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Sunday, 29 November 2009

Farewell, Rob Holdstock

Just yesterday, Dominic, who had never met him, was talking about the great contribution Rob Holdstock had made to fantasy with Mythago Wood. Dominic didn't realize that Holdstock was part of the old gang, almost part of the family, and once an integral feature of Mr. Sideshow's life. We had seen less of him recently, but when we did see him he was still Rob Holdstock, robust and energetic - full of life, and sometimes seeming perhaps a bit bigger than life.

Last week, we'd learned that Rob was suddenly hospitalized - at first we weren't told why and the speculation was heart attack or stroke, but it turned out to be E. coli.

But yesterday, I think we expected him to survive it. And last night it killed him.

People who didn't know Rob might not be particularly surprised to hear of the death of a 61-year-old man, but Holdstock really was someone who seemed to be absolutely bursting with immortal vitality. We could not be more shocked.

Rob's Wikipedia page doesn't say much about the fact that he was an important part of British fandom back in the day, but he sure did liven up a gathering of fans. Yet we know that many people, whether authors themselves or just fans of his work, took a great deal from his professional writing. His stories, often full of elusive magic, made them think. That's really worth a great deal in itself.

Robert P. Holdstock, 1948-2009.
A brief word from Jim Holdstock.
From Graham Sleight at Locus.
And from TNH.

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23:40 GMT


Happy Advent

I'm still not entirely used to the idea that August is over, but it's that time of year again and I'm going to do my best to get into the mood. This would a lot easier if I could find any Advent calendars that actually start on Advent, but they all seem to start on December 1st. Oh, well....

Drug WarRant recently published this chart giving a cost/benefit analysis on legalization versus criminalization of marijuana. (I don't know why Kentucky isn't listed as a potential source of revenue - gods know they could use the help.) Right now, we spend billions of dollars a year allegedly trying to "save" people from marijuana use by destroying their lives with imprisonment. Of course, the private prison industry doesn't want this changed, and neither does the GOP, who prefer to have as many ways as they can find to turn America into a police state. Administration policy is to keep federal law enforcement out of the business of overruling state laws allowing the use of medical marijuana, but Dave Neiwert notes that a state Attorney General is currently embarked on a mission to ignore the voters in his own state and to countermand administration policy. And Dave also has a video of Tom Coborn making up stories about the issue while trying to grill Eric Holder on in the Senate.

I really enjoy the idea of introducing taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order to pay off the huge costs their votes for Republicans have bought us - and naming it after them. "The Bush Iraq Debt Tax", "The Republican Bailout Tax", "The Republican Job-Export Tax". Yes, they will scream about the tax, but I want to hear them complain about having it named after them. (And how about the "Republican War on Some Drugs Tax"?)

Glenn Greenwald: "It's interesting how what was once lambasted as "Constitution-shredding" under George Bush is now nothing more than: Obama's "civil liberties record hasn't been exactly what I would have wanted." Also, the premise implicitly embedded in Matt's argument is the standard Beltway dogma that there would be serious political costs from reversing the Bush/Cheney abuses of the Constitution and civil liberties. The success of Obama's campaign -- which emphatically and repeatedly vowed to do exactly that -- ought to have permanently retired that excuse." Strange as it may see, I was outraged by Bush's actions because of what he did, not because he was George Bush or a Republican. I'd really like to know what makes Obama so special that it's okay when he does this stuff. The Republicans are now so repulsive that Democrats can't be worried about losing votes to them as long as they don't act like Republicans. But that problem of not acting like Republicans seems to be a real sticking point for the Dem leadership. (Meanwhile, A key British official reminds us of the forgotten anthrax attack. Yes, an attempt to assassinate members of the United States Senate, emanating from an American military lab, was a key factor in the success of the push to invade Iraq - and we still don't want to talk about it. Why is that?)

Of course, we might not have "had to" invade Iraq if Bush and Rumsfeld hadn't gone out of their way to avoid getting bin Laden when they had the chance.

Famous Mouse Portraits

Randy Newman, 1979

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17:14 GMT


Stuff I saw

Wonderbra Sparkle Teese moulded balconette braBra of the Week

An enigmatic galaxy

Fog

Erotic photo

What vampires should be like

Queen for a day. Also: Police file no charges against terrorist when he is hospitalized after one of the bombs he's building goes off. (Hint: He's white.)

Democrats don't want to vote. Gosh, I wonder what causes that? (via)

Obama administration pretends not to know how to cut costs on their stupid health care bill. Funny, Nye Bevan figured out how to save lots of money by creating the National Health Service.

Obama outsourcing war crimes to Blackwater in Pakistan. Well. What a surprise.

Playing Defense: "In 2000, the Pentagon admitted it has lost - yes, lost - $2.3 trillion. In 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a subsequent Department of Defense study said it was only $1 trillion. To put such numbers in perspective, contemplate what those sums could finance. $1 trillion, for instance, could pay the total cost of universal healthcare for the long haul. $2.3 trillion would cover universal healthcare plus the bank bailout plus the stimulus package."

Ruth, looking at events in Dubai, sees the United States sliding into the same trap John Perkins described in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, and thinks it has the feel of something deliberate. And in the ensuing comment thread, Peasant Party notes the Raw Story article, "Fed chairman pens op-ed panning proposed audit," and wonders, "So what exactly is he trying to hide?" (Ian Welsh also sees Dubai's problem as America's.)

Irresponsible people are going to destroy what's left of the economy instead of trying to make it better. Instead of trying to strengthen the middle class, they want to cut Social Security and Medicare. A significant number of these people are Democrats. Obama appears to want to help them. More here.

Congratulations to The Mercury News for getting Dave Johnson's "Why America needs to go back to taxing the wealthy". Dave left out the fact that when people get rich at a level we used to refer to as "immorally wealthy" (no, really, that didn't refer to hookers), they exercise that power to hugely damaging effect to every vital organ of the system - as we have seen. (via)

Jeralyn about why "Good People" shouldn't be prosecutors.

Since Thursday is a normal day here, I made them all come and turkey out with me today. Massive thanks to Dominic for actually learning how to make pumpkin pie for me. But: I've hardly made a dent in the washing-up but Oh, gods, I am tired!

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01:13 GMT


Friday, 27 November 2009

Or we may walk until the daylight, maybe

Judge voids mortgage: "A Suffolk judge awarded a Long Island family their East Patchogue house, wiping the slate clean on their mortgage debt and ruling that the bank holding their home loan had acted in a manner 'so completely devoid of good faith that equity cannot be permitted to intervene on its behalf.' In a terse, no-holds-barred decision rendered Nov. 19, Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey A. Spinner blasted the actions of IndyMac Mortgage Services, a division of OneWest Bank F.S.B., and its representatives - and awarded the home to Diana J. Yano-Horoski and husband Greg Horoski." Good result - but a great result would have been for the banksters to go to jail for fraud.

Blame the gun nuts: "We've learned in recent weeks that Nidal Hasan's communications with a radical cleric had come to the attention of the FBI, which had begun investigating the Army psychiatrist accused of the Fort Hood massacre. Federal officials did not, however, know about Hasan's purchase of a handgun -- a move that would likely have brought greater scrutiny before the shootings. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) and former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean (R) write this morning that the FBI couldn't have known about Hasan's firearms purchase because of a shift in the law, approved several years ago. The curb on gun data, they argue, can and should be fixed."

Yeah, Blanche Lincoln, what a hero - or not.

I remember back when George F. Will tried to claim Bruce Springsteen for the Reagan Revolution. Apparently, Springsteen by-passed David Brooks' censors, too. (I would have thought this was more his sort of thing.)

You know, I can remember Bush saying the same damn thing.

"FAA and NORAD Changed Records to Accord with Cheney Lies: "A senior Counsel for the 9/11 Commission, John Farmer, has written a book exposing the degree to which our response to 9/11 was disorganized and out dated - geared to respond to an attack from Russia rather than from terrorists. Most significantly, Farmer reveals that FAA and NORAD altered their chronologies of the day only after a briefing at the White House."

The Opinuary Column: "The Opinion "It's morning in America" has died from complications due to the time now being late afternoon--the days grow shorter and shorter until light itself is but a fleeting visitor. The banks have the citizenry by the balls, the military industrial complex is in full career, health insurance companies buy and sell politicians for fun and profit while human beings are denied health care primarily because they need health care. If this is the afterglow of Morning in America I daresay it must have been one hell of a bomb."

Amazing things you didn't see on the news.

The Susie Bright quote page may not be work-safe.

Return to Mandelbrot. (H/t Dominic.)

Springsteen & the E Street, live

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21:46 GMT


Tuesday, 24 November 2009

But Monopoly is so much fun I'd hate to blow the game

Jay Ackroyd makes an error when he says, "The only argument in opposition to a public option is that it will lower executive compensation and shareholder value in the health care industry. Or, as Atrios says, that it will get rid of the skimmers. It is not surprising that proponents of retention of the worst health care system in the OECD do not make this argument." That might be true if we were talking about the original version of the public option as described before our legislators started messing around with it - one that was open to everyone and restrained fraudulent practices by the insurance industry, among other things - but that's not what's on the table. Off the top of my head, I can think of several very good arguments against the "public option" as it is currently being presented, and it starts with: The fiscally responsible, efficient policy, is comprehensive single-payer. Even if you take single-payer off the table (and you shouldn't), forcing taxpayers to buy a commercial insurance policy from a company that has no real restraints on its practices is simple extortion and has no added value to society whatsoever. It's also politically stupid - Americans will remember that it was Democrats who shoved this thing down their throats and only the craziest conservatives who objected loudly enough to be heard. If conservatives were objecting to anything that was worth having, even the GOP leadership might try to tone them down and put forward more reasonable-sounding arguments instead, but they're not - they are putting their foot down, however loony their arguments are, against something Americans really are going to hate. Young, vibrant, Obama-supporting Americans of the sort the Democratic Party thought they were wooing by getting behind Obama. And anyway, you still won't get health care. Just a load of old politics. So, you know, Lambert is right about that. even though I think he has the wrong impression of Jay's motives. (Lambert also notes that the one aspect of health care that Obama seems interested in, putting your medical records on computers, won't even save any money. This has all the sounds of another kickback scheme. Obama so reminds me of Tony Blair.)

However, Jay is right when he says: "Making taxpayers help pay for people forced to buy crappy health insurance because four senators want to preserve their Daschle retirement option is not good policy or good politics." Because, as McJoan says, "The problem is, anything that works to make these guys happy isn't going to be real reform." And efforts to make them happy have already made the so-called "public option" into a pile of crap. I have no problem making an argument against that.

When comparing the government to the Mafia isn't even hyperbole.

Krugman thinks the administration listens to Wall Street fear-mongering too much. Because Wall Street says we should be afraid of the dangers of spending money on America (instead of just giving it to them). So, is Obama really that stupid, or is he just One Of Them?

Meanwhile, although you are not allowed to use your tax money to insure - and ensure - your own health, you are going to have to insure the financial industry with it. Ah, smell the hope! Smell the change!

Candace Gorman: "On Tuesday I reported that the Government finally allowed me to discuss matters that had previously been 'protected' in regards to my client Al-Ghizzawi. In fact the Government unclassified and allowed for public release a Petition for Original Habeas Corpus that I filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. I released that Petition to the Public in accordance with the Government's designation of 'unclassified.' On Friday the Department of Justice (DOJ) told me that it had made a mistake and that it had apparently violated the Protective Order (an Order that sets out the rules for the DOJ and Habeas counsel in regards to the Guantanamo cases) entered in the case when it 'unclassified' and allowed for public release information in the Petition that it wanted to 'protect' and that therefore I must remove my post of November 17 because of the DOJ's mistake. I explained to the DOJ attorneys that the Petition and my Post of November 17th were widely distributed and are available at various sites on the web...they do not seem to care about that ....they only care that I not report about what they are now trying to declare 'protected information'.... 5 days after they unclassified the material and made it available for public release." Via Diane, who notes that you can still get the info thanks to The Talking Dog.

Lyndon Johnson knew better than to escalate in Vietnam, but he did it anyway. Now, Obama is in the same place, apparently doing the same thing.

Nice little comment from Vastleft: "Shorter Obama: Both sides of the culture war are simultaneously right and wrong, and liberals suck.

And, of course no one is responsible for the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes.

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19:00 GMT


Sunday, 22 November 2009

Too little, too late

YesMaster Model's Cafe braided detail balconette braBra of the Week, because I was somewhat surprised by the name of this new line Figleaves is carrying. (Meanwhile, this isn't a bra, but it sure is pretty.)

Ekranoplans (via)

A sparkly APOD

A spectacular sunset

Pam Sargent has word on Polyphony and Wheatland Press.

Not one Republican - not even Olympia Snowe - was willing to vote to debate health care in the Senate. That should make it final - any concession that was added to the plan in order to charm Republicans should be deleted. Now. And then try and turn it into a good bill, instead.

Krugman sees more bad news ahead: "Nobody expects President Obama to come back from China with major new agreements, on economic policy or anything else. But let's hope that when the cameras aren't rolling Mr. Obama and his hosts engage in some frank talk about currency policy. For the problem of international trade imbalances is about to get substantially worse. And there's a potentially ugly confrontation looming unless China mends its ways. [...] But why do I say that this problem is about to get much worse? Because for the past year the true scale of the China problem has been masked by temporary factors. Looking forward, we can expect to see both China's trade surplus and America's trade deficit surge."

Oops! Sorry we wrecked the world! "After being ridiculed for saying he was doing God's work, and having seen his company labelled as a bloodsucking vampire squid, Lloyd Blankfein yesterday delivered a mea culpa to a conference in New York. 'We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret,' Blankfein said. 'We apologise.'"

I mostly try to avoid writing about Sarah Palin and any of the other just-plain-crazy that some individuals on the far right might be up to. The only thing that makes these subjects worthy of mention is not how empty or loony it is, but how the corporate media is in love with talking about all this emptiness and getting all a-tingle over her and them and it. So it makes sense that Matt Taibbi's article about Palin's book is really about the public "debate": The really beautiful thing about the culture war, from an entertainment standpoint, is that it is fundamentally irresolvable. There isn't a concrete set of issues involved, where in theory both sides could give in a little and find middle ground, reach some sort of compromise. That's because there are no issues at all. At the end of this decade what we call 'politics' has devolved into a kind of ongoing, brainless soap opera about dueling cultural resentments and the really cool thing about it, if you're a TV news producer or a talk radio host, is that you can build the next day's news cycle meme around pretty much anything at all, no matter how irrelevant ... Her followers will not know that she is the perfect patsy for our system, designed as it is to channel popular anger in any direction but a useful one, and to keep the public tied up endlessly in pointless media melees over meaningless nonsense (melees of the sort that develop organically around Palin everywhere she goes). Like George W. Bush, even Palin herself doesn't know this, another reason she's such a perfect political tool. (via)

Ruth wants you to join her campaign to give you your space back.

Act without thinking, because that's what David Broder wants.

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15:28 GMT


Thursday, 19 November 2009

Bad omens

Remember "the Kelo decision" that sparked off a whole lot of screaming about eminent domain laws? Well, it's funny how the actual development involved worked out....

"If Democrat Healthcare 'Reform' Was Applied to Other Kinds of Insurance"...

The progressive caucus is talking about the need to get rid of Geithner, but they haven't even written their Sternly-Worded Letter yet, and like Susie says, the likelihood of them actually putting someone good in the job (like, say, Elizabeth Warren - who even Bloomberg is appearing to respect) is low.

Let us pray - Frank Schaeffer on the Maddow show says of his former colleagues in the religious right: "Look. This is the American version of the Taliban. The Taliban quotes the Qu'ran, and al Qaeda quotes certain verses in the Qu'ran, in or out of context, calling for jihad, and bloody war, and the curse of Allah on infidels. This is the Old Testament, Biblical equivalent of calling for holy war. Now, most Americans'll just see the bumper sticker and smile and think that it's facetious. Unfortunately, there are 22 million Americans or so who call themselves super-conservative evangelicals. Of this, a small minority might be violent. But, the general atmosphere here is really getting heated."

My favorite phrase in Doug's post is "our hippie overlords". But I don't think most Americans actually agree all that much with what they see coming from the Village media circus. I think that's the point, really - they sit there being in the "liberal" media and wearing their elitist attitudes on their sleeves, and everyone gets to hate them. Only some people hate them for being "liberal elitists".

Natasha: "If you're a Democrat who doesn't get that all restrictions on abortion are human rights violations, we aren't on the same team."

Even Jane has noticed that something stinks about the Senate health care bill. And yes, it really bites. But, Jane, the House bill bites, too. (Meanwhile, Kent Conrad is pretending he thinks it's bad for health insurance companies to be grabbing for your wallet.)

mmmm, mmmm, mmmmm.

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16:26 GMT


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

You read it here last

Yes, I'm sorry, I had a tech day and a dentist day together and just ended up accumulating a lot of links I didn't get around to posting.

Another reason to kill the insurance companies: "Study: Uninsured Trauma Victims Face Sky-High Death Rate. It's federal law: All seriously injured emergency and trauma patients must be given equal lifesaving care, whether or not they can pay for it. But that's not happening, according to a new report. The study, conducted by Children's Hospital Boston research fellow Dr. Heather Rosen and colleagues from three other hospitals, found that uninsured trauma victims ages 18 to 30 are dying at an annual rate 89 percent higher than insured victims with identically severe injuries. [...] The study concludes that there is "pervasive evidence of disparities in screening, hospital admission, treatment and outcome due to insurance status." Overall, uninsured patients had the highest rate of death, even after controlling for age, sex, race, and severity and mechanism of injury." The sooner we get rid of them, the sooner their mere existence stops killing us.

This is almost funny: "The White House is seizing on the news of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's planned anti-reform study to declare open war on the organization, circulating talking points on the Hill declaring it an 'intentionally skewed' effort to 'safeguard the insurance companies' bottom line at the expense of the American people.'" Well, it is, but an honest critic would say the same about the White House's "reforms".

Meanwhile, the NYT admits that MSNBC's "liberal" line-up is critical of Obama - and non-partisan: "Ms. Maddow pretended to celebrate the passage of a health care overhaul bill in the House, calling it 'potentially a huge generational win for the Democratic Party' - but then halted the triumphant music and called it an 'electoral defeat.' The Stupak amendment, she said, was 'the biggest restriction on abortion rights in a generation.' Then she wondered aloud about the consequences for Democrats 'if they don't get women or anybody who's pro-choice to ever vote for them again.' She returned to the subject the next four evenings in a row. This is how it looks to have a television network pressuring President Obama from the left." But only a little. The whole health care bill is pretty much a defeat, even without the Stupid amendment. I haven't seen much about that on TV, yet.

Dept. of Best Health Care in the World: Your Third World infant mortality rate.

Born Again Deficit Virgins: "Everything you need to know about the descent of the conservative movement into a hypocritical caricature is illustrated by two of its proudest constituencies: Republican deficit hawks and so-called "born again virgins."" Except, you know, they never believed in the stuff they say they believe in. They will always say social programs, no matter how modest - even those that save money - are too expensive, and they will always think no amount of money is too much to spend on wars or give away to big business.

Diane says it's catchy, but you can't dance to it: "There was an interesting take on Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that those charged with the 9/11 conspiracy currently held at Guantanamo Bay would be tried in a civilian court in New York City by Geoffrey Robertson in the "Comment Is Free" section of the U.K's Guardian. While Mr. Robertson finds much to cheer about in the administration's decision, he also expresses his disappointment in one key part of the decision." (But I bet you can't even begin to guess what Rudy Giuliani was talking about lately. Oh, you guessed.)

I just can't imagine why people would be mad at the Fed.

I know sometimes laughing at the wingers is irresistible, but I can't help the feeling that some of my favorite liberal activists and bloggers are the ones who are really blowing it. We should be screaming, "NO!" to the Bush-becomes-Obama policies as loudly as we screamed when it was Bush doing it (torture, wars, incarceration without trials, etc.), and as Obama is doing it (bank bailouts, and the fact that the so-called "health care reform" bill is actually even worse than the mess Bush made of No Child Left Behind and the Medicare drug benefit). It doesn't matter that the wingnuts' arguments are rubbish. What matters is that What the Democrats are doing is just as crappy as what Bush was doing, and we're not stopping it. It could be argued that it is worse precisely because Democrats are doing it. Who will the public turn to when they see what the Democrats have done to them? I suspect it will be whoever seems to be channeling their level of outrage most closely - and there will be plenty of outrage to go around.

But maybe none of it will matter, soon.

"Death is disgruntled, apparently."

What are Lichtenberg Figures, and how do we create them? (H/t Dominic.)

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14:40 GMT


Sunday, 15 November 2009

Suddenly the sun came out

Figleaves Silk dd+ balconette braBra of the Week (although, really, this is what I'm in the mood for at this time of year. I've always hoped someone would do that. Now I just need to scrape up some money so I can get one.)

In other ladies' fashion news, 24,000 LEDs. (H/t Dominic.)

The Ring Nebula

Why do we never get an answer to these questions about the "public option" from "progressives" who keep pumping for it? 1. Do you expect that this 'public option' will be "strong" and 'robust'? 2. How many people do you expect will have access to it? 3. Will it substantially 'help keep insurance companies honest'? 4. Will it bring America anywhere in line with other countries on health-care costs?"

This Week in Tyranny, the best you can say about the Patriot Act is that it didn't work, the Center for American Progress is so close to the White House at this point that it has endorsed a policy it once identified with neocon lunatics, the people who theoretically can control Blackwater are under the guard by Blackwater, and Obama is just like Bush in his desire to hold only trials where conviction is assured.

Medium Lobster: "Had Nidal Malik Hasan been launched from a remotely-piloted Predator drone into a Pakistani funeral procession, it would have been a bold victory in the War on Terror; had the major been dropped onto a village in Waziristan or fired into an Afghan wedding party, it would have represented an efficient and effective display of tactical military superiority; had he exploded in a shower of cluster bomblets over a Gaza refugee camp or been dispersed in a cloud of corrosive gas through an Iraqi city, we could all celebrate this triumph of American technical ingenuity over the forces of barbarism. Instead, Major Hasan will be tragically remembered as a piece of prematurely detonated ordnance, accidentally claiming the lives of people rather than those of numbers." And Fafnir on Schrodinger's Guilt.

My memory is hazy here, but I seem to recall that even Krugman wasn't too in love with the theory that speculation, not supply in demand, was responsible for oil-price swings. Whereas I thought it was a dead cert.

If you live in the UK, you might want to suggest to your MP that it's time to admit that women from Northern Ireland do, too.

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14:01 GMT


Saturday, 14 November 2009

If it ever stops raining

Ellen Goodman notes that people are angry because the Democrats are too good at getting rolled, and Diane says read the rest, and "Then send each of your Democratic congress critters a voided check written to the DNC for "$0.00 NOT ONE RED CENT". If you have Republican representatives, send each of them a wire coathanger." Actually, if you're going to void the check anyway, you might as well make it for a grand and then write, "Voided due to lack of single-payer" on it.

"So, are you satisfied now? Seriously. Are you? Are you satisfied with the health care bill that passed the House? After all the compromises, after all the "asses of Blue Dogs are to be kissed, those of progressives are to be stomped" concessions, after stripping out authorities for state-level single-payer plans and adding in abortion bans, after changing "Medicare plus 5%" to "negotiate one provider at a time," after creating a flimsy, weak, unattractive "public option" consciously designed to be no better than private insurance and which will cost more than private insurance, after creating an individual mandate but omitting any rate caps and removing the prospect of serious competition, after creating a system of what amounts to multibillion dollar taxpayer handouts to the insurance industry, after getting zero concessions from the right or the insurance companies that they weren't prepared to give even before the debate began, are you really satisfied?"

"Send A Coat Hanger To An Anti Choice Democrat. Blue America is teaming up with Working Assets, the folks behind CREDO Mobile and CREDO Action in a project we think you'll like. We're urging you to sign a petition to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid regarding the 20 formerly pro-choice men who voted for the virulently anti-choice Stupak Amendment last Saturday. Working Assets will send one of them a coat hanger for each signature." Actually, that's weak tea for me - every single Democrat who voted for the whole piece-of-crap bill needs to be hearing from their constituents that allowing this bill, which gives us nothing but actually takes things away from us, to get anywhere near a floor vote was an act of pure evil and that you will be backing a primary challenge against anyone who doesn't act to kill it and get back to square one: single-payer.

Digby, not having forgotten the lessons of a laughably unelectable clown called Ronald Reagan, isn't happy to watch "progressives" treat pointing-and-laughing as sufficient protection: "Whenever the Republicans move right, the villagers expect the Democrats to do the same. Indeed, with the Republicans taking themselves completely out of legislation, the Democrats have pretty much assigned members of their own ranks to take their place in the negotiations. They have the ability to move the right without the country even realizing it's happening."

You have no rights.

Did you know that, aside from Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is the richest elective official on Capitol Hill, the rest of the top five richest legislators in Congress are Democrats?

I guess "majority rule" is off the table: "The Roll Call reporter this morning on CSPAN with Rep. Jan Schakowsky D-IL, Steven Dennis, called the silent filibuster that we have seen this session the new normal. This completely dismissed the idea that the majority should rule. Does that reporter hate freedom? This places the tactic of one Senator rising to object to the motion to proceed to anything in the Senate as the way it is always going to be. Not a delaying tactic. The new normal."

Oh, cute, UK mortgage lenders are whining because protections against mortgage fraud amount to nanny-state laws and the banksters don't like being treated like drug dealers.

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14:33 GMT


Friday, 13 November 2009

But a black cat crossed my trail

Don't you love it when your entire screen goes crazy with multicolored trails? Yes, it was a tech day.

"Branding defeat as victory [...] Not only that, but the public option will not be administered by Medicare, it will be administered by a contractor, letting the lucky contractor skim even more from a long suffering public. The current health bill is a sham and shames all those who support it." This should never have made it through the House, and the fact that it did is the Progressive blogosphere's EPIC FAIL.

President Sanders - Senator Bernie introduced a bill for The Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act of 2009 saying any company whose failure would do significant harm to the US economy must be broken up until it is small enough for its failure not to be so big a problem - and the whole bill is about the size of an ordinary blog post.

Scott Lemieux on phony conservative principles: " Opposition to judicial decisions legalizing same-sex marriage is substantive, not procedural. Prop. 8 and similar initiatives are motivated by opposition to same-sex marriage, not by some principled opposition to judicial review." Kinda like "states' rights" and "rule of law".

Digby has An Immoderate Proposal: I have a moral objection to paying for any kind of erectile dysfunction medicine in the new health reform bill and I think men who want to use it should just pay for it out of pocket. After all, I won't ever need such a pill. And anyway, it's no biggie. Just because most of them can get it under their insurance today doesn't mean they shouldn't have it stripped from their coverage in the future because of my moral objections. (I don't think there's even been a Supreme Court ruling making wood a constitutional right. I might be wrong about that.) Many of the men who are prescribed this medication are on Medicare, so I think it should be stripped out of that coverage as well. And unlike the payments for abortion, which actually lower overall medical costs (pregnancy obviously costs much, much more) banning tax dollars from covering any kind of Viagra would result in a substantial savings. ... I don't want my tax dollars touching even one milimeter of that overly engorged expense." (I guess Katha Pollitt is playing in that same ballpark.)

No, the thing is, Al Gore won the election and they treated him with derision. But even being so unpopular with the public that you dropped your runningmate's numbers through the floor makes you the next president if you're a Republican.

"Ain't Superstitious"

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21:16 GMT


Plyers and acid. Fishhooks.

Or leftover links from the week...

Deluded bankster lords and their important social purpose: "Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein gave a long interview to the London Sunday Times and explained to the public why he and others like him are so talented and important. And he not so subtly indicated that unless we behave as proper serfs they might just need to punish us some more. Throughout the interview he can barely contain his outrage about how unfair it all is that he and his fellow banksters are being criticized."

Jane is joining up on Don't Ask, Don't Give: "John and Joe at AmericaBlog are launching a donor boycott of the DNC. We're joining it along with Daily Kos, Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, David Mixner, Andy Towle and Michael Goff of Towle Road, Paul Sousa (Founder of Equal Rep in Boston), Pam Spaulding, Robin Tyler (ED of the Equality Campaign, Inc.), and Bil Browning for the Bilerico Project"

Every Move You Make: "In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day. The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Indymedia.us Web site 'not to disclose the existence of this request' unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization." And from Scott Horton, "U.S. Attorney Sought Readership Information from Internet News Site....The subpoena demanded 'all traffic to and from' the IndyMedia website on a specific date: June 25, 2008. Moreover, IndyMedia was threatened with obstruction of justice charges if it failed to comply promptly with the subpoena. IndyMedia responded by turning the matter over to attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who acted on its behalf. They objected to the subpoena on a variety of technical grounds and also noted its probable illegality. EFF also noted that, acting consistently with EFF guidelines designed to thwart government snooping, IndyMedia did not keep the sorts of records the government was requesting. The U.S. attorney involved, Bush-era holdover Timothy Morrison, responded by withdrawing the subpoena."

More reasons to despise her: "Now it looks like they're moving to up the Hooverite ante, and two of California's powerful federal politicians are at the center of the debate. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining 6 other Senators to demand that Speaker Nancy Pelosi approve a commission to recommend cuts to Medicare and Social Security - or else they'll refuse to vote to increase the US government's debt ceiling."

It's everybody's rights on the line. Don't kid yourself that they aren't already making the arguments in favor of allowing slavery and child labor

More Rachel: Highlights of Maddow on Meet the Press. Maddow on Blackwater bribes to cover-up crimes.

The unnecessary last mile.

"Dark Glass: Hateful Echoes and Hidden Costs" - The rhetoric following the Ft. Hood shooting rings an ominously familiar warning.

What? A US version of Have I Got News For You hosted by Sam Seder? And you can get tickets to the show if you live in New York? Hmmmm.

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00:15 GMT


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Train-wreck in progress

I've been meaning to ask you all a favor. You see, more and more, the BBC news about America, and even sometimes the Guardian coverage, seems remarkably like the coverage you get on American networks. The American networks, of course, now seem to use Politico as their assignment page. Politico is basically second-hand, expanded, Matt Drudge. Both are run, bought, and paid for by the GOP. We know ABC and CBS and NBC won't be paying any attention to consumer complaints, but the BBC can't claim commercial responsibilities; it's paid for by the viewers directly. If you actually live in Britain, a lot of complaints to the BBC about the continuing GOP-led nature of their news coverage might just make a dent. Letters to newspapers - any of them - making the complaint might give it added heft. (The Daily Mail is always looking for excuses to attack the BBC, by the way.) If you don't live in the UK, you might want to write to Auntie Beeb and ask how the people who actually pay for their nice jobs would feel if they knew they were using America's right-wing as their assignment editors.

"Bart Stupak, The Family Guy: We know Bart Stupak as the Democrat who offered the infamous Stupak-Pitt amendment, right? But do we know Bart Stupak, the Christian fanatic? A member of the ultra-secret, ultra-powerful, ultra-rightwing Christian "Family"? Who used to live (and may still live, for all I know) in an ex-convent, a house belonging to the "Family", together with lots of other male politicians?"

Digby on why Obama's middle name should be "McCain", and how the banks are addressing the "oversight" problem - to the point where even the Chamber of Commerce is starting to get worried. Oh, and how dumb are the Dems in Congress? Maybe this dumb: "Adam Nagourney tells NY Times readers this morning that the Democrats had better stop paying attention to its base because that's what brought Bush down. Evidently, Bush's actual policies had nothing to do with it. Sadly, from most of the interviews with Democrats in the article, that's the lesson that Democrats took from the Bush years as well." (Is it even possible to be that dumb?) Oh, and what does it mean when the Change Administration is promising to "preserve the status quo"? They really are throwing out all of our rights, make no mistake. I think the only thing left now is garrisoning troops in your livingroom, and I'm not exactly clinging to that one, either.

And this is what you get for it: a really lousy so-called public option that isn't an option for most people. It's useless. I'm all for bloggers pointing out how the conservatives are lying about the public option, but not before pointing out how Democrats are lying about it, too. The fact is, both the supporters and the opponents in Congress are lying about the public option and the whole damn health care bill. Every single one of us should be opposing this bill. Every single one of us should be refusing to be a party to this complete sell-out to the insurance companies and the forced-pregancy forces and the proponents of the Savonarola approach to women and the damned neo-Calvinists who are trying to destroy us all.

In other news, Max Cleland, still trying to come home: "We know of the recent failures at Walter Reed Medical Center, where soldiers were stranded in substandard barracks infested with rats while awaiting treatment. I was in Walter Reed myself at that time seeking counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder, which, ignited by a barrage of Iraq headlines and the loss of my United States Senate seat, had simply consumed me. I never saw it coming. Forty years after I had left the battlefield, my memories of death and wounding were suddenly as fresh and present as they had been in 1968. I thought I was past that. I learned that none of us are ever past it. Were it not for the surgeons and nurses at Walter Reed, I never would have survived those first months back from Vietnam. Were it not for the counselors there today, I do not think I would have survived what I've come to call my second Vietnam, the one that played out entirely in my mind." Of course, conservatives are doing their damnedest to eliminate any help for our vets. We shouldn't send them to kill and die, but if we do, we damned well owe them.

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18:46 GMT


Monday, 09 November 2009

And they wither with the wind, and they crumble in your hand

Red leaves and white roses

"Why Does Sen Tom Coburn (R-OK) Hate the Troops? Tom Coburn, who ran on the platform that there were lesbians in lavatories all over Oklahoma and when asked couldn't explain why that was relevant to the Senate race, turns out to be the one who's been blocking veterans' benefits bills for months."

Dustbowl memories, "Catastrophe enough to forever dash optimism and hope.." And No Future

Pete Sessions wants a vagina tax - he just wants you to pay it to the health insurance companies and call it something else.

John Dean and Sy Hersh on KPFK, and you can listen to the archived .mp3 podcast by clicking that link and starting in the second hour.

I see Mayor Bloomberg is bringing more of that good, old-fashioned "centrist" efficiency to New York. (And this isn't helping anyone, either.)

He is a disappointment to me, but at least I am in good company. Which even rhymes.

In one class I took at the University of Maryland, we were assigned to read a book about how warfare was changed by the invention of stirrups. The final question on the final exam asked what we thought the book was about, and the final sentence I wrote in response was, "In other words, invention is the mother of necessity." And that's what a lot of good science fiction is really about. (Also: This is probably a good time to show your support for Alan Grayson.)

And a happy birthday to Mr. Sideshow.

"And the Leaves That Are Green Turn to Brown."

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11:55 GMT


Sunday, 08 November 2009

Health care roulette

Aimai says, "Tell Me Not In Mournful Numbers ... But it should never, ever, have come to any Democrats voting for the Stupak amendment once it was submitted to the floor. And, frankly, I don't think it should ever have come to allowing Stupak to forward the amendment in the first place. Pelosi and the Democratic Majority should never have allowed women's health issues to be severed from family health issues in the first place. They should have insisted, publicly, that the whole point of the legislation was to "get government and insurance companies out of the business of telling you what you need and what you don't need." No amendments referring to specific procedures should have been permitted and the grounds for that refusal should have been made generic, not specific to women's health care. The rallying cry should have been "Democrats stand for freedom of consumer choice. Your health care money will be spent as you choose--not as we choose."" She has a good plan for dealing with the Catholic Bishops, too. And she knows what the Dem leadership should have said:

"We can't allow small minorities of religious extremists to dictate which lawful medical procedures will be performed on non-co-religionists. That would be like putting the entire country under Sharia law, for example. I mean, look, there are religions and sects that will ban absolutely everything--from blood transfusions to fertility treatments. We simply can't allow the door to be opened to punish one section of our society at the behest of another for religious reasons. There will, of course, be an opt out clause for patients and consumers to refuse to avail themselves of treatments if their religion forbids it. But insurance companies will have to cover all lawful and medically necessary procedures for everyone."
And speaking of insurance, No One Will Go There but Aimai: "Can someone tell us what happens to survivors of mass shootings--the kind of mass attacks on our body politic that "brings us all together" in "national mourning" and "recognition of our common purpose" and etc...? I'm not just talking about Fort Hood, I'm talking about all these mass disasters. Isn't it the case that from the moment the shooting dies down and our craptacular for profit health care system takes over the most significant determiner of how you and your family come out is what kind of health insurance you have? I'd really, really, really, like to see a timeline for the treatment and the billing and the knock on effect of the damage done to each victim of these American tragedies mapped out by insurance coverage. Every time Grayson gets up on the floor of the house and reads out the stories of people denied coverage you get a glimpse into the absurd, kafkaesque, randomness of our system as it crushes people underfoot. But the place that this must come most fully and obviously into play has to be the various mass shootings over the last few years--with people caught in the crossfire and the random chance of insurance coverage thrown into the mix."

Meanwhile, Down With Tyranny! provides an important electoral indicator:

Early yesterday, just as the debate was beginning, the PCCC released a poll of Virginia Democrats and Independents who voted for Obama in 2008 but didn't turn out for Creigh Deeds in 2009. Here's what they found:
  • A huge majority of these voters thought Deeds "wasn't progressive enough."
  • Many of these voters will decide whether to vote in 2010 based on whether or not Democrats pass a public option
  • Many said they were less excited to vote for Deeds after he said he would "opt out" Virginia from the public option.
Leading us once more to the magical question: Why do the Democrats want to lose the next election?

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16:22 GMT


Saturday, 07 November 2009

Things explained

I see via Atrios that John Reed, who was one of the people responsible for the creation of Citigroup, regrets the repeal of Glass-Steagal, which he helped make happen. "Lawmakers were wrong to repeal the Depression-era Glass- Steagall Act in 1999, Reed said. At the time, he supported overturn of the law, which required the separation of institutions that engaged in traditional customer banking services from those involved in capital markets. 'We learn from our mistakes,' said Reed, who wrote an Oct. 21 letter to the editor of the New York Times endorsing a division of banking activities. 'When you're running a company, you do what you think is right for the stockholders. Right now I'm looking at this as a citizen.'" Pity he couldn't have been a citizen earlier.

So, the morning after the elections, I noticed lots and lots of posts about NY-24, ragging on how dumb the Republicans had been, and none of them actually happened to mention any of the background or even who won. Since I hadn't been following the NY24 race, they just seemed like more useless "Look at the silly Republicans" stuff, which isn't terribly interesting to me. We already know that the Republicans are nuts, right? So I got Julia to explain it to me, and it goes roughly like this: NY-24 has always elected a Republican, and the Republican they had was Dede Scozzafava, "who was an elected assemblywoman for most of the district, and whose husband was the head of a union council which represented around the same number of people that voted in the last election. She was the Republican, although she was pro-union and pro-choice and pro-gay marriage." Which made her more liberal than the Democrat, an Air Force captain and law professor named Bill Owens. So Kos endorsed her, and the wingers went nuts, lots of money went into creating fake web sites lauding her as a progressive in terms right-wingers assume would completely alienate the voters, and some right-wing guy who isn't even from inside the district jumped into the race and had lots of out-of-state money backing him - and a bunch of dirty tricks supplied by people from places like Club for Growth. So Scozzafava dropped out of the race and didn't endorse anyone, simply releasing her supporters to vote as they pleased. (She later endorsed the Democrat.) The winger candidate apparently thought merely being a right-winger was enough to win him the vote, so he managed to completely screw up interviews by remaining entirely oblivious to local issues. And the upshot of all this energized Teabagger triumphalism was that, of course, the Democrat won. He's basically a Blue Dog - except that he did run as a supporter of health care reform, and he says he still is. Of course, that probably just means he'll vote for whatever the Dem leadership hammers together, but it also means this historically Republican district voted for a Democrat who said he wanted health care reform.

Tom Tancredo was on MSNBC trying to claim that government-run health care can't work, and tried to tell Markos what the vets think of the Veterans Administration. Markos pointed out that he, unlike Tancredo, is an actual vet and not a chickenhawk, while making his point that what people want is to correct the problems with the VA, not get rid of it. At which point Tancredo lost it and walked off the set "a little early"

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16:14 GMT


Friday, 06 November 2009

No exit

No one could have predicted that, for the first time in history, war might not be a barrel of laughs for the troops. (Also: I sure wish the Dems had made the Republicans ditch the filibuster when they had the chance.)

Oh, yeah, Pelosi got a couple more Dems, and one campaigned on getting a public option. We'll see what that means.

What we need, of course, is a big fat public works stimulus that puts huge numbers of people to work, and a good, solid, fully-funded single-payer health care plan. What we have instead are bad Democrats like Ben Nelson. (via)

"Imagine that! Blue Cross tells stockholders one thing and insurance regulators another, which leads you to wonder: Who did they lie to?" (Also: Even the conservative Washington Post. And the lame Democratic leadership. And as a not-to-be-missed bonus, William Shatner reads Levi Johnston's tweets.)

Robert Borosage says, "Obama's First Year: It Ain't No Crystal Staircase."

What I Trust Obama For...NOTHING.

Single Payer Activists Arrested at Lieberman's DC office.

Google celebrates 40 years of Sesame Street.

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19:47 GMT


Thursday, 05 November 2009

Announcements

One of our most useful bloggers, who does a lot of work tracking down info on health care, has had her laptop stolen. This is a complete disaster for her, so if you can help in any way, please do chip in.

Media Matter's Eric Boehlert will be tonight's guest on Virtually Speaking at 6:00 PM Pacific (SLT), which you can listen to live here or see "in person" at the VS amphitheater (go here for slurl).

This lingerie should tide you over until the next Bra of the Week.

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23:29 GMT


Remember, remember

I like this little thing NMRon provided in comments: "21st Century Republican motto: We're the reason you will never fulfill any dream you might ever have. Misery is our business." But, you know, they practically say that out loud. The trouble is that the Democratic leadership seems to chant it only when in private.

The funny thing is that if either party were to pass good liberal legislation - like, for example, a real health care plan that would cover everyone inexpensively without forcing people to pay out of pocket (or dither around trying to "shop" for a new insurance plan) when they are ill, that party really would earn a lot of love from the voters. The problem for Republicans is that they are ideologically opposed to that anyway, although politically we have seen that they can convince their followers of any about-face - they could claim they are proposing single-payer because it is much more fiscally responsible than the Dem plan, when, in fact it really is more fiscally responsible than the Dem plan. Telling the truth and acting in the public interest would, of course, be a very difficult thing for the Republican leadership to do, but think of the hilarity when the so-called "moderates" are defeated by bipartisan liberalism! Okay, okay, I'm just having a fun little fantasy, but we all know that neither party actually believes in democracy, and they usually don't even care what "the voters" are interested in voting for because they've found more and more ways to circumvent the whole process of actual vote-counting. So many Republicans are now in the Democratic Party that it wouldn't surprise me to find that even their vote-stealing platforms have moved there, too. The Republican Party seems to be trying to destroy itself, which makes me wonder if the plan isn't just to have a one-party state run by one conservative party called "The Democratic party". And the Democratic leadership is still convinced that we'll all vote for them despite the fact that they are not much different from Bush lately because they can do what they've always done - dare us to let the Republican loonies win. Except that, as far as I can tell, we elected the Democrats and the Republican loonies won anyway, so the "Where else are you going to go?" threat doesn't actually hold much power anymore.

Taibbi: "Goldman Sachs international adviser Brian Griffiths explains it this way: that Christ's famous injunction to love others as one would love oneself actually means that one should love oneself as one would love oneself. This seemingly baffling outburst by a Goldman executive in what appears to have been a prepared speech - someone actually wrote this, and thought about it, before saying it out loud - gets even weirder when one tries to figure out what could possibly have motivated this person, and by extension his employer Goldman Sachs, to make such statements in such a place as St. Paul's Cathedral." (Jeez, who even let him into St. Paul's Cathedral?)

"While thousands of at-risk Americans wait, some big Wall Street banks have already secured the hard-to-find H1N1 vaccine for their employees."

Gwen Hinze at the EFF on that Leaked ACTA Internet Provisions: Three Strikes and a Global DMCA. And an .mp3 of a podcast discussing it.

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17:12 GMT


And soon you won't even be able to talk about your arthritis on the net

Who Are The 40 Anti-Choice Democrats Bart Stupak Claims To Have In His Pocket To Kill Health Care Reform? - and would Marcy Katpur have anything to do with them? (via)

There's a small provision in the health care bill that would cover Christian Scientists who want to pay for prayer.

10 jokes about Joe Lieberman & his threat to filibuster any health care bill which includes a public option from David Rees.

So, where is that long-promised GOP health care plan?

A vignette

A lot of questions from David Sirota.

In other news, you can kiss Flickr good-bye thanks to Mr. Internet-savvy Obama and his secret copyright treaty, which requires ISPs to go out of their way to police user-contributed material for copyright violations, to cut off internet access too anyone accused of such a violation (and anyone who shares the same net access), and make this insanity international. I just knew they were going to take this thing away from us....

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01:38 GMT


Tuesday, 03 November 2009

We apologize for the delay

Figleaves Basics Lace underwired unpadded braBra of the Week

Mountain Sunrise

Why 'Sleeping on It' Helps

The aurora

Joe Lieberman and a duck walk into a bar.

SusanG noticed an interesting twit from Chris Hayes: "Anyone notice that the pres signed a $680 BILLION defense approp bill in the midst of our heated debates about $90b a yr for hc?"

Why we can't have health care: "Hatch asserted that the health bills, which he believes represent a 'step-by-step approach to socialized medicine,' will lead to Americans' dependence on Democrats for their health and other issues. 'And if they get there, of course, you're going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody's going to say, 'All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party,' ' Hatch said during an interview with the conservative CNSNews.com." So Orrin Hatch spilled the beans from the GOP side - that we can't pass health care reform because it would be good for the Democratic Party - as if the recent eight years of Republican rule haven't already had a similar effect. Now, if only the Democratic leadership would come clean about their reasons for not wanting good health care reform, which, while not particularly partisan, seems to be just plain corruption. Not that the Republicans aren't at least as corrupt, but their focus on partisanship is tied directly to their ideology, while the Democratic leadership's focus on "bipartisanship" is in direct opposition to their claimed ideology. Via Atrios, who also noted that the other other party, Joe Lieberman, got a complete pass from yesterday's Wanker of the Day Bob Schieffer when he got on the air and told a pack of GOP lies to explain why he is threatening to join a Republican filibuster of any health care bill that contains a public option.

McClatchy: Mystery: Why did Goldman stop scrutinizing loans it bought?: "It's not just unethical," Talbott said of the chain of profiting subprime players extending from real estate appraisers to Wall Street. "It's totally criminal."
How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash. (Wasn't the suspicion that he may have bet against his own team what kept Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame?)
Why haven't any Wall Street tycoons been sent to the slammer? (Wait, I think I know the answer to that one - it's because this time they bought the news media first.)

I'd rather have legislators who go to church at Rev. Wright's place than people who think Sun Myung Moon is not a raving crazy right-wing loon who claims he's the Messiah. Why doesn't the news media ever talk about that? (Whoops, did I even bother to ask that question?)

In the Department of It's Another Free Country, "Police in 9m scheme to log 'domestic extremists' ...All three units divide their work into four categories of domestic extremism: animal rights campaigns; far-right groups such as the English Defence League; "extreme leftwing" protest groups, including anti-war campaigners; and "environmental extremism" such as Climate Camp and Plane Stupid campaigns."

There's been a campaign of libel against Peter Tatchell going on, and Peter asked Roz Kaveney to post this response. The fact that the establishment hates Peter for being an effective campaigner doesn't mean he isn't also hated by smaller fringe groups who do things like firebomb his home and, oh, yes, completely make up things he's supposed to have said, in order to alienate his allies.

Halloween is a big holiday for me, I've been having what might be called a long hangover, if I'd had anything to drink. Sorry about that.

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17:03 GMT


Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, November 2009


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