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Monday, 28 February 2011

Plunge right through that line!

Once upon a time, Congress passed - over President Truman's veto - something called the Taft-Hartley Act, which banned general strikes, wildcat strikes, and solidarity striking. It is, of course, a blatant violation of your Constitutional rights of freedom of expression and association. (And how come corporations have free speech rights if unions don't?) It is still in force, and was enforced as recently as the George W. Bush administration. Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyd had an instructive discussion on Saturday's Virtually Speaking about how Taft-Hartley hamstrung the unions and created a means to nurture corruption within their leaderships. And why isn't anyone talking about that?

The cops join the hippies: "[...] This is not a budget issue! This is a CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE! [...] Mr. Walker! [...] We know pretty well now who you work for! [applause] Let me tell you who WE work for! [points to self and police emblem] We work for all of these people! [applause] We are not here, Mr. Walker, to do your bidding! We are here to do their bidding! [...] Mr. Walker, this not your House! This is all of our House! [camera pans 360]"

Over at Forbes, Rick Unger, in "The Wisconsin Lie Exposed - Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions," quotes from David Cay Johnston's expose of that lie: "Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to 'contribute more' to their pension and health insurance plans. Accepting Gov. Walker' s assertions as fact, and failing to check, creates the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not. Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin' s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers."

As part of Mother Jones' "Plutocracy Now" issue, there are some very useful (and horrifying) charts in "It's the Inequality, Stupid".

I have nothing to add to Atrios' succinct response to Ratzinger's latest pack of lies about abortion: "Oh Shut Up: Put a sock in it, Pope."

Echidne finds another really dumb article, and notes something that has annoyed me for a long time, too. I mean, sure, it's no surprise that anti-feminists are misogynistic, but why are they such misandrists, as well?

"Perp Walk Watch: Fox News' Roger Ailes May Have Committed A Federal Crime: Oopsies...looks like ol' Roger may not be above the law after all. Authorities are reportedly considering bringing charges against Roger Ailes for advising Judith Regan to lie to federal investigators about Bernie Kerik." Also: An Arizona Republican notices the foreclosure crisis, and suddenly Republicans are voting for a liberal law.

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone: "Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world's wealth - and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people." And he talked about it some more on Democracy Now!

Trailer for ET 2.

Yep, that's about right.

On Wisconsin!

03:30 GMT

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Keep your eye on the ball

This long post from Amygdala on The New Republican Congressional Revolutionary Volunteers Of America and their attacks on workers, women, and Americans in general makes scary reading, but right at the end it endorses a national day of rallies today to Save the American Dream:

On Saturday, February 26, at noon local time, we are organizing rallies in front of every statehouse and in every major city to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. We demand an end to the attacks on worker's rights and public services across the country. We demand investment, to create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work. And we demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share.
This strikes me as a good idea even though, of course, emphasis is on what the GOP is up to, but let's not pretend the Republicans are in this alone. The Republicans didn't get where they are today without lots of help from the Democratic leadership. Dems at the state level may be acting courageously to prevent Republican legislators from doing more to wreck the states, but blaming "the Republicans" for everything, while it is what you can expect from MoveOn, is a dangerous illusion. TARP would have been dead in the water without the help of Senator Obama. The Bush tax-shift would have withered away had it not been for Obama and the Dem leadership. We might even have a decent health insurance option had Obama not worked so hard to prevent it. Don't just laugh at Republican voters who "vote against their own interests" for politicians who promise to help them and then spit in their faces when Democratic voters have been doing the same damn thing.

The Koch Brothers' End Game in Wisconsin:

1) Koch Brothers get their puppet Governor Walker in power
2) Governor Walker gins up a crisis
3) Democrats and Progressives take the bait and counter-protest on collective bargaining
4) Governor Walker will compromise on collective bargaining if the rest of the budget is passed as is
5) Bill passes, with trojan horse give-a-way to the Koch Brothers nested in
6) Koch Brothers will buy Wisconsin state-owned power plants for pennies on the dollar in closed unsolicited bids for which there will be no oversight
7) Koch Brothers get the best vertical monopoly in a generation
"'Entitlement Reform' Is a Euphemism For Letting Old People Get Sick and Die." It's, you know, one great big Death Panel.

In a free country, no employer could get away with demanding control over your free time to the extent that you could be fired for having a glass of wine with dinner, but that's increasingly part of the territory in "the land of the free". But, via Drug WarRant, here's a sign of the evil times: 'A police 'accreditation manager' (whatever that means) is revising his 'social networking policy' so that potential applicants, as part of their background investigation, must sign an affidavit listing any social networking sites (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn) they belong to and give their passwords to these sites so the department can snoop."

"Nationwide DEA Sweep Nets 541 Arrests, $11 Million in Cash; Operation 'sends a message' to drug cartels." Yes, it sends the message that we will continue to support their profits by keeping the War On (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs going.

I don't imagine there is anything exceptional in Riddle's judgment that Assange can be extradited, since the courts generally seem to get farther and farther away from protecting the accused every day - unless, of course, the accused are rich and powerful (and especially if the rich and powerful are accused of harming thousands or millions of people rather than just one or two). Of course, there is supposed to be this theory that extradition isn't permitted for things that aren't a crime in the UK (because, ho ho ho, if a free and just country like the UK has not passed laws making those things crimes, that must be because such laws would be unjust), but it would be impolite for Britain to refuse this courtesy to a chum like Sweden. What's exceptional is the idea that the international community would ever go to such lengths to capture an alleged rapist under normal circumstances. The truth is that even when the charge is uncontroversial, the authorities just don't normally seem to have much energy for this sort of thing. While his accusers may very well have a legitimate complaint, it probably wouldn't have gotten very far if he wasn't Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. People who irritate the powers that be have an amazing track record for being accused of sex crimes that can neither be proven nor disproven.

In financial news, TalkLeft reports that (a) the administration seems to have a fancy idea that banks should write-down mortgages and bear the costs themselves (and claims to be trying to make that happen), and (b) a Goldman Sachs report says the GOP's budget cuts will hurt growth. (Also: Al Jazeera in talks with Comcast to be included in cable package.)

Nice obituaries for the man we know as The Brigadier, Nicholas Courtney, from the Guardian and the Doctor Who News Page.

14:08 GMT

Friday, 25 February 2011

Teach the Controversy

Kevin Drum, Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin Is Really About:

...American politicians don't care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early '90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that's not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don't respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that's not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don't respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.
What's that all about? The decline of the unions and the loss of the progressive coalition in the Democratic Party, of course. And, of course, Kevin makes one big mistaken assumption in his story, and it's in the very first sentence of the article: "IN 2008, A LIBERAL Democrat was elected president." Well, no. Nevertheless, there is something to be learned, here, and I urge you to read the article.
* * * * *

Sam Seder interviewed Naomi Klein about Wisconsin, and also posted her TED presentation. And she sounded remarkably optimistic, because she thinks what's going on in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the pushback against the attack on unions and public employees could be injecting some leftward momentum into the public discourse, and that, since Obama is a capital-C Centrist, that means moving his center to the left. I hope she's right.

The Pruning Shears Report from Columbus, where the Ohio GOP also has launched an assault on collective bargaining.

Pro-union website blocked in Wisconsin Capitol: In a direct assault on the First Amendment, Scott Walker's administration is blocking access in the Wisconsin Capitol to opposition websites."

Some headlines from Truthout:
"White House Declares Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional" by Nadia Prupis
"Five Ways You Can Fight Citizens United" by Leonard and Allison Cook
"Look for the Union Label" by William Rivers Pitt
"The Republican War on Women" by Tom Tomorrow

I wish there was a way to ensure that only people like Mitch Daniels were prevented from finishing college and finding a career if they are busted for drugs. (via)

05:10 GMT

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Teachable moment

I am so, so glad to see someone beside me saying this, and it's Ian Welsh this time, with:

Wisconsin: teach some politicians a lesson by ending their careers

Rumblings of using Wisconsin's recall provisions to remove Republican politicians who support Walker's attempt to remove bargaining rights from unions are going around. This is an excellent idea. Destroying the political viability of some politicians, making it so they can never run for office again, making them an object lesson is the only way to make this sort of all-out attack on basic bargaining rights less likely to happen in the future.

It won't halt such efforts, though, because the Koch brothers and other multi-billionaires whose interests and ideology are served by reducing wages and taxes will continue to fund such efforts, and will make sure the ex-politicians are taken care of.

What will halt such efforts is destroying the people who are really behind them: oligarchs like the Koch brothers. And destroying them requires at least two things: an insistence that rich people actually be subject to the law, and that confiscatory levels of taxation be put back on the rich. 90% taxation on all income over 1 million dollars. Real taxation of corporations on their actual profits with measures put in place to tax all income, so it can't be hidden overseas, and equally importantly, a reinstatement of the estate tax, so that 70% of estates over 5 million are taxed away. Nothing is worse for and more damaging to both real democracy and to general prosperity than high concentrations of wealth because wealth allows a few individual to buy great power. And in terms of concentration of wealth, the worst type of wealth is inherited wealth, which creates an aristocracy of individuals who did nothing to earn their power or wealth but win the lucky sperm contest. It is beyond ironic that the Koch brothers are libertarians, given that they are parasites who inherited their money.

Please do read the rest.

Down in comments, CMike was kind enough to quote from Chomsky's Class War Speech (which, if you haven't listened to or read it, I really, really urge you to do):

[19:08] There are other devices besides globalization and straight criminality to try to beat down the "pampered western workers." One of them was actually illustrated in headlines in the papers, The Globe and the Times, two or three days ago when they said "Bonds Surge as Unemployment Rises and Growth Falls." If you read in the papers now, it's right in front - nobody conceals it...when unemployment goes up and growth goes down then the bond market surges....

[19:54] There are by now about a trillion dollars a day that circulate around in currency markets, speculating against currencies, and they're looking for low growth and low employment....

[20:28] Back in 1970 when this process began before the deregulation of currencies about 90% of the capital in international transactions was related to the real economy, it was for investment or trade, about 10% was speculation. The figures have radically changed, by 1995 it was 5% related to the real economy and 95% speculation...besides which the amounts have zoomed astronomically.

That's why 25% of the corporate recruiters at MIT now are from Wall Street. They're going after hotshot PhDs in physics and math, who don't know anything about business, but they just happen to be able to figure out clever techniques for robbing people with all sorts of complicated scams - so you can shift money around every microsecond, a couple of billion dollars to undercut currencies here and there and so on....The same thing is happening in England right now...

[21:53] It was well understood by the late 1970s that this is going to be extremely harmful to the international economy. James Tobin, who is a Yale University Nobel Prize winning economist, gave a[n]... address in which he pointed out that unless something is done to slow down these financial transactions it's gong to drive the world into a low wage and low growth and, though he didn't say it, high profit equilibrium and that's exactly what's happening.

Madison Guy was on the scene, and even took some pictures. "In his "fireside chat," Walker said he talked to workers, but he didn't talk to these workers. [...] It doesn't seem that Walker talked to these building trades workers, either. They could have told him that he is replaceable. And they could have offered a suggestion that never seems to have crossed Walker's mind -- how about, if instead of destroying the middle class to give new tax breaks to the rich, we made the rich pay a fair share of the cost of our public services. Wisconsin has been good to them. Why can't they pay their fair share? And if they did, we wouldn't have much of a budget problem."

But Scott Walker thinks taxing the rich is so bad that he pretty much made it illegal in a special state-killing session, as Dday has explained. Digby comments: "Let's go back to that wonderful metaphor employed by Republicans and the president alike: if this were a family budget, what the governor has just done is made it a rule that Dad is going to only work part time and mom isn't allowed to work at all even though the family needs to pay for housing, education and food while also servicing a large debt. Apparently, the idea of shared sacrifice only applies to the kids who have to cut back on food and school supplies because mom and dad refuse to increase the family income."

At Balloon Juice, John Cole makes short work of Bobo Brooks' latest column (and reminds me of Chomsky's definition of "Tough Love" in the speech cited above). Tim F. sees the dictator of Libya and the governor of Wisconsin reading from the same script. Doug Hill finds that what he thought was a satiric photoshop is actually from Rush Limbaugh's Brotherhood from another planet and says, "Remember, if some teatard tries to blow up a school next week, it will be a big coincidence." And that, win or lose in Wisconsin, it's a win in Indiana. And, citing Digby, dubs Jon Stewart the Hipster David Broder. And E.D. Kain has a cool little chart showing where the money really is, as opposed to where people think it is and where we want it to be.

Atrios on Our Sociopathic Overlords: "For decades I've been reading that the biggest problem facing the greatest nation in the world is that the poor and middle class just have it too damn good. I can only conclude that our fake meritocracy has elevated people to positions of power and influence whose source of pleasure comes entirely from their perceived misery of others. This is a problem."

Meanwhile, the GOP is still trying to kill women. People used to think I was a paranoid raving loony when I suggested this was how the anti-choicers rolled. Still waiting for those apologies. (But then, I have a long list.)

Gay Haldeman reports that Joe is doing better after his recent surgery.

18:24 GMT

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Dear Auntie Beeb

Re: Timothy Geithner backs George Osborne's spending cuts

I read this story and see that it is emblematic of everything I am seeing on the BBC lately with regard to policy reporting - it's as if it will have no impact on the country, it's just, oh, Stuff They Are Doing And Saying.

Why, when these people are actively destroying the western economy, the economies of both Britain and America - why is their praise for each other reported as if it's a good thing?

The problems - ALL of the problems the US and UK have right now - are a direct result of allowing money to be sucked out of the real economy. Their "remedy" is to suck more money out of the real economy and destroy infrastructure so that it cannot be rebuilt.

The real remedy, of course, would be to put more money directly into the real economy by expanding government spending at ground level - on the NHS, on public works, on the various "welfare" or "benefit" programs that go to those with lower income, and on other social services. Instead, they are finding ways to cut all of these things.

They want to "restore" the economy by starving it to death.

That's the real story. Why is it nowhere in this story, and seldom seen in other stories and features coming from the BBC?

Next time you quote the self-serving blather of people like Tim Geithner, you should balance it with a response from Robert Reich, who is actually willing to tell the truth about how the money really works and where it is going.

23:37 GMT

Your happenin' world

"On Wisconsin: 'This is too big to ignore'" - great photos and reporting from Athenae.

This week on Virtually Speaking Sundays, Stuart Zechman and Susie Madrak (stream or podcast) discussed unions, the "nominally liberal" mindset, and a lot of other things. I was surprised that a really smart and aware person like Stuart did not know that Republicans blocking judicial nominations wasn't something that started with Obama. In fact, none of these tactics of outrage and blockage started with Obama - they were a much talked about feature during the Clinton years. People like to turn this into a matter of race, but we've seen all this before. (One of the great Defense of Obama tactics from the beginning has been to pretend that all of his opposition, from both sides, is just a bunch of racism. It isn't.) On Thursday's Virtually Speaking, a somewhat under-the-weather Jay Ackroyd interviewed Supreme Court expert Dahlia Lithwick (stream/(podcast).

Truthout is having a little fundraiser right now, and you might want to take some time to send them a little help if you've got something to spare. They also have good news and bad news. The good news is that starting this year, income from stock market capital gains will now have to be reported just like earned income/wages. The bad news is that heavily-captured FCC agreed in secret meetings with Comcast to approve the merger with NBC/Universal. ("Comcast spent $100 million to get the merger approved. It hired 100 former government employees and paid $8.8 million to 30 lobbying firms to help seal the deal. It dumped a lot of cash all over Capitol Hill in the past two years. The numbers are here.") Oh, and yes, we can blame Greenspan for what's going on in Wisconsin, and the way to fix it is to tax the rich and spend some money in the real economy (like, by paying all those firefighters and teachers).

Of course, doing what's needed is not on the table - instead, they want to cut spending in the real economy, because gods forbid they should make the rich pay their way. (And, amazingly, Armando is back at Daily Kos with a group that mirrors TalkLeft, Discussing the Law.)

"U.S.-led attack killed 50 civilians, Afghans say: KABUL, Afghanistan - Coalition forces said Sunday that they were investigating allegations that more than 50 civilians were killed in a recent operation in a remote part of northeast Afghanistan."

Meanwhile, David Cameron's own brother-in-law, a physician, is saying that Cameron's bill to wreck the NHS will not, in fact, deliver the "efficiency" Cameron is touting it for. Keep Our NHS Public has more, and some video here.

Atrios said, "They're Just Bad People: I think people too much assign financial motivations to the bad things that right wingers do. Pete Peterson has spent a lot of money trying to make sure granny's in the poor house, and I highly doubt he's ever going to profit off of this venture. I'm sure the Koch brothers might make a buck here and there, but mostly they're just pursuing their agenda because they think it's right that working people know their proper place. It's conservative 'philanthropy.'" And he's right. I hate it when people try to tell me that awful things are "just because they are trying to make a buck" or "because that's what people are willing to pay for" or "what sells papers" or whatever. It's not true. People want all sorts of things they're not getting - and would be willing to pay for them. We're getting this crap because that's what they want us to have.

Celebrating Rupert Giles.

03:33 GMT

Sunday, 20 February 2011

We need the teamwork to make the dream work

Last week Sam Seder interviewed Juan Cole on Ring of Fire. On Thursdays Majority Report, he talked about Robert Reich's article, "Why We Should Raise Taxes On The Super-Rich And Lower Them On The Middle Class: My proposal to raise the marginal tax to 70 percent on incomes over $15 million, to 60 percent on incomes between $5 million and $15 million, and to 50 percent on incomes between $500,000 and $5 million, has generated considerable debate. Some progressives think it's pie-in-the-sky." Of course, that's lower than it was under Eisenhower - and we aren't going to make any headway unless we start talking about all of the many reasons to start taxing those people again, only one of which is that it raises revenue for the programs we need. The more important reasons, which Reich doesn't mention, are that (a) allowing the rich to hoard their wealth sucks money out of the economy, which no healthy economy can afford, and that (b) no one should be allowed to get so rich they can buy the government and sell it out. Reich did a decent job of cutting through a lot of the stupid arguments against campaigning to raise the top marginal rate. The best one, of course, is that Americans want it.

Sammy also interviewed Jesse Russell, who has been blogging from Madison about the union protests and actions. An update from Chris Bowers (via) says Dems are fighting back, there, by walking out of the state senate to deny a quorum. "State police are searching for the Democratic Senators, but local news says the Dems left the state. As such, Wisconsin state police no longer have jurisdiction. A standoff has begun." And Greg Sargent reported: "I just got off the phone with Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson, one of the Democrats who has left the capitol in order to stall the GOP's plan to roll back the bargaining rights of public employees. Speaking to me by cell phone from an undisclosed location, Larson said he and his fellow Democrats would not return until the GOP takes its assault on organizing rights 'off the table.'")

First Draft has been covering Wisconsin with fervor, and boy did Joe Klein piss Athenae off! (Thanks, ql!)

Of course, as always, the right-wing has its own version of events, so it's best to be prepared. This really matters.

Forbes: "Koch Brothers Behind Wisconsin Effort To Kill Public Unions [,,,] You really have to wonder how long it will take for Tea Party devotees to realize just how badly they are being used." (via) (TBogg: "You will notice I didn't call him a Nazi. The Nazi's were much more transparent about their motives...")

Marcy Wheeler reports that Angelo Mozilo, criminal CEO of Countrywide, will not be charged, because, "If you commit massive amounts of fraud by yourself, even George Bush's DOJ will indict you; but if everyone in an industry conspires to commit the same kind of fraud, Barack Obama's DOJ won't charge anyone."

One brave Democrat in Congress stands up; now, if only we had a president.

David Dayen describes the "grand bargain", and, frankly, I think we should be talking about how both the Dem and GOP budget proposals should be opposed, full stop, They both want to destroy what's left of the economy.

Redress of grievances: "Sometimes the hypocrisy is just overwhelming. So, it probably shouldn't surprise us that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would deliver a speech hailing the peaceful protests that changed Egypt while 71-year-old Ray McGovern was roughed up and dragged away for standing quietly in protest of her support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Mark Steel: "One of the joys of Mubarak's demise was watching his Western backers figure out what they were supposed to say. So the US line was: 'It's not our place to intervene in a country run by a dictator we've armed and financed for 30 years.' But the best efforts came from Tony Blair, who didn't bother with diplomatic nonsense and said: 'Mubarak has been a courageous man, a force for good. Where you stand on him depends on whether you've worked with him from the outside or the inside.' And I'm sure that's true. If you were tortured by him you never got to see his kindly side. The trouble with those victims is they go on and on about electrodes on their nuts and never judge his wider geo-political influence. It's just me me me with some people isn't it?"

What? You mean you can't believe everything a guy called "Curveball" makes up?

Dennis Hartley reviews the long-suppressed, and possibly "most riveting courtroom drama that will hit theaters this year" - a documentary of the Nuremberg trails.

More reasons why you should always correct the record, whenever you can.

"I Was a 'Prolife' Republican... Until I Fell in Love: [...] Because while I said it was about the babies, it wasn't. It was about slut-shaming."

Your moment of steampunk fashion photography.

We did it before, let's do it again. Make it happen!

16:52 GMT

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Too much news

As I mentioned below, Reagan's success in winning and keeping the office of the presidency owed a great deal to a fawning press that pretended that saying, "There you go again," was some sort of brilliant zinger, and spent eight years dismissing and ignoring the Alzheimer's Reagan plainly evidenced (on camera) in his very first months in office.

And that was an early warning of a process we have come to recognize from, among other things, the Bush/Cheney Iraq Lie campaign, of critics pointing out the obvious and being silenced and derided - until the facts are officially recognized and suddenly that isn't worth discussing, either. Compare and contrast the treatment of the rumors about Reagan's Alzhiemer's and Bill Clinton's "slickness" - the latter of which turned out to be false, though it generated an impeachment hearing - as well as Bill Clinton's sluttiness, which may have been true but was hardly as frightening as the prospect that the president of the United States had symptoms of Alzheimer's that were visible to the public even in his most carefully controlled public appearances.

From the moment Reagan was elected in 1980, all criticism of him, his policies, and especially his mental incompetence were off the table. Everything Reagan did seemed to be wonderful, majestic. And until that moment, most of us who were journalists or had an interest in journalism were unaware of just how much the news-sorting process had turned into a way to protect a specific species of powerful people. But when a respected journalist was attacked and derided for asking Reagan about a report that was on his desk that morning and thereby allowed the nation to see that Reagan couldn't even remember what he'd seen by lunchtime, it was obvious to all of us.

(Back when Air America Radio was still worth listening to, Al Franken used to have as a regular guest on his show an old friend of his who was a right-winger, and he used to try to get him to explain his attitudes and fealty to Rush Limbaugh. Many listeners complained about wasting air-time with this guy, but I was curious about it, too. It was presented as a sort of conversion process, something that happened and thus turned an otherwise sensible person into a dittohead. And, eventually, Al asked him point blank and his friend said it was the revelation that Bill Clinton really was a slut, after Limbaugh had been making the charge for some time and the media had not satisfyingly explored that likelihood. Unfortunately, having gotten this far, Al stopped, rather than asking, "Why does that even matter?" But to him, it had been the perfect example of how the "liberal" media is biased against appropriate criticism of "liberals" - and proof that only Rush Limbaugh was willing to tell the truth. I wish I could have been there to do the follow-up questions, and especially to ask, "So what was it when the media spent eight years covering up the fact that the president of the United States had Alzheimer's?)

So, the press was actually pretty awful way back then. As a working journalist, knew it was understood in the newsroom that there were certain viewpoints our paper just wasn't going to publish (in the particular case, the fact that the anti-pornography falsehoods that were getting so much press in those days were, actually, falsehoods). It had nothing to do with whether it would grab as many eyeballs as the opposing viewpoint got, even whether it would be an important story - it just wasn't going to happen. But even I was surprised by what I saw coming out of The New York Times and The Washington Post in the 1990s, when they simply went on the rampage against Clinton. Of course, I'd forgotten what happened to the last Democratic president when he had the temerity to suggest that we could develop energy alternatives to oil.

But at least in those days the full venting of spleen was seldom permitted and almost never directed at ordinary citizens who were just doing their jobs the best way they could. Hatred was not openly fomented against teachers, public servants, and an entire generation. And then we got Limbaugh, and worse, we got what Harold Meyerson described last month this way:

Amid the recent hubbub over the violent and paranoid rhetoric that stems from much of the American right, one name has been conspicuously absent. We've heard a great deal about Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly - the usual suspects. We've heard very little about the man who employs many of them for his financial and political gain: Rupert Murdoch.


Yet the stuff his company feeds mass audiences is the most sustained and coordinated dose of right-wing propaganda this country has ever seen. Father Coughlin, Joe McCarthy, George Wallace and their ilk were freelancers, much as Limbaugh is today. The choir at Fox News, by contrast, sings from Murdoch's hymnal. Their mission, promoted by Fox News president and former Richard Nixon aide Roger Ailes, is to advance right-wing causes and Republicans.

Not to mention vigorous hatred of liberals and anything associated with liberalism.

Fox News, after all, went to court to defend their right to lie to the public. This is the same corporation on whose behalf our government changed the law simply to allow its massive incursion into our media markets.

And I agree with DCblogger that it's a fine thing that Spocko confronted Murdoch himself rather than wasting time on Palin and Beck. (Spocko spoke to Susie Madrak at length on the subject of media action on Virtually Speaking Susie (podcast) - worth a listen).

But: Never forget that not only isn't the problem just Beck and O'Reilly and Palin, but it isn't even just Murdoch. Our "liberal" media has been doing this for so long that the entire Democratic leadership believes the lie that "the country" just doesn't like liberalism very much.

* * * * *

A friend sends an IM:
switched over to Boehner's thoughts on the budget process
and you know, he could pretty much tell Obama that middle america would be desperately offended in their jesus-bone if he doesn't shove chicken feathers up his ass and make warthog noises
and Obama would do it with a fuck you, hippies sign hung around his neck
I mean, granted, I imagine he would be punishing the rotting corpse of his mom with a much smaller figleaf if he had to
so hey, why not

* * * * *

Sam Seder has had a great week so far on The Majority Report, interviewing both Dan Froomkin and Glenn Greenwald Monday, and William Greider on Tuesday. (And I am not surprised to see right-wingers again proposing to cut the Women, Infant, and Child nutrition program, but let's be real: There is no attempt to save money here. WIC saves us lots of money. The cost of cutting WIC is significant even if you don't count all the dead and maimed babies.)

Mother Jones, "South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers: A bill under consideration in the Mount Rushmore State would make preventing harm to a fetus a 'justifiable homicide' in many cases." (Much more linked here from various people who were not left in a state of inarticulate apoplexy (like I am). Remember when, if you actually called the anti-choice people on what they were doing, they would deny it? Well, they don't deny it anymore, they trumpet it.)

The assault on a newswoman in Egypt has generated a range of reactions, but some were getting right under the low bar..

Russ Feingold is starting an organization to fight corporate influence in politics.

"Philly homeowner forecloses on Wells Fargo" - and wins, but there is still no action on his original complaint, which is infuriating enough that Wells Fargo's entire executive and management should be dragged off to jail in chains. These people are far more dangerous to the country than Al Qaeda ever was.

Obama awards Medal of Freedom to anti-freedom criminal.

Budget picture

Rotten apples: "So as part of a new trade deal with the U.S., Canadians will be stripped of their own regulatory standards so they don't 'inhibit' U.S. manufacturers who have to meet Canada's higher standards." (Also, the Tea Party sells out, and a modest proposal from Paul Begala: Defund Kentucky.)

The unions are fighting back in Wisconsin, and the state ordered state troopers to act against them illegally and against their own protests.

"Well, there's two sides to every story, or to quote a less banal maxim, history is written by the winners. That's the philosophy behind The Last Ringbearer, a novel set during and after the end of the War of the Ring (the climactic battle at the end of "The Lord of the Rings") and told from the point of view of the losers." Well, there's more to it than that.

Here's a neat few minutes of steampunk video (HD) called "Eye of the Storm."

21:22 GMT

Monday, 14 February 2011 ♥

♥ Light reading ♥

Bonnie is a good photographer, so she made a cute little movie, appropriate to the day.

"Blockbuster Decision: MERS Does Not Comply with Law In a tour de force of dicta, a Long Island bankruptcy judge telegraphed the intention to rule against MERS in a whole bunch of pending motions."

"Sherrod Sues Breitbart For Damaged Reputation: Blogger Andrew Breitbart has been sued by former U.S. Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod who contends her reputation was damaged by Breitbart's posting last year of an edited video. "

Dept of One Party Rule: Bob Herbert, "When Democracy Weakens"
Paul Campos, "Single-wing Politics"
Thers: "'m truly glad that the American Experiment has achieved this, in its third century of existence: a happy harmony between amoral plutocrats as the Sane Center, and vicious Randian crack-addled morons as the Plausible Alternative."

The Bobblespeak Translations:
This Week with Christiane Amanpour: "whoa 'people power' overthrew a 30-year dictator in Egypt so of course we will talk to Newt Gingrich."

I guess rumors that Matt Stoller is going to MSNBC are not exaggerated. He's shutting down Open Left. Via Daisy's Dead Air, where Daisy also has a few thoughts about weird anti-transgender arguments. (Which, she doesn't say, come from the same people who daily uphold the gender binary by insisting that men are violent and women are more nurturing and etc.)

Speaking of which, this study doesn't even begin to be meaningful until they do the same one on both sexes, but until then it will make an amusing entry in the Men Are Thugs, Women Have Superpowers conversation.

18:52 GMT

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Like a smoke-ring day when the wind blows

It's really worthwhile to listen to the stream or podcast of Saturday's Virtually Speaking Liberally: What We Believe with Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman, in which Stuart discusses the "end" of the DLC announced last week, and then provides the history of where this odious organization and its philosophy and agenda came from and why, far from being dead, they have actually taken over the entire Democratic Party and the country in their "New Democrat" disguise. Short version: These idiots think the nation permanently rejected liberalism when they failed to unseat Ronald Reagan, a beloved movie star (who the press assiduously fawned-over, coddled and defended), in favor of Walter Mondale, a comparatively dour and not terribly charismatic Democrat (who the press decided to hate), in 1984. (And we are idiots for not sharing this analysis.) Therefore, as a strictly partisan strategy to "save" the Democratic Party from such embarrassing losses in the future, liberalism had to be rejected and liberals had to be marginalized in the Democratic Party (and everywhere else). They would put enough gloss on it to make it seem like they were different from the right-wing, and they would call themselves something else. And they might even have convinced themselves of it. (But, having eliminated the real liberal spectrum and joined the right-wing on their rampage against the New Deal, regardless of what they may call themselves, what does that really make them?)

I'm also really looking forward to tonight's Virtually Speaking Sundays with Sam Seder and Joan McCarter (McJoan) in the new, later time slot at 6:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 PM EST.

The Atlas Shrugged trailer packs in quite a bit of right-wing thought, including familiar themes of how greed is good, how the personal ambitions of one or two people should trump all other considerations, and how those people, and only those people, deserve all the rewards of the work done by the many to make them rich. People who want to restrain power that tramples the common people and the body politic are, of course, the bad guys. I can tell, because one of them used to be the principle at Sunnydale High. (It's kind of amazing how that little trailer ran me through the whole gamut of emotions I used to get while accidentally finding The Fountainhead on my TV when flipping through the channels.) Via Digby.

Of course, Rand's good guys look a little different in real life, where their achievements are won not by creativity and hard work but by undermining, exploiting, and outright theft of the creativity and hard work of others. And then, when someone fights back, by threatening their families.

We need to stop ideas like this, which unfortunately they can get away with because of the massive disinformation campaign that has made people forget how much they get from the government.

"Former Bush-Cheney National Spokesman Thinks Muslims Are Incapable Of Democracy: 'This Is The Middle East'" Well, actually, no one is capable of democracy when a bunch of rich, powerful creeps make sure that the will of the people is thwarted. As we have seen, so much closer to home. But "the Middle East" is more used to that than we are, because rich, powerful American creeps were doing that to them before they decided to do it to us as well.

My own opinion on Egypt tracks pretty much with my opinion on most everything, which is that all peoples want the essential freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, wherever those people are, and that those in power will do whatever they can to secure or improve their own power. If anything threatens to change the playing field, those in power will first try to keep their grip on the power they have and, if possible, exploit any changes as opportunities to secure more power. Whether the people of Egypt can withstand the inevitable assaults on their will to freedom from multiple sources is something yet to be seen, but I fear for them as much as I hope for their success. As is the case for our own western so-called democracies. It's like Natasha says:

How To Help Egypt, For Americans


If we, Americans, would rattle the bars of our own cages, if we would insist that our freeloading billionaires start paying for the fine business climate, security protections, roads and educated workers they enjoy here, I think that would help the people of Egypt. If we, Americans, would stand to protect each other's interests so that the wealthy couldn't pay us enough to turn us against each other, I think that would help the people of Egypt. If we, Americans, would sharply limit our country's exports of both pollution and Mephistophelean misanthropes high as kites on their own unspeakable power, I think that would help the people of Egypt.

That would put fear in the heart of every dictator and plutocrat in the world. That would tell people everywhere who long to be free that, yes, we are with you, we get it. We're in this sh*t together and, sweet Jeebus, we want out too.

Anyway, if there's anything we can do to help, I think that would be it. Because sure as anything, no one wants us to ride to their rescue on a desert camo armored personnel carrier wrapped in a fugue of righteous helpfulness.

Remember when Tim DeChristopher saved our land from oil companies by bidding it up at a government auction? Well, they are getting their revenge by using the courts to bludgeon him with the threat of ten years in prison and a $75K fine. DeChristopher says: "We were making the case for selective prosecution before the indictment because we had substantial evidence that the oil industry had played a strong role. One of my attorneys got a call from an AP reporter before I was informed what the charges against me were. The journalist told my attorney, these are going to be the charges. The reporter got that information from an oil industry lobbyist. So before I knew or my attorneys knew, the oil industry knew. Why did they know before my attorneys knew? And then, there were 25 people in the last 3 years that have won leases without being able to pay for them, who had a profit motive, and none of them have been prosecuted. It seems that they are coming down particularly hard on me." Why, yes, it does.

This is so WaPo.

RIP: Melissa Mia Hall: "And then we learned the truth which turned out to be far worse, far more humbling, than our conjecture. Melissa died because she couldn't afford to see a doctor." This will happen - to strangers, to our friends and family, and to ourselves - every day that we don't have a single-payer health care system. (Thanks to DRL for calling this sad news to my attention.)

Braised Cthulhu

Always did love this song.

16:05 GMT

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Muddy waters

Adam Serwer asks:

Anyway, I don't get it. Conservatives have spent the last two years espousing the links between "caliphate-promoters and the American left." Why turn on Beck? Because he's just doing it wrong?
To which Atrios replies:
Elite Republicans like their lunatics, including lunatic elite Republicans, to be well-mannered and to wear nice suits. It makes it more difficult for people to notice that the dangerous gibberish they're spouting is in fact dangerous gibberish.
Which is, of course, true, but they also like their lunatics to be out there where people can see them. There are a couple of reasons for this, but one is that they make the Republican leadership and "conservative intellectuals" look a bit better by comparison, even though there really isn't a dime's worth of difference between them. Because the overt crazies make it seem like the GOP leaders are somewhat nearer "the center", even though they are equally on the raging right-wing fringe.

But I think there's also a deeper game here, and it explains why the entire media - not just the Murdoch and Moonie media - stays so focused on the right-wing crazies. It's the circus that deflects attention from what's really going on while everyone is playing games like "Beck is crazy" and "Look - Sarah Palin!" Well, yes, they've pretty much consistently done that sort of thing for the last 20 years, but I mean going even deeper than that, to why it is so consistent - enough that even some of our best liberal, independent bloggers just can't seem to pull their eyes away sometimes. Somebody out there wants us to keep watching the clown show for an even bigger reason.

I've touched on this before, but I don't think people really get how tricky the game really is. If you listen to a lot of the things Limbaugh and Rush and even Palin say, they always carry enough of a grain of truth with them to make them compelling to their audience even while they also carry enough crazy to make it easy for everyone from Katarina to Dancin' Dave to even Bill Kristol to point at them and say they are going overboard.

People are hurting and our economy is tanking and the White House keeps telling us how things are fine even though all the rest of us can see that they are not. And though they blame it all on Obama as if Bush and the GOP leadership had nothing to do with it, the fact is that Obama and the Dems spent two years in charge and absolutely refusing to do what Americans wanted them to do. And what Americans want them to do is get out of stupid wars (not just change the names from "combat troops" to something else), give them a better health care system (not just pass something called a health care bill), protect Social Security benefits (not just the existence of some program that still retains the name "Social Security"), and, yes, tax the rich a lot more than they tax people who actually have to work for a living. What Americans certainly didn't want them to do was protect cut-throat loan sharks who are stealing their money and their homes, and protect anti-American transnational corporations who are stealing their time and money and exporting their jobs.

And what has Obama chosen to do? What has Obama chosen to whip the Democrats into doing? Ask yourself who it was, exactly, who thought it would be a great idea to get Markos Moulitsas to go on TV and threaten to primary Dennis Kucinich, of all people, for trying to stand up for a the public option.

So Limbaugh and Beck aren't exactly wrong when they suggest that Obama is trying to wreck our way of life - because he is.

(Well, okay, maybe he doesn't realize that's what he's trying to do. Maybe he really does believe all that Reaganist crap he spouts, but it's as plain as the nose on my face that Reagan is the guy who put this train-wreck into high gear, and can he really be stupid enough not to have noticed? Did he hang out with the Chicago boys all that time without understanding what their underlying theory of elitism is? He's gotta know he's destroying our way of life.)

So I see a more important problem in the charade of having people like Bill Kristol or whoever this week's "serious" conservative/centrist is point to the Becks and Palins and Limbaughs and say this right-wing whacko or that one is over the top.

And that problem is that they are taking a lot of liberal/left criticism of Obama and wrapping it up in right-wing crazy, so that all criticism of Obama gets wrapped up with crazy. Anyone who suggests that the Obama administration doesn't have the best interests of the American people at heart (which it doesn't) must be one of those crazy birther types who believe the Caliphate is a scimitar pointed at the heart of Brownsville.

But a funny thing just happened in Congress: The Tea Party freshman seem to have joined up with the Congressional left (Dennis!) to defend the Constitution. Which suggests that maybe this bunch really does want to be on the right side, as soon as they can figure out where it is.

* * * * *

Katherine Gallagher from the Center for Constitutional Rights talked to Sam Seder yesterday about how the indictment they filed stopped Bush from going to Switzerland.

Now here's an interesting thing: "The protests in Egypt have sparked an appetite for news among American TV viewers, with the evening news programmes getting their biggest viewing audiences for years. The latest TV ratings from Nielsen reveals that NBC's Nightly News had its biggest weekly average audience in six years last week. NBC's news anchor Brian Williams presented the programme from Cairo for NBC's top-rated newscast. ABC and CBS also reported the best news ratings for a number of years." But plenty of people are following Al Jazeera live on the internet, too, because it's just better. (And here's a good question: Why is Obama supporting Suleiman, and why isn't "the left" outraged?) (Also: Chris Hedges on recognizing the language of tyranny.)

Chris Hayes went to Davos and saw a bunch of rich people sitting around whining about how downtrodden they are, I guess, and told Reuters he was seeing fractal inequality in action. (Here's more, on fractal inequality's effect on access to medicinal care, if you want to play with the idea.) Chris also talked to Sam Seder about his holiday with the rich last week.

* Everybody wants to legalize medical marijuana, so why isn't it happening?
* Bipartisan support for murdering women,
* The mother of all HAMP nightmares

Apparently, you'll soon be able to watch Keith Olbermann on his new show here

Earl Kemp, brave man that he is, has published his issue on Harlan Eliison at the efanzines site, called Dangerous Visionaries, with reminiscences from a lot of people, such as Mike Moorecock, Richard Lupoff, and, interestingly, John-Henri Holberg's story of a memorable time spent with Harlan, including the time Harlan met another friend of his, Stieg Larsson.

Google had a neat little toy for their logo the other day celebrating Jules Vernes' birthday.

15:00 GMT

Monday, 07 February 2011

On the Infobahn

Obama reminds me more and more of Bush every day. I was surprised last week when Jay Ackroyd said out loud exactly what I have been thinking about watching Obama grope around on the economy - that it was like watching Bush going, "Those weapons of mass destruction gotta be somewhere!" Yep, and prosperity is just around the corner, well, maybe the next corner, or the one after that, if only we can sacrifice the futures of just a few more Americans. Which, I suppose, is why the White House puts out press releases called things like "Obama Administration Celebrates Black History by Winning the Future."

Thom Hartmann's take: "We've Strayed from the Declaration of Independence."

And now we have Claire MacCaskill jumping on the bandwagon to make budget cuts the only priority of the United States of America. Idiot. (via)

"How they really think about you [...] When people need help, you have to justify doing it. When big corporations need help, you have to justify not doing it. Because that is how they think of you: You are just not that important."

Watching Candy and Alan Simpson dreck it up really made me want to shout, "What do you mean 'we', white man?" They are the people who made the decisions that have been strangling our economy, but when they talk about the problems facing America (not the real problems, of course, just "deficits"), it's "we" who actually do the work and pay the taxes who are at fault for wanting what we've worked and paid for. (Also: "To What Degree do Modern Day Conservatives Want to Undo Johnson's Great Society?")

Check out the feed from the Onion News Network for this week's top stories. (via)

Jay has posted a better recording of the David Cay Johnstone interview that doesn't sound like Jay is under water. I know the stream works, and I hope this is the replacement .mp3 podcast. You may also want to check out Jay's post on Regulation and Freedom as an introduction to the discussion.

This is interesting. A bunch of right-wingers are siding with Mubarak, and Bill Kristol calls them out for supporting the dictator.

AOL buys The Huffington Post. I find it hard to cheer for media mergers, personally. (via)

This is real copyright theft: "In the new Macmillan contract is clause 6. (b) Copyright on Derivative Works. To state bluntly, this clause gives the Publisher the right to create 'derivative works' based on the work they are buying from the author. And to add insult to injury, the publisher owns the copyright to any of these 'new works.'" (via) Oh, and while I'm there, check out the increasingly desperate lengths some people will stretch to avoid admitting that science fiction is science fiction.)

RIP Charles H. Kaman, inventor of the Ovation guitar. Oh, and something to do with helicopters, too.


16:13 GMT

Friday, 04 February 2011

Watching the shell game

The regular Thursday Virtually Speaking featured David Cay Johnston (podcast). I'll warn you in advance that Jay's connection was horrible, but Johnston's was clear and it's worth listening to him, he's pissed at how we're being ripped off, and he provides a lot of interesting background and detail.

I keep forgetting to mention that Sammy talked to both Thom Hartmann and Wendell Potter on last Friday's Majority Report. (I confess that I liked Chris Rosen a lot better before he became "MovieLine's Chris Rosen".) On this week's Thursday show, Sammy also talked to Will Bunch about the Reagan myths and also about his new book.

What was five times more important than the Wall Street theft-and-crash?

Atrios: "People trying to defund Planned Parenthood want women to be punished if they have sex. Punished with babies, diseases, and potentially death. That's all it's about." (Also: I'm thinking that any organization that stands even a remote chance of being in the right-wing's gun sights should have its own video cameras running, just in case we need to see the full tape. Again.) (But: Somerby noticed a funny thing about the way two stings were covered on the leftish side of the media recently - Bloomberg's gun show sting (Maddow) and the Planned Parenthood sting by an anti-choice group (various).)

Caro: "Rather than whine and wring our hands that CNN gave Michele Bachmann time to rebut both the SOTU and the Republicans' answer, we should have been beating down their doors to give real progressives, real populists, real We the People folks, the same amount of time they gave her."

CMike quotes Chomsky in comments below:

...The core of it is the state sector.... What's MIT? When Eisenhower was making his speech, MIT was working hard, just like Harvard, with government research funds to reduce computers from massive creatures that filled all of these office spaces to something small enough so you could sell it to a company as a mainframe....

When Alan Greenspan talks about it, it's the marvels of entrepreneurial initiative and consumer choice, which was approximately zero throughout the costly and risky period of development.

The same is true of the Internet. It was in the public system for thirty years.

We're supposed to be excited about trade and how wonderful it is. Maybe it is or maybe it isn't, but trade is based on containers, which were developed at public cost in the U.S. Navy.

Dave Noble [shows] an important part of the economy, basically, computer-controlled machine tools, which were designed - not as a technological imperative but for doctrinal reasons...[was] a way of deskilling machinists and placing more authority in the hands of managers. The technology didn't have to be used that way. It could have been used the opposite way...

This has little to do with military industry.... You take a look at the ARPA and DARPA reports before and after....The first part talks about possible military applications, which mostly are imaginary...: Here's what we're doing. It's the economy of the future.

...If you walk around MIT today...you see small biotech companies, spin-offs of government-sponsored research in what will be the cutting edge of the economy, namely, biology-based industries. If you went around forty years ago... you would have seen small electronics firms...

In part, yes, it's military. But a main function of the military, or the National Institutes of Health, or the rest of the federal system, is to provide some device to socialize costs, get the public to pay the costs, to take the risks. Ultimately, if anything comes out, you put it into private pockets....

You have to say it's to defend ourselves against Grenada or Russia or Guatemala or somebody....Why not tell them the truth?...

You might argue that these were good decisions, like it's nice to have computers. But that's not really the point. The point is, who should make those decisions? Suppose you would ask people in the 1950s...you would try to get an informed public to decide, do you want computers twenty-five years from now, or do you want health services now and schools today and jobs today and a livable environment for your children? What's your choice?

From commenter Montag:

On the foreclosure business, I'll bet a steak dinner to a doughnut that the banks pulling this HAMP scam are also getting federal money in the form of fees to administer HAMP on behalf of the government, and since there were few federal guidelines about how the banks were to administer the program, the banks have been making up the rules as they go along, and are still charging the government for participating.

There is a growing body of evidence showing that the servicers for the major banks are using HAMP to generate foreclosures and pump up profits through fees, as the linked article suggests.

This is a variation on the theme first offered by Andrew Mellon (not only a friend to the banksters, but a bankster himself): "It is during depressions that assets return to their rightful owners." And we all know who the fuck he thought were the rightful owners.

The banksters think that's their mandate--control the assets--even if they have to resort to outright fraud and theft to accomplish that end. Through the magic of fractional reserve banking, they create money out of thin air with which people buy tangible assets, and then the banks' servicers take those assets back, with the assistance of a government program that they themselves administer and make the rules.

That may be a rather reductive way of looking at it, but, damn, short and sweet, that's a con game.

15:20 GMT

Wednesday, 02 February 2011

Uno Mundo

I really would like you to listen to what Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyd said Saturday on What We Believe about Obama's State of the Union speech and full-throated embrace of Tom Friedman's flat-world ideology.(podcast)

Dean Baker notes that the new morality says that Debts Should be Honored, Except When the Money Is Owed to Working People. (via)

At Davos, they're talking about "Shared Norms For A New Reality [...] Surprise, surprise. The solution to the problems caused by free market capitalism is more free market capitalism. Brave New Reality demands that we live within our means, i.e., we must cut social spending and impose austerity measures, and avoid an 'excessively rule-based' system that stifles initiative and inhibits growth, i.e., we must deregulate businesses and lower taxes." So, out-and-out theft is okay, as long as the victims are you and me.

You know, I was quite prepared to accept that there could be good constitutional arguments for declaring the health insurance bill unconstitutional, but it appears Judge Vinson didn't think reference to any part of the Constitution being violated was necessary to such a decision.

From the press release from Anonymous after five people are arrested in Britain for taking part in denial of service actions against anti-WikiLeaks sites: "It is clear then, that arresting somebody for taking part in a DDoS attack is exactly like arresting somebody for attending a peaceful demonstration in their hometown. Anonymous believes this right to peacefully protest is one of the fundamental pillars of any democracy and should not be restricted in any way. Moreover, we have noted that similar attacks have also been carried out against Wikileaks itself, yet so far, nobody has been arrested in connection with these attacks, nor are there even any signs of an investigation into this issue at all. Yet, we know exactly who was responsible for that attack. Anonymous believes it is unfair and hypocritical to attempt to put these 5 arrested anons to trial without even attempting to find those who DDoS'ed a website which you oppose. We can therefore only assume that these arrests are politically motivated, and were being carried out under pressure from the US government. Anonymous can not, and will not, stand idle while this injustice is being done." (.pdf) Via TalkLeft.

"How Servicer Junk Fees Push Borrowers into Foreclosure" - It's not the people who bought homes they couldn't afford who are being hit these days, it's the ones who played by the rules, because the banks are doing things that were once, quite rightly, illegal.

Apparently, the "professional left" is interfering with the Democratic leadership's desire to sell out to the highest bidders. For some reason, we need to have it explained to us that we should all shut up. (Also: I'm pretty sure at this point that Obama is just a con-man, but there are two flavors involved. Both would be lying about supporting anything even remotely progressive while intending to pass Reaganite policies, of course. But one would be doing that because he believes in the conservative project to impoverish the American public, and the other would be one who is actually dumb enough to believe the Reagan myths.)

This Week in Tyranny: "For me, the real takeaway was that there is - on what is probably considered a left-leaning and politically knowledgeable blog community - a surprising tolerance for police state tactics. I was gratified to see well articulated rebuttals, but disheartened that they needed to be made in the first place. Maybe it's simple tribalism, and folks are rallying to the defense of the leaders they voted for, maybe it's genuine conviction. I used to think objecting to the erosion of civil liberties and human rights in America was just a matter of getting the word out: that if enough people got a clear enough idea of the indecency that was being done in our name, there would be such a hue and cry that it would immediately be shut down. I don't think that anymore."

When you don't save money by "saving money" on health care. And, of course, it's two worlds.

John Caruso on how America supports democratic elections, in Egypt and elsewhere.

An iconic image for the week

Watching this was a bit scary.

Buffalo Springfield

16:02 GMT

Tuesday, 01 February 2011

Compare and contrast

Chicago Dyke and I did Virtually Speaking Sundays this week. You can listen to the stream at that link, or download the podcast here. I'm told I sounded like I was talking through a cardboard tube.

Watching the television and the front pages of Our Newspapers of record, you'd hardly know how much diversity you can find even in a single newspaper. Of course, by now those of us who actually dig further into the paper are used to the fact that some excellent reporting and major scoops can be found buried in the later pages, hidden behind the crackpot right-wingers in the editorial section and the unconscionable news decisions of Fred Hiatt and Bill Keller (winner of the Best False Equivalency Ever award from A Tiny Revolution - which also reports on the sins of a father, visited upon the son.) Of course, this means when there's something really good coming out of the NYT or the WaPo (and there often is), most people won't even hear about it. I certainly hadn't known about The New York Times' Disunion blog, which is, according to Tristero, "a daily retelling of the Civil War 150 years later." A retelling that makes clear that the great treason in defense of slavery really was about slavery. Alas, people who still read the paper on paper won't be picking that up off of their doorstep.

Egypt shuts down Al Jazeera, but "An Al Jazeera spokesman said that the company would continue its strong coverage regardless." (Egypt probably wants people to be less aware of little things like their apparent use of agents provocateur to justify crackdowns. They say they are getting more and more reports of looting. More worryingly, one group of looters who were captured by citizens in the upmarket Cairo district of Heliopolis turned out to have ID cards identifying them as members of the regime security forces." (via))

In the present circumstances, it's always wise to think about ways you will communicate when they take away the internet. (We've even still got a couple of Gestetners around the place here.) But when Egypt started blocking net service Friday, Anonymous reverted to sending Mass-Faxes of WikiLeaks Cables To Egypt. Meanwhile, it's Egypt, Egypt, everywhere as more and more people decide to express their displeasure with governments that are trying to destroy our lives.

In other WikiLeaks news, Steve Kroft, interviewing Assange on 60 Minutes, says to him, "You are screwing with the forces of nature." Really. Oh, and it turns out Karl Rove has advised Swedish Prime Minister Fredric Reinfeldt for the past two years.

It can only be good news that conservo-whacko Martin Peretz is no longer running The New Republic. Also: Ayn Rand, welfare queen (via). (Oh, wait, I see - it's a thing!)

The Mythification of the Looting Elite - turns out they are just smarter than you, harder working, and they do nothing but good in the world. Fancy that! Must be true, it's in The Economist. Oh, wait, I've been laughing at that rag since I moved here.

The Sodomized Virgin Exception Part II - Digby on the clever new Republican plan to redefine rape to make it even harder to get an abortion. More from Echidne. (Also, it turns out that passive-aggressive attempted murder is not a crime. And repressive Middle-Eastern religious nuts, and a planned terrorist attack in America and other attacks on our country.) And a further Sex-Obsessed Republicans round-up from Brilliant Jill (whose co-blogger Bob wonders if the US will also pull The Kill Switch).

The idea that volunteerism can replace the public sector is ridiculous on its face, yet our "leaders" keep trying to pretend we can do just that if we all pitch in - you know, with all those extra resources of time, education, and money (and more time) that we've got lying around unused. Philip Pullman is a bit outraged by the idea that trained librarians, for example, can simply be replaced by random volunteers. (And just after I typed that, I refreshed Making Light and saw that Abi Sutherland liked Pullman's response, too.)

More cops who just don't care what the law is if it might stop them from being creeps.

"Why You Can Now Kiss Organic Beef, Dairy and Many Vegetables Goodbye: The USDA ruled that farmers are now free to plant GE alfalfa, and USDA won't even keep track of who plants it where. The implications are huge." Monsanto wins again! (via)

It would be nice to think Tony Blair would have to be held accountable for his crimes.

Little did Susie know when making up her SOTU Bingo card what Obama's most important word. would be.

"This Is Our Capricorn One Moment"

Ken McLeod on writing a democratic dystopia.



02:33 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, February 2011

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Is the media in denial?
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And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.

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