"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

OK, This Is Totally Cool

Here's his website.

Here's another video:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sometimes It Works (Updated)

A heartening story from AP:
A federal judge in New York has struck down a $285 million settlement that Citigroup reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission, citing a need for truth about the financial markets.

My guess is that Citigroup will appeal the decision, and when it gets to the Supremes, they will find that corporations have as much right to secrecy as, for example, the President.


Just ran across this story, which fits right in with the meme:
Since the lifting two months ago of a longstanding U.S. ban on gays serving openly in the military, U.S. Marines across the globe have adapted smoothly and embraced the change, says their top officer, Gen. James F. Amos, who previously had argued against repealing the ban during wartime.

You'll remember that Amos was the most outspoken of the service chiefs in his opposition to repeal. But the Marines are the Marines: as he said then, if it's the law, they will follow it. They are, and not the least bit grudgingly -- you'll remember that they were the only branch of service to send recruiters to San Diego Pride, although all were invited.

And add on to that this little bit from Good As You. In this case, a picture is worth a thousand words:

The World Has Gone Crazy

Just a few tidbits from this morning:

From Huffington Post, this choice bit of news:
As cities around the country have swept Occupy Wall Street camps from their plazas and parks in recent weeks, a number of mayors and city officials have argued that by providing shelter to the homeless, the camps are endangering the public and even the homeless themselves.

Yet in many of those cities, services for the homeless are severely underfunded. The cities have spent millions of dollars to police and evict the protesters, but they've been shutting down shelters and enacting laws to prohibit homeless from sleeping overnight in public.

Priorities. They has 'em.

If you think this is not part of a pattern, take a look at this, from the ACLU:
The Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.


The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world.


The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself. The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday.


I know it sounds incredible. New powers to use the military worldwide, even within the United States? Hasn’t anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too? And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?

"Why now?" Can you say "Occupy Wall Street?"

I want to highlight this part:
In support of this harmful bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that the bill will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial “American citizen or not.” Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also declared that the bill is needed because “America is part of the battlefield.”

Get it? We are the enemy. Fortunately, the ACLU has provided a handy form for you to fill out that will be sent to your senators, right here. Of course, if your senators are like mine, they're working for Wall Street anyway, but you can always try -- realizing, of course, that by exercising your right to "petition the government for redress of grievances" (First Amendment), you're automatically classified as a "terrorist."

Speaking of who's working for Wall Street, check out this story from Bloomberg:
The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.

I almost forgot to include Digby's observation on this story:
The good news is that the government refused to compound the problems by helping out average Americans with their foreclosures, thus avoiding moral hazard.

On a lighter note, and just to give you an idea of what we're dealing with among our elected officials, is this nice little bit from Raw Story:

Brownback plans to push for repeal a number of laws he considers unreasonable or burdensome, but whether the sodomy law will be included on his repeal agenda is unknown. The socially conservative governor previously blamed same sex relationships for children being born out of wedlock.

For Brownback's rationale for that ludicrous statement, see this bit from the WaPo Fact Checker. (Yes, WaPo does fact-checking -- on everyone else.) For the love of Pete, he was relying on Stanley Kurtz, who had been debunked by just about everyone.

That's about all I can stomach this morning. It's broken, isn't it?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Video du jour

Ran across this one on LGBT/Think Progress. It's an ad from Get Up! Action for Australia:

I got all sniffly.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

This is exciting

This post from Pressthink strikes me as right on top what a lot of other commentators are missing: OWS is the first American protest of the Internet age.

I’ve been glued to media coverage of #Occupy, and I saw something this week that I thought you’d be interested in.

Tim Pool.

Something very special is happening here.

Basically he’s a protester-turned-reporter with a cell phone who is doing some very uniquely awesome things with his streaming ustream coverage. He’s been doing 20-hour live reporting marathons, but what’s extremely powerful is the feedback loop that he has with his viewers (numbering in the 15k+ live, 100k+ daily).

There’s a unique symbiosis happening. Being a livestream he acts as “eyes and ears” for the viewers. Literally. People will tell him to move the camera somewhere and he’ll do it. They’ll ask for interviews with someone, and Tim will go over and do so (taking extensive feedback, questions, and commentary from the channel viewers). The viewers will ask him questions and he won’t rest until he gets them their answers. There is no delay or time to press. It’s instant. And it’s awesome.

It's interesting to note that the first ones to grab on to the political possibilities of social media and cell phones were the Egyptians. Of course, the repression they were facing was much more overt than what we're subjected to by the 1% and their almost-wholly-owned subsidiaries, the American press and the American government.

Speaking of the corporate press, read this exchange from WaPo's chat as reported by Digby. (I can't follow the link, thanks to Google.)


Paul, I'm guessing you won't be sympathetic to the following point, but I'll put it out there anyway. Most reporting on the supercommittee--like most reporting on the deficit--reflects an acceptance of a basic fallacy. Whenever there is an impasse, there seems to be a desire to blame both sides equally, on the theory that if only Democrats would concede more, Republicans would reciprocate (all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding). Yes, Democrats have drawn lines in the sand, but as Greg Sargent and other commentators have documented, when you compare the specifics, there is no factual basis for blaming both parties equally. So my question is, why does the Post's coverage do so anyway, either explicitly or implicitly?
– November 21, 2011 11:48 AM


Yeah, you're right. I think this point is just absurd and ridiculous. This is a big thing among folks calling it "moral equivalence" (Fallows, Ornstein) and others calling it the "cult of balance" (Krugman).

It's just stupid. If you want someone to tell you that Republicans stink, read opinion pages. Read blogs. Also, the underlying sentiment on the left is that this is the real reason why things went wrong in 2010: That the mainstream media is to blame. Sorry, I think that's the sorta head-in-sand outlook that leads to longer term problems for a movement.

Greg is a fine writer. He's an opinion writer, in the opinion section of the web site. I encourage you to keep reading him. And I encourage you to keep reading the news coverage, which should always strive to present both sides of the story. If you really don't want to hear anything about the other side of the story, I really do encourage you to stop reading the news section.

– November 21, 2011 11:58 AM

Kane misses the point, to put it mildly. And he obviously has no idea what journalism is. Makes you sort of wonder who's paying him.

Tim Pool is an example of what we need to do, I think -- take reporting out of the hands of news organizations.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Think We Have an Answer

I titled Saturday's post "Who Owns the Police?"

Any questions?

No questions, but here are some further answers, via Digby:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Check out Digby's post -- she links to the full text of the memo and MSNBC's story.
Via Box Turtle Bulletin, this story from AP on Capt. Steven Hill, the soldier who asked Rick Santorum about reinstating DADT and got boos from some of the audience for his audacity.

Santorum's response is typical of the man, and shows starkly why he's not fit to be commander in chief or anything that remotely resembles president of the United States:
Santorum replied that he would reinstitute the ban on open service by gay troops because "any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military."

"What we are doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now. That's tragic," he continued. "Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself whether you are heterosexual or homosexual."

The "social experimentation" line is laughable. The military has always been a social experiment -- it's not like civilian life at all.

And of course, Santorum's obsessed with sex. But we knew that.

What's heartening is the response from Hill's commander:

At breakfast later that morning, the segment was playing on the chow hall television. Hill immediately tracked down his commander, who told him she had no problem with what he'd done but that she would need to run it up the chain of command. She later relayed the response.

"She said, 'What the military's most concerned with is that you are OK, because it's a lot of pressure on you and we want to make sure if there is anything we can do to help,'" he recalled.

There's hope.

Not so much for the members of the audience and all the presidential wannabes who just sat there and said nothing as a member of our armed forces was booed.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who owns the police?

This is the first story that I read this morning.

The cops now say they feared for their lives because of the crowd that was gathering around them! Look at that photo. Look at this even better photo. What do you see? A dozen students on the ground looking at their feet, and some onlookers all holding up cameras at a respectable distance - you'll note the other cops aren't looking terribly worried. Then watch the video. The cop casually saunters over and pepper sprays the people sitting down, which is odd since supposedly they were afraid of the people who were standing up.

Here's the video:

I mean, look at those goons -- one of them is holding what looks like a rifle.

There's the cop's information:

Lieutenant John Pike

Do you suppose he feels like real man now?

I checked out the university's Facebook page, which is almost entirely calls for the Chancellor to resign. The chief of the university police should go, too.

Maha has a very interesting take on public reaction to these events, although I don't think this one is going to find people siding with the police.
My point is that we’re not entering into some new age in which Power can take the law into its own hands and brush away opposition like so much dandruff. This is the way things have always been. If you are going to engage in public demonstrations, you have to be well prepared for it.

Read the whole post -- it's almost impossible to excerpt, and her conclusion doesn't give a good view of what came before.

And here's another interesting tidbit from Crooks & Liars:
Republicans want to privatize Social Security and Medicare. The Bush and Obama Administrations have privatized law enforcement on Wall Street by asking banks to police themselves. And during the devastating San Diego fires, residents learned that AIG had created a private fire department that saved the homes of its clients while other nearby houses burned.

Privatized police. Privatized fire departments. Privatized prisons. Privatized armies of Halliburton and Blackwater soldiers. When for-profit companies perform government functions, they'll do it in a way that makes them money. That's not hard to understand, but our "leaders" keep doing it anyway.

And they don't think they have to pay attention to the Bill of Rights, either.

And taking all that into account, how much of the excessive police actions against OWS do you think is designed specifically to incite a violent response?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Mess at Penn State

Here's a very good post from Pam Spaulding that summarizes everything I know about the Sandusky/pedophilia nightmare at Penn State, and adds a few items I wasn't aware of.

I've read all sorts of reporting and commentary on this, and in most cases the commentary is pretty solid -- Paterno and Spanier should certainly have been fired, and a few others -- Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, at least -- should go, as well.

Mike McQueary is a more difficult question. I've read opinions that he should have directly intervened when he witness Sandusky assaulting a 10-year-old in the showers, and he probably should have, but how many of us would? Consider that the man witnessed something shocking being done by someone that, in theory at least, had been held up as someone to be admired. He was, the report says, distraught, and probably was not thinking too clearly. He did report it, and I think, given the normal patterns of human behavior, at that point he considered that he'd done what he could do.

That bothers me the most is that, as of the latest reports I've read, nothing has been done on behalf of the victims. Maybe that will come, if there's the investigation that has to happen. What concerns me is that there's enough in the way of "special interests" in this case that any further investigation will be quashed. I mean, look how long it took for anyone to investigate allegations of child sexual abuse against the Catholic Church.

Ten Bank Stories (Updated)

Nice little list from Daily Kos. The first couple are really good -- banks arresting customers who want to close their accounts? (Did I mention somewhere along the line that the banksters just don't get it?) The refreshing parts are the reactions of the police.

"He has the right to speak and the right to hand out flyers. Unless he blocks you or causes a disturbance, he has the right to be here - please don't call the police again if he is not bothering you. If you don't like free speech you should move to another country."

That whole story is great -- read it.

I bank at BofA, which is one of the big villains in the recent economic mess, and the only reason I haven't moved my account is that I haven't had time. I'm still thinking about it, though, although I'm not sure a credit union is where I want to go. I belonged to a credit union some years ago, and they were so obnoxious that I left.

Local bank. There are several small banks in my neighborhood. Time to check them out.


Check out this piece by Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone, which ties it all together. This is the nut:

What both sides missed is that OWS is tired of all of this. They don't care what we think they're about, or should be about. . . .

But now, I get it. People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something. It may not be a real model for anything, but it's at least a place where people are free to dream of some other way for human beings to get along, beyond auctioned "democracy," tyrannical commerce and the bottom line.

He manages to get it. Let's see if the rest of the establishment progressives do as well. (No one expects the right wing to get it. They get paid for not getting it.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Yes, I Know

I haven't been posting. It's been a hellish week or so, and I'm looking forward to a nice long weekend to recover.

And the news -- well, please, doesn't the media ever get tired of the pack of losers running for president?


I'm working on another BL manga translation, so maybe I'll be far enough along to write on that this weekend, but unless something in the news really catches my eye -- which, all things considered, is pretty doubtful -- figure that I'm on hiatus.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Occupy America

A very interesting piece from Matt Stoller at AlterNet on the effect of the Occupy movement. And at this point, I think one has to call it a movement, for reasons that Stoller clarifies:

The protests are a ball of raw energy, with one basic message: The 1 percent on Wall Street have taken advantage of the 99 percent of the rest of us.

Yet this message is resonating, deeply. What the occupiers have done, perhaps unwittingly, is force political elites to choose, at least publicly, between their funding stream and their popular legitimacy.

The over-reactions of the police in various cities -- most notably New York and Oakland -- has helped. There's been a lot of resentment building toward the police and their tactics over the past few years, and tear gas, pepper spray, and assault against peaceful protesters is just the icing on the cake.

And check out what Stoller says about the polls:

If Occupy Wall Street were a national candidate for president, it would be blowing away every other candidate on the stage, including Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Fifty-four percent of Americans agree with the protesters, versus 44 percent who think President Obama is doing a good job. Seventy-three percent of Americans want prosecutions for Wall Street executives for the crisis. Seventy-nine percent think the gap between rich and poor is too large. Eighty-six percent say Wall Street and its lobbyists have too much power in Washington. Sixty-eight percent think the rich should pay more in taxes. Twenty-five percent of the public considers itself upset, 45 percent is concerned about the country and 25 percent is downright angry.

You've noticed how Obama is suddenly combative? I have no problem ascribing that to the Occupy protesters. Have you noticed that the DNC is actually going after Romney and Cain? Guess why. Michael Bloomberg's popularity in New York has plummeted. The establishment is scrabbling around trying to figure out what to do -- they're starting to get the idea, I think, that they're not in control any more.

I'm for it.