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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Hate your next-door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace

If you can get into the iPlayer, The One Show followed up with the mood on the morning after. (And even if you can't get into iPlayer, here's "Both Sides the Tweed" in full.) Only three precincts voted Yes. That came as a surprise to a lot of people, but folks in the Orkneys don't expect any more from the elite of Scotland than they do from those toffs in Westminster.

Meanwhile, you might not expect it to be good news when the court rules that Kansas must remove the Democratic candidate from the ballot, but it's actually great news.

At Angry Bear:
Beverly Mann on "Freedom! Liberty! And Being For the Little Guy. As Brought to You By the Conservative Movement"
Edward Lambert, "In Praise of Net Social Benefits [...] The low Fed rate increases the existence of low road firms, as Bruce Kaufman calls them. The result is that they impede healthy organizational investments for long-run growth. Thus, net social benefits are reduced."
Stephanie Kelton on Government big and small

Via "Eschaton:
After Surgery, Surprise $117,000 Medical Bill From Doctor He Didn't Know [...] In operating rooms and on hospital wards across the country, physicians and other health providers typically help one another in patient care. But in an increasingly common practice that some medical experts call drive-by doctoring, assistants, consultants and other hospital employees are charging patients or their insurers hefty fees. They may be called in when the need for them is questionable. And patients usually do not realize they have been involved or are charging until the bill arrives."
"Lost in the Hedges: Fund players, not casino experts, behind majority of A.C.'s failed rescues."
"Israel's N.S.A. Scandal [...] Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications - email as well as phone calls - of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. 'I think that's amazing,' he told me. 'It's one of the biggest abuses we've seen.'"

"To recline your seat or not? Stop arguing. Capitalism already won this stupid war" - Toldya.

Facebook for rich people (for just $9,000)

Ruth with some archeological news about a Unique Discovery in Pennsylvania Dig

This is a couple of years old, but Kevin Phillips was a big deal operative in the Republican Party and they say he wrote the book, and here he tells Democracy NOW! why he's become an apostate. "Well, I think the Republican Party today is not very sure of what it is. It is a little bit too interested in upper-bracket America. But I think the party system as a whole has drawn away from its moorings. You have a Democratic president supporting the bailouts of banks. The history of the Democratic Party, under Jefferson, Jackson and FDR, was to crack down on the banks. So I think you have both parties today don't stand for very much aside from self-interest, and they're mostly involved in hustling money from the 20 or 30 richest zip codes in the country."

This is for fans of Harley Quinn.

Paper Sculptures by Hari & Deepti
Pin-ups - retro cheesecake.
Nils Frahm's "Inside Me" is a bunch of pretty swirls.

P.F. Sloan

03:20 GMT comment


Monday, 15 September 2014

Even slower glass

Marcy Wheeler and Richard (RJ) Eskow were this week's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. They talked about war, spying, and how ISIS is sucking out all the air of Democratic efforts to look back at economic issues (esp the minimum wage).
- McJoan and Gaius Publius discussed the New York Dems, Dems in general, what we need from Obamacare; net neutrality and other stuff on Virtually Speaking Sundays last week.
- Philip Napoli discussed oral histories from Vietnam vets, and the source of trauma, on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.

OK, the reason Scots want independence from Westminster is that Westminster is being run by a load of right-wing scum that seems to take special pleasure from screwing Scotland. (Well, Maggie sure did.) Of course those people are also screwing most of the people in England, which is now a runaway train, thanks in large part to the way the Labour Party membership has allowed their own party to be run by people who may not be capital-C Conservatives but are certainly Tories. Which sounds a lot like American politics, of course, except that there doesn't seem to be much threat of, say, California declaring itself an independent nation and taking it's Democratic votes in the Electoral College with it. A lot of people are fretting that without Scotland, England will be stuck with Conservative governments forever, but that is true only to the extent that everyone is happy to let neoliberal policies keep marching on without an argument. The question, judging from the kinds of arguments some of my friends are having, is whether the answer is a new generation of Labour members banding together to take back their party on behalf of real people, or whether creating a new party is the more feasible path to that end. Again, sounding familiar. In both cases, of course, nothing is going to work unless people are prepared to fight the right-wing rhetoric, as well as the policies, with something more than fevered angst.

"California School Cops Received Military Rifles, Grenade Launchers, Armored Vehicles. [...] The spokesperson said one reason the school district sought the military gear was to prepare for a mass shooting incident like Columbine High School or Sandy Hook Elementary School." Because that would have worked so well to prevent those incidents.

You know, it used to be understood that you didn't want to allow foreign powers to be able to put their influence into American elections because, you know, they might not have America's best interests at heart. That's one reason we used to expect transparency in campaign donations, among other things. So...
"SEC Inundated by One Million Requests for Corporate Campaign Contribution Transparency: On September 4, Public Citizen held a news conference to urge the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to consider a rule that would prohibit corporate campaign contributions from being cloaked in secrecy. The organization announced that one million people in the United States had either sent formal comments to the SEC or signed a petition to bring transparency to corporations contributing shareholder-owned funds to elections without full disclosure."
Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks.

Marcy Wheeler, "Awlaki Really Seems to Have Been Drone-Killed Exclusively on Presidential Authority [...] Man. It's just like they kept throwing legal arguments against the wall in hopes that one saying 'You can kill Americans with no due process' would stick. And since this one is not signed, we may never know what lawyer gets rewarded with a lifetime judicial sinecure!"

Matt Stoller, "5 Reasons for the Zephyr Teachout Phenomenon, and 5 Reasons Andrew Cuomo Is Still Governor" - Cuomo had a lot more money to spend than Teachout did, but he won with "a shockingly low percentage of the vote, roughly 20 points less than Spitzer got in his primary for Governor in 2006." That makes a real difference not just in New York, but in national politics, as well. And more could come, if people know how to take advantage of this.

I don't know if the book is any good, but "Give the Anarchist a Cigarette" is the video for Peak Inequality: The .01% And The Impoverishment Of Society.

I think there may be someone sane on the editorial board of The Washington Post, but they didn't have any input into this cheerleading for holy war.

"Police intelligence targets cash" - This is a big profile in The Washington Post of a guy who has made a lot of money out of going after suspected drug dealers of color. It's also about the profitability of asset confiscation.

"Washington Supreme Court Holds State In Contempt: The Washington Supreme Court issued a decision Thursday holding the Legislature in contempt for its lack of progress on fixing the way the state pays for public education but withheld possible punishment until after the 2015 session."

Actually, I think everyone should be whining about the way airlines are packing people into tin cans like sardines and making us all fight for space in such increasingly unpleasant surroundings. Air travel did not used to be Hell, and there is no reason it should be, now. Before deregulation, fear of flying was about the actual being thousands of feet off the ground held up only by theories part of flying, and not about being crammed in with a bunch of people who had already been aggravated repeatedly at the airport and now couldn't even stretch their legs, let alone find room for their carry-on luggage (which now has to be much smaller than it used to be and your handbag has to fit into it). I don't blame people wanting to put their seats back (although I never do unless the person in front of me has, partly because it isn't really that much more comfortable and partly because I don't want to force the person behind me to do the same), and I really don't blame people for wanting to stop the person in front of them from putting their seat back. Flying shouldn't be this unpleasant in the first place, it didn't used to be, and, by the way, before deregulation, the airlines used to make real profits and did so without so seriously underpaying their flight staff that they had to get flood stamps. When I hear about people fighting over space in a plane, I know where to point the finger, and it isn't at the passengers.

I've never actually had any stomach for the "principled stand" of showing deference among the boys, even fairly liberal Democrats, to right-wing guys who might be, y'know, John Ashcroft or Michael Boggs. Principle would surely mean refusing to vote for someone who clearly does not belong on the bench, wouldn't it?

At Naked Capitalism, "All in the Family: How the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Sam Walton, Bill Gates, and Other Billionaires Are Undermining America [...] There is no Tycoon Party in the U.S. imposing ideological uniformity on a group of billionaires who, by their very nature as übermensch, march to their own drummers and differ on many matters. Some are philanthropically minded, others parsimonious; some are pietistic, others indifferent. Wall Street hedge fund creators may donate to Obama and be card-carrying social liberals on matters of love and marriage, while heartland types like the Koch brothers obviously take another tack politically. But all of them subscribe to one thing: a belief in their own omniscience and irresistible will."

Elizabeth Warren talks to Bill Moyers.

Lee Camp on Operation Northwoods

I enjoy a lot of Russell Brand's analysis, which isn't at all stupid, but he still makes me think of every person I've run into, left or right, who imagines the answer to bad politicians is to walk away. When Brand brags that he doesn't vote, he's erecting a fantasy in which sheer magic will take down the corrupt, ugly system that's been built up around us. So, don't vote, don't organize, don't come up with a coherent response to what the bad guys are doing, just...what? Wish for it? And that's precisely the ground on which fascism grows.

Tansy Rayner Roberts on "Pratchett's Women: The Boobs, the Bad and the Broomsticks" - Part 1, apparently. Nicely done.

The title of this article should actually be something like, "Don't leave ripe tomatoes on the counter for four hot days."

Painted Ladies - I love this stuff.

Truth is Beauty, a spectacular sculpture by Marco Cochrane

Steve Simels made me listen to this, and it truly rocks.

And, in case you're wondering, here's the Box Tops and Alex Chilton really not getting into the spirit of lip-syncing "The Letter".

16:37 GMT comment


Friday, 05 September 2014

I can't hide and I just can't fake it

Brian Burghart talked about his project to create a database of police killings on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. Here's the homework:
"Fatal Encounters - 'A step toward creating an impartial, comprehensive and searchable national database of people killed during interactions with law enforcement'
"What I've Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings"
- Digby and Rick Perlstein discussed Rick's book, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, on Virtually Speaking.
- David Dayen and Dave Johnson talked about Ferguson, shutting down government, austerity, Rick Perry's indictment, the Bank of America mortgage settlement, etc. on Virtually Speaking Sundays.
- Kathleen Geier discussed Women, Public Policy and the Workplace on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.

Alan Grayson's attempt to demilitarize the police didn't get very far in Congress. Legislators seemed concerned that doing so would "devastate police departments." "Here's How Lawmakers Use The War On Terror To Defend Police Militarization. [...] Grayson pointed out that police aren't using military weapons for terrorists. 'Where is the terrorism on our streets? Instead, these weapons are being used to arrest barbers and to terrorize the general population,' he said. 'In fact, one might venture to say that the weapons are often used by a majority to terrorize a minority.'"

Intercept Reporter Shot With Rubber Bullets and Arrested While Covering Ferguson Protests

Marcy Wheeler at The Week, "This is why you can't trust the NSA. Ever." - Let's just say their reports on themselves leave a lot of gaps.

"Anti-trans trolling spree forces Wikipedia to ban U.S. House staffers for third time [..] According to The Hill, Wikipedia instituted the ban on Wednesday night after users operating from the House IP address made a series of anti-trans edits to the page for Netflix series Orange is the New Black."

Sirota has been doing lots of coverage lately of the blatant corruption in, well, everything. Recent stories include "Small State, Big Losses On A Wall Street Gamble", "SEC Complaint Filed Against Erskine Bowles", and "Chicago Mayor Received $100K From Comcast Before Boosting Merger". Sam Seder talked to him about Taxpayers Funding the Marriage Between Wall Street & Politicians on The Majority Report

Amazingly, Princeton notices that the U.S. is No Longer An Actual Democracy: "A new study from Princeton spells bad news for American democracy - namely, that it no longer exists. Asking "[w]ho really rules?" researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America's political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power. Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters." Well, fancy that.

How the Democratic leadership sabotages the Democratic Party in Tennessee and in Ohio. It's almost like they don't want to win.

Walsh in Salon, "Exclusive: Secret new tape exposes Kochs' ludicrous strategy to win over America: Takeaway from secret panel on outreach to women, Latinos and youth? Dems should fear Koch money, but not messaging" - Actually, Dems should fear Koch messaging when it comes from the mouths of Democrats, as it has done for more than a couple of decades, now.
Lauren Windsor at the HuffPo, "Top Koch Strategist Argues The Minimum Wage Leads Directly To Fascism"

Tom Sullivan at Scrutiny Hooligans on Fighting A Command Economy With Monopoly: "At the end of the Revolutionary War, there were an estimated half million Tories in this country. Royalists by temperament, loyal to the King and England, predisposed to government by hereditary royalty and landed nobility, men dedicated to the proposition that all men are not created equal. After the Treaty of Paris, you know where they went? Nowhere. A few moved back to England, or to Florida or to Canada. But most stayed right here." With lots of quotes from Thomas Frank's interview with Barry Lynn, "Free markets killed capitalism: Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan, Wal-Mart, Amazon and the 1 percent's sick triumph over us all ".

"Progressive Left's Latest Target: EMILY's List" - EMILY stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast - but the organization isn't really that interested in people who aren't already getting money from other sources. "Saldana said that in one conversation with EMILY's List officials, they pointed to the gangbuster fundraising that Christie Vilsack, the wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, was doing in her congressional race in Iowa. 'I thought, "OK, I am not married to a Cabinet member. I would love to do a fundraiser in Washington, but I don't have those connections,"' Saldaņa said. 'I wouldn't even say they supported me. Everything was met with resistance because we weren't wealthy enough.'"

"Incarcerated For Writing Science Fiction: A Dorchester County, Maryland, teacher was taken in for an "emergency medical evaluation," suspended from his job, and barred from setting foot on another public school. Authorities searched his school, Mace's Lane Middle School in Cambridge, for weapons. As classes resumed, parents worried that their children were in danger, so police decided to remain on the premises to watch over them. What happened? The teacher, Patrick McLaw, published a fiction novel. Under a pen name. About a made-up school shooting. Set in the year 2902."

This week in astroturfing, "Sacramento: Debate over plastic bag ban takes a weird but familiar turn" when it turns out that advocacy groups for keeping plastic bags are just industry lobbyists in disguise.

I am delighted that Nobody likes Andrew Cuomo anymore, even the NYT. Putz.

Thomas Frank interviews Cornel West: "He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he's just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that's a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are - we're an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody - a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility." (Via Welcome to Pottersville 2.)

Fastest Internet in US? It's Chattanooga, TN, Thanks to Local and Fed $$$ (PS. Big Cable Very Angry)

"Workers Win Supermarket President's Job Back" - This is a rather inspiring story of customers and workers getting together to force a company to do what the workers are demanding. (via)

How health insurance companies still cheat customers under Obamacare: "One of the things that the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA, aka Obamacare) was meant to do was make sure that people with pre-existing medical problems could get health insurance. And that their insurance was affordable. But that may not be the case with some insurance companies. What these insurance companies seem to be doing is targeting prospective patients who have medical illnesses that require a lot of treatment and placing obstacles in their way to getting insured with the offending companies."

Comment at DKos from Joy22: I've been a nurse for 32 years....part of that in an emergency dept. Dealing with combative, physically and verbally abusive patients was a frequent occurrence. We've been cursed, pushed, swung at, bitten and spit on. We've dealt with patients who are confused and belligerent due to drunkenness, drug reactions, head injuries, mental illness and even diabetics with low blood glucose levels. We didn't have guns or mace or tasers or clubs. We were armed with only a stethoscope. We used our training, our skills and our wits to subdue aggressive patients. Yes, there were times when we had to restrain and sedate patients....but there are ways to accomplish this without further harming your patient or allowing them to harm themselves. There was no beating, kicking or choke holds involved! Maybe cops need to take the medical profession's motto into consideration: "FIRST DO NO HARM". Our lives are on the line too.....especially considering the numerous life threatening blood borne illnesses that we are in contact with. Somehow.....we manage to get out jobs done without shooting anyone."
Sam Seder talked to Dana Goldstein about the Teacher Wars on The Majority Report.

The Great Dereliction: "A quick thought experiment: name a leader in a position of power you (really) admire, trust, and respect. Not just the head of an 'alternative' company or political party, but a well-known, mainstream, orthodox, leader of the status quo. Can you?"

"Obama Weighing Delay in Action on Immigration" - This guy is such a coward I can't believe it.

Justice Ginsburg Laments 'Real Racial Problem' in U.S.

This NYPD Idea Backfired Horribly On Twitter

Gorgeous landscape/skyscape photography by Lars Leber

Rock and Roll: The Blue Pills

Someone find me the .pls file for this radio station, I like it.

Carol King and Danny Kootch, "It's Too Late", 1971.

Sorry it's taken so long for this one, not least because the longer I take to post, the longer the posts get. But at least I've finally finished re-reading the entire Thunderbolts saga from start to finish. Now I just need to catch up with the Honorverse and - wait, no spoilers on whether Weber ever figures out that centrism is bad economics.

16:36 GMT comment


Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, September 2014


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