misleading' statements and multiple actions of President Obama designed to shield those executives from accountability. The second is from Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi who, commenting on Connaughton's piece, writes that 'what makes Obama's statements so dangerous is that they suggest an ongoing strategy of covering up the Wall Street crimewave.'"

Who Supports SOPA: Special Interests.

While Newt Gingrich continues to run around pretending to be some sort of Warrior Statesman Scholar, the most popular candidate for guys in the military is Ron Paul. And not without good reason. (via) Not sure what happens now, but I'm still not voting for him.

Why do I get the impression that self-examination is not the CIA's strong suit? It's amazing how often they find they didn't do anything wrong.

"What we hate are the people who we view as having found their success as a consequence of the damage their activities have done to our country. What we hate are those who take and give nothing back in the form of innovation, convenience, entertainment or scientific progress. We hate those who've exploited political relationships and stupidity to rake in even more of the nation's wealth while simultaneously driving the potential for success further away from the grasp of everyone else." That's Joshua Brown's response to Jamie Dimon's whining about how everybody hates wonderful, successful people like him, and good for Brown in pointing out that the type and use of wealth these predators have wrapped themselves up in means that others, no matter how clever and hard-working, are less likely to be able to succeed and create and do things for society. Some people think Jamie Dimon can be helped. Fred Clark does, as he recalls The Liberation of Ebenezer Scrooge (and possible liberation of Jamie Dimon). (via)

Mick wrote "Socialism - It's Not Just For Crackpots Any More" way back in March, but things have changed a little since then, and maybe it'll have different resonance now, I don't know. But it sure wouldn't hurt if we could get more socialists into Congress. Meanwhile, voters are leaving the Republican and Democratic parties in large numbers. And we continue to struggle with the question of whether voting for Obama would actually mean voting for the lesser evil: "The neat thing about the lesser evil argument is that, like the argument about whether or not God exists, there is no way to design an experiment to prove it." Noam Chomsky says that of course you should vote for the lesser evil - you get less evil! But which is which? The Republicans sound more evil, but I think that's only on the surface. When you get down to cases, the Republicans know they are trying to screw you and just plain doing it because they can, but the Dems know they are screwing you because you let them. And maybe Eugene Debs was right.

Trust The Economist to come up with the rubbishy claim that Americans are more euphemistic about asking where the toilet is than Brits are. Yes, we're so radically different - in America it's "men's room" and in England it's "the gents". (And then there's that line in A Hard Day's Night....)

Astronomy, anyone?

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Trailer #1

Google is singing to me today.

Merry Christmas from Galactic Central.

Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime.

16:28 GMT

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The more things stay the same, the more things change

It's funny, but I found myself unable to have a political reaction to Christopher Hitchens' death. Instead, I wondered - maybe even worried, a little - about how Roz Kaveney was taking it. Because, you see, Roz had more than a passing relationship with Hitchens, and she probably knows more about him than almost anyone. So I sent her an IM and said I found myself wondering how she was reacting to the news about Chris Hitchens, and she said she was wondering, too. She said she would certainly write a poem, and I said I expected as much, and I see it's started here, and includes a little something you may not have known about him that may have had more impact than you'd thought on how he turned away from the light. And more here, a little more bitter, a la Kipling. And then the drinking song.

I want you to understand why I have always hesitated to call for "Medicare for all" as an alternative to single-payer. Yes, I said alternative to single-payer. It's not single-payer. It's a whole lot more efficient than the commercial system, but it's still not good enough. Single-payer does not involve co-pays. The NHS does not involve co-pays. Here in England, my out-of-pocket for seeing a specialist or being hospitalized is exactly the same as for seeing my GP or, for that matter, not seeing him: Nothing. My NHS-related taxes, which are no higher than those paid by Americans to support the US medical system, have covered my physician care, and no one charges me separately for that coverage and no one asks for more money when I want to actually get the care. I never have to weigh seeing a doctor, seeing a specialist, or being hospitalized when I need to against how much money I have or what other bills I need to pay. It's already paid for. And that means that if I'm ill and can't work for several weeks, like Diane has, I don't find myself suddenly having to put all my money into paying off medical bills instead of all of the other things I need to live. And yes, this isn't the best time of year to be asking for your help, but I really hope you will throw some money to Diane, because (like all of us), she doesn't deserve what will happen if you don't, and anyway, we need her blogging, not living out of a cardboard box.

Patricia J. Williams: "You know these are interesting times when Glenn Beck, Dianne Feinstein, Rand Paul and the ACLU all stand on the same side of an issue. [...] For noncitizens, such detention would be mandatory. And while news agencies from Reuters to the Huffington Post have recently reported that American citizens would be 'exempt' from this requirement, the truth is more complicated. Military detention would still be the default, even for citizens, but at the discretion of the president, it could be waived in favor of handing over the case to domestic law enforcement. Under this law, if the Defense Department thinks you're a terrorist, there would be no presumption of innocence; you would be presumed a detainee of the military unless the executive decides otherwise. Without such a waiver, again, even if you're a citizen, you will never hear words like 'alleged' or 'suspected.' You will be an 'unprivileged enemy belligerent,' with limited rights to appeal that status, no rights to due process, or to a jury, or to a speedy trial guided by the rules of evidence."

Apparently, it will be all my fault if somehow all those people who would otherwise have voted for Obama suddenly notice that everything is turning to crap and Obama is no helpless victim of circumstance - and they stay home on election day (Also, another great quote from Econned, and more good links.)

Sam Seder talked to Jason Benlevi about who controls our digital life, and the latest Occupy news, and a lot of other things, on Monday's Majority Report. Tuesday's show features an interview with Jeff Clements about corporate personhood and the Powell memo.

"An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the U.S. Congress: If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. Regardless of recent amendments to SOPA, both bills will risk fragmenting the Internet's global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences. In exchange for this, such legislation would engender censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties' right and ability to communicate and express themselves online."

"Dear Congress, It's No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works."

"Dear Internet: It's No Longer OK to Not Know How Congress Works."

"Occupying Jesus and His Church: "It is an inconvenient truth for mainstream and right-wing Christians that Jesus was crucified for taking his protest against income inequality to the power center of Jerusalem, where he challenged how money had perverted religious principles. Now, that tension is returning with the Occupy protests..."

2011: The War on Contraception - Don't say we didn't warn you.

Note to libertoonians: Monopoly and duopoly capitalism are not free market capitalism, they are the opposite.

Commenter Jawbone complains that he can't let it snow. Apparently, a few weeks ago, I couldn't have, either. I've noticed more and more of this problem that things keep happening that make even the simple pages load slowly, that you seem to be constantly having to update your browser to make stuff work. There are even some things that will only work on one specific browser. Fortunately, I finally got that total makeover I've been needing for so long, so I was able to let it snow, and still manage to resist the continual nudging from Google to use their browser. (At least now I don't have them giving me screwy-looking pages and then telling me I need to turn off a setting I don't even have.)

Neil Gaiman says: "Took me 3 years of scribbling & rewrites to make 45 minutes of Dr. Who, summed up in 2:29 by a smart girl with a ukulele." Her name is Allegra Rosenberg (and Anna says she's obviously Willow's sister, although she kinda reminds me of Dawn).

16:50 GMT

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Something in the air

Me and Susie is gonna be doing the last Virtually Speaking Sundays of the year tonight at 9:00 PM Eastern. You can listen live or later at the link. (The rest of this week's Virtually Speaking schedule is here)

Between the DEA just stealing your money and your car and your house and the 2012 NNDA, I don't see how the Third Amendment even matters anymore when they can just decide you're either a drug dealer or a terrorist and take everything anyway. Unsurprisingly, Obama's vow to veto NNDA was a signal that he would sign it. The negative response - even from Obama's supporters - has been sufficiently strong that the White House is now pushing back by, as usual, spreading myths about what the bill actually does and doesn't do. They're lying.

On the other hand, there is Jamie Dimon, who fits all the definitions, and Marcy Wheeler has outlined how he can be indefinitely detained. Anybody that rich probably has a coke stash, too, so everything he's got would be up for grabs. (via)

Does a week ever go by without at least two atrocities from Obama? Now those "health insurance" policies you're forced to buy are worth even less than they already were.

Sam Seder interviewed Chris Cobb about Wall Street's role in the slave trade, and Jeff Smith about his arrest at the Occupation, onThe Majority Report Thursday.

Yes, most of the poor people in America are still white, but that's not what they want you to hear.
Yes, New Labour and Third Way Democrats are operating out of the same playbook.

I guess the USDA now works for Monsanto, too.

For those who were horrified by the Crazy Man at PayPal episode, I meant to post a link to the resolution, but I got distracted by the fact that I still can't make things work like I want them to.

I wish more people understood that Israel has deliberately supported what they regard as extreme Palestinian groups in the hope that such groups would make peace agreements impossible. Peace would interfere with what they have now, which is a license to steal.

CMike was kind enough to provide links in comments to this transcript of an interview with David Graeber which might be easier for some people to follow, and this comment by David Graeber which tells you what hippies used to talk about. (I think it's important that Graeber is one of the few people who has talked explicitly about the fact that we eliminated laws against usury, and how that wrenched us from the path of civilization. I've talked about this from time to time but no one's ever picked it up. I guess this is what Obama's chums really mean when they talk about "the new rules".)

Paying the Christmas layaway tabs of strangers actually seems like a really nice Christmas present.

I don't get it - why aren't these "nudes" nude? The monochrome still lifes are as advertised, though, and the art dolls are art dolls.

Google lets it snow.

21:50 GMT

Thursday, 15 December 2011

On the internet

Earlier this week, Sam Seder did a fascinating interview with David Graeber, one of the original organizers of Occupy Wall Street, about the movement and his book Debt: the First 5,000 Years, on The Majority Report. (And Google tells me I can hear more interviews with Graeber on this subject from NPR and C-SPAN.)

A judge thinks you have to write for a "real" newspaper to be a legitimate journalist entitled to the protection of your sources. Discussion of this subject at The Newspaper of Record suggests otherwise: "The plain fact is, anyone who got their information on the case from David Carr's writing at the New York Times would be substantially less informed than those who read Curtis Cartier's piece at the Seattle Weekly blog. That is why we need bloggers, lots of them, in lots of places. And we need to find a place for their journalism - yes, David Carr, journalism - within the legal system. Because even the Times cannot cover all the news that's fit to print."

People like to blame the voters for electing creeps and nitwits - it's all our fault. But is it? Did American Workers "Get What They Deserved?" No. (Also: Pictures of income disparity.)

Atrios is quite right about the reason DoleRomneyObamacare existed and the result of having a Democrat pass it, but I find it difficult to accept that Obama, who can't be completely stupid, wasn't aware that nothing he did would make Republicans love him. In fact, it seems to me that Obama, no less than the Republicans, insisted on passing the Allegedly Affordable Care Act for exactly the same reasons Atrios brings up - to make sure that nothing better could be passed. The thing is, I don't think Obama actually cares whether Republicans (or most Democrats) love him. He identifies with a different constituency who he regards as more legitimate than the rest of us. (Also, what he said. The best advice for avoiding rape is to mace any guy who gets within three feet of you. If you do this consistently, you are much less likely to get raped. Alternatively, you can never leave your home, and make sure there is at least a 200 lb. deadfall between you and the rest of the world. Even these suggestions do not guarantee that you won't get raped anyway, but they are no more crazy than the idea that there is some presentable way to dress that will keep you from getting raped without also being so disgusting that no one will want to come within a hundred yards of you.)

"SPECIAL REPORT: Forensic Analysis Finds Venango County, PA, E-Voting System 'Remotely Accessed' on 'Multiple Occasions' by Unknown Computer."

"Ron Paul: Obama pushing 'martial law,' Holder should be 'fired'."

Kunstler seems to be missing the fact that Obama's message ever since he was elected is that we are not going back to having a healthy economy, let alone a turbo-charged one. We have to compete with slave labor, remember? Unlike David Cameron, he doesn't admit openly that he is destroying his nation's way of life, but he's been telling us over and over that there is no going back to a better one.

An amusing little comic

How Charles Platt designed News Worlds

A cute but surprising visitor

Lately whenever I get a new laptop, I have to reset something to make the touchpad stop launching my cursor all over the screen in mid-sentence. Only I can't figure out what to reset on this one. Anyone remember? I have to use the touchpad because I really don't have room to use a mouse, but it's making me kinda crazy.

16:23 GMT

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The winter, she's comin' on strong

My apologies to those who couldn't find my page for a while. Apparently, my fancy new laptop went to another dimension temporarily where it couldn't see my files via FTP. Naturally, as soon as the Alpha Geek tried to look at the problem, it went away without anyone having to do anything. It's all very mysterious and inexplicable, but it appears to have stopped.

Dahlia Lithwick and Culture of Truth were talking about the Supreme Court on this week's Virtually Speaking Sundays. I thought it was odd that Lithwick left out of her analysis of how they would vote on the health insurance industry act that their ideology of corporatism could be the real deciding factor in how they vote for such a very corporatist bill.

Krugman says it's a depression, and democracy is eroding all over. And it's really worth it to remember that this is happening, even in Britain, despite a complete lack of the Tea Party. This isn't just happening because of crazy right-wingers foaming at the mouth, it's happening because there's no one fighting on the "other" side.

Like I've said all along, there is nothing new about the internet in that it can be censored just like any other form of expression. I was astonished when I got on the net back in '94 and found a bunch of tech triumphalist libertoonian nitwits pretending this was a brand-new, censorship-proof thing. It wasn't. It's not. That was obvious without even knowing much about how it worked. Gee, someone in the United States controls a bunch of machines? How do you think they are outside of society? And anything you write under your own name - or any name that can ultimately be linked to you - can land you in slammer even more easily than an anonymous fanzine if someone decides it's okay to go after you. (Also, nice to see Mr. Tribe doing something for the good guys, again.)

Via Atrios, I see that MF Global is claiming the right to steal from their customers, and Pennsylvania seems to be on the verge of getting the right to steal both public and private lands.

Ezra thinks it's odd that the Republicans seem to have such a double-standard on taxes, but Krugman knows better: "But it's not odd at all, once you realize that the GOP is not now, and never has been (at least not since the 1970s) concerned about the deficit. All the fiscal posturing of the last couple of years has been about using the deficit as a club to smash the welfare state, with the secondary goal of frustrating any efforts on the part of the Obama administration to help the struggling economy. The entire debate has been fake. If you don't understand that, or can't bring yourself to admit it, you're missing the whole story."

Note to Digby: It's not a rising tide they've been lifted on, it's the peak of a tsunami that is wrecking everything else in its path.

A word from the clergy: "Last week I argued in these pages that the Occupy movement might be diverted by its focus on getting physical outdoor space. I felt that the movement had gone viral - we were everywhere, and didn't need a particular space any more. I was wrong." Via the linky and quote-filled Weekend Wrapup at Pruning Shears, where MadTown Annie also posted an on-the-scene report on the Solidarity Rally for Striking Manitowoc Crane Machinists, and thoughts on how the rally was handled in light of recent experiences with Occupy.

Thom Hartmann rumbled with well-behaved conservatives on his show before going on to interview Dr. Peter Bellenson about better ways to address patient care under the new laws.

"PA Voter ID Bill Advances, With Changes In Senate: "HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Republicans continued Monday to press legislation to require Pennsylvanians to show photo identification before they vote, despite resistance from Democrats who say it is intended to suppress turnout of poor and black voters and Republicans acknowledging they lack proof of voter fraud."

Froomkin, "'Wealth defense industry' protects oligarchs from the rabble and its taxes: "Thousands of lawyers, accountants and consultants work full-time to defend the wealth of the richest Americans, says a Northwestern University political economist. It's their secretive labor that makes the effective tax rate so regressive for the ultra-rich -- and makes everyone else so angry."

This ain't my kinda music, but they're right - you should film the police.

Boy, that Pepper-spraying cop gets everywhere.

Jack Kerouac soap made to order.

16:23 GMT

Sunday, 11 December 2011

You know a melody can move me

Commenter The Oracle tickled me down in comments below by asking when Corporate Persons would get stopped at borders and strip-searched and - I love this part - drug tested, presumably before they can receive any more benefits from the government's pocket. It's only fair, right?

How Charles Grassley (R-Monopoly) is trying to strangle the internet: "Wireless For America is trying to get broadband spectrum increased, which the FCC has approved (as did the Obama and Bush Admins). But Senator Chuck Grassley (R- Iowa) is standing on the neck of innovation, choking off any chance of improving America's pathetically low rankings for broadband access. The US is #15 in Broadband penetration and a pathetic 26th in Broadband speed -- behind Romania, that noted hotbed of innovation. This isn't an accident. Bad service and limited access are very much in the interest of Big Telecom. Underserved neighborhoods in rural and urban areas have broadband access issues, jobs that would be created by growing small telecoms are being stopped by Grassley, Tom Petri (R-Wisconsin) and their buddies, and the rest of us are paying more for crappier service, which is the point of telecom monopoly. Grassley is in the pocket of the big GPS providers Trimble and John Deere who claim that innovation in the spectrum will distort their signals. Their claims are crap as this letter from FCC chair Julius Genachowski shows (pdf)." It might not hurt to write a letter. (via)

"GOP cancels vote on bill to halt Congressional Insider Trading after Cantor throws a fit" - because insider trading is only bad when some people do it.

"How Goldman Sachs and Other Companies Exploit Port Truck Drivers - Occupy Protesters Plan to Shut Down West Coast Ports in Protest."

Obama's smoking gun, Part 1: "It's the "smoking gun" that links Barack Obama with Bob Rubin-Goldman Sachs, free trade and cuts in entitlements. It's the young Senator Barack Obama's little commented on and little-known speech to the Hamilton Project in April, 2006, well before he became president. Senator Barack Obama ran a stealth campaign for the presidency in which he took positions on issues that he obviously didn't believe which explains why he jettisoned them early on (FISA; NAFTA renegotiation; DADT; DOMA etc.). But the REAL, unvarnished Obama was unveiled in a speech he gave as a Senator from Illinois in 2006. He spoke at the request of "my friend" Bob Rubin whose Goldman Sachs had just funded the Hamilton Project, a free trade think tank embedded in the Brookings Institution." (And, as David Sirota reported back in 2006, the creation of the Hamilton Project was "nothing more than the beginning of a frontal attack by Corporate America on the progressive movement, using the Democratic Party as an all-too-transparent cloak of legitimacy.") But, as we see from Part 2, some people understood what Obama was long before. It's a pity no one was listening. "I was not alone in seeing Obama as enjoying more than an outside chance at the White House in the near future. Other Left observers knew about Obama's longstanding outsized ambition and his related "deeply conservative" ideological orientation and power-accommodating nature. We were aware of his early (late 2003-2004) and close vetting by the national political and financial class and of who really selects viable presidential candidates and winners - the corporate and imperial establishment. And we knew also that, as the brilliant left commentator and author-filmmaker John Pilger noted last June, Obama's racial identity could be a "very seductive tool of propaganda" working on behalf of the ruling class."

I see there's a new campaign logo. And, while we're on that subject, Libby is saying she has concluded that of Obama and Ron Paul, the lesser evil is Ron Paul. But, see, I'm not so sure about that, because I can remember when Ron Paul took the actual libertarian view on reproduction rights, which is that it's not the government's business to stop you if you want an abortion. And Obama is good at saying what he knows voters want to hear even though he doesn't mean it at all - why, he's even talking about jobs, lately! So I'm not banking on the idea that any of them mean what they say. But there are still reasons I would tend to agree with Libby, if only for the fact that Obama thinks it's a badge of honor to spit in the eye of democracy as well as his own supporters. I get the impression that we're not the only ones who feel this way.

"Krugman is from Trantor; Gingrich ain't," and a crazy man loose at PayPal.

Coo, Susie's had a makeover, complete with a new header logo by Rall. Neat! She also reminds us that even if you weren't unhappy with those pipeline projects for other reasons, you should worry that the pipelines themselves, in our wonderful new deregulated world, are not up to spec, and that given the tendency for police to incite violence where there is none, we should hope they wouldn't be given a licence to blind people. And will Gordon Gekko be our next president?

This Guinness ad always makes me think of Christmas. And Christmas always makes me dream of this. (Um, somehow I missed this one. It's actually kind of spooky that they even made this ad.)

RIP Dobie Gray, singer and song writer. Always rather liked this song. Just makes me want to sway and harmonize.

17:35 GMT

Thursday, 08 December 2011

If I had listened to my first mind

On the waterfront: Occupy movement calls for Dec. 12 West Coast Port Shutdown. Video from Occupy Oakland.

Much as I ♥ Charlie Pierce, I have to disagree with this assessment of Obama and his speeches. I don't for a minute think Obama believes that, "this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules." Unless what he means is that the rich and the poor alike can sleep under bridges. I think Obama is an adept deceiver who can make some people feel all warm and fuzzy while he gives them the shaft, the very essence of a successful con man.

But here's the Pierce I love: "I have long proposed that every single major elite political pundit be frog-marched away from the buffet tables inside the Beltway and deep into the Blue Ridge Mountains, there to be confined to a re-education facility where they will clear trails, and reclaim swampland, and repair dams, and make life lovely for the furry little woodland creatures until every damn one of these hacks has learned not to look at the incredible universe of grifters and charlatans that is our current political elite and in them see the giants of the past." Yes, Jon Meacham really is suggesting that Newt Gingrich could be a mensch of the stature of FDR, apparently just because some people hated FDR (of course, he doesn't say who hated FDR - and why), and a lot of people hate Newt, too.

Pinch presents some folks from the NYT opinion pages, including Krugman. Oh, and Tom Friedman.

At Eschaton, I learn that Obama wants to stop fraud - by people who get an extra few pennies out of their food stamps: "With more Americans relying on the program, the Obama administration on Tuesday plans to announce new steps to crack down on SNAP fraud amid estimates suggesting as much as $753 million in federal food aid is spent fraudulently each year." $753 million? Tim Geithner's friends commit that level of fraud every damned day. Where's the crackdown?

Check out Lakeside Diner for your morning links.

S&P goes after Europe, too.

Not in the news: The Saudi Arabian spring.

David Dayen on Occupy Our Homes. Sam Seder has been doing some great coverage on that this week over at The Majority Report. (He also wrestled a bit with Bill Scher, who seems to be calling himself a "Proud Obot" lately, on Wednesday's show.)

Occupy Daytona.

PB True says: "I think the Evangelicals should fight the Muslim brotherhood, face to face. Momma Grizzly Palin takes on Jihadist Abu Mohamed in a cage match. We could sell tickets, and solve both sides of the world's problems."

The Cabin in the Woods trailer.

What's your favorite fish?

RIP Bill Gannon, Colonel Potter, and the much-loved actor Harry Morgan. Good-bye.

RIP Hubert Sumlin, blues guitarist and close colleague of Howlin' Wolf, at 80. Here he is doing "Killing Floor" last year.

16:37 GMT

Tuesday, 06 December 2011

And the nights draw in

Digby has a nice clip of Chris Hayes talking about the failure of the Supercommittee and how anti-democratic it is - and contrasts it with a lot of wankery Village babble from the junior Russert. (Also: Stealing grandma and grandpa's nest egg. And why isn't Eric Holder launching the easiest prosecution in the world?)

Liz Warren now in dead heat with Scott Brown: "Warren leads Brown by 4 points among registered voters in the UMass Amherst Poll, 43 percent to 39 percent, the difference being within the 4.4 percent margin of error, say UMass Amherst political scientists Brian Schaffner and Ray La Raja. The poll finds Warren is drawing strong support from women, middle-to-low income residents and younger voters. Brown maintains a large lead among Independent voters while Warren is getting overwhelming support from Democratic voters in Massachusetts." (via)

Politifact competes to tell one of the year's biggest lies when it lists as one of the year's biggest lies something that is absolutely true,

I see no reason why Paul Ryan should stay in Congress.

20 years ago, Cory Robin was radicalized.

After Virtually Speaking Sundays was over for the evening, Stuart and I had an argument over whether this is essentially a reactionary position or something different. What do you think? Maybe I just can't credit them with the level of stupidity it would require for them not to know that they have created the sorry mess they affect not to have any control over - and that they could fix it.

"To get Wall Street out of our government, out of our courts; to return the USA to a democratic republic, not an oligarchy." (via)

Dan at Pruning Shears said he had to read a Persian state news outlet to find out what was happening with this occupation event in Iowa. And, via that same linky post from Dan, I'm pleased to know that not everyone needs sing Barney Frank's praises since he's retiring from running cover for the banksters. Oh, and don't miss the latest little passage from Econned.

I'd wondered if our old friend was occupying the freeways... Yes!

The Tax-Dodging Owners Of Zuccotti Park Owe The City $139,000 In Back Taxes.

Alan Moore: "I think that the 'Occupy' movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who's too big to fail. It's a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it."

I think one of the coolest things about Occupy Wall Street is that they are not endorsing any candidates. I get so sick of the, "Yes, I know he's a war criminal whose policies are making our economy even worse, but I'm definitely voting for Obama" theme. I don't care if you're voting for him, you don't have to say so.

The writing process - in infographic (via)

Cello Wars

03:46 GMT

Sunday, 04 December 2011

Thousand Island dressing

David Dayen (dday) and Stuart Zechman will be tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. The rest of this week's VS schedule is here, complete with the YouTube video for What Digby Said about Frank Luntz's panicky new instructions on how to talk about that now-unpopular thing called capitalism (don't call it that!) without saying what it is, what to call things the public likes ("taxing the rich" becomes "taking from the rich", for example), and so on. Oh, and now more talking about the middle-class, it's "hard-working taxpayers".

Best trailer for a news show, ever: The Young Turks.

Your Punk Rock Advent Calendar (I thought these were fun, and got a real chuckle out of the one for the 2nd.)

There's a some discussion in the comments to the post below about the controversial nature of the Naomi Wolf article, and Mike did a little sleuthing into how Naomi Wolf heard Occupiers including in their demands something Joshua Holland hadn't heard. The question might be: Did Holland talk to people in the Occupy movement before or after 60 Minutes had aired a segment on that very subject and Anderson Cooper had followed up on it? But, just how unreasonable are Wolf's speculations about federal coordination of the assault on the occupations? Especially in the face of Obama's continued silence....

Krugman. DeLong, and Atrios all seem baffled by Cameron's destructive austerity policies and the LibDems' continued failure to balk at wrecking the country. Things might clear up if they read Chris Floyd and realized that what we have in the LibDems is pretty much the same thing as what we have in the Democratic Party: "But here is the result of all this serious savviness on behalf of progressive ideals: the LibDems are now helping implement the most regressive policies that Britain has seen since the Victorian era. They are presiding -- happily, even giddily -- over the wanton ravaging of a society already brought low by the brutal, bipartisan religious extremists -- blind, fanatic worshippers of Mammon -- who have held sway in Britain, America and Europe for more than 30 years. The LibDems are Obama: socially liberal, fiscally conservative, willing to sacrifice the wellbeing of millions of innocent people to save a thuggish elite from facing the slightest consequence of their own criminal greed and stupidity." Yes, they are Mammonists. They're not liberal, they're not democratic, and they are not your friends.

This post from Greg Mitchell's Occupy blog at The Nation has Keith Olbmerann's interviews with Scott Olsen and with Jackson Browne (who actually talks about how the police response resonates with COINTEL!), Ry Cooder's video for Occupy, Michelle Shocked performing for a rally in Wisconsin, Jackson Browne playing in Liberty Plaza, Lou Reed's mic check at Lincoln Center, a lot of other things, and a link to this Dan Froomkin piece: "The United Nations envoy for freedom of expression is drafting an official communication to the U.S. government demanding to know why federal officials are not protecting the rights of Occupy demonstrators whose protests are being disbanded -- sometimes violently -- by local authorities. Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. 'special rapporteur' for the protection of free expression, told HuffPost in an interview that the crackdowns against Occupy protesters appear to be violating their human and constitutional rights."

Enlightened self-interest means realizing that you have a better life if everyone else does, too. Even if you're rich, you don't really profit in the long-run from grabbing all the goodies away from everyone else. Even some rich people still understand this.

I worry less about people who pay no attention to the news at all than I do about people in the Mental Welfare State.

Penn Jillette: An Atheist's Guide to the 2012 Election. (Personally, I think he's naive. Obama is lying because Obama is a liar.)

Radio Times: "Pick of the Day - Black Mirror 9:00pm C4: COMEDY OF THE WEEK New Series - So how does Charlie Brooker's new comic drama - the first of two, with a third written by Jesse Armstrong - open? A touching tale of a WI picnic in 1940s Lancashire? Not Quite. No, we get angst, nightmare and warped comedy dipped in the blackest of paint. A royal princess is kidnapped and the ransom demand - and please stop reading now if you're of a delicate disposition - is that the Prime Minister must have sex with a pig, live on national TV, or the princess gets it."

A TSA Christmas

23:40 GMT

Friday, 02 December 2011

Your happenin' world

And, now that it's December, here are some Advent Calendars that started on the 1st:
Bengal Cat Advent
Jam Trust Advent
German Advent
(This one's in English.)
Electric December
Christmas Magazine
Greenwich Advent
Woodlands Junior School
North Pole
St. Mary Margaret actually started on Advent, but since I looked too early I missed it because it appeared to start a week late.
This isn't really an Advent calendar, but it might amuse you, anyway.

I accidentally ended up sitting in for Stuart on Virtually Speaking A-Z last night. Interestingly, that was followed by Jay talking to Cory Robin, who is clearly in my camp in the belief that the Democratic leadership, whatever they may call themselves, are conservatives - that is, reactionaries against liberal government. When they talk about the New Deal period as an aberration and say they are trying to return us to more normal historical trends, that's what they mean.

Sam Seder did a good interview with David Segal Tuesday on The Majority Report, with discussion of the Kill the Internet bill and why it's so important to stop it - and how.

Richard Seymour of Lenin's Tomb was on Democracy NOW! explaining what led up to the historic general strike in Britain, complete with how Murdoch turned leftish media into right-wing media, and what the phone-hacking scandal may mean to his power in Britain. Raed Jarrar (best know to many of us as the blogger of Where is Raed? or Salam Pax), discussed the question that the majority of Iraqis are asking while Joe Biden pops over to Iraq making deals. Meanwhile, police arrested lots of people in clear-outs of Occupy LA and Philly, Congress seems set to authorize indefinite detention without charge of any American who someone in power claims is a terrorist, and Obama is a better friend to corporate lobbyists than Bush.

I meant to talk about that plan to make it okay to detain Americans indefinitely earlier, but I got distracted. This is pretty serious stuff that would almost be comical if it weren't real, and Marcy Wheeler explained what's going on a couple weeks ago on Virtually Speaking Sundays, complete with an astonishing description of the debate, such as it was, between Levin and Feinstein, who were arguing not over whether it should be done, but how most perfectly to do it. You would think those two, of all people, would have been more resistant to such a program - especially with commemoration of the Night of Broken Glass not so far past. Here's How Your Senators Voted on Udall Amendment to Strip Out War and Imprisonment Power Grabs.

Atrios finds an amazing quote: "'The thing that matters the most in determining the health of the US economy and job creation is what happens in Europe,' says a senior administration official." A real journalist would follow-up with, "Do you actually believe that, or is this just more of your strategy of trying to distract the public with irrelevancies and blame the results of your deliberate destruction of the economy on other forces?" Because, really, anyone with even an elementary knowledge of economic history knows that this is complete and utter bollocks.

Atrios named Ruth Marcus as The Worst Person In The World after her astonishing attack on an 18-year-old student who tweeted something rude about Senator Brownback. I can remember when attacking private individuals who didn't support right-wing policies was the job of the crowd at Free Republic, but apparently they've outsourced to The Washington Post. Charlie Pierce and Glennzilla both had some sharp words on the subject.

Maybe it's time to treat Aldous Tyler like he's a serious primary challenger. I'm tired of voting for the lesser evil, and so should you be. What's that you say? Primary challenges usually hurt the chances of the Democratic incumbent? No, primary challenges happen because the Democratic incumbent has already hurt his own chances by losing the base. Do keep up at the back. What if we don't challenge Obama and he still manages to lose? What's the plan? Republicans are going to get back in eventually, either way, and all Obama has been doing is preparing the ground for them to do even worse things. Do we really need to give him another four years for that? It's time to go on offense. Yeah, we might lose, but we're losing anyway. You can not win by supporting Obama.

Dan at Pruning Shears thinks the Dems will need more than just blaming the GOP if they're gonna have a real campaign. But, knowing the Dem leadership, they'll just add in more blaming the hippies.

Bill Black says: "And that's why we have a crisis and it came from the very top of these organizations, and it went through - as the FHFA said in its complaint - the largest banks in the world were endemically fraudulent. It is not a few rotten apples. It is an orchard of one percenters who are rotten to the core." (via)

"Andy Stern, a bigger sell out than you could ever have imagined: Yes, he really wrote that China has a superior economic model." In the WSJ, of course.

Occupy Student Debt.

Naomi Wolf's article on The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy has caused some controversy. But that was rather different from Digby's earlier speculation about coordination against the Occupy movement, and yet she's run into an Occupational Hazard.

I noticed the other day that pretty much no one remembers the Jackson State killings. There was always less attention to this (of course, there was one very great difference between the two events) and therefore the background is murkier - debunking of claims about what happened at Kent State was fairly swift, but I really have no idea whether the official version about Jackson State has any validity. Nevertheless, the fact that the cops behaved as they did should remind people just how dangerous they could be even before the modern militarization of the police force.

"Shocker: Mandated ObamaCare really is junk insurance: Nobody could have predicted: In a letter (appended below) sent to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and posted on the Internet today, more than 2,400 physicians, nurses and other health advocates condemn the recommendations of an Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee regarding the 'essential benefits' to be mandated under the 2010 federal health reform law."

Notes on the indefensible raid on Occupy LA - and the even more shameful media blackout.

Alan Moore on the "V"/Fawkes mask

I enjoyed the Mark Twain Google logo.

I'm chilly, let's have some of this.

17:00 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, December 2011

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