Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chris Christie 2012

So my track record on predictions isn't that great. I famously predicted that Obama would never get the nomination, much less win the presidency, but bear with me. I have a gut feeling about this one. I mean, look at the GOP field. The current consensus is it's now between Romney and Newt and I think that's true. Despite Newt's rise in the polls, there are signs pointing to a narrow race between them that will go all the way to the convention.

Neither one of them stands a chance to beat Obama. But keeping the race to a virtual tie stands a good chance of ushering in a rare brokered convention. Enter Chris Christie. The base loves him and even liberals have on ocassion expressed admiration for his "in your face" style. He would only have to withstand a couple of months of scrutiny. Not much time to build an oppo narrative against him. And his bombastic persona speaks of a certain kind of strength in direct contrast to the "weak Obama" narrative that's been building for for years on both sides of the fence.

This comes to mind, because I saw Christie blast Obama just yesterday with this exact "weak president" meme. He surfaced briefly in the news cycle to holler, "Well, then what the hell are we paying you for?” He was blaming Obama for the Supercommittee's failure.

Meanwhile, while Ann Coulter's profanity caught some wind yesterday, more significant to me was a brief glimpse I caught of her while I was channel surfing the other night. Only caught the one remark, and don't remember it exactly, but she said something along the lines of, "If we don't get Christie to run, the game is lost."

If I was a GOP power broker, this is the strategy I would use. It could work.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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The day democracy died

I suppose you can't really pin the death of our form of democratic governance on any one event, but Charles marks the anniversary of Iran-Contra with a short history lesson on the Reagan era debacle that was certainly one of the seminal moments. Even then, it was the media who were the gatekeepers for the cover-up.

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.
A must read post, especially for those who weren't adults when this happened. It's a short, yet comprehensibe summary that lends important historical context to where we are today.

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9-9-9, We’re doing fine - Updated

Been pretty much off-line for a couple of days, so just catching up on Herman Cain's latest imbroglio. Apparently 9-9-9 may be the code for how many sexual conquests he's had, or attempted to have, outside of his marriage. Word is, Cain is reassessing his candidacy. Which isn't the same as thinking about dropping out.

The latest revelation certainly is further increasing his name recognition. Dying down a bit this morning, but Cain was winning the news cycle last night. Good for book sales, but this one may damage his brand. His latest accuser has some rather damning proof of numerous texts and whatnot, which leaves him soaking in devious denials. The base can excuse sexual harassment, hell they don't believe it exists. But lying about the affair apparently is the hill where they will abandon him.

He should have admitted the affair and asked for forgiveness from God Almighty. Base loves repentance. As this Kos diarist notes, "they're finally ditching sexual predator and wife-cheater Herman Cain to flock to their next savior: sexual predator and wife-cheater Newt Gingrich." Difference is, of course, Newt pleaded for absolution.

Frankly, I don't care about the party in Cain's pants. Not so different from any high powered player in politics or business. But it leaves me wondering why this parade of women came forward. Certainly not the work of any Dem operatives. A Cain candidacy in 2012 would be the proverbial gift that keeps on giving. And I don't think the women are doing it for money. So why subject themselves to the media circus?

I'm wondering if it was the GOP power brokers who are behind it. I mean, think about it. Cain was riding high and before all this came out, he could well have captured the nomination. Which would have been a disaster for the GOP. One assumes these women are most probably Republicans themselves. So what if some GOP operative convinced them to come forward in order to derail Herman, for the good of the party, and ostensibly for the very future of our great country? Can't think of any other reason they would do it myself.

Update: Still catching up on my reading, my guy, the inimitable Charles P. Pierce explains to Cain why it's really time to give it up.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

The Rich are Different

They don't pay taxes. Or at least they pay a lot less on their income than you do. Take for instance Ronald S. Lauder, whose net worth is estimated at more than $3.1 billion. Using a "labyrinth of trusts, limited liability corporations and holding companies," when he inherited his billions from his mother Estee, he paid "an effective rate of 16 percent — about a third of the top estate tax rate at the time."

As Sen Tom Coburn said, “This welfare for the well-off — costing billions of dollars a year — is being paid for with the taxes of the less fortunate, many who are working two jobs just to make ends meet, and i.o.u.’s to be paid off by future generations.” And generally, "The tax burden on the nation’s superelite has steadily declined in recent decades, according to a sliver of data released annually by the I.R.S. The effective federal income tax rate for the 400 wealthiest taxpayers, representing the top 0.000258 percent, fell from about 30 percent in 1995 to 18 percent in 2008, the most recent data available."

Also, they're the one's who cashed in on the deratives scam that melted our economy.
“There’s real truth to the idea that the tax code for the 1 percent is different from the tax code for the 99 percent,” said Victor Fleischer, a law professor at the University of Colorado. “Any taxpayer lucky enough to have appreciated property is usually put to a choice: cash out and pay some tax, or hold the property and risk the vagaries of the market. Only the truly rich can use derivatives to get the best of both worlds — lots of cash and very little risk.”
Sure they make a lot of charitable donations, but you and I are effectively paying for those because we pay our full share of taxes and they just don't.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

RIP Kimberly Webb Joyner

Damn grim reaper. This is so awful. James Joyner, founder of Outside the Beltway, is one of the few right wing bloggers I've been reading since the beginning of the Blogosphere . His wife unexpectedly died, leaving behind James and two very young children. She was only 41.

As I still struggle with the grief over the equally unexpected loss of my Dad these two months later, I can only imagine how much worse it is to lose a life partner so soon. Send him a comforting thought.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Who's to blame

You, my high denominator readers alreadly know these things but Barry Ritholtz destroys the GOP's big lie about the 2008 meltdown so efficiently. The bullet points make for an effective counter to the "it's the government's fault for forcing the banks to lend to those poor people who can't afford houses" fallacy you're likely to hear at holiday cocktail parties.

The most useful:
The boom and bust was global. A McKinsey Global Institute report noted “from 2000 through 2007, a remarkable run-up in global home prices occurred.”
So no causation. US policy is unlikely to have affected the international housing market. However, this is a better hypothesis for domestic causation.
Nonbank mortgage underwriting exploded from 2001 to 2007, along with the private label securitization market, which eclipsed Fannie and Freddie during the boom.

Private lenders not subject to congressional regulations collapsed lending standards. These firms had business models that could be called “Lend-in-order-to-sell-to-Wall-Street-securitizers.”

It found that more than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending.
Their default rate was much higher than regulated mortgage providers. Also the default rate in the poor, urban redline zones was much lower than in the overpriced subburbs.

As Barry says in original post:
Wall Street has its own version: Its Big Lie is that banks and investment houses are merely victims of the crash. You see, the entire boom and bust was caused by misguided government policies. It was not irresponsible lending or derivative or excess leverage or misguided compensation packages, but rather long-standing housing policies that were at fault.
Obviously, the Big Truth is the opposite narrative.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Saving my brain - Updated

I almost clicked on the always insipid McMegan because, Wall Street Journal gave her a soapbox today? Not that this should be surprising considering how far downhill the paper has slid since Rupert Murdoch got his grubby paws on it.

In any event, we're all spared from burning up any valuable grey matter on the vapid musings of Ms. McArdle. Thankfully, the gods created TBogg so I don't have to read her. And neither do you. Turns out it's just more pink Himalayan salt rubbed into the wound of our public discourse.

Update: Thanks to DougJ for kindly linking in and providing an actual quote from her post.
A few months ago, I became the proud, and slightly sheepish, owner of what must be the world’s most expensive food processor. The Thermomix costs about $1,500. It not only chops the food but weighs the ingredients and cooks them for you while stirring constantly. Perfect hollandaise and flawless béchamel can be produced in minutes with virtually no effort.
That's our Ms. McMegan. Always exerting as little effort as possible.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Everything changes

Not sure why I've been so nostalgic lately, but was just thinking last night that I'm so old, I once blogged at Pennywit. I had to find this link in the Wayback Machine. That blog is long gone and so has the blogger Pennywit disappeared from the internets.

I suppose he could still be out there, posting under another name but I don't what it is. He never called. He never wrote. Sometimes I wonder what ever happened to him. We didn't agree on much, but I liked that kid.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Centrism by any name would still smell

Just remembered that I'm so old, I once guest posted at Unity08.

Don't judge. They personally invited me to blog. They pitched it to me as a populist movement and I briefly believed them. Only put up one post before I figured what it was really about.

Not much has changed since then, except the names.

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If the Peanuts gang were Republicans at a dinner table - Updated

Move over Bad Lip Reading guy, this Charlie Brown Thanksgiving rewrite is the best mash-up ever.



[Hat tip Dependable Renegade]

Update: Unrelated to Thanksgiving, but equally brilliant, Legos Occupy News Bins. [Hat tip SoBeale.]

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Black Friday: Competitive Shopping Edition

Another Black Friday rolls in and along with the traditional tramplings of the bargain hunting shoppers, this year ushers in a new twist, deploying pepper spray to gain a competitive edge. An still unidentified woman casually spritzed the shoppers at a Walmart store in order to keep them at bay long enough to grab the best bargains ahead of the horde.

Meanwhile at various other Walmarts around the country, there were fist fights, shootings and other forms of mayhem commited by consumers intent on grabbing those $3 waffle irons and $10 Wii games.

But the pepper-spraying wasn't confined to aggressive shoppers. Off duty cops hired by Walmart were taking their crowd control duties very seriously. At one store a cop pepper-sprayed the customers and then arrested a former cop for mentioning this probably wasn't a great idea.
Gordan Jackson, 58, a former police officer in Kinston, was arrested and now faces one count of disorderly conduct. Donnie Jackson, Gordan's son, was also there. ... Jackson says he didn't do anything wrong, only that he told a police officer that children were in the area and they shouldn't be using pepper spray.

When Gordan Jackson approached an officer about spraying the crowd, the officer asked him to leave. When Gordan, who said he has a slight hearing impairment, asked for clarification of that order from the officer, he was put into cuffs.

Kinston police said they made the arrest because the man did not immediately comply with an order from an officer.
But the highlight of the day, or rather low point, was this shopper who was bodyslammed onto the concrete floor, face first for trying to save his grandson from being trampled. Apparently, the man stuck an electronic game into his waistband so he could pick up the kid. The cop slammed him into the ground to prevent him from potentially shoplifting the merchandise. Apparently no one told him it's customary to wait until the person actually tries to leave the store without paying before you assume they're stealing the item.

Capitalism at work folks. No doubt, just as the baby Jesus would have wanted. Cue the Christmas carol, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Little known facts about a well known blogger

In keeping with the holiday theme of giving thanks, I'm thankful for Mike Finnigan, whose generous linking at his Blog Round Up at Crooks and Liars launched my own little blog into the Google rankings and encouraged me to keep blogging. And I'm far from the only one. Mike's relentless kindness to lesser known bloggers is legendary.

But I never knew until now that Mike is also such a huge musical legend. I mean, I knew he was a great musician but not that he played with Hendrix, among many other illuminaries. Yet he still shaped the political internets in his spare time. Just wow. How lucky am I to count him as a friend?

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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It never gets old

As is the tradition, in honor of the holiday, the classic WKRP Thanksgiving clip. I know the segment by heart now, but it still makes me laugh every year.


Thanks to Atrios for finding the uncut version.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Brokered GOPers

I've been wondering lately if forcing a brokered convention is the real master plan of the GOP power brokers. If you look at 2008, the surprise naming of Sarah Palin to VP, and the subsequent shielding from unscripted media appearances could be considered a test run for the strategy. It almost worked. If not for the Wall Street meltdown, they might have pulled it off.

If that turns out to be the the case, I'd be willing to bet Chris Christie is the rabbit they'll pull out of the hat.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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To protect and serve

More or less says it all. Who they really work for:


Apparently, once you put it in their bank, it's their money and you better not be trying to get in there and take it out. [photo credit]

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

GOP Debate: Heritage Foundation edition

Forgot there was another Clown Down tonight. Just got back from dinner. Flipped over to the Globe's Live Blog of the GOP debate and this is the first thing I saw:
Cain, responding to question, mistakenly calls Wolf Blitzer "Blitz" instead of "Wolf."
Going to quit while I'm ahead. Can't imagine it could get any better than that.


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Outsourcing to the master

Sometimes I think I should just give it up and rename this blog, "What Charles P. Pierce Said." A couple of clips from yesterday's bloggy goodness:

About the supercommittee failure:
Kerry and the other Democratic suckers failed to realize that Republican intransigence appeals to an actual viable political constituency, while Democratic flexibility appeals to about 42 op-ed columnists and three guys with mailing lists.

So the Republicans propose "revenue increases" that include whacking the mortgage-interest deduction for middle-class homeowners at a time when foreclosures are still at high tide, but oppose actual tax increases, which they have sworn with their hands on Grover Norquist's dick to resist to their last breaths. Meanwhile, the Democrats beg for tax increases at the top end while offering to take several bites out of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. A half-bright, blind zoo animal could write the attack ads. And, at the end of it, John Kerry starts calling people making half-a-mil "middle class."
And occupy class warfare:
It is past time for actual politicians to step up here and take advantage of the obvious political potential inherent in the polling data for the issues on which the Occupy movement is agitating. It is time to stop listening to the voices who plead for calm moderation and for a cotton-candy centrism that melts at the first sign of resistance. It is time for politicians on the other side to be as fervent in their calls for economic justice as Newt Gingrich is in his calls for kiddie janitors and adolescent wage-slavery. It is time for someone — anyone — to step to a very big microphone and say that the problem with Americans is not that they are lazy, or coddled, or anesthetized by 70 years of the welfare state, or morally unmoored (Thanks, David Brooks!), but that the problem with Americans is that a bunch of expensive suits stole all their money, looted their pensions, made a mockery of their hard work, and labored for decades to develop dozens of ways to swindle them, all the while fashioning a politics that told them that the ultimate freedom was the freedom to have your pockets picked. And that the problem now, as we have said, is that people got no jobs, people got no money.

Barney Frank wonders where the Occupiers were during the elections of 2010? Give them a politics worthy of their courage and they'll show up. This does not seem to me to be a difficult problem, but it does appear possibly to be the last chance for progressive politics for an awfully long time. You don't need an $850,000 contract to see that.
Usual disclaimer. Read it all. In fact, read his whole blog every single day.
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Pepper spray blows back on the perps

Sometimes, just saying you're sorry isn't enough. Especially when it's obvious you're mostly feeling sorry for yourself. So when you pepper-spray a few peaceably assembled students practicing passive resistance, this is what happens next:



The twitter machine tells me there was somewhere between 10,000 to 15,000 at the General Assembly. Hard to judge crowds, but this wider angle suggests it was certainly thousands.

Bless the brave protesters who put themselves in harm's way on the front lines. The harder the authorities crack down, the bigger the movement grows. [photo credit, photo credit]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose

Of course, I don't agree with every single thing David Frum says in this heart-wrenching plea to the GOP but he does make a couple of points worth noting.

Extremism and conflict make for bad politics but great TV. Over the past two decades, conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment. An industry has grown up to serve that segment—and its stars have become the true thought leaders of the conservative world. The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel). As a commercial proposition, this model has worked brilliantly in the Obama era. As journalism, not so much. As a tool of political mobilization, it backfires, by inciting followers to the point at which they force leaders into confrontations where everybody loses, like the summertime showdown over the debt ceiling.

But the thought leaders on talk radio and Fox do more than shape opinion. Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics. ...

In the aftershock of 2008, large numbers of Americans feel exploited and abused. Rather than workable solutions, my party is offering low taxes for the currently rich and high spending for the currently old, to be followed by who-knows-what and who-the-hell-cares. This isn’t conservatism; it’s a going-out-of-business sale for the baby-boom generation.
Frum fails to note this has been the master plan for decades. Only now do the Republicans feel safe in stating it overtly since they've succeeded so well in supplanting the concept of fellow Americans against the evils of the world with a firmly wedged partisan divide that pits Americans versus the evils within. Which is now defined as anybody who doesn't agree with them. And it doesn't hurt that they built a full fledged media appartus in the interim that not only excuses their obstructionism, it celebrates and reveres it.

Ironically, Frum is free to make these points because he has been banished from the hallowed halls of "true conservatives" for daring to challenge the agreed upon narrative in the first place. Sadly, for the same reason, none of them will listen to him.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Something to cheer about

Damn straight, this lefty is cheering the collapse of the Supercomittee. It was a stupid idea, designed to attack the wrong problem and "success" for the Supercomittee would have been a disaster for the middle class, or as we're calling ourselves now, the 99%.

Also, even if the establishment media ignores it in favor of their comfy "both sides are guilty" narrative, the reason for the failure is crystal clear no matter how hard the apologists try to spin it. As Greg Sargent so succinctly sums it up:
"Here’s why the supercommittee is failing, in one sentence: Democrats wanted the rich to pay more in taxes towards deficit reduction, and Republicans wanted the rich to pay less in taxes towards deficit reduction."
And by less, the Republicans meant much less. Their "concession" was to permanently lower the top tier tax rate even further to 28% and force the Dems to take responsibility for cruel cuts to the social safety net. Which we all know the GOPers would use as an attack tactic against them in 2012.

As I said in my DetNews post, "This was never a good faith negotiation. This was just another attempt at hostage taking by the GOP. Gratefully, it appears the Democrats called their bluff this time and refused to pay the ransom. Good. No deal is better than yet another bad deal."

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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The New Poor

Once they had it all. A good and comfortable life with a rosy future that stretched into forever after. Today, increasingly, the formerly well off are filing into food banks as in this story about a wealthy enclave in the burbs of Atlanta. And who are the new poor in Forsyth County? People who as recently as two years thought it would be impossible.
People like these married retirees in their 70s, too embarrassed to appear on camera. They said they could not feed themselves now without help.

They retired comfortably in their early 50s. But now, after bad investments, a ruined portfolio, and costly medical issues, they qualify for food stamps - and could lose the house.

"Taking the food was really tough," the woman said. "The hard part was, we used to give it, and now I'm taking it back, you know?" she said, crying.
Don't mistake these people for the nearly poor who have always lingered on the edges of poverty, no matter how hard they worked. This new class of poor are the only the front line of the former comfortably secure, now engulfed by the tidal wave of income inequality. Unless something is done to stem the tide of corporate greed, their numbers will surely grow.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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And the beat goes on

Former poet laureate of the United States, Robert Hass tells the story of his beat down at the hands of California law enforcement:
Earlier that day a colleague had written to say that the campus police had moved in to take down the Occupy tents and that students had been “beaten viciously.” I didn’t believe it. In broad daylight? And without provocation? So when we heard that the police had returned, my wife, Brenda Hillman, and I hurried to the campus. I wanted to see what was going to happen and how the police behaved, and how the students behaved. If there was trouble, we wanted to be there to do what we could to protect the students.

Once the cordon formed, the deputy sheriffs pointed their truncheons toward the crowd. It looked like the oldest of military maneuvers, a phalanx out of the Trojan War, but with billy clubs instead of spears. The students were wearing scarves for the first time that year, their cheeks rosy with the first bite of real cold after the long Californian Indian summer. The billy clubs were about the size of a boy’s Little League baseball bat. My wife was speaking to the young deputies about the importance of nonviolence and explaining why they should be at home reading to their children, when one of the deputies reached out, shoved my wife in the chest and knocked her down.

My wife bounced nimbly to her feet. I tripped and almost fell over her trying to help her up, and at that moment the deputies in the cordon surged forward and, using their clubs as battering rams, began to hammer at the bodies of the line of students. It was stunning to see. They swung hard into their chests and bellies. Particularly shocking to me — it must be a generational reaction — was that they assaulted both the young men and the young women with the same indiscriminate force. If the students turned away, they pounded their ribs. If they turned further away to escape, they hit them on their spines.

NONE of the police officers invited us to disperse or gave any warning. We couldn’t have dispersed if we’d wanted to because the crowd behind us was pushing forward to see what was going on. The descriptor for what I tried to do is “remonstrate.” I screamed at the deputy who had knocked down my wife, “You just knocked down my wife, for Christ’s sake!” A couple of students had pushed forward in the excitement and the deputies grabbed them, pulled them to the ground and cudgeled them, raising the clubs above their heads and swinging. The line surged. I got whacked hard in the ribs twice and once across the forearm.
Those are just excerpts. Chilling story. Read it all at the link. But a charming ending.
On Thursday afternoon when I returned toward sundown to the steps to see how the students had responded, the air was full of balloons, helium balloons to which tents had been attached, and attached to the tents was kite string. And they hovered over the plaza, large and awkward, almost lyrical, occupying the air.


[photo credit]

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

The silent shaming

More powerful than the loudest chanting. UC Davis Chancellor Katehi leaves the building.



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Who are these Occupy protesters?

The pictures are dramatic:


But the photo doesn't tell the whole story. Meet Elizabeth Nichols, another pepper spray victim of law enforcement run amok.
...Elizabeth Nichols, a 20-year-old originally from Arkansas who moved to the West Coast about six months ago and made her way from Seattle to Portland a month later. Her mother, Annie Nichols, said after the photo was taken, police threw Elizabeth to the ground and arrested her. Annie, who is housebound with multiple sclerosis, said Elizabeth joined Occupy Wall Street because of her parents' dire situation. "I have no medical care. I'm not eligible. My husband's disabled ... We live on one disability check. No, we don't live. We exist. Lizzie knows this. That's why she's doing this." Elizabeth, whose mug shot is posted at left, wasn't always an activist, Annie said. "She never took part in anything like this. Of course, it's Arkansas. There isn't a lot of that here." The Portland Police Bureau website says Elizabeth was charged with second-degree trespassing.
I'm sure we can all agree that such a heinous crime as "second-degree trespassing" justifies a face full of toxic chemicals delivered by the hand of those who swear to "serve and protect" the public.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Nearly poor

So they redid some census stats, using much better cost of living metrics. Much to their surprise they discovered there are millions of poor people in the United States.
All told, that places 100 million people — one in three Americans — either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it.
They're calling them the "near poor." People who make just a little more than the official poverty level and when you factor in their cost of living, it's damn little. Shockingly, the Heritage Foundation disapproves of this designation. They feel it overstates their quality of life. After all, they're not actually starving. And don't forget they own refrigerators and cell phones. But moving back to the study:
Perhaps the most surprising finding is that 28 percent work full-time, year round. “These estimates defy the stereotypes of low-income families,” Ms. Renwick said.
You can bet most of the rest of the "near poor" are working part time year round as well. Because that's the only kind of job they can get. Those would be the really nearly poor, who also qualify for some social safety net assistance. Like Walmart employees. But wait, we have more surprises:
Another surprising finding is that only a quarter of the near poor are insured.
Shocked. Shocked to learn that people who are struggling to make ends meet for the bare necessities of life can't afford to pay exorbitant rates for private health insurance. Who would have thought?

News flash for all those on the fainting couch over these shocking statistics. These people have always existed and have nearly always been ignored. In the old days, we called them "the working poor." Don't make enough to get ahead, but make too much to qualify for social safety net assistance, which they're mostly too proud to take, even if they did qualify.

I know these people. Hell, I've been these people off and on in the course of my long life. This is the long standing reality for millions of Americans:
“Living paycheck to paycheck,” is how she describes her survival strategy. “One bad bill will wipe you out." [...]

Ms. Sheppard pays $2,000 in rent and says her employer classifies her as part time to avoid offering her health insurance, even though she works 40 hours a week. Unable to buy it on her own, she crosses her fingers and tries to stay healthy.

“I try to work as many hours as I can, but my salary, it’s not enough for everything,” she said. “I pay my bills with very small wiggle room. Or none.”
But Republicans say she should be paying more of civil society's costs so the ultra-wealthy "job creators" can keep more of their "own" money. This is the future most of our young people can look forward to. But still, the very serious people can't figure out why the Occupy movement protests.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Pepper sprayed student speaks out

This is the must read of the day. One of the UC Davis students who was savagely attacked with pepper spray gives an eyewitness account:
So, everyone removed the tents, and they were in the process of arresting more people. A collective decision was made on the fly to just sit in a circle arms linked legs crossed, with police officers and "prisoners" in the middle because we didn't want them arresting only 3 of us. It wasn't fair that 50 of us were there, and only a few arrested who hadn't volunteered to be arrested. There was still one walkway open that the police were going to use to walk the arrestees out. I saw some friends of mine sit down there, and they were my friends, so I joined them. We linked arms, legs crossed.

We were never warned that we were going to be pepper-sprayed.

Lt. Pike walked up to my friend, and I am told that he said, "Move or we're going to shoot you."

Then he went back and talked to a few of his police officer friends. A couple of other officers started to remove people who were sitting there, blocking exit. Pike could have easily removed us, just picked us up and removed us. We were just sitting there, nonviolent civil disobedience.

But Pike turned around and I am told that he said to the other officers, "Don't worry about it, I'm going to spray these kids down."

He lifts the can, spins it around in a circle to show it off to everybody.

Then he sprays us three times.

As if one time of being sprayed at point blank wasn't enough.

I was on the end of the line getting direct spray. When the second pass came, I got up crawling. I crawled away and vomited on a tree. I was yelling. It burned. Within a few minutes I was dry heaving, I couldn't breathe. Then, over the course of the next hour, I was dry heaving and vomiting.
Much more and many new photos at the link. Also useful to know Officer Pike "used military grade pepper spray" at point blank range on these students. "It's supposed to be used at a minimum of 15 feet." [graphic via]

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Regulating Free Speech

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi makes a statement about the horrifying attack on the peaceably assembled students at her university.
“We take this responsibility seriously,” Katehi wrote. “We are accountable for what occurs on our campus. Campus policies generously support free speech, but do included limited time, place and manner regulations to protect health, safety and the ability of students, staff and faculty to accomplish the university mission.”
This is so wrong on so many levels. Limiting free speech to "time and manner regulations" means it's not free. Restriciting dissent to only specific zones and only at specific times is not a generous policy. It's a subversion of free expression. The university must of course be concerned for the safety of all of its students and faculty, but it's impossible to see how the pitching of a few tents endangered anyone.

This didn't just happen this week, or this year. There's been a growing trend on campuses nationwide, especially since 9/11, to cage free expression in narrow, and often literally caged in, free speech zones. Absent a clear and present threat to bodily safety, this seems to me to be a direct violation of not only the spirit, but also the letter of long standing law.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Police attack passive protesters

The media insist on describing every interaction between law enforcement officers and Occupy protesters as confrontations. This was not a confrontation. This was an unprovoked attack by police against passive protesters.


Look at the videos:





It's clear the cop sprayed these kids directly in the face because he told them to move and they decided to engage in the time honored practice of passive resistance. The police were free to simply remove them physically. There was no need to spray them with a toxic substance as if they were nothing more than a swarm of pesky insects.

The police defend this needless attack, citing fear:
UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza said officers used force out of concern for their own safety after they were surrounded by students.

“If you look at the video you are going to see that there were 200 people in that quad,” said Chief Spicuzza. “Hindsight is 20-20 and based on the situation we were sitting in, ultimately that was the decision that was made.”
By all means, watch the long version video. The police weren't surrounded until after they pepper sprayed defenseless students. The police were armed with high powered guns. The students were not armed with anything but their voices. The students made no menacing moves towards the police. And pay special attention to the pepper spraying cop in these videos. Even as the police are leaving, he's still obviously agitated and brandishing the pepper spray can in a threatening manner. It appears to me, his fellow officers are urging him to back down.

And by the way, this is the "huge encampment" that the university considers such a threat to the learning environment. This necessitated an armed police response? Really? [Many more photos at the link.]


Meanwhile, though I didn't see it on the video, there are reports of students injured by being pepper sprayed directly into the mouth and Joshua Holland of AlterNet reports, "One of those UC Davis students, a brave young woman, was reportedly hospitalized w chemical burns."

Similar incidents are happening all over the country where concerned citizens are exercising their right to peaceably assemble in protest. This is not what democracy looks like. It does however pretty well fit the description of a police state.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

The Whole World is Watching

While I found the earlier confrontations on Occupy action day a bit disturbing, the march across the Brooklyn Bridge last evening was perfect. Peacefully conducted and incredibly heartening. I'm sorry I can't find any captures of the aerial livestream done by the local Fox affiliate last night. The endless line of 99%ers with flickering votive candles was simply breathtaking. Sadly, if Fox archived it, I can't find it. Their permanent coverage seems to be all about the "stand offs" with the police earlier in the day.

But the iconic moment of the march is surely what is being widely being called the "bat signal."


Or we should say bat signals since there was a long set of projections. The back story on how they pulled the bat signals off attests to the growing strength of the movement. Every day they build solidarity as evidenced by the woman, a poor single mother of three, who let these strangers into her apartment and refused to take money she most probably needs because "this is for the people." [If you don't have time to watch the video, some stills of the projections are here.]

And by people, I don't mean just the "angry" and "ragged" protesters our US media carefully targets in their coverage. The foreign press manages to interview well dressed, working New Yorkers who braved the dark and the cold to march across the bridge. In fact, the crowd that swelled across Foley Square prior to the march appear to be largely populated by well dressed people who support the movement but aren't in the park every day because they have jobs they can't afford to lose.

May the "bat signal" be prophetic. "This is the beginning of the beginning."

[More coverage at Gothamist and photo credit.]

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

The kids are not alright - Updated 2X

In fact, the kids are damn angry. They have a right to be. Their future has been stolen by the new century robber barons on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms all over the world. This is why they OccupyEverywhere.

I'm glad they are taking their message to the streets instead of just bitching on the social internets to each other. Their plight needs a human face to personify the victims of government sanctioned greed. But Charles is right, it does their cause no good if they act out their anger in scenes of mayhem. If it ends like this, then it will all have been for nothing.

I support this movement, but when I see video of protesters screaming at cops who are just standing there, wagging fingers in their face and deliberately provoking confrontations, then they start to lose me. And if they're losing me, then they're not winning over any converts. As I said on Twitter yesterday, the angry vibe is ruining the peaceably assembled motif.

Update: All that being said, this live stream of the march on Brooklyn Bridge at 7:25 tonight is breathtaking. This is a powerful, and peaceful, statement. Awesome.

Update two: And these 99% projections. Brilliant. Twitter machine telling me people cheering, cars honking for that one. And police scanner eavesdroppers saying 32.5 thousand are marching. Peaceably. This makes me unreasonably happy.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Tim Pool - A star is born

Building a bit on the last post, law enforcement is trying to control the optics by keeping the established media from covering the crack downs. But they've been thwarted by technology. More specifically by a kid from Chicago with a cell phone who live streamed from NYC non-stop for 16 hours. And it's not even high-tech.
The quality of his video stream -- both in content and technology -- is surprisingly good. And the simplicity of his gear can't be beat. He's using a Samsung Galaxy S2 on Sprint's 4G network to stream video, using the onboard camera and microphone to record, and connecting the phone to a small but powerful backup battery. If you want to know, it’s an "Energi to Go" 18,000 battery produced by Energizer which provides 18,000 milliamp hours (roughly 10 cell phone charging cycles). When his backup battery drained dangerously low, he put out a plea for help on his stream and received two more donated batteries.
And thanks to social media, Tim Pool's stream instantly delivered unfiltered, on the scene footage that echoed around the globe.

Enjoy the moment. Somehow I feel certain that even as you read this, the government and corporate gatekeepers of public information are devising ways to shut this sort of thing down.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Messing with the media

Journalists like to think of, and mostly comport themselves as above the fray observers. But now that law enforcement is targeting media who cover the protests it's becoming personal. With the arrest count now at 27, you can see a subtle change in the narrative as obviously credentialed journalists are busted.

Even the ultra-right wing Daily Caller is suddenly more sympathetic when their own people get roughed up by the cops.

Thinking it would be really ironic if brutal police suppression of dissent, and now of the press, is what finally brings liberal and conservative activists into an alliance.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Romney wiped out his electronic trail

Hmm. How does that old saw go again? If they have nothing to hide...
Just before Mitt Romney left the Massachusetts governor’s office and first ran for president, 11 of his top aides purchased their state-issued computer hard drives, and the Romney administration’s e-mails were all wiped from a server, according to interviews and records obtained by the Globe. [...]

All told, 11 Romney administration officials bought 17 hard drives from the governor’s office, paying $65 for each one, according to copies of canceled checks that they wrote and members of the current administration. Many of the aides wrote “equipment’’ or “hard drives’’ in the memo space on their checks.
Current governor Deval Patrick's office advises, “The governor’s office has found no e-mails from 2002-2006 in our possession.’’ Apparently this isn't illegal but you might think someone planning to run for President wouldn't be erasing the public record if they were proud of it.

Feeling a little deja vu here, recalling the missing Bush era emails.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Perry picks a fight -- with Pelosi - Updated

Maybe he forgot which office he's running for? I mean, Pelosi and POTUS do both start with a "P." But for whatever reason, Rick Perry challenged Nancy Pelosi to a debate.

Pelosi's response was priceless:
"He did ask if I could debate here in Washington on Monday. It is my understanding that such a letter has come in. Monday I'm going to be in Portland in the morning, I'm going to be visiting some of our labs. I'm in California in the afternoon, that's two. I can't remember what the third is."
Ricky wants to debate his pledge to take a wrecking ball to our system of government, wherein he would make Congress part time, cut their salaries and abolish lifetime federal bench appointments among other things. Guess he also forgot that Congress already only works part-time. [Fangirl link to Charles P Pierce's take on that plan here.]

But even, giving Perry the benefit of pretending debating a Congressperson instead of his opponents for POTUS makes sense, shouldn't he be debating the current Speaker, John Boehner, instead of the House Minority Leader?

Almost feel sorry for the guy. Obviously, he's so desperate to recoup his former frontrunner status, he's hoping tapping into the base's Pelosi Derangement Syndrome will win him some support in the early primaries. Kind of pathetic.

Update: Now in video:



[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

D'oh

Am I the only one who reads this stuff and wonders if Cain did a brain exchange with Homer Simpson? Or is this some kind of 9-9-9 three card monte to win the news cycle? This is what Cain said to the media riding on his campaign bus.
"I'm not supposed to know anything about foreign policy. Just thought I'd throw that out."
To put it into greater context, he then followed up with:
"I want to talk to commanders on the ground. Because you run for president (people say) you need to have the answer. No, you don't! No, you don't! That's not good decision-making," said Cain.
Of course. How obvious. That whole "3:00am phone call" question is so 2008. True leadership is delegating decisions to unelected bureaucrats those conservatives are so fond of. And this only hours after Cain's Rick Perry moment on Libya.

Beginning to believe he really doesn't want to win so much as build his brand. The VP slot would work for that. In a way, he's the VP Sarah Palin should have been. Equally clueless, but Herman is comfortingly jolly instead of stridently hateful. And my theory that he and Newt struck a deal during that "Lincoln/Douglas debate" is still valid.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Desperate times call for desperate measures

Ronnie Reagan's commandment is officially as dead as he is now. Apparently the new battle cry in the internecine wars is, "take no prisoners." Michele Bachmann goes all in with new attack ad.



Ye shall know the true contenders by those who have been subjected to her fearsome gaze.

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Happy Blogiversary

A belated Happy 10th Blogiversary to Avedon, one of my very favorite people on the internets. She was one of my earliest supporters and remains a joy and an inspiration to me all these years later.

If you're not reading her every day, you certainly should be and now you can also hear her regularly on Jay Ackroyd's radio program, Virtually Speaking.

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Oh what's a few zeros among friends - Updated 2X

At the last GOP debate Newt Gingrich claimed he only made $300K in his capacity as a "historian" for Freddie Mac. It appears Newt's a little off on those numbers:
Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement.
Can't figure out if Republicans don't yet realize the internet exists and they can't lie about recorded history without getting caught or if they just assume their Fox fed base is too insulated from the real world to ever see the truth.

Update: Hit publish too fast. Apparently, Newt squares the inconsistency by qualifying the additional money as a "fee for “strategic advice." And by the way, Newt's consulting gig lasted for 8 years.

Late Update: Thanks to Think Progress for rounding up more of Newt's "not technically lobbyist" gigs.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ain't your Grandaddy's America anymore

I suppose it wasn't universal, but I remember a time when this poster, at least in white middle class America, pretty well depicted the police presence in Anytown, USA. Police officers then were more or less in "protect and serve" mode rather than "control and intimidate." Far cry from where we are now, a half century later.

The face of today's law enforcement ever more often looks like this:


And this. And this. And then read Greg Mitchell's OccupyUSA live blog where he has been relentlessly curating links, practically 24/7, since day one.

Of course this didn't start with the Occupy movement. It's the reult of a stealthy and steady encroachment on our civil rights under the cover of the war on some drugs, and the war on some terrorists. Sold to the people as necessary for their protection.

Anybody feeling safer yet? Me neither. [Graphic via. Photo via.]

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Why I love Charles P. Pierce: reason 3,247

My mad crush on Charles continues unabated because the same things piss us off:
Dear Politico:

Most of the people you are citing in this piece are not "moderate" Democrats. They are "conservative Democrats." That doesn't make them Republicans, necessarily, but it doesn't make them "moderate," either, if that word has any meaning.
I said something similar in this post but, of course, nobody listens to me. They'll listen to Charles. So there's that..

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Life's Little Mysteries - Updated

This blipped across the radar screen this morning. I would like to know the answer to this myself.

Why Is China Building These Gigantic Structures In the Middle of the Desert?

Of course, the question assumes China is building this stuff. For all we know it may be a Christo art project. Or maybe it's aliens from outerspace. Kind of reminds me of those Nazca Lines in Peru.

Hope somebody figures it out. I'm curious now.

On a related note, am the only one who didn't know that the Easter Island heads have full bodies? Hard to believe, after all the years they've been studied, that no one thought to check this before now.

Very late update: As usual, there appears to be a mundane explanation for many of those giant constructions in China. Kind of sad. I love a good mystery.
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

GOP debate, Number: too many already - Updated

I only half listened to the "Commander-in-Chief," a/k/a the Parade of Clowns, debate last night. For me, the best moment was when they cut to NCIS. That show is a million times realistic than the hapless fools populating the stage in South Carolina.

It's not even worth reviewing their answers. At this point they're just rewording the standard Tea Party talking points, striving mightily to out-extreme each other. And to the extent that some, (Huntsman and Ron Paul,) made a fleeting bit of sense, well it was drowned out by the death knell for their campaigns.

I will say though, the thing that terrifies me the most about these clowns is that one of them will actually be running for POTUS in just a few months. And even more frightening, no matter who it is, there are people who will vote for them. These would be the same people who cheered waterboarding last night, booed an active duty soldier in Iraq for being gay and heartily applauded allowing a fellow citizen to be condemned to death for failure to afford health insurance at earlier debates.

It's enough to make you wish the Mayans are right.

Update: Just in case you thought I was exaggerating, here's the video proof the audience cheered waterboarding at this GOP debate.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's a Tax!

By Capt. Fogg


The War on Christmas, like the 'Black Friday' sales, began early this year. Faced with the growing difficulty of explaining how paying the Bush Administrations bills makes Obama a spendthrift and how asking for a smaller stimulus package makes him more reckless than Bush while all the time being a communist, Mau-Mau, Fascist, do-nothing tyrant, the need for ever more idiotic distraction generates the need to elevate even more mole-hills to Himalayan proportions. So this year, it's no longer about how that Muslim Obama and those damned Jews and atheists are at war with Christmas, it's about how that damned tax-tyrant Obama is making us pay more for it ( and costing us jobs. ) Welcome to the new act in the Republican circus: the Christmas Tree Tax.

The Christmas Tree Promotion, Research and Information Order, which was first proposed during the administration of President George W. Bush in response to the yapping of agricultural lobbyist Christmas Tree Promotion Now, gave the President authority to add a 15 cent charge to every tree to be used to advertise and promote Christmas trees. The government will not use these funds, the Christmas tree growers will use the money collected from retailers to promote further sales with the intention, or excuse that increased sales will more than offset the cost. It's kind of a capitalist idea, Republican style -- you know, like the $80 million-a-year beef promotion order imposed during the Reagan administration, or the $8 million-a-year peanut promotion order imposed during the Bush administration. But we're not talking about St Ronald or St George, we're talking about that anti-colonial Kenyan/Indonesian killer of African Christians who hates Christmas and white people.

It's a TAX! scream the headlines and the banshee bloggers. How can we expect anyone to hear the whisper of "it's capitalism" from the rational rest of us? Obama Couldn’t Wait: His New Christmas Tree Tax, howls the headline at The Foundry, the blustery blog of the Heritage Foundation hammering out their daily dumps of hammered, beaten, twisted and red hot baloney. Will there be another headline informing us that the President reconsidered the Bush program and cancelled it?

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Check that mic check

After yet another huge round of huzzahs on the twitter machine, I checked out one of these mic checks the Occupy people have been doing at Republican town halls. I didn't feel like cheering. Frankly, I cringed. Sure it was done with positive intention, and vaguely more respectful, but it reminded me of nothing so much as the Tea Party mobs that disrupted Democratic town halls in the summer of health care reform.

I've been trying to articulate my thoughts on this without sounding like a scoldy schoolmarm, but since he's already done it better, I'm outsourcing my discomfort to Charles P. Pierce:
Which is only part of the reason why I'd recommend that the Occupy people stay away from activities like Thursday's action at Michele Bachmann's speech in South Carolina. In the most pragmatic sense, things like that are useless. They give Bachmann a chance to wax nobly on behalf of everyone's right to free speech, while changing no minds in the hall because there are no minds to change. (Least of all Bachmann's, which you couldn't change with mind-expanding drugs and the cast of The Manchurian Candidate brought out of retirement.) Heckling Michele Bachmann is a pointless waste of breath.

Moreover, the optics are terrible. Part of the reason the Tea Party Movement is as generally unpopular as it has become is that people got sick of seeing every town-hall meeting turned into a geriatric production of West Side Story. And before anyone makes the argument about the 2010 midterms, let's remember that the Tea Party had large-scale corporate logistical power behind it, as well as the unblinking support of one entire television "news" channel, both of which were enough to intimidate "serious" journalists into giving the Tea Party the benefit of vastly unearned doubts. The Occupy movement has none of that. In fact, all that power and influence is pretty much arrayed against it at this point. That makes all the difference. Continuing to interrupt the banal little ceremonies of the 2012 election process is futile and cannot end well.
As Charles points out, the silent witness speaks so much louder than a cacophony of slogans shouted in a crowded room. The tents make a powerful statement without saying a word. Let them speak to the greater issues that threaten to tear civil society to shreds and leave the instant politics of the moment out of it.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Friday, November 11, 2011

2000 Light Years from Home

It's another one of those nights when I have so much to say, I can't say anything. Except this.





Presently, I'm wandering somewhere within the space between those two worlds. The same, but different. Sound is better in the first one. Video in the live version so captures the essence of that moment in time.

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Cain in it to win it

Despite the best efforts of the Village Pundits to make it so, the reports of the death of Herman Cain's campaign continue to be greatly exaggerated. Sure his poll numbers are dropping but he's still the leading jokester in the clown car.

His base doesn't appear to care about the harassment charges. The question about it was booed down at the last debate. And think he's going to lose ground with these people for tapping into the Pelosi Derangement Syndrome? Hell, they cheered the "Princess Nancy" crack. In fact they thought it wasn't nasty enough.

Post debate, the fans gave Cain a rousing cheer at a campaign stop in the Tea Party enclaves of Michigan. And yeah, those folks love them some Anita Hill jokes.

And as the saying goes, follow the money. The campaign claims Cain's fundraising surged past $9 million with over a million in just one day. They did step back a notch though, and changed the imagery. Guess they realize you can take that unconventional schtick a little too far.

Meanwhile, I didn't find this Mike Tyson parody of Cain as funny as the entire rest of the world apparently did, but I've long maintained mockery only solidifies support in these circles.

No, I don't think Cain can win in the in the general election, and a year is a long time in politics, but so far nothing has convinced me that he can't win the GOP nomination. With due respect to Intrade, I'm still giving him 999-1 odds.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Rick Perry heading for the bright lights

Everyone has been having fun with Rick Perry's brain freeze at the last GOP debate. In case you were stuck on a deserted island with no internet access, this will surely be remembered for as long as there is an internet:



In my world they call those "senior moments." I suppose from this day forward many of us will be calling them "Rick Perry moments" instead.

Lot of speculation pondering if this spells the end of Perry's candidacy. That of course, presumes he ever had a viable shot at the nomination. Far as I can tell, his candidacy ended weeks ago. Which could also be said for most of the field.

So why don't they drop out, you ask? Silly readers. Running for president is the new audition for show biz. Perry rocks the house on Letterman last night. Check out his presentation on the Top Ten Rick Perry Excuses.

Most candidates appear to be aspiring for a pundit gig on Fox News. Clearly Perry isn't equipped for the punditry biz, but it looks like he has a bright future as a stand up comic.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Senate squashes Rand Paul EPA attack bill

A rare piece of good news from the Senate today. They "blocked Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) bid to kill new EPA power plant pollution rules."
In a 41-56 vote, lawmakers thwarted Paul’s resolution to overturn the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which requires curbs in smog and particulate-forming pollution from plants in 27 states in the eastern half of the country.
Glad to see that go down but this bit from The Hill drives me crazy.
Six Republicans voted with Democrats against the resolution. Centrist Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) joined Republicans in voting to overturn the rule.
They're not centrists dammit. They're flat out, way right of center, conservatives. They're Democrats of convenience. Not because of any attachment to the ideological roots of the Democratic party.

And another thing that drives me to drink. When Obama backed down on the EPA ozone standards in September, all the emo-progs exploded into a fury of indignation. Now the Dems are actually working to protect the environment and neither the maniac progressives, nor the leading lights of the lefty on-line media are talking about it. They're too busy coming up with "Oops" jokes today.

This is one reason why we can't move the damn window.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Don't Count Cain Out

I didn't see the presser last night that the twitter machine dubbed the #CainWreck. The consensus was this spelled the ultimate fail for the Cain campaign. But I'm still not ready to write him off so quickly.

The man is brazen. He lies with aplomb. I watched Cain's interview with Jon Karl earlier in the day and he didn't look like a guy ready to quit. And he made one point that convinced me he's still in it to win it. His name recognition has gone to 11. Or as he put it, "99.9, like Ivory Soap okay?" As the old saw goes, no such thing as bad publicity as long as they spell your name right.

He clearly thinks he can ride this scandal out. I'm not sure he's wrong. Certainly, Cain has a savvy digital team.
Instead of the most recent news report popping up at the top of search results on Wednesday, the campaign for the Republican presidential candidate paid for search results to produce an ad with links to a new website, www.CainTruth.com, devoted to defending Mr. Cain and telling his side of the story.

Promising to help “bypass the media filter,” the new website’s banner headline reads: “Get The Truth About Herman Cain.” One of the posts, published on Wednesday, is titled: “Media obsessed with nonsense; the voters and I are not.” In the post, Mr. Cain explains that he is a “serious person” and that he is not going to abide by the rules that the media sets on how you have to play.
He's winning the social media. He "added 15,000 new Facebook fans last week, six times as fast as Mr. Romney." Even if half of those are lefties looking for snark fodder, it's still impressive. And he's blitzing Google Ads and twitter today with his "999K on Nov. 9 for Iowa" internet fundraiser.

In these jaded times, not sure what number of victims it takes before Cain hits the critical limit of cognitive dissonance in his base, but I don't think he's hit it yet. By all appearances, he doesn't think so either.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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House calls


I've become enamored lately with the House Floor Summary page. It's a fascinating look at the "work" of the House if you have the patience to deal with its extreme user unfriendliness.

By user unfriendly, I mean you have to click through multiple pages to get to the information you want and at the same time the page refreshes regularly and kicks you back to a previous screen, whether or not they're actually even in session. And if you try to backtrack, it kicks you to the start page. You also can't link to a sub-page that's say, five clicks deep. But you can learn a lot more than our elite journalists are telling you if you persist.

I did the long version of the House This Week at the DetNews, so click over if you want the details. Short version. After their impressive work in reaffirming that yes, our national motto is still, "In God We Trust," they managed to pass a bill authorizing DHS and State to come up with a program to issue "Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards" and another to "facilitate the hosting in the United States of the 34th America's Cup" yacht race.

I'm sure you're as relieved as I am that these urgent matters have been addressed so promptly. Clearly, these people are worth every penny of the $174K+ that we pay them every year. [photo credit ABC News.]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Assault in Zucotti Park

Gracious, but the far right keyboardists appear to be getting desperate to make villians of the OWS protesters. National Review floats a splashy header, "Hobbyist Photographer Assaulted in Zucotti Park." Watching the video of the return to the scene of the crime and listening to the hapless victim quiz the OWS spokeskid, I was struck a couple of things.

First, the crowd milling around the park behind him looked remarkably peaceful and free of hot headed hippies ready to punch anyone carrying a camera in the nose. Two, the guy is a "hobbyist photographer." He had a camera with him and didn't get a single shot of his assailant, whom he claims was still around when he reported it to the cops? No photos of blood pouring down his face at the scene? Or of the ambulance that was called to treat him? Not even one shot of anything before he was allegedly so brutally assaulted?

So, curiousity piqued, I do the quick Google search. Bruce Fancher is a rather unusual name. There only appears to one in NYC. So I'm wondering, is this the same Bruce Fancher in a 2002 video interview? Which would be this Bruce Fancher, former member of the legendary Legion of Doom hacker group. And is it the same Bruce Fancher who contributed money to McCain and the RNC in 2008?

Just curious. Looks like same guy to me. What do you think?

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Elective Dictatorship or Leadership?

By Capt. Fogg

Ron Paul, I like you - I really do. I like it when you denounce our military adventurism and imperial urges. I share your distaste for prosecuting harmless, consensual acts and I don't think either of us like having a government dictate morality according to some chosen religious standards.

I couldn't agree more that we need to keep the governmental nose out of our personal choices that don't infringe on other people's rights. I think we have an inherent right to be left alone too, but when you assert that that same government can force a woman to continue a pregnancy I find it inconsistent. When you proclaim that President Obama is overstepping his presidential powers by taking action to end a dangerous drug shortage, I'm confused. I'm disappointed. Market forces alone aren't going to induce drug companies to make unprofitable products that some people need to stay alive and if they eventually do, it won't be soon enough for someone's mother or sister or child. There are times when the the noli me tangere market approach does not serve the public interest and times when human life is more important than the sanctity of inflexible doctrine.

Yes, I agree that our government was designed to move slowly, for inaction to be the default action as you said yesterday. I even agree that there is an invisible hand in the market, but I cannot understand how you can ignore the sometimes dire consequences of such slow moving or inert systems in a world that moves at a rate inconceivable in 1789.

Sure, eventually drug shortages will tend to rectify because of market forces. 'Tend to' and 'eventually' are expensive words however and the price is often paid in death and suffering. A car tends to steer itself in a straight line, but you know, sometimes someone has to grab the wheel if staying alive is a consideration.

I have to ask you how much needless death and suffering are you willing to force us all to endure to gild the vision of a withered and minimal state where things move only by themselves and the making of money is the only test of righteousness?

Dictatorship? Seriously? Isn't that a bit like calling the guy who pulls your kid out of a well a kidnapper because he didn't apply to Congress in advance through proper channels?

I believe in Democracy as much as you do and perhaps more. I mistrust radical change and I lean toward Libertarianism in many things, but unlike you, I do not belief in faith over fact. If there is a plague, if a dam breaks -- if that asteroid that passed close to us this morning had landed in Texas, I want someone to grab the steering wheel without having his hands tied by doctrines soaked in the tea of Utopian visions.

I have to ask "why now?" Were you as firm in protest of our previous president's extra-legal activities? The signing statements, the treaty breaking, the torture, the illegal search and seizure and surveillance? The wars that have killed hundreds of thousands, destroyed millions of lives and wasted trillions of dollars? Of course you didn't approve and neither did I, but there is a difference between an asteroid and a sand grain. Are we really confusing necessary course corrections with wanton disrespect for law, due process and freedom?

Why now? Or are you just jumping on the Obama Bashing Band Wagon because you're more of a loyal Republican and less interested in doing what needs to be done before too many people die than you'd like to admit?

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Herman Cain not the only groper

I assume by now you're heard the prurient details of Herman Cain's unwanted sexual contact with Ms. Bialek. Thanks to the involvement of "celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred" we can be assured this story will dominate the news cycle for the foreseeable future.

Indeed, such is the speed of the internet today that literally within minutes, the tubes were crammed with commentary analyzing "what it all means." Why did she come forward? Is she credible? Will her lawyer help or hurt? Will the GOP base care? Is Cain done? And so on, ad nauseum.

Sadly, what won't happen is a larger discussion on how many women endure this sort of conduct every single day. I'm willing to bet there aren't many who haven't found themselves in a smiliar situation. In my own longish life span, I can recall seven times, in minute detail.

I've never told anyone their names. Or exactly what happened. Because, worse outcomes.

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A embarassment of wretched

Trying to keep my fangirl, Charles P. Pierce's posts to a minimum but this is the most brilliant description of Mitt Romney I've seen yet and needs to be archived here.
On Friday, Mitt Romney, the Republican frontrunner and a man who could be mugged for his wallet through the mail, and a man of such iron will that he wrote a book called No Apologies in which he changed positions on several issues between the hardcover and paperback editions, went before the Koch Brothers hobby-horse Americans for Prosperity banquet and bravely promised to do everything he could not to do anything he bravely promised to do when he was running in any of the several other political campaigns that have kept him from ever being "a professional politician." Specifically, he signed on to Paul Ryan's toss-Grampa-to-the-jackals voucher approach to Medicare. Ryan was thrilled to death. Not his death, of course, but the death of a lot of old people who'll be thrown onto the market of the single most disgusting industry in America that doesn't involve deepwater drilling.
The rest of the GOP field doesn't escape Charles' piercing wisdom and wit and neither does the Democratic party.
Instead, the Democratic party has failed utterly in its duty to the country to force the Republicans to regain their sanity or die as a political entity. It has failed utterly even to try. What we see now in the Republican primary field is a result of that failure. It's bad enough that the Republicans will pay no price for embarrassing themselves this way. There's no reason why the entire country should.
But pay we will because our legislative branch has devolved from a body of governance to an exclusive country club where the dues are paid in corporate cronyism and its legal tender is based on favors from friends and extortion from enemies. Which has always been true, but at this point the business of the people no longer registers on the scale.

Nobody inside the club really wants to change it, because -- profit.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Sunday, November 06, 2011

The GOP sees our future in the past

If the GOP gets its wish to abolish all those "job crushing" EPA regulations, our cities could look like this again:


Doctors warn the residents of Beijing, breathing this "fog" could be hazardous to their health. Indeed, the US Embassy in Beijing has air monitors that found the pollutants in this so called fog "so hazardous that it exceeded measurable levels." Yet the Chinese government terms the city’s air “slightly polluted.” Perhaps they were measuring it from inside their enclosed spaces where Beijing's wealthy citizens and political elites make copious use of high end air purifiers.

There was a time in our past when Los Angeles looked very much like present day Beijing. The photo at that link is from 1943 and that level of pollution persisted well into the 70s. But then the US government invented air pollution regulations. Today, it seems the GOP's greatest desire is to return us to those good old days before such regulations existed. Helluva dream for our future.

[Photo credit Mark MacKinnon via Tom Lasseter.]

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