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Friday, 01 April 2011

You'd better think twice

Sam Seder's interview with Jeremy Scahill Monday was downright entertaining, and never mind the exciting news that the whacko Christianist Dominionist head of Blackwater has had to go Muslim to dodge all the questions about his activities. Comedy gold!

It's not often I disagree with Susie Madrak, but the simple answer to why the Democrats won't tell the public just how badly the cuts will affect us is that Barry and the Dem leadership like cuts. Obama wants them and doesn't want to stir up any push-back from the unruly voters who still imagine themselves to live in a [fnord] democracy. This isn't just something the Republicans are trying to force on us all by themselves - Obama was the leader on this latest iteration of the idea that we have to cut the programs we think we pay taxes for so that rich people can insulate themselves from the enormity they are committing.

I think Ezra Klein has been hanging with a bad crowd. First he excuses the Obama Health Insurance Company Welfare Act, and now he wants people to support so-called Social Security reform that isn't reform at all.. I guess that makes him a "serious person" or something. (Of course, a genuinely serious person would say that anything other than raising the cap and lowering the retirement age is just blowing smoke.) Thank goodness there are people who are willing to explain it to him. Twice.

Why do they hate Elizabeth Warren? Because she wants to make things better.

Hedges: "The intrusion of corporations into the public sphere destroys the concept of the common good. It erases the lines between public and private interests. It creates a world that is defined exclusively by naked self-interest." (via)

I want to tax the rich so bad.

Ruger Schuler knows just how William Cronon feels - he's been there.

How Bill Keller strives for accuracy in the NYT - if it's about Ivana's bras. (via)

Bush on steroids - I can't believe there are still people who think they can make excuses for Obama. This is not just a good man who is in a tough situation.

"It's not a budget crisis. It's a crisis of priorities." It's happening in Albany, now - and remember, Cuomo is not a Republican. (via)

"Uterus" Now Officially a Dirty Word in Florida.

FBI spied on little kids for days at a time, documents reveal.

The Various Roles for Social Change (via)

Susie says farewell to her friend and mentor, Joe Bageant.

Google celebrates the Bunsen birthday.

I really thought Mr. Sideshow had to be joking when he told me this. That is so wrong! (Just for comparison, Aggie Christie said Joan Hickson was the best fit for the role.)

I always get confused when Atrios talks about Jim Messina.

16:46 BST

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Too close to home

Atrios says, "Inflation Rocks: One of the great triumphs of elites was convincing people that inflation is a really really really bad thing. And, yes, if it's too high it can be a bad thing, and in the shorter term wages adjustments are probably unlikely to keep up so it will feel like a bad thing for a lot of workers, but the truth is for a lot of people inflation is a good thing. Basically anyone with a nominally denominated debt with a fixed interest rate, like a 30-year mortgage, is going to benefit from a bit of inflation. It was the big boogeyman in the 70s, but once the economy finally turned around a lot of people woke up and discovered that their mortgage payments were a pittance. It's the people we owe the money to who don't like inflation, and they've convinced us that we shouldn't like it either." Too right.

I don't suppose anyone mentioned to 60 Minutes that we didn't used to let American corporations move their money and their facilities out of the country and hide from paying taxes while still doing business in the US as if they were American companies, and yet they didn't leave the country and close up shop. In fact, they invested more into their companies and communities and jobs.

Glenn W. Smith on life among the Fuddists: "What's Up, Doc?"

Libby has collected a few reports on the demo in London. It will take time to filter the information, though - I waited months to confirm what I saw on my TV throughout the day of the Poll Tax demo that was peaceful all day until the police engineered a riot that, by the end of the day, was being reported in reverse order - riot first, police "response" later. I'm not sure how long I waited for a single acknowledgement in the media that that was what happened - and that appeared and disappeared without comment elsewhere. We've seen similar stories since then. The official story is that "a few hot-heads" get carried away, and then, it turns out, there were no hot-heads at all, but agents provocateur, or simply precipitous action by the cops that terrorized the crowd until some people decided they'd had enough. But I wasn't watching television through the day this time, and I don't have an inkling of what really happened. But here's what Laurie Penny saw:

It starts when a handful of police officers moved through the quiet crowd, past circles of young people sharing snacks, smoking, playing guitars and chatting. They move in to grab the young man, but his friends scrambled to prevent the arrest being made, dragging him away from the police by his legs. Batons are drawn; a scuffle breaks out, and that scuffle becomes a fight, and then suddenly hundreds of armoured riot police are swarming in, seemingly from nowhere, sweeping up the steps of the National Gallery, beating back protesters as they go.


A large number of young people in Britain have become radicalised in a hurry, and not all of their energies are properly directed, explaining in part the confusion on the streets yesterday. Among their number, however, are many principled, determined and peaceful groups working to affect change and build resistance in any way they can.

One of these groups is UK Uncut. I return to Fortnum's in time to see dozens of key members of the group herded in front of the store and let out one by one, to be photographed, handcuffed and arrested. With the handful of real, random agitators easy to identify as they tear through the streets of Mayfair, the met has chosen instead to concentrate its energies on UK Uncut - the most successful, high-profile and democratic anti-cuts group in Britain.

UK Uncut has embarrassed both the government and the police with its gentle, inclusive, imaginative direct action days over the past six months. As its members are manhandled onto police coaches, waiting patiently to be taken to jail whilst career troublemakers run free and unarrested in the streets outside, one has to ask oneself why.

The last thing I read before I went to bed last night was a farewell to Joe Bageant, who tried to get across to "middle-class liberals" just how little liberalism they were getting across. He lost his battle with cancer at the age of 64. He was our kind of red-neck, and he enriched the blogosphere greatly, and will be missed. More at his blog, and a little tribute from Susan Campbell at Still Small Voice.

And today I learned that Diana died a couple of days ago, at the age of 76 - which may seem old, but she was always so, so full of life that she seemed at least a couple of decades younger. Years ago, I remember Dave Langford was bouncing around telling me that Diana Wynne Jones is a Good Thing, so in the course of events I started reading her stuff and chatting with her whenever she was around (can't remember which came first), and generally learning that Dave was absolutely right. I really liked her. And I was not happy to learn that her remission had receded and we were all too likely to lose her. And so we have. She was great fun to have a sit-down with, and yes, I recommend all of her books. Farrah Mendlesohn discusses her literary history and impact on the field, Emma Bull remembers Diana, and John Scalzi remembers reading her stuff as a kid. Christopher Priest's obituary for the Guardian is here. And Langford, of course, who says what I guess all of us who knew her are feeling. She was a fine writer, a witty companion, and a great lady.

Richard Leacock, ground-breaking documentarian who joined with D.A. Pennebaker to make Primary, following John F. Kennedy's campaign, and Monterey Pop. He was 98.

Paul Baran, co-developer of packet-switching and other fundamental internet technology, at 84.

01:05 BST

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Bags of sand

It's Avedon Carol with Culture of Truth tonight on Virtually Speaking Sundays at 6:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 PM Eastern.

General Electric, while systematically exporting and destroying jobs in America, "reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion." So, of course, Obama has asked the Chairman of GE to chair his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. There's bound to be some "grand bargaining" involved, of course, and we all know how eager the Obamacrats are to bargain Social Security away. Digby: " I'm actually beginning to think that cutting a program that doesn't contribute to the deficit may be a feature not a bug --- the more irrational the sacrifice to the Gods, the greater the tribute? (Also: Liberal institutions are giving in to terrorists.)

Medical Bankruptcies Will Remain High Under Obama Health Plan: "The Obama administration's health care legislation will not prevent Americans from going bankrupt in large numbers due to illness, says Dr. David Himmelstein, an author of a study of the 'almost identical' Massachusetts health care program implemented in 2005. 'People get insurance but, basically, they got such lousy insurance that they ended up bankrupt if they got sick,' said Himmelstein. 'For states 'like Texas, Louisiana and California,' which have far worse health coverage than Massachusetts, 'we're not going to see much improvement' under the Obama plan."

At Crooks and Liars:
Richard Clarke says the Chamber of Commerce was embarked on a felony, they should go to jail.
Will they privatize debtors' prisons, too? (w/ trailer for Inside Job.)
An Interview with Cesar Chavez - May 17, 1968 (audio)
Vermont Moves One Step Closer to Single Payer Health Coverage
Wisconsin Republicans illegally publish collective bargaining bill despite restraining order.
The uneducated Education Secretary of Idaho
It's only news when Republicans alert the press, I guess.

Gary Farber has done a long post about GOP attacks on William Cronin because he had the temerity to write an op-ed about the break between Wisconsin Republican traditions and the modern Republican program while teaching at a university!.

A Hanging Judge changes his mind about the death penalty. Unfortunately, he changed his mind after he retired.

Thank the gods the smart guys are in charge: "Really? Am I the only one who is astonished that Market Gods are robots that can't tell the difference between Ann Hathaway and Berkshire Hathaway and obviously just buy and sell on "buzz" whether it's good or bad? That's not even remotely rational."

Manifesto Manifesto

I actually think Roy should sell that t-shirt.

I was entertained to learn that Ian Ballentine's success started with a term paper he'd written at LSE when he was 21, but downright astonished to learn about his Aunt Emma.

Aurora in the sky, video from Norway.

18:16 BST

Friday, 25 March 2011

The bad guys

I'm going to do this again because I forgot how often people don't click those links. The last post quotes Stuart Zechman's concluding remarks after a look at what our Third Way types have to offer as an explanation for their horrific agenda. Here are a few of the lovely paragraphs from their own document, which Stuart quoted:

Over the past six years, conservatives have had their shot at coping with the economy's new rules. In keeping with Reagan's philosophy, they have tried to shrink government's reach in the economy with massive tax cuts for mostly the wealthy, wholesale deregulation, and attempts to eliminate or privatize safety net programs for the elderly and those at lower incomes. By any objective standard, the results have been a disappointment. On the plus side, economic growth during this time of change has been generally steady. But it has also been alarmingly uneven: average wages have been flat, income disparity has widened, and there is widespread anxiety about the nation's economic future. Other measures of economic security, such as health care and pension coverage, have declined.

On the other side of the political spectrum are a growing number of progressives whose philosophy can best be described as "neopopulism." Neopopulists see change as mainly a threat that requires American economic policy to turn inward. They believe that the tide of change will bring an unfettered race to the bottom, in which the rich get inexorably richer while the rest of America works harder to earn less. Capitalism, they argue, must be vigorously restrained, and workers shielded from the risks of competition and from corporations in search of a better, cheaper, faster way to produce goods and services. Reviving old suspicions about capitalism and markets, neopopulists want government to rewrite the rules to recapture a bygone era. It's an idea that itself is deeply conservative--to turn back the clock "to reinvent the managed capitalism that thrived between the late 1940s and early 1970s," as leading neopopulist Robert Kuttner recently wrote.

Both sides see change through an ideological prism that pits markets implacably against government. As a consequence, both conservatives and neopopulists overstate the power of their chosen "side" to rewrite the rules of the economy. And while economic conservatism is premised on the myths of an infallible market and incompetent government, neo-populism is premised on the myths of a failing middle class, a declining America, and omnipotent corporations.

We urge a different approach, which we call "progressive realism." Realism means recognizing and understanding the economy's new rules while accepting the limits of government's power to stop the forces of change. But as progressives, we also believe that government policies--if modernized and adapted to the rules of the 21st century--can create the optimal conditions for increasing economic growth, expanding middle-class prosperity and protecting those who fall behind.

As progressive realists, we do not doubt that change is disruptive and, for many people, painful. Globalization has made many jobs obsolete, and both companies and individuals have been hurt by its impact. As the neopopulists note, all is not well with the middle class. But we also see the current era of change as one of tremendous opportunity and potential for the middle class.In addition, we view the challenges faced by today's middle class as very different from the ones that most progressives believe them to be. We perceive the middleclass as struggling to get ahead, not--as the neopopulists argue--struggling to get by. Middle-class anxiety does not stem from broad dissatisfaction with capitalism but from the shifting terrain beneath their feet and the increasing irrelevance of an outdated government.

Stuart emphasizes those phrases because they're important - they rename the entire American form of government "neopopulism" and dismiss the desire to restore it as an unrealistic longing for a bygone era, rattling on about the economy's "new rules" as if they simply arrived from out of the aether and have nothing to do with conservative policies that simply wrecked the modern civilized paradigm - then pretend that people who are fighting to hang on to what little they've got left are not struggling to get by at all, but to better themselves. (Well, yes, better themselves up to what they actually had before rather than their current condition of struggling to get by.)

In other words, while the Republicans are certainly mean and crazy mad dogs with rabies, the Democrats are also crazy and at best callous beyond all decency, though they don't have rabies and therefore don't foam at the mouth, thus appearing "saner". But they are still destructive, callous, and embarked on a course to barbarism. Whether they are stupid enough to believe the crap they write or simply working from the script is, while an entertaining question for late-night drinking bouts, largely irrelevant, since both parties are trying to enforce right-wing policies on you and destroy the very essence of the American form of government (i.e., liberal government).

Let's return to those thrilling days of a couple months ago and quote Matt Stoller again:

Since the 1970s, Democratic elites have focused on breaking public sector unions and financializing the economy. Carter, not Reagan, started the defense build-up. Carter, not Reagan, lifted usury caps. Carter, not Reagan, first cut capital gains taxes. Clinton, not Bush, passed NAFTA. It isn't the base of the Democratic party that did this, but then, voters in America have never had a lot of power because they are too disorganized. And there wasn't a substantial grassroots movement to challenge this, either.

Obama continues this trend. It isn't that he's not fighting, he fights like hell for what he wants. He whipped incredibly aggressively for TARP, he has passed emergency war funding (breaking a campaign promise) several times, and nearly broke the arms of feckless liberals in the process. I mean, when Bernie Sanders did the filiBernie, Obama flirted with Bernie's potential 2012 GOP challenger. Obama just wants policies that cement the status of a aristocratic class, with crumbs for everyone else (Republican elites disagree in that they hate anyone but elites getting crumbs). And he will fight for them.

There is simply no basis for arguing that Democratic elites are pursuing poor strategy anymore. They are achieving an enormous amount of leverage within the party. Consider the following. Despite Obama violating every core tenet of what might have been considered the Democratic Party platform, from supporting foreclosures to destroying civil liberties to torturing political dissidents to wrecking unions, Obama has no viable primary challenger. Moreover, no Senate Democratic incumbent lost a primary challenge in 2010, despite a horrible governing posture. Now THAT is a successful strategy, it minimized the losses of the Democratic elite and kept them firmly in control of the party. Thus, the political debate remains confined to what neoliberals want to talk about. It's a good strategy, it's just you are the one the strategy is being played on.

If you believe in the American form of government - of government of, by, and for the people - and if you hope to save your own future and that of your friends and family, you absolutely have to stop making excuses for Obama and the Democratic leadership.

Stuart and Jay Ackroyd have a lot more to say about this - yesterday Jay posted about the Third Way narrative, for example, and today on the anti-democratic nature of our elective officials. (And last night Jay and Stuart, later joined by Brad DeLong, discussed the confusion about economics that has become the core of our discourse on Virtually Speaking. (Podcast of first hour, podcast of second half.).

* * * * *

Yesterday, Sam Seder described the class war we are losing.

RIP Leonard Weinglass, whose stunned and moving response to contempt charges by Judge Julius Hoffman as a defense attorney for the Chicago 7 gave me chills, and who also worked to defend the rights of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo, Angela Davis, John Sinclair, and Julian Assange, died of pancreatic cancer Wednesday in New York. He was 77.

Wisconsin Democrats are on track to take back the state senate. (Also, Where are the angry mobs? And union workers make another bank shut its doors (and this time it's BoA!), the curious case of the missing anthrax, and the Programming Manifesto.)

The Medium Lobster: "Freedom! If there's one thing America loves, it's... well, war. But if there's two things America loves, it's war and torture. But if there's three things America loves, it's war, torture, and genocide. But if there are several dozen things America loves, they are war, torture, genocide, chattel slavery, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, assassination, poverty, institutionalized bribery, remote-controlled flying death robots and somewhere down the list, between prison labor and lagoons of toxic pig shit, there is almost certainly a special place in our national heart for freedom."

OK, I couldn't help laughing when I learned about James O'Keefe's credit card debt. Maybe the Koch brothers will pay it off for him.

15:40 GMT

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Until this battle's won

I still maintain that the "Third Way" is still the First Way (Tory conservatism) dressed up with a lot of excuses to make it look slightly more liberal. They write as if they don't know this, but you don't need a microscope to see how big a threat they really are. "If a gun called 'right-wing nuts' weren't being held to your head by the national Democratic messaging apparatus (and their allies in the political press corps) day after day, would you ever, in a million years vote for this agenda? If you voted for Obama in 2008, you did, even though that fact might not have been clear to you at the time (it wasn't to me). And, if you vote for Obama in 2012, you will again. It's 2011, a year before another national election takes place. If you don't want this agenda of theirs realized, then it's probably time to focus on how to stop being the perpetual hostages of national Democrats, isn't it?"

Regular commenter ks reminds us that all this has happened before: "...the [1930] crisis enabled the government finally to start unraveling the achievements of 1918. The weakening of the trade unions, the abolition of the hitherto accepted system of collective wage bargaining, the marginalizing of the SPD and the reduction of wage and salary levels were all part of this strategy. Welfare benefits were cut back, and financial measures were taken to pare down public expenditure and the machinery of state. Once again, the crisis did not so much force the government to act as provide the occasion for the introduction of reactionary policies which it wanted to implement in the first place."
-Detlev Peukert, The Weimar Republic, 1987

Marcy Wheeler talked to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson (Valerie Plame's husband - remember?) on Virtually Speaking Sundays and discussed, among other things, the "threat" to diplomacy of WikiLeaks. Stream or download the podcast.

Oh, look, perfect bipartisan support for, um, writing a letter. The story is politically weird, I suppose, if you don't recognize the PR value of once again making deficits the most important issue in the world without acknowledging that cuts to social programs are not the way to get the deficit down. You want to get the deficit down, it's really pretty easy - restore higher corporate taxes and a confiscatory top marginal rate, end all existing Stupid Wars including the one Obama just started all by himself, and sock a lot of money into direct government programs to rebuild our infrastructure. Additionally, expand social programs such as SSI and welfare to get more money down to the bottom layer of the economy so the money gets moving. Do all of these things and people will have more jobs and more money will be earned and taxed and the deficit will dwindle. A lot of real people will be happier, too. But, like Atrios keeps reminding us, nobody really cares about deficits, which is why they don't do those things. What they care about is destroying the programs that make our lives better.

Krugman doesn't see why anyone should bother to listen to Alan Greenspan anymore when "Greenspan is an ex-Maestro; his reputation is pushing up the daisies, it's gone to meet its maker, it's joined the choir invisible."

"Courage is contagious, and the Democrats in Indiana are taking a page out of the Wisconsin playbook."

Greg Mitchell has been liveblogging WikiLeaks for the last 116 days. Sam Seder interviewed him last week, and provided both audio and a transcript. "The New York Times and The Guardian and The Washington Post and so forth would be ripping Assange or WikiLeaks and then they would be very happily quoting from the new cables on their front pages."

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, and Sammy interviewed Kevin Baker on the significance of this event which is credited with having been the start of the New Deal.

The thing I don't get is how they can call themselves Keynesians.
How Wisconsin enlightened Stanley Fish.

By Harry Bell, for Mike.

"Which Side Are You On?"

13:30 GMT

Sunday, 20 March 2011

On the internets

Marcy Wheeler will be talking with Ambassador Joe Wilson (aka Valerie Plame's husband) on Virtually Speaking Sundays at 6:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 PM Eastern, tonight.

I had somehow missed the news that Rand Paul has not had a working toilet in his home for 20 years. He thinks it's because of government regulation, but it's actually because, libertarian that he is, it never occurred to him to go out and buy a toilet that works. Meanwhile, my own experience is that if you let the private sector do whatever it wants, you end up with considerably less choice - it gets harder to find responsible providers of clean water and efficient energy, for example, or cookies that don't contain rat feces, or a stick of gum that doesn't contain artificial sweeteners.

Photo gallery: Daniel Ellsberg, Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers, David Swanson, Medea Benjamin, Mike Malloy and over a hundred others were arrested in front of the White House protesting President Obama’s torture of Bradley Manning. It is estimated that "hundreds" were at the demonstration.

When Michael Moore called on people to rally in Michigan, his letter included some unpleasant details about what the GOP has been up to in Michigan. (via)

"Poor Minnesotans to be Barred from Carrying Cash?" There is supposed to be a "compromise" that allows them to have $20, but there seems to be an interesting kickback scheme where benefits are drawn through a state-issued debit card that is managed by banks that charge high fees for the service, thus ripping off the poor and unemployed right from the git-go.

Bill Moyers on what cuts to NPR mean.

Apparently, John Yoo believed there was a special exception that suspended the 4th Amendment.

Pruning Shears: "Cost of living higher than ever, the moneyed and powerful own the umpires, and the peasants revolt in the provinces. Dispatches from the American Dream, circa 2011."

Benghazi is a city under siege. The hotels are begging journalists to leave, to reduce the prospect of a direct hit to their businesses.

"IRS looks to destroy the entire medical marijuana industry, Calif. seller warns."

RIP: Basement Angel, 1955-2011, of uterine cancer; another loss to the blogosphere.

Johann Hari on The myth of the panicking disaster victim - and why we should be inspired this week.

Cartoons by Stuart Carlson and Joe Heller.

DC Fontana, Leonard Nimoy, Isaac Asimov, and some fans at the 1973 Star Trek con in New York.

Patrick remembers Mike.

20:11 GMT

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Slow Glass

At a time of great national crisis, the important thing to do was defund NPR. OK, at least national Democrats didn't all leap on board to agree with this one, and it's nice to see Anthony Wiener on the floor mocking the GOP, but the fact that Republicans are fiddling while Rome burns doesn't change the fact that (1) NPR's own credibility has dwindled somewhat as it has become more and more entrenched in the corporatist mentality that infests the rest of the Washington media - to the point where many people think its initials stand for Nice Polite Republicans; and (2) as odious as the GOP is, the Democrats aren't exactly rushing to solve those important problems we're suffering from by doing things that all of modern history has shown are both effective and necessary to clean up the mess, but rather are trying hard to do things that thousands of years of history have shown to destroy civilizations. Defunding NPR may not solve the job crisis or restore our security, or even reduce the deficit, but cutting Social Security benefits will certainly make all of those things worse. Just like all the other brilliant plans Obama and the rest of the national Democrats seem to be coming up with.

With judicial elections coming up, a Wisconsin judge files a temporary restraining order blocking the union-killing bill. (via)

What everyone knows and nobody says about Libya, and what isn't true about nuclear accidents.

"U.S. millionaires say $7 million not enough to be rich." (via)

The Washington Post has officially designated Richard Cohen and Dana Milbank as "left-leaning". I'm thinking Harold Meyerson should object to being lumped in with them. Via Atrios, who is experimenting with a comment system that crashes two out of three of my browsers on this machine.

Apparently, there's a shortage of the execution drug, leading to shady dealings: "The Drug Enforcement Administration seized Georgia's entire supply of sodium thiopental, which defense attorneys claim came from a fly-by-night British supplier operating from the back of a driving school in a gritty London neighborhood."

The president has no values, and the result is that, "In fact, the poll shows that people don't think there's much difference between national Democrats and Republicans, period."

The international community just doesn't appear to feel that America is a place to find freedom and justice, anymore, but sometimes being evil is bad for business.

Bahrain: "After security forces moved in on Wednesday, plumes of black smoke rose as tents burned in Pearl Square, the centre of the protests."

Onward Christian Jihadis.

Just a little reminder of what a mealy-mouthed little creep Obama has always been.

Journalism, then and now.

Susie Bright has finished her memoir, and her book tour could bring her to a gathering near you. (Those links may not be work-safe).

An extremely short sf story by Jim Young, "Spamhead".

Yesterday was Red Nose Day, which means a new (but short) Doctor Who episode! Part One, Part Two.

Mike Glicksohn was someone I bantered with on every available occasion, and sometimes argued with, but always liked. There was one bizarre episode in which a crazy person was writing me only vaguely comprehensible letters in which she accused me of having an affair with an evil man she wouldn't name who, a third party informed me, was supposed to be Mike, although this obviously couldn't be true - and ever since, Mike and I would joke about our Secret Affair, since it had been a secret from us. I always appreciated the way his letters of comments to my zines went along with the joke - I'd have to check, but I think I got my first ever letter of comment from him, responding to the fake letter column in my first issue with the letter from him that he hadn't written. Although I'd entered fandom just too late for the heyday of Energumen, Mike was still a giant figure in the community and it's still hard to imagine fandom without him. News of his cancer had shaken us all, I think, and yesterday's news that he'd died after a stroke has been very sad indeed. I don't think I've seen him since he came over on his honeymoon, so the photo here, though recognizable, doesn't really look much as I remember him. But, you know, he was unforgettable. [Correction: Actually, I think I did see him rather more recently than that, but he certainly hadn't changed that much.]

Mike Glicksohn, 1946-2011

16:40 GMT

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Eat the rich, before they eat you

Sammy's guest on Monday's show was Yves Smith, who talked about a lot of things, including the Bank of America leaks and what they mean. Sam has also posted a lot of things from his trip to Madison, including his short interview with a sanitation worker who explains that he earned his pension by spending his life hauling crap. One interesting event Sam mentions is firefighters, realizing that a local bank was supporting Walker, just wandered over and withdrew their money, forcing the bank to shut its doors because they ran out of cash. Also: Sammy calls BS on the idea that we're broke and the workers got too much.

I guess I was just a paranoid hippy for thinking Obama wanted to wreck Social Security. Oh, wait: "The Hill reports that Obama administration economic officials are pressing for Social Security benefit cuts. I hope this is wrong, although I have no reason to believe otherwise," says Krugman. Apparently, Obama's political advisors are smart enough to know this is a stupid move, but unfortunately some people aren't willing to admit that it's also stupid policy: "It's the "forward leaning" Geithner who is leading the charge. And why? Confidence fairies and bond vigilantes, of course," Digby tells us. And that apparently we're supposed to believe that the Democrats are still better than the Republicans because Dems only want to "cut" SSI benefits while Republicans want to "slash" them. The urgency apparently comes from the fact that if SSI delivers on its paid for obligations, the money to pay rich investors will have to come from somewhere else. (The horror!) Digby says: "Actually, the government invested the money in Treasury bonds. So I have an idea. Instead of failing to pay off the Treasury bonds that are owed to average Americans, we tell all the wealthy aristocrats who put their millions in T-bills that we aren't going to pay them instead. The American workers are not the only ones who invest in the American future. There's no reason why they should be the ones asked to take a lower return." (Also: Bradley Manning's new clothes, and, amazingly, yes, we can have energy independence without nuclear power.)

Dr. Warren is in their crosshairs: "Once upon a time there was a concerted effort to prevent the officials charged with regulating the financial industry from doing their job. That effort was extremely fruitful and the result was a worldwide economic catastrophe. Of course, the wingers learned their lesson and never would do such an irresponsible thing again. That last sentence is the fairy tale."

Oh, I thought we had all had a group mind meld and decided not to mention it at all.

15:26 GMT

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

If, if, if, if...

"WH forces P.J. Crowley to resign for condemning abuse of Manning: On Friday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley denounced the conditions of Bradley Manning's detention as "ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid," forcing President Obama to address those comments in a Press Conference and defend the treatment of Manning. Today, CNN reports, Crowley has "abruptly resigned" under "pressure from White House officials because of controversial comments he made last week about the Bradley Manning case." In other words, he was forced to "resign" -- i.e., fired." Got yer Team of Rivals right here. It's a clarifying moment for some: "Those advocates have wondered whether the penchant for secrecy in the Obama administration comes from the President, or those around him. Obama's statement on Manning, followed by Crowley's resignation, seem to suggest some of this comes from the President himself." You don't say! Glennzilla notes that a number of people who had continued to defend Obama have recoiled at both the ouster of Crowley and Obama's ludicrous statement about Manning's treatment. It seems the only people who aren't disgusted by Obama - indeed, support him on this - are on the far right. He also points out that a sitting member of Congress is being denied the right to visit Manning in prison, and even the conservative New York Times has an editorial that lambasts Obama for supporting "an abuse that should never have begun."

And good for the Guardian for condemning the cruel and unusual treatment of Manning.

This article is entitled "Welfare State: Handouts Make Up One-Third of U.S. Wages", but of course it includes Social Security - by no means a "hand-out", but rather an insurance policy for which recipients have paid up-front. Nevertheless, the point is that now that our Owners have destroyed so many jobs, there just aren't as many actual employees around anymore. We are offered the stark choice of increasing jobs or cutting "hand-outs". For some reason, increasing jobs just doesn't seem to be an option worth considering. I wonder what causes that?

Jon Walker has a question I like: "Why don't All Major Unions Own Banks?"

More from nihil obstet: While Clinton declared that 'the era of big government is over', he pushed policies like trade agreements and intellectual property laws that made government reach a lot bigger. The World Trade Organization met not to reduce big government, but to get governments to agree to enforce their decisions. That's a lot of what the protests in Seattle and elsewhere were about. The propaganda is that providing a child with food is 'big government', but that providing muscle to assist Monsanto's harassment of seed cleaners to make it impossible for farmers to save and plant their own seed is not 'big government'. We need to spend more time pointing out what 'big government' really means.

Al Franken explains why we need net neutrality: "So an email from President Obama and an email from your Tea Partier uncle come in at the same speed. You can buy a song from an indie band just as quickly as you can buy a song from a band on a major label. And if you start a website for your small business, your customers can have their orders processed just as easily with you as they could if they were buying from a multi-national conglomerate. [...] Everyone has the same say. If you want to be heard above other people-if you want your argument to prevail, or your song to be popular, or your product to sell-the only way to do it is to have a better argument, or a catchier song, or a more useful product. [...] And that's exactly what I want. We have net neutrality right now. And we don't want to lose it. That's all. The fight for net neutrality isn't about improving the Internet. It's not about changing the Internet at all. It's about ensuring that it stays just the way it is. It's the big corporations who now own the physical infrastructure that makes the Internet work, the pipes through which content is distributed-the tubes, if you will-who want to change the Internet by ending net neutrality."

Marcy Wheeler: "A WikiLeaks cable dated March 5, 2007 has raised new interest in the BAE bribery scandal (AP, WSJ, Telegraph). While no one seems to have noted this, the cable shows that the British lied to their counterparts at the OECD about details of the bribery investigation into BAE."

The warmongers in DC are still making claims about our "successes" in Afghanistan, but no one believes them: "A Rasmussen poll conducted March 4-5, 2011, found that 52 percent of likely voters want all U.S. troops brought home this year, with more than half of those wanting them brought home immediately (31 percent of likely voters). In January, a USA TODAY/Gallup poll found that 72 percent of Americans want Congress to act this year to speed up troop withdrawals from Afghanistan (including 86 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents, and 61 percent of Republicans), with 41 percent strongly favoring such actions."

E.J. Dionne says something else we're not supposed to acknowledge: We're not broke.

The Bank of America leaks are a bit hard to follow, thanks in part to the way the page is set up, but scroll down to around the middle and you start to see a story.

IWW (Wobblies) General Strike Pamphlet

No one is surprised to learn that right-wing ex-Democratic Senator from Indiana is retiring to lobbying and Fox News. (via)

How the quake shifted Japan

RIP: Augustus Owsley Stanley III, dead in car crash.

The Map of the history of science fiction looks like a big weird slug.

Go For Launch! Space Shuttle The Time-Lapse Movie

"...say the green bells of Cardiff."

16:30 GMT

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Going for broke

Sometime Wednesday news started flying so thick and fast that I just couldn't keep up, so apologies for the delay.

Noblejoanie: "About six p.m. I was making dinner and listening to WORT, our indie radio station, when they broke in to say, Get to the Capitol, the Republicans have stripped out the collective bargaining provisions and passed them." 18-1. In what was actually an illegal meeting! They should be arrested. Athenae, "And the Devil Turns Round on You." I think police and firefighters should just not notice when they get calls from any of those 18 legislators.

Sam Seder posted video of the outrage, and discussed the events and also why Washington doesn't care about jobs, with Chris Hayes on Thursday's Majority Report.

Olbermann is saying it's The Suicide Of The Republican Party, but I think that's awfully optimistic. The GOP is going all-in, and I just can't see the public doing what needs to be done to stop them. It's not just about voting, is it? I mean, we did that two years ago and if it had worked, these Republicans would not be able to do this stuff now. Or, as Naomi Klein said on Democracy Now! about anti-union bills and American-style Shock Doctrine, "This is a Frontal Assault on Democracy, It's a Kind of a Corporate Coup D'Etat."

I think one of the things I'll do when I run the world is make a law that a person (or "person") who owns or operates a business that affects the physical environment negatively has to live in the area most negatively affected. Full-time. And can never leave, even to go on vacation. Then maybe we wouldn't see stuff like this. (via)

Digby actually has an article in The Hill: "Share the sacrifice [...] Americans are busy people, and mastering the arcane details of the budgetary process is difficult. But they almost certainly have no trouble understanding that anyone who makes a living on national television is nowhere near average and that millionaires aren't 'sacrificing' anything real at all when they call for cuts in Social Security.

"Conservatives' One-Way Contractual Integrity: "Curiously when voters and some legislators decried the huge bonuses for bankers and Wall Street operators, especially those who had benefited from government bailouts, the answer was that firms were contractually obligated to abide by previously drafted agreements. Yet when cities and states struggle with budgeting shortfalls, contracts with municipal employees are not considered sacrosanct and in fact often become targets for deficit reduction by fiat." Because "austerity" for you and me is not merely a means to an end, it's the goal.

Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman discussed more about just how illegal general strikes are on Virtually Speaking A-Z, and a reminder of what "big government" is supposed to mean, and how the "liberals" and the union movement became fractured. (I have to take issue with Stuart a bit, though - Archie Bunker hated Meathead before Meathead started to take against Archie.) But listen to Jay reading the rather remarkable speech by Bill Clinton in which he declared that "the era of big government is over" and talked about "our" goals. Stream or podcast.

But, hey, if the GOP can illegally act against democracy, even a union president can start talking about supporting a general strike.

Daniel Ellsberg: "President Obama tells us that he's asked the Pentagon whether the conditions of confinement of Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with leaking state secrets, 'are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are.' If Obama believes that, he'll believe anything."

I'd hate to think that Kevin Drum missed this and this. Just in case it isn't clear, ACORN and Planned Parenthood did nothing wrong.

England healthier than US: "Despite the greater use of health care technology in the US, Americans receive less preventive health care than their English counterparts. They have fewer physician consultations per year. Acute hospital visits are also shorter in the US, potentially resulting in missed opportunities for follow-up, say the report authors in the American Journal of Epidemiology."

Commenter nihil obstet continues: "I continue to be driven up the wall by the effect of exclusive licensing. Today's outrage -- 'The cost of a premature birth prevention drug is set to rise next week from $10 to $20 a shot to $1500. The massive increase comes after St Lois-based KV Pharmaceutical won an exclusive government license to produce the drug Makena - which was previously made by unlicensed chemists.'"

Thanks to darms for finding the source for this image for me at Who Rules America? in "Wealth, Income, and Power"

14:50 GMT

Wednesday, 09 March 2011

Some history

It appears to be the anniversary of the date that Edward R. Murrow came out against McCarthy..

Sam Seder took us through some history and gave a good explanation of why the US is not broke, the direct relationship between top marginal rates and the economy (high=good, low=bad), and interviewed Peter Mougey (one of the partner's at Pap's firm) about the importance of trial lawyers (especially in the face of the huge financial criminal empire that needs to be brought to heel), on Tuesday's Majority Report. His guest Monday was Matt Taibbi, who talked about just how much the banksters need to be in jail. Kind of a one-two punch.

I am reminded by someone in comments that many people have forgotten that abortion was always legal and the church did not prohibit it until the 19th century, when medicine became "professionalized".

Comment from nihil obstet: "The privatization of government funded knowledge always drove me up the wall. After funding the R&D that produced new drugs, the government would then grant exclusive licences (i.e., monopolies) to private firms. Despite the occasional bill that called for "reasonable pricing" of drugs developed with government money and granted exclusively to a single corporation, private for-profit firms successfully killed the option of just keeping government funded research in the public domain. Whenever you hear a private business talk about competition, you know there's a scam on. The high costs of R&D and the glories of a competitive drug market are both cynical propaganda."

I wish I had a source for this scary pie chart.

Was Fred Pohl a better editor than John Campbell?

15:47 GMT

Tuesday, 08 March 2011

Fat Tuesday

Thanks to ql for drawing our attention to Katha Pollitt's piece on the GOP crusade against women:

In South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, legislators have proposed bills that would arguably permit a pregnant woman's mate or relatives (or maybe just anyone) to murder her abortion provider to protect her fetus. Although the bill was shelved in South Dakota, that state's legislature passed (with a solid majority) a bill that would force women seeking an abortion to visit an antichoice crisis pregnancy center and then wait seventy-two hours so the message can sink in.
The list goes on, but the message that sinks in with me (having already long been aware of the inherent misogynist message, of course), is that they want to force women to fund anti-choice clinics to lie to us, out of our own pockets. Isn't that a cool plan? Republican welfare gets you coming and going.

Atrios on Losing Tic-Tac-Toe: "So the Dems will ultimately fall all over themselves to take credit for the Republican budget cuts they acquiesced to, at which point the Republicans will run against them for cutting things. This is quite easy to do as cuts in the abstract are 'good' while specific cuts are 'bad.'" Yes. And he cites Digby, who reminds us who Karl Rove an unnamed White House shill meant when he said "we".

Atrios also linked this story in the NYT about the poor drug companies and the money they stand to lose as their patents on big-money drugs expire and generics begin to be available to the public. But if you ignore the storyline and look at the details, you can see an awful lot of right-wing arguments falling apart. One of my favorite sentences: "Pfizer's best asset, he said, is its $20 billion stockpile of cash." You will remember, of course, that an efficiently run business doesn't have a $20bn cash stockpile. Another favorite: "'Europe is an ugly place to do business today and will be in five years' time,' Christopher A. Viehbacher, chief executive of the French drug giant Sanofi-Aventis, said in an interview." "Ugly" because governments are demanding lower drug prices. Prices the public can afford. To make people better. That's "ugly". And this sentence is true, but it repeats a lie without refuting it: "The drug industry has long said that Americans fueled the research engine, spending much more per capita on prescriptions than in any other nation, and paying the highest prices for prescribed medicines." It's true that the drug industry has said it, and it's true that Americans spend the most money on prescriptions, but a lot of that R&D was government-funded - that's something we have historically been willing to do in order to have a healthy populace as well as a competitive drug industry. But a lot of those discoveries and developments are no longer in the hands of American businesses, but rather multinationals who do nothing for America but soak it.

Oh, yeah, one more thing from Atrios, something he's said before but is worth repeating a lot: "In the current rules of discourse, $250,000 makes you poor when it comes to taxation, and $50,000 makes you absurdly rich with respect to everything else." I cleaned that up a little so you'll have the right punctuation when you stencil that on walls and T-shirts. Repeat it to your neighbors every time they suggest that public sector employees get too much or that the rich shouldn't have to pay taxes like the rest of us.

Moment of sanity: Bank of England governor Mervyn King "questioned the bonus system and warned that failure to reform the sector could result in another financial crisis."

Canada is suffering from a lot of the same false discourse that the United States is, with ugly results, but at least there we are seeing some fight-back. Not enough, though.

An update on Wisconsin, and some inspiration from Michael Moore.

"WI Dems file complaint against Walker,"

"The Wisconsin Uprising Is a Bottom-Up Movement -- Should We Hope DC Leaders Don't Get in the Way? ... these types of events not only threatened economic elites that run our economy, but posed a challenge to established progressive leaders in Washington; how to incorporate them." (via)

This article is notable for a phrase that should be used consistently: "skyrocketting tax breaks." (via)

The Rude Pundit has some advice for the rich. (via)

The GOP has been introducing insanely destructive resolutions to amend the Constitution, which inspired Blue Lyon with some amendments of her own. You know, Congress would look very different if there were no cap on the number of representatives.... "I did some math and compared the 2010 U.S. Census figures and congressional representation. Only one state actually lost population, but nine states that grew in population actually lost at least one representative! If representation were strictly proportional (1 rep per 500K population) look at the change!"

"New growth industry: lying for corporations"

TNH introduces us to a new union song cut just for Wisconsin, and PNH flagged this as the "Best. New York Times. Error. Ever."

14:22 GMT

Monday, 07 March 2011

Links that wouldn't die

I get annoyed when people explain our rotten political culture by claiming voters are stupid. Stupefied, perhaps, but not so dumb at all. For example, though neither the president nor Congress seem to know how to reduce the budget, the public does.

Jane Hamsher: "Now that the government's case against Julian Assange is falling apart, the Pentagon is ratcheting up the pressure on Manning by charging him with 'aiding the enemy.'" That's a capital charge, of course. So now they want to murder this kid for blowing the whistle on their whole corrupt structure. Of course, Nixon took the same approach to Ellsberg. The difference is that even the liberal establishment objected. Today, the people who are doing this and cheerleading it are the "liberal" establishment. (Also: I don't trust any rumors about Wisconsin Republicans saying they won't vote with Walker, but it's interesting that they are even saying it.)

Digby: "I'm seeing a lot of chatter recently about how we all need to chill out because there's no way that the draconian budget cuts, defunding of Planned Parenthood or cutting of Social Security is going to happen because all the Republicans really want to do is to slash the budget by a hundred million. And since the administration has already anted up half of that they'll end up compromising somewhere in between 50 and 100 bill. And then, presumably, Barack Obama will be again hailed as a hero for avoiding a government shutdown and we'll all be required to clap harder and revere his masterful negotiating skills. But that's ridiculous."

Paul Krugman finally admits the unacknowledged fact that education isn't what will make us competitive; for that, you need policies that support labor at home.

I see Dana Milbank finally did some eyewitness reporting of a real issue - when his own bank screwed up his refi.

Christopher Hayes in The Nation: "Why Washington Doesn't Care About Jobs: In 2010 the DC metro area added 57,000 jobs, more than any in the nation, and now boasts the hottest market for commercial office space. In other words: DC is booming. You can see it in the restaurants opening all over North West, the high prices that condos fetch in the real estate market and the general placid sense of bourgeois comfort that suffuses the affluent upper- and upper-middle-class pockets of the region."

This Week in Tyranny, Pruning Shears has been focusing on Ohio, but not forgetting to bring us great links and quotes on the great financial crimes, not to mention the moral crimes, of our "betters", along with notes that torrent sites are changing their domains to protect themselves, and the moral underground.

The people of Britain don't seem to like austerity.

Did you get your t-shirt, yet?

Google celebrates Will Eisner's birthday..

Obituaries for Suze Rotolo in the Telegraph, The Los Angeles Times, the Guardian (with two other articles - this one has a less well-known photo, presumably from earlier in the same session, and she also rated an editorial), and The New York Times.

She was legendary for having been the woman Howard Hughes designed a bra for (she said it was awful and she didn't wear it), and later she was the "full-figured woman" in the Playtex bra ads, so The Sideshow must mark her passing: RIP: Jane Russell.

04:37 GMT

Friday, 04 March 2011

Dark, with scattered light

On Monday's Majority Report, Sammy interviewed David Dayen about Wisconsin and the resonance of what's going on there. Also, if you have joined as an MR member, you can hear more than the one-hour podcast, including this joke: A unionized public employee, a Teabaggers, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across the table and takes eleven cookies, then looks at the Teabagger and says, "Watch out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie." Or you could listen to Sammy's interview Thursday with David Cay Johnston, who provided an even more accurate version of the joke, and also said, "All over the country, 'The rich don't have enough and the rest of us have too much,' is the dominant theme." (Sammy's guest on Tuesday was Tom Tomorrow and on Wednesday was Chris Hedges.)

There's an article in the WaPo called "Liberal groups revisit effort to make 'corporate welfare' an issue in elections." Well, groovy. But this sounds like a "messaging" thing rather than a policy thing to me - it's always all about looking good rather than being good. But I liked this comment from TwoDollarGas:

Democrats claim Fox News is biased and Republicans claim the other networks are biased.

Regardless, Federal Campaign laws exempt corporate media. The term "expenditure" does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication.

Is it any wonder corporate media are the biggest supporters of new and stricter campaign laws that insure they have a monopoly?

But if a politician, individual citizen or grass roots organization must pay media outlets to carry their ads, how can positive or negative editorials by those same media outlets not have value?

Media corporations are themselves special interests and dependent on the advertising dollars of other special interests.

In the words of E.W. Scripps: "A newspaper must at all times antagonize the selfish interests of that very class which furnishes the larger part of a newspaper's income... The press in this country is dominated by the wealthy few...that it cannot be depended upon to give the great mass of the people that correct information concerning political, economical and social subjects which it is necessary that the mass of people Shall have in order that they vote...in the best way to protect themselves from the brutal force and chicanery of the ruling and employing classes."

Do you think newspaper and broadcast corporations should have greater freedom to participate in politics than flesh and blood people? Do you think they should have more rights to participate than other types of corporations?

That's pretty much my reaction when I hear about campaign finance laws. Every network, all day long, is promoting the right-wing agenda, and we're fighting over 30-second ads.

Failure: "In a filing to the Massachusetts Division of Insurance yesterday, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts revealed it has committed to paying $11.3 million in severance to Cleve L. Killingsworth, an executive they parted company with last year after the organization began to run 'staggering losses'. Nice work if you can get it." (Also: Wisconsin Republican Dale Schultz standing with Democrats, Prosecution of Ray McGovern is Dropped, phone-in callers are paid actors reading from scripts, American terrorists target a new doctor.)

Krugman commented on another aspect of a stupid George F. Will column, but I just wanted to stare at the stupid sentence that went, "Because progressivism's aim is the modification of (other people's) behavior." I've heard this claim made by a lot of right-wingers, but I'd have a hard time finding anything in the right-wing agenda that isn't about "modifying" other people's behavior. (PS. I'm not so sure trains are safer than planes, but I gotta say, they've become my favorite way to travel.)

Will Bunch seems to think that Bob Woodward has returned to journalism with a book in which he exposes Rumsfeld's lies. Well, um, gee, that's just great, a mere, what, not even a whole decade after the fact? I know a lot of people had an elevated perception of Woodward after his work with Bernstein on the pursuit of Watergate, but let's not forget that Bernstein had to push him pretty hard to get him there and that, at rock bottom, Woodward has always been a partisan conservative Republican more than he's ever been a journalist. He had a brief association with actual investigative reporting on the back of someone else's motivation, but going after Rumsfeld is probably about being angry at having been played and messed around rather than any interest in telling the truth to the public.

"The need to protect the internet from 'astroturfing' grows ever more urgent."

"Aneurin Bevan argued like someone willing to go to the wall for what he was saying. He spoke belligerently. He spoke as though to oppose what he was saying would be to offend against common decency. British politicians don't talk that way any more, even when it matters."

Their Constitution is different from ours.

A Clay Bennett cartoon and a Pat Bagley cartoon.

A squamous, unutterable, accursed, antediluvian faint: The ebook of the complete works of Lovecraft is now available for download.

12:52 GMT

Wednesday, 02 March 2011

You heard it here last

Digby and Dday (David Dayen) were guests on Virtually Speaking Sundays this week, with Dday reporting from Wisconsin. Stream at that link, or get the podcast.

And speaking of Taft-Hartley, which of course we are, brings us to BTD's discussion of the subject here: "Does the Taft-Hartley Act's prohibition on political solidarity strikes withstand this level of review? If Citizens United's logic is applied consistently, the answer appears to be clearly No. The prohibition against political solidarity strikes is a"[speech restriction[] based on the identity of the speaker." What makes it different from an expenditure restriction?"

Via Atrios, I see the AFL-CIO's blog reported that. "As we speak, Gov. Scott Walker & the Senate R's are literally having the windows of the capital welded shut to keep people from passing food into the building to the people inside."

Thanks to Susan of Texas for making sure I don't have to read Megan McArdle and her latest gibberish about the American dream. Funnily enough, the "fantasy" she talks about is one my parents actually achieved without stealing anyone else's home. Lots of people did. It was no fantasy because a lot of people worked to make it happen. McArdle is among those who have worked to make it un-happen. It may be becoming mere fantasy, but not without considerable effort by some very, very bad people. Via Pruning Shears, where I also learned that Obama cannot find himself a pair of shoes. (And man is it spooky listening to that speech now. I heard Twilight Zone music. It was like, you know, "To Serve Man is a cookbook.")

Ted Rall: "Obama's statement about the Arab autarchies is astonishingly tone deaf to realities here at home. 'I think that the thing that will actually achieve stability in that region is if young people, if ordinary folks, end up feeling that there are pathways for them to feed their families, get a decent job, get an education, aspire to a better life,' he said. 'And the more steps these governments are taking to provide these avenues for mobility and opportunity, the more stable these countries are.' Well, yes." Susie Madrak talked to Rall on Virtually Speaking Susie (podcast). And, by the way, Susie can use your help.

The mobsters' push-back: "No sooner have the preliminary outlines of an inadequate settlement of mortgage servicing abuses been leaked, but the banking industry is engaged in a full court press to stop it."

The thing about your computer is that it's basically your desk, your file cabinets, all that stuff. For some people, their phones actually serve the same purpose. These are, in essence, "papers, and effects" as defined by the Constitution. Yet airport security seems to be completely unbound by the 4th amendment.

Unions winning battle for public opinion in Wisconsin -Cillizza tries to downplay this on the grounds that a national poll doesn't reflect what Wisconsin voters think, but a poll in Wisconsin says that Wisconsin Voters Wouldn't Elect Gov. Walker In Do-Over. (via)

Oh, yeah, just a note: The Sulzberger's have always hated liberals. People remember The New York Times of the Pentagon Papers and think it's a liberal paper, but it's not, and it never was. So it's not a surprise when they have a love-fest with right-wing creeps. If this were not the case, the op-ed page would feature Molly Ivors instead of Bobo.

Aunt Alice is going to outlive us all.

How Peter Davison got to Gallifrey

04:41 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, March 2011

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