Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 8:39 pm

“When the Constitution became a puppet show.”

Charles Pierce on the impending 25th anniversary of Iran-Contra:

It remains the great lost opportunity. If the crimes of what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal had been investigated the way they should have been — which is to say, had they been investigated all the way up to criminal indictments at the top of the executive branch, and impeachment inquiries into the conduct of relevant officials, including the president — the political world would have been changed utterly, as Mr. Yeats once put it. The ongoing project of turning Reagan into a secular saint at least would have been slowed to a crawl had an inquiry proven in court that he engaged in peddling arms to a terrorist-sponsoring state. (Instead, when we all went nutty on the subject of terrorism in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Iran-Contra hardly got a mention and, to this day, people seem more concerned about the Muslim influence on Butterball turkeys than in the fact that Saint Ronnie once sold missiles to the mullahs.) The George H.W. Bush administration might never have happened, for all that would have meant to George W. Bush’s eventual career. Criminalizing the constitutional crimes that are the inevitable result of the theory of the “unitary executive” might have encouraged the nation to ignore the ravings of an authoritarian lycanthrope like Richard Cheney.

I can remember what happened instead. Washington decided, quite on its own, that “the country” didn’t need another “failed presidency,” so what is now known as The Village circled the wagons to rescue Reagan from his crimes. There was the customary gathering of Wise Men — The Tower Commission — which buried the true scandal in Beltway off-English and the passive voice. There was a joint congressional investigation that served only to furnish people like Oliver North with legal loopholes that prevented their incarceration. There was poor Lawrence Walsh, the special prosecutor, whom everybody wished would simply go away, but who pressed on, making a case that ultimately forced President Poppy Bush to pardon everyone except Shoeless Joe Jackson on his way out the door in 1992.

The press was next to useless. (Mark Hertsgaard’s On Bended Knee is the essential text here.) Hell, the scandal was uncovered by two guys in Beirut with a mimeograph machine. And while there was some excellent work done in spots by the elite American press, the general tone was that the scandal was “too complex” for the country to follow, which led to its having “dragged on too long” and to the eventual dissipation of its political force. (This was a trial run for the infantilization of political self-government, by which the self-governing public is treated as though it were made of candyglass. The masterwork in this regard was the haste to settle the “dangerous uncertainity” surrounding the 2000 presidential election, when almost every poll indicated that the country was perfectly willing to live through a constitutional crisis so long as the crisis followed the Constitution.) This was, of course, nonsense. The Whitewater scandal was insanely complex, largely because there was virtually nothing to the damned thing, and that dragged on all the way to an impeachment trial in the Senate.

Compared to a real-estate scam masterminded by crooks and loons in Arkansas that somehow led to hearings on what the president did with his pee-pee, Iran-Contra was a straightforward constitutional B&E. The Reagan people wanted to fight a war in Central America. Congress did its constitutional duty and shut off the money. The administration then broke the law by arranging private funding for its pet war. One of the ways it did that was to sell military hardware to the government of Iran, which sponsored not only terrorism, but also the kidnapping of various American citizens abroad. All of this was in service to a private foreign policy, devoid of checks and balances, and based on a fundamental contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law. As [the National Security Archive's Peter] Kornbluh writes, the following ensued:

There were illegal arms transfers to Iran, flagrant lying to Congress, soliciting third country funding to circumvent the Congressional ban on financing the contra war in Nicaragua, White House bribes to various generals in Honduras, illegal propaganda and psychological operations directed by the CIA against the U.S. press and public, collaboration with drug kingpins such as Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, and violating the checks and balances of the Constitution.

Iran-Contra was the moment when the country decided — or, alternatively, when it was decided for the country — that self-government was too damned hard, and that we’re all better off just not knowing. It was the moment when all the checks and balances failed, when our faith in the Constitution was most sorely tested, and when it was found most seriously wanting. Iran-Contra is how all the crimes of the subsequent years became possible.

I would make three  additional points.

First, contra (pardon the pun) Pierce, the Archive’s Christian Mixter makes clear that although Reagan broke the law, prosecuting him would have been “a close call” because he had been advised by then-Attorney General Ed Meese that the sales of missiles to Iran via Israel were legal. (Lawyers supposedly can’t just pull this stuff out of their rear ends and get away with it, and yet they do.)

Second, if the news media ever were liberal, they stopped being liberal the instant Jimmy Carter was elected (remember how allegations that Hamilton Jordan had used cocaine were pursued as feverishly as Watergate had been?).

Third, it’s true that Iran-Contra made the crimes of the Bush 43 administration possible, but I return again to this: The pardon of Richard Nixon by Gerald Ford for the crimes of Watergate made Iran-Contra possible.

I miss the rule of law.

Theft baked in

Fraud and conspiracy were written into the computer code that handled mortgage foreclosures, reports Matt Stoller at New Deal 2.0 (h/t Fec):

The same banks that ran the corrupt home mortgage securitization chain are now committing rampant fraud in the foreclosure crisis. Here’s New Orleans Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Magner discussing problems at Lender Processing Services, the company that handles 80 percent of foreclosures on behalf of large banks (emphasis added):

In Jones v. Wells Fargo, this Court discovered that a highly automated software package owned by LPS and identified as MSP administered loans for servicers and note holders but was programed to apply payments contrary to the terms of the notes and mortgages.

The bad behavior is so rampant that banks think nothing of a contractor programming fraud into the software. This is shocking behavior and has led to untold numbers of foreclosures, as well as the theft of huge sums of money from mortgage-backed securities investors.

Here’s how the fraud works: Mortgage loan notes are very clear on the schedule of how payments are to be applied. First, the money goes to interest, then principal, then all other fees. That means that investors get paid first and servicers, who collect late fees for themselves, get paid either when they collect the late fee from the debtor or from the liquidation of the foreclosure. And fees are supposed to be capitalized into the overall mortgage amount. If you are late one month, it isn’t supposed to push you into being late on all subsequent months.

The software, however, prioritizes servicer fees above the contractually required interest and principal to investors. This isn’t a one-off; it’s programmed. It’s the very definition of a conspiracy! Who knows how many people paid late and then were pushed into a spiral of fees that led into a foreclosure? It’s the perfect crime, and many of the victims had paid every single mortgage payment.

(That would be the same Wells Fargo that just took over all the branches of Wachovia, which had been a venerable institution in this state for decades.)

A prediction: No one will go to prison for this. That’s because a federal bankruptcy judge is waving a red flag, banging on a fire alarm and yelling, “Fraud! Fraud!” and the Justice Department is doing exactly jack squat. IANAL, but I could run the Justice Department better than Eric Holder. In fact, my kitchen table could run the Justice Department better than Eric Holder.

Quote of the Day, rich people edition

Filed under: Evil,Quote Of The Day — Lex @ 7:23 pm
Tags: , , ,

Duncan “Atrios” Black:

The truth is, Our Galtian Overlords are frequently just [jerks] because they are [jerks], not because being [jerks] will actually make them any richer.

Sunday, November 27, 2011 10:31 pm

Media criticism …

… outsourced to Duncan “Atrios” Black:

When Village elders like David Brooks or similar write their various tributes to the joys of other people suffering in order to purge the nation of its sins, and by sins they mean the Lewinsky affair and not banksters stealing all the money, I think their idea of personal austerity is like cutting HBO from the cable bill or something. They have no understanding of what it might be like to be without a job for years after spending your life living mostly paycheck to paycheck. It isn’t about one fewer trip per month to the Outback.

In the old days, journalism of Brooks’s type, replete with errors of fact and context, would be called “bad journalism,” and its perpetrators would be fired. Now they get slots on the New York Times op-ed page and cushy TV-talk-show gigs.

Saturday, November 26, 2011 3:34 pm

Music for the season

Filed under: Cool! — Lex @ 3:34 pm
Tags: , ,

Big Star, “Jesus Christ”:

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 9:09 pm

Your liberal media …

… is, as Jason Linkins observes, utterly unable to call a spade a spade.

Journalists, even the ones working in Podunkia for $15,000 a year, are held to this standard: If you knew it was wrong and published it anyway, or you published it with reckless disregard for whether it was wrong, you’re screwed. (Unless, of course, you work for The New York Times, in which case they’ll give you a regular op-ed gig alongside Tom Friedman, David Brooks and Ross Douthat.) I see no reason why a politician, particularly one running for president, should be held to a lower standard.

Mitt Romney lied — and, knowing that the media will not call him out for his lying, he seems to believe that he can successfully campaign against Obama by lying while the media say, “Oh, what an interesting campaign strategy,” instead of, oh, I don’t know, maybe, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Politico notwithstanding, calling a politician’s lie a lie is not expressing “opinion.” It’s reporting. And, dear God, do we need more of it.

UPDATE: Fox’s Megyn Kelly dismissed pepper spray as “a vegetable, essentially.” No, Megyn, the vegetable would be you. (link NSFW)

I told you years ago that this would happen …

Yes, I did.

… and now, as Matt Taibbi points out, it has:

Every time we looked the other way when the president asked for the right to detain people without trials, to commit searches without warrants, to eavesdrop on private citizens without even a judge knowing about it, we made it harder to answer the question: what is it we’re actually defending? …

We had all of these arguments in the Bush years and it’s nothing new to assert that much of our population made a huge mistake in giving up so many of our basic rights to due process. What’s new is that we’re now seeing the political consequences of those decisions.

Again, when we abandoned our principles in order to use force against terrorists and drug dealers, the answer to the question, Who and what are we defending? started to change.

The original answer, ostensibly, was, “We are defending the peaceful and law-abiding citizens of the United States, their principles, and everything America stands for.”

Then after a while it became, “We’re defending the current population of the country, but we can’t defend the principles so much anymore, because they weigh us down in the fight against a ruthless enemy who must be stopped at all costs.”

Then finally it became this: “We are defending ourselves, against the citizens who insist on keeping their rights and their principles.”

What happened at UC Davis was the inevitable result of our failure to make sure our government stayed in the business of defending our principles. When we stopped insisting on that relationship with our government, they became something separate from us.

And we are stuck now with this fundamental conflict, whereby most of us are insisting that the law should apply equally to everyone, while the people running this country for years now have been operating according to the completely opposite principle that different people have different rights, and who deserves what protections is a completely subjective matter, determined by those in power, on a case-by-case basis.

If you let them build a police state, they will use it. And eventually, they will use it on you.

Monday, November 21, 2011 9:36 pm

One thousand words

Filed under: Evil,I want my country back. — Lex @ 9:36 pm
Tags: , , ,

Buzzfeed has more, but this one pretty much says it all.

David Frum: the most oblivious man alive

He’s just now figured out that the GOP is batshit.

Sorry, Dave, but it’s a little late.

The supercommittee succeeded by failing

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 8:27 pm
Tags: ,

You probably have heard today that the congressional supercomittee charged with finding a way to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion has failed. And as a result, you probably think the deficit isn’t being reduced.

You’re wrong.

Back in  August, when it created the supercommittee, Congress actually approved deficit reduction totaling $2.1 trillion over 10 years. It then asked the supercommittee to find an alternative way to save $1.2 trillion. The committee didn’t find an alternative, so barring additional congressional action, we’re going with the reductions approved in August.

That will reduce the deficit by $2.1 trillion. Over the next 10 years.

Now, these cuts are largely unnecessary and, in some cases, morally indefensible. But if things go on as they stand right now, the deficit will be reduced substantially.

That’s not to say that the supercommittee’s failure was a good thing. It wasn’t, and Ezra Klein explains why:

The supercommittee was widely expected to extend the payroll tax cut and the expanded unemployment benefits. Those policies alone are expected to add 1-2 percentage points to growth next year. Some of the proposed deals included further stimulus measures like increased infrastructure spending, which would have given the economy a further boost. There was also talk of patching Medicare’s payments to doctors and the Alternative Minimum Tax, neither of which is specifically a stimulus measure, but both of which would hurt the economy if allowed to expire now.

The supercommittee’s failure throws those deals into doubt. Many Republicans are balking at extending the payroll tax cut altogether. Sen. Jeff Sessions, for instance, “said he was uneasy about extending the payroll tax holiday, calling the national debt ‘a greater threat to us’ than the weak economy.” (Think he’ll insist any extension of the Bush tax cuts is fully paid for?). Other Republicans are hoping to tie unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut to a bill lifting the defense cuts in the trigger — a strategy that might lead to a wholly different kind of showdown. Either way, the passage of these items is now in doubt, and that means the growth picture for next year is dimming.

If growth falls by 1-2 percentage points next year, that could well mean we’re only growing by one percent or so. If events in Europe take a turn for the worse, it could mean we’re back in recession. That, and not our deficit, is the immediate threat. And it’s one the supercommittee made worse.

So, the deficit? Not that big a deal. But another recession? Quite a bit more likely today.

Sunday, November 20, 2011 4:16 pm

UC-Davis: It was unquestionably illegal

The UC-Davis police’s pepper-spraying of nonviolent protesters was contrary to the controlling law in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes California.

As The Atlantic’s Garance Franke-Ruta documents, illegal violence by law enforcement against peaceful demonstrators has become commonplace. And it must stop. This is not how a free country governs itself.

UPDATE: The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal argues that the officer who did the spraying is just the product of the system of policing that we constructed. While true, that argument opens the door for the Nuremberg defense, and that door is one we want to stay firmly closed. Police officers have an affirmative duty not only to obey the law themselves but also to disobey illegal commands. No one gets off the hook. No one.

Saturday, November 19, 2011 8:00 pm

Want to know why the Koch brothers are trying to kill public higher education?

They can’t stand this.

 

What police brutality, and nonviolent resistance, look like

Yesterday at the University of California at Davis:

Angry Black Lady at Balloon Juice comments:

Today [Friday -- Lex] at Occupy Davis, a police officer approached a group of students sitting in a line peacefully on the ground, walked up and down the line and pepper-sprayed them directly in the face—as one would spray pesticide on weeds. What you’ll see in this video is such a callous display of police brutality, I don’t know how this police officer is going to go home and look at himself in the mirror.

As the students cry “Shame on you!” the police arrest a few students; but as the crowd circles them—non-threateningly, but insistent—the police begin to retreat. Then, amazingly, the students (via People’s mic) offer the retreating police a moment of peace: “We are willing to give you a brief moment of peace so that you may take your weapons and your friends and go. Please do not return.”

And the police do.

If you’d like to object to this crime by the university police, you can call the university chancellor’s office at (530) 752-2065 and/or the UC Davis police at (530) 752-1727. The officer who pulled out the pepper spray was identified as Lt. John Pike. You can contact him at (530) 752-3989 or  japikeiii@ucdavis.edu. (UPDATE: Forget calling the chancellor’s office. Chancellor Linda Katehi has demonstrated that she doesn’t know the difference between legitimate law enforcement and unprovoked brutality.)

Unless or until the Bill of Rights is repealed, what Pike did in this video is a crime. He should be prosecuted and punished.

UPDATE: John Cole at Balloon Juice agrees:

It’s really just amazing that any administration official would think that [Katehi's] is the appropriate response. It’s mind-boggling that anyone with law enforcement training thinks that was the appropriate response. Lt. John Pike wasn’t maintaining the public order or using appropriate force, what he did was to physically assault a bunch of kids who pay a hell of a lot of money to be on that college campus. He shouldn’t have a job today, and if any of his colleagues had any balls or any sense, they would have arrested him on the spot on multiple counts of assault. …

The balls on this lady. She orders the cops in riot gear to go pepper spray the kids, then when everyone is horrified at what she has done, she forms a task force to figure out what happened. You don’t need a [expletive] task force to figure out what happened. You’re the problem. Just look in the mirror and ask yourself “Why am I such a blithering idiot?” And then resign.

 

Friday, November 18, 2011 8:03 pm

Contrary to popular belief, the Bill of Rights has not been repealed

Esquire’s Charles Pierce, bringing up our inconvenient Bill of Rights:

It would be helpful if the president would mention, in public, that people exercising their fundamental First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly should not be made to bleed from the ears. When did we decide to look at our fellow citizens as enemies who deserve to be subject to military assault? When did we vote on that?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 8:26 pm

Why the Occupy (#ows) protests must be shut down

Filed under: I want my country back. — Lex @ 8:26 pm
Tags:

Otherwise, all sorts of bad things could happen:

On Oct. 11, just five days after protesters set up camp, police chiefs who had been dealing with the encampments for weeks warned that the homeless will be attracted to the food, shelter and medical care the camps offered.

We just can’t allow that.

Why the economy will continue to suck until at least 2013

Because, as Steve Benen points out, Republicans are bound and determined to do what they want to do rather than stuff that will actually help the economy:

 

What you’re looking at is a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the likely economic impact of various options now being discussed and/or implemented. And although it doesn’t identify each measure with the political faction supporting it, the nonpartisan CBO finds that what actual economists like Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong think we should be doing will bring the unemployment rate down faster than what the Republicans want us to do.

Benen comments:

Now, if our political process made any sense, this would be about the time that policymakers said, “We all want to improve the economy, so let’s do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.” Then, they’d look to independent analyses like this one from the Congressional Budget Office to shape the best agenda.

But our political process doesn’t make sense, and analyses like the new CBO report won’t sway Republicans at all. Confronted with evidence that their agenda won’t work, Republicans reflexively respond, “We don’t care what the evidence says; our ideology trumps all.”

And that’s why we can’t have nice things.

Like, you know, jobs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 8:30 pm

Another quote of the day, #ows edition

“Trashing libraries is a very particular kind of political statement.” — Henry, Crooked Timber.

And commenter Bill Benzon adds:

I note that these police actions seem to be taking place in the name of public health, among other things. This is the imagery of defilement and impurity that clearly signals that “THEY are not one of US.” This is very dangerous ground.

Oh, please. Likening people to filth and vermin has always ended well.

Quote of the Day

Filed under: I want my money back.,Quote Of The Day — Lex @ 7:01 pm
Tags: , ,

From economist Brad DeLong, on former Bush economic official Glenn Hubbard: “May I say that I am sick of budget arsonists wearing fire chief hats?”

Sunday, November 13, 2011 9:42 pm

All you need to know about Saturday’s GOP presidential debate …

… is that Texas Gov. Rick Perry said, “Waterboarding is not torture … and I’ll be for it until the day I die.”

To which Charles Pierce responds, “This is precisely, and in every respect, the position taken by several Japanese military officers in 1945. They felt exactly the same way, which is why we [expletive] executed them.

Saturday, November 12, 2011 8:33 pm

“If you build a police state, they will use it.”*

And they’ll start with the kids:

The videos taken by protesters, journalists and casual observers show UC Berkeley police and Alameda County sheriff’s deputies in riot gear ordering students with linked arms to leave a grassy area outside the campus administration building Wednesday. When the students didn’t move, police lowered their face shields and began hitting the protesters with batons.

University police say the students, who chanted “You’re beating students” during the incident, were not innocent bystanders, and that the human fence they tried to build around seven tents amounted to a violent stance against police.

But many law enforcement experts said Thursday that the officers’ tactics appeared to be a severe overreaction.

Both the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild said they had “grave concerns about the conduct” of campus police.

“Video recordings raise numerous questions about UCPD’s oversight and handling of these events, including whether law enforcement were truly required to beat protesters with batons,” the two groups wrote in a letter to campus officials.

In total, 39 people were arrested Wednesday; 22 were students and one was a professor, police said. All but one were taken to jail and released.

“The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence,” UC police Capt. Margo Bennett said. “I understand that many students may not think that, but linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest.”

Capt. Margo Bennett, you, ma’am, are an idiot, and the officers under your command are violent criminals who should be going to prison for assault with a deadly weapon and depriving American citizens of their rights under color of law.

*h/t & quote from Digby

Thursday, November 10, 2011 7:38 pm

You thought they couldn’t get any stupider. You were wrong.

With unemployment stuck over 9% and GDP limping along barely above flat and no job creation going on to speak of, what should be our top priority?

Hey, I know! How ’bout a balanced-budget amendment! That’ll help.

Except for the part where it totally won’t, according to Macroeconomic Advisers, which provides nonpartisan analysis to major corporations and government entities. Here’s what that group says a BBA would do:

Macroeconomic Advisers writes that if a constitutional balanced budget requirement had been ratified in 2008 and took effect in fiscal year 2012, “The effect on the economy would be catastrophic.”  If the 2012 budget were balanced through spending cuts, those cuts would have to total about $1.5 trillion in 2012 alone, which the report estimates would throw about 15 million more people out of work, double the unemployment rate from 9 percent to approximately 18 percent, and cause the economy to shrink by about 17 percent instead of growing by an expected 2 percent.

Yeah, that sounds like fun. Even the whores at Standard & Poor’s think this is a bad idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(h/t: Steve Benen)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 8:53 pm

Quote of the Day, Joe Paterno edition

 Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns & Money:

As far as I can tell, most media outlets seem to be framing this as “Paterno will be leaving at the end of the year” rather than “Paterno is still coaching the team despite having knowingly allowed a child rapist to remain free.” I don’t understand this.

I, on the other hand, understand it perfectly: Even now, the media are in the tank for JoePa.

Let’s be very clear: Paterno might have done the minimum legally required when he told the athletics director about graduate assistant Mike McQueary’s report of having witnessed assistant coach Jerry Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy. But he should have gone to the cops. He should have seen to it that the case was investigated thoroughly — after all, if anyone in Happy Valley could have made that happen, it was Joe Paterno. Instead, he kept quiet and allowed a predator to roam free for years and, it would seem from the grand jury report, prey on other children as well.

Even in extremis, his arrogance and cluelessness are astonishing. Consider his retirement statement, in which, after announcing that he is “devastated” by “developments” in the case, he presumes to tell the Board of Trustees, nominally his bosses, how to do their job:

At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.

What utter bullshit. This is about protecting his pension and what remains of his reputation, not doing what’s best for Penn State (let alone the victims in the case) or “easy” for the trustees. If he wanted to make this as easy for them as he possibly could, he’d quit right now. As it is, the trustees are meeting Friday tonight, and their first order of business ought to be firing Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier.

And if, as he said in his statement, Paterno wants to spend his retirement “doing everything I can to help this University,” he’ll stay as far away from it as possible.

Paul Campos, one of Lemieux’s blogging mates, adds:

Paterno has known for at least nine years (realistically, at least 13 years, and probably longer) that the PSU administration — which for all practical purposes meant Joe Paterno — was covering up the crimes of a serial child rapist. The only “developments” in this case are that now everybody else knows it as well.

UPDATE (11:01 p.m.): Trustees fired Paterno and Spanier. It’s the least they could have done, and they’ve got a lot more still to do, but at least they didn’t hesitate to do it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 8:46 pm

You want to know why I’m not quite ready for life after newspapers?

PA_PN.jpg

This. (Although Paterno needs to be gone yesterday.)

Quote of the Day

Ladies and gentlemen, Charles Pierce on your liberal media:

Some day, volumes will be written about how Gingrich managed to get everyone in the Washington smart set to believe he is a public intellectual with actual ideas, and not just the guy at the club whose life gets changed for him every time he reads a new book.

My god, Caligula died centuries too soon. Today, if he’d brought his horse into the Senate, some careerist Beltway journo would find that the horse had whinnied some “interesting new approaches” to our “entitlement crisis.” The horse would be on Meet the Press the following Sunday with David Gregory, who would ignore the fact that there is a fking horse sitting across the table from him and concentrate instead on something the horse had whinnied five years ago that seems to have been contradicted by something the horse whinnied the day before. And then Tom Brokaw would come on to mumble something about how horses were more politically savvy back in his day.

 

It’s Election Day here in the ‘Boro …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 6:37 am
Tags: ,

… so vote. It annoys the bastards.

Polls in N.C. are open ’til 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 6, 2011 11:06 am

More on those faster-than-light neutrinos …

… from Tom Levinson at Balloon Juice (but also cross-posted at Scientific American if you want to avoid Reality-Based cooties). Short version: Light interacts with charged particles and thus slows down, while neutrinos don’t. Thus, it is possible for some neutrinos to go faster than some light, but we’re a long way from proving that things actually can go faster than light generally:

That’s the problem for any challenge to a fundamental pillar of knowledge:  if the new observation is correct, it must be understood in a way that accommodates all the prior work consistent with the older view that is under scrutiny.  As physics popularizers always note:  Einstein’s account of gravity — the General Theory of Relativity — delivers results that collapse into those of Newton’s earlier theory through the range of scales for which Newtonian physics works just fine.  If it didn’t, then that would be a signal that there was something wrong with the newer theory.

It’s a nice, plain-English discussion of the issue, with several links to other, equally good related discussions. He goes on to point out how this aspect of scientific research has important implications for the climate-change-denial crowd. I’m sure they won’t want to hear about it, but still.

 

Thursday, November 3, 2011 11:26 pm

Quote of the day

Filed under: Quote Of The Day — Lex @ 11:26 pm
Tags: ,

The Boston Globe effed up and got rid of Charles Pierce, so Esquire snapped him up and set him to political blogging. Everybody wins:

“… with all due respect to E. J. Dionne, the only difference between the ‘old’ South Carolina conservatives and the ‘new’ South Carolina conservatives is that Jim DeMint isn’t knocking up black women the way that Strom Thurmond used to.

You want moral conviction? I’ve got your moral conviction RIGHT HERE.

Memo to Michigan Republicans: If your God tells you that bullying is OK, ever, for any reason, you’re hearing Him wrong.

Just trust me on this.

Quote of the Day …

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 8:27 pm
Tags: , , ,

… from Sir Charles at Cogitamus:

 

[Tuesday] the S&P 500 — the measure of broad large capitalization stocks in the United States — closed at 1219.  On January 1, 1999, it closed at 1229.  When people talk of an impending lost decade, they are missing the fact that we have already had one.

I’m pretty sure the 18% un- or under-employed haven’t missed a thing. (Which, to be fair, is part of Sir Charles’s point.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 8:43 pm

All you need to know about the GOP’s illegal and unconstitutional voting-suppression efforts …

… is that they’re trying to change the subject to ACORN, an organization that 1) was never found to have done anything illegal and 2) has been out of business for more than six months.

They’ve been busted, and they’re hoping desperately that you’re not paying attention.

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