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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Slow glass

Another way to describe the Democratic and Republican leadership is, "Good cop/bad cop." They're both trying to do the same thing to you, it's just that one is more genteel about it.

Abi Sutherland was talking the other week about something I've been thinking about, too - that playing by "the rules" of how to do media outreach is no more likely to work for the Occupy movement than it has for any other real liberals - or for ordinary hardworking people who played by the rules and are now on the verge of living in the street. But, as Stuart was saying last night, the process of discrediting the movement is already well underway and will in all likelihood succeed. I'm not sure what comes after that.

Stuart also mentioned the Obama mic check, but his emphasis was on the crowd response:

"Mic check!" they shouted. "Mr. President, over 4,000 peaceful protesters have been arrested. While bankers continue to destroy the American economy. You must stop the assault on our First Amendment rights. Your silence sends a message that police brutality is acceptable. Banks got bailed out. We got sold out."

But the rest of their message was quickly drowned out by Obama supporters chanting, "Fired up, ready to go!" and "Obama!"

So, they're fired up and ready to make sure no one gets to speak up.

Matt Stoller cites a fancy bit of coding: "In Jones v. Wells Fargo, this Court discovered that a highly automated software package owned by LPS and identified as MSP administered loans for servicers and note holders but was programed to apply payments contrary to the terms of the notes and mortgages." Matt says it works by rescheduling payments so that it costs you more to keep up with your mortgage: "The software, however, prioritizes servicer fees above the contractually required interest and principal to investors. This isn't a one-off; it's programmed. It's the very definition of a conspiracy! Who knows how many people paid late and then were pushed into a spiral of fees that led into a foreclosure? It's the perfect crime, and many of the victims had paid every single mortgage payment."

Whatever you think of Obama, the economy bites.

Nice little tweet from ladydebidebz: "Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank and he can rob the world."

Citizens complain that, "They cut, we bleed," and the cops roll in. Here's a look inside Occupy Olympia before the tasers came out.

Naomi Wolf has a suggestion: "When I was in Zuccotti Park last week I thanked the cops each personally for standing peacefully by while citizens exercised first amendment rights and thought they could not say anything many faces softened, smiled and seemed relieved not to be demonized...it is hard for cops to be put in positions that dehumanize them too and psychologically traumatizing to be forced to act against their morals. This is a war and they are forced into front lines they did not choose. So Occupy, and everyone, be kind to the cops whenever you can please, thank them when they are non-violent, reach out to them. Most importantly: I would say it would be VERY powerful for an OWS representative (NOT A LEADER! JUST A ROLE!) to reach out to the policemens' benevolent associations in each city and try to find common ground. Even if you can't get decent ground rules it will have a softening effect. Also the OWS rep should ask: 'how can we help you...?' There are thing cops need too that Occupy could help deliver."

I'm already fed up with Leahy, but it's sad to learn that Franken is one of the co-sponsors of the bill to break the internet. Maybe we should all write to him and ask what's happened to him.

There's still one guy in the Senate I have time for, so have some Senator Bernie on Social Security.

Charlie Pierce: "It was 25 years ago today that President Ronald Reagan and his attorney-general, Edwin Meese, got up before the press and told a series of half-truths and demonstrable lies about what their administration had been up to as regards dealing with Iran, and how some of the money from that dealing had found its way to the Contra rebels then fighting Reagan's proxy war in Nicaragua. [...] It remains the great lost opportunity. [...] Iran-Contra was the moment when the country decided - or, alternatively, when it was decided for the country - that self-government was too damned hard, and that we're all better off just not knowing. It was the moment when all the checks and balances failed, when our faith in the Constitution was most sorely tested, and when it was found most seriously wanting. Iran-Contra is how all the crimes of the subsequent years became possible. It is when the Constitution became a puppet show."

I worry when Susie puts up a post saying "Back to the ER." I'm betting she could use some dosh.

The trick is to keep people from falling off the edge. Give if you can.

Charlie Stross on how publishers are cutting their own throats by insisting on DRM.

Elvis Costello tells fans not to buy his latest release - says the record company is gouging you and you should buy Louis Armstrong music instead - and get the new Costello by other means.


Thanks to Charles for making sure I didn't miss the Imelda Marcos turkey.

Vintage weight-gain ads

OK, so the migration has been interesting, but incomplete. This is going from a D630 Latitude running XP to a Vostro running Win7. Maybe you've run into this problem I have, which is that on the Vostro I can't get a couple-few things to work. I can't enter anything into the comment field in my own comments (nor, apparently, Livefyre comments), and the Publish button in Blogger just ignores me. Anyone know why that is?

16:45 GMT

Sunday, 27 November 2011


Jay Ackroyd and I will be taking calls tonight for our special Thanksgiving Sunday call-in (now a tradition!) tonight on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Also, here's what Digby said about Dehumanization, and the rest of the Virtually Speaking schedule for the week can be found here.

It's that time of year again, and this year I actually found some calendars that start on the first day of Advent itself. (Have a midi of "Carol of the Bells" to get you in the mood.) I quite liked Trinity's.
I don't speak French well enough to enjoy the word game in the French one, but I didn't check all the links they provided for the day.
Busted Halo is off to a nice start..
Beliefnet has one, but it didn't inspire me.
Paperless Christmas isn't an Advent calendar, but I liked it anyway.

This extremely linky post at Naked Capitalism lured me to click on a link with this quote: "In focus groups, 'people have been breaking down and crying' when they talk about the economy." - even though it's just another article that makes it appear that the economy magically just got this way and that no one seems to be to blame. There's also a link to a great open letter from a member of the UC Davis Faculty Association to Chancellor Katehi. Lots and lots of great links, including to Turley, Greenwald, David Cay Johnston, Barry Ritholtz, and more! Oh, and a neat photograph, too.

Why Do Police Officers Use Pepper Spray? (You do remember what pepper we're talking about here, right? It's also known as mace.)

How to Occupy (via)

Occupy Y'All Gainseville.

Infinite Manhattan

Farewell to Susan Palermo. We loved her.

17:42 GMT

Friday, 25 November 2011

Walk right in, it's around the back

It was just an ordinary Thursday here in Britain, so we have the big dinner on Saturday (which means I have some massive tidying up to do around here). I have a lot to be grateful for, and all of you who make this blog possible count for a lot - readers, commenters, those who drop a little in the tip jar, and of course a special thanks to those who make sure I've seen those important links. And of course, as always, an extra special thanks to our fabulous tech support. Thank you all so much for being here.

Balance - I'm not sure if the thinking here was, "There's no point in putting a Democratic politician here because they never say anything worthwhile anyway, so let's have someone who will point out the absurdity of what this Republican is saying," or just, "No one on the other side can say anything as wacky as this woman, so let's have someone who is funny on purpose," but it was amusing to see Paxman had Lee Camp vs. Sharon Angle. (Also: More ways The Washington Post is crapping on its staff, and the FBI claims to have no documents on OWS.)

Mark Lewis is going up against the rich and powerful in the phone hacking scandal, and now he can't get a job at any law firm and his MS is crippling him, but: "You've got News Corp, you've got News International, you've got News Group Newspapers, News of the World, you've got Farrer & Co, you've got Linklaters, you've got Olswang's, you've got Clifford Chance, you've got so many of the big law firms on this and then on the other side you've got me. I haven't even got a f**king secretary, I've got one hand and, you know, if I had two hands I'd tie one behind my back because they need a head start."

Here's Suzy Charnas saying with remarkable brevity what I've spent several long articles saying: That we've been robbed, that money has to circulate or the economy dies, that we need to tax the rich. Brilliant Jill fills in the details. Via Onyx Lynx, where I also learned about this post about how the rich are different from you and me, and another video from Brave New Films on who's wrecking America.

Digby has another horrible story of a cop murdering an innocent person because he thought the answer to something he didn't understand was to taser someone. Taser's have a record of being a frequently lethal weapon; the public should no longer tolerate the pretense that it is anything less. But, you know, I can't help the feeling that Digby doesn't appreciate the legacy of Robocop, who told you all this was coming. He doesn't just fight crime, he fights corporate crime!

Sam Seder did a 12-hour show last week to celebrate the first anniversary of the current version of his show and also the two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, and this week he's posted podcasts of it in segments to cover their Thanksgiving vacation. There's a lot of wonderful content up there, The first segment is here, and there's more here and here (so far), or even more for members. Some great interviews with Fran Lebowitz, Chris Hayes, Matt Taibbi, Jeremy Scahill, Glenn Greenwald, and others, plus live coverage as the dramatic events at Occupy Wall Street on the day.

In Which My Mother Faces Homelessness at the Onset of a New England Winter

RIP Anne McCaffrey. Tor.com: "McCaffrey was the first woman to win a Hugo Award for fiction, the first woman to win a Nebula Award, and the first author to hit the New York Times bestseller list with an SF title (The White Dragon)." The post also has links to others from members of the SFF community. MSNBC, NPR, The New York Times, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, and everyone else have obituaries.

Your unforgettable WKRP Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving with Arlo: "How many things in the world are eighteen minutes and twenty seconds long?"

16:45 GMT

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Yesterday's gone

David Waldman (KagroX) will be sitting in for Susie Madrak tonight and next week on Virtually Speaking Susie. Tonight he'll be talking to Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel).

But right now I'm going to listen to Sammy talk to Dean Baker on The Majority Report.

I don't know what's left to say about the events at UC Davis and elsewhere that hasn't been well-covered all over the blogosphere (here are the up-to-date links, nicely arranged by Jay Ackroyd in a short but sweet post), except this: Watching people go on a jihad against some well-meaning (and genuinely liberal) fiction author who tried and arguably failed to be sufficiently sensitive to a racial issue just makes me seethe. I seethe because I know that those same people have never put that kind of energy into protesting the privatized prison industry, the militarized police, and the War on (Some Classes of People Who Take Some) Drugs - the very things that have had the most devastating impact on the black community and, ultimately, have been instrumental in leading us to this moment where people who may not even be elective or court officials take it upon themselves to order police forces to commit criminal assaults against peaceful protesters. (Similarly, if you haven't complained to your reps in Congress and written to newspapers to condemn abstinence-only miseducation, don't even speak to me about how much you care about feminism.)

This always happens: "Two people were killed in Cairo and Alexandria this weekend as Egyptian activists took the streets to protest the military's attempts to maintain its grip on power. And guess how the state is justifying its deadly crackdown. 'We saw the firm stance the US took against OWS people & the German govt against green protesters to secure the state,' an Egyptian state television anchor said yesterday." Same thing everywhere - we're now the example of why it's okay to deprive the public of their rights, and even the template for how to do it. (A few weeks back we were being told that the fact that protesters were being allowed to occupy the parks was proof that we are a free country. What did it mean to them when a protester was hospitalized after being directly fired on with a tear gas canister? What did police invading the park and stealing and destroying property mean to them? No one has been killed yet, but how far away is that threat, in reality? It's actually easier to expect a Kent State event now than it was at the time it happened. The escalation to unprovoked violence against peaceful protesters is actually a lot more rapid and public than it was back then, when overt action of that type, against that kind of crowd, was a complete shock. And now Ann Coulter is on TV calling for, literally, another Kent State. You never saw that sort of thing back then.)

Digby on Setting the terms: "Note Kyl's language: he never says 1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. He says, "cuts", "savings", "reduced spending." No taxes or revenue of any kind. He's simply asserting that this is about discretionary and mandatory domestic spending cuts, period. And that trigger obviously means nothing. Then, you had John Kerry on right afterwards saying that the Democrats were more than willing to take a meat ax to the budget as well but they really, kind of, wanted some revenue too. It doesn't look like they are going to get even that (thank God.) But the terms of the election year debate are all going to be about how the Democrats are insisting on raising taxes. After all, the only spending cuts that are controversial anymore are the defense cuts --- which Democrats will never fight for. In fact, the Republicans will be able to say quite honestly in their campaign ads that the Democrats want to cut social security and medicare and raise taxes."

Much as I love Dr. Black, I still gotta ask what the message is for high-information voters. Because the only thing I'm hearing is, "It doesn't matter what you know or how you vote, because one way or another we are destroying the economy and your country and your lives and you can't stop us."

Chad & Jeremy

16:30 GMT

Monday, 21 November 2011

The ashes of his tinted innocence will annoint us all

Panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays will be emptywheel and McJoan.

If you haven't seen this yet, you might think those first minutes of the video where the police walk up to some protesters who are just sitting down and pepper spray them in the face is the interesting bit, but what comes next is illuminating, too. Still, this assault tells us something about who we are dealing with. The Chancellor at UC Davis who authorized the violence answered a call for her resignation by saying an inquiry will be held (as if we don't already know what happened), but also made the odious statement that though "the university has the responsibility to develop the appropriate environments that ensure the practice of these freedoms, by no means should we allow a repeated violation of these rules as an expression of personal freedom." (And she also earned the opprobrium of Atrios.)

UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza said she was "very proud" of how her officers behaved: "This was a tough scene to walk into. This was 50 people and before you knew it, it probably grew close to 200. When you encircle a group of officers that are just trying to do their jobs, it's kinda scary." Of course, when armed police accost a group of ordinary people just trying to do their jobs as citizens in a democracy, that's pretty scary, too. And that's just what the chancellor and the police chief were counting on.

What the videos don't really show you is what's not happening, even though most of the news media says it's happening. The daily papers and broadcast media repeat incessantly that Occupation sites are a full of filth and crime and violence and orgies and people urinating on each other and more. It's all lies, of course - a coordinated disinformation campaign. But no one is correcting it, unless you're listening to, say, Jay and Stuart on Virtually Speaking A-Z, explaining that, far from being filthy, Liberty Plaza-Zucotti Park-Liberty Park was being kept spotless by the occupiers - and, more than that, what we have seen is a completely illegal, coordinated program by our ruling elite, with the complicity of their courtiers in the mass media, to eliminate any possibility of freedom of speech, peaceable assembly, and a redress of grievances. (In the chat window during the program, Stuart wrote:"That we aren't allowed to say 'we don't like oligarchy in the USA,' physically in front of a bunch of investment banks, because those banks are being treated like they're the capital of the nation, is the point of "Occupy Wall Street.")

I haven't watched the last episode of Up with Chris Hayes yet, but it rang a familiar chime at Down With Tyranny! and Charles and jurassicpork both reacted strongly to "a report that lobbying firm Clark, Lytle, Geduldig, Cranford, former aides to John Boehner offer American Bankers Association a plan to break up Occupy Wall Street. Opposition research on activists 'to expose the backers.' They will also target Sherrod Brown and other races in Ohio, Florida, and New Mexico. [...] Greg Sargent has more, including a link to an NYT story by Nicholas Confessore that the financiers are raising big money to re-elect Scott Brown and thereby block the election of Elizabeth Warren."

Occupy Hope - Shepard Fairey updates his iconic image smartly, but I think he may still be too invested in Obama to realize he will have to hope for something a bit more realistic.

Now here's a curious thing: "The Globe reported yesterday that 11 of Romney's aides purchased their state-issued hard drives and wiped e-mails from the server at the end of Romney's term in 2006. As a result, according to Patrick's legal counsel, no records have been found of any e-mails sent during Romney's four-year term."

It's a pity I didn't know last month that someone had done a Halloween Advent calendar.

Photos by Andrey Yakovlev and Lili Aleeva (most of which look like paintings).

01:05 GMT

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Just my imagination

I found this over at Greg Sargent's place:

What polls really say about Occupy Wall Street: The Associated Press, to its credit, gets it right about public opinion and the movement:
Polling shows the public supports the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement even if people have reservations about the encampments themselves. And political observers say Democrats may be missing a chance to reinvigorate their base. 'It's injecting energy and life into progressive ideas and values, and it's showing some weak-kneed Democrats they should be more aggressive on those issues,' Steve Rosenthal, a Democratic strategist and longtime labor leader, said.
Those issues, of course, are income inequality and the lack of upward mobility.

Digby's also been reading Greg Sargent, who cites a Centrist's plea to the Supreme Court to come down on the side of corporate welfare and validate the Constitutionality of the individual mandate or risk a public demand for single-payer. Personally, I'm charmed by the suggestion that the current line-up of the Supremes would put anything above corporations.

Also from Digby:
Why you know you don't have any rights anymore: "compliance devices".
Progressive Democrats: "So according to one of the Senate's leading liberals "the challenge of our generation" is massive debt reduction? Wow. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns ..."
Three photographs

Lots of people are telling the truth about this, but it makes no difference, somehow.

"Progressive Notes: Houston School Board Member's Hate Mail Spurs Grassroots into Action." I'm really into the idea that school board elections are important. After all, Spiro Agnew had to come from somewhere....

"Councilmember Rodriguez denounces his Occupy Wall Street arrest as 'improper,' and calls for a full investigation."

Who destroys libraries?

Acting locally: The 99-99-99 Plan

"This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas..." - mysterious little paper sculptures, for your reading and viewing pleasure.

The Temptations

04:55 GMT

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Smoke gets in your eyes

Chris Hedges says "This Is What Revolution Looks Like:

Welcome to the revolution. Our elites have exposed their hand. They have nothing to offer. They can destroy but they cannot build. They can repress but they cannot lead. They can steal but they cannot share. They can talk but they cannot speak. They are as dead and useless to us as the water-soaked books, tents, sleeping bags, suitcases, food boxes and clothes that were tossed by sanitation workers Tuesday morning into garbage trucks in New York City. They have no ideas, no plans and no vision for the future.


The billionaire mayor of New York, enriched by a deregulated Wall Street, is unable to grasp why people would spend two months sleeping in an open park and marching on banks. He says he understands that the Occupy protests are 'cathartic' and 'entertaining,' as if demonstrating against the pain of being homeless and unemployed is a form of therapy or diversion, but that it is time to let the adults handle the affairs of state. Democratic and Republican mayors, along with their parties, have sold us out. But for them this is the beginning of the end.

So, it turns out there's no mystery about why all those mayors acted at once - it was a conspiracy! Sam Seder had some great coverage on his Tuesday show, including calls to and from occupiers even as events were taking place around them. The Rude Pundit was a guest, as well. Digby notes that there's plenty to back up the conspiracy theory. What she doesn't say is that we had reports from occupiers a few weeks back that the police were advising homeless people and winos and other people with problems to go to occupation sites for help and places to sleep, and then suddenly we started to hear from the media about how the occupy movement was full of winos and the mentally ill and so on. "I'm not surprised by this, but I am curious as to how they are going to justify the federal government's interest? (It will come out if it's true.) If there's coordination, as seems fairly obvious, what's the legal foundation for it?"

But The Occupy Education Continues as Mayer Bloomberg openly defies the law in order to curtail free speech: "The law in the US is, and has been for years, a tool which is used as a weapon. Some people are given a pass, others are hit with the full force of the law. That is to say, there is no rule of law in the US, it is a nation of people, not laws. This is well known in certain circles, but needed to be shown to others at the end of a nightstick." On the bright side, at least they aren't being radicalized by being ostracized, beaten up, arrested, thrown out of the house, and kicked out of school for having their hair an inch too long.

Barbara Ehrenreich wonders why Obama couldn't call the mayors and tell him to go easy on the protesters, and why he has been silent. But I don't think he's been silent at all. Someone decided right now was the right time for a Federal response. One of the things that put a stop to attacks on protests during the Depression was the fact that the cost of all those cop ops was just too high for the states. But that was then. Whatever else we supposedly can't afford, there is always money for wars and for Homeland Security. (via)

Vast Left has posted 13 out of 99, Part II, from his interviews with 13 people at Occupy Boston.

Charlie Pierce on Ben Smith's arrant knavery at Politico.

Susie Madrak's guest on Virtually Speaking Susie was Dave Johnson, who again lost his cool.

Why comparing banksters to Hitler and Stalin is unfair to Hitler and Stalin.

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears, upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you've got to make it stop and you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all. -- Mario Savio, Sproul Hall steps, 1964

The Platters

03:10 GMT

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Time passes

So, anyway, Bloomberg and a bunch of other mayors celebrated the tenth anniversary of this blog by evicting the occupiers - apparently with more police riots - all, by some mysterious coincidence, at the same time. Here's a report from Allison Kilkenny. I was too overwhelmed to post anything, so of course I missed noting the anniversary, as usual, but at least this year I didn't forget it altogether until a month later. I just never thought I'd be doing this for ten years.

Meanwhile, the National Lawyers Guild has obtained an injunction (which you can see here)that "prevents the city from enforcing park rules on Occupy Wall Street protesters."

The reaction in London "The camp of 200 tents in London's financial quarter was buzzing with activity today. Activists said they planned to go to the US embassy in London to protest later. Asked if they expect the police to take similar action in London, Stafrace said: 'It's possible. But it might not happen here because there is more legality here and the British are different to the Americans. Things are a lot more civilised here.'"

On Monday's Majority Report, Sammy talked to "occupiers at the Occupy cities who were evicted and/or victim's of police crackdowns over the weekend: Occupy Portland, Occupy Denver, Occupy SLC and Occupy Albany." He also linked a Twitpic of cops with assault rifles at Occupy Chapel Hill.

Atrios: Euro elites want more of a political union, but I tend not to think that they really want silly people like Greek voters having much input as to what goes on there. They want more unaccountable centralized institutions run by the right people. I wasn't always so skeptical about such things, but it's hard to not see that real democracy is falling out of favor everywhere..." (Also: What he said.)

"Gee, this is odd: Both Greece and Italy have new Prime Ministers from Goldman Sachs."

"Whew! Obama & Dems Promoting MODERATE Economic Terrorism. Jerry White of wsws back in April wrote about Obama's campaign tour to confuse America that what is needed is faux-shared sacrifice bullet-biting austerity right now. Oh yes, and the now familiar razzle dazzle of the Obama 'lesser of two evils' path that the Dem Devastation of the elderly's pensions and health care, the gutting of social services, the administration's stunning lack of seriousness about escalating unemployment are CERTAINLY PREFERABLE to what those crazed Republicans would do to us all."

Here's the clip of Culture of Truth's bit on the most ridiculous thing he saw on the Sunday talk shows.

The Hell of it is that, back before he was Really Famous, we really used to like Frank Miller. Then one day he took a dark, ugly turn that had us viewing his work with consternation. I remember at the time meeting Gary Groth and having a conversation that was mostly about what Miller was doing and all present agreeing that what he seemed to be advocating was fascism. So, I suppose none of this is much of a surprise.

This is a nifty HD time-lapse video of orbiting the earth from 240 miles out.

17:10 GMT

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Short and sweet

Tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays will be Sam Seder of The Majority Report and Avedon Carol of The Sideshow (also known as Not Atrios).

I love the internet, and I'm really going to miss it when it's gone. "PROTECT IP (S. 968)/SOPA (HR. 3261) creates the first system for Internet censorship - this bill has sweeping provisions that give the government and corporations leeway and legal cover for taking down sites "by accident," mistakenly, or for NOT doing "enough" to protect the interests of Hollywood. These bills that are moving very quickly through Congress and can pass before Christmas aim to give the US government and corporations the ability to block sites over infringing links posted by their users and give ISPs the release to take any means to block peoples' sites, including slowing down your connection. That's right, some say this bill is a workaround to net neutrality and is bigger than net neutrality.

"A Florida Republican names it: The Plunderbund." [...] "Policy has been selling for a high price in Tallahassee. Just follow the money, then follow the legislation all the way to becoming the law. Make no mistake, we are being sold out and heading toward a society ruled by a corporate oligarchy."

Mr. Sideshow is currently reading Terry Pratchett's Snuff, and left this quote from it in the comments: "It always embarrassed Samuel Vimes when civilians tried to speak to him in what they thought was 'policeman'. If it came to that, he hated thinking of them as civilians. What was a policeman, if not a civilian with a uniform and a badge? But they tended to use the term these days as a way of describing people who were not policeman. It was a dangerous habit: once policemen stopped being civilians the only other thing they could be was soldiers."

Much like "anarchist" and "violent" are not synonyms, neither are "violence" and "civil disobedience". I realize there are people who would like to conflate these things (and some who wish to pretend they are all merely a subset of "terrorism"), but it's a lie and you should be careful not to fall for it.

I'm getting used to a new operating system here (the situation was desperate), so there's a lot of testing going on and slowing things down. Your continued patience is appreciated.

16:40 GMT

Friday, 11 November 2011

Interim report

Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System sues U.S. Bancorp over mortgage backed securities fraud.

I think Occupy Oakland just took a serious wrong turn. [Update: Changed my mind.].

Cops with machine guns? "The most serious consequence of the rapid militarization of American police forces, however, is the subtle evolution in the mentality of the "men in blue" from "peace officer" to soldier. This development is absolutely critical and represents a fundamental change in the nature of law enforcement. The primary mission of a police officer traditionally has been to 'keep the peace.' [...] Soldiers, by contrast, are trained to identify people they encounter as belonging to one of two groups -- the enemy and the non-enemy -- and they often reach this decision while surrounded by a population that considers the soldier an occupying force. Once this identification is made, a soldier's mission is stark and simple: kill the enemy, "try" not to kill the non-enemy."

"Ohio voters reject Issue 2: In a political blow to GOP Gov. John Kasich, voters handily rejected the law, which would have limited the bargaining abilities of 350,000 unionized public workers. With nearly 95 percent of the votes counted late Tuesday, about 61 percent were to reject the law." Mississippi's zygote personhood bill went down, too. And so did Obamacare in Ohio. What does it mean? "But what it all boils down to is that voters are fed up with far right policies that benefit no one but large business interests. In Massachusetts, for example, according to Physicians for a National Health Program, Romneycare - the insurance giveaway on which Obamacare was modeled - nearly 400,000 people still find health insurance unaffordable, and those people are predominantly the working poor. Given this realization, it is no wonder voters would rather opt out. On a broader scale, Americans are increasingly hostile to far right policies, be they industry bailouts, invasive laws designed to take away women's reproductive rights, or attempts to restrict voting rights, We the People are starting to fight back against the wave of fascist power grabs. Only time, though, will tell if it's not too little, too late."

Tim Dickinson has a feature in Rolling Stone called "How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich" which says it's "The inside story of how the Republicans abandoned the poor and the middle class to pursue their relentless agenda of tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent." Now it would be good to see an article about how the Democratic Party followed suit.

Home at last: Matthew Yglesias has finally gotten the job he's been trying for all along - at Slate.

Here's Glenn Greenwald talking about how journalists have become servants to power. And more of Glenn speaking about his book here.

And here's Glenn Greenwald on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman.

I haven't watched this yet, but I hear Michael Moore, Naomi Klein, Richard Kim, William Greider, Rinku Sen, and Patrick Bruner did a great panel about Occupy Wall Street (and a lot of other things) Thursday evening. (via)

@davidcnswanson: "How long has it been since we had a victory that was something other than the defeat of a proposal to make the world even worse than it is?" (via)

14:33 GMT

Wednesday, 09 November 2011

Get right down to the real nitty gritty

Happy birthday, Mr. Sideshow!

I wish I could credit this dense little paragraph that came from an exchange between a friend and someone else, but the someone else who wrote it asked to be anonymous, but they were talking about this article and he said, basically, here's your evidence that governments distribute demand expression, and my friend asked him to explain that statement, so he said: "In monetary economies using tax driven money governments determine the distribution of demand expression by determining the distribution of liquid wealth, i.e. money. The tax rate on various types of income, the things government spends money on and the assets the central bank will buy or discount all constitute variables to determine the distribution of wealth, which determines the way demand is expressed. In most of the West today, the game is set up such that the bottom 90% are taxed at a much higher relative rate than the top 10%. In addition, government spending and central bank policy has been orchestrated to make income from most labor very uncertain, while income from management of large corporations and finance is large and stable. We make sure bankers have customers, but domestic solar panel manufacturers are driven out of business by poor trade policy and lack of demand. As a result, bankers get to express demand for the things bankers want (hermes) and society goes without renewable energy infrastructure."

Things were pretty eventful last week at Occupy London at St. Paul's Cathedral. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowen Williams, has come out in support of a "Robin Hood tax", and Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, said, "I'm certainly sympathetic to the position that Christians are called to see things from the standpoint of the poor, that is a perspective that is built into the story of Jesus Christ." David Cameron, of course, weaseled out of his lukewarm support for the Robin Hood tax by saying, believe it or not, "I think there is widespread support for the principles behind such a tax, but it has to be adopted on a global basis. And let me say this, as quite an important warning to those who are pushing this so hard - we must be careful that we don't allow other countries, including some European countries, to use a campaign for this tax - which they know is unlikely to be adopted in the short term - as an excuse for getting off their aid commitments." In case anyone missed it, there was even a hostage-taking threat in there.

Sam Seder's guests on Tuesday's The Majority Report were Harry Siegel and The Rude Pundit, talking about Occupy Wall Street.

Susie's guest on tonight's Virtually Speaking Susie will be Ted Rall.

Cool, Thom Hartmann with Dick Gregory, Part 1 and Part 2.

At Corrente:
In Atlanta and SF, they're occupying foreclosed homes.
Imagine If War Were Illegal - It Is!
Fahrenheit 11-11-11.

Looks like The GOP is finally offering Obama his dream bill, twisting reality so that your life is on the table, and the Bush tax-shift is permanent.

Looks like the NYT forgot Argentina when they claimed that a default by Greece would mean "A return to the international credit markets would take years." But it didn't mean it then, and this whole story about how making Too Big To Fail banks take their losses is just a pile of toxic waste. Making those banks eat their losses is the best thing that could happen to Greece and Germany. Maybe European countries could learn their lesson and impose, you know, regulations. Gosh, I can think of a couple of other countries that would benefit by doing that, too. (Also: Is there already a a serpent in the garden? I want to support OWS, but if this is the case, I'd suggest that if people want to make donations, they order pizza or bottles of water or whatever else is needed to be sent to Liberty Park, but not donate money. We don't need the whole thing to be taken over by the 1% of the 99%. [Actually, Sam Seder just suggested you could order hand-warmers via his Amazon link to contribute to the Occupations and to his show at the same time. You can also order them some coffee from Just Coffee using his Majority FM discount. You can find it all on his page.] (Oh, and the term "anarchist" does not mean "violent" or even "militant", and I wish people would stop conflating the two. Anarchism is a belief in a particular type of social organization that has nothing to do with violence. Violence is a tactic that has been used by some elements in pretty much any movement that advocates changes in the form of the existing system of government, as well as by the existing establishment that opposes those changes. Throwing a rock through a window doesn't make you an anarchist, and being an anarchist does not mean you use or advocate violence. Get this straight.)

Nobody ever asked me this when I was growing up: "In the world I grew up in, a police officer would see somebody on the street and say, 'Why are you here? What are you doing? Who are you? I don't know who you are.' [...]" But then, I grew up in the United States of America.

Remember, no one should be able to get through a day without seeing someone wearing this T-shirt. Maybe you can order some to send to your local Occupy group so they have something to keep them warm.

Yeah, I can remember ten years ago when there was really just, basically, the VLWC, as Max dubbed us back in the day. There was Jim (RIP) at Rittenhouse, MadKane, Max, Atrios, and a few others who haven't posted in years. (I imagine if Jim had retained his health he'd probably still be doing Rittenhouse...or maybe not, I don't know, but I like to think so.) Not sure what Vaara's up to these days. And there was Media Whores Online, and Conason and Lyons, and of course Bartcop. And me.

Some days I think a good Constitutional amendment would require anyone in national elective office to live entirely on their public salaries and pensions in perpetuity. That would give them a huge incentive to please a majority of the voters rather than just 1% of them.

Shirley Eillis

00:53 GMT

Tuesday, 08 November 2011

As I look around for my possibilities

The leaves on the Virginia creeper out back have all pretty much fallen away, now, but I saw this picture David Beckwith posted on his Facebook page* and just had to share.

I just had an exciting afternoon of watching the internet be broken, so I didn't get any work done. (When your typewriter was broken, you always knew that it was your typewriter that was broken. You didn't have to try to figure out whether it was the individual website you were trying to get, your computer, your home network, your broadband provider, your telephone company, a DNS screw-up.... *sigh*)

Digby and Cliff Schecter were fun to listen to on Virtually Speaking Sundays (which now features a spot from Culture of Truth advising us of the most ridiculous thing he saw while watching the Sunday morning talk shows).

Down in comments, Charles mentioned his proposed Constitutional amendment: "The right of the people to be accurately informed on issues pertinent to selecting representatives to government being essential to maintaining freedom and prosperity, elections shall afford all candidates access to means of communication adequate to discuss issues with their prospective constituents, shall forbid the use of concentrated wealth to corrupt elections, and shall require that all persons shall be able to vote." And Nihil Obstet replied, "As I've commented elsewhere, there's a better, simpler way to handle the issue of corporate money in politics than an amendment addressing that one area of corporate mischief -- let's reform the laws on corporate governance. This amendment protects the power and lack of accountability of corporations in all areas except political finance. We could return corporations to their original form as limited liability companies that exist for a given purpose, rather than the current form of an immortal legal entity with no limit on areas of activity. More simply on the political front, we could require that any corporations can spend money on political advertising only if approved by a majority of stockholders -- that would end political spending by corporations unless they figured out a way to get stockholders to vote on things, and if they did that, there might actually be some accountability. The amendment route is at best kabuki, and more generally, is a way to suppress discussion of the legal structure of corporations."

The Washington Post would definitely not want to see a Constitutional Amendment that suggests the public has a right to be adequately informed.

4 Reasons the Right-Wing Propaganda Machine Has Failed to Destroy OWS

At Pruning Shears, recording industry executives are still liars, credit card companies don't want to show you your account details, and the banality of evil.

Just how big was that march at Occupy Oakland?

Some notes and photos from Occupy San Diego

John Galt is 12.

If you decide to occupy a Koch Brothers event, you're bound to run into some creeps, or maybe have them run into you.

It still looks to me as if Obama and the leadership Dems have managed to assure depressed voting among Democrats. Concern trolls have warned that when a Democratic incumbent was primaried in the past, he always lost the election. What they don't say is that the reason the Dem incumbent was primaried is that he'd already lost the enthusiasm of Democratic voters. So, what if the challenger had (a) been up to the job and (b) beat him? If the worst thing that can happen is that the Republicans will win, and the Republicans win anyway, what should we have been doing to stop the continuing spiral downward?

Back at the start of Tony Blair's official first national campaign as Labour leader, he was running around praising Thatcher and making sure that the talking points were not devoted to real issues, and the Conservatives had a campaign billboard up that pictured Tony with demon eyes. The thing is, I couldn't help feeling they'd nailed him. There are so many ways he was bad for the country. The fact that his abysmal performance led to Cameron's government is one of them, of course, but his "modernizing" of the NHS shows the demon is in the details.

'Gob-smacking' scale of Peterman glacier break-up (via) (Also: Dinosaur!)

November 6th was the tenth anniversary of one of my favorite things.

John Stover on guitar

Simon & Garfunkel

00:55 GMT

Saturday, 05 November 2011

Remember, remember, the 5th of November

Dean Baker was on Virtually Speaking and explained why what corporatists call the "free market" isn't, and also said much the same thing I did last Sunday about how the high unemployment is deliberate - only he explained it more.

On Thursday's Majority Report, Sammy talked to Zach Carter, Senior Political Economy Reporter for The Huffington Post, about how awful the recently passed trade deals are. Sam's guest every Friday is of course Cliff Schecter, always an interesting conversation.

Truly Inspired Explanation Of The Occupation - out the ringers.

Atrios says it's still the scariest chart.

Michael Moore on Maddow saying if you see someone trying to incite violence, start with the assumption that that person is an undercover agent of the police or Homeland Security.

Scott Walker gets a mic check.

Issue 2 in Ohio is a vote to confirm or reject Kasich's union-busting Senate Bill 5. Firefighters who are also military vets made this ad urging people to vote NO on Issue 2. Surprisingly, a local right-wing radio host in Cincinnati has also come out urging listeners to vote NO on Issue 2, saying cops and firefighters and teachers are the best people he knows and that they should have a say in decisions that affect them. Or maybe it's not so surprising. Because when you get past the people who run the two parties, you find that most "conservatives" and "liberals" agree on the preservation of liberal government - government by, for, and of the people, and laws that serve and protect the public.

Keep Wall Street occupied - from your home.

How to move your money from your great big nasty bank into your local credit union.

Black Agenda Report says "Occupy All the Harlems, to Save Ourselves from the Dictatorship of Wall Street."

Mike Bloomberg has been losing his cool, telling lies about how the subprime crisis started, making up stories about high crime levels at Liberty Park, and generally having his Marie Antoinette moment in public.

Senator Bernie and six other Senators have introduced a Constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling. Bernie says the ruling was insane, but Justice Stevens, writing for the minority, told us it was corrupt.

Norquist denied!

Dave Johnson is comparing Congress with Mubarak, but he sounds a bit partisan to me, forgetting how hard Obama worked to wait until the whole idea of jobs could be killed before bringing the subject up - and the "centrist" Dems did a great deal to help. Hell, even the Dems who are supposedly left of center haven't exactly been much use, for the most part. The Republicans would not be able to get away with this crap without them.

As Krugman reminds us, high unemployment and wrecking the social safety net is an unnecessary choice.

Maybe the moribund state of Real ID suggests that public distaste for a stupid, costly federal law can have an impact on implementation and perhaps even bring it to a halt. Or maybe we just have to wait for the states to push back because they don't have the money for it. By the way, do you know all the things we've been learning during Drug Facts Week? "Blacks are 13 % of drug users, 39 % of those arrested, and 57 % of those convicted. bit.ly/qqZxJT Real #drugfacts2011"

Bruce Bradley is a former Nabisco executive who is now blogging about the tricks and traps of the Big Food industry. (via)

I've never understood this, either, especially since surely by now everyone in the industry knows that those guys from India aren't there because people from India are better engineers than Americans, but because they are cheaper and don't have the same rights as American workers. They're not doing jobs no one else can do, they're there to put Americans out of work and depress wages, just like in every other industry. And that's just leaving aside the fact that Jobs was not Woz.

The nuclear threat to Pakistan is Pakistan.

A neat bit of wild nature.

Damn, too late for Halloween!

The unlikely face of global protest

16:55 GMT

Thursday, 03 November 2011

Crown of creation

Stuart reminds me that I erred in not explaining a statement I made on Sunday's show that our Leaders want high unemployment - because if I don't explain it, it just sounds like bomb-throwing hyperbole to people who haven't worked it out yet. (And, of course, it doesn't make sense in electoral terms - why would they want high unemployment when it's likely to hurt them so much in the voting booth?)

But yes, they've said so - they are fighting against inflation, and that means they want to keep unemployment high, because high unemployment keeps wages low, while rising wages lead to inflation. Although a certain amount of inflation, believe it or not, is good for most of us (and we are nowhere near that level of inflation right now), inflation would mean that all that excess money that's sloshing around at the top would lose some of its value. (Not enough value that the 1-percenters would have to drive a Nissan rather than be driven around in a chauffeured Rolls, mind you, but the real value in their having too much money isn't so much in whether they can buy an extra yacht but in the assurance that you can't. Not that they'll say that out loud, but c'mon, how many billions does a guy need?) Or, as Stuart put it, "High employment leads to wage growth, which leads to inflation, which erodes the collateral of the investor class in favor of debt-owers."

Now, Stuart and I have a disagreement about whether or not this is different from the perennial complaint of wealthy conservatives that It's So Hard To Get Good Help, but I don't think we disagree on this: High unemployment is a feature, not a bug, of the "Centrist" policies that, just by a happy coincidence, are the same as the arch-conservative policies that lead to precisely the same outcomes that conservatives going back to before the revolution have always wanted. When I talk about them being Tory policies, I don't mean David Cameron (although he certainly is one), I mean the same kind of Tories who opposed democracy from its very beginnings. Because only the people who already have wealth and power have a right to get any wealth and power.

And, as I also said on VSS, the distinction between "conservative" policies and "centrist" policies is not about the policies themselves or the outcomes, but on the rationale each group uses to justify those policies and their desire for those outcomes. And even there, of course, there are differences - there are the hard monetarists, the Randians, the Prosperity Gospelers, the monarchists, the (allegedly) Puritan Work Ethic types, and so on. (A bit of "conventional wisdom" is that we all agree on outcomes, we just disagree on how to get there. That's probably true for about 80% of the country, but the other 20% have very different goals; however, they lead both parties.) Obama tells us it's a shame but it's just the way things are, so sorry; but his farther-right enablers say it's the way it should be. Still, neither side is much bothered by the suffering and misery that result from their manifestly conservative policies.

"Why the Economy Grows Like Crazy Amid High Taxes."

The general strike in Oakland actually seems to have been remarkably successful. Even the cops seem to be getting the message, as Sam Seder discussed on yesterday's show before he interviewed Chris Hayes.

David Dayen says, "Terms for Proposed Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Shock the Conscience [...] This is a sellout of a deal, by all indications. Banks who have been on the receiving end of trillions in bailout money and emergency lending help would receive get-out-of-jail free cards for multiple crimes, without even so much as an investigation by the state and federal regulators handing out the pardons. In exchange they'd throw a few pennies to borrowers and promise to do loan modifications they haven't troubled themselves with doing under prior settlements. The tell here is that you're hearing almost nothing from Republican AGs, previously ideologically opposed to principal reductions or penalties of any kind, about dropping out of the settlement. Clearly the banks got to them and told them not to mess with a good thing."

Atrios says, "I Have No Idea. But I'm a bit worried that a bunch of other people who probably, to be honest, have no idea either have concluded that the MF Global bankruptcy is no biggie. In any case, it's a reminder that the current International Great Casino is almost entirely about betting on just who will or will not be bailed out by governments and central banks. Betting on what central banks are going to do is always a part of this stuff, but in "normal times" (remember them? me neither) that's about betting on whether they're going to raise or lower rates by 25 basis points. But now the bets are about just where the free money howitzer is going to be aimed. Late capitalism is surely grand."
And: "Actual Mysteries: "The one thing I can't quite figure out is why those who are most dedicated to the Euro project are the ones who are doing their best to destroy it."

Michael Moore calls Obama on his BS.

Smoking Politics is back, reminding us that, "The heritage of present-day corporate/conservative Republican communication strategy is from the tobacco industry. In fact, many of the Right's top strategists including Karl Rove, started out working in the tobacco marketing & lobbying." (I do wish people would not say things, however, like, "There is nothing LESS healthy and clean than tobacco smoke." Having had three family members die of botulism and a friend die of ecoli, I can think of a few things that are less healthy, even if we leave out, y'know, wars and stuff.)

500 Miles with Doctor Who.

16:45 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, November 2011

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