Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Going pear-shaped

Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks, in "No, Actually, This Is What a Fascist Looks Like", quote Vice President Henry Wallace: "They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection."

"Senators Reach Bipartisan Immigration Reform Deal: According to the Associated Press, the bill would grant legal status and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants only after a series of additional border security measures were put in place. In addition, the package would include an e-verify program to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers in the future, an expanded visa and guest worker program to manage future immigration, and a separate streamlined path towards citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were bought to America as children." Atrios notes that this deal includes a free money stream for our now over-commercialized university system by offering free green cards to immigrant who get the right degrees, but later grossly understates the way the education game has changed for today's students The lucky ones start off new jobs in the position of indentured servitude (a polite way of saying, "slaves who are allowed to buy their way to freedom if they can find the money"). And that's true even at universities that were founded to be free institutions.

In 1994, "unemployment" stopped including a lot of unemployment - that is, we no longer count people who just plain can't find a job and have stopped looking as "unemployed". Understand, these are people who would jump at the chance to get job if they caught wind of one, it's just that the winds have stilled. They're as unemployed as anyone can be, but they've eaten through more of their reserves and can no longer afford to waste time looking for something that just isn't there. The real unemployment rate is a whole lot higher than what we've been told.

When I hear an idiot from the GOP publicly announce that he is a doctor and he "knows" something that is biologically impossible about conception, I figure the silver lining is that he probably won't get to malpractice on many women. (Hint: Arousal is arousal is arousal, whether that arousal comes from exertion, terror, or lust - raised skin temperature, faster heart-rate, etc. As you can imagine, it doesn't prevent conception.) In any case, 70% of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, so I don't know why we have to pretend that it is "controversial". It may be controversial in some circles, but to most of us, the question is settled: Americans don't want to have their doctors' and pastors' jobs performed by politicians and cops.

Marcy Wheeler's "OK, But Can We Also Fire Lanny Breuer?" was mentioned in comments a few posts back and I meant to front-page it in the next post and somehow didn't get around to it. She quotes a good post by Cory Robin pointing out that a petition asking for Aaron Swartz to be pardoned gets the equation wrong, as if it was Aaron who was the wrong-doer and the government was not out of line. Marcy points out that Breuer has a lot of responsibility for turning the DOJ into the outrage it has become and says, "If we want to fix the injustice that was done to Aaron Swartz, we need to fix the aspects of the system that rewarded such behavior. We need to fix the law that empowered the prosecutors gunning for him. We need to put some breaks on DOJ's power. And we should start by getting rid of the guy who has fostered this culture of abuse for the last four years." But, of course, by creating an enormous batch of laws that are almost impossible not to break if you use the internet at all, Congress and two Democratic presidents are also responsible for creating that culture. And the current president has had a remarkable streak of appointing (or retaining) people who really like this sort of culture. What tremendous bad luck, eh? Or is it an accident that this president has granted fewer pardons in his first term than any other president in history. Yes, that's right, even George W. Bush granted more than twice as many pardons in his first term.

Plutocrats' Paradise: "And this is what makes Davos so fascinating: it is the most perfect case study of how the practitioners of free-market, globalised capitalism give the public one explanation for what they are doing and why, while privately pursuing the complete opposite. On the one hand there is an event attended by Sharon Stone, Bono and a slew of tame academics (14 Nobel laureates this week alone), the message being "we're open to anyone". On the other hand, there are those secret meetings, off limits to anyone not in the £100k club. It is both a reputation-laundry service, and the most shadowy backroom-dealing house. From its inception, the whole point of Davos has been to promulgate the gospel of free-market fundamentalism. In his brilliant book, The Agony of Mammon, Lewis Lapham describes how business-school academic Klaus Schwab convened the original summit in 1971 for top European managers interested in the secrets of American entrepreneurship and "freeing commercial enterprise from the bondage of government regulation". A grand, globalist ideology has since been wrapped around that trunk of class interest, but without it the entire enterprise would never have got off the ground."

Black Agenda Report was, unsurprisingly, less than impressed with Obama's second inaugural speech, with Glen Ford terming it "The White House Un-Reality Show" and saying, "And so it goes. The Great Deporter becomes the great protector of immigrant rights. The man who killed the Kyoto Agreement is heralded as a champion of the environment because he expresses respect for 'science' and pledges to somehow 'respond to the threat of climate change.' The mention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s name signifies - what? Nowadays, not a thing. It is true: Obama is the most gay-friendly president to date. I don't think U.S. imperialism and Wall Street hegemons have a fundamental problem with that, either. Apparently, being gay-friendly is all it takes to be considered a champion of a 'progressive agenda' in 2013." A few days earlier, he had been no more cheery about the staging of the event, saying, "Don't You Dare Conflate MLK and Obama [...] The fires lit by the 'giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism' that Dr. King identified in his 1967 'Beyond Vietnam: Breaking the Silence' speech are consuming the world, now stoked by a Black arsonist-in-chief. Domestic poverty hovers only a fraction of a percentage below the levels of 1965, with 'extreme poverty' the highest on record. Black household wealth has collapsed to one-twentieth that of whites. Today, more Black men are under the control of the criminal justice system than were slaves in the decade before the Civil War... [...] One school of thought holds that corporate servants like Obama could not have taken root in Black America if Dr. King, Malcolm X and a whole cadre of slain and imprisoned leaders of the Sixties had not been replaced by opportunistic representatives of a grasping Black acquisitive class. In any event, had King survived, his break with Obama would have come early. Surely, the Dr. King who, in his 1967 'Where Do We Go from Here' speech called for a guaranteed annual income would never have abided Obama's targeting of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the weeks before his 2009 inauguration. Forty-five years ago, King's position was clear: 'Our emphasis must be twofold: We must create full employment, or we must create incomes.' The very notion of a grand austerity bargain with the Right would have been anathema to MLK. Were Martin alive, he would skewer the putative leftists and their 'lesser evil' rationales for backing the corporatist, warmongering Obama. As both a theologian and a 'revolutionary democrat,' as Temple University's Prof. Anthony Monteiro has described him, MLK had no problem calling evil by its name - and in explicate triplicate"

"Dodd Financial Reform Bill is All Holes and No Cheese: In a letter to Senate majority leader Harry Reid and minority leader Mitch McConnell, luminaries including former SEC Chief Accountant Lynn Turner, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, hedge fund owner Jim Chanos, former Lehman Brothers Vice Chair Peter Solomon, former S&L investigator Bill Black, former Senate Banking Committee Chief Economist Rob Johnson, economists Dean Baker, Barry Eichengreen and others pointed out that Dodd's proposed financial reform legislation wouldn't have prevented the current crisis - and won't prevent the next crisis. Dodd himself has admitted that his bill 'will not stop the next crisis from coming'. In fact, the bill is wholly ineffective, failing to address the core things which need to be done to stabilize the economy."

I mostly try to ignore Gail Collins, but it might be worth your time to read her tribute to The Feminine Mystique at 50 as a reminder of how it's done.

Austerity, of course, is only for you and me, and not for, say, Big Pharma, who get lots of gravy.

This is an actual infographic from The Wall Street Journal.

I've never listened to "Baby Got Back" in any version until today, but I dutifully listened to the original and then to Jonathan Coulton's very different version. Coulton did a funny thing, turning a rap song into a white-bread ballad. This required him to add, y'know, a tune, thus making him the actual composer, in addition to some alteration of the lyrics. So I was confused by Fox/Glee's claim that their cover of Coulton's parody-cover was merely a use of his "arrangement". It's obviously a great deal more than that. And yet, even on Coulton's own post on the subject, neither he nor the commenters seemed to be aware of this (and neither did Atrios). Eventually, though, I found a post where a commenter called ChortlingMango clarified the situation: "Actually, US copyright law is pretty clear on the issue. An arrangement like Coulton's is technically called a 'derivative work,' because it is based on a pre-existing 'original work' (Sir Mix-A-Lot's original rap song). In order to create his arrangement and sell it, Coulton obtained a compulsory (or 'statutory') license from the copyright holder, the Harry Fox Agency. Coulton himself does not own the rights to Mix-A-Lot's lyrics, of course, but, according to the U.S. Copyright Office, 'the copyright of a derivative work covers ... the additions, changes, or other new material appearing for the first time in the work.' Even if Fox got permission for the Glee cover of 'Baby Got Back' from Harry Fox (which they undoubtedly did), they are also required to seek permission from Coulton for use of his 'additions' — chords, phrasings, rhythms, and so on — that make his arrangement unique. He'd have to prove in court that the two arrangements are, in fact identical, but, when you listen to both, there's very little question."

Is this your patent? One company's classy response to an accusation of design-stealing-that-wasn't.

Photos: Robert Bloch and Henry Kuttner. I've never seen a picture of Henry Kuttner before! (source) Here's Bloch in a dress with a ukulele. Bloch as Geekmaster, with Geek. Harold Gauer and Bloch with C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner.

Congratulations to Jim Nabors and Cadwallader.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

State of play

It's embarrassing to have our "liberals" publicly, openly, attacking free communication and protecting criminal banksters while GOP legislators and operatives are the only party professionals acting or speaking against them on the air.

Stiglitz says, "Inequality Is Holding Back the Recovery: The re-election of President Obama was like a Rorschach test, subject to many interpretations. In this election, each side debated issues that deeply worry me: the long malaise into which the economy seems to be settling, and the growing divide between the 1 percent and the rest - an inequality not only of outcomes but also of opportunity. To me, these problems are two sides of the same coin: with inequality at its highest level since before the Depression, a robust recovery will be difficult in the short term, and the American dream - a good life in exchange for hard work - is slowly dying." And all of this could have been avoided - if our leaders had wanted that.

Sam Seder interviewed Eliot Spitzer Thursday on The Majority Report, on the heels of Lanny Breuer "stepping down" from his job after the Frontline exposé, "Untouchables".

Looking at comment threads at the bigger sites in posts related to banksterism and the financial crisis, I see a lot of people still believe that some weird liberal law forced banks to lend money to people who couldn't afford to pay back the loans. This is, of course, a lie. Liberals wanted to pass laws to prevent one aspect of redlining, the practice of denying loans to people who could afford them, or charging them extra for financial services, in selected localities (most notably based on the racial or ethnic make-up of that area). The banks retaliated by hoodwinking people into believing they could afford loans they could not, and then waiting for the government (i.e., the taxpayers) to bail them out when those loans all started to fail. (It should also be noted that, while this was referred to as "the sub-prime crisis", it wasn't sub-prime loans that began to fail first.)

The CEO's got together their own little catfood commission to "fix the debt". But what if everyone just stood right up to The Great Austerity Swindle? "But, what if we say to these people, well, 'the job creators' aren't making any jobs? That's a fact! They give all kinds of excuses, but the truth is that they have no sales, so they have no incentive to create any more jobs. On the other hand, the more we lower their taxes, the more money they have sitting idle, and the more they have an incentive to use that money to invest in financial manipulation schemes rather than jobs. So, why not tax them at extremely high rates on net profits and provide them an incentive to lower their net profits by spending more of their gross profits on tax-deductible business expenses like employees and business expansion? Why won't high taxes on them do more to create jobs than lower taxes? Didn't we have far lower unemployment rates when marginal tax rates were sky-high, than we have now when they are a pittance on the wealthy?"

Just to make life even more annoying, I'm allowed to see stuff from Comedy Central, now, but not at the .com URL. So all the links from blogs are still dead to me, and if I want to see something, I have to go to the page and search through the listings to find that same show. Which was nice when I went to the interviews from The Daily Show and it opened up to the full Neil Young interview, but it seems the thing I was actually looking for, the interview with Austin Goolsby that is available to Americans at the US CC site, hasn't been posted to the UK site. Bummer. But I had been directed there from a useful post by Dan Crawford on Taxes and job creators at Angry Bear linking mainly to a Bloomberg piece that said: "The typical business startup (think Joe the Plumber) begins with an initial stake that has been saved or borrowed, and 97 percent of small-business owners make less than $250,000 a year. It is a good bet that when Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Larry Page were creating their new businesses in their proverbial garages, they weren't giving much thought to the tax rate they would have to pay if they struck it rich," and also noted that the bankruptcy bill actually made it significantly riskier to start a new business. Since small businesses are where most of the new jobs are created, that's a direct hit on job growth. (Also at Angry Bear, more on the fallout from "The Untouchables" and a pointer to Glenn Greenwald's article on same, and a post on Social Security data mining.)

Anonymous declares war on the United States Department of Justice.

Our favorite teacher: "On this third anniversary of Howard Zinn's death, we remember the extraordinary teacher and visionary who imagined that education - like history - should serve the future. Through his life and labor, Howard Zinn urged us to 'teach outside the textbook,' to have confidence in our capacity to make a difference. The rest is up to us."

Rah, it's Quantum & Woody online! (This is one of my favorite comics ever.)

Cat meets dolphins.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Much as I try to avoid Obama's speeches, somehow it all leaks in anyway. I think I've probably heard the whole thing by now just from listening to my favorite radio shows, read this or that snatch of it in the parade of blog posts and articles scattered around the net, and so on. Most everyone agrees that it was a surprisingly liberal speech, but some people appear to take this to mean that Obama will suddenly take off in a new direction toward the American mainstream. I don't think so, since for all his liberal-sounding phrases, his favorites still put in an appearance:
We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.
This is the stuff he's been saying from the beginning. Experienced Obama-watchers recognize the codewords of his constant refrain about "outworn programs" as a dig at the Rooseveltian structure that, far from being outworn, served us very well until our legislators started chipping it away by a succession of antidemocratic "reforms". "Reform" itself is a word that has been transformed from corrective to destructive. Obama used phrases earlier that appeared to echo FDR's recognition that you can't have freedom without economic security and that programs like Social Security help supply that freedom. But Social Security is precisely the "outworn program" he means to "reform" until it offers no such security, no such freedom.

Many people were cheered by references to signal moments in the history of civil rights for blacks, gays, and women, but saying "Seneca Falls" does not change the fact that this president actually put the Hyde Amendment into his "signature" health care bill, even though he didn't have to - a slap in the face of women's autonomy and everyone's personal privacy and freedom.

David Brooks, of course, bemoaned the fact that Obama's speech wasn't free-market enough, although others figured it was plenty free-markety, as it obviously was. (In fact, if it hadn't been for all his favorite code-words, I would have thought that speech came from someone who actually understood what a real free market was, the way FDR understood it. But deregulating, privatizing and voucherizing everything in sight is not a free market, especially when you're granting special breaks, piles of taxpayer funding, and patent monopolies to pharmaceutical houses.)

Some were inspired by Obama's commandeering of Martin Luther King Day as his inaugural day even though his official inauguration was, as the law requires, the day before, and the nearness to the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, so that Obama could stand astride the shoulders of two great men, at least one of whom opposed nearly everything that Obama has done during his time in national office. Sure, if equality means you don't have to be better than any white man to get the job, Obama is a wonderful symbol of equality, having proven to be at least as bad for us as his unsightly white predecessor. Wow, what a victory. But I do believe it would have served us better to have a Thurgood Marshall than a Barack Obama to play that role.

Yet Obama did, for the most part, make the case for liberalism, even though he spouted his usual nonsense along with it. Someone not looking for codewords heard that those 1930s solutions he deplores actually were good things (as they are!) and that we have freedom and innovation because of them. Sam Seder stressed this on his show, and clearly wished he could believe Obama meant those things - but he knows, and we know, that Obama is Obama, and he's famous for talking a good game and going in the opposite direction.

* * * * *

"Everything You Think You Know About Health Care Spending Is Wrong" - This is, unfortunately, Yglesias, who of course ruins it at the end with a nod to the imagined upside of overspending on health care without any apparent awareness that much of the overspending in question doesn't go toward innovation but rather to subsidizing an industry that price-gouges, and that other countries do lots of innovation, too, even though they don't overspend to the degree we do. But there's a nice, straightforward little graph showing that the Canadian taxpayer pays less than the American taxpayer does for maintaining their healthcare system, once again highlighting the ripoff of Americans by the collusion of corrupt officials and the price-gougers.

"Our Obama Bargain (Part 2 of 3)" - Still waiting to see if Perlstein is being coy or if he really doesn't get that Obama's moves look so nonsensical because he is playing for the other side.

Too Big To Jail? The Top 10 Civil Cases Against the Banks

A hot new magazine succeeds in its mission as a jargon-free Marxist publication: Jacobin.

Dean Baker says, "The Skills Shortage: It's on the Management Side."

When a Homeless Person Owns a Dog

The TRUTH About The Hostess Bankruptcy - my new video

Dean Baker, "Patent Monopolies Lead to Corruption, # 21,508."

Rick Perlstein remembers Dear Abby (and Ann Landers) as a liberal force for good.

Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break The Silence

Janis - there's actually a picture here I hadn't seen before.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

If you're so smart, how come you're too rich?

It is the belief of our elites that they are smarter than us and know what's good for the economy, and that's why they should be running things, undemocratically and against our wishes, to "fix" the economy. Like, for example, these guys: US Federal Reserve 'underestimated financial crisis': "The US Federal Reserve may have underestimated the looming 2007 global financial crisis, released transcripts from its meetings that year have shown. The documents suggested Fed Governor Ben Bernanke wanted to hold off from addressing rising panic in the markets. He said in December of that year that he did not "expect insolvency or near insolvency among major financial institutions". Yet many US banks and other financial firms had to be rescued in 2008. [...] The released Fed documents from 2007 also suggest current US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner underestimated the crisis. Mr Geithner, who at the time was president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, said in August of that year: 'We have no indication that the major, more diversified institutions are facing any funding pressure.'"

The National Journal: "Connaughton calls Obama's view 'financially illiterate,' and he's right." (Note this follows a paragraph in which Obama misstates the problem and ends saying, "So the problem in today's financial sector can't be solved simply by reimposing models that were created in the 1930s." But of course, these are precisely the problems that those 1930s models were created to solve - and they worked.)

Or is that just a story? Maybe they already knew the real one: "Concentration of resources in the hands of the top one per cent depresses economic activity and makes life harder for everyone else - particularly those at the bottom of the economic ladder." The elites also believe that they deserve to have all the money, and that the rest of us deserve to be poor. Maybe they're not solving the problem because, for them, it's not a problem.

* * * * *

"Big Banks Get Tax Break On Foreclosure Abuse Deal: Consumer advocates have complained that U.S. mortgage lenders are getting off easy in a deal to settle charges that they wrongfully foreclosed on many homeowners. Now it turns out the deal is even sweeter for the lenders than it appears: Taxpayers will subsidize them for the money they're ponying up."

Via Dean Baker ("Good News on Social Security: We Aren't Living Longer"), I see that the Social Security Actuaries have responded to a piece of nonsense in the NYT that claimed the Social Security shortfall was "worse than you think" because we're living longer than the Actuaries project. What they found was that the authors in the NYT piece were, well, wrong, even in their own results.

Rick Perlstein, "Our Obama Bargain (Part 1 of 3): We have on our hands a President Groundhog Day. [...] Obama initiates a negotiation; finds his negotiating partner maneuvering him into an absurd impasse; then 'negotiates' his way out of a crisis with a settlement deferring reckoning (in the former of further negotiation) to some specified time in the future, at which point he somehow imagines negotiation will finally, at long last, work - at which point the next precipice arrives, and he lets his negotiating partners defer the reckoning once more." Or, at least, that's the story we're meant to believe....

On the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Jill LePore looks back at Sanger, Guttmacher, et al., and how the top-down anti-choice strategy made liberals timid.

Abi Hassen: "Aaron Was a Criminal and So Are You [...] Thus, we are all criminals in waiting - a fact that is dramatic in the world of 'cyber-crime,' where a typical Internet user is potentially liable for millions of dollars per day in copyright violations. The question then becomes, who is chosen for prosecution and why? If the feds just randomly prosecuted typical Internet users for violating 'terms of service' agreements, which is what Aaron did, the popular backlash would be too great. So instead, they pick their targets carefully."

Laurie Penny says the Murdoch phone-hacking case and the Levenson report were Britain's Watergate: "The British press is about to change for ever but that's no thanks to the Leveson report. After another round of back-room, minute-less meetings between ministers and managing editors, it has become clear that the bland tome of equivocation and suggestion that was the ultimate result of a media and parliamentary corruption scandal that nearly brought down the UK government is going to make almost no difference. An alternative draft bill has been published by Hacked Off, a pressure group representing 'victims of press abuse'. The term describes a group distinct from the vast majority of us who have to live in a country where 'shirker' has become a political category. Hacked Off's report is hardly a radical document. It merely suggests that the recommendations of the Leveson inquiry be implemented in full, rather than politely ignored."

Stomping on the Flag

Bill Maher, Why Does Amendment #2 Trump All the Rest?

"For Want Of A Nail" is a fine example of a Poe.

The Weapon Shops of Isher

Atrios posted a link to an animated .gif of the NY subway expansion over time, and naturally we all thought, "I wanna see one of the London Underground."

In 1969, it was a whole lot easier to go to the moon than to fake it. And your government has bigger things to lie to you about.

"Shine" - Louis Armstrong and his orchestra

Eddie Condon, "Wolverine Blues"

Friday, January 18, 2013

The devil, the details

Yglesias may be right about why the Democratic leadership hates Social Security, but it all sounds like right-wing talking points to me. Aristocratic complaints about how you can't get good help, how the peons don't show proper respect and aren't willing to just take what they're given. "The Economy" is their economy, not the one the rest of us have to live in. Perhaps a larger problem is that by the end of his article, Matt makes it clear that he believes this stupid story about how older people don't contribute to the economy. He has no bloody idea:
The important thing to note about this hatred is that it's not unjustified. The haters aren't wrong. I loved both of my grandmothers, but they spent a lot of years just sitting around consuming goods and services while producing nothing of economic value. Retired people don't boost The Economy. Trimming their cost of living adjustments does. The more you trim, the more boost you get. Doing the reverse of Social Security and saying that everyone over the age of 65 has to write a check to the government or be turned into Soylent Green would boost The Economy even more.
Those are the words of someone who doesn't know where jobs come from.

If old people have to write checks to the government, they may have to take jobs (if they can find them), but they won't have that money to spend in the economy - money that represents demand, that will create jobs.

In fact, since most people that age can't keep working or can't find jobs if they can, they will be getting the money for the checks from their kids, who will then have less money to spend.

Aside from which, the older people who can find jobs won't be retiring, which means their kids will have a harder time finding jobs.

If you genuinely want to boost the economy - to create jobs, to generate real innovation, and most of all, to create an atmosphere that fosters real freedom - you give as much money away to people who are likely to spend it as you possibly can.

At a time of high unemployment - that is, where people who are actively looking for work cannot find it, you have to be stupid to think that the problem is people simply not bothering to work.

People want jobs. The issue is not that people won't take them, it's that by tightening the purse strings, our Elites are eliminating jobs in huge numbers.

But, apparently, Matt thinks it would be economically logical for old people to have to take jobs so that they can write checks to the government for money they don't have.

Did you get that? He thinks it makes economic sense to impose a tax on people (even those who have no jobs!) just because they have turned 65. It makes no sense at all! It's a tax on being alive, completely unrelated to earnings or even potential earnings.

This is the math of a person who already has too much money. A rich man's dream - people who are over 65 but not rich pay all the taxes while rich people just sit back and accumulate wealth that they rarely spend. It's exactly the opposite of a productive economy. It is, in fact, what brings whole nations down.

* * * * *

Sam Seder interviewed Matt Taibbi about some bailout lies and how TARP got passed when it shouldn't have, on The Majority Report.

Health Insurance Company CEO's Total Compensation 2011

Mario at MPA is drafting a piece on his observations about problems our progressive candidates have when they make the transition to being legislators - and is considering how to fix the problem.

It's been interesting to watch Francis Fukuyama evolve into someone who now realizes that his view of economics was wrong and is wondering, "'Where Is the Uprising from the Left?"

"Economics Is Platinum: What the Trillion-Dollar Coin Teaches Us"

A point often missed is that the right-wing focuses on the 2nd Amendment in large part because it's the one that doesn't matter. (Remember when the wall came down and people were startled to learn that the Russians had guns all along?) Brad Friedman drives this point home: "Tyranny Reigns as Rightwing NRA Stooges Pretend Their Big Guns Fend Off Tyranny."

The Hitler gun control lie: "The 1938 law signed by Hitler that LaPierre mentions in his book basically does the opposite of what he says it did. 'The 1938 revisions completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition,' Harcourt wrote. Meanwhile, many more categories of people, including Nazi party members, were exempted from gun ownership regulations altogether, while the legal age of purchase was lowered from 20 to 18, and permit lengths were extended from one year to three years." Of course, the new law did ban gun ownership by Jews or other persecuted groups, just as the NRA had its Black Panther exception. (via)

Americas strategic stupidity - There's nothing like standing astride whole regions on a giant map to give generals idiotic thoughts. Our government should not be letting them direct policy.

Tim Wu makes a point that's stayed with me all week: "Today, prosecutors feel they have license to treat leakers of information like crime lords or terrorists. In an age when our frontiers are digital, the criminal system threatens something intangible but incredibly valuable. It threatens youthful vigor, difference in outlook, the freedom to break some rules and not be condemned or ruined for the rest of your life. Swartz was a passionate eccentric who could have been one of the great innovators and creators of our future. Now we will never know." Our leaders have made a mission of seeking out the potential Ben Franklins and Leonardos of our time and destroying them.

EFF wants us to take this opportunity to re-think our Draconian Computer Crime Law.

Bruce Schneier recommends an article by Peter Ludlow, saying: "This essay, which uses the suicide of Aaron Swartz as a jumping off point for how the term 'hactivist' has been manipulated by various powers, has this to say about 'lexical warfare'."

Will Bunch: "But let's look even beyond that. The persecution of Aaron Swartz can't be passed off as an isolated incident. Instead, with Swartz' suicide, it feels more like the exclamation point on an administration whose commitment to maintaining secrecy, blocking transparency, limiting the flow of information and squelching dissent has been both unexpected and rather shocking."

Clive Cook: "Let's put the worst possible construction on what Swartz did. [...] Even on that ethically brainless view, the charges and threatened penalties were so disproportionate as to be quite unhinged. [...] And if a prosecutor should turn his righteous all-powerful gaze on you, you're done for. In this system, everything depends on the moderation and good sense of prosecutors. We see how well that worked in the Swartz case. Most no doubt strive to live up to those standards, but what about the ones that don't? Where's the accountability? What about crusaders for "justice" with half their minds on their next career in politics? [...] At a conference I attended recently, I vented my preoccupation with rogue prosecutors, an ever-proliferating criminal law and the vanishing rights of the accused on a fellow attendee--a lawyer and former prosecutor. When I'd said my piece she said, "But you have to remember that nearly all of the people who are prosecuted are guilty." For half a second I thought she was joking and I started to laugh. But she wasn't joking." But there are now so many laws against so many things - more than you can imagine - that absolutely everyone is guilty of something, and no one can avoid being "guilty".

"Warnings from the Trenches: A high school teacher tells college educators what they can expect in the wake of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top."

P.Z. Myers, "Hey, I thought an atheist was just someone who didn't believe in gods" - Yes, that's what it means in English, but Satoshi Kanazawa is special.

"In California, Its U.S. vs. State Over Marijuana."

"Pennsylvania House Republicans Introduce Bill To Rig The 2016 Presidential Election."

Fran Lebowitz says one of the worst things that's happened to our society is that people can't tell the difference between the public and private sphere, and that there's something wrong with making laws telling private individuals what they can eat rather than dealing with the public health, and that we've forgotten what it means to be citizens rather than consumers.

We watched Restless and rather liked it. Don't think it's aired outside the UK yet, but if you're looking for British TV shows, you might like this. And it's short.

WWII and Russian revolution photos found - and a lot are in color.

A couple of nice shots of the aurora

Monday, January 14, 2013

On the internet

On Virtually Speaking Sundays, this was the main topic Digby and Marcy Wheeler discussed:
"Internet pioneer and information activist takes his own life: Aaron Swartz faced decades in prison for downloading academic articles." He was 26.
Alex Stamos on "The Truth about Aaron Swartz's 'Crime'"
Glenn Greenwald on The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz
Lawrence Lessig, "Prosecutor as bully"
Cory Doctorow
Rick Perlstein, Remembering Aaron Swartz
Patrick Nielsen Hayden discusses and links.
Marcy Wheeler wonders how the Secret Service got involved early in the case: "A lot of people are justifiably furious with US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and AUSA Heymann's conduct on this case. But the involvement of the Secret Service just as it evolved from a local breaking and entry case into the excessive charges ultimately charged makes it clear that this was a nationally directed effort to take down Swartz."
Susie Bright has something to say about the way the feds hound people to death.
The 15th Annual Muzzle Awards
Swartz family statement
Matt Stoller on Aaron Swartz's politics: "Aaron Swartz was my friend, and I will always miss him. I think it's important that, as we remember him, we remember that Aaron had a much broader agenda than the information freedom fights for which he had become known. Most people have focused on Aaron's work as an advocate for more open information systems, because that's what the Feds went after him for, and because he's well-understood as a technologist who founded Reddit and invented RSS. But I knew a different side of him. I knew Aaron as a political activist interested in health care, financial corruption, and the drug war (we were working on a project on that just before he died). He was a great technologist, for sure, but when we were working together that was not all I saw."

Aaron's importance to the internet can't be overstated, nor his importance to trying to keep public information public. He may have been one of the most important anti-censorship activists of the last ten years. This is, indeed, a tremendous loss.

But I couldn't help thinking, as this became one of the most ubiquitous stories on the internet, that I was hearing nothing about its appearance in the establishment media - except that one person IM'd me to say no one was talking about it on the alphabet networks. And I remembered how, since long before there was a liberal blogosphere, certain journalists had gone out of their way to talk about the importance of the internet - as long as what was on the internet was a lot of right-wing Clinton-hating. How things bubble up from the internet. How...Matt Drudge rules their world. Sure looks the establishment doesn't want to talk much about Aaron Swartz and what his story means.

* * * * *

Trevor Aaronson was the guest on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. "Trevor Aaronson's work as an investigative reporting fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, culminated in an award-winning cover story in Mother Jones magazine. The Terror Factory reveals shocking information about the criminals, con men and liars the FBI uses as paid informants - including the story of an accused murderer who has become one of the Bureau's most prolific terrorism snitches. Aaronson documents the extreme methods the FBI uses to ensnare Muslims in terrorist plots, which are in reality conceived and financed by the FBI." Marcy Wheeler also joined the discussion. A recent article from Aaronson on the same subject appeared this week in Mother Jones, "Inside the Terror Factory".

"Police in schools may be included in Obama's plan [...] The idea is gaining currency among some Democratic lawmakers, who see it as a potential area of common ground with Republicans who otherwise oppose stricter restrictions on firearms. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a liberal Democrat from California, said she presented the plan to Vice President Joe Biden and that he was "very, very interested" and may include it in the policy recommendations he makes to President Barack Obama." Disgusting.

Yglesias admits, "Barack Obama Has Long Subtly Favored Cutting Social Security Benefits [...] Obviously it's a bit strange to say that a 1983 bill stabilized Social Security "for the next sixty years" but also be standing around a mere 22 years later talking about "the problems with the Social Security trust fund." But the key point is that while on a lot of issues Obama is happy to just lay down what he thinks should be done policy-wise, on Social Security he alludes to a past bipartisan deal to raise taxes and cut benefits and suggests a similar process rather than a desired outcome. So when Democrats ran the show he didn't try to move on Social Security. But with Republicans in control of the House, the stage is set for the preferred outcome of cutting benefits in the context of a bipartisan deal." I didn't think it was so subtle, since he's been harping on it forever, but it's amazing how few people seem to have noticed.

Matt Taibbi: "Hank Greenberg Should Be Shot into Space For Suing the Government over the AIG Bailout: A lot of people are wondering what to think about the news that the board of AIG is considering joining the lawsuit filed by former AIG head Maurice "Hank" Greenberg against the Fed and the U.S. government - a suit that one news outlet describes as charging the state with handing out an 'insufficiently generous bailout.' [...] But here's the funny thing about the lawsuit filed against the government: It isn't all wrong. In fact, parts of it are quite on the mark."

Incarceration in the United States - Hm, I wonder why it hasn't been updated in the last few years....

Thanks to GOP redistricting, Congress is actually losing a pretty good legislator from North Carolina, Brad Miller. Bluenc provides a clip of Miller demonstrating that he knows what he's talking about when he questions the banksters, and says, "Make no mistake, the redistricting that pulled Brad's seat out from under him wasn't just an afterthought, or merely one element of a state-wide approach, or some sort of payback for redistricting he took part in years ago. He was a threat to some very influential people, who are very skilled at shifting money around."

This is a Google translation of a German article about water privatization and a company called Veolia Group that is suing to stop distribution of a documentary called Water Makes Money. Thanks for the tip to ksix who provided the heads-up in comments to the previous post, explaining, "The gist of it seems to be that French company Veolia can't sue the German film directors in German court so they're going after the French distributor and a Veolia whistleblower in French court. The film shows privatized water utilities in German and French cities to be inefficient, costly and, in some cases, corrupt. The intent of the lawsuit is to keep that information from the public. This kind of harassment seems to be the current corporate strategy for discouraging documentary filmmakers. (Dole did the same thing to the Swedish director of the film "Bananas.")"

Remember Diethylstilbestrol (DES)? That's the anti-miscarriage drug that didn't prevent miscarriage but did cause lots and lots of cancer and malformation of reproductive organs. It was marketed in the United States long after Eli Lilly knew this, and continued to be marketed even longer in other countries. (Not too sure about this petition, though...)

The time Mark Evanier met Richard Chamberlain. I love these stories.

Gorgeous Illustrated Posters of classic genre films

Fireworks in reverse

Saturday, January 12, 2013

It's a scandal

We all know by now that Obama isn't on our side and that every "negotiation" involves him allegedly "compromising" to give the GOP what they want, but what's been particularly disturbing is how Congress - including the Progressive Caucus - supports him in the end. Norman Solomon: "A sad pattern of folding in the final round has continued. When historic votes come to the House floor, party functionaries are able to whip the Progressive Caucus into compliance. The endgame ends with the vast majority of the caucus members doing what Obama wants. That's what happened on the first day of this year, when the 'bipartisan' fiscal deal came down. Widely denounced by progressive analysts, the bill passed on the House floor by a margin of 44 votes - with the Progressive Caucus providing the margin. Out of 75 caucus members, only seven voted against it." I'm pretty sure the administration must be using some pretty heavy threats to keep them in line, and we all saw Dennis Kucinich, with visible reluctance, finally back down on his promise not to support the health insurance bill if it didn't contain at least a public option (and Markos Moulitsas announcing on television that Kucinich should be primaried if he didn't vote for it anyway). But, you know, there are 72 (seventy-two) members of the Progressive Caucus, and if they all stood together and made a public stink about this stuff, this might not be so easy. It's up to the rest of us to call their offices, write letters to them and to the press, and generally scream bloody murder about the fact that this is a big issue and it's not being covered. Personally, I'd like to see Rachel Maddow deluged with letters asking for illumination on the process of shutting down the PC's objections to Obama's agenda and forcing them to fold.

"The Best Thing About Jack Lew's Nomination: He's Not Erskine Bowles [...] The White House spin machine has put it out there that Lew is "a liberal" who was down with Eugene McCarthy and Paul Wellstone, which scares me since there's a good chance that if they're saying that, he's probably really a horrible conservative. What we do know about him is that when he was chief operating officer of Citi's Alternative Investment department, he invested in a hedge fund that was betting on the collapse of the housing market."

"Fair Work, Fair Pay: Lessons From Australia: [...]Of course, exchange rates go up and down over time. But at $21.25 Australian dollars an hour, it doesn't matter what exchange rate you use or how you adjust for cost of living. The simple fact is that an Australian entry-level fast food worker makes more than the average American worker. An absolute majority of Americans would increase their income if they moved to Australia and got fast food jobs."

Just in case you were wondering, people have looked at the stats, and come up with answers like this one: "Results. After adjustment, individuals in possession of a gun were 4.46 (P < .05) times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession. Among gun assaults where the victim had at least some chance to resist, this adjusted odds ratio increased to 5.45 (P < .05)."

Gaius Publius on How Obama used Biden to undercut Reid on fiscal cliff deal - and different ways to frame it.

Now I'm being told about yet another hot liberal coalition to "remake" liberal politics. What interests me about this most is the number of liberal groups who were not invited to join - or even notified - of this confab. But I suspect there's a reason for that - and that this whole thing was just a way to suck more money up for the wrong people, without the right policies.

North Carolina residents are already suffering the results of a private water utility taking over and supplying low-quality water at jacked-up prices. Now the state wants to take control of municipal water supplies, and many people suspect it has something to do with providing water to a controversial development project that a water company backs. That's the same water company that so many citizens are already complaining about. And if they can just transfer control of local water to the regional authority, people want to know, what's to stop them from transferring it to Aqua NC? NC residents might want to know there's a petition to try to stop the transfer.

"To all those rich people who think they are the most productive people on earth"

"Satanists Rally For Rick Scott: The Satanic Temple embraces the free expression of religion, and Satanists are happy to show their support of Rick Scott who - particularly with [Senate Bill] 98 - has reaffirmed our American freedom to practice our faith openly, allowing our Satanic children the freedom to pray in school."

Cool aerial photo of Manhattan

Arch Enemies

Photographs by Carla Axtman

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Who will you empower?

"Three Ways Obama Carried Bush's Tyrannical Torch, in Just One Week: If one were looking for a way to demonstrate how faithfully the Obama administration had carried on the legacy of the Bush administration, this past week takes the cake, and no, I'm not talking about making Bush tax cuts on the middle class permanent. In a matter of four days, President Obama ushered in three landmark decisions that further institutionalized the Bush administration's penchant for abridging civil liberties in the name of national security, all the while making us less safe."

Glenn Greenwald reports, "John Brennan's extremism and dishonesty rewarded with CIA Director nomination: "Obama's top terrorism adviser goes from unconfirmable in 2008 to uncontroversial in 2013, reflecting the Obama legacy." (As I write this, I'm listening to Glenn talking live to Sam Seder right now about just how egregious this choice really is, on The Majority Report.)

Jonathan Turley, "Minnesota Man Criminally Charged After Filming Police in Public [...] Henderson, 28, was filming Ramsey County deputies arresting a man when his camera was confiscated by a deputy, Jacqueline Muellner, who suddenly announced 'We'll just take this for evidence.' She also warned Henderson that 'If I end up on YouTube, I'm gonna be upset.'"

"INSOURCING Analysis - Prison Labor Competing For Your Job" - This is a heavily-sourced piece that covers a lot of ground.

David Sirota on Why Chuck Hagel terrifies hawks, GOP: "Here's a rule of thumb for understanding Washington politics: On the rare occasion when everything including the kitchen sink gets thrown at a Cabinet nominee to block an appointment, there's a solid chance that the opposition is not merely about the collage of negative headlines. Instead, it's more likely that the opposition is motivated by a deeper belief that the nominee fundamentally threatens the Beltway's Permanent Bipartisan Power Structure™. That is particularly the case when a nominee is seen as a threat to the lucrative business of permanent war - a business whose profit margins, employment footprint across America, campaign contributions and think-tank underwriting make it, by far, the most powerful pillar of that power structure."

Monday, 27 August 2007, David Broder: "Two who could find a third way" - Chuck Hagel and Michael Bloomberg. Both of these guys have been the dream boys of the "Centrists" for a good long time.

Readers of The Sideshow may recall that Chuck Hagel first came to our notice as an owner of the very voting machines that had given him unlikely wins of a Senate seat. And that's one of many reasons why I would prefer not to see Hegal anywhere near government. But the horrible fact is that he may not be quite as terrible as most of Obama's other appointments.

"Teachers Irate as Bloomberg Likens Union to the N.R.A." Absolutely shameless.

Paul Rosenberg at AlJazeera: "Obama and the transformation illusion: Everyone has an ideology, whether they know it or not. But when your ideology has you - that's when you're an ideologue. It's not a matter of "extremism" but of rigidity and blindness - detachment from reality. Which is why Barack Obama is one of the most ideological presidents we've ever had. And being imprisoned in his "pragmatist" ideology is key to his numerous pragmatic train wrecks, as well his less-noted failures to even take on several really big, really significant problems."

"Now That the Election Is Over, the Real Battles in the States Begin" - This is a depressing list of assaults on the public that will require energetic pushback.

Bulletin: In the wake of the economic meltdown big-time policy mistakes were made!

Replacing Jesse Jackson, Jr In IL-02 - Is there actually a chance to get a real liberal in there, now?

"The most annoying conservative Democrat? Starts with E and ends with Rendell" - He really is annoying, but I still reserve the #1 spot for Obama.

I'm not entirely sure that this interview with Alex Jones was really any loopier than the one Jon Stewart had with Alan Simpson, who just produced a lot of babble when asked to explain his crazy ideas.

Speaking of Jon Stewart, he thinks it's time to talk about gun control: "No one is taking away all the guns. But now I get it. Now I see what is happening. So this is what it is, their paranoid fear of a possible dystopic future prevents us from addressing our actual dystopic present. We can't even begin to address 30,000 gun deaths that are actually in reality happening in this country every year because a few of us must remain vigilant against the rise of imaginary Hitler."

"NRA Vows To Stop Tucson From Destroying Guns" - via Moshe, who said, "Suing to prevent the destruction of these guns demonstrates that for many, our gun culture is not about Constitutional rights, self defense, or an innocent hobby interest in precision machines. Rather, it is a form of what the Hebrew prophets, and the Puritans influenced by them, called idolatry."

Robert Reich, "'Entitlement Reform' is a hoax." Well, yeah, but it's always worth saying it again.

Interesting, The Examiner is calling Robert Borosage "the Left's Grover Norquist". Don't see a pledge yet, though. How 'bout lowering the Social Security retirement age to 55?

Ted Rall: Proletariat Steak

Tom Tomorrow: Always Crashing in the Same Car

Definitely worth your while to check out the little family tale from NPR Snap Judgment Performance of the Year / Noah St. John, "The Last Mile".

On the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, Google gave me an Underground map.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rescue Me

It's the last day of Christmas, or Orthodox Christmas, or Armenian Christmas, or the Epiphany, as you prefer. So, now it's just boring old January. The sky is grey and it's too long until spring. But the fancy Christmas food is marked down at Tesco's, so brandy butter on toast makes a nice breakfast.

Tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays are Joan McCarter (McJoan) and Fiscal Cliff Schecter.

Well, at least Obama didn't find a way to prevent Tom Delay being sentenced to three years in prison.

"Why Tom Harkin and a Handful of Other Progressives Opposed the Deal: The deal also makes tax benefits for high income earners permanent, while tax benefits designed to help those of modest means and the middle class are only extended for five years. In essence, this agreement locks in a tax structure that is grossly unfair to middle class Americans, one which provides permanent tax assistance to wealthy Americans, and only temporary relief to everyone else. Every dollar that wealthy taxpayers do not pay under this deal, we will eventually ask Americans of modest means to forgo in Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits."

Tim Carney: How corporate tax credits got in the 'cliff' deal: "The "fiscal cliff" legislation passed this week included $76 billion in special-interest tax credits for the likes of General Electric, Hollywood and even Captain Morgan. But these subsidies weren't the fruit of eleventh-hour lobbying conducted on the cliff's edge -- they were crafted back in August in a Senate committee, and they sat dormant until the White House reportedly insisted on them this week." Got that? The White House insisted on them this week.

On Twitter, Charlie Savage says: "Obama signed NDAA but issued signing statement claiming authority to lawfully bypass detainee transfer restrictions" - the .pdf is here.

Dave Johnson says "Don't Feed The Debt-Ceiling Trolls." But of course, that's Obama's whole MO - feed the trolls and maybe he can find an excuse to roll on "entitlements". Even Bruce Bartlett has admitted that Obama is a Republican.

Down With Tyranny! "For Once Congressional Republicans Are Right And Obama Is Completely Wrong" - guess who Obama wants to give a raise to?

Interesting article from Kevin Drum in Mother Jones on what he calls "America's Real Criminal Element: Lead", on research suggesting that lead may be even more toxic than we thought, both physically and criminalogically. One might still find reasons to question it, but it would explain a number of curious things. (I've always been confused, for example, with why violent crime seemed to be declining at a time when economic and other factors should have been driving it up. It's up in Detroit, apparently.) (On the other hand, it doesn't explain all those nasty little younger folks who even physically intimidated people in the Dem primary caucuses and write ugly comments at blogs when you don't fall in love and in line with Obama.) The blog post version is here. (via)

"Conjuring a High-Tech Labor Shortage [...] It's worth noting that Microsoft is currently campaigning to flood the high-tech labor market by dramatically opening our immigration system to foreign high-tech workers. Microsoft's talking points align with their policy demands for more foreign workers. However, labor market statistics and graduation rates say we have plenty of workers, a conclusion backed up by the life experience of thousands of unemployed and underemployed domestic workers."

It may be kind to refer to it as a "myth" or "illusion", but the idea that there is a "skills gap" between the needs of businesses and workers is very simply a lie. If you want more workers than you can find, you supply training and better salaries and then you have them.

How Peter Baker at the NYT sees us: "While Mr. Obama got most of what he sought in the agreement, he found himself under withering criticism from some in his liberal base who accused him of caving in to Republicans by not taxing the rich more. Just as Speaker John A. Boehner has been under pressure from his right, Mr. Obama faces a virtual Tea Party of the left that sees his compromise as capitulation." Or are those really just Peter Baker's words?

Jeff Stein at SpyTalk says the directors of Zero Dark Thirty "may go down as the Leni Riefenstahl of their time."

7 Facts About Government Benefits and who gets them

13 Wall Street voices to ignore (or not) in 2013

Bargain books: hundreds of pictures of the Beatles from unusual views - only $500!

F. Scott Fitzgerald in drag - and again.

Dammit, my favorite kick-ass radio station is down for lack of funds. If you wanna hear some great music, maybe you can send a few bucks to BellyUp4Blues to bring them back.

RIP: "Beate Gordon, Long-Unsung Heroine of Japanese Women's Rights, Dies at 89: Beate Sirota Gordon, the daughter of Russian Jewish parents who at 22 almost single-handedly wrote women's rights into the Constitution of modern Japan, and then kept silent about it for decades, only to become a feminist heroine there in recent years, died on Sunday at her home in Manhattan. She was 89."
"Gerda Lerner, a Feminist and Historian, Dies at 92: Gerda Lerner, a scholar and author who helped make the study of women and their lives a legitimate subject for historians and spearheaded the creation of the first graduate program in women's history in the United States, died on Wednesday in Madison, Wis. She was 92."
Fontella Bass, 72s, whose biggest hit was "Rescue Me", but here she is doing one of my all-time favorite torch songs to a video that, ah, wasn't what I expected.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A passel of links

I saw this post before I went to bed on New Year's morning: "A Deal has been reached says CNN. Biden on way to brief Democratic Senators before announcement." It's at DKos, so I'm assuming that it's putting the deal in the best possible light, but I'm still not straight on what's in the Deal. As near as I can tell, Obama made sure to enshrine "the Bush Tax Cuts" for everyone who isn't in the top .07 percent, or something, even though "the Bush Tax Cuts" had already expired. Krugman has a bad feeling, but doesn't go into the details. I'm hoping Ryan Grimm and Sam Seder can clarify it all for me later on the first live episode this year of The Majority Report in a few minutes.

Panelists this week on Virtually Speaking Sundays were Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyd, discussing the fact that important policy negotiations were going on in the dead of night when everyone is out partying instead of in the light of day with everyone watching (as would happen in a democracy).
Back in the spring of 2011, our friend The Raven did a post about the then-recent Brad DeLong interview on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. Apparently, DeLong saved that link for later use and referred to it recently, generating (to the sheer delight of The Raven) a post from Paul Krugman quoting from it. The gist is that people like Krugman thought they were having a debate on "freshwater" vs. "saltwater" economics with opposition that was operating in good faith - but (as people like me could have told them), that wasn't the case. It's worth listening to just to see how naive these geniuses of the "progressive" Democratic wonk council were even at that late date.
VSS producer Sherry Reson has posted individual clips of Culture of Truth's "Most Ridiculous Thing" from the Sunday talk shows that you can currently find on the front page here.

Charles Pierce: "Of course, while everyone in Washington, and the courtier press that serves them, were endlessly droning on and on about the Gentle Fiscal Incline, the Bill Of Rights closed out 2012 by having one of the worst weeks it's had in the two centuries of its existence. But the courtier press paid that little mind, possibly because selling out the Bill Of Rights was done on a "bipartisan" basis, and the denizens of the various Green Rooms would endorse cannibal murder if both parties agreed to subsidize it."

Dean Baker disputes the NYT CW that it's all the fault of the Tea Party faction: "Actually, the vast majority of Tea Party backers agree with the vast majority of Democrats in their opposition to cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The main difference is that the Tea Party backers seem to believe that there is some other area of government spending, other than defense, that can be cut back to reduce or eliminate the budget deficit. Of course this is not true. However the nature of the gap between most Democrats and Tea Party backers is informational, not ideological."
Baker buries the lede when he headlines this as, "David Brooks Reports that the NYT Can't Find Conservative Columnists Who Know Arithmetic." It could just as easily be called, "David Brooks reports that he hates democracy."

"David Sirota: The White House Has Said to a Right Wing Lynch Mob They Will Accept Their Political Terrorism" - I'm amazed CNN even let Sirota on long enough to say this stuff, frankly. But notice how everyone accepts the idea that suspicion of Bush White House complicity in 9/11 is a more outrageous lie than, well, almost anything. It's indisputable that, whether by negligence or intent, the Bush administration did indeed let 9/11 happen by its deliberate refusal to take any positive action in light of repeated warnings of an imminent al Queda threat. Whether they were genuinely incompetent or saw an attack as serving their own purposes is certainly a more legitimate question than whether, say, we ought to cut Social Security benefits (we should not) - but you still can't talk about that.

Lauren Feeney interviews Geoffrey Nunberg on political buzzwords, the Word of the Year, the post-truth era, and semantic sleight-of-hand.

"California Newspaper Defies Trend to Shrink Costs: "New and expanded sections to cover business, automobiles and food. A nearly five-fold increase in community news pages and more investigative reporting. Even daily color comics. [...] It's too early to know whether he's right. Kushner said advertising revenues have grown, though he won't say how much. Average daily circulation rose 5.3 percent as of Sept. 30 from a year earlier to 285,088 on weekdays and 387,547 on Sundays, bucking an industry decline of 0.2 percent, according to the Alliance for Audited Media."

Interesting article by John Lanchester in London Review of Books, "Let's call it failure", on how austerity hasn't worked too well in Britain: "Saying ‘I told you so' is supposed to be near unbeatable fun, so it's disappointing to report that, in the case of the government's handling of the British economy, speaking for myself, no fun is being had. As George Osborne's autumn statement made clear, the scale and speed and completeness with which things are going wrong are numbing. The Tories went into the 2010 election with a manifesto commitment to reduce the structural deficit - the amount by which the government's spending in any given year exceeds its income, excluding temporary effects from the downturn. The first point in their economic policy read as follows: ‘We will safeguard Britain's credit rating with a credible plan to eliminate a large part of the structural deficit over a Parliament.' How? It's on the next page: ‘We will cut government spending to bring the deficit down and restore stability.'"

Sam Seder has been reposting podcasts of his best 2012 interviews while he's on holiday - listen again to the Chris Hayes interview on The Majority Report.

"Who gives a damn what the ratings agencies say?"

NYT: "F.B.I. Counterterrorism Agents Monitored Occupy Movement, Records Show"
Rebel Institute, "FBI Considers the 'Occupy Movement' as a 'Terrorist Threat'"
Naomi Wolf: "Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy"

Via Skippy:
"Rasmussen: Alcohol Perceived More Dangerous Than Pot"
"Banks Look To Roll Back Nevada Law Preventing Foreclosure Fraud"
Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2012

The Fed and Interest Rates - The Details

I dunno, Dave Barry's shtick doesn't really work for me in his year in review piece.

When Gloria Steinem and Samuel Delany clashed over Wonder Woman

Stamp collecting, Doctor Who edition

How to talk like a Dalek

Local color: Those who've done the IndiaTown tour with me may or may not recognize the Queen's Market, home of The One Pound Fish Man.

Who knew it was something I had in common with Sean Hannity? (Some of the rest are pretty cool, though.)