eXTReMe Tracker

The Sideshow

Archive for May 2011

Check box to open new browser windows for links.

Monday, 30 May 2011

When the night has come, and the land is dark

Last week I found a rose in my garden that was bigger than my coffee mug.

Atrios paraphrases the "deal" being offered to Greece: "How About The Keys To The Acropolis: Give us everything that isn't nailed down, much of what is, completely destroy your economy, and maybe, just maybe, we'll do you the favor of bailing out our banksters."

House bans funding of abortion training: "By a 234-182 vote, the House of Representatives passed an amendment last Wednesday, sponsored by Virginia Foxx (R-NC) that would prohibit teaching hospitals from receiving federal funding if they teach doctors how to perform abortions."

Stirling Newberry and Ian Welsh were on Virtually Speaking talking about how the rich people have been herding and selling their slaves (that's you). "I think it all comes back to you have to make these people's lives really unpleasant and people aren't willing to do that yet. The only people who really got anything from Obama that was really significant were the gays and they were willing to get in his face personally every time he showed up somewhere and make his life hell." And he was losing them. I thought at the time it was clear Obama realized he was going to have to give them something because unlike all the other good proggy groups, they weren't willing to be taken for granted. And until all of these disparate groups who consider themselves liberal stop allowing themselves to be sold out for the sake of, oh, the latest hostage, or We Have To Get Behind The President, or OMG REPUBLICANS!!!! - until everyone just stops being placated or frightened into silence and starts fighting for what we really need, the gay groups are the only ones that are going to be able to say they got one little thing out of Mr. HopeyChangey - while the rest of us continue to lose everything we ever had. (CMike transcribed a bit more of Ian and Stirling's conversation in the thread to this post. More discussion on this one. Related subjects: " How to Destroy the Democratic Party", " Say You Want a Revolution", and "Do you want to help organize a jailbreak?")

I still have no idea what these people were arrested for.

And, in another Bank of America scam... "Can you believe B of A would go to the trouble of reordering transactions so it could jack up overdraft fees? Yeah, me, too. Seems a bit shameful."

The funny thing about Jan Brewer is, she gets all states' rights on immigration, but doesn't feel her own state should have any rights against federal marijuana laws. Odd, that. Oh, wait... (Ta, PBTrue.)

Emptywheel on the an interesting dance on the Senate floor and the mysteries of DiFi's secret law: "Make no mistake, not only did Wyden get this colloquy in the Senate record, but there appear to have been several threats hiding behind the Senate blather. DiFi has said she thinks the way to fix a secret law is to change it in a secret committee meeting. But Wyden et al have made it clear that if she doesn't agree to fix it in her secret committee meeting, he will try to do so on the Senate floor."

"The Tea Party Wants to Teach Your Kids About the Constitution: Teaching kids about the Constitution is certainly a laudable goal, especially given the many public surveys showing that most Americans can't even name the three branches of government. But it's the tea partiers' favored curriculum that may concern parents of both liberal and conservative persuasions." (Have I mentioned lately that the Constitution is short and not that hard to read? It might be a good idea to refresh your memory of it periodically - and carry a copy in your pocket for those days when you get into arguments. It doesn't take up much space.)

Yeah, right, you couldn't possibly have noticed that Obama is a crappy president.

A buncha more great links, quotes, and observations at Pruning Shears.

"The Ludlow Massacre resulted in the violent deaths of 19 people[1] during an attack by the Colorado National Guard on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado on April 20, 1914. The deaths occurred after a day-long fight between strikers and the Guard. Two women and eleven children were asphyxiated and burned to death. Three union leaders and two strikers were killed by gunfire, along with one child, one passer-by, and one National Guardsman. In response, the miners armed themselves and attacked dozens of mines, destroying property and engaging in several skirmishes with the Colorado National Guard."

"The Palmer Raids were attempts by the United States Department of Justice to arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States. The raids and arrests occurred in November 1919 and January 1920 under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Though more than 500 foreign citizens were deported, including a number of prominent leftist leaders, Palmer's efforts were largely frustrated by officials at the U.S. Department of Labor who had responsibility for deportations and who objected to Palmer's methods and disrespect for the legal process. The Palmer Raids occurred in the larger context of the Red Scare, the term given to fear of and reaction against political radicals in the U.S. in the years immediately following World War I."

"Happy water"

Trailer for the American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

50 Years ago, a great singer wrote and recorded a helluva great track.

19:26 BST

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Life in the clown car

Last night, just as I was falling asleep, I wondered just how many rich people from other countries really do go to the US for medical treatment, and why. I mean, given that even ordinary working-class people in England are healthier than rich people in America, why would anyone go to America for medical care? We hear about it occasionally (although it's usually people who are sufficiently evil that they might very well suspect their own doctors would kill them), but does it really happen that often? There are a lot of rich people all over the world who, as far as I can tell, never go to the US for medical treatment. Why do we never hear about them?

The real reason that malpractice insurance rates keep going up is that insurance companies jack them up as high as they can to cover their stupid investments. But the real reason for malpractice insurance itself, and high awards, is that there is lots of malpractice, and you still get charged hundreds of thousands of dollars for the fact that some idiot doctor crippled you. "In November 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a study that covered just the 15 percent of the U.S. population enrolled in Medicare. It found that each month one out of seven Medicare hospital patients is injured - and an estimated 15,000 are killed - by harmful medical practice. Treating the consequences of medical errors cost Medicare a full $324 million in October 2008 alone, or 3.5 percent of all Medicare expenditures for inpatient care. Another recent study looked at the incidence of avoidable medical errors across the entire population and concluded that they affected 1.5 million people and cost the U.S. economy $19.5 billion in 2008. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that almost 100,000 Americans now die from hospital-acquired infections alone, and that most of these are preventable." A lot of it could be fixed, but, "Some doctors and hospital administrators will object on principle. When O'Connell, aka 'The Numerator,' asked his surgeon about the moral implications of billing patients for treatments made necessary by sloppy medical practice, the response he reports receiving was disheartening: 'We're like lawyers,' O'Connell recalls the surgeon saying. 'We just provide services by the hour and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.'

Oh, gosh, look who's been promoted to the op-ed page of the NYT! Little creep.

Actual terrorist arrested: "A Wisconsin man was arrested Wednesday after he told police that he had traveled to Madison to shoot an abortion provider 'right in the head.'"

There's no point in wooing undecided voters until you teach them that the concerns in their lives are political issues. And...is it really the end of unions?

I think Stuart and Jay actually got down to the important point this week when discussing the efficacy of wasting our efforts supporting the current crop of approved Dems in elections. Is it necessarily a good thing when a nominal ("pro-business") Democrat beats out a Tea Party candidate who wants to bring the troops home and get rid of the Patriot Act? Is it meaningful if a Democrat will "vote the right way on Choice" (on a floor vote) if they will always be acting in concert with the kind of Democrats who threw ACORN under the bus? For that matter, are these Democrats really defending reproductive choice, or are they just allowing it to be whittled away? And why is Harry Reid sounding like Dick Cheney, and should we really want someone like that in our Congress? If the people vote against a Tea Party candidate, even if he's never advocated weakening Medicare, because he's a Republican, and vote for a Democrat who has the support of a Democratic leadership that clearly does intend to weaken Medicare, just because she says vouchers are bad, is that really any kind of a win for us? This is the situation we are in; what do we do about it?

It's been another hot week at The Majority Report, where Sam talked to Eli Pariser about how the internet is now sorting what your searches and even friends lists show you so that you don't see things that might contradict your own views; Ari Berman about the GOP attempt to demonize Elizabeth Warren (and an important new message from George Takei!); and to Robert Cruickshank about his article "Why aren't progressives as good at politics as conservatives?" And, um, are sure you want these Democrats to win?

Really? Would you have been enthusiastic about such a right-wing creep if he'd been white? Honestly? Because we're not talking about every single thing that happened in Obama's life, we're talking about how the hell he got elected. There were continual claims being made for Obama's black experience throughout the campaign. And there was also a continuous stream of dismissals when Obama was criticized - whether from the right or from the left - that such criticisms could only be based in racism, thus making it impossible for any such criticism to get any traction. I saw people talking like it was impossible for a block Democrat to be anything but a pure, liberal progressive. Really? Would people have been talking about how "articulate" he was if he'd been white? Would they have ignored the fact that he was raised by well-to-do Republicans and talked and voted like a Reaganite if he'd been white? Really? I don't think so.


When Beatlemania ruled the world, the strangest things turned up in comics.

14:52 BST

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Another hasty post from a distracting week

Matt Taibbi says US politics are "a reality show sponsored by Wall Street".

The evil of two lessers: "The two-party system is a twisted con based on fear. If you don't vote for Party A then Party B, which is slightly more evil, will win. If 'your' Party A wins, all you get is the dubious, incremental pseudo-victory of somewhat less suckiness. But Party A gets something infinitely more valuable: political legitimacy and the right to claim a mandate for policies that you mostly dislike. It's a terrible, lopsided bargain. You get little to nothing. They use your vote to justify their policies: No jobs. One war after another. Wasting your tax dollars. Corruption. More pollution."

Digby: "This is the source of the mistrust that characterizes the relationship between the progressives and the centrists (or neo-liberals in Cruishank's piece ) in the Democratic Party coalition. It's not just that progressive goals are often thwarted --- so are conservatives'. Nobody always gets what they want. It's that progressive values and issues are actively disdained and used as bargaining chips in negotiations. It's one thing to feel that you aren't getting what you want, it's quite another to be constantly worried that you will lose what you already have --- and at the hands of your own coalition allies." (Also: Nominations are open.)

Pravda propagates false story that Philadelphia Orchestra is bankrupt - Atrios has been covering this, but the Philadelphia Orchestra is not bankrupt, it's mismanaged, and the mismanagers want to stiff the musicians, so they are trying for bankruptcy in order to get away with it. Naturally, The Washington Post is filing it's usual friend-of-the-court-of-opinion brief on behalf of the bad guys.

NORML says it's "A Profound Moment for American Marijuana." (Thanks, PBTrue!)

Thanks to BDBlue in comments for alerting me to many exciting facts: "Things I did not know? Roseanne Barr gave Joss Whedon his first writing job. Add it to the list of reasons to love Roseanne (warning goes to rightwing site, but that's because no one else picked this up. I heard it at the time and thought...awesome (and this was in June 2009)). The most recent being her kickass essay in New York Magazine about dealing with misogyny and class issues in getting her sitcom off the ground. As Tiger Beatdown says, Roseanne is Motherfucking Hardcore, Still. (A friend sent me the NY Mag link, but the Tiger Beatdown link comes via Rortybomb, an econ blogger that everyone should read.)"

BDBlue also recommends, in a later comment, this article on the commerce clause and its implications for personal liberty: BDBlue says: "... it's an interesting perspective and one that I think reinforces the general unease many of us have with the idea of a government mandate to buy a defective product (the discussion that this is just about making sure people don't offload their healthcare costs on society via emergency rooms loses most of its appeal when you realize buying junk insurance doesn't really prevent that - it just impoverishes people even further before they get healthcare bills they can't pay)."

Sadly, a lot of progressives still don't get that if people would just promote it in public, single-payer is a winning issue.

Buncha more great links and quotes at Pruning Shears.

Tea Partiers to actually defend Constitution.

You just knew that someday Zell Miller would be working for Gingrich.

Alberto Gonzalez says he goofed.

I still can't figure out what the hell Obama was doing speaking in the Great Hall of Westminster.

13:20 BST

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Still here, again

CMike alerts me in comments to the post below that, "At the twenty-fifth anniversary event for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), Michael Moore did a pretty good job following Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, and Glenn Greenwald. In the matter of the newspaper business, here is some of what he said::

[13:28] Newspapers are having a hard time. We hear this all the time, right? They're having a difficult time making it these days because of the Internet. The Internet's killing the papers. Really? Really? How many papers are going under in Europe? How come the papers there aren't dying? Why are the papers there still surviving? I think Europe got the Internet, like a year or two ago. Pretty certain that they have the Internet in Europe. Why is it that in country like Sweden they sell a daily newspaper per person for the entire population that's [one for every] man, woman and child every single day; or a city like London has eleven daily newspapers; why newspapers still continue to thrive in Europe but are dying here?

[14:25] Well I'd like to put forth three reasons. Number One, the newspapers in this country and the media in general made a decision some time ago to participate in the dumbing down of our society. And I received a...it's an odd thing to want to make your customers stupid because by making them stupid they won't care to read what's in your paper. You would think you want your customers smart. And - about fifteen years ago I received a memo, a copy of a newspaper and this had gone out from the publisher and the managing editor and it was encouraging writers to try and keep words at three syllables or less, occasionally the fourth syllable word was O.K. It was just the most bizarre thing to read. ...

[15:58] Number Two, in the seventeen presidential elections between 1940 and 2004 the majority of the American daily newspapers, in fourteen of those seventeen elections endorsed the Republican for President of the United States, in fourteen of the seventeen presidential elections in during that time span. So, in other words, let me get this straight, the papers were endorsing the party that wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, that wanted to destroy the teacher's unions, and have funding for education be on the lowest rungs of the ladder. In other words, helping to make people stupid and illiterate.

[17:38] Third reason, the reason newspapers are not having as hard of a time in Europe as they are in this country, and that's not to say they aren't having a hard time because the economy and what has happened globally has affected every business including newspapers no matter where they're at. But their business model is different, for the most part, than it is in this country. Our business model for our papers is the primary source of revenue to fund the newspaper is advertising; circulation is number two. It's the opposite over there.

(There's more, but I wanted to keep it short - check the thread.)

For those who missed it, there's a transcript as well as audio of Sam Seder's interview with Matt Taibbi.

Harry Bellafonte's access to Barack Obama: "Belafonte was asked by host Amy Goodman whether he'd used his occasional access to directly share his many critical and valuable public policy insights with the White House. Belafonte replied that his only access to the president has been for a few seconds at a time, not long enough for any substantive discussion. But, he said, at one such event President Obama approached him to inquire when Belafonte and Cornel West were going 'to cut me some slack.' 'What makes you think we haven't?' Belafonte replied to the president. At this point the brief encounter was over." (Also: "Study Shows Insured Americans Risk Health to Avoid High Co-Payments.")

It's not just the crazy lefties, you know. There really is no reason to support politicians who step back and pretend to be wringing their hands over destructive policies of the other party and acting like there's nothing they can do when they don't even try to put up a fight. And some of the people who have figured this out are union leaders. The Democratic leadership has chosen to make this bed. They shouldn't expect us to climb in with them.

It's true that, thanks to various conservative programs that have involved both whittling away funds and stacking the curriculum with crap while eliminating a lot of useful stuff, many schools aren't as good as they used to be. But they did used to be better, and it's a bit much to claim that the people who went to them are too stupid and ignorant to know what they're talking about. (via)

I think I know why he quit: It's all been said already.

If you have some way to watch Auntie's stuff on the iPlayer, you really ought to check out Later Live... with Jools Holland.

If they all do ever get raptured, a big voice will come out of the sky saying, "Just tidying up the mess - carry on." And then since they're gone we can have a thousand years of peace. Meanwhile, on Facebook, they're honoring that video with a party.

Neil finally blogs his Doctor Who experience.

01:36 BST

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Perfect harmony

I think I'm going to disagree slightly with Atrios' emphasis. Yes, the leadership Democrats and the Republicans are both only talking about deficits, but that's no reason the media should just be sitting back and agreeing that deficits are what's important, rather than jobs. The media is perfectly happy to be adversarial about what politicians are talking about when it suits them. Unfortunately, these days, "when it suits them" means "when it suits Republicans to be adversarial about what Democrats are saying". Because, of course, these people are just a bunch of millionaire celebrity court scribes, and they don't give a toss about what the rest of the country needs or wants. Which is most emphatically not what a free press is supposed to be about. We no longer have labor reports as a routine part of the news - or even on Labor Day! We no longer have reporters who actually go out and talk to normal people and then report back in big newspapers. (That's the thing David Broder was actually famous and respected for, back in the day - that he went out and talked to the unimportant people back when he was a reporter. But he stopped doing that a long, long time ago and started reporting back from inside his own head, which by then was thoroughly soaked in DC conventional wisdom and was no different from what all the other self-important, over-paid idiots were saying.) The thing is, the leadership Democrats and Republicans have nothing but reinforcement for talking about deficits rather than jobs. Since they ignore the rest of us completely, the only thing left is a press corps to hold them to the fire. That's their job. That's why the 1st Amendment exists - so that there is an adversary out there who can tell the leadership what's important, and tell the people what needs to be done and how to do it. They're not. Because they're not a free press - they are paid shills for the corporatocracy and that has nothing to do with what the American form of government is supposed to be about. "The focus" did not shift to the deficit - that only happened in one small part of Washington, DC. For the rest of us, it's still jobs and health care and crumbling infrastructure and "legal" mobsters shaking us down for what we've honestly earned.

"Activists Cross Moat to Storm JPMorgan Chase Shareholders Meeting." There was a time when that would have been front page news. It still should be.

Of course, a real newspaper, first and foremost, should be in the newspaper business. The Washington Post is not. Neither are most other big media companies these days. And even the ones that are become hamstrung by shareholders and depend on extremely big money from bad people for their advertising dollars. Which is why The Rolling Stone is a better paper than the WaPo or the NYT.

"The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic" - Chris Hedges thinks there were an angel and a devil on Obama's shoulders, and Obama listened only to the devil. (via) (via)

Dahlia Lithwick spoke with Culture of Truth on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Chris Hedges: "The rhetoric of the Democratic Party and the neoliberals sustains the illusion of participatory democracy. The Democrats and their liberal apologists offer minor palliatives and a feel-your-pain language to mask the cruelty and goals of the corporate state. The reconfiguration of American society into a form of neofeudalism will be cemented into place whether it is delivered by Democrats, who are pushing us there at 60 miles an hour, or Republicans, who are barreling toward it at 100 miles an hour. Wolin writes, 'By fostering an illusion among the powerless classes' that it can make their interests a priority, the Democratic Party 'pacifies and thereby defines the style of an opposition party in an inverted totalitarian system.' The Democrats are always able to offer up a least-worst alternative while, in fact, doing little or nothing to thwart the march toward corporate collectivism."

The anti-immigration hysteria is like everything else they do: It's meant to gin up a scam to steal taxpayers' money - and, unsurprisingly, it's driven by the prison industry.

David Swanson of After Downing Street reckons Norman Solomon could win a seat in Congress. I think that would be cool. Maybe you can help.

No one believed him, anyway: "When the British Prime Minister David Cameron gazed into the dewy eyes of a husky and promised to lead "the greenest government ever", what did you think that would involve?" Why, I thought it was bullshit, just like everyone else did - didn't you? Yes, friends he meant, "I can't wait to bring fracking to Britain!" Hey, those people in Lancashire don't need water, anyway....

No one could have predicted that Social Security has a large surplus.

Fair comment: "The Democratic Party is like a horse that refuses to take commands from its owner and stubbornly refuses to carry him. The owner does not go out and get a new horse, but picks up the horse and carries it around in the belief that, eventually, the horse will change its mind. Years later, the horse is thinking, 'I'm a genius!'"

Long before the 1990s, people were trying to wake people up about the media takeover. It just never seemed to get any traction. And, nowadays, even people who seem very smart about the media still try to explain away the behavior of the press corps as if it were some sort of accident. But it isn't. There have been, from several different (right-wing) quarters, deliberate efforts to subvert the media as a means to undermine and destroy the American form of government. And, while two of the most noted wealthy subverters are foreigners, it's a good idea to remember that not all of them are.

I can't help thinking that if you have dinner with people who get their jollies making up excuses for bad people to do bad things to everyone else for no reason, you shouldn't be surprised when you run into people who want to do the same to you.

You could watch condom commercials all day.

Neil Gaiman's lost Doctor Who scenes.

From Ansible: "Astronomy Masterclass. Anne Robinson: 'Which scientist first discovered the four moons of Jupiter?' Male contestant: 'Amadeus.' (The Weakest Link, 26 April)" (I also see Alan Greenspan made the Cross-Disciplinary Masterclass for his remarkable misstatement of Adam Smith's invisible hand's part in the perfectly visible hand of theft driving the current international economy.) (And: OMG!)

"I'd like to buy the Kochs a world, so they'd leave ours alone..."

15:50 BST

Saturday, 14 May 2011

I know you never even try

Republicans convicted of vote-rigging in KY; but what's to be done about Wisconsin? "Thanks to serious chain of custody violations in Wisconsin --- such as ballot bags discovered to have been left "wide open" and unsealed in Waukesha County, and ballots left completely unsecured for weeks in the office of the Verona City Clerk in Dane County --- that now make it quite likely the real winner of the April 5th election for a 10-year term on the bench of that state's highest court will never be known for certain. That, even though thousands of votes have now been verified as having been miscounted during the state's partial hand-count, and even as the hotly-contested seat in question will determine the ideological balance of the court during one of the most contentious moments in Badger State history. [...] But where Wisconsin could have had an overseeable and fully verifiable election in which voters might have had confidence, voters in Kentucky, for years, never even had a chance as they were forced to vote on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting machines. [...] In 2009, a spate of high-ranking election officials in Clay County, KY --- including the County Clerk, a Circuit Court Judge, the School Superintendent, a former Magistrate, and several polling place officials --- were arrested in a massive vote buying/selling and electronic vote-machine rigging conspiracy which netted the criminals millions of dollars over the past decade. The federal charges included the County Clerk and other members of the Board of Elections having intentionally falsified election reports to include inaccurate voting results when submitted to the state. One Republican election official pleaded guilty after the arrest two years ago, and the other eight were found guilty and convicted last year in federal court. They were sentenced this past March to a total of more than 1,871 months in federal prison."

Mitch McConnell admitted that bipartisanship is a scam, and Jon Walker said: "It is no wonder so many Americans are cynical about politics. You have our political leaders openly admit the reason the two parties should work together is so they can get away with conspiring against the will of the people, and most of the pundits clap loudly, calling this strategy for undermining the principles of democracy 'courageous.'" (via)

David Runciman's review of Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World by Nicholas Shaxson and of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer - and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, "Didn't they notice?" in The London Review of Books, is worth a look. Runciman makes the point that Washington itself has become, in essence, "an offshore environment". (Thanks, Helga!) And, by coincidence, PBTrue sent me a link this morning to a Michael Hudson post from last year that fits into this discussion, "Schemes of the Rich and Greedy".

I find it amazing that millionaires are claiming jobless benefits. I guess they pay someone to do it for them - it's such a pain in the ass that most people only do it because they genuinely cannot afford not to.

The Big One got away? "Yesterday, the al Qaeda leader's sons denounced what they called their father's "arbitrary killing." Meanwhile, Pakistani officials believe one of bin Laden's sons--perhaps one known as "the Crown Prince of Terror"--may be missing after escaping from the U.S. raid." Via Singularity.

Abortion rights dwindling: "Casey didn't overturn Roe immediately, but it kicked off a 20-year process that has resulted now, in 2011, in what appears to be a functional overturn of Roe. While abortion providers and patients have kept on keeping on in the face of ever-tightening restrictions---demonstrating the power of the demand for this service---South Dakota may have just managed to ban abortion without actually banning abortion outright. They did it by pushing the 'undue burden' restriction way past the 'undue' part and into the 'impossible' territory."

Via The Majority Report video of Rand Paul making the idiotic argument that if you believe in a right to health care, you believe in slavery.

Nancy Altman of Social Security Works gave statement to the Senate Finance Committee the other day.

Michael Hudson explains Why America Had A 90% Income Tax.

50 years ago today, the Freedom Riders' bus was bombed in Anniston, Alabama.

Peabody Coal really shouldn't try to go up against The Yes Men.

I'd actually like to see Game of Thrones, because I find the books utterly absorbing and the waits between them painful, so I have no patience with reviewers who are simply contemptuous of fantasy. (I'll never forget the article on Terry Pratchett's books in Time Out by a nitwit who openly stated that, having been assigned to write a piece on Pratchett's work, she could not be bothered to read a single word of it and just asked a couple of people - who appear not to have read any, either - if it was worth her time or just boys' stuff. They said it was just boys' stuff. They were nitwits, too.) Nevertheless, much as I share Seitz's reaction to stupid reviews of the HBO product, I'm disappointed to learn that the big wedding night scene seems to have been significantly altered.

Oh, cool, film footage from the 1927 physics conference with a bunch of hot brains hanging out - Schrodinger, Bohr, Heisenberg, Curie, Einstein, etc. Via Random Walks.

Meet your solar system. (Thanks, Wayne!)

Live, Washington, DC, 1964

16:57 BST

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Us and them

"FCC Commissioner Becomes Comcast Lobbyist After Approving Comcast Deal." So much better than having a few thousand bucks in your freezer, so much bigger a bribe, and so much less likely for anyone who can do anything about it to call it what it is and arrest everyone involved. This is a much bigger case of bribery of a public official and corruption at high levels than Jefferson's puny ice-box stash. And much worse for us all.

Matt Taibbi on "The People vs. Goldman Sachs [...] Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn't leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial."

"Sanders, Paul clash on health care at Senate hearing: Put self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders and tea-party favorite Rand Paul in the same room, and a Senate subcommittee hearing can take some interesting turns. The clash of philosophies was on full display Wednesday after Sanders, a Vermont independent, noted that people in Vermont believe health care is a right. Paul, a Kentucky Republican, says it isn't." Bernie Sanders and Jim McDermott have introduced single-payer bills in both the Senate and the House, as well."The twin measures, both called the American Health Security Act of 2011, would provide federal guidelines and strong minimum standards for states to administer single-payer health care programs." Give this as much traction as you can, and let's make the bad guys oppose it in public.

Susie Madrak interviewed the excellent Dave Johnson, who has been blogging the important stuff all along, on Virtually Speaking Susie, and one of the things they talked about was why "appealing to the center" turns voters off.

Atrios uncut:
"Cunning Plan: What Boehner wants is for Democrats to own unpopular spending cuts. And with the McCaskills and Conrads of the Senate, he'll likely succeed."
"The Game: Republicans always offered conservative means to achieve more liberal goals as a way of thwarting any way of achieving those goals. They'd always be enabled by ThirdWayNoLabelsDLCTNR wankers who would praise them as Very Serious Policy Thinkers. So, carbon tax becomes cap and trade, and then cap and trade becomes... just like Hitler!"
"Things Matt Bai Forgot To Say About Newt Gingrich: Much like Jesus, he died for our sins."

The David H. Koch Theater

Pink Floyd

13:58 BST

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

I think you'll understand

The other day I noticed that David Brooks was saying Americans are solipsistic, and I rolled my eyes but couldn't be arsed to respond to it. However, Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog answers part of the question very neatly, although he doesn't mention that, just aside from how Americans vote, issue polling also shows that Americans are more than comfortable with doing the things that actually need to be done to reduce deficits, most notable among them being raising taxes on the rich. (He also didn't mention that when Bush talked about "your money" that he wanted to "give back" to "you", he meant working people's Social Security money that he wanted to steal to hand over to people whose money it wasn't, in the form of income tax refunds. Which is why the people who had paid the least into Social Security got the biggest bite of it. Fortunately, he failed to convince people that all that money should come out of the Social Security fund, so that's not what happened, but that was what he was doing - trying to steal the Social Security surplus to hand over to the rich. He still took a bunch of money and gave most of it to the rich, but he didn't get to write it off from the SSI trust fund.) But later, Steve refers to a Pew poll showing that liberals are more likely than conservatives (by pretty big numbers) to value compromise. Which makes me wonder what people think they mean when they say they want politicians to compromise, and what it is they want them to compromise on. It's not my impression that liberals feel particularly good about the results of Democratic "compromise", which would explain the current composition of the House.

I was listening to Blue Gal and Drifty's podcast and had the sinking feeling that the Bachman Bogeyman is so mind-numblingly scary that no one has a plan for what happens if another crazy Republican gets into the White House. I mean, yes, sure, elect good people at the local level, but let's not forget that decades of "We have to keep Nixon/Reagan/Bush Out of the White House" has been the road that got us where we are today. As long as DC is infested with right-wing Democrats, it's irrelevant whether the president is named Bachman or Obama. And anyway, what's the Plan B if President Bachman gets into office anyway?

Chomsky: "It's increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law. There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 80 commandos facing virtually no opposition - except, they claim, from his wife, who lunged towards them. In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress 'suspects.' In April 2002, the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it 'believed' that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan, though implemented in the UAE and Germany. What they only believed in April 2002, they obviously didn't know 8 months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know, because they were instantly dismissed) to extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence - which, as we soon learned, Washington didn't have. Thus Obama was simply lying when he said, in his White House statement, that 'we quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda.' Nothing serious has been provided since. There is much talk of bin Laden's 'confession,' but that is rather like my confession that I won the Boston Marathon. He boasted of what he regarded as a great achievement." And Haaretz: "Obama murdered bin Laden for a fistful of votes. [...] There is an international conspiracy of silence in most of the Western countries - which consider themselves enlightened - in regard to the acts of terror, looting and greed that characterize Washington's conduct in the international arena."

Yes, we have indeed seen bake sales and benefits for our friends when their insurance doesn't cover their medical needs. I do wish certain Obamapologists would understand this, too. You may have been lucky with your insurance company so far, but don't count on it when the going gets rough, and don't assume that just because you have been lucky, it works that way for everyone. There is nothing misleading or inaccurate about the story Michael Moore told in Sicko - and Obama hasn't done a thing to change that.

Politician's Mom Makes Him Apologize To Neil Gaiman. But only for name-calling.

Cliff Schecter and Dday (David Dayen) were the guests on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Still a great little track.

11:53 BST

Saturday, 07 May 2011

One fine day

Life has been full of distractions. I really did enjoy the heatwave here, but then it got cold again just like normal, and I started worrying that it was all the summer we are going to get. Alternatively, I suppose it could have presaged a long hot summer - and then it turned summery again.. Which is a bit more normal for May, and anyway it clouded over this afternoon and looks like London again.

So, like I was saying, you better hope they don't do anything to screw up Social Security and Medicare, since more and more adults are having to live with their parents.

"Minnesota GOP leader declares war on Neil Gaiman: Murisan sez, "Minnesota House Majority leader called author Neil Gaiman a 'pencil-necked weasel' that he 'hated' for earning $45K from a state arts fund for speaking at a library." The $45K in question was specifically earmarked for bringing authors to suburban libraries, and Neil donated it to charity."

"GOP drops Medicare from budget proposal" - I dunno, maybe Obama already offered to give them something they want even more. Or maybe Obama is busy looking for a way to shoe-horn the Medicare damage back into the budget. Then again, it may be that Republicans are more responsive to (afraid of) their base than the Democrats are of theirs, so their voters are going to pull them to the left even if they don't want to go there.

Jeffrey D. Sachs says "World is drowning in corporate fraud [...] Corporate corruption is out of control for two main reasons. First, big companies are now multinational, while governments remain national. Big companies are so financially powerful that governments are afraid to take them on. Second, companies are the major funders of political campaigns in places like the U.S. Politicians often look the other way when corporate behavior crosses the line. Even if governments try to enforce the law, companies have armies of lawyers to run circles around them." (via)

"Osama bin Laden is dead but corporate welfare lives forever."

Susie Madrak talked to David Swanson of After Downing Street and War is a Lie on Virtually Speaking Susie, and Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman talked about how the corporate media performed as if they were a state-run propaganda machine. for the administration over the announcement that Osama had been killed, on Virtually Speaking A-Z.

Sam Seder interviewed The Rude Pundit on The Majority Report.

Medium Lobster: "After years of groaning unemployment and morbid obesity, America has rediscovered its love of life by killing a thing. While the thing had killed other things, it had frequently killed the wrong kinds of things, in the wrong kinds of ways, and it was important, America felt, to kill it, along with several hundred thousand other things, to stress the point. 'There is a long and honorable tradition of killing things in America,' said the secretary of killing things. 'But this thing did not kill things in the way that things are supposed to kill things. And so I am pleased to say that we killed it.'"

I actually think that next year, whoever and wherever we are all over the world, we should be having big events for May Day.

Nice little photo-essay on a man's mission to preserve pinball. (Thanks, Moshe!)

Clouds from above by Rüdiger Nehmzow
Landscape photographs by Daniel Rericha
Lollipops by Massimo Gammacurta
70 Years Separates Them by Sacha Goldberger
Beautiful Photos by Mikko Lagerstedt
Steampunk Sculptures by Pierre Matter
Girl art photos by Andrey Soloviev
Street Life in Paintings of Kal Gajoum

The Chiffons

15:27 BST

Monday, 02 May 2011

Pots and pans

I know I've quoted this line a few times in the past, but like Patrick says, there's no better memorial to her than her own voice, and it's one of my favorite short quotes: "Homophobia isn't there to keep homosexuals in line. Homophobia is there to keep everyone else in line." More at Joanna Russ, 1937-2011. She was sometimes a difficult woman, but also an inspiring one. I became heavily consumed by her work for a while - at first, her fiction, but ultimately I came to prefer her non-fiction. I wish I'd put in the effort to make our correspondence last longer. She was sharp and insightful and provocative and a lot of other things, but she also wasn't too snooty to look around and hear and credit the insights of others. She was prepared to be contrarian, but not for its own sake - rather, because she recognized that the "common wisdom" had veered down the wrong path and someone ought to point it out. She simply had no patience with dumb ideas.

The thread for this post got longer than usual when commenter David W. took issue with the idea that re-electing Obama might not be a good thing and made a traditional false statement about something the left allegedly said prior to other elections. CMike's rejoinder, in essence, is that a Republican is going to get elected eventually, and if it isn't in 2012, it will probably be in the following election - and the longer we continue this downhill slide under a nominal "Democrat", the worse it will be, so we may as well get it over with and do the work necessary to disengage from this odious version of a Democratic leadership now. Stuart Zechman took issue with David W.'s fantasy that Obama is giving us half a loaf and we want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And there's more, and I found it makes interesting reading. Not that I have as yet divined the linchpin of some people's belief that we have to support Obama no matter what. The man is a liar who has been doing and continues to do terrible things - things most of us thought the Democratic Party was supposed to be against. I do not care if he calls himself a Democrat, or if he is The First Black President, or anything else; what I care about is that he is doing horrible things and corrupting the very idea of "liberalism" and "progressivism" with every step. He needs to be repudiated and we must make it clear that it's not his birth certificate that's responsible, it's not partisanship that's responsible, and it's not Glenn Beck that's responsible; it's because Obama is marching us into the abyss and we can't go along with him. Your vote for Obama will be a vote for war and for torture, for executive godhood, for murder, for fraud, and for the robbery of the American people. You have no business pointing at the Republicans and how horrible they are if you can't do the same about Obama. And, most of all, you have no business laughing at the delusions of the Teabaggers and Birthers if you can't recognize how deluded it is to support this nasty little con man.

CMike also reminded me that Dean Baker has been on the case of the high cost of American health care for some time. For example, on Patent Medicine: "Absurdly high prices have put lifesaving prescription drugs out of reach for millions of Americans and for hundreds of millions of people in developing countries. In large part, patent protection is to blame. The patent system is a trade-off: Consumers pay a monopoly price on a drug for 17 years to provide incentives for firms to undertake research that yields large profits. But the patent system is not the only way to support drug research. Alternatives that have a proven track record of success already exist--specifically, research supported by foundations, universities, and the government. Shortening patent terms and putting most pharmaceutical research in the public domain would cut costs for consumers as well as for government. And contrary to industry propaganda, doing so would not reduce innovation." And, hey, if we're going to "globalize" everything else, why not doctors?

It's getting harder and harder to follow a link without finding not only the post you're referred to, but a bunch of other links therein that you follow, until you end up with, say, Rick Perlstein's 2008 piece on The Meaning of Box 722 wherein Perlstein discusses the unthinkable revivification of the Republican Party as "the congressional class that gave us Medicare and Medicaid, the first serious environmental legislation, National Endowments for the Humanities and Arts, Head Start, the Voting Rights Act, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the end of racist immigration quotas, Legal Aid, and more - was swept out on a tide of popular reaction. That reaction, I hope I demonstrate effectively in NIXONLAND, rested on two pillars: terror at the wave of urban rioting that began in the Watts district of Los Angeles; and terror at the prospect of the 1966 civil rights bill passing, which, by imposing an ironclad federal ban on racial discrimination in the sale and rental of housing - known as "open housing" - would be the first legislation to impact the entire nation equally, not just the South. (What that reaction most decidedly did not rest on: fear and loathing of "hippies," which were unknown, except in California, to most of the nation until 1967; or antiwar activists, which were not associated with either party, because Republicans and Democrats had about an equal number of hawks and doves in 1966.)"

From Pruning Shears: "The latest from WikiLeaks. Restrictive intellectual property law being driven by the same folks who have decided squeezing every last nickel out of ancient creations is more important than innovation. (Ask Pharma how that's working out, dumbasses.)" Also, another quote from Yves Smith's ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism.

Mayors pissed off at feds: "Mayors could never get away with the kind of nonsense that goes on in Washington.. In our world, you either picked up the trash or you didn't. You either moved an abandoned car or you didn't. You either filled a pothole or you didn't. That's what we do every day. And we know how to get this stuff done." Also, medical shortages: "If we had more professional civil servants instead of outsourcing so many government functions, there might have been someone working for the FDA who saw this coming and did something about it."

McJoan and Digby talked last night on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Just for the record, I don't care if Osama bin Laden is dead. He beat America the minute everyone decided that 9/11 was a good excuse to forget everything we ever knew. But he served the Cloud City very well. Even if you accept that he personally plotted the murder of 3,000 people on that day, the simple fact is that his "enemies" have killed more. Not just more Muslims or more foreigners, mind - although they've done that, too - but more Americans. More Americans are starved, maimed, allowed to die of treatable illnesses, and forced to sleep where they are exposed to the elements, and deprived of a future, because of the decisions of "American" leaders of both parties and "our" business community, every single year, than Obama bin Laden could ever have dreamt of killing. And America will not win until we have caught and punished every one of these warmongering, torturing, spying, rent-seeking bastards and cleaned out the rot.

Victorian Star Trek

Some hot boogie woogie from Johan Blohm.

16:23 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, May 2011

April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
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.

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image. AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike