Archive for July 2010Main
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Early readers of this blog may recall that I've spent a lot of time looking at the issues raised by discrepancies in the election results we saw in 2000 and 2004 (e.g. here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and with growing alarm, here and here.). And that I keep trying to tell people that this is important, for a number of reasons, including the fact that if you don't know who won those two elections, you cannot properly analyze the political terrain around succeeding elections.
For example, there is a great deal of fantasy that it was Ralph Nader who cost Gore the election - a foolish evaluation in light of the fact that many times the number of votes Nader received simply disappeared in an instant from Gore's recorded totals in Volusia County. That didn't happen because a few thousand people voted for Nader, it happened because Jeb Bush was making sure that his brother didn't lose.
I'm not talking about the tiny number of votes by which, according to the NORC count as reported by The New York Times, Gore really won the election. I'm talking about many thousands of votes that were flipped, eliminated, or simply not reported throughout Florida because of deliberately tweaked machines that were programmed to undercount Gore votes and in at least one case that we know of reprogrammed mid-election night to delete at least 16,000 votes in a single Florida county - and that isn't counting the other states (including Tennessee) where quite a few curious events seem to have depressed Democratic votes.
The truth is that it never mattered how many people voted for Nader, because the GOP machine in Florida was going to make sure that Gore's votes always appeared to be fewer than Bush's. And the conservative machine going all the way up to the Supreme Court stood ready to make sure that Bush was installed in the White House. The fact is that if conservatives decide it's time for their people to win, their people are going to win unless the rest of us work very hard and with great vigilance and diligence to prevent it from happening. We haven't. We waited for Al Gore or Jesse Jackson to tell us to do something in Florida instead of getting out there and refusing to accept what was going on. Leading progressive bloggers actually banned discussion of the astonishing numbers in 2004 (despite the fact that far fewer people voted for Nader and yet Bush still "won"). And we pissed our chance away in the last election because we got distracted by the shiny object that is currently in the White House, and we will keep right on doing it unless we stop being scared off by Nader Derangement Syndrome.
It's time to stop quivering in our boots over the possibility that if we start fighting back for real we will elect someone slightly more right-wing than the current crop of right-wingers leading the Democratic Party. There is no substantive difference between Bush's policies, McCain's stated policies, and the Democratic leadership's actual policies, so you might as well step up and admit that, you know, just because you're on their side doesn't mean they're on your side.*
Kunstler: "This compressive deflationary collapse is not the kind of cyclical "downturn" that we are familiar with during the two-hundred-year-long adventure with industrial expansion - that is, the kind of cyclical downturn caused by the usual exhalations of markets attempting to adjust the flows of supply and demand. This is a structural implosion of markets that have been functionally destroyed by pervasive fraud and swindling in the absence of real productive activity." We really are screwed, you know. Permanently.
Apparently, if one more person clicks on that ad to the right and buys a 2L4O T-shirt and tells them I sent them, I win a prize or something. And for those who prefer to be called "left" rather than "liberal", you can now choose a Too Left for Obama T-Shirt.
Gary Lewis & The Playboys
It must be utterly without redeeming social importance
Jay Ackroyd and Watertiger were pretty good on Virtually Speaking last night, you should give it a listen.
I see via Atrios that Megan McArdle has set her inaccuracy filters on Elizabeth Warren, but fortunately I don't have to link to her to get a little debunking out of it.
At Netroots Nation, Obama sent a surprise video full of hope and change. Just reading the write-up made me want to slap his face, so I didn't watch it.
(And, personally, I think the Democrats just invented this woman to make Harry Reid look good.)
Of course, if you really want to solve serious racial problems in America, it wouldn't hurt to look at the area that has had a devastating effect not just on people of color and the black community, but our entire legal structure: The War on (Some classes of people who use some) Drugs. Like this case, for instance. But it's amazing how many people just want you to forget the issue. Or we get such "reasoning" as that marijuana is dangerous to users because it "contains bacteria and fungi that put users at risk for infection." I mean, seriously. And you might even be surprised at some of the people who are prepared to defend the administration's lack of interest in reversing the odious Drug War policies that have done so much harm.
Krugman notes that Karl Rove is all ready to rehabilitate Bush in the same way the GOP earlier did with Reagan. And, you know, it works - why, a couple of years ago both Krugman and I were observing that the wonderful things Obama believed about Reagan were utterly false. Now the GOP wants us to believe that the economy was really great because of Bush's policies.
Susie thinks Bernie Sanders is a bit late when he says, "While the middle class disappears and poverty increases the wealthiest people in our country are not only doing extremely well, they are using their wealth and political power to protect and expand their very privileged status at the expense of everyone else. The United States must not become an oligarchy in which a handful of wealthy and powerful families control the destiny of our nation." Um, yes, they already do. That's what you can expect when you stop having confiscatory taxes at the top margin - you let them get rich enough to buy off the government.
Meanwhile, also from Susie on Consumer Protection and Chocolate Salty Balls: "Geithner and Bernanke et al have constructed a large and fragile house of cards that rests on the notion that we will all pretend that the banking system is fine - until it actually is fine, and then it'll all be fine! In other [words,] for Warren to do this job as she sees fit, she'd have to acknowledge the financial instability of the banks, and they're not going to stand for it. Nope. In other words, they're doubling down on the strategy that's destroyed our economy."
Once upon a time, Woody Allen stood in for Carson as a guest host on The Tonight Show.
Since I treasure every item in my collection, it kind of hurts to look at them, but still, an interesting time for old vinyl. (I liked a few of these photos, though.)
Laura Flanders interviews Sam Seder, and Sammy has a clip from FDL of Chris Hayes on strategic mortgage defaults and how rich people are doing most of the defaulting, but Congress wants to stop only the non-rich from being able to do that. And the non-rich really need to.
The way things used to be - Civil rights and the family of Shirley Sherrod.
Someone finally posted The Insect Trust on YouTube.
Chip and Harlan, honored again.
Sing a long with Tom Lehrer.
Keep your eye on the ball
Sammy calls BS on Race War. (And Thers is good on this, too.)
But, of course, this whole race war thing is distracting us from something a bit more important.
Bruce Dixon: "From the established civil rights organizations like the NAACP to legions of elected Democrats and preachers and even people like our good friends at Color of Change, the main activity these days is an endless circling of wagons around the president, defending him against the flood of racist bile that spews daily from the likes of Fox News, the Tea Partyers and naysaying Republicans. But is that really where so much of our energy and creativity should be going?" Glenn Ford: "For the corporate media, which virtually invented the Tea Party, the NAACP's resolution demanding that the various Tea Party outfits disassociate themselves from racists, was the big news of the NAACP convention. [...] But, in the case of the Tea Party, my question is this: at what point will Black folks be able to say, We beat them? Will it be when the Tea Partyers go back to using racial code words instead of loud and rowdy redneck-talk? Is that all it would take to arrange a truce with racists, that they be more polite about it?"
The real war, as Glenn Ford notes, is much bigger than the Teabaggers: "Before Barack Obama had even taken the oath of office, in January of 2009, he promised to put all of the so-called "entitlement" programs "on the table," for cutting. There was no reason to doubt that Obama really planned to go after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and other programs despised by the rich. After all, he had just been elected to a four-year term in a landslide and was, therefore, as secure as any politician can be. Obama was telling everyone who cared to listen that he was would certainly not stand in the way of gutting what's left of the American social safety net. Rather, Obama was telling Big Business that he agreed with them, that the poor and the elderly were sucking up too much of the nation's wealth, and there must be a day of reckoning. [...] In April of this year, Obama once again reminded everyone that everything is and has always been "on the table," as far as he's concerned, including Social Security. His so-called "deficit commission" is stacked with rich sociopaths sharpening their knives to carve up, sell off or otherwise doom Social Security. It is a battle that safety net defenders thought they had won against George Bush. Barack Obama has picked up Bush's marbles and put them back into play. He is the right wing's most potent weapon, the one before which liberal Democrats throw up their hands in surrender without the dignity of a fight. Obama, working in plain sight over the past 18 months, has constructed and rigged a deficit commission to render a kind of death sentence to the foundational program of Roosevelt's New Deal."
Steve Clemons warns Shirley Sherrod to kick the tires of the fancy new job Vilsack is offering, because it probably comes with less real power to be effective than the job she had before.
Not only are we ruled by idiots who don't listen, but we actually know it.
You know, I really don't want to hear how there's no money in newspapers anymore. It's always been a business with a high profit margin and it still is, so stfu, you whining crybabies.
A death in the family - In Georgia there's a stretch of Interstate 285, from I-20 to the Cobb County line, named in honor of Billy McKinney, an activist who later served in the state legislature and never stopped standing up for the people. On July 19th, his daughter Cynthia spoke at his funeral about his courage and love.
You know, I expected at least one of you to say this made you laugh out loud.
Too little, too late, and the lurking smirk at the top
CNN actually has a fairly clean recounting of the debacle in their story about Vilsack's apology to Shirley Sherrod after she was forced to resign (including the fact that Breitbart's "correction" isn't much of a correction). Only problem is that it looks like it was the White House that really wanted to force her out without bothering to investigate first.He spoke to Sherrod earlier Wednesday and said he asked for her forgiveness, which she gave. Vilsack also said he offered Sherrod another job in the department, and she was taking a few days to think about it.Which is fair enough, although perhaps simply tearing up the resignation and then letting her decide would have been a better move. And, of course, none of the excuses being made for incredibly bad behavior of the administration, including Vilsack, rise much above The Dog Ate My Homework. You simply don't destroy the long career of a formerly anonymous employee without even investigating a charge that came from a known fabricator of libelous attacks on black people who are merely trying to do a good job of helping Americans.
Vilsack noted that "with all that she has seen, endured and accomplished, it would be invaluable to have her experience, commitment and record of service at U.S.D.A.," adding, "I hope she considers staying with the department."
And no points to the NAACP for jumping on the bandwagon without knowing what was going on, either. If they haven't noticed by now that the right-wing is in all out war mode against anyone who shows the least sensitivity to racism, they aren't exactly helping their own cause, are they?
The only appropriate response to any of this stuff has always been, "We'd like to find out what actually happened before we comment on any charges that come from people who are, of course, trying to destroy civil rights in America."
For example, no one who has any regard for civil rights goes out of their way to "expose" ACORN. Anything in that vein should have automatically spurred resistance from every part of the civil liberties community. And after that outrage, anything Breitbart had to say needed to be taken with a barrel of salt. "Let's see, a known right-wing operative who is in the habit of racist fabrications is trying to gin up fears of 'reverse-racism'. I wonder what could cause that?" That's how you treat this kind of bullshit if you have any brains.
Which, of course, leads us to the question of just what kind of brains are operating in the White House. Why is the administration in such a hurry to treat these things that deserve nothing but derision with such seriousness? What is it about Obama that nothing seems to fit in his comfort zone like screwing decent people?
It's clouds' illusions I recall
Charles Pierce was Bob McChesney's guest on his NPR show Sunday, talking about Charlie's book Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, and you can hear the stream or download the .mp3. (You also might want to listen to the archived show where McChesny's guest was Howard Zinn.)
Krugman: "The best way for Mr. Obama to have avoided an electoral setback this fall would have been enacting a stimulus that matched the scale of the economic crisis. Obviously, he didn't do that. Maybe he couldn't have passed an adequate-sized plan, but the fact is that he didn't even try." Krugman wants to say the Republican strategy of obstruction is working, but that would only be the case if Obama and the Democratic leadership had made the case for something worth obstructing and whipped their own caucus to support such policies. They didn't; in fact, they agreed with Republican arguments and whipped the Democratic caucus to kill any more liberal approaches.
White House announces it's open season on government employees: "But I also have to wonder if they know what the optics of this are. If two-bit sociopathic wingnuts can scare them to this extent with obviously doctored videos, what happens when they see a real threat? Are they going to flap their arms like penguins and run around in circles screaming "they're coming to get us, run for your lives!!?" At this point, that doesn't seem entirely ridiculous." (Details at Mother Jones.)
It is always good to take any opportunity to debunk zombie lies about Social Security: "No, life expectancy at age 65 has not changed all that much, and those changes were anticipated. No, the beneficiary/taxpayer ratio is not an important issue. No, you can't do better investing the money in private sector funds (and people wouldn't do it anyway. 25-year-olds do not save 15% of their gross for retirement)."
You won't believe how bad Megan McArdle is at simple arithmetic. But it's not just that she can't do the math, but that she hasn't the imagination to see that dividing stimulus money up by every single person in the country is not the most efficient way to use $75bn. Of course, that's what we expect from people who think that allowing extremely rich people to skip out on their obligations to society is a worthier cause than creating millions of jobs and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. Normally I wouldn't link to a McArdle article at all, but most of her commenters are a lot smarter than she is and let her know the virtues of, among other things, having a calculator. (Not that you need a calculator when you are working with big round numbers like that - what you need is the ability to count the number of zeroes that go into your figures. She went for "none".) (via)
This Week in Tyranny, there's still plenty of lawlessness, unaccountability, violation of civil liberties, and lies in general, and if you think you see any light at the end of the tunnel it is probably an oncoming train. So, no change there, then.
The former head of MI-5 says the invasion of Iraq increased terrorism: "Giving evidence to the Iraq inquiry, Baroness Manningham-Buller said the action 'radicalised' a generation of young people, including UK citizens. As a result, she said she was not 'surprised' that UK nationals were involved in the 7/7 bombings in London. She said she believed the intelligence on Iraq's threat was not 'substantial enough' to justify the action."
As Anna observed to me, Tom Tomorrow is still spot-on, but it's a lot harder to laugh.
Noctilucent clouds are so high they glow in the dark. The pictures are pretty, but they might be telling us something more. (via)
David vs. the Christian Volunteer
What will you lend on an old golden rule?
Via Atrios, who reminds us that food stamps are actually very good stimulus, this horrifying nugget from David Obey: "We were told we have to offset every damn dime of [new teacher spending]. Well, it ain't easy to find offsets, and with all due respect to the administration their first suggestion for offsets was to cut food stamps." Note: He is not talking about the Republican leadership, he's talking about the White House. Those monsters who want to take food out of people's mouths aren't just Republicans.
Goldman Sachs gets the hand-slap.
The White House is apparently delusional, but they know who to blame. Don't blame me, you jerks, you ran around telling everyone you were going to change things and you just did more of the same. Nobody cares if you are bipartisan or post-partisan or whatever you call it. No one cares if you reach across the aisle, no one cares if you are "modern", no one cares about deficits. People care about whether they can get decent jobs and feed their kids and afford doctors' bills. If you want to stop bleeding money, stop spending it on wars and start spending it on feeding the real economy. You betrayed the people who voted for you, and you think they are disappointed because of bloggers? Who the hell do you think bloggers are? They're American citizens who are sick of being played and betrayed.
As we've all noticed, the prevailing wisdom in the news media is that everything bad or dangerous or reckless or foolhardy is liberal. Obama, for example, is "far left", what with his corporatist love of banksters and allergy to job-creation. No wonder no one even knows what it means.
Digby says we may have someone making the case that it's time for the security state to tighten its belt, in the form of a Dana Priest and William Arkin feature in the WaPo on the Top Secret hidden branch of government. Digby posts an internal National Intelligence Memo anticipating the feature and suggesting a PR campaign will be necessary to counteract the "unfavorable light" the feature is likely to cast on their institution of a police state. She says, "I will be very interested to see what this turns up. I don't know if it includes Homeland Security, but if it doesn't I suspect another investigation should be done there. This gravy train has taken on sacred status as the right has managed to morph the "support the troops" mantra into a "support the Military Industrial Complex," which is just another way of maintaining the police welfare state for connected white guys. If there's belt tightening to be done, this is the place to start." Atrios: "I knew someone who went back to school after the military-industry complex (aerospace mostly) in Southern California dried up a bit. He always joked that it was 'welfare for rich white people.' The secondary point of the WaPo story is that the intelligence-industrial complex has largely set up shop in the DC area, and it's sucking away all of our precious bodily fluids to make everybody in it RICH RICH RICH, or at least more comfortable than many in the Great Recession." And here: "Whatever the initial thoughts behind any of this stuff, it's a tremendous waste of money and resources which, as I said below, can't possibly, in the net, be useful. It serves to transfer money and power to elites while cementing the existence of a giant and extremely opaque patronage system. One with surveillance capabilities." When I was a child they used to frighten us about the evil commies by telling us that the USSR did all the things we are doing now. Ironically, they did not tell us that at least the Soviet police state provided job and a roof over your head if you kept your mouth shut. We're doing all the bad stuff without even making sure you are housed. They call that "freedom".
Elizabeth Warren on the state of play.
Last night's Virtually Speaking Sundays episode with Cliff Schecter and Stuart Zechman, on the news, who these idiots are, and what the hell they are doing. (podcast)
A good year for rich people to die.
Congratulations to Roy and Julia for a great job and the recognition.
David Cameron getting ready to slash and burn the NHS.
The Sign of Things That Have Already Come. If we don't help each other, we will certainly fall.
Stand-up comics in their first Tonight Show appearances.
Armor for cats and mice
Threatening cloud; electrical storm.
Cilla Black at Abbey Road, 1965
Here comes that train-wreck
Sucking the oxygen out of the room and then wondering why no one can breathe: The only thing I know about Dylan Ratigan is this amazing moment in which my fantasy comes true - someone on TV telling the truth, even confronting one of the "respectable" people who wants to force us to eat catfood and calling his right-wing talking points a lie. Of course, it's just one clip from MSNBC, but oh, man, that was gratifying to watch. "Congratulations, and thank you for nothing." Whooo!
Chris Hayes: "Perhaps the most egregious aspect of the selling of the Iraq War was its false pretext. It never really was about weapons of mass destruction, as Paul Wolfowitz admitted. WMDs were just "what everyone could agree on." So it is with deficits. Conservatives and their neoliberal allies don't really care about deficits; they care about austerity - about gutting the welfare state and redistributing wealth upward. That's the objective. Deficits are just what they can all agree on, the WMDs of this manufactured crisis. Senator John Kyl of Arizona, speaking on Fox, has come out and admitted as much. All new spending increases must be offset, he said, but "you should never have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans." So there you have it." And not just there; it's a total system failure.
Axelrod is saying Elizabeth Warren is definitely a candidate to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but you and I both know that no one in the administration wants her there, especially Tim Geithner, who Obama has appointed to make that decision. I think Axelrod is just there for cover, so that still-in-denial progressives will waste time thinking there's a chance for her and pushing her, and then at the last minute Geithner and Obama will show the Villagers how cool they are by spitting in the dirty hippies' faces. Because that's exactly how they have done everything else all along, and there is no reason to think they will suddenly change course. I hope I'm wrong; I suppose it's possible. But I know that they are not here to restore American government, they are here to take it away. Bstrds.
I see from comments that even fairly astute observers have not cottoned on yet that the term "neo-liberal" (or "neoliberal") has nothing to do with liberalism and is in fact a "modernized" term for disguising a thoroughly right-wing economic agenda. CMike helpfully provides your signposts: "Broadly speaking, neo-liberalism seeks to transfer control of the economy from public to the private sector, under the belief that it will produce a more efficient government and improve the economic health of the nation. The definitive statement of the concrete policies advocated by neoliberalism is often taken to be John Williamson's "Washington Consensus", a list of policy proposals that appeared to have gained consensus approval among the Washington-based international economic organizations (like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank)" In other words, they want to reneg on America's obligation to its people and give all our resources to a small number of rich and powerful creeps.
In American war, we only see some of the faces. In real war, the story is a little different. We used to see more of that story, but those days are gone.
I wonder if Netroots Nation will actually ask Reid and Pelosi any meaningful questions. I don't expect to hear any meaningful answers, although it's possible they will trip up and say what they are really thinking. I expect, however, that this is all just a sop to try to lull a few progs into thinking these people are not determined to sell us all out.
Wolcott has a neat bit slamming Laura Ingraham and the hacks who treat her like she is worth paying attention to, but he also says that he has lost patience and taken HuffPo off his blogroll, reminding me that I still had it on mine, and though I will probably still look at it sometimes, I don't think it needs to take up valuable real estate there, either.
In UK news, The courts recently made an interesting decision against The Times in a defamation case, apparently saying that online news stories that suggest someone is a suspect in a crime should be updated to reflect that the person was cleared. The Times had argued that "the Reynolds responsible journalism defence" protected them, but. "The court also rejected The Times's appeal against the judge's finding that web publication of the same story was not protected by Reynolds privilege after the date when the newspaper knew Det Sgt Flood had been cleared by an investigation because it failed either to take the story down or add a note making clear that the situation had changed since the original publication." Lord Neuberger said, "The nature of the information contained in the allegations is of considerable public concern in that it involves police corruption, but the weight to be given to that point is very severely reduced by the fact that the information is contained in the allegations, which, as the journalists knew, were largely unchecked and unsupported." My friend Mark Stephens disagrees with the decision, but to me it looks awfully like newspapers are having their hands slapped for printing material that is little more than gossip without verification, and I can't help but concur. However, I think there's a difference between a major newspaper like The Times, which can afford to label and revisit articles in its archives and, moreover, ought to be more careful about implying more than they know. SwanTurton Solicitors have a different view of Reynolds from Mark's: "The recent deployment by The Times of the Reynolds defence in defending the claim against it by Detective Sergeant Flood well illustrates the chilling effect that this defence has on both truth and justice. It also illustrates the practical consequences of any defence which transfers the risk of publishing false and defamatory material from the multi-nationals who do so for profit to the individuals who are the subject of those publications, such as innocent serving police officers." Having watched newspapers destroy lives based on what turned out to be utterly false allegations, it's hard to take issue with that view.
A Ford sedan up your ass
That title being one of the many suggestions from Tuli Kupferberg's book 1001 Ways to Beat the Draft. Okay, I didn't expect him to live much longer, but still, I'm sad, and I'll continue to treasure the little things he sent me. Tuli was raunchy and funny and playful, and so people often forget that he was also a kind man who wished us peace. Farewell, Tuli.
And farewell to Harvey Pekar, who surprised many of us when we saw that first copy of American Splendor and couldn't stop reading.
I'm tempted to quote the whole first paragraph of Alterman's article on Kabuki Democracy, but I'll settle for the last bit: "Indeed, if one examines the gamut of legislation passed and executive orders issued that relate to the promises made by candidate Obama, one can only wince at the slightly hyperbolic joke made by late night comedian Jimmy Fallon, who quipped that the president's goal appeared to be to 'finally deliver on the campaign promises made by John McCain.'" I'd have said, "laugh bitterly at the painfully accurate joke made by Jimmy Fallon," but I think Alterman gives Obama too much credit. While I agree that the right wing has a formidable media machine, that Bush and Cheney did devastating damage to our government, and that undoing that damage was always going to be hard going, much of it would not have been impossible if we had elected a liberal president. But the simple fact is that Obama really always was and is what is now sometimes called a "neoliberal" and used to just be called right-wing. The fact that he doesn't appear to have foam-at-the-mouth right-wing "social policies" (and watch out for the elasticity of that phrase), doesn't change things: Someone who spouts Reaganite economic rhetoric and appears to believe in the attendant policies, whatever his reasons, is not interested in restoring the American form of government. (Oh, and by the way, let's stop letting people get away with pretending to be "socially liberal but economically conservative". An economic liberal is someone who wants the economic environment to be one in which private individuals can have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That includes blacks, gays, women, and, yes, even people who don't share your religion. Right-wing economics quickly forecloses on individual freedom. That's why right-wingers hate liberal economic policies. It has nothing to do with "efficiency" or fiscal "responsibility" or anything else. This should be obvious to anyone who has noticed how utterly profligate and inefficient conservative economic policies are at everything except sucking the blood out of the real economy. While it is possible that Obama has so far been too stupid to notice this, there is no reason to believe that he will notice it and realize it is a bad thing if he is re-elected - another thing Eric is more certain of than I am.)
When a corporation damages your property, well, that's your responsibility. I realize right-wingers like to pretend that protecting private property is important, but they don't really mean "private property", they mean the property of the rich and powerful.
Some people still believe the fiction that the Chamber of Commerce is pro-business. But to be genuinely pro-business, you have to promote an environment that supports smaller, local businesses and promising new businesses, and they don't. In fact, they do the reverse: They support the stranglehold of giganti-business.
"House Democrats: Nancy Pelosi Tricked Us: Nancy Pelosi tricked her own caucus into voting for a bunch of crap they did not know about, and now she's running some bullshit campaign to blame the Republicans for wanting to do the very thing her own deception made possible: cut Social Security benefits. [...] She's turning into Tom DeLay in a skirt."
At The Washington Post, a funny thing happened on the way to "balanced" reporting - they treat a Wall Street equity strategist as a disinterested party but Paul Krugman as someone with an axe to grind.
It's funny, the Fed's brief is to maximize employment in the United States, but they seem to think they have some other job, and they are pretty happy with the current "pace toward 'maximum employment" even though it seems to be going in reverse direction. (I will say I am delighted to know there is a blog called Economists for Firing Larry Summers.)
Federal Court shoots down FCC "indecency" policy. Good.
Ethics waivers for golf. Of course, because that's more important than whether you can feed your kids or get medical treatment.
Only 529 donors? Can we stop talking about this woman now? I'm sure more people want Bernie Sanders to be president than would vote for Sarah Palin.
I refuse to link to a Fox story that a "study" by a right-wing "research" group found that the votes of convicted felons may have helped elect Al Franken, but I will note that only two states permanently remove the right of convicted felons to vote, and Minnesota is not one of them.
It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to have to paint it
Sara Robinson says we are losing the fight because we've let the right-wing steal our words, and now we need new ones. But I don't want new ones - I want to ditch words that now stink of rhetoric and replace them with plain language of the sort people actually use. I want metaphors and similes that people can grasp instantly. I want things brought down to the level that people actually live with. Like, for example, simple flyers that you can stick through doors and pass out at church that say things like,You worked hard and played by the rules, and now people in expensive suits who sat in offices recklessly gambling with other people's money want to stop you from being able to retire.Or something like that.
They exported jobs to other countries and made it harder to start new businesses to create new jobs. They slashed government spending to the point where even schools are closing. They failed to honor contracts that said they would put money into your pension fund, and now there is no pension fund. And now they want your unemployment insurance so they can gamble that away, too.
They say you need to tighten your belt to pay for their mistakes.
Well, why should you?
You paid for insurance to protect you from this. Demand what you paid for.
Social Security: You paid for it. We have the money. You earned it. You deserve it. And they don't.
RJ Eskow: "The War For Financial Independence: Calls to Surrender: There's a new conventional wisdom forming in Washington, DC this July 4th, one that transcends party lines and the usual classifications of "left" and "right" as they're understood in that city. It's only being recognized now, because it deals with a number of different economic issues, but the underlying theme is the same: The American dream of financial independence and security is gone. The sooner you accept that and raise the white flag the easier it will be, so stop struggling. They're saying the ideal of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is dead. Deal with it." Another way of putting it, of course, is that the Revolutionary War is over, and we lost to the Tories.
It's funny, I've known all my life that high income inequality leads to macroeconomic crisis, and Krugman himself is still working it out. But surely it's obvious that if you squeeze the rest of the population, the lazy rich people who think that financial "innovation" is the only kind that's interesting are not going to be the people who invest in creating an environment where real innovation can flourish. The truth is that since economic "conservatives" have taken over running our economy, there hasn't been any real innovation at all. And that stands to reason, since this environment is one in which the ordinary people who do things for themselves and do the real work - and are therefore the most likely to be inspired to real innovation - are simply not in a position to put their ideas into practice, to bring them forward. The very rich do not like real innovation because it destabilizes their order, it makes change possible - change that could weaken their position, or make the behavior of the masses less predictable. They like us to be predictable. But now, here we are, in a situation where we have allowed a few people to amass most of our nation's wealth and refuse to spread it around where it can do some good, and, well, bad things happen to unequal people. But of course, the remedy, we are told, is to apply leeches to stem the blood loss, and if you haven't stopped losing blood, bleed you some more.
Dan at Pruning Shears: "I started 'This week in Tyranny' as a leftover link roundup from my Thursday posts with the point of documenting our slide towards a police state culture. Sometimes I feel self-conscious about the title, maybe thinking it's a little too hyperbolic (and God knows the teabaggers have been gleefully hurling it around for the last year and a half for entirely different, specious, reasons), but stuff like this truly is indicative of an authoritarian environment where dissent is stifled. If that's not tyrannical I don't know what is. (Oh, and also see the almost comically creepily-titled Perfect Citizen program.)"
Joe Bageant on Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball. (Thanks to Helga.)
Bruce Schneier says, "The Threat of Cyberwar Has Been Grossly Exaggerated."
Stop-motion graffiti animation: "Big Bang Big Boom"
Couldn't get away too soon
Bra of the Week
Unusual Handbag Designs
Other uses for food.
Photomanipulations by Cindy Grundsten
Planck Microwave Milky Way.
Someday I hope to hear Paul Krugman examine the question of why our elite movers and shakers and babblers believe things that are so obviously untrue. Nobody cares about deficits. If they cared about them, they would have cared about them just as vigorously during the previous decade when Bush was spending like a drunken sailor. They only care about them when there is a threat that public money will be used to actually serve the public - then, all of a sudden, they are the soul of frugality. What do you think causes that? (More on that from Atrios.) I mean, they really believe stupid, stupid things, or at least purport to. Maybe they have to, so they can sleep at night, secure in the knowledge that if their policies are destroying the lives of tens of millions of people, it's just not their fault. It can't be helped. Sorry. And yet, even some conservatives are beginning to notice. (Also: Krugman says the real-time debate between Hayek and Keynes is "A spectacular find", which it is.)
Health "insurance": The right to spend three hours arguing with your insurance company over a percentage of one (1) penny while you are being treated for leukemia. Isn't that how you define "freedom"?
In comments to the previous post, CMike tries to work out which presidents really had the worst unemployment records.
All those lazy, something-for-nothing loan-defaulters? They're rich people.
The Democratic leadership is determined to ignore the thing that really matters, and they apparently think they can win by bragging about their crap policy "wins" and pointing at the scary Republicans: "As it happens, though, Republicans are considerably more energized; noting the 'enthusiasm gap' Steve Benen warned: 'The awakening next January will likely be a rude one - intractable gridlock, endless and pointless investigations, and a progressive policy agenda brought to an immediate halt. Hell, presidential impeachment might even find itself on the table.' Such dire warnings seem to be part of the messaging about what might happen if the GOP gets control of the House or the Senate. The problem is, 'be afraid, be very very afraid' is not terribly motivating. Republicans spent two election cycles warning voters about Nancy Pelosi bringing her San Francisco values to the heartland, and it did not work out too well for them. More importantly, it ignores the elephant in the room." (And I'm amused that Steve thinks the progressive policy agenda hasn't already been brought to a halt. Anyone who thinks jobs aren't important is not interested in any kind of progressive policy agenda, unless you mean the progressive immiseration of the populace.)
A considerable part of the graft and corruption in Afghanistan can be blamed on graft and corruption in America that allowed corporations to stiff people they make contracts with, at every level. At home, your promise of a pension plan is a fantasy, your promise of health coverage is a fantasy, and so on. In Afghanistan, the promise to pay a local company for services rendered is also a fantasy. The fish rots from the head, in other words.
It's Illegal to Be Homeless Near DisnyWorld.
It is extremely important to the right-wing to go after crimes that didn't happen. More here. And then there's this flashback.
The G20 was an arrest orgy, and CathiefromCanada has been tracking the stories. (via)
Really, the only explanation I can find for this is that the entire Democratic leadership are actually stealth Republicans. Or they are just more stupid than I can credit.
I thought I'd posted a link to Kindra Arnesen's GulfEmergency testimony, but I suppose it might have been a victim of the recent tech hassles. And anyway, it's at Shakesville with a helpful summary, here.
One way the rich can control you is to make communication too expensive for the people who have the most to tell us. Like, for example, cutting off phone service for Elizabitchez. Because The Red Queen foolishly spent her money on food. Maybe you could help her out.
The Young Rascals (before they stopped being Young).
Good-bye means nothing when it's all for show
Atrios keeps hammering this point over and over, and I keep remembering that Republicans attacked Carter for the fact that we had an unemployment spike in the Carter years that supposedly "proved" that runaway capitalism is oh, so much better than, say, the unemployment problems of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Britain. I have heard this refrain repeated even today, and I remember that even while Margaret Thatcher was vastly decreasing the number of jobs available to Brits with her conservative policies, this kind of thing was being said. And then I remember that in neither of these cases was unemployment as bad as it is now in the United States. And it's this bad because we continue to have leaders who are firm believers in Reagan/Thatcherism.
Also from Atrios, who points out that the foreclosure crisis is not a thing of the past: "The big myth is the crisis was "averted" because the financial system was "saved." The reality is that they saved the banksters, but left the unemployment and foreclosures crises in place." Barry Ritholtz: "However, Banks were not allowed to suffer the fate that all insolvent businesses are supposed to. This was a terrible error, the greatest financial tragedy of the 21st century. That they were allowed to survive mostly intact is the result of the excess influence they have on a corruptible congress and a misguided Federal Reserve." (Thanks, as is so often the case, to CMike for pointing out that those two posts go together.)
Glennzilla on Rules of America's rule of law: "I hope those rules are clear because, as this all shows, Justice is Blind and We're All Equal Before the Law. In America -- clearly -- these are not mere slogans. WikiLeaks said today, and I agree, that "if the charges against Manning are true, he will be the Daniel Ellsberg of our times." Ellsberg himself has said the same. Perhaps Manning should have tortured people or criminally eavesdropped on Americans as he leaked these documents; then he could have availed himself of that sweet Presidential protective shield. As was true for Ellsberg, the issue isn't that Manning is being prosecuted; the issue is the extreme disparities in how such decisions are made and what that reveals about the objectives and priorities of those responsible for these decisions."
Glennzilla on Adventures in media transparency: "The eagerness of journalists to find new ways to conceal, rather than expose, the secrets of the powerful seems boundless." Meanwhile, in the BP/Government police state, those journalists who do try to expose the incompetence and illegality of what's going on in the gulf face an astonishing extra-legal force. Or, as ql phrased it: "It's now official. Reporters and photographers going pretty much anywhere BP doesn't want them can face criminal charges and/or fines of up to $40,000. While the big news corporations may be willing to bring it to court, this new rule will certainly stifle smaller, independent news outfits that don't have deep pockets. So much for that freedom of the press thingy." Of course, the big news corporations don't look all that much like they are eager to bring it to court, either. As Glenn says, "The very idea that government officials are acting as agents of BP (of all companies) in what clearly seem to be unconstitutional acts to intimidate and impede the media is infuriating. Obviously, the U.S. Government and BP share the same interest -- preventing the public from knowing the magnitude of the spill and the inadequacy of the clean-up efforts -- but this creepy police state behavior is intolerable. In this latest case, the journalists were not even focused on the spill itself, but on BP's other potentially reckless behavior with other refineries, and yet there are DHS agents and local police officials acting as BP's personal muscle to detain, interrogate, and threaten a photographer. BP's destructive conduct, and the government's complicity, have slowly faded from public attention, and there clearly seem to be multiple levels of law enforcement devoted to keeping it that way, no matter how plainly illegal their tactics are. After all, there is a price to pay for being politically incorrect.
In fact, The Washington Post has been so vapid, so conservative, so politically correct, that this is right on the mark.
Dr. John, "Black Gold".
Southern Beale in comments recommends Frederick Kaufman's piece in Harper's on The food bubble: How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it, and at her own blog has another Liberal Media Fail, NPR Edition.
And with all of this, apparently the only thing our government is interested in doing is making sure you don't survive the fallout. Even Ringo has a better answer.
Helen Caldicott talking to Pat Buchanan et al. those many years ago, Part 1 and Part 2. I can't even imagine a conversation like this today on television.
So I opened a link at the Torygraph to a page that said, "Your Freedom: Nick Clegg calls on public to help repeal bad laws," and had a big empty white page under it. I chuckled a bit before I opened a different browser so I could see what was really there. I note that the three categories of laws are: Restoring civil liberties, Repealing unnecessary laws, and Cutting business and third sector regulations. Of course, I could spend many days telling them what to get rid of in the first two categories (nearly everything that's been passed since Thatcher was elected), but in that final category, I'd be more interested not in what regulations we should cut, but which ones we need to restore and enforce.
Meanwhile, I somehow doubt that the people involved in the New Threats to Freedom project would agree with me that billionaires are a bigger threat than anything on their list.
Don't Sleep In The Subway
More fun with words and pictures
Michael Moore was a guest for a long interview on Democracy Now!, where Amy Goodman mostly just let him talk, and he reminded us of how things were on the day he collected his Academy Award. (Should be archived here when it's posted.)
CMike says this is the clip from the Kagan confirmation hearings that is worth watching. I actually think I like Al Franken better as a Senator than as a comedian.
I've always been able to choose whether to go to google.com or google.co.uk, but when Anna told me I gotta see the 4th of July logo (which obviously was not playing at google.co.uk), google.com redirected me to google.co.uk. Apparently, you needed to use a proxy server to see it from outside the US. Thankfully, some kind soul posted it on YouTube.
Ken Silverstein brings you a taste of Kevin Baker's Barack Hoover Obama: "The comparison is not meant to be flippant. It has nothing to do with the received image of Hoover, the dour, round-collared, gerbil-cheeked technocrat who looked on with indifference while the country went to pieces. To understand how dire our situation is now it is necessary to remember that when he was elected president in 1928, Herbert Hoover was widely considered the most capable public figure in the country. Hoover - like Obama - was almost certainly someone gifted with more intelligence, a better education, and a greater range of life experience than FDR. And Hoover, through the first three years of the Depression, was also the man who comprehended better than anyone else what was happening and what needed to be done. And yet he failed. [...] It is impossible not to wish desperately for his success as he tries to grapple with all that confronts him: a worldwide depression, catastrophic climate change, an unjust and inadequate health-care system, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the ongoing disgrace of Guantanamo, a floundering education system. Obama's failure would be unthinkable. And yet the best indications now are that he will fail, because he will be unable - indeed he will refuse - to seize the radical moment at hand."
The White House is pretending we're seeing the green shoots of a labor recovery, but that's bollocks: "652,000 left the work force this month. Only 82,000 private sector jobs added. This is unbelievable nonsense from the White House. And to no avail. No one believes it. The White House's delusions on the jobs issue is a clear and imminent threat to the political prospects of the Democrats, in 2010 and 2012." Not to mention the prospects of millions of Americans ever to be able to find another job.
Johann Hari on How Goldman gambled on starvation: "As Professor Ghosh points out, some vital crops are not traded on the futures markets, including millet, cassava, and potatoes. Their price rose a little during this period - but only a fraction as much as the ones affected by speculation. Her research shows that speculation was "the main cause" of the rise. So it has come to this. The world's wealthiest speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of hundreds of millions of innocent people. They gambled on increasing starvation, and won. Their Wasteland moment created a real wasteland. What does it say about our political and economic system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?" (via)
I suppose you might actually believe Glenn Beck's nonsense if you knew nothing about Thomas Jefferson. It's not simply that he never planned to say it, it's that he wouldn't have said it, since it is completely inconsistent with everything else he did say. It's like suggesting that Martin Luthor King originally intended his "I have a dream" speech to advocate for slavery.
I'm glad other people read Kathleen Parker so I don't have to. I'm sorry, you really have to bend into a pretzel to suggest that Obama is in any way more like a woman than a guy. And we hate his speeches because what little content they have is usually either lies or stuff he plans to do that he shouldn't be doing. If he was a housewife and he knew he had to do a little deficit spending to feed the kids, then by god he'd do some deficit spending. But he's the president, and he doesn't care if other people's kids starve. When a woman is concerned about a situation, she doesn't say, "There is a great concern about the 8 million jobs that we lost in the course of this last two years," she says, "I am concerned that we're hemorrhaging jobs and Congress has not yet passed a jobs bill that actually has any real prospect of helping Americans get back to making a decent living. So I'm proposing a jobs bill that actually puts the nation back to work. I expect Congress to pass it or answer for their criminal negligence at the polls." Obama talks like someone who doesn't want to own up to being the person who is concerned about those jobs, because it might offend his corporate masters.
The first full-sky image from the Planck telescope.
Spiking American dreams
I blame this on CMike, but (a) he didn't get where he did without talent, and (b) I never feel that my time is wasted listening to Gershwin.
Poor Michael Steele put his foot in it again, getting caught telling the truth about how we should not be in Afghanistan. Of course, he pretends that this moronic policy was given to us by Obama rather than Bush, but the fact is that Obama is now making sure he gets to keep giving it to us, and it's still a destructive and costly policy. So, of course, the DNC has to attack him. The DNC does not attack Republicans who say really odious things, such as that people everyone but them and their rich patrons have to make sacrifices so that the rich can keep getting richer - on, no, they agree with that stuff! But criticize their stupid continuation of Bush's illegal, outrageous, murderous, and unpopular policies, and then you're in trouble! "But this is more pernicious than mere tactical error. The DNC's behavior is bolstering the poisonous, manipulative premise that to oppose an American war is an "affront" to the Troops and their families and the by-product of a cowardly desire to "walk away from the fight" with the Terrorists. When the DNC, a front page Daily Kos writer and Bill Kristol all join together to smear someone with common language for opposing a war, it's clear that something toxic is taking place." (Also: Bill Keller's defense of the NYT using Bush administration-mandated language to describe torture is some pretty weak tea.)
Giving you the finger: "The most important job news of the days was not the June jobs numbers. It was a mostly ignored vote in the House of Representatives last night. By a vote of 215 to 210, the House passed a "budget enforcement resolution" setting discretionary spending levels and making it almost impossible to imagine that any job-creation measures will pass in 2011."
Digby: "You can't help but wonder if the Democrats have decided that having the votes of "liberals, African-Americans, self-described Democrats, moderates and those living in either the Northeast or West" just aren't worth having so they are going to fight the Republicans for every last one of those John McCain voters. How else to explain the ongoing derision of their rank and file? ("They look like absolute idiots" is the quote that comes to mind.)" Or the ongoing push to carry out destructive long-term Republican policy goals? (Also, I just love being quoted by Digby.)
Ian Welsh explains How bailing out the rich created the Depression: "The trillions of dollars spent attempting to bail out the banks weren't just wasted, by keeping zombie banks alive they made the situation worse. Further by not wiping out the wealth of banks and those rich folks who made foolish investments which wrecked the world economy, they created a political problem: to whit, as Durbin said - the banks still own Congress. (Along with the military industrial complex, pharma and various other monied interests). Because monied interests still own Congress, they have made it impossible to fix America's structural problems. Six percent of GDP could have been saved by doing health care reform properly, but that didn't happen. The current "financial reform" bill under consideration is so week that I don't know of one credible outside analyst who thinks it is sufficient to make sure there isn't another financial crash, and on and on. Historically speaking periods of high concentration of wealth only end when the rich lose it in a huge crash."
Five years later, I feel a bit naive about this, because of course, it doesn't matter who wins elections if both teams have the same policies. Now we know. (I expect part of the takeover plan involved putting their most plausible candidates into the Democratic Party to make sure they were there to prevent actual liberals from getting in there, and also to negate the opposition.)
Hey, NYC, Halliburton Has the Right to Ruin Your Water Supply.
I think Jay would like it if I told you that they've put together some T-Shirts for Virtually Speaking Sundays for all us talking heads, and you can buy 'em at Cafe Press. (An enlargement of the legend for my shirt is here, but the black ones with the VS logo are much cooler.)
Glenn Greenwald says it's the media's servitude to government: "Nor is this an accident, but is quite deliberate: media outlets such as the NYT, The Washington Post and NPR explicitly adopted policies to ban the use of the word 'torture' for techniques the U.S. Government had authorized once government officials announced it should not be called 'torture.'" But Adam Serwer thinks it's the media's false "objectivity: "Of course, this attempt at 'neutrality' was, in and of itself, taking a side, if inadvertently. It was taking the side of people who supported torture, opposed investigating it as a crime, and wanted to protect those who implemented the policy from any kind of legal accountability. Most important, it reinforced the moral relativism of torture apologists, who argued that even if from an objective point of view, waterboarding was torture, it wasn't torture when being done by the United States to a villain like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, but rather only when done by say, a dictator like Kim Jong Il to a captured American soldier." And I think it's that the media spend all their time hanging out with right-wingers so they talk like right-wingers.
Obama: "There is a great concern about the 8 million jobs that we lost in the course of this last two years." (There certainly is great concern - but not, as far as I can tell, in the White House or the Democratic leadership.) Anne helps him elaborate: "We are so concerned, in fact, that we've decided to cut the immediate safety net of extended unemployment benefits and the COBRA insurance subsidy, and are hard at work on ways to cut the long-term safety nets of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Here's our thinking on this: if you're not working, either because there are no jobs for you, you're old, or you're sick or disabled, we just can't afford to keep you around. And the best way to speed up your demise is not to prolong your - and our - agony, but to just cut you off from as many sources of survival as possible, as quickly as possible."
Check out this YouTube video of this excerpt from Gerald McEntee's keynote address at the AFSCME convention in Boston, which Digby says was, "a real barn burner". She also posted on the astonishing Villager liberalism of Jonathan Alter, and on the state of play last night for the war supplemental. Needless to say, this bites.
But smart people can get all carried away with what should be no more than a back-room joke - uttered guiltily, for that matter. When everyone gets together to attack a public figure for saying something wrong, I really wish everyone would stop and examine what they actually said before jumping on the bandwagon. You know, like when Jimmy Carter pushed for solar power and energy independence, it was a bad idea to jump on the bandwagon to deride him for a word he didn't even say. In a more recent example, a public figure stands up and says things like, "Government can and must play an appropriate oversight role. Such oversight is in the best [interest] of our nation and the public and industry, because the only way the public will trust industry to develop our resources is if they can prove that they can do it safely, ethically, responsibly. ... So how dare BP put the Gulf victims through such a thing? We have to make sure that BP will not do this, will not do what Exxon did to Alaskans all those years ago." And how do we respond? We make fun of her. Bob Somerby reports.
Laura Logan is a "journalist" who thinks it's her job to call people liars when they say things that, by her own admission, are absolutely true. The thing about "off the record" is that if they don't say it out loud, it isn't off the record. The "unspoken" assumption that you will protect public figures who are the subject of your assignment is not professional or honest, it's abdication of your job of keeping the public informed. Matt Taibbi: "Anyone who wants to know why network television news hasn't mattered since the seventies just needs to check out this appearance by Logan. Here's CBS's chief foreign correspondent saying out loud on TV that when the man running a war that's killing thousands of young men and women every year steps on his own dick in front of a journalist, that journalist is supposed to eat the story so as not to embarrass the flag."
Alan Grayson: "We are such a great nation that the worst things that ever happen to us are things we do to ourselves."
I don't know how I missed the story of Viacom posting its own material on YouTube for promotional purposes (see? Even they know that having your stuff on YouTube is good promotion rather than theft) and then suing Google for their "stolen" content. My favorite part was the emails from Viacom creeps talking about how they wanted to own YouTube. But perhaps the most interesting item was that Viacom actually wanted YouTube to eliminate private videos because, as Cory Doctorow put it, "because these movies -- often of personal moments in YouTubers' lives -- can't be inspected by Viacom's copyright enforcers." But the essence of Viacom's "interpretation" of the law was to destroy any possibility of private individuals ever being able to upload anything, because internet providers would be required to review all material before it went up.
Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, July 2010
Is the media in denial?
Back to front page
And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.