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Friday, 30 September 2011

Where the action is

I think I like LarryE's quote from Oscar Ameringer down in comments (to this post) better than I like my own metaphor: "Money is like manure: Spread around, it helps things grow. Piled up in one place, it just stinks."

I'd like to take a moment to congratulate the Wall Street Occupiers (aka the NYC General Assembly) for doing more than a day's worth of work, for sticking it out, for hanging in long enough that even the media is starting to notice and the "progressives" who support Obama-at-any-cost are pushing back. That's already an accomplishment. As Digby notes, the NYT doesn't find the Wall Street occupation as serious as the appearance of people with tea bags on their heads two years ago, and Glenn Greenwald notes the "progressive" scorn with a clear eye:

A significant aspect of this progressive disdain is grounded in the belief that the only valid form of political activism is support for Democratic Party candidates, and a corresponding desire to undermine anything that distracts from that goal.
And yet, clearly, electing people who happen to be Democrats hasn't worked out too well. Something has to happen. When I read something like this, I am astonished at how little modern "progressives" understand about how long it takes to get some real organization going and how useful demonstrations are to seeding those organizations. (On the bright side, the commenters to that post show a lot of sense.) But Glenn is right, this isn't really sincere criticism. It's not sincere, certainly, to pretend that the message of the Wall Street Occupation is not well understood, even though the media pretend they don't know what it is. The rest of the country understands very well that something is seriously wrong on Wall Street, and something has to be done about it. Glenn, again:
Most importantly, very few protest movements enjoy perfect clarity about tactics or command widespread support when they begin; they're designed to spark conversation, raise awareness, attract others to the cause, and build those structural planks as they grow and develop. Dismissing these incipient protests because they lack fully developed, sophisticated professionalization is akin to pronouncing a three-year-old child worthless because he can't read Schopenhauer: those who are actually interested in helping it develop will work toward improving those deficiencies, not harp on them in order to belittle its worth.
Yes. If you wanted something worthwhile to happen, you'd be doing it yourself. I'm all in favor of people who have the time and resources to get out there - with cameras, with bottles of water, and with ideas - and join them.

Or you can just look for an excuse not to get off the couch.

* * * * *

I see there are still people who don't believe that the All Opponents of Obama Are Racist tactic has been a trait of the Obama campaign all along. Then let me take you back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when Andrew Cuomo talked about campaigning in small states like Iowa and New Hampshire and said they "require you to do something no other race does, you know, and I like it, and I agree with you, it's a good thing. It's not a TV-crazed race, you know, you can't just buy your way through that race ... It doesn't work that way, it's frankly a more demanding process. You have to get on a bus, you have to go into a diner, you have to shake hands, you have to sit down with ten people in a living room. You can't shuck and jive at a press conference, you can't just put off reporters, because you have real people looking at you saying answer the question, you know, and all those moves you can make with the press don't work when you're in someone's living room." (And let me remind you that when white northerners use phrases like "shuck and jive" - and, if you're a certain generation, also terms like "dig", "hip/hep" "go to school on" and dozens of others of the same ilk - they use them not because they are southern crackers but because they learned them from their black friends and associates in the civil rights movement, who used them all the time.) But the interesting thing about Cuomo's innocuous quote is not what he said, but the way it was suddenly introduced to the wider political community. See if you can spot the difference. Yes, an entire memo was somehow magically disseminated to the world compiling supposedly racist comments from the Clinton campaign, none of which were racist - and though the memo seems to have come from an "unofficial" source (did we ever learn who?) in the Obama campaign, it did a lot of dirty work - and I do mean dirty. That memo drove an enormous spike into the progressive coalition that has never been healed. The current reiteration of that nonsense is just more evidence that what is past really is prologue. So you'd better go to school on the past.

Strangely, Marcy Wheeler does not agree with the NYT's brilliant suggestion that the protests all over the world are against democracy.

Two to read from Atrios:
"But What About The Children??"
"Anything That Lets Us Lay People Off"

Lynching fever: "Our results suggest that the death penalty has become a sort of legal replacement for the lynchings in the past,' Jacobs said. 'This hasn't been done overtly, and probably no one has consciously made such a decision. But the results show a clear connection.'"

Tweet from @maxbsawicky (Max B. Sawicky): Liberal states with lower unemployment than Texas and no oil: VT, HI, MD, MA, WI, NY, DE. #socialism Unemployment Rates for States

A great post title from Athenea.

BoonyvilleUSA on MMT.

Vibrations interview clip, Julian Bond, 1982. A more recent Jonathan Capehart interview with Julian Bond establishing that, all these years later, he's still cooler than you. Wikipedia: In 1965, Bond was one of eight African Americans elected to the Georgia House of Representatives after passage of civil rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On January 10, 1966, however, the Georgia state representatives voted 184-12 not to seat him because he publicly endorsed SNCC's policy regarding US involvement in the Vietnam War. They also disliked Bond's stated sympathy for persons who were "unwilling to respond to a military draft".[4] A federal District Court panel ruled 2-1 that the Georgia House had not violated any of Bond's federal constitutional rights. In 1966, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 9-0 in the case of Bond v. Floyd (385 U.S. 116) that the Georgia House of Representatives had denied Bond his freedom of speech and was required to seat him. From 1967 to 1975, Bond was elected for four terms as a Democratic member in the Georgia House. There he organized the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. Throughout his House career, his district was repeatedly redistricted [...] He went on to be elected for six terms in the Georgia Senate from 1975 to 1986." And he's still doing all sorts of stuff you should know him for.

16:25 BST

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

And so it goes

You can download the podcast of my discussion with Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel) Sunday night right here. I thought it went all right. Stuart says we should have said more about how we can look forward to another round of having our criticisms of Obama's policies dismissed as "racist" and lumped in with the Teabaggers' attacks, perhaps along the lines of the "thoughtful" manner discussed below (and here, and, notably, here). (And, apparently, I am a racist for suggesting that there have been better black leaders than Obama.) It is, as Marcy and I both said, something they have to do to distract us, because they can't answer the real questions that are being raised - they don't want to have to talk about what they are really doing, which is deliberately trying to destroy the New Deal - and the middle-class.

Ian Welsh is on the same page with Marcy and me: "Tax Increases on the Rich are not going [to] pass. Period. Obama is doing this so he can look like a liberal, because he knows it won't pass. If he wanted this sort of policy, he needed to do it in his first few months. He didn't and he doesn't, this is re-election positioning. If you are treating it as anything else, you are being played. Oh, and while I approve of the 'Wall Street Occupation' it isn't going to do a damn thing unless it costs Wall Street large amounts of money. Which would require different tactics than are being used. Still, it's a start." Indeed, if Obama really wanted to tax the rich, all he had to do is start with simply letting the Bush tax-shift expire rather than making sure it was renewed.

Of course, we were warned a long time ago when Obama "courageously" bashed poor black people. But what Obama proves today more than ever is, as Bruce Dixon says, that, "When Republicans invade new countries, global public opinion can put millions worldwide in protest demonstrations in the street. When Democrats invade, there are no demonstrations. When Republicans propose social security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts, and try to regulate unions out of existence, public outcries and near general-strike situations loom. When Democrats do the same, all is quiet. Republicans could not even pass their own bailout bills with a Republican in the White House. So between bigoted, bumbling tea party Republicans, and level-headed, competent corporate Democrats, which is the greater evil? And which is the more effective evil?"

CMike down in comments provides a little reminder of the times.

French vote against austerity - seems it's generated unprecedented support for the leftist parties. Perhaps we could take a lesson from this. Frankly, at this point, it wouldn't surprise me if the Socialist Workers Party could make inroads against the five Tory parties in the US and UK.

Looks like Obama broke his own bank - but that's okay, he's still got the corporations.

Pruning Shears notes the long non-evolution of David Brooks, among other things.

"Obama and women: Two views"

Distinguishing the Innocent Not an Easy Task
Udall and Wyden Complain About Misleading Patriot Act Surveillance Reports

From Glenn Greenwald:
When two Americans are released after "781 days in Iran's most notorious prison," the establishment media is happy to quote them on how bad their experience was, but never mentions that they talked about how America treats prisoners probably made things worse for them.
Dennis G. Jacobs: Case study in judicial pathology
The Geithner mystery solved - because, you know, it's no mystery.

More out from Charlie Savage on how Bush and Obama have expanded executive power.

The NYC police pepper-sprayed a woman who had already been corralled. Why? Arrest the guy who did it.

In today's scare-yourself-to-death news, a trader tells the BBC that Europe will collapse and governments aren't going to fix this market crisis because "Governments Don't Rule The World, Goldman Sachs Rules The World."

BDBlue asks a favor in comments: "My one suggestion is that if you must single out a GOP candidate with whom to agree on some of the issues, could you at least mention Gary Johnson (preferably instead of Ron Paul). Johnson would - like every other candidate for the presidency - destroy us economically. However, like Ron Paul, he's anti-war and along with Paul refused to endorse water boarding at the last GOP debate. He's also pro-choice (unlike Paul), for legalizing marijuana and treating drugs generally as a health problem, for the repeal of DADT and for civil unions (unlike Paul), and against the death penalty. And he doesn't have the horrible racist associations that Paul has. In other words, he's Ron Paul without the reactionary social politics. Which means, btw, that the GOP is actually scared of him (he's been repeatedly denied entrance to GOP debates even though he has more support than others allowed to participate) - he's young (so it's not his last hurrah like it is Paul's) and has the policies to appeal to the younger libertarians by being liberal on social issues. Again, he's absolutely awful on economics and the usual libertarian crap, and I'm not voting for him, but he's a much better "strange bedfellow" to point to than Ron and I wish more people on the left would, if only to make the GOP more uncomfortable." Of course, the problem with that is that since most people aren't seeing him in the debates, he's not the guy they're identifying as the one who has the right views on marijuana, waterboarding, and the war machine. But, yeah, both of them are to the "left" of Obama on drugs, torture and military adventurism.

"Nativists Shift Target to Documented Immigrants" - so, it's not "legality" that concerns them. Who'da thunk it?

Obama tells blacks to STFU.

Thom Hartmann interview with Sam Pizzigati (which happened last August but I didn't notice it until now). And here's Pizzigati's article "What would FDR Do?"

Video: Sam Seder live interview with Wall Street occupier. Interesting detail on how they are working.

Keith Olbermann's show on Countdown, 9-23-11, featured Michael Moore, discussion of the murder of Troy Davis, and the occupation of Wall Street. (I couldn't help thinking while Moore was talking about how cops feel about Wall Street that when Bloomberg manipulates the situation to get the police to harass protesters, he's trying to break that support and provoke hostility from the protesters.)

15:55 BST

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Virtually Speaking Sundays

Tonight's guests on Virtually Speaking Sundays will be Avedon Carol and Marcy Wheeler.

23:59 BST

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Equal opportunity bad presidents

Stuart alerts me in comments to the post below to a piece of nonsense in The Nation by Melissa Harris-Perry that demonstrates just how far away our established liberals have drifted from reality. The title gives the game away: "Black President, Double Standard: Why White Liberals Are Abandoning Obama".

Now, if you've been paying any attention at all, you might have thought that white liberals were abandoning Obama because we spent eight years recoiling in horror from Bush's policies and are even more horrified that we elected someone we thought might be one of our own who instead acts just as smug, insensitive, callous, stupid, and creepy as the crazy white man did, but Ms. Harris-Perry thinks we suddenly object to monstrous polices like torture, assassination of American citizens without trial, war-making, attacks on the middle-class and the export of American jobs to foreign countries (because slaves can do them cheaper - complete with betraying unions so we can make life just as hard-scrabble at home as it is over there) - we object to all that, just like we have for the last decade - merely because we're just a bunch of racists:

Still, electoral racism cannot be reduced solely to its most egregious, explicit form. It has proved more enduring and baffling than these results can capture. The 2012 election may be a test of another form of electoral racism: the tendency of white liberals to hold African-American leaders to a higher standard than their white counterparts. If old-fashioned electoral racism is the absolute unwillingness to vote for a black candidate, then liberal electoral racism is the willingness to abandon a black candidate when he is just as competent as his white predecessors.

The relevant comparison here is with the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton. Today many progressives complain that Obama's healthcare reform was inadequate because it did not include a public option; but Clinton failed to pass any kind of meaningful healthcare reform whatsoever. Others argue that Obama has been slow to push for equal rights for gay Americans; but it was Clinton who established the "don't ask, don't tell" policy Obama helped repeal. Still others are angry about appalling unemployment rates for black Americans; but while overall unemployment was lower under Clinton, black unemployment was double that of whites during his term, as it is now. And, of course, Clinton supported and signed welfare "reform," cutting off America's neediest despite the nation's economic growth.

She goes on with a list of Clinton's sins in a similar manner without reference to the facts of the times, which include the paucity of information sources and forums in which any of those crimes could be discussed, especially once it became clear that there was a full-scale attack on Clinton in progress that was based not on these really quite awful policies, but on his having done things like appoint a perfectly sane woman who said perfectly sane things about sex education. Or on things that were really the doing of his predecessor (I'm always amazed at how Clinton was responsible for Ruby Ridge even though it happened during the GHWB administration), or were planned or implemented under the Reagan or Bush-the-first administrations. Or on his having done something that most of his predecessors in the office are known to have done - i.e., get a little on the side. (Note: it used to be that it was okay to commit adultery on the side as long as you never got divorced. Apparently, it's now okay - at least, if you're a Republican - to play around all you want to and get a divorce, but any Democrat who has an affair is pretty much in the Worse Than Hitler category.) Or things that were the sheer fantasies of backwoods segregationists in Arkansas.

Face it, there was no air in the room for attacking Clinton from the left while most liberals were still reeling in shock at discovering just how right-wing the "liberal" media had become. When The New Republic is promoting (to respectful appreciation from the rest of the media) a re-packaging of long-debunked racists myths in the form of The Bell Curve while the rest of us are being called "fascist" for suggesting that we'd rather not hear our neighbors referred to as "niggers", where, exactly, was this criticism of Clinton supposed to take place?

Nevertheless, plenty of us were furious at Clinton, and we said so on the rare occasion that we found a place to do it. Trouble is, most spaces for public debate were dominated more by partisanship than by appreciation of just how damaging some of his policies were, and too many people were feeling helpless in the face of that sudden ugly exposure of the now manifest right-wing nature of the media. With right-wing Democrats suddenly in charge of the party, it had become impossible even to mention single-payer, let alone decry policies that were more directly an attack on the poor and minorities. Universal government-funded healthcare was something that had wide mainstream support and yet it couldn't be talked about?

And, in an atmosphere where genuine liberal concerns could not be talked about, it left us all atomized, feeling alone, like our concerns were not shared by the many, but only by a handful of our friends. You can't get a movement going when you feel like you're the only one who sees what's going on.

And it took time for our complaints to begin to permeate. A new generation had to begin to hear the language of real progressive liberalism, and an old generation had to learn the ways of the internet, before there was even a place and time for talking about these things - and we were able to practice on Bush, who gave us plenty of reasons to look more thoroughly into those policies and understand just how urgent the promotion of liberalism had become.

And, of course, it was precisely that understanding of how much damage Clinton had really done us that put so many liberals into the Anyone But Hillary camp. All over the progressive blogosphere, people swore oaths against anyone who was connected with the DLC or anyone like them. We talked openly about the damage done by NAFTA, by the Clintons' refusal to discuss single-payer, by DADT, by the increasing militarization of our police and the direct damage these "modernizing" policies were doing to the black community, the poor, and even the middle-class - and all of the sins of Clinton. We may not have had the space to talk about those things during his presidency, but now that we did, we did not cut the Clintons much slack. Sure, Hillary had her supporters in the primary, but many of those were people who had accepted the fact that it was going to be either Clinton or Obama and they could see that Obama, though he tried to hide them (unlike Hillary, who at least was honest about them), had pretty clear connections to the DLC bunch and was the choice of the corporate media, and that he really had no liberal credentials to speak of. And it wasn't Hillary who had openly betrayed liberals by dragging the "Social Security crisis" story out of the grave we had so recently managed to bury it in through virtually round-the-clock effort to defeat that very, very serious threat. I trusted neither of them, myself, but Obama talked like a well-spoken Republican of the past - genteel compared to today's GOP, but with the same policies and goals.

If there has been a double-standard, it was the one that ignored Obama's claim that Afghanistan was the "right" war and it was okay to continue prosecuting it, the shrugging off of Obama's vote against a 30% cap (30%!) on usury, the brushing away of Obama reviving the "Social Security crisis" meme after we had worked so hard to kill it, and dozens of other pieces of evidence that Obama was contemptuous of progressive liberalism and willing to break the progressive coalition in order to get into office. The one that pretended that, while Hillary Clinton was "a monster", Obama was somehow golden.

What kind of standard was it that told us throughout the primaries and even long after he had started to show his true colors in office that the reason Obama walked and talked like a refined Tory and promoted and fought for right-wing policies was that he "had to" because he was black? (Why was it okay to say that during the campaign, but no one would have accepted the same excuse for Hillary - that she "had to" vote for the Iraq authorization because she was female, and a Clinton to boot? Nor did anyone bother to point out that the AUMF did not authorize Bush to do what he did - he did what he wanted to do regardless of the restraints written into it.) Why do we hear, over and over, that we have to put up with what can best be described as utter crap because Obama is black?

I do not believe that it was "not the time" to elect a black liberal as president. I think it would have been a terrific time to elect a black liberal as president, in fact. Yes, the right-wing would have said all the same crazy things they're saying now, but at least, if Obama had actually been one, elected with his overwhelming mandate, I believe he could have been a great president - one who actually did the work that needed doing instead of continuing to reverse us back to the 13th century. A black liberal, standing up to people who were and are hurting the nation, could have welcomed their hatred and been proud of being called the enemy of people of such caliber. A proud black liberal president could have saved the country and perhaps even earned the respect of some people who thought a black president would not help them.

But he's not. He's something else that doesn't care about the damage he is doing to this country. His actions from the very start of his political career have sent a clear message that he is not on our side, that in fact he wants to hurt us. He has won one election after another by first destroying the political careers of people who were more liberal than he is. He has been telling us pretty much to lie down and die since the moment he arrived at the White House.

I don't have an unrealistic standard I hold black politicians to. It's perfectly realistic to hold Obama to the same standard I have watched black leaders achieve throughout my lifetime.

But I'm disgusted when people like Melissa Harris-Perry sink so low as to tell me I can't expect intelligence, courage, competence and decency from a president simply because he's black. Yes, I can.

* * * * *

Gallup is saying that more people are willing to vote for, or at least consider voting for, Mitt Romney than are willing to vote for, or consider voting for Perry or Obama. The good news for Obama is that more people say they will definitely vote for him than would definitely vote for either Romney or Perry - but that winning number is only 33% who are currently sure they'll vote for him. Meanwhile, only 35% say they will definitely not vote for Mittens, while 45% would definitely not vote for Obama and 44% say the same about Perry. I didn't see the question, "Would you vote for any of these creeps?" 'Cause I sure won't. (Also: a media moment when the White House and some of their friends in the media push back against Suskind - and he stands up for himself.)

I always said it was pretty easy to explain this stuff if you don't start off by convincing yourself that it's all too complicated. I'm glad to see that Krugman is getting better at this. As I pointed out a long time ago, the image of money as the blood of the economic body is an easy one to understand. It needs to circulate throughout the body for the body to remain healthy. It does not need to be leeched away so that the rich can bloat themselves on it.

Get your Lord of the Rings Pez dispensers here. (Get me some, too.)

Google is celebrating Jim Henson's birthday. (Story)

16:05 BST

Thursday, 22 September 2011

"May God bless your souls"

The letter from Troy Davis: "As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see first hand. I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing Joy. I can't even explain the insurgence of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all, it compounds my faith and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty, this is not a case about Troy Davis, this is a case about Justice and the Human Spirit to see Justice prevail." His last words were to his executioners: "May God have mercy on your souls. May God bless your souls."

The next time someone tells me how important it is to elect a Democratic president because of Supreme Court appointments, I won't forget that the Supreme Court, including the Democrat-appointed justices, unanimously agreed that it is okay to murder a man in the absence of any believable evidence of his guilt. Oh, and that our Democratic president could have single-handedly stopped this monstrous act, but couldn't be bothered.

Not In My Name

Like Susie says, Police brutality is the real reason why the cops don't want people with cell phones recording them.

"Learning Faces of Different Races: Clues to Why 'They' All Look Alike", via David Sirota.

"REPORT: Economists Shut Out Of Debt-Ceiling Debate; Only 4.1 Percent Of Cable Guests Were Actual Economists"

Victims of BofA Mortgage and Foreclosure Actions Leave BofA's Trash on Exec's Doorstep.

Gee, do you think it's possible that fracking in Lancashire caused those earthquakes in Blackpool? Sure. Do you believe that investment in fracking will create more jobs or produce more energy than investment in "green" energy? Of course not. But claiming the reverse will lure away plenty of investors' money.

The sky is falling.

Amazing nature (baby elephant included)

16:37 BST

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

You've heard it said

Thanks to Thers for linking this overwhelming evidence that telling the truth is not complicated. And that's why Elizabeth Warren is leading in the polls, despite starting way behind Scott Brown in name-recognition. (And the secret a lot of people still don't know is that among rank and file Republican voters, Warren doesn't have the negatives you might think she would - a lot of them actually know, and appreciate, what she's been doing.) David Atkins: "And here's the little secret the Democratic consultant class either doesn't understand or willfully refuses to understand: this sort of rhetoric won't just win in Massachusetts. It will win in Omaha, too. It will win the day from Annapolis to Anchorage, from Kalamazoo to Kailua-Kona."

So, Andrew Breitbart is sounding whackier than Ross Perot (although I'm beginning to wonder about whether Perot was just hearing voices, to be honest). OK, so he wants to shoot "liberals" and thinks people like him outnumber the rest of us and have all the guns. He's wrong on both counts, there, but when you look at the kind of people on your TV and the NYT op-ed pages who represent themselves as "liberals", it's not hard to hate them. I mean, look at who is supposed to be liberal and, jeez, you almost want to shoot them yourself. Problem is, they're not liberals; they're not much different from the royalists who opposed the Constitution. (Seriously, I think everyone should listen to that clip from Stuart talking about what the "liberal" White House and their pals actually think. They come from groups like the DLC/Third Way/New Democrats that are funded by the same people who fund the right-wing spin tanks. They're right-wingers, they just have different language for the same goals.)

On The Majority Report, Sam had an interesting interview Monday with filmmaker Marshall Curry about his film, If a Tree Falls, about the Earth Liberation Front and what the introduction of destructive action did. he also talked to a rep from Occupy Wall Street. On Tuesday, he talked to Ryan Grim about Obama's pretend left turn. (Also: nominate Sammy in every category you can fit him into!) Wednesday's guest is Alan Grayson. Sam gets better and better with some really good analysis of his own, too, I recommend it.

Cenk Uygur explains Why The Young Turks are going to Current TV. And here's his new boss welcoming him.

On Countdown, Bernie Sanders and John Nichols in Wisconsin talking about Scott Walker, labor, and Obama. So, where was Keith? Oh, yeah, he was here.

Welcome Blog Hag to her new address.

"Gamers Unlock Protein Mystery That Baffled AIDS Researchers For Years: In just three weeks, gamers deciphered the structure of a key protein in the development of AIDS that has stumped scientists for years. According to a study published Sunday in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, the findings could present a significant breakthrough for AIDS and HIV research. Using an online game called Foldit, players were able to predict the structure of a protein called retroviral protease, an enzyme that plays a critical role in the way HIV multiplies. Unlocking the build of the protein could theoretically aid scientists in developing drugs that would stop protease from spreading." Damn, I still can't figure out how to walk up a spiral staircase in Second Life.

16:38 BST

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

So much to do, so little time

I admit, I haven't pored over the internets looking for it, but none of the stories I've seen about Obama's current proposal mention the term "flat tax". You remember the flat tax, don't you? The one floated by billionaires on the premise that the rich pay too much and should have to pay no more than anyone else? No one has asked why that idea disappeared, but of course that happened because billionaires finally realized that a flat tax would actually mean they'd pay more than they do now. So when Obama advocates a tax that would mean millionaires would have to pay no less than everyone else, he's essentially advocating a flat tax at the top, isn't he? And, of course, still on the backs of the ailing and elderly at a level that should make people scream. So much for the math.

I have a dream where the Democrats bow to the real political reality and draw up a plan that is utterly FDR and not even a little bit BHO, campaign on it with vigor and win both houses with overwhelming liberal progressive dominance, and then pass their single-payer, tax-the-rich, rebuild-the-infrastructure, protect-American-jobs bill with a veto-proof majority. But, as long as I'm having impossible dreams, I might as well have President Michael Moore sign it. This, I suppose, is better than what everyone expected, but it's so typical of Obama to go out of his way to leave the door wide open to screwing up Social Security and Medicare. If he meant to protect them, he'd simply refuse to offer them up, period. (via)

Oh, yeah, Ralph Nader is looking for a primary challenger. "The letter was endorsed by 45 'distinguished leaders' and included Princeton professor Cornel West, who has been highly critical of President Obama as of late."

If there's one thing we learn from history, it's that we don't learn nothin' from history.

Digby has a piece at Al Jazeera on Vote suppression and the legacy of William Rehnquist, and the current GOP plan to stop you from voting.

Athenae on Surrendering in Advance: "None of these inevitabilities, none of these political realities, is a naturally occurring phenomenon. We didn't wake up one day to a world in which this is the case. It's not some kind of Politics Pandemic where people touch each other and get infected, and therefore talking about it requires something more than a Daley-esque shrug about getting screwed and oh well gosh darn life sucks. It requires being willing to say okay, but there has to be something that can be DONE about it. There's always something to be done. There's always a way out. [...] My worst fear, though? That we're right. That we are better than this. That we can do more. That we can give more. That political reality is what we make it, that inevitability is nothing but the limit of our sight, and that we are allowing ourselves to be talked out of all our glorious possibilities by people whose interests lie in convincing us that this is the best we can do."

"If not us, then who?"

I gather that either things changed while I wasn't looking and then changed back, or things haven't changed much at all. Way back when I wrote my earliest papers about women in media back in college, I noted that "good" women continued pregnancies even when it threatened their lives and everyone who cared about them was trying to talk them out of it. Although there have been exceptions over the years (e.g., the dramatic moment in A Raisin in the Sun when Ruth Younger refers to the doctor as "she" - ah, but a very different context), this was it. But I've been away - did I miss all the TV shows and movies where women got abortions and it wasn't a big deal? Or is it still progress if the option is mentioned at all?

It's not my fault that I didn't post the Virtually Speaking A-Z link from the week before last, reacting to Obama's speech, until now. (It's Stuart's fault.) The more recent episode is here. Stuart also paired with Culture of Truth this week on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

16:20 BST

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Just a bunch of links

Blackout: CNN, Fox, and MSNBC Ignore Thousands Of US Day Of Rage Protesters. (via)

Can't we just have a primary campaign putting Obama against this guy?

Brooks redefines sin; Ezra agrees? (via)

Hacking: Met use Official Secrets Act to demand Guardian reveals sources (via)

Alien space bats - or, if only the peak oil field were like science fiction fandom (Thanks to Lambert for the tip, and for the one for Mark Thoma's article distinguishing Social Security from a Ponzi scheme - sort of, because it doesn't really explain just how different a Ponzi scheme is and why it's illegal, and there are clearly people who need to have this hammered into their heads. And it turns out that the math on how vile it is to raise the Medicare eligibility age is even worse than Lambert thought.)

Atrios on The Worst Idea In The World: "Raising the Medicare eligibility age isn't just a bad idea because squishy liberals like me think life should be easy for older people, or a bad idea because it's stupid fucking politics, it's a horrible idea because it will increase overall costs and mess up our already fucked up health care/health insurance markets more. Also, too, it will make life horrible for older people. Mucking with Social Security is bad, mucking with the Medicare eligibility age is bad AND stupid. So it's probably the likeliest outcome then."

Why do right-wingers think government is always wrong, except when it decides who to kill? (via)

Judge rules in favor of your First Amendment rights.
Judge argues against your First Amendment rights. (Well, no surprises on who that judge was.)

Civil OBEDIENCE Will Kill Us If We Let It. (via)


Wikileaks: U.S. Wanted Venezuela's Equivalent Of "Larry The Cable Guy" To Challenge Hugo Chavez.

"Go big."

William F. Buckley's guest is Huey P. Newton.

Bernie Sanders on picking winners and losers - and the government's mission to make solar power a loser.

Yesterday in labor history

Cool old pictures of New York in the '40s

1920s ad poster art (via)

Time-lapse crop circle formation

Nasa's Kepler telescope finds planet orbiting two suns.

16:00 BST

Friday, 16 September 2011

Too much stuff

I don't know if your newspaper showed you this story, but the view of America from abroad gets less pretty every day. Although, quite honestly, living in a make-shift shelter in the forest must have its advantages over having to hustle in to work every day to make rats rich.

Cliff Schecter and Jay Ackroyd on Virtually Speaking Sundays discussed a decade of shame (ref.Cliff's article cited below and this post from Krugman). Stream or podcast at this link.

I was actually pretty angry that Mother Jones published an attack on Paul Krugman for telling the truth about how 9/11 marked the beginning of a decade in which our government encouraged us to cave in to fear and hatred. On the grounds that, of all things, it was said on "a day when Americans of all stripes should have been giving thanks to both President Bush and President Obama for doing whatever it is they do that has protected us from a tragic repeat of the events of September 11, 2001." "Whatever it is they do"? Whatever have they done to make us safer? Unless you count letting the terrorists win as a good way to keep them from needing to attack us again. (Michael Moore, a long time ago, pointed out the significant fact about Osama bin Laden: He was rich. Protect us from the goddamn rich, and then I'll be grateful. But not before.) But I won't link to the fatuous post at MoJo, so click on Glenn Greenwald's take-down. And, speaking of protecting Americans, see Glenn on How a normal, healthy government behaves when a foreign government murders its citizens. (Meanwhile, once again, Americans come to their senses while the creeps and nitwits in DC lose theirs, and no, we don't need to give up our rights to be safe. Quite the contrary.)

Here's Sam Seder's interview with Eliot Spitzer. And, on Monday, he talked to RJ Eskow about raising the Medicare eligibility age, on Tuesday Spencer Ackerman about Palestinian statehood (and about the weird cheer for death during the Tea Party debate); on Wednesday, he played his interview with Bobby Kennedy Jr.. Sam's Thursday show had Sam covering a lot of important news stories that your TV didn't bother to report or unpack for you. (And remember, you can order your fair trade coffee at a discount off Sammy's page, too.)

Sam Seder guest-hosting on Countdown Friday: here (with Allison Kilkenny about how they're trying to rip-off and kill the US Post Office, ref. her article here), here, and here.

Thom Hartmann talks to Ari Berman about the War on Voting.

Like Susie says, the wingers had fun with "Obama's unhelpful advice", but you really can't blame them this time. For all I know, there used to be civil servants who did this stuff, but you can't work this hard to make government unresponsive and then tell people to ask the government to help - oh, wait, I get it.
And Fallows, he's been hearing from people saying, "People Are Close to Revolt," because "creative destruction" is destructive. Even if you have a Harvard degree.
Also: The infrastructure privatization bank, or how Obama's proposed infrastructure bank would privatize public works - and privatize taxpayers' cash;
Ian Welsh's three-point plan to solve Europe's financial crisis;
The real threat to Social Security is in Obama's payroll tax cut, which even right-wing Democrat Ben Nelson recognizes as an ugly scam: "I wish I could (support it),' he said. 'But all you're doing is taking money that otherwise would help Medicare and Social Security.'" And even Pete Sessions - yes, a right-wing Republican - called the payroll tax cut "a horrible idea"! So, yes, Obama is actually more right-wing than Pete Sessions!.
And: Scott Walker's staff raided by FBI! No, Really!
Not Safe for Work.

OBL is making sense!

No, I didn't turn it on.

Here's some sensawonder from Cassini.

Wonderful punk and post-punk era photographs by David Arnoff (via)

16:30 BST

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The more you see, the less you understand

There's an almost perfect post at The Big Picture called "Clash of The Clueless: Friedman v. Santelli", and it's comedy gold. And as I write this, there is one comment, and it's from a nitwit who thinks that Social Security really is a Ponzi scheme. Of course, as Bob Somerby has been pointing out on his new actual blog (!), this confusion is predictable since no one ever bothers to explain the difference. No one even bothers to mention that, no, Social Security is an insurance plan, let alone that it could only be a Ponzi scheme if (a) people stop having children and (b) our owners ship all of the jobs to China.

Digby: "How interesting. It turns out that normal people (i.e. those who don't pay attention to the gibbering of the Village) have an instinctive understanding of what's going on while those who absorb the misinformation don't. Whodda thunk? This shouldn't surprise me, I guess. It takes a lot of work to sort through the political bullshit we read and see everyday. If you don't hear it at all, you are almost surely better off than if you just follow the news cycle superficially. Maybe these so-called "low information" voters aren't so low information after all. Or perhaps it's just that many of the rest of us are "wrong information" voters." (Also: right-wing Christianists vs. even righter-wing Christianists, Drug-testing the unemployed - another solution to a non-problem - and how our transformational president brought us another economic 9-11.)

Much as I hate to give hits to Politico, but there's actually a Joseph Stiglitz article there called "How to put America back to work".

Thom Hartmann TV - It's funny, but Dave Ettlin, who is rarely political, is saying the same thing: "We need to reward economic patriotism, and punish the alternative. We need to see folks in the halls of government point fingers at companies that gave away American jobs and fail to reverse course and bring them home. Label them unpatriotic. For the most egregious, label them traitors." And Susie Bright, not talking about sex this time, may just get my vote for president with this jobs plan. (And thanks, D, for tying those together for me.)

"The Changingman"

16:57 BST

Isn't it time to eat the rich?

If I were a more ambitious person I would do individual posts on each of The Golden Laws of Prosperity.

From Rolling Stone:
Ari Berman on The GOP War on Voting - and here's Ari talking about it on TV.
Matt Taibbi: "Why Rick Perry's Social Security Stance Will Sink Him"

By the way, you could lose your job from being on the wrong side of the war on voting.

Here's a rare, sensible discussion of our outrageously costly, ineffective, and punitive sex laws, "Sex Offenders: The Last Pariahs", by Roger N. Lancaster from Sunday's NYT.

Occupy Wall Street.

Atrios, linking to a pernicious piece of recasting at Bloomberg, says that Democracy Is Not The Problem, and he's right: "European leaders weren't elected to bail out banks and punish their population, the Euro and the economic/political integration of Europe was always an elite project with marginal public support, and while here in the US the tea partiers squawk about spending, they don't actually care about it." Voters keep trying to throw the bums out, only to find that their pre-selected choices have been limited to just another set of bums. That doesn't let the voters entirely off the hook, though - it means that something has to happen before we cast our ballots that isn't happening, and the only people who can do it is us.

This was a great Labor Day post from Digby: "Stuck in the pink collar ghetto". (And another one.)

From the No One Could Have Predicted files at A Tiny Revolution, "The Obama They Elected".

Get your ass down to the White House fence, Al!

I remember thinking "Reichstag fire" almost immediately. This is it; they'll use it to do everything they've wanted to do for more than half a century. Some people forget that we were already in a state of emergency, that a president had been placed in the White House publicly, with no push-back to speak of, without the ballots having been counted. What Cliff says (via) is true and beautiful, but more than my worst fears on that clear September day have come to pass. Even more than my worst fears after the Selection. I think, until the last couple of years, I still had my faith. Not faith in God, of course, but in something I no longer have a word for that I think used to call "America", although I knew it was much bigger than that - not a country, but an idea.

The 10 unanswered questions of 9/11

I tried to look for the supernova but it rained on me instead.

01:30 BST

Monday, 05 September 2011

Signs of the times

I hear that the American Google page for today has a lame and insulting little flag, which isn't a doodle and is of course not exactly symbolic of the holiday we are supposedly commemorating. I don't know why they didn't skip it altogether and give the US the same doodle they gave the rest of the world.

Sam Seder celebrates labor with some inspirational words.

E.J. Dionne: "Let's get it over with and rename the holiday 'Capital Day.' We may still celebrate Labor Day, but our culture has given up on honoring workers as the real creators of wealth and their honest toil - the phrase itself seems antique ' as worthy of genuine respect."

What high-profile figure spoke up against crony capitalism from both parties? You'll never guess.

Quote: "Of course, it's unfair to compare child molesters and murderers to Goldman Sachs. Not even the most prolific serial killers have managed to do as much widespread damage as Goldman Sachs and crew have managed. Also, as individuals theoretically capable of conscience and transformation, murderers have at least the potential for actual rehabilitation, while Goldman Sachs is accountable only to its corporate charter. So it's really not a fair comparison at all."

Astroturfing scientific papers - one editor resigned after publishing a "scientific" climate denial paper. But most of them won't.

More reasons to get Alan Grayson back into Congress: He still wants to go after war profiteers. (Also: More on the right-wing Get Rid of the Vote effort.)

Yes, yes, the Republicans are crazy, but let's not forget how hard Obama has to work to enable them.

God forbid they should pay them enough to live on.

CBS officially joins the GOP.

Conservatives still not cool.

San Francisco in toothpicks ♪ Rollin' with my baby ♪ by the Frisco Bay! ♪

23:59 BST

Friday, 02 September 2011

Stops on the infobahn

Oddly, the US Justice Department has decided to sue to block AT&T's takeover of T-Mobile, as if antitrust law still mattered. Some people wonder if they mean it, or if they are just running for the same kind of gravy train that follows those who pretend to be investigating banks and somehow get lots of campaign cash from banks. In any case, Schneiderman seems to be on the side of the angels in this one, too. If I were him, I wouldn't fly anywhere, and I definitely wouldn't have a sex life. (Conveniently, Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyd discussed this issue on Virtually Speaking A to Z last night.)

"WikiLeaks site comes under cyber attack [,,,] 'Dear governments, if you don't want your filth exposed, then stop acting like pigs. Simple,' the group posted on Twitter."

"Dept. of Interior Recommended Federal Charges vs. DADT Protesters - 3 Hours Before They Demonstrated [...] LaChance said he first learned of the protest from an email written by the Secret Service and forwarded to him prior to November 15. LaChance said he was told 'there were people who were going to chain themselves to the White House fence.' But organizers of the demonstration said they did not publicly disclose anyone would be chaining themselves to the White House fence prior to the demonstration, so it's not yet known how the Park Police came by that information."

Horse-race calculus: "2012 is not decided yet" - despite what some may say. For one thing, Obama's "major overhaul of health care" is nothing of the kind, and a lot of his once-supporters are angry about it. His non-supporters were already angry. And that's before seeing it in action. And, anyway, the Republicans are making sure that it's harder than ever for Democrats to vote. Yes, yes, Bush wrecked the economy and the Republicans are trying to keep it wrecked, and everybody knows it, but the best thing Obama has going for him is that most people don't realize how much he could have done to fix it and has consistently refused to do.

David Dayen reports on another AG who needs to be careful: "Nevada AG Catherine Cortez Masto Destroys BofA in New Lawsuit: Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto's amended complaint in a lawsuit against Bank of America has so many interesting nuances, I think I need a new Internet to catalog them all. But let me start by saying that this complaint is a stick of dynamite to the foreclosure fraud settlement, exposing it as a useless whitewash that won't deter banks from their criminal practices. Masto joins other skeptical AGs here in not acceding to such a dereliction of duty, and instead she lays out a thorough case of systematic fraud, in this case by Bank of America, at every step of the mortgage process. [...] So much else to say here. Masto's lawsuit is as much about the current settlement talks as it is about the 2008 Countrywide settlement. She is saying, in no uncertain terms, that you simply cannot trust the banks to actually abide by settlement terms. As Masto says in the complaint, Bank of America's 'misconduct cut across virtually every aspect of the Defendant's operations,' and they 'materially and almost immediately violated the Consent Judgment' agreed upon in the settlement. At the time, Jerry Brown, then Attorney General of California, said that the settlement would 'be closely monitored and enforced in the months ahead.' It clearly wasn't. BofA didn't wait for the ink to dry before violating the terms. And Masto has not only the accounts of borrowers to back this up, but also testimony from Bank of America employees. Knowing this, seeing it fully documented in Nevada, how could there still be any negotiations on a settlement with the same people? The negotiation should be about whether there will be a public or private perp walk for BofA executives."

"N.Y. billing dispute reveals details of secret CIA rendition flights."

CMike supplies a reminder of earlier FBI activities that should have alarmed people, with some discussion from Noam Chomsky that begins here and continues here. (CMike also reminds us that Nancy Pelosi is a troll.)

Super-insects and super-weeds are a side-effect of using Monsanto products, but for some reason it doesn't seem to be hurting their stock prices.

Machiavelli did warn against the use of mercenaries...

Cenk thinks the White House is simply deluded about how they look to the public. I think Obama doesn't actually want a second term all that much. The sooner he gets out of office, the sooner he can start making the real money. Okay, he has help.

"Everything wrong with American politics in one Politico article"

The Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) Primer

Hm, there's a progressive radio station in Chicago that's also webcast for free. I haven't listened to it but looking at the schedule it appears I can hear Hartmann for free if I listen live. Unfortunately, it's on air at a time of day when Mr. Sideshow and I have other plans.

16:00 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, September 2011

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