Saturday, December 18, 2010

18 December 2010

via Don Durito.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The tragedy of a ridiculous people

Time Zuckerberg cover

Apparently Time had a poll for their 'person of the year' award in which Julian Assange was overwhelmingly the first choice, but they chose Mark Zuckerberg because presumably that choice will ruffle fewer feathers and won't get any reactionary readers or advertisers angry. In another age Hitler was once Time's man of the year, when Time gave its readers more credit for not being simpletons who require happy news. I'm reminded of the selection of "you" as their person of the year a few years ago, when there was speculation that it might have been Hugo Chavez.

Somewhat coincidentally I watched the NBC Nightly News tonight and while they discussed John Kyl and other senators objecting to having to work so close to Christmastime they made no mention of the Reuters article [also here] about the possible downgrade of the US's bond status because of the meretricious tax deal. They also mentioned an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that said that 59% of Americans approve of the tax deal, including 54 % of Democrats. Maybe this is true, and maybe it reflects actual enthusiasm for the tax deal, or maybe the belief that nothing better is possible.

I want to love my country and believe in our future but it's awfully discouraging sometimes. I would like, for example, to believe that we're not as stupid as the media tells us we are. I know other people must feel this way. The one somewhat encouraging bit of news I got recently was from a Zogby poll about Wikileaks and cablegate. Respondents were asked if news organizations were wrong to publish Wikileaks info, and if Wikileaks should be classified as a terrorist organization. Overall 63% said that the news organizations were wrong to publish the info, and 52% said that Wikileaks should be classified as a terrorist organization.

Among voters age 65 and older, 73% agree news organizations should not publish WikiLeaks and 65% agree the government should consider WikiLeaks a terrorist organization. But among the respondents under age 30, the percentages agreeing with those statements are just 35% and 30% respectively.

2010 Zogby wikipoll

Ian Welsh, "The Kabuki Congress and Presidency"

By David Weigel, Slate "Crisis Junkies: After the tax deal vote, get ready for another fiscal apocalypse"

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Daniel Ellsberg on Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks

'"Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg weighs in on the case of U.S. Army P.F.C. Bradley Manning, who currently stands accused of leaking over 260,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables to the website WikiLeaks. "I recognized someone who was in the same spirit as I was forty years ago," says Ellsberg. "He's a hero of mine."'

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Not your friends

Clinton n BHO ap

Clintonism is dead, killed by Bill Clinton of all people. In the world of strong and simple narratives that the popular press favors, the strongest argument against the disgusting tax deal cobbled together by Obama and the GOP was Clintonism, that under Bill Clinton and the democrats in 1993 marginal tax rates on wealthier Americans were raised from a maximum of 31% under Bush senior to as much as 39.6%, and eventually this led to the boom and balanced budgets of the late 1990s.

But as you are likely to have heard, Clinton himself decided to go to bat for this horrific tax deal, prostituting his liberal cred, such as it is, for tax cuts and a future economic bust. I imagine now that the Fed will do everything they can to float Obama to reelection, because if the economy appears to revive, the ghost of Clintonism can be killed, once and for all, gutted by supply-side Obama-ism-- at least according to the DC "villager" types and the popular news media, who will look everywhere for silver linings that demonstrate the supposed wisdom and fairness of tax cuts for everybody.

Disabusing people of the common-sense notion that you increase tax revenue by increasing taxes may be even more valuable to the oligarchy than for the GOP to retake the White House in 2012. I wonder what will actually happen, although I have to believe much of that upper-income tax cut money will go towards investment in Asian economies, and the US economy will continue its downward slide for at least another two years.

Meanwhile, will there be anybody left debating whether Obama and the democratic leadership is inept or deliberately selling out? I'm glad more people are noticing the malignant effect of the payroll tax cut, supposedly just for one year. The GWB tax cuts were supposedly just for this decade, through 12/31/2010, and if the democrats really wanted to win in the mid-terms they could have voted on the tax cuts this summer, forcing a real fillibuster just before the election-- but Harry Reid didn't want that, any more than BHO did.

Reid and Pelosi and Hoyer got re-elected, but people like Alan Grayson and Russ Feingold were not so lucky, and neither were most of the so-called Blue Dog dems. I tend to assume this was partly by design, funding-wise, that one of the unusual traits of Obama-ism is he wants to be able to run against democratic policies, and do so without any strong voices of opposition to ruffle his feathers. The presence of both the Blue Dogs, stealing his thunder and making BHO's pronouncements seem more generic and less 'bold', and potential critics within the party from the left, interfere with Obama selling himself as a leader. Why would the GOP want to get rid of him? Might as well run Sarah Palin, to help build a database of far-right supporters for 2016. And if she actually wins, all the better. The only possible value I can see in voting for Obama at this point is if it prevents a war with Iran, although I am by no means convinced that BHO wouldn't attack Iran. He may even do so to distract people from the sour jobs outlook.

The other day Digby wrote:

I am usually fairly skeptical of the idea that the Democrats are always screwing up and losing debates because they are consciously conspiring with the Republicans to reach certain goals.

After such a promising beginning she dismisses the conspiracy angle and insists, in a pained way("I'm not defending them, but...") that the democrats know what they're doing, and their motives are just. Thank goodness for that! Were you holding your breath?

As you may know, the guys at Stop Me Before I Vote Again have subtitled their blog, "If you're a Lefty like us, the Democrats are not your friends". You don't even have to be a lefty, just have some common sense, to recognize the duplicity of the GOP, who initially insisted that they were holding out on renewing unemployment benefits because of deficit worries. And the duplicity of Obama, and Bill Clinton, and the rest of the democratic leadership.

Nancy Altman, via Jonathan Schwarz, "The end of social security"
Rob Payne, "Obama destroys social security all on his own"

The increasingly rightward drifting Christian Science Monitor:

"How tax cut revolt helps Obama: It's a page from Clinton playbook,"and

"Obama tax deal could start an era like Reagan's"

Tony Wikrent(via Avedon): "Why the Obama Tax Deal is Insane"

"This 2 percent payroll tax cut is the beginning of the end of Social Security as we know it," said the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, which is led by former Rep. Barbara B. Kennelly, D-Conn.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hezbollah and Israel

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Methodological kool-aid

James Crotty(above): What Does Wall St. Want Out of Austerity and What Benefits Does it Gain From a Small Government?

Joe Bageant speaks: AMERICA: Y UR PEEPS B SO DUM?

The man who kicked the hornet's nest

BBC: President Calderon says US fuels Mexico's drug wars [video]

"the prince of pork"

WikiLeaks Cables: Desperate Housewives Vs. Terrorism

(Arguably the notion that vapid consumerist television fights terrorism only reinforces Bageant's thesis.)

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Monday, December 06, 2010

6 December 2010

update: Politico (via BDR): Ron Paul stands up for Julian Assange

Teresa Nielsen Hayden "Holding US journalism in contempt"

BBC: Wikileaks: Swiss bank freezes Julian Assange's account
The Swiss post office's bank, PostFinance, has frozen the accounts of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.The whistle-blowing website says the freeze includes a defence fund and personal assets worth 31,000 euros.

Rob Payne, "Dumping Assange"

BBC: China leadership 'orchestrated Google hacking'
Senior Chinese figures were behind the hacking of Google earlier this year which forced the search engine to quit the country, leaked US cables suggest. One cable, released by whistle-blowing site Wikileaks, cites a "well-placed" contact as saying the action against Google was "100% political". A politburo member is said to have been angered after Googling his name and finding critical comments online.
Richard Seymour, "Spanish government uses martial law to force strikers back to work"

the government, determined to crush the strike, declared a state of emergency and imposed martial law. And under martial law, the strikers could be subject to prison sentences for up to six years for sedition if they didn't return to work. Quelle surprise, the workers have felt compelled to return to work. In fact, just in case the threat of prison wasn't sufficient, the workers were actually rounded up by military escorts and marched back to work at gunpoint. This is not the first time that fascist-era legislation has been used against airport workers. But employers across the continent will be looking on in admiration and anticipation.

Ian Welsh, "Wikileaks And The End of the Open Internet"

Wikipedia's cablegate article: United States diplomatic cables leak

quote of the day-
from Ethan, regarding his bête noire:
You'd think that the motives of a bunch of millionaires deciding not to raise taxes on millionaires would be pretty easy to figure out, but apparently not!

(OK, this is from a few days ago, but I'm slow)

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Max Keiser, some guy

Meanwhile, I don't know what to think of this guy, Max Keiser. (He calms down a bit in the second half of this video, below):

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

a disappointing development

I used to like Lori Harfenist's video blogs, but I guess she has turned into a reactionary. Too bad.

an update: the main wikileaks site appears to be down, or at least not accessible here in North Texas. This mirror site seems to work.

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Friday, December 03, 2010

2 December 2010

Assange afp photo

Regarding Cablegate and Assange:


Silber (also here)

Greenwald, "The moral standards of WikiLeaks critics"

Karen Kwiatkowski, "The Proper Response to WikiLeaks"

Pepe Escobar, "Cracks in the wilderness of mirrors"
To some he is a traitor. To others he is the tool of a subtle propaganda campaign hatched by a spy agency. But what Julian Assange is really up to with WikiLeaks is more radical: crashing the carefully maintained information system that dominates our lives with its lies
And, less brightly:
re silber "okanogen" at Corrente, "Getting played"

An odd work of spin from Fareed Zakaria,
"WikiLeaks Shows the Skills of U.S. Diplomats"

A remarkably broad consensus has formed that WikiLeaks' latest data dump is a diplomatic disaster for the U.S. While there are debates over how the Obama Administration should respond, everyone agrees that the revelations have weakened America. But have they? I don't deny for a moment that many of the "wikicables" are intensely embarrassing, but the sum total of the output I have read is actually quite reassuring about the way Washington - or at least the State Department - works.

Assange seems to me the perfect illustration of a gestalt public figure. People see what they want when they look at him. I should say this isn't intrinsic to what he's trying to do but intrinsic to the whole situation. Do you wonder how many people , whether here or abroad, actually believe the charges against him have any merit, and are not a political smear? So much for Swedish neutrality, I guess.-JV

Matt Stoller, "End this Fed"

Modern American industrial policy is to push capital into housing, move manufacturing abroad, build a massive defense establishment, and maintain an oligarchic financial sector. This system isn’t a structural inevitability. (via BDR)

Two from Slate:
Timothy Noah, "McSurance"
Crap health coverage wins a regulatory victory.

Ted Conover, "The Pathetic Newburgh Four"
Should the FBI really be baiting sad-sack homegrown terrorists?

BBC: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood 'faces heavy poll losses'

Rob Payne, "Not Complicated at All"

Terry Greene Sterling, Dallas Observer,"Whose Dole Is It, Anyway?"

The spread of technology: French Taser Death

John Blake, CNN: Is America on the path to 'permanent war'?
As the Afghanistan war enters its ninth year, author Andrew J. Bacevich and others ask: When does it end? They say the nation's national security leaders have put the U.S. on an unsustainable path to perpetual war.

(Richard Dreyfuss says we should call it the war against extremist islam. I guess we should listen to him because he's a famous actor. [video link])

Police seek domain closure powers: "
Domains deemed to be "criminal" by the police could be shut down, if proposals before the overseer of the UK's net addresses come into force."

Austerity stew: Is squirrel the perfect austerity dish?
‘Liberal Clause’ Christmas book boosts tea party candidate

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

the Mystery of Obama-ism, pt 1

Alan Silverleib,CNN, "Senate GOP pledges to block all bills until tax dispute resolved"

Nancy Cordes, CBS News, "Unemployed Face Holidays Without Gov't Benefits":
"Tough Choices:" Congress Wrestles with How to Pay for Extending Benefits as Intensity Grows on Debate over Bush-Era Tax Cuts

The republicans are practically giving him the 1990s government shut down shadow-play all over again. It should be a slam dunk for ole Barry, right? Disavow the deficit commission's recommendations, and call the GOP's bluff regarding making the extension of unemployment benefits deficit neutral, linking it to a tax hike on the over 250k set that he winks at and supposedly demonizes. The full-throated, anti-bizarro world argument that raising taxes may actually raise revenue, especially when levied on people who have a lot of it, hasn't been made in a while. But you'd think it wouldn't be a hard sell, right?

But if you are remotely sentient you know he isn't going to do it. I see no point in blaming the tea partiers, they've already done their damage. Obama wants to lose this battle. A while back Rob Payne and I argued about his intelligence, Rob arguing that I was wrong to see Obama as amoral but smart, basically arguing that he was amoral but not very bright- and I'm beginning to think Rob is right. A smarter Barry would realize that if all he does is capitulate eventually this will hurt his re-election chances, and you'd think he'd stop fantasizing about Saint Reagan for just a bit, not for our sakes but just to save his political neck. But I'm guessing he wont see it that way, and obeying the oligarchs who installed him will be more important to him, so the welfare state strip mining project will continue on schedule.

Ruth Calvo, WaPo Writer Blames Public for Unemployment
via Avedon Carol.

Rob Payne, "Every Year"

"Federal Reserve's 'astounding' report: We loaned banks trillions"

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