Sunday, February 24, 2013

A scandal every minute

Marcy Wheeler:"The other day, I explained that the Administration would be forced either to cede to Republican demands for Benghazi talking points and other truther demands or release a full accounting why and in which countries it has conducted targeted killing. It decided to capitulate to the Benghazi truthers rather than tell the Intelligence Committee what kind of targeted killing it has been doing."

Something has gone terribly wrong with the Pew poll that conveniently left jobs and the economy off its list of options for what concerns Americans. Did they think no one would notice?

The Bradblog highlights a dispute over whether Colin Powell knew his Iraq-fear presentation was a pack of lies at the time he made it. I find it frankly incredible that anyone could have believed that crap.

David Dayen, "The recession was her fault - One woman gets to take the fall for the whole of Wall Street's crimes.

There's a great photograph at the bottom of Yves' Links post at Naked Capitalism, and there are also some great links, including:
"What Led Chris Dorner to Go Off the Edge: Workplace Abuse, Racism, and Unfair Firing [...] Ever since 'going postal' massacres first appeared in the public sector, in US post offices in the mid-1980s, they have tended to follow a familiar script. The murderer 'snaps' for no apparent reason; official culture blames it all on Hollywood or guns, never explaining why these workplace massacres only appeared in the mid-late 80s; and later, as it turns out, there were a lot of reasons for the gunman to snap. If you profile the workplace that created the murderer, rather profiling the murderer's psychology, you will often find a pattern of shocking workplace abuse and of top-down mistreatment of employees, culminating in the 'going postal' rampage. The consequent killing spree will target supervisors, fellow employees, and anyone associated with the institution that the abused employee blames for having crushed him (or her)."
"Lawrence Lessig Lecture On Aaron Swartz, Law and Justice In The Digital Age"
Rep. Alan Grayson: Remembering Aaron Swartz, 1986-2013.
And a post from Yves herself asks the rather obvious question of why Greece hasn't left the Euro. And answered: "It's powerful local politicians who are selling out their countries, working in cahoots with Eurozone technocrats. And I can assure you none of them are sharing in the suffering of periphery country workers. This is the plague of our modern social order: detached and corrupt leaders, whether intellectually, monetarily, or both. The old code of noblesse oblige, which at least required the elites to have some concern about what happened to the lower orders, is a dead letter. It's curious that someone as incisive as Wolf is unwilling to factor the behavior of the ruling classes into his assessment. Perhaps, as Michael Thomas said of Punch Sulzberger, he is dining with people he should be dining on."

Boing Boing reports that the Sunlight Foundation has launched its Open States site, where you can find out all sorts of things about local politics in your state. One of the things I found there was a link to a blog called Maryland Juice, where I learned the startling news that the Prince George's County school board is trying to claim copyright ownership of the work of students' (and staff), such as art and book reports. And the Tea Party has actually introduced " the 'Maryland Liberty Preservation Act of 2013' which would prohibit state agencies and employees from aiding the United States in detaining people under the National Defense Authorization Act. Specifically, the lawmakers appear to be attempting to protect Marylanders from being unconstitutionally detained without trail by the Feds..."

I know he says this at least once a day, but Atrios is really good at saying it, and it needs to be said more - and heard: Contractionary Policy Is Contractionary.

Digby, "They want to kill the New Deal just as much as we want to save it." I don't buy that it's just about tax cuts for the rich, either. These people really do want to kill Social Security. Just as much as Obama does. The wonder is that they haven't done it yet.

Ian Welsh explains what it means when the most well-armed country in the world can't win wars. It isn't pretty.

"A person with a gun and a government badge asked me to swear in writing that a lie was true today."

FAIR on The NYT's Problem With Leftist Presidents

It's amazing where you have to go to find good, old-fashioned bleeding-heart liberalism, but at Outside the Beltway, George Will Discovers Solitary Confinement.

Good Rachel Maddow segment (with some help from Colbert) on McCarthyite tactics in the Republican delegation and the attempt to burnish McCarthy's bad name.

Yes, the pope is resigning because of a scandal - but not quite what everyone thought. Via Atrios, who actually wrote something about it.

Sam Seder talked to Nick Turse, author of Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, on The Majority Report. He also spoke to Helaine Olen about the personal finance industry scam.

Looking back at The Battle for Bermondsey, from Peter Tatchell, and from his opponent: "But even though we were not the main culprits, anything that my colleagues or I added to growing homophobia was unarguably wrong and cannot be justified. With hindsight, the 'straight choice' phrase should not have been used, although at the time it was one of the most common phrases wherever we or others were trying to make an election contest the proverbial 'two-horse race'. I have never heard anybody suggest, then or later, that the 'two Queens' leaflet had anything to do with any part of the Alliance campaign. I assumed it came from right-wing Labour or another extremely bigoted group."

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor

"Police called after man refuses to remove pasta strainer from head."

"Boys don't read Girl Books and other lies my Society Told Me"

"A Day in The Life of 3 Million London Commuters, in 1 Minute"

The Fake Townhouses hiding Mystery Underground Portals

Nothing is real: In my lifetime, it was easier to actually go to the moon than it was to do this.

Man Feeds Swans, Becomes Part Of An Image Of Jaw-Dropping, Surreal Beauty

Google celebrated Edward Gorey's birthday.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Makin' us crazy

Thanks to commenter ksix in comments to the post below for alerting us to this piece by Lori Wallach: "SOTU, TPP, TAFTA -- WTF?"
Did you notice the two rabid skunks President Obama unleashed at the State of the Union picnic?

Creating American jobs! Rebuilding American manufacturing! Boosting American exports! Promoting innovation! Ensuring strong health and environmental protections! Completing an 11-nation NAFTA-style "free trade" agreement (FTA) called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - aka NAFTA with Vietnam? Launch of "free trade" negotiations with Europe long-demanded by multinational corporations to eliminate vital consumer protections - the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA)?

Two of these things are not like the others. Indeed, TPP and TAFTA would gut many of the most worthy goals included in Obama's SOTU address if the American public and Congress let them come to fruition.

These trade agreements are a nightmare for Americans, but apparently they're not interesting enough for our news media to discuss. Of course, there is no controversy over this kind of thing for ordinary Americans - I doubt you will find less than 80% agreement that we should be making it harder, not easier, to export American jobs. Unfortunately, the balance is pretty much the reverse on Capitol Hill.

On things like reproductive rights and medical insurance and even Social Security, the media likes to pretend we are "a divided nation" and it's all just too controversial, but even most Republicans don't dissent from the liberal view on these issues - 80% of Americans do not want Social Security or Medicare cuts, and most want a better medical insurance system than what we have now. Single-payer would have been an easy sell if anyone had bothered to discuss it, but our leaders went out of their way (and yes, I definitely mean Obama, the point man on all of this), to make sure that didn't happen. Even abortion is far less controversial than we're led to believe, with 70% of the public saying they don't want Roe v. Wade overturned.

Where all of the issues are concerned, from reproductive rights to the Citizens United decision to voter registration to jobs to climate change, we can argue some about which is the biggest, most important issue, but it has to be understood that none of that matters as long as we don't have democracy. The public has been pretty clear about what it wants, and the Hill has been pretty clear that it doesn't care what we want. If we can't figure out how to turn back into a democracy, this train is going to run right over us.

* * * * *

"Mississippi Officially Ratifies 13th Amendment Banning Slavery - 148 Years Later."

Chris Hedges on human trafficking and Profiting From Human Misery: "The for-profit prisons and their lobbyists in Washington and state capitals have successfully blocked immigration reform, have prevented a challenge to our draconian drug laws and are pushing through tougher detention policies. Locking up more and more human beings is the bedrock of the industry's profits. These corporations are the engines behind the explosion of our prison system. They are the reason we have spent $300 billion on new prisons since 1980. They are also the reason serious reform is impossible." It's about corporate profits, not justice, and very definitely not about public safety.

The Second-Mortgage Shell Game: "A year later, it's clear that the settlement hasn't worked as planned. Banks have dragged their feet in modifying first mortgages, much less agreeing to forgive part of the principal on homes that are underwater. In fact, the deal contained a few flaws. It has allowed banks to push homeowners into short sales, an alternative to foreclosure whereby the distressed homeowner sells the property for less than the debt that is owed. Not all short sales are bad - some homeowners are happy to walk away with the debt cleared - but as a matter of social policy, the program has failed to keep people in their homes. A lesser-known but equally grave problem is that banks have been given a backdoor mechanism to continue foreclosures at the same pace as before." (via)

You notice you haven't heard anything about south-of-the-border gulags? Tomgram: Greg Grandin, Why Latin America Didn't Join Washington's Counterterrorism Posse: "Lula stalled for years on the initiative, but it seems that the State Department didn't realize he was doing so until April 2008, when one of its diplomats wrote a memo calling Brazil's supposed interest in reforming its legal code to suit Washington a 'smokescreen.' The Brazilian government, another Wikileaked cable complained, was afraid that a more expansive definition of terrorism would be used to target 'members of what they consider to be legitimate social movements fighting for a more just society.' Apparently, there was no way to 'write an anti-terrorism legislation that excludes the actions' of Lula's left-wing social base." Ironic, isn't it? Remember "South America, where life is cheap"? Apparently it's worth more there than it is in the "free world".

"Tom Friedman Explains The Problem With The Economy" - I hear it's something to do with "uncertainty".

And here's CBS reinterpreting Atrios to mean all you spendthrift people need to save more. Which would be good if you had any money to save, hm? But I don't think that's what Atrios meant.

Digby: "Finally, the press corps steps up and demands transparency from the administration." You have to click on this one, and you'll still think it's The Onion.

Stuart Zechman really tore into the ideological centrism in Michael Scherer's "objective" article on Obama's State of the Union address.

"Work is Becoming More Like Prison As Some Workers Forced to Wear Electronic Bands That Track Everything They Do (Including Bathroom Breaks)"

This is a teaser for Rachel Maddow's Iraq war special based on Hubris. It's well worth watching that video for the background on what makes it so timely. The actual special - a horrible flashback - is here. But at least it was on the TV, all at once, where people would see it.

A pop quiz from Glenn Greenwald: Guess the speaker.

Jonathan Schwarz recalls the funniest thing Jonathan Chait ever wrote. (And here I'd forgotten that I'd even commented on that one, way back when.)

The United States redrawn as Fifty States with Equal Population

I took this poll but I declare it a push poll - those aren't the choices.

The foodie comment
The fashionista approach
The Sun: "Topless protesters 'celebrate' Pope's resignation in Paris"
But more seriously, if you can stand Facebook, there's this: "When Singer Sinead O'Connor tore a picture of the Pope on SNL, Americans were never told why.....In Ireland, they knew." A horror story then, but all the more chilling as you realize what's going on in "the free world" today. This is the image you should have in your mind when you hear right-wing pundits talk about relying on "charity".

"How one man's lies almost destroyed the comics industry [...] Though Wertham claimed his evidence came from thousands of case studies, it turns out that he was lying. A new investigation of Wertham's papers by University of Illinois information studies professor Carol Tilley has revealed that the psychologist fabricated, exaggerated, and selectively edited his data to bolster his argument that comics caused antisocial behavior. Here is what Tilley discovered, and why it still matters today."

John Scalzi has decided to serialize his upcoming novel, The Human Division, in DRM-free e-format before the print edition comes out.

Louis C.K. with some American history. ("This might just be the best use of a Jay Leno appearance I've ever seen.")

Sunday, February 17, 2013

You're giving me the same old line

Susie Madrak and Avedon Carol will be the panelists on tonight's Virtually Speaking Sundays. Listen live or later at the link.

Taibbi in Rolling Stone: "Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail" (And I no longer remember why I had Taibbi's review of Borofsky's book open, but it was worth reading.)
Dday in Salon: "Wall Street wins again" - the "Taksforce" was a sick joke.

Elizabeth Warren's trick question for bank regulators: "Can you identify the last time when you took the Wall Street banks to trial?"

Daniel Ellsberg on the NDAA: "The U.S. Government Sees the Public (As An) Enemy of The State"

Obama promised you a corporate rose garden. But some people heard something else.

Sam Seder and Adam Green unpack Obama's latest promises on Wednesday's edition of The Majority Report. (Hear the full show here.)
Sam talked to Atrios on Tuesday's show.
For Valentine's Day, Bobby Kennedy discussed getting arrested on the Keystone Pipeline protest with Sam.

Just in case anyone missed it: "The media didn't delve into the Simpson-Bowles part. Most didn't mention it. Medpage Today did, but then it isn't The New York Times, which simply noted in a news analysis that Obama gave a nod to put entitlement programs on the table."

Atrios (Duncan Black) in USA Today, "401Ks are a disaster: We need an across the board increase in Social Security retirement benefits of 20% or more. We need it to happen right now, even if that means raising taxes on high incomes or removing the salary cap in Social Security taxes."

Dave Johnson answers the magic question, "DO Companies Lay People Off Because Of Taxes Or A Minimum Wage Rise?" Well, of course not. If there's demand, they hire, if there's not enough demand, they don't. And right now there's not enough demand because people don't have any money to spend.

Remember when we imagined Constitutional Scholar Obama would at least undo a few of the most egregious legal outrages of the Rove operation? Well, Don Siegelman is still in prison. Why is he in jail? For being a Democrat.

Personnel is policy - Obama to nominate Walmart operative to run the Office of Management and Budget,
Blue Dogs on the rampage - but calling themselves something else when they band together with right-wing crazies to call for taking the bipartisan to screwing younger workers out of Social Security and Medicare benefits. When I hear the phrase "protecting current recipients and seniors", even I want to reach for a gun.

Alan Barlow in Mother Jones:: "How the NRA Hobbled the ATF" "In effect, the FBI is required to destroy evidence of a crime."

"For It Before They Were Against It: Catholic Universities and Birth Control"

It's still necessary to debunk the lie that government created the housing crisis.

"Tort reform" - making it harder to hold medical facilities to account, hiding evidence of abuse and neglect.

Dept. of Stupid Patents: Amazon patents the milkman.

One of 110 Stories of what Wall Street Broke, "We are not asking for a handout, we are asking for a hand up." I don't know why they called it that, because in this case, it's not even a hand-up, it's a please-get-out-of-the-way. (No one can tell me this is a business decision; this is ideology at work.)

A little progress in the UK - although this is really just undoing something stupid that was included in the Public Order Act - the arrestability of using insulting words. "In December last year, the House of Lords amended legislation to removing the word "insulting" from Section 5 of the Public Order Act. Despite both Government and the Labour front bench opposing, the vote was 150 in favour to 54 against - the lowest pro-Government vote of the Parliament. Realising that MPs were also likely to follow suit when the legislation returned to the House of Commons, the Home Secretary conceded defeat and agreed to accept the Lords' amendment. The amendment cannot now be overturned, and so will become law later this year."

It looks like the Canadian parliament had some fun with a subject no one disagrees on: Zombies.

Mayim Bialik is Amy Farah Fowler.

I'm not sure why I like this one, but I do: "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" by Dropkick Murphys.

Music for second-term presidents on the occasion of their first SOTU of the term: "Not A Second Time".

Monday, February 11, 2013

Remember, I'll always be true

Panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays were Digby, Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel), and Joan McCarter (McJoan). (For background reading, here's Marcy's article looking at that White Paper and suggesting it's pretty sneaky about where the alleged authority for the government to murder US citizens come from. And also that John Brennan says it's okay for the CIA to murder you.)

So, it turns out that the people who can't afford commercial insurance still can't afford commercial insurance. And some will be worse off than ever.

I really find the, "I trust our president to use these outrageous powers wisely" meme frightening. It was bad enough when it was crazy Republicans talking that way about Bush, but it's even worse, having been through that, to see people saying it as if we will never have a president they don't trust. (Not that I don't think it's insane to trust a president who wants such powers in the first place, let alone Barack "I Break All My Promises" Obama.)

Another thing I don't trust Obama on is his economic prescriptions, since he is apparently really proud of doing the opposite of what's needed, as Dean Baker can tell you.

And, of course, as Digby notes, "Who keeps bringing up 'entitlements'? One of the more interesting aspects of the coming sequestration talks is the absence of the Peterson contingent pushing to get "entitlement" cuts in the mix. I would have thought they'd be trying to replace the defense cuts with the Chained-CPI and a hike in the Medicare age. That's usually the formula. But it's largely absent from the conversation so far. Well, not entirely absent. There is one person who keeps bringing it up over and over again:" Barack Obama. That'd be the same Barack Obama who is in such a jocular mood at the very thought. Not that he doesn't have some help.

I don't trust Pelosi, either, but at least she told Fox viewers that raising the Medicare eligibility age doesn't save money.

The UK Comedy Central site won't let me see the extended interview with Michelle Rhee, but it's been a hot topic on some of the blogs, and I gather that her wonderful plan for "putting students first" involves making education less efficient in every conceivable way. She wants to change the revenue stream (to a more expensive one) and use a teacher-evaluation system that has been shown to be pointless, cut teachers out of the equation as much as possible, make teachers more insecure, and make the system even more vulnerable to political manipulation than it already is. In fact, there is absolutely nothing in her plan about optimizing outcomes for students - but, hey, why should that stop our glorious leaders from imposing this crap on kids?

I am resisting the urge to go into a long rant on the evils of monopolies, but I think it's a bad sign that people were so unaware of what it's all about that they thought it made sense to replace the Iron playing piece in the Monopoly game with a cat. Not that it's the first time it's happened, but it's the first time I've noticed it at the time it happened, and anyway, I already thought it was silly to worry about changing the place names for different localities when, you know, most American kids don't have a clue about street names in Atlantic City anyway, and most kids barely know the names of the streets in their own neighborhoods, and anyway, the names in the original game aren't even entirely accurate for Atlantic City. (I mean, seriously, what has the B&O got to do with Atlantic City?) None of which I should care that much about since I always preferred Parcheesi. What I do care about, of course, are the effects of monopolies and how they destroy not just true free markets (which is different from the libertoonian kind), but individual freedom.

"Listen to the Father of Fracking [...] Last summer Forbes magazine interviewed George Phydias Mitchell, who pioneered the fracking process in the 1990s. Mitchell said the government should tighten its regulation of fracking, not loosen it. He said, 'There's no excuse not to get it right,' and that if drillers 'do something wrong and dangerous ... (the government) should punish them.' The Father of Fracking, laying down the law. Perhaps if the government did the same a bit more often, ideas such as using [Mine Influenced Water] for frackwater wouldn't be so frightening."

Just a reminder of how well Democrats have protected your right to choose. Sorry, you can rant and rave all you want about the Republicans, but this doesn't happen without plenty of help from the "liberal" party.

Why Are Conservatives Trying to Destroy the Voting Rights Act?
Voting Rights Act at Risk?

Tax Cuts Are Theft

Dept. of The Cops Are The Most Dangerous People on the Streets:
"Denver police officers won't be charged in the 2009 Landau beating case [...] 'I feel like this is unjust. They beat me half to death and then just joked about it," he said. "I don't know if there is anything else I can do from here.'" If you can stomach it, the photos. (Via @RadleyBalko.)
This story managed to put me into jaw-hanging-open stasis for a full minute. And then there's this update where it turns out that they did it twice in the same pursuit. Lawlessness and buffoonery. Tea leaves say they won't even get a traffic ticket. Meanwhile, if you're in LA, don't be in a pick-up truck. (Although there's a rumor he switched vehicles somewhere....) Meanwhile, you might need one of these.

You know that famous Bill Cosby email blaming the world's problems on lazy poor people? Bill Cosby didn't write it.

From Nashville Public Radio, with Janis Ian on growing up to write "At Seventeen" (audio and transcript).

And...can it really have been that long ago?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Slow glass in your happening world

Stirling Newberry was the guest last week on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd, and they talked about the stupid economy, and where the working people's resistance is, and a lot of other interesting stuff. (By the way, a lot of people aren't aware of Stirling's other calling, as a composer. Here's his Fugue For Aaron Swartz.)
This week's guest was Stephanie Kelton, with another primer on Modern Monetary Theory and why the United States can't go broke.

Sam Seder is hinting that he's been hit with a patent troll lawsuit on The Majority Report, where he talked to EFF's Julie Samuels, and to Bob Edgar about how Harry Reid killed filibuster reform.
Sam also talked to David Dayen about how Californians are turning back the tide of the anti-tax disaster in their state, and of course about banksters. Dday's article about the new California miracle is appeared in, of all places, The New Republic.

But California may not be fast enough to prevent energy companies from using up their water.

"Who can't be on Obama's 'kill list'?"
Wyden Statement on DOJ Memo on the Killing of Americans During Counterterrorism Operations: "Every American has the right to know when their government believes that it is allowed to kill them."
Lauren Feeny Breaking Down the DOJ Drone Memo
Rosa Brooks, "Death by Loophole"
Greg Mitchell: "Outrage Mounts in Media Over Obama Drone 'Kill Rules'"

And more from the Creepy President file:
Gaius Publius, "Obama: Social Security & Medicare cuts are 'very much (back) on the table': It's Tuesday, and Barack Obama has betrayed us again."
Obama names former oil company executive to head Department of the Interior.

"Former Target Store Manager to Oversee Nation's Nuclear Security" - I don't mind that he's a former Target store manager, but I do mind that "he came to Target after leaving Malmstrom Air Force Base in July 2008. From 2005 until 2008, as the commander of Malmstrom's 341st Security Forces Group, he was in charge of security for 200 intercontinental ballistic missiles in central Montana, according to Katrina M. Heikkinen, a spokeswoman for the base. In November 2008, the Air Force Times reported that the 341st Missile Wing had failed its "nuclear surety inspection," which takes place every 18 months, after problems were found with maintenance, and also with the program that monitors access to the nukes..."

"Every California Right Wing Smear Campaign Has Been Paid For By One Deranged Trust Fund Baby Who Spent Much Of His Life In An Insane Asylum." And that's not just a local problem.

"Americans shocked to learn that there isn't actually a Social Security crisis"
"It turns out nearly all Americans love Social Security [...] A poll commissioned by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) asked people about a menu of options, from raising to retirement age, to cutting benefits, to increasing taxes. Here is the package of reforms supported by 71% of respondents..." I have one big quibble with this - the menu doesn't appear to list the option of putting the retirement age down to something more reasonable. There's really no reason it can't be lower. In fact, it wouldn't hurt to lower it to 55, and would vastly improve the economy.

"Feds file suit over S&P mortgage bond ratings: The Justice Department late Monday hit Standard & Poor's with civil fraud charges, alleging the nation's largest credit rating firm gave overly rosy appraisals to securities that led to the national financial meltdown."

Thanks to commenter ksix who points to Naked Capitalism for "Tom Ferguson Saw the Disheartening Future of American Politics 25 Years Ago: Nathan Tankus found this archival video (you are going to get a gas out of the production values... and be patient with the set up, it takes a few minutes for the video to get going). As strange as it may seem, analyzing politics in terms of money was a radical idea in political science 25 years ago. But if you simply followed the money, it was actually remarkably easy to see the direction in which American politics were destined to go. Notice, for instance, that he points out how dependent Democratic party funding was on investment bankers and real 1988...and what that meant for party strategy. (An interesting bit is also how the role Japan played is not that different than the one now played by China, except back in the 1980s there was public concern about Japan, and now there is pretty much zip re China)." Ferguson warned that, "The choice for the Democrats in 1988 is between Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland." That was the primary season in which, until the media overtly turned against him, the front-runner had been Jesse Jackson. The Democrats picked Dukakis instead.

It turns out that Sean Wilentz didn't think much of Oliver Stone's trek through American history because it wasn't an apologia for the status quo. Oh, dear. (And while I was checking out the comments, I found a link for 9/11 in five minutes, which reveals the craziest conspiracy theory of them all.)

"Beltway-aired Super Bowl ad goes after union card check: This Sunday, legislative attempts to restrict union power found an audience among Super Bowl viewers. Football fans in the Washington, D.C. area were treated to an anti-card check ad from the conservative Center for Union Facts (CUF) right before kickoff."
Not that I was feeling a crying need for a third competitor with Coco-Cola and Pepsico, but here's how your media helps to preserve their duopoly.

Michelangelo Signorile on "Ed Koch and the Corruption of the Gay Closet [...] To those who claim we suffer no ramifications from closeted public figures, I offer Exhibit A of how the combination of the closet and power corrupts: Edward I. Koch, mayor of New York City from 1978 until 1989 and widely assumed homosexual, who died on Friday at the age of 88. At this very moment, there are closeted gay politicians in Washington and across the country voting against gay rights in part to cover for themselves, driven by personal ambition. They are dangerous individuals, wielding power while harboring a secret they're pathologically afraid will out itself, abusing and terrorizing those close to them as well as many others

"Lie After Lie After Lie: What Colin Powell Knew Ten Years Ago Today and What He Said"
The Obama administration would never ever ever ever leak. (Also: How the world is ruled.)

"Anonymous publishes login, contact info, for 4,000 top US bankers: From ZDNet we learn that the group Anonymous seems to have struck a blow in retaliation, in part, for the suicide of hacker Aaron Swartz."

Scary note in the latest Ansible under Random Fandom: "Brian Ameringen reports an alarming letter in Sheppard's Newsletter 298, from a Cambridge mail-order bookseller who learned that since 14 January his local Royal Mail depot would no longer accept overseas printed-paper mailings, supposedly owing to changes in the International Civil Aviation Organization's Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. Books, and thus printed fanzines, are Dangerous Goods? It's not at all clear whether they're being regarded as 'flammable solids' (though not very) or potential pornography - the only applicable-seeming classifications in the Royal Mail guide to prohibited and restricted items."

"Looking Back: Sex in psychological warfare"

"I Want a Marriage Like They Had in the Bible"

Make your own custom pulp magazine cover! (Gary Farber provided this sample.)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rogue government

There's actually an article on the NYT's Economy page admitting that austerity is bad for the economy, and that government spending is needed to pull it back up. Amazing. I liked this bit:
"Our economy is facing a major headwind, and that's Republicans in Congress," said the White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Republicans said the White House was not advancing concrete plans for creating new jobs and stimulating the economy.

"The bad GDP news makes it even more unbelievable that Obama has been ignoring job growth in his 2nd term agenda," Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, posted on Twitter.

Meanwhile, some astonishing news at The Washington Post, "Senators question U.S. penalties against Wall Street banks as too lenient: A bipartisan pair of lawmakers on Tuesday questioned the Justice Department's prosecution of large financial institutions, raising concerns that recent settlements have fallen short of holding Wall Street accountable for wrongdoing. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asking for a detailed explanation of the department's procedures for going after financial crime. Penalties in settlements have been disproportionately low relative to company profits and the costs imposed on consumers, investors and the market, they said."

This should be interesting: "Antigua Gets OK to Become Copyright Haven: The islands of Antigua and Barbuda are threatening to strip intellectual property protections from American goods as part of a long-running trade dispute over the U.S. embargo on the tiny Caribbean nation's online gambling industry. U.S. officials say the proposed copyright haven - whose broad outlines were approved Monday at the World Trade Organization in Geneva - amounts to "government-authorized piracy." But Antiguans, who've won a series of legal victories against the U.S. at the international trade body, reject any suggestion that they're pirates."

Marcy Wheeler: "The International Manhunt for WikiLeaks: One of the things DOJ is protecting from FOIA in Electronic Privacy Information Center's suit is information other governments have shared with the US on the investigation."

Glenn Greenwald @ggreenwald
The way containment - the staple of US foreign policy for 45 years - is treated like some radical doctrine is amazing [Link]

Here's a legal problem you might want to read up on: Wickard v. Filburn: "Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942), was a United States Supreme Court decision that recognized the power of the federal government to regulate economic activity. A farmer, Roscoe Filburn, was growing wheat for on-farm consumption. The U.S. government had established limits on wheat production based on acreage owned by a farmer, in order to drive up wheat prices during the Great Depression, and Filburn was growing more than the limits permitted. Filburn was ordered to destroy his crops and pay a fine, even though he was producing the excess wheat for his own use and had no intention of selling it. The Supreme Court interpreted the United States Constitution's Commerce Clause under Article 1 Section 8, which permits the United States Congress "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes". The Court decided that Filburn's wheat growing activities reduced the amount of wheat he would buy for chicken feed on the open market, and because wheat was traded nationally, Filburn's production of more wheat than he was allotted was affecting interstate commerce. Thus, Filburn's production could be regulated by the federal government." Now read on for how this applies to marijuana.

Matt Taibbi: "It's certainly strange that White has to qualify the idea that bringing cases is a positive thing in a government official - that bringing cases is a 'positive thing . . . to a point.' Can anyone imagine the future head of the DEA saying something like, 'For a prosecutor, bringing drug cases is a positive, to a point?'" (via)

This story is headlined in such a way that I think you're not supposed to notice that the nasty partisan fighting is threatening to force Republicans to do the right thing just to get back at Obama-supporting companies.

More media-myth-busting from Dean Baker: "Fiscal Cliff Concerns Did Not Restrain Hiring. The NYT is still pushing the line that, 'uncertainty over fiscal policy and the fragility of the economy still seem to be holding back employers.' There is no evidence in this or prior job reports to support this contention. If employers are seeing a level of demand that would otherwise justify hiring, but are reluctant to do so because of uncertainty, they would look to fill this demand through alternative channels. The two obvious alternatives are increasing the length of the average workweek and hiring temporary employees. The average workweek has been stable or even gotten slightly shorter in recent months. Temp hiring has been extremely weak. These facts suggest that the reason for lack of hiring is simply that employers are not seeing adequate demand, not uncertainty."

Bill Black has a good take-down of Matt Yglesias trying to feed us roofies so the Elites can rape us some more.

"US military struggling to stop suicide epidemic among war veterans: Last year, more active-duty soldiers killed themselves than died in combat. And after a decade of deployments to war zones, the Pentagon is bracing for things to get much worse."

Bruce Schneier on Power and the Internet: "The standard story is that it empowers the powerless, but that's only half the story. The Internet empowers everyone. Powerful institutions might be slow to make use of that new power, but since they are powerful, they can use it more effectively. Governments and corporations have woken up to the fact that not only can they use the Internet, they can control it for their interests. Unless we start deliberately debating the future we want to live in, and information technology in enabling that world, we will end up with an Internet that benefits existing power structures and not society in general. [...] Either we fight for a seat at the table, or the future of the Internet becomes something that is done to us." PNH: "This is the thing. Even in 2013, too many of us still believe, down deep, when we're not forcing ourselves to think clearly, that there's something magic about the internet that always works to the benefit of underdogs. That the fact that we now all carry more computing power in our pocket than was used in the spaceship that landed on the Moon means that somehow all these 'disruptions' will amount to a net increase in the autonomy and power of individuals. To a significant extent these delusions reflect the tremendous success of the narratives promulgated by modern libertarianism, the just-so stories of 'free markets' and the 'wisdom of crowds.' Even non-libertarians have spent a generation eating that stuff up. Faith in those ideas has led many of us into quietism and apathy. But in fact, in the words of the Kevin Maroney remark quoted on the colophon of Making Light, 'a better future isn't going to happen by itself.' While we dream our dreams of the wisdom of crowds, power works in silence." I never bought the story that the internet was some sort of magic that could bypass all censorship; I knew that censorship does not simply shut down ideas, but shuts down the actors who promulgate and act on the ideas, and no medium can bypass that process.
Also at Making Light, Avram on Mayor Koch.

I was really hoping that Tom Harkin would never retire.

Online Ads Are More Dangerous Than Porn, Cisco Says

Photos: Battle scenes from Damascus

Google failed to celebrate Langston Hughes' birthday, but Michael Moore tweeted a link to his poem, "Democracy", and to his 1926 essay for The Nation, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" (which features a smashing photo of Zora Neale Hurston), in its honor.