Monday, March 30, 2015

All I gotta do

Last week on Virtually Speaking Sundays: "Obama declaring he should have closed Gitmo on day one; Israel; Republican presidential candidates. Commentary from Susie Madrak (Managing Editor, Crooks and Liars) & Michael Brooks (contributor and producer for The Majority Report). Political satire from Culture of Truth. Jay Ackroyd moderates."
- This week, Digby and McJoan discussed how Democrats messed themselves up over Social Security, how Atrios changed the story, and victories that could reshape even the Democratic leadership with some effort on our part - Patty Murray for party leader?

"Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Text: After more than five years of negotiations under conditions of extreme secrecy, on March 25, 2015, a leaked copy of the investment chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was posted. Public Citizen has verified that the text is authentic. Trade officials from the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - are in intensive, closed-door negotiations to finish the TPP in the next few months. The leaked text provides stark warnings about the dangers of 'trade' negotiations occurring without press, public or policymaker oversight. It reveals that TPP negotiators already have agreed to many radical terms that would give foreign investors expansive new substantive" (.pdf) This is what the original Boston Tea Party was really about, you know.

I don't usually lead with climate change, but "Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say" scared the hell out of me.

Paul Krugman on the GOP budget, "Trillion Dollar Fraudsters"

Doesn't it seem strange to see an actually sensible column like "The one sensible budget in Washington", about the Progressive Caucus' "People's Budget", in The Washington Post?

"Activist pulls out of Trinity College talk due to 'restrictions' aimed at not 'antagonising' Muslims [...] Iranian-born Maryam Namazie was due to give a talk to the Society for International Affairs on Monday on ‘Apostasy and the rise of Islam' but decided to withdraw from the event after college security imposed 'certain conditions'. 'I've just been informed... that college security (why security?) has claimed that the event would show the college is ‘one-sided' and would be ‘antagonising' to Muslim students,' she wrote on her blog." Which is interesting, since they did not do the same when someone who advocates killing apostates spoke there.
- Meanwhile, is it really safe to protect students from "offensive" debate? "'It's amazing to me that they can't distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech, between racism and discussions of racism,' Ms. Kaminer said in an email. "

At Naked Capitalism:
- "Bill Black: The DOJ and the SEC Spurn their Ace in the Hole - Richard Bowen." That would be because everyone wants to protect the banksters.
- "Epic Fail for the Postal Service: The Wrong Model and the Wrong Board"

"Waka Flocka Flame Didn't Make Anyone Say the N-Word [...] This is no defense of Waka, an awful rapper whose tracks sound like they come from a "Chappelle's Show" skit about awful rappers. But..."

What Atrios said: "If only there were some press outlets and television networks that would give some attention to Senator McCain in order to disprove his point. Oh, wait..."

Rahm needs Republicans. And it sounds like he may get them.

Erick Erickson of Red State notices a problem with his party: "What the hell does the GOP stand for anymore other than 'we're not Obama'? No kidding. He's more competent. The GOP, at this point, stands for nothing and the highest bidder at the same time." Now, if only Democrats can stop standing for nothing more than, "At least we're not the Republicans," not to mention the highest bidder....

Police who stand with big sticks

Falsely-imprisoned for 39 years, former death row inmate to receive $1,008,055.80 in compensation.

Oh, God, Sheila Jeffreys has written another hateful book. Roz Kaveney reports.

Taylor Mali: "What do teachers make?"

"Okay, but it's not just about getting paid to prance around in a princess costume."

New Alzheimer's treatment fully restores memory function in 75% of treated mice.

Massive Underground Ocean Discovered on Ganymede, Jupiters Largest Moon!

Cosplay made...different.

Dalek Relaxation Tape

Minutes of the March 2015 Ankh-Morpork Assembly Transport Committee

Fireworks in Glasgow

1928 England in color

Many years ago, I was sitting around chatting with Christopher Priest and Rob Hansen and somehow we ended up with Chris talking about being a baby accountant and going up to Liverpool and finding out about the Cavern Club and meeting some people who would change his life. And we made him write it all down for us so we could make a one-shot fanzine and get a few other of our favorite people to contribute to it, and that fanzine was Chuch and that article was "Thank You, Girls".

The Beatles

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"THERE'S NO JUSTICE. THERE'S JUST ME."

Back in 2002 I talked about some authors who were in my pantheon of the Good Guys, and the gods know PTerry rated way up there with me. Like Jo Walton, I delighted in running into him at a party or convention, but I was often frankly awed by the way, in his books, he could hold up some of our ugliest traits and show us how silly and stupid we were when we expressed them - and still show us how good we can be, too. His light-hearted tone may have disguised the seriousness of his subject for some, but we weren't fooled into thinking they were just romps through fantasy's clichés. Terry Pratchett knew how awful we are, but he also knew about the rest, too: the good, the strong, the heroism of those who work in the background and know that their acts can never even be seen let alone rewarded, the heart that loves and believes. Terry made us laugh and made us love, and that is no small thing.

I chose some of these links for the pictures, because there are some great ones here. I'm mad at myself for never having thought to shoot a few of him when I was around him, but the moment never emerged, and that's life. (I am also, by the way, completely outraged that fate took Terry and Iain away from us so soon and so close together, and if I believed in "God" I would believe in giving him a good smack in the face, too.)

Obit at Tor.com

"Leaving Early to Avoid the Rush: Sir Terry Pratchett Has Passed Away at 66"

Andrew Brown at the Guardian, "Without Terry Pratchett, the world is less magical."

Tributes from some of his better known fans

"23 Of The Most Beautiful Terry Pratchett Quotes To Remember Him By"

Neil Gaiman on Thursday, 12 March, and Neil last September.

With video at the Guardian

And, of course, Roz Kaveney wrote a poem.

* * * * *

Panelists RJ Eskow and Andrew Jones talked about the Ferguson Report and the persistence of institutional vestiges of Jim Crow--and its manifestation in Oklahoma. Iran negotiations and Bibi's visit and the Republican modern Know Nothings' grasp of "foreign policy." Vanishing email and the implementation of government transparency laws, viewed through the prism of Hilary's, Jeb's, and the State Department email systems, on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

For a change I can agree with Kos without restraint: Hell yes! Donna Edwards for Senate! Stop that little weed Chris van Hollen in his tracks. And, while we're at it, we need someone to take van Hollen's Congressional seat, as well.

A social worker got fired for writing this article.

A dagger pointed at the heart of Texas, Chapter 2: "Obama absurdly declares Venezuela a security threat" - I wonder when Obama is going to start getting the Alzheimer's defense.

"Evidence the DEA Attempted to Alter Testimony on Drug War Massacre in Honduras"

William Greider, "Wrong-Way Obama? Disregard the happy talk from the Obama White House. The stagnant global economy remains at the precipice of something worse - full-blown deflation. And the so-called US recovery remains shaky, despite good employment numbers. Here and abroad, the governing authorities seem to have forgotten a key aspect of our situation: we live now in a globalized economy, in which one nation's cold can lead to another country's pneumonia. Their ignorance is shocking, but also dangerous." Well, I don't know about that - I think they re-wrote the laws that way on purpose.

Edroso unpacks Brooks: "David Brooks says he has "taken [my] column in a spiritual and moral direction of late" -- or rather he says people (presumably A-list guests at Brooks' Vast Entertainment Space) have noticed that he has -- and explains that he has seen how well rich kids behave and how badly poor kids behave and so he is convinced that America needs poor kids to have more of what the rich kids have, namely money. Ha ha, kidding! The poors must have "social repair," which is less expensive than money. His models are England's Second Great Awakening and the Great Depression, events which few of us beyond fundamentalist lunatics and Stanley Kurtz would care to live through" (via)

Will the "Congressman with Guts" become Senator Grayson? Stay tuned....

RAHM
- "Rahm Emanuel allegedly screams at mental health activists - after running ad admitting he 'can rub people the wrong way'"
- "Rahm Snaps at Mental-Health Advocates: ‘You're Gonna Respect Me!'"
- Chicago causing rear-end collisions for money
- Rahm Emanuel's Housing Agency Sitting On Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars With Massive Waitlist
- Just put a stake in him, Chicago.

"After Beating FBI Entrapment, Environmental Activist Eric McDavid Looks Forward"

Captives:
- "The Possibility of Escape" - This is Kathy Kelly writing from behind prison walls, where the prisoners are more human than the society that put them there.
- "Private Prison Companies Foresee Increased Profits as Ruling Limits Immigrant Detentions" - The Obama administration put that loophole right up front by saying they simply can't give the "deterrent" reason for treating people horribly.
- "Jails: Time to Wake Up to Mass Incarceration in Your Neighborhood"
- "Despite Uptick in Prisoner Release, Injustices Persist at Guantanamo

"How Many Minimum Wage Hours Does It Take To Afford A Two-Bedroom Apartment In Your State? "In no state can a minimum wage worker afford a two-bedroom unit at Fair Market Rent, working a 40-hour work week, without paying more than 30% of their income."

Will Cannabis be the new wonder drug?

Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk are doing a show about two actors who used to play a space captain and his pilot and one got really famous and the other didn't and goes to conventions instead. Also featuring Gina Torres and other actors from the Whedon stable.

"18 reasons Buffy The Vampire Slayer was the best show on TV" - Happy 18th birthday. And I still miss Xander.
- Joss Whedon's original movie script for Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Traffic - Live In Stockholm

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

All in time

Okay, since a few people know and a lot of other people have guessed, I'll admit that this medical crap is kind of suppressing a lot of my ability to focus on blogging. If my doctors are to be believed, I will be just fine, although there will be some period where I will likely be very short of enthusiasm for, well, moving.

RIP Leonard Nimoy, at 83. I never met him or anything like that, but everything I knew about him told me he was cool, kind, and fun. Lot of sadness in my world the moment the news broke. And here's Leonard Nimoy's last tweet.
William Shatner stole Leonard Nimoy's bike.

Appropriately, as a guests on Virtually Speaking Sundays, Spocko and Digby, both commentators on media, commemorated Leonard Nimoy and discussed his impact on our way of thinking in his most famous role.

"FCC overrules state laws to help cities build out municipal broadband: Before it tackles net neutrality, the FCC is setting a major precedent for municipal broadband: it's just voted to preempt state laws that were preventing two cities from building out their own locally run broadband networks. The decision was prompted by separate petitions from Wilson, North Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee - both cities that've established high-speed, gigabit internet services, but have been barred from expanding to neighboring communities due to existing state laws. So far, 19 states have similar regulations to those that the FCC is overriding in Wilson and Chattanooga, but today's ruling affects only those two specific cases." We need to make this national.

If you heard that Obama vetoed the Keystone Pipeline, understand that that's not quite true. He vetoed a step of process, not the bill. But gee, it I'm sure it sounds good to uninformed Obama supporters.

Charlie is on A different cluetrain and lists the axioms of a paradigm shift in political reality as the Robber Barons once again take control of the terrain.

Google decides to do evil, then relents. Banning adult content was obviously a stupid idea. I can't imagine who came up with it in the first place. What were they drinking?

This is interesting: "Actress Emma Thompson and her husband refuse to pay 'a penny more' in taxes until HSBC tax evaders go to jail. [...] 'I want to stop paying tax, until everyone pays tax,' Wise told the Evening Standard. 'I have actively loved paying tax, because I am a profound fucking socialist and I believe we are all in it together. But I am disgusted with HMRC. I am disgusted with HSBC. And I'm not paying a penny more until those evil bastards go to prison.'"

Atrios has been keeping me up to date with Rahm Emanuel's problems (and also makes a side point about the reason something called "neighborhood schools" used to be universally regarded as a good thing) and why he's having them. And he really, really is a horrible person. And the revelation that the Chicago police have their very own black sites certainly didn't enhance his image as a man who stood for Truth, Justice, and The American Way. The possibility that Chicago could be getting rid of Rahm and replace him with someone who actually cares about citizens seems almost too good to be true.

"Israeli Claims About Iran Nuclear Program Denied By Own Spy Agency"

Debunking the Corporate Case For Fast Track Trade Authority

From the only official to go to prison in connection with torture: "CIA Torture Whistleblower: US Government Lacks 'the Guts' to Face Its Crimes: John Kiriakou's advice to future national security whistleblowers: 'Get a lawyer first.'"

No one could have predicted that Obama would support Rahm Emanuel's campaign.

An incomplete list of lies our news media told

Suppressing the Republican vote

Greg Benford has posted his Trapdoor article about the legendary Sidney Coleman online. There's a reason why some of our friends thought Terry Carr must have made him up, but I can testify that he was very real and just as cool and funny as the legends specified.

"Chocolate snorting offers new way to a cocoa high."

Wonder Woman with curves

If you can do Facebook, 365 days in 40 seconds

Trailer for Joss Whedon's In Your Eyes

The Motown Sound - 16 Big Hits Vol. 7 (1967)

Marvin Gaye, "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby"

The Fireflies

Friday, February 20, 2015

One less bell to answer

This is a big bunch of catch-up, here, 'cause it's been a helluva few weeks.

Gaius Publius interviewed Alan Grayson on Virtually Speaking, where Grayson discussed "how he 'cracked the nut' that allows him to get progressive legislation passed. Part of his secret - his goal is to be a person who 'gets things done for the progressive movement,' not a person who introduces bills and 'then does nothing' with them. In the last two weeks of the last Congress alone, for example, he passed 15 progressive amendments."
- Cliff Schecter and Spocko discussed Boehner's independent Israel summit mistake and Brian Williams' little fibs and what the current media tone means, and how to try to take advantage of the current state of embarrassment in the media to try to get more opposing voices into the discussion of war, on Virtually Speaking Sundays, where Culture of Truth also reported on a question never asked before on the Sunday talk shows.
- Matthew Sutton, Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor of History at Washington State University, discussed his book, American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism, on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. "The book describes the rise of the pre-millenialist foundation of modern evangelicalism, and how it has affected social and political participation of the very large fraction of Americans who believe the Second Coming is something we can expect to experience in the next generation or so."
- Dave Johnson & JoanMcCarter, "Which lies really matter, Brian WIlliams' or Dick Cheney's? GOP governors and Medicaid expansion encapsulated in King v Burwell and the tension in the party between doing as the Koch's command and what their constituents need.," on Virtually Speaking Sundays

Obama's progressive picks!
- Marcy Wheeler, "Loretta Lynch: Not Enough Evidence to Charge HSBC Banksters"
- Ring of Fire, "Only Obama and Wall Street Criminals will Love Loretta Lynch as AG"
- Crooks and Liars, "After Laundering $800M In Drug Money, How Did HSBC Executives Avoid Jail?"

The FCC Chairman's plan to ensure network neutrality.

The newspaper many of us refer to as the Torygraph nevertheless has some great news coverage compared to most other British newspapers, but a funny thing happened with their HSBC coverage....

Dean Baker, "Throw the Truth Out the Door: President Obama Has to Pass a Trade Deal: Wow, this stuff just keeps getting worse. Apparently anything goes when the big corporations want a trade deal. Otherwise serious people will just make stuff up, because hey, the big campaign contributors want a trade deal to make themselves richer. The latest effort in creative myth-making comes from Third Way, which tells us that post-NAFTA trade deals aren't job losers like NAFTA." Yeah, right.

A "meritocracy" is a society in which people who have too much money think they are better than you even though they are as manifestly stupid as this rank stupidity from Michael Bloomberg.

Natasha Chart is glad that her heartbreaking situation wasn't made worse: "I Had an Ectopic Pregnancy, and Anti-Choice Laws Could Have Made My Experience Much Worse."

Ian Welsh, being tempted by thoughts of Revolution, but like some of his commenters, I think that road leads to madness. He revisits the subject here.

Bernie Sanders speaks at The Brookings Institution.

Lee Camp talks to Presidential Candidate Jill Stein on Redacted Tonight.

John Oliver on Doctors who market to doctors.

A sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, written in 1960.

David Tennant receives National Television Award for being Best David Tennant.

Photo: Something seems wrong here.

Gnome Liberation Front strikes Boulder.

RIP: Gary Owens, 80. He wrote for Rocky & Bullwinkle and Fractured Flickers, but we heard his voice our whole lives, the man who minted the phrase "Beautiful Downtown Burbank" and was the on-camera announcer on Laugh-In, and a lot of other things. We loved him.
- Lesley Gore, 68. She sang one of the great early feminist pop anthems.
- Joe Challmes, fondly remembered newsroom character at The Baltimore Sun. Ettlin left out that although at first he didn't look like much, he sure had beautiful eyes.

If you can deal with Facebook, Lenny Kravitz posted a neat little video from New Orleans.

It's not unusual for science fiction authors to have a sideline.

Everything we know about corsets is false?

Keb' Mo'

Fifth Dimension

Monday, February 2, 2015

Take my hand as the sun descends

I'm cold. And I am going to be a little busy for the next few days. Wish me luck.

On Virtually Speaking, Charles Lencher joined Jay to talk about corruption in New York politics and Andrew Cuomo.

"Barrett Brown Sentenced to Five Years, Vows to Keep Investigating Government Wrongdoing [...] 'The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they're now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex,' Brown said mischievously in a written statement following his sentencing. 'For the next 35 months, I'll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world's greatest prison system.' 'Wish me luck!' he added."

There is simply no excuse for Hugging the Saudi floggers

Nice take-down by Alex Pareene of Jonathan Chait's latest freak-out against political correctness - or rather, of people failing to show proper respect for Jonathan Chait. And Glenn Greenwald said: "It would be wonderful on one level if all criticisms were expressed in the soft and respectful tones formalized in the U.S. Senate, but it's good and necessary when people who wield power or influence are treated exactly like everyone else, which means that sometimes people say mean and unfair things about you in not-nice tones. Between erring on the side of people with power being treated with excess deference or excess criticisms, the latter is vastly preferable."

12-Point Platform - I think I might quibble with this but it's good for thinking about.

Ice cream made easy

"Prize-Winning Animation Lets You Fly Through 17th Century London" - Strangely reminded me of the Ankh Morpork simulation in Second Life.

The Langston Hughes Google Doodle

We haven't had much news lately from the shadowy Gnome Liberation Front, but I think we may know who is stirring up all the trouble.

Susie Bright at the church of Patti Smith

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The long struggle for sleep

This looks like some genuine good news, for a change: "Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without warrants or criminal charges. Holder's action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs." Oh, but wait: "Holder's decision allows limited exceptions, including illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives and property associated with child pornography, a small fraction of the total. This would eliminate virtually all cash and vehicle seizures made by local and state police from the program." So, they can still take your house for child porn, eh? Watch for a sudden upsurge on that one, because it's really easy to frame someone for it. Susie Madrak talked about this in more detail on Virtually Speaking Sundays. Or, in short form: "Good, this should help. But this still leaves a double standard in place for some crimes. What this means, as a practical matter, is that local and police state departments will focus their energies on the firearms and child porn busts, because they'll be determined to fill those gaping holes in their budgets."

Johann Hari has written what sounds like a really good book on the War On (Some People Who Use Some) Drugs, and Sam Seder interviewed him on The Majority Report - recommended, there's some stuff in there that even I didn't know.
- Sammy also talked to Scott Horton about Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America's Stealth Warfare and to Karl Widerquist on The Case for a Basic Income.

"It's not just Fox News: How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe for Wall Street"
- "The Fault, Dear Voter, Lies Not in Our Stars, But in Our Democrats - Thomas Frank Adds His Voice"

"Perhaps the Most Important Question About the Democratic Party Right Now: Over at U.S. News & World Report, Pat Garofalo has a very interesting piece up that asks 'Are Democrats Trolling the Left?' This question deserves some serious consideration, because the answer could tell us a huge amount about American politics over the next several years."

Yves Smith, "Senator Warren and America Win in a Skirmish in a Long Struggle Against Wall Street's Coup."
- Also at Naked Capitalism, "MMT Versus the CBO: Replacing the Budget Constraint with an Inflation Constraint" - now that Stephanie Kelton is the Chief Economist of the Senate Budget Committee.

"It's Not Just the Cops: Public defenders know that the trouble with our justice system extends far beyond abusive policing"

"Most of America's rich think the poor have it easy" - you know, because of all those wonderful benefits they get.

James Fallows on "The Tragedy of the American Military: The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can't win."

"Prosecuting corporate culprits" - There are crimes that normal people get prosecuted for and go to jail. When you do it large, you should be tried for those crimes, too, right? Maybe it's starting.

Commenter ksix reminds us that Mario Cuomo was no great liberal hero - but my point was that he came outta nowhere with a message that spoke to the people, and with a little help from Jimmy Breslin, he became governor of New York. Now, if we could only get a real one....

"Speaking While Female" - You already know this, but every now and then someone does a study or writes an article about how women get interrupted more or guys grab their ideas and take credit for them or whatever. It's particularly fun when you're the one person in the room who can actually answer a question, or has any expertise in the subject, or even has an idea, and they still won't let you finish what you're saying. (And hey, remember this?)

RIP
- Faith Seidenberg, 91, one of the women who invaded McSorley's all-male bar.
- Al Bendich, 85, successful free speech lawyer for Ginsberg, Ferlingetti, and Lenny Bruce.
- Kim Fowley, 75, music producer and influential background figure from doo-wop to heavy metal, P.J. Proby and the Runaways, all over the industry. You can blame him for this: "Introducing John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band at a festival in Toronto in 1969, and knowing that Lennon was experiencing a bout of anxiety at the prospect of facing a crowd of 20,000 with a new band, Fowley invited the audience to welcome the musicians by striking matches or holding up lighters - the first recorded instance of what would become a rock and roll tradition."

Beth Moon's photos of ancient trees

Bev Doolittle, How many horses?

Gourmet Paper Mache Dragon

"That Doesn't Make Sense"

The Beatles in A Midsummer Night's Dream

"I'm Only Sleeping"

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It's The Same Old Song

In the further adventures of Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman on Virtually Speaking Sundays, topics discussed included France declaring war on terror, James Fallows on the military industrial complex, and NYPD vs the Mayor and the Commissioner, with Political satire from Culture of Truth.

Gaius Publius, "'Open Rebellion' Pays Off - Warren & Progressives Sink Obama Nominee Antonio Weiss" - which sounds like good news. Now they just have to stop Loretta Lynch.

And now, the moment Obama has been waiting for, his big chance to finally get The Grand Bargain to save the disability hostages! "New GOP Congress Fires Shot At Social Security On Day One [...] The House GOP's rule change would still allow for a reallocation from the retirement fund to shore up the disability fund -- but only if an accompanying proposal "improves the overall financial health of the combined Social Security Trust Funds," per the rule, expected to be passed on Tuesday. While that language is vague, experts say it would likely mean any reallocation would have to be balanced by new revenues or benefit cuts."

"Democrats, in a stark shift in messaging, to make big tax-break pitch for middle class" - Well, it's not that big, and it's just amazing how they didn't get these bright ideas before 2010... Oh, wait.

Kudos to O'Malley, because whatever other complaints we may have about him, his actions to get rid of the death penalty in Maryland have genuinely been fruitful, and his commutation of the last DP sentences left is a very good thing.

So, it turns out that Justice doesn't want James Risen to testify after all. "As Josh Gerstein first reported, the government has just asked the judge in the Jeffrey Sterling trial, Leonie Brinkema, to declare James Risen unavailable as a witness. After having defended their own right to call Risen as a witness all the way to the Supreme Court, claiming all the way they need Risen to prove their case, they're now saying Sterling should not be able to call him." I guess they're pretty miffed that he won't disclose his sources.

So, this Councilman tells the local newspaper that he's gonna send his lawyers after him for using his name in stories without his authorization. That's right, he thinks he can do that. And the editorial response is very entertaining. There's only one problem: Although they stress the whole "free speech" idea, they make no mention of the public servants are accountable to the public idea.

A little truth from David Horsey

You would think, in the current climate, that the governor of Missouri would have pardoned a 61-year-old man who is serving life without parole for possession of five pounds of marijuana. But not Jay Nixon.

For the first time ever, an Albuquerque PD cop will be charged with murder for killing someone: "The APD has one of the highest rates of officer involved shootings in the country and the body cam footage of James Boyd's execution helped to raise national awareness to this problem. James Boyd, 38, had been camping in a spot deemed 'illegal' by the state in March of last year. APD officers were dispatched, in full paramilitary force, to remove the man from his camp site."

Chris Floyd, "Hunger Games: Western Terror Warriors Spurn Their Innocent Victims : So now there is no money left for the Syrian refugees created by the civil war fomented and fanned for years on end by Western governments. (Who, bizarrely, then prosecute any of their citizens who go off to fight in the war their governments promote as a noble and worthy cause.) For want of $64 million - the amount of money the US spends in an eyeblink on its drone campaigns and death squads, the kind of money that's just chump change for, say, oligarchs who prowl the world destabilizing governments and monetizing misery for their own pockets - the UN says it must halt a vital support program for Syrian refugees."

I like the way the Mirror reported this story: "Cancer caused by 'bad luck' more than 'lifestyle choices' according to shock new study"

We got a nice name-check from The Raw Story: "Scientists confirm there are two different forms of female squirting during climax". The link to our original paper (and the BBFC's reply) is here.

Gotta admit, I got a fine giggle over the Muslim City of Birmingham story. I always get a chuckle out of the tales of Sharia law haunting the streets of London.

Blasts from the past:
- Pete Hamill, 1969, "The Revolt of the White Lower Middle Class [...] The White Lower Middle Class? Say that magic phrase at a cocktail party on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and monstrous images arise from the American demonology. Here comes the murderous rabble: fat, well-fed, bigoted, ignorant, an army of beer-soaked Irishmen, violence-loving Italians, hate-filled Poles. Lithuanians and Hungarians (they are never referred to as Americans). They are the people who assault peace marchers, who start groups like the Society for the Prevention of Negroes Getting Everything (S.P.O.N.G.E.), the people who hate John Lindsay and vote for George Wallace, presumably because they believe that Wallace will eventually march every black man in America to the gas chambers, sending Lindsay and the rest of the Liberal Establishment along with them. Sometimes these brutes are referred to as "the ethnics" or "the blue-collar types." But the bureaucratic, sociological phrase is White Lower Middle Class. Nobody calls it the Working Class anymore."
-2009, "The High Cost of Poverty: Why the Poor Pay More"

I'm not sure how to sum up this little story without spoilling it, but it's the kind of thing you always wish would happen - and, apparently, it did.

"Once-In-A-Lifetime Chance To Spot The Green Glow Of Comet Lovejoy - Chance would be a fine thing for a clear night and remembering to go out and look.

I think these photos are meant to be someone dancing with clouds of powdered coffee creamer.

A love story told in lattes

Renaissance superheroes and Star Wars characters

Toolbox in your hair

The Four Tops

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Were you telling lies?

On learning that Mario had died just a few hours after his awful son was sworn in for another term, my first thought was, "He probably couldn't stand the thought of watching Andrew do even more damage to the state he once governed, as well as the family name." I was just going to post a link to an obit and a link to the famous 1984 speech, but Roy Edroso has it covered here, along with what should also be the epitaph of several pernicious neoliberals along the way. Cuomo did have something going for him that no future potential candidate will have, which was Jimmy Breslin. But when you think about what he was and where he came from, you remember what people do to defeat bad candidates, which is run good candidates. And we will not get rid of the bad ones until the good ones stop waiting for a hero and start being that hero.

"Let's abandon the Democrats: Stop blaming Fox News and stop hoping Elizabeth Warren will save us [...] It took more than the usual civic sloth to produce the lowest turnout in 72 years. It took alienating vast voting blocs, including the young and the working class of both genders and all races. The young now trend Republican. Voters of all ages migrate to third parties or abandon politics altogether. It's the biggest Democratic defection since the South switched parties in the 1960s. If Democrats don't change their ways, their 2016 turnout will be a lot harder to gin up than they think."
- Americans Are Sick to Death of Both Parties: Why Our Politics Is in Worse Shape Than We Thought [...] But our cautious guess is that turnout in this year's Congressional races will finally weigh in at around 36 percent of the potential electorate that had legal rights to cast a ballot."
- "Why the Democrats Need Labor Again" is an interview by Timothy Noah of Thomas Geoghegan, author of Which Side Are You On? Trying To Be For Labor When It's Flat On Its Back and now Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs A New Kind of Labor Movement.

Bill Moyers episode, "American Indians Confront "Savage Anxieties": Earlier this month, as part of the $585 billion defense bill for 2015, Congress passed a measure that would give lands sacred to American Indians in Arizona to a foreign company. The deal gives the Australian-English mining firm Rio Tinto 2,400 acres of the Tonto National Forest in exchange for several other parcels so it can mine a massive copper deposit."

"Congressional Research Service Report On Tax Cuts For Wealthy Suppressed By GOP (UPDATE): The New York Times reported on Thursday that Senate Republicans applied pressure to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) in September, successfully persuading it to withdraw a report finding that lowering marginal tax rates for the wealthiest Americans had no effect on economic growth or job creation. "The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical," the Times reported. Democrats in Congress, however, have resurfaced the report and published it in full. It can be read below. Republicans told the Times they had issues with the tone, wording and scope of the report, but they clearly objected most strongly to its findings, which undermine the governing fiscal philosophy of the party, that tax cuts for the wealthy will spur growth and benefit everybody." Actually, I think tax cuts for the wealthy do indeed have an impact on job creation, in that the wealthier the wealthy get, the more power they have to effect policies that make them richer and everyone else poorer. The situation is now so bad that we not only need a 91% top marginal rate, but we need an actual wealth tax that takes money away from people simply because they have too much of it - flat-out confiscation of anything over $10m would just be a start.

The NYPD really does have the worst, stupidest reason in the world to hate Bill de Blasio. (There's a certain irony in watching Giuliani pretend the cops never demanded that he stay away from their funerals, but the question still remains: Why is he still on TV?)

"Who Is Watching You? Companies and institutions track us almost indiscriminately. Is this the world we want to live in?: Who is watching you? This was once a question asked only by kings, presidents, and public figures trying to dodge the paparazzi and criminals trying to evade the law. The rest of us had few occasions to worry about being tracked."

"Glenn Greenwald: "On March 6, 2012, six British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by a roadside explosive device, and a national ritual of mourning and rage ensued. Prime Minister David Cameron called it a 'desperately sad day for our country.' A British teenager, Azhar Ahmed, observed the reaction for two days and then went to Facebook to angrily object that the innocent Afghans killed by British soldiers receive almost no attention from British media. He opined that the UK's soldiers in Afghanistan are guilty, their deaths deserved, and are therefore going to hell [...] The following day, Ahmed was arrested and 'charged with a racially aggravated public order offense.' The police spokesman explained that 'he didn't make his point very well and that is why he has landed himself in bother.' The state proceeded to prosecute him, and in October of that year, he was convicted 'of sending a grossly offensive communication,' fined and sentenced to 240 hours of community service. [...] In sum, this is not merely an attack on free speech but on specific ideas. Writing about Ahmed's case in The Guardian, Richard Seymour described him as 'the latest victim of a concerted effort to redefine racism as "anything that could conceivably offend white people."'"

"If Florida Counties Have To Marry The Gays, They Just Won't Marry Anyone. Happy Now, The Gays?"

"Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use" (.pdf) "The reality of self-defense gun use bears no resemblance to the exaggerated claims of the gun lobby and gun industry."

My horrible right-wing past: Confessions of a one-time religious right icon

Ever wonder what it would look like if the Grand Canyon got covered in snow? Well, now we know. Must mean Al Gore is fat.

Joseph Califano says the movie Selma tells a false story about LBJ. "As a result, the film falsely portrays President Lyndon B. Johnson as being at odds with Martin Luther King Jr. and even using the FBI to discredit him, as only reluctantly behind the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and as opposed to the Selma march itself. In fact, Selma was LBJ's idea, he considered the Voting Rights Act his greatest legislative achievement, he viewed King as an essential partner in getting it enacted - and he didn't use the FBI to disparage him."

Police Stop, Handcuff Every Adult at Intersection in Search for Bank Robber.

More scary news about water.

How to control the masses
True story

Signage

The Honest Tube Map

My .gif of the day

I think this is the recipe my mom used to use. I loved them. I miss them. Maybe I should try to make some. If I can get off the internet long enough....

Gosh, I never knew this!

This ain't tap dancing, but I have finally seen something I would class with the Nicholas Brothers. Breathtaking.

The Beatles, perfect through your car radio.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

You can leave your hat on

Christmas ran away with me completely this year. A 3-yr-old helped me decorate my tree, and her favorite color is pink, so there were lots of bright pink balls clumped together at the bottom where she can reach. I was going to leave it that way and take a picture with the camera I'm supposed to be getting for my birthday (the old one having decided this was a good time to die), but shortly thereafter the Christmas lights stopped working and had to be replaced, which meant some of the decorations had to come off the tree, and Mr. Sideshow did not preserve the baby hurricane's unique contribution to the tree-trimming in the process, since he thought the distribution of pink balls should have been more even and made it so. I will report that I now have Betty Boop earrings, Betty Boop slipper-socks, and Betty Boop perfume (a different one), but the traditional Christmas post kinda got lost in the battle for time and/or sleep, so here are the traditional links, but without the fanfare:
- Mark Evanier's wonderful Mel Tormé story, and here's the man himself in duet with Judy Garland.
- Joshua Held's Christmas card, with a little help from the Platters.
- Brian Brink's virtuoso performance of "The Carol of the Bells"
- "Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime."
- Ron Tiner's one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol

Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman struggled with the question of What is to be done? on Virtually Speaking Sundays. I don't think they came up with any answers, but they raised some more good questions. Like, now that you know that other people are yelling at the television, what are you doing about it?

"St. Louis prosecutor admits witnesses likely lied under oath." Gee, I wonder why people are mad?

I guess it's a measure of how awful the leadership Dems have been that I was actually shocked to hear that one of their rancid number actually did something good when "Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State." It's such an obviously right thing I just assumed he wouldn't do it.

"Snyder signs suspicion-based drug testing bills: LANSING - Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation today that creates a drug-testing program for adult welfare recipients who are suspected of using drugs. The Republican-backed proposals, House Bill 4118 and Senate Bill 275, were among several bills approved by Snyder. The one-year pilot program will be implemented in three counties that have not yet been determined. Under the program, welfare recipients or applicants suspected of drug use will be required to take a substance abuse test. Refusal to take the test will result in being ineligible for benefits for six months." Think about that. Why would you have such a thing? If people are on drugs, doesn't that mean they need more help?

"Investigators Said to Seek No Penalty for C.I.A.'s Computer Search [...] A panel investigating the Central Intelligence Agency's search of a computer network used by staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who were looking into the C.I.A.'s use of torture will recommend against punishing anyone involved in the episode, according to current and former government officials." [froth..sputter...gnash]

Scalia doesn't mind if employers break their contracts and reneg on promised benefits.

It's true that Elizabeth Warren did not get Larry Summers and Tim Geithner thrown in jail where they belong, but I really don't think it was her intention or her doing to make him look elsewhere for a job that made him even richer. Yet, the Bloomberg story makes it look like she set up some kind of special deal to load him up with too much money. It's a weird article from start to finish, almost suggesting that she manipulated the situation for Summers' benefit, but also saying, "Nyaah, nyaah, nyaah, Elizabeth Warren! Larry Summers is even more filthy rich and it's all because you wouldn't let him run the Federal Reserve!."

Robert Kuttner, "Schumer's Delicate Dance with Wall Street: Last week, I wrote a piece in this space lamenting the fact that so many Democrats had voted for a budget package that gutted a key provision of the Dodd-Frank Act. The so called swaps push-out provision, now repealed, required banks to separate their speculative business in derivatives from depository banking covered by government insurance and further protected by the Federal Reserve. The broader budget deal, technically a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through next September, also cut a lot of needed public spending and added several odious riders, including one that raises the ceiling on individual campaign contributions to party committees about tenfold. Had Democrats resolutely opposed the deal, I argued, it would have revealed Republicans as friends of Wall Street and enemies of Main Street -- a useful party differentiation between now and 2016. As it happened, the bill narrowly passed the House, over the strenuous objections of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and most of the Democratic Caucus. But 57 House Democrats voted for the deal, blurring party differences. In passing, I referred to New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, the chair of the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), as an "enabler" of the broader budget deal. Schumer, as the number-three person in the Senate leadership, supported the deal, and, I later learned, refused entreaties to use his influence to rid the measure of the gutting of a key provision of Dodd-Frank. I soon received an outraged phone message and email from Matt House, demanding that I issue a correction. House, the Communications Director for Schumer on the staff of the DPCC, dictated the Correction he requested me to run..."

David Dayen, "Elizabeth Warren's real beef with Antonio Weiss: What her fight against him is actually about [...] Warren believes that Weiss not does carry the necessary experience for the Treasury position, which oversees many elements of financial reform. She also believes that continually plucking top government officials out of Wall Street closes off alternative perspectives and ensures policies favorable to their interests. For their part, former Treasury officials who have held this position defended Weiss, calling him 'very well qualified' for the job. The nomination has become a proxy fight for a battle inside the Democratic Party over how to handle the financial industry. But that has paradoxically released some of the pressure on Weiss himself, and his investment banking career. In fact, Weiss' history symbolizes what has gone wrong with American-style capitalism, with its focus on financial engineering rather than creating good products people might want. His deal-making has led directly to tens of thousands of lost jobs and billions in bonuses and stock options for top executives and money managers, who in many cases loot the companies they acquire."

David Dayen, "Finally, a Financial Executive Is Sacked for His Company's Misdeeds."

Stunningly, the NYT editorial says, "Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses."

"Howie Kurtz mansplains the news: Fox's media reporter has some advice for lady journalists: President Obama caused something of a stir last Friday at his end of the year press conference when he made a point of only calling on women to ask questions. That had never happened before at a presidential press conference, and the reaction from most corners was one of approval - political journalism has long had a backslappy aura of 'boys club' bullshit attached to it, and anything that helps break down that nonsense can't be anything but positive. Not everyone was on board with the program, however."

"Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit, Challenging the Divine Right of Big Energy"

Uh oh: "Republicans Block Reappointment of CBO Chief Doug Elmendorf: Conservatives would like to change the way the CBO conducts its budget analysis."

"Why automatically believing all rape accusations actually makes it harder to fight rape"

RIP: Daughter of the Beast. Except, she seems to have lived an exemplary life, despite the fact that her father really was the man they called The Beast (before they started using that term for Ken Livingstone, of course): Aleister Crowley. Louise Shumway Muhler, 93. (Amusingly, I have learned that there are rumors Crowley had another daughter. How did I miss this!?)

Turns out my favorite book was the result of the best Christmas present ever.

John Cleese in conversation with Eric Idle at Live Talks Los Angeles (I only realized this exited because someone pointed me to this illustrated transcription of some of Cleese's remarks about Chapman toward the end.)

Martha Stewart's eggnog recipe
Joy of Cooking eggnog recipe

Your corset link for the day.

A Scientifically Accurate Version of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"

"The Future is Gold" ad

It's funny, it used to be near blasphemy for anyone who wanted rock cred to try to cover a Beatles song (because it was understood that you couldn't improve on the original), so not a lot of people tried. One guy had a good, long, run with it, though. Joe Cocker - With A Little Help From My Friends - Hammersmith Apollo, London - May 2013. (Huh, I never noticed that the lead guitarist on the record was Jimmy Page.*)
Joe Cocker - You Can Leave Your Hat On - Köln 2013
I can't remember now whether I first saw him at the Fillmore East or at Emergency. I think he may have been opening for the Jeff Beck Group. I just remember that no one seemed to be able to remember whether his name was "Cocker" or "Crocker". But everyone loved him instantly. RIP.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blue Christmas

Avedon Carol and Stuart Zechman were the panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. First topic was generated by Matt Stoller's piece, previously referenced here, on Why the Democratic Party Acts The Way It Does. Other homework for that segment includes the DLC document "The Hyde Park Declaration: A Statement of Principles and a Policy Agenda for the 21st Century". But the other topic was how we came to be the kind of country where respecting the authority of the police in all circumstances is so important that citizens can be killed for not doing it. So maybe homework should include this article from 2005: "Justices Rule Police Do Not Have a Constitutional Duty to Protect Someone."

Maybe we should call them the Supreme Clique, anyway, since they won't talk to anyone who isn't on the same page and they can't even figure out what the cops are supposed to be for. I mean, seriously: "Supreme Court: It's OK for Cops to Guess Wrong About What the Law Is: A robust 8-1 majority of the Supreme Court ruled today that, contrary to folk belief, ignorance of the law is a perfectly good excuse - as long as it's a cop who's claiming ignorance." 8-1! Well, thank goodness Democrats keep appointing all those liberals to the bench, eh? I was almost afraid I'd find out the dissenter was one of the Republican appointees, but it was Sotomayor.
- And then there's always more from Scalia, who unsurprisingly found an interesting defense of torturing suspects on the grounds that it isn't "cruel and unusual punishment" of people who've already been convicted.

"Why it's so rare for police to be prosecuted for killing civilians, explained in 2 minutes" - Well, no, it explains why it's hard to convict them (because that's a defense argument), but it doesn't explain (a) why grand juries just don't happen to indict them and (b) why seeing someone being perfectly non-threatening scares a supposedly trained police officer to the point that they shoot them without, at the very least, being laughed off the force for being a pants-wetter. It doesn't explain how someone with so little sense of proportion that they kill harmless old men who don't want to go to the hospital or guys who are suspected of not paying a parking ticket or any number of other non-violent, non-felony infractions is on the force in the first place. Even cops who very definitely are not even close to following procedure use fatal choke-holds on such people and don't get prosecuted - but worse, the head of the police union describes this behavior as "good police work". What's that about? Claiming you shot an elderly gent in wheelchair because you were "in fear for your life" should be a firing offense just on the grounds that no one that easily frightened should be on the force, period. And these are the things the media should be talking about, instead of crap like this.
- Cenk says, "American Cops Kill With Startling Frequency Compared To Other Nations"
-Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post, "What America's police departments don't want you to know"

There were some demonstrations recently. All over the country. People just don't seem to like the idea that the cops can shoot you with impunity, it seems. Anyway, the media worked pretty hard to give the impression that nothing much happened that day and hardly anyone turned out for it, but that doesn't appear to have been true.

"Rabbis Recite Kaddish, Jewish Mourning Prayer, For Eric Garner, Later Arrested In NYC Protest"

The Constitution-free Zone

Mary Landrieu's bitter end: Why her complaints about Democrats abandoning her ring so hollow

Journalism furore: Buncha writers quit The New Republic in outrage and solidarity. Lotta people wonder where these principled journalists were when they did things like, oh, publishing all that crap on The Bell Curve as if it weren't a bunch of already-debunked racist crap. Ta-Nahisi Coates, for example. Wonkette explains what happened and puts it all in context. Via Atrios, who referred to it all as "The Most Entitled Whinefest In History."

The Mary Sue, "New UK Legislation Bans Female Ejaculation, Facesitting, Some BDSM From Streaming Porn"
- The F Word, "Restrictions on porn that protect no-one"
- Guardian, "Bound and gagged: the women urging a repeal of the porn laws"

History Department: Robert Moses, The Power Broker, and why the public wasn't overwhelmingly grateful.

"South Dakota Sadly Forced to Cancel 'Don't Jerk and Drive' Campaign ."

Stephen Colbert interviews Jamie Dimon Smaug.

Smokey Robinson on being black

Damn, I missed my chance on day 10 of the Headline Advent calendar.

"Virginia DMV Revokes World's Greatest License Plate"
- Well, I rather liked this one, too.

Hark! A Vagrant is a different kinda comic. Michael Abbot particularly wanted to call my attention to the one on Ida B. Wells.

Nichelle Nichols, still inspiring them.

James Brodie's comment on an earlier post's link to Dobie Gray performing "Drift Away" was, "The Neville Brothers would cover Drift Away. While Aaron would be the obvious lead, I can hear Art in there too. Poppa Funk!" And I thought, "That is such an obviously perfect idea that it must already be on YouTube." But, truthfully, I was disappointed. Gray's slower tempo leaves more room for the kind of vocalizations Aaron is so good at.

Stonehenge by Ikea

A Game of Shoes

The Avengers: An photograph

"Scottish Colloquialisms" featuring Karen Gillan

Enterprise Dance Floor (Star Trek Stabilized!)

Dear Santa

The annual Christmas porn

I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy. I love the comics and I enjoyed the movie, although I had a little trouble with Gamora as the bleeding-heart liberal of the group. And I think they should have gone with Drax's tats from the comics - he looks a bit pink with the ones he has in the flick. But hey, they got Rocket and Groot perfect, and that's what matters! Anyway, here's an Honest Trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy.

Moshe Feder says, "Chanukah starts Tuesday night and these guys do a great job with three holiday standards. (It's an irony of Jewish-American culture that our songwriters have written great Christmas songs, but nothing for Chanukah.)" This was fun to listen to.

"Blue Christmas with Porky Pig"