Sunday, October 31, 2010 5:08 pm
Tuesday, October 26, 2010 8:08 pm
Monday, October 25, 2010 8:01 pm
E.J. Dionne is the latest to notice that any resemblance between the U.S. and a Third World country is entirely intentional.
UPDATE: Link fixed (thanks, Roch).
Not only is a Commodity Futures Trading Commission judge corrupt, but the Murdochized Wall Street Journal is going behind the back of one of its own reporters to do a hatchet job on the whistleblower.
’74-’75 – Connells
She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult
Waking Up in Vegas – Katy Perry
When You Smile – Dream Syndicate
Sail on Sailor – Matthew Sweet & Darius Rucker
Juliet – LMNT
Don’t Wait Too Long – Diana Krall
Drift Away (live) – Bruce Springsteen
Watch Over Me – Bernard Fanning
You Can Get It If You Really Want – Jimmy Cliff
lagniappe: Found Out About You – Gin Blossoms
Saturday, October 23, 2010 11:35 am
A Tribe Called Quest – Oh My God
ABC – The Look of Love
Peal Jams – Oceans
Graham Parker – Big Man on Paper
Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling Stone
AC/DC – Deep in the Hole
Allman Bros. – In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
Nickelback – If Everyone Cared
Replacements – When It Began
Bruce Springsteen – Missing
lagniappe: Solomon Burke – Down in the Valley
Friday, October 22, 2010 9:29 pm
Boy, my life’s gonna get interesting tomorrow …
Brains – Dancing Under Streetlights
Blink 182- All the Small Things
Cyndi Lauper – I Drove All Night
Brains – Money Changes Everything (hey, “random” means, well, random)
Avett Bros. – Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise
Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms
Blind Willie McTell – Don’t You See How This World Made a Change
Fugazi – Give the Cure
Dire Straits & Bob Dylan – All Along the Watchtower (live)
Chris Mars – Last Drop
lagniappe: Dreams So Real – Up to Fate
Thursday, October 21, 2010 8:52 pm
Athenae, another former scribe, FTW:
For what it’s worth, I think most reporters do genuinely think of what they do as public service. I know I did. I was and am proud that for a decade I never had to wonder if what I was doing made a difference in the world. I knew it for sure. It’s the place from which all my rage at the current state of newspapers comes, because people who do feel that way are being lied to and stolen from and treated like dirt, but not by bloggers. By their bosses. By their ownership. By a system that declares that their service should be directed to where a profit can be made instead of a difference, and then demands that they hold to a standard of high-mindedness the higher-ups never apply to themselves.
On the one hand, payback’s a bitch, innit, Randy?
On the other, Michaels was only a symptom. The issue is that the newspaper business, facing change that would have challenged the brightest, bravest and most principled leaders, got leader who instead were craven, greedy and, by and large, dumber than a box of rocks. Sam Zell is still in charge at Tribune Co., so while Michaels may be gone, the business model — which was never anything more than cover for Zell and a few others to steal Tribune Co. employees’ retirement savings — remains the same.
The newspaper bidness jettisoned a lot of dead weight over the last decade, but it also jettisoned a lot of bright, talented, dedicated people who loved the business, loved their country and loved what they did. A lot of those people were my friends. And friend or stranger, good or bad, a lot of them took hard financial hits even before they finally were shown the door.
And that doesn’t even begin to get at the damage done to the people the business supposedly served, the readers and advertisers. They’ve all been screwed, too, although most are only dimly aware, if at all.
I’d thought about doing my own video someday, with this as a soundtrack — my own little commentary on what the bastards have done and the people they did it to. I don’t have the time or energy now, but this song popped up randomly on the Droid earlier this evening and, combined with the Michaels firing, I just thought it was appropriate.
Good night. And good luck.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 9:56 pm
UPDATE 10/21: Oh, we’re havin’ some fun now. (My idea; DivaGeek’s execution.)
* * *
Which of the two subjects above knows more about the Constitution?
A) The subject on the left.
B) The subject on the right.
C) Neither knows a damn thing about it.
D) Neither knows a damn thing about it and there’s a better-than-even chance that both of them pee on it.
As I reTweeted earlier, the problem here isn’t that Christine O’Donnell doesn’t know a damn thing about the First Amendment, although that is, indeed, a problem, at least in Delaware and at least for the moment.
No, the problem is that the entire freaking right wing, including more of the Tea Party than its backers want to admit, believes the same damn thing. O’Donnell is just a random example drawn from a pool tens of millions of Americans deep. These people hate America. They want this country to be a Christianist theocracy. And some of them are in positions of real power, influence and responsibility. I like to find humor in things, but I don’t find that especially funny.
(Photo[shop] credit: DivaGeek)
- My articles are a great help to spammers.
- Spammers have added a trackback to my article on their Weblogs.
- Spammers think it would be great to read a bit more on that topic.
- The only thing my blog needs is some pictures of some gadgets.
OK, here’s a gadget:
Now will you leave me alone?
This short documentary about Richard Blackwelder, an autistic man in Davidson, N.C., has been up on YouTube for 2 1/2 years, but I’ve only just discovered it. Both Richard and barber Ken Norton, one of the people interviewed in the film, were fixtures in town when I left Davidson almost 30 years ago (Norton cut my hair, and his father cut my dad’s hair in the early 1950s). I knew Richard by name because I often ran into him on Main Street, but a lot of my friends referred to him primarily as “the walking man” because we tended to see him walking up and down Main Street, often in something of a hurry and always looking as if he knew exactly where he was headed.
Richard tells his own story engagingly, but the comments of other Davidsonians also are interesting. Documentarian James Billy Hill has neatly captured a kind of community that tends to get discounted in the age of social media — and how easy it would be for a person like Richard to fall through the cracks, or worse.
Monday, October 18, 2010 8:49 pm
The NYT’s Paul Krugman, writing not about economics but about the Obama administration: “… to put it another way, the administration has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
No guts, no glory. Which would be fine if millions of Americans weren’t jobless, homeless, dying in illegal wars and other minor scrapes.
Sunday, October 17, 2010 12:50 pm
In my previous life as a reporter, I frequently had to write a news article about a scientific finding (usually, though not always, medical in nature). I learned a lot of hard lessons the hard way in so doing, and they served me so well that I have thought from time to time about posting a tutorial for other journalists on how to handle this routine but fraught journalistic task.
However, the Guardian has already done so, so I’m happy to link to theirs. The comments also are enlightening.
(h/t: DougJ at Balloon Juice)
Friday, October 15, 2010 10:27 pm
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 8:13 pm
“Panthers and orchids are sentinels,” Richardson said. “They are not guards; they are watchdogs of the environment. We should be watching them just as closely. When they decide to leave, we should too.’
Currently, the Panthers are last in the league in points and yards and next-to-last in passing yards. I think it’s pretty clear they’ve decided to leave.
Monday, October 11, 2010 8:49 pm
Just for the record, when the nonpartisan National Academy of Sciences last reviewed the data this spring, it concluded: “A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.” Not only William Hague but such other prominent European conservatives as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have embraced that widespread scientific conviction and supported vigorous action.
Indeed, it is difficult to identify another major political party in any democracy as thoroughly dismissive of climate science as is the GOP here. Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, says that although other parties may contain pockets of climate skepticism, there is “no party-wide view like this anywhere in the world that I am aware of.”
It will be difficult for the world to move meaningfully against climate disruption if the United States does not. And it will be almost impossible for the U.S. to act if one party not only rejects the most common solution proposed for the problem (cap-and-trade) but repudiates even the idea that there is a problem to be solved. The GOP’s stiffening rejection of climate science sets the stage for much heated argument but little action as the world inexorably warms — and the dangers that Hague identified creep closer.
Are Americans taking this position because we’re stupider than people of other countries? No, although our educational system does suck in ways large and small.
No, Americans, and in particular the Republican Party, are taking this position because their corporate benefactors have rigged the system. Corporations are buying public policy that is directly counter to the best long-term interests of Americans and residents of this planet generally, and our dysfunctional political system is too far gone to stop it.
Sunday, October 10, 2010 8:36 pm
Once upon a time, batsh*t insane bigots were not fawningly profiled in our mainstream national media, labeled not batsh*t insane but merely “outraged” and “outrageous.”
Clearly, times have changed.
Putting aside everything we know about the status quo, consider exactly what Republicans think we should be doing right now: keep Bush-era tax rates; slash public-sector employment; stop infrastructure investments; let the private sector grow without any additional economic stimulus.
Then consider the status quo: we have Bush-era tax rates in place (in addition to middle-class and small-business tax cuts Dems passed over GOP opposition); the public sector is shedding jobs by tens of thousands of people per month; infrastructure investments are being blocked (see here and here); and the private sector is trying to grow without any additional economic stimulus.
In other words, the GOP is getting its way and it’s complaining about the results.
I have my own serious problems with Washington Democrats, not the least of which is that the top one is trying to assassinate American citizens unconstitutionally and wiretap every last one of us, either of which is an impeachable offense in its own right.
But where the economy is concerned, here’s where we are: Many, many things are wrong. Pretty much every one of them is probably going to get dramatically worse if Republicans take control of Congress. And Americans, unable or unwilling to ascertain who is to blame, may well let them do it anyway.
Dinesh D’Souza recently published a book suggesting that President Obama is full of anger that he inherited from his anticolonialist Kenyan father. Or something like that. And Forbes magazine published a D’Souza cover story harping on the same theme.
You have to be seriously screwed up to attract criticism from the right-wing noise machine. D’Souza is seriously screwed up. Even the race-baiting, vote-suppressing Right couldn’t stomach this. Card-carrying member David Frum wrote, “When last was there such a brazen outburst of race-baiting in the service of partisan politics at the national level? George Wallace took more care to sound race-neutral.”
So you would think that any reputable news organization wouldn’t touch this crap with a 10-foot pole. And you’d be right. But The Washington Post isn’t, and for quite some time hasn’t been, a reputable news organization. A couple of days ago it published an op-ed from D’Souza rehashing some of these same themes. Even outgoing Post media critic Howard Kurtz, who never has a harsh word to say about his soon-to-be-ex-employer, found this decision inexplicable.
Post editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt was asked why he ran the piece. He said, “I approved publication of this Op-Ed. D’Souza’s theory has sparked a great deal of commentary, from potential presidential candidates as well as from commentators on our own pages.”
Memo to Hiatt: Lots of things spark a great deal of commentary, among them Klan marches, allegations that the president is not a U.S. citizen, and arguments in favor of creationism. But “sparking a great deal of commentary” is not, by itself, grounds for giving a wacko a forum on the op-ed page of what is supposed to be one of the country’s greatest newspapers. And the fact that I even have to explain this to you proves you are unqualified for the job you hold. And, no, publishing Michael Mann’s excellent piece calling out politicians on their hostility to the inconvenient truths yielded by disinterested scientific research doesn’t get you off the hook.
Saturday, October 9, 2010 4:22 pm
I am generally pessimistic about the progress of race relations in this country, by which I mean there are still way too many people invested in systems and ways of thinking about and doing things that privilege Caucasians at the expense of everybody else. And I think that on most days, this country is flatly incapable of having an intelligent conversation about racism and race relations.
And yet, in the comment thread of this post by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic, a lot of people of different backgrounds and common good will are fumbling and stumbling their way toward just such a conversation. They’re asking awkward (to them) questions of people of a different race in ways people would never do in real life. And rather than insisting that they have, or that there even are, definitive answers, they’re grappling with one another’s responses and the consequences of those responses, and they’re listening and relating to one another’s sad, sorry stories. Even Coates, who may have thought more intelligently about these questions than anyone else in the national media, steps in at one point to acknowledge a white viewpoint that he says had never occurred to him before — and to add that it’s not necessarily wrong.
So maybe we’re not totally screwed after all. Also, I’ll be the first to say that 99.99% of the Internet is crap, but threads like this are a big reason why I keep paying for a subscription.
(h/t: DivaGeek, via e-mail)
Lesson to my kids from this: Nothing involving PowerPoint ever ends well.
Friday, October 8, 2010 8:00 pm
Singer is one of the most influential deniers of climate change worldwide. In his world, respected climatologists are vilified as liars, people who are masquerading as environmentalists while, in reality, having only one goal in mind: to introduce socialism. …Born in Vienna, Singer fled to the United States in 1940 and soon became part of an elite group fighting the Cold War on the science front. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Singer continued his struggle — mostly against environmentalists, and always against any form of regulation.
Whether it was the hole in the ozone layer, acid rain or climate change, Singer always had something critical to say, and he always knew better than the experts in their respective fields. But in doing so he strayed far away from the disciplines in which he himself was trained. For example, his testimony aided the tobacco lobby in its battle with health policy experts.
The Arlington, Virginia-based Marshall Institute took an approach very similar to Singer’s. Founded in 1984, its initial mission was to champion then US President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), better known as “Star Wars.” After the fall of the Iron Curtain, the founders abruptly transformed their institute into a stronghold for deniers of environmental problems.
“The skeptics thought, if you give up economic freedom, it will lead to losing political freedom. That was the underlying ideological current,” says Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at the University of California, San Diego, who has studied Singer’s methods. As scientists uncovered more and more environmental problems, the skeptics “began to see science as the enemy.”
Oreskes is referring to only a handful of scientists and lobbyists, and yet they have managed to convince many ordinary people — and even some US presidents — that science is deeply divided over the causes of climate change. Former President George H.W. Bush even referred to the physicists at the Marshall Institute as “my scientists.”
Whatever the issue, Singer and his cohorts have always used the same basic argument: that the scientific community is still in disagreement and that scientists don’t have enough information. For instance, they say that genetics could be responsible for the cancers of people exposed to secondhand smoke, volcanoes for the hole in the ozone layer and the sun for climate change.
About 97% of scientists who work in the field buy into the concept of anthropogenic global warming. Singer works hard to make the split look more like 50-50, and a lot of credulous journalists and craven politicians are happy to let/help him do it.
And so the ice melts.
And so the sea level rises.
And so poor coastal dwellers suffer and put strains on their (mostly poor) governments, creating untold human and economic misery.
Thursday, October 7, 2010 8:55 pm
In general, I hold in contempt people who say government ought to be run more like a business, not only because businesses and government have different ends and therefore are likely to need different means, but also because a lot of businesses, especially large ones, are crappily run.
But if I’m going to be intellectually honest, I have to admit that there can be some merit to this view. The problem for people who think this, however, is that they associate “running government more like a business” solely with a fatter annual bottom line. Running a business well, however, sometimes means spending more in the short term, and even going into debt, to take advantage of growth opportunities and generally ensure long-term viability:
People say that the government should be run more like a business. So imagine you are CEO of the government. Your bridges are crumbling. Your schools are falling apart. Your air traffic control system doesn’t even use GPS. The Society of Civil Engineers gave your infrastructure a D grade and estimated that you need to make more than $2 trillion in repairs and upgrades. [And your Internet is nowhere near world-class -- Lex]
Sorry, chief. No one said being CEO was easy.
But there’s good news, too. Because of the recession, construction materials are cheap. So, too, is the labor. And your borrowing costs? They’ve never been lower. That means a dollar of investment today will go much further than it would have five years ago — or is likely to go five years from now. So what do you do?
If you’re thinking like a CEO, the answer is easy: You invest. You get it done.
So we’ve got good news and bad news.
The good news is, the federal government is going to spend $50 billion to get (some of) it done.
The bad news is, $50 billion is only a tiny fraction of what we need to spend. It will neither make much of a dent in the backlog nor create many jobs. But our politics have become so damned dysfunctional that $50 billion in the largest amount that can even be discussed publicly, let alone have a chance of passing; meanwhile, Newt Gingrich is running around saying that the voters’ choice in November is between “paychecks and food stamps.” This is what passes for serious thinking from the politician and potential presidential contender widely considered, by people who are not me, to be the brightest, most visionary candidate in the GOP stable.
Jesus wept. And so will tens of millions of un- and under-employed Americans and their families.
… and never once hear about Information Is Beautiful?
… is that sometimes the guy who wrote it in the first place is still around and paying attention.
In this case, the guy is Steve Benen, formerly with Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and now the Washington Monthly’s blogger-in-chief. He catches James Towey, who ran the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives under Bush 43, and former Bush 43 speechwriter Michael Gerson, trying to rewrite history and sets them straight: Not only isn’t Obama politicizing the office in any meaningful way, as they charge, but they ignore the fact that Obama’s predecessor politicized the hell out of it in very meaningful (and arguably illegal and unconstitutional) ways.
Remember the phrase “Mayberry Machiavellis”? That was the first head of Bush’s office, characterizing what the White House political operation was doing.
The Obama administration is accused of having suppressed scientific information on what the worst-case scenario might have been in the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill.
So how’s that “more open, more transparent government” thingie workin’ out for ya?
Truth is, there wasn’t much to suppress. Everyone knew the worst-case scenario was an Earth-extinction event. That’s because the worst-case scenario is always an Earth-extinction event, whether you’re talking about an oil spill, nuclear war, a rogue asteroid or the mysterious deaths of the honeybees that pollinate our crops. Duh.
Actually, that’s not quite precise. The worst worst-case scenario would be an Earth-extinction event preceded by a global shortage of beer.
Ten years ago today, we invaded Afghanistan.
It’s long past time we came home.
So according to a new book by former Sen. Tom Daschle, President Obama gave up on the so-called “public option” as part of any health-care reform package no later than July 8, 2009:
In his book, Daschle reveals that after the Senate Finance Committee and the White Houseconvinced hospitals to to accept $155 billion in payment reductions over ten years on July 8, the hospitals and Democrats operated under two “working assumptions.” “One was that the Senate would aim for health coverage of at least 94 percent of Americans,” Daschle writes. “The other was that it would contain no public health plan,” which would have reimbursed hospitals at a lower rate than private insurers.
I asked Daschle if the White House had taken the option off the table in July 2009 and if all future efforts to resuscitate the provision were destined to fail:
DASCHLE: I don’t think it was taken off the table completely. It was taken off the table as a result of the understanding that people had with the hospital association, with the insurance (AHIP), and others. I mean I think that part of the whole effort was based on a premise. That premise was, you had to have the stakeholders in the room and at the table. Lessons learned in past efforts is that without the stakeholders’ active support rather than active opposition, it’s almost impossible to get this job done. They wanted to keep those stakeholders in the room and this was the price some thought they had to pay. Now, it’s debatable about whether all of these assertions and promises are accurate, but that was the calculation.
Daschle later “clarified” his comments by saying, “I did not mean to suggest in any way that the President was not committed to it. The President fought for the public option just as he did for affordable health care for all Americans. The public option was dropped only when it was no longer viable in Congress, not as a result of any deal cut by the White House.” That’s some clarification: It means that Daschle either was lying when he wrote his book or he’s lying now. For the purposes of this discussion and because I see no reason to do otherwise, I’m going to presume that the book is accurate and the “clarification” was issued only because he’s getting some blowback from the White House.
I get that whether or not it actually was necessary to trade the public option to get some kind of reform passed, the Obama team might have thought it was necessary … and acted accordingly.
But if that were the case, why didn’t they just say so at the time? Why did they keep so many other people in the dark, both in and out of Congress? Because as late as December 2009, some prominent House Democrats were publicly stating that they wouldn’t sign off on any House-Senate health-care reconciliation that did not include a public option.
Did Obama’s people honestly think no one would ever find out? Or did they just not care that people (including prominent congresscritters of their own party), once they found out, would be furious about having gone to a lot of trouble to fight for something that was never going to happen and thus having been made to look like fools?
Seriously, I absolutely do not get this. What is the upside in this approach? What policy or political gain could possibly be derived from it — for Obama, for congressional Dems, for consumers?
Meanwhile, the White House, which badly needs its base voters in this midterm election, has been telling them publicly to shut up and be grateful for what they got, when what they got was a little bit of progress mixed with a lot of continuation (and, in some cases, worsening) of Bush policy and constant dismissal. No damn wonder the Dems have an “enthusiasm gap.” If I were a base Dem voter and had been treated this way, I’d be telling the president right now to Foxtrot Oscar Alpha Delta.
Am I missing something here? Because the only scenario in which this makes any sense is if Barack Obama is on Karl Rove’s payroll.
Bragging on myself; or, Every once in a while, the Internet leaves a curve ball hanging out over the plate …
… and the culprit this time is Dave Weigel on Twitter:
Ominous: Test audiences hated Spitzer until he bashed Wall Street, and they warmed to him. http://bit.ly/cfGWtn
@daveweigel You know WHO ELSE* really caught on with audiences when he started bashing financiers? :-)
*”You know who else …?” is one of those weird Internet meme thingies. More info. I admit I am probably deriving more joy from this than is appropriate for someone my age, but these days I’ll take joy where I can find it.
It’s not the comprehensive writethru on the foreclosure-fraud scandal that I’ve been looking for, but this Q&A between ProPublica journalist Marian Wang and Geoff Walsh, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, adds some detail and nuance to the aspect of “robo-signers,” people with mortgage-servicing businesses who signed many, many foreclosure documents with little or no verification.