Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's just another night

Wishing all of us a peaceful and joyous New Year.

Like the man said, "Let's make it a good one." Occupy the year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Left Side of the Aisle #37

Update on National Defense Authorization Act;stories

Update on Bradley Manning

Outrage of the Week:Pentagon investigates itself, finds itself not guilty

Some thoughts on the "end" of the Iraq war

The TSA strikes again

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Left Side of the Aisle #36

The topics:
Bradley Manning pre-trial


Outrage of the Week


"War on Christmas"

And Another Thing

Friday, December 16, 2011


Christopher Hitchens has died at 62 at the result of esophageal cancer.

There are, of course, the usual accolades, the tributes to his wit and his skill with the acerbic phrase, the "humanizing" anecdotes of kindness, and all the rest.

However, I have to say I lost interest in Hitchens some time back, even before his endorsement of the invasion of Iraq and subsequently of Shrub; those events merely put an exclamation point on the judgement I had previously rendered that he had become "increasingly incapable of stringing two coherent sentences together without someone or something to hate." The attacks of 9/11 just allowed him the opportunity to combine all his individual political and religious hates into one package of "Islamofascism."

There are those who will miss him; while I regret his death as I do that of anyone (as "any man's death diminishes me"), I confess I will not be among them.

For a couple of reasonable but less laudatory looks at Hitchens, try here and here.

Some stuff I didn't have time for #5

Faced with the truly horrendous, horrifying vision of demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention in September - especially the prospect of the presence of Old Scratch himself in the form of the Occupy movement - the host city of Charlotte, North Carolina is looking to enact laws based on the determination that insuring quietude for the delegates and power players is more important than Constitutional rights.

The city wants to makes tents in public spaces "a public nuisance," ban other camping equipment, and outlaw "noxious substances," whatever they are. It also wants to limit where protesters can demonstrate (Remember "free speech zones?") and ban overnight stays altogether. The result would be not only to ban Occupy from protesting the DNC but would make Occupy Charlotte's encampment likewise illegal - a nice little bonus.
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said dubiously last month that the rule, which could be enacted in January, is not aimed at a specific group.
This despite the fact that a related memo says that "recent issues related to camping on city property" - that is, Occupy Charlotte - have raised the issue of "regulat[ing] this activity during the DNC."

Of course this is aimed at Occupy. Of course this is about looking to make sure all those Important And Serious People do not have to be exposed to the DFHs and the rest of the rabble. Of course this is about protecting business as usual.By attmpting to block Occupy, the city council of Charlotte has instead pointed up its necessity.

Some stuff I didn't have time for #4

GOPpers are forever railing against raising taxes on the rich because it will hurt the "job creators." GOPper Sen. John Thune says "it's just intuitive" that the proposed surtax on millionaire incomes to pay for a further cut in the payroll tax would hurt the ability of businesses, especially small businesses and start-ups, to hire.

So NPR decided it wanted to talk to some of those whose ability to hire would be affected.
NPR requested help from numerous Republican congressional offices, including House and Senate leadership. They were unable to produce a single millionaire job creator for us to interview.

So we went to the business groups that have been lobbying against the surtax. Again, three days after putting in a request, none of them was able to find someone for us to talk to.
So they put up a notice on Facebook and got several responses from some "millionaire job creators" who would be affected by this surtax. And what did they say?

"It's not in the top 20 things that we think about when we're making a business hire," said one.

"If my taxes go up, I have slightly less disposable income, yes. But that has nothing to do with what my business does," said another.

"I, like any other American, especially a business owner, I want to make as much money as I can and I want to keep as much money in my pocket as I can, but I also believe in the greater good," said a third.

Thune insisted those are "outliers" and that "most" small business owners agree that raising taxes hurts employment. It's just that, well, neither he not his business lobbyist friends can't actually produce any.

Footnote: I've mentioned this a couple of times on the show, but this seems a good spot to put it up here.

The notion that tax cuts reduce unemployment is thoroughly bogus. The thing - the only thing - that affects unemployment is demand. Demand for goods and services to be provided by government or the private economy. Not tax rates.

I know that seems counter-intuitive; it seems logical that cutting taxes, "putting more money in people's pockets," would increase demand and thus jobs to meet that demand. But the facts say otherwise. Just consider this:

The so-called "Bush tax cuts," the ones that were supposed to expire at the end of last year (and were intended, we were assured, to stimulate the economy), went into effect on June 7, 2001. At that time, unemployment was 4.5%. Since then, we have 125 months of data (July 2001 to November 2011, inclusive).

Across that time, the unemployment rate was below 4.5% precisely four times. Specifically, it was 4.4%. Never lower. It was at 4.5% just four more times. All eight of those occasions came in one nine-month period from September 2006 through May 2007. Every other month in the time, a total of 117 out of 125 months, unemployment was above where it was at the beginning. That's nearly 94% of the time. Indeed, unemployment has been at or above 5.5% - that is, a full percentage point above the beginning, for 76 of those months. Even if you were to ignore the last 35 months of data (i.e., all of 2009, 2010, and so far in 2011), there are still 41 months out of 90 at or above 5.5%.

Some stuff I didn't have time for #3

New York Senator Charles Schumer and New York State Senator Michael Gianaris want the Department for the Protection of the Fatherland and the T&A to provide "passenger advocates" at airport screening sites in the wake of four elderly women complaining that they were "strip searched" at JFK Airport.

One said she had to raise her blouse and remove her undergarments so a T&A agent could check her back brace. Another was made to drop her pants to check a colostomy bag and a third was required to remove her pants so agents could be sure her diabetic insulin pump was not, I dunno, some kind of leg bomb. The fourth couldn't even get on the plane because her incontinence pad set off alarms.
On Sunday, the TSA denied on its blog that the women had been strip searched.

"TSA does not and has never conducted strip searches, and no strip searches occurred in any of these incidents," the official statement posted by TSA blogger Bob Burns said.
Which seems to depend largely on just how you define the term "strip search," which of course T&A did not do - although I have to wonder if anything short of being stripped naked right on the concourse would qualify in their minds. Maybe not even then, if it didn't involve a little finger-wave action.

Oh, but this is what really ticked me off, the little thing again:
"We truly regret these passengers feel they had a bad screening experience," the TSA said in its blog.
"Feel?" You "regret" that they "feel" they had "a bad screening experience?"

"We are the TSA. We regret that you think you had a bad screening experience. We regret that you imagine you had a bad screening experience. We're sorry that you fantasize that you had a bad screening experience. It disturbs us deep in our institutional soul, truly it does, that you are so out of touch with reality that you maintain this delusion that you had a bad screening experience. We hope you get the help you need. Have a nice day."

"Feel." Couldn't even say something like "we regret their screening experience was unpleasant," which at least would acknowledge the validity of their embarrassment without admitting any legal error. No, it had to be "feel," like "it's all in their heads, the poor dears."


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Some stuff I didn't have time for #2

I've remarked on a number of occasions that I often find that it's the little thing that gets me, the little thing that others don't seem to be pointing to.

An example of that is something I talked about on this week's show, the fact that the day before they moved in to break up Occupy Boston, the police barred food from entering the site. No one seemed to take notice of that - but I immediately thought "By what authority?" What empowers police to simply say "you can't bring food there just because we said so?" And why is that assertion of unfounded authority seemingly regarded as unworthy of comment? What does that say about our media and our society?

Here's another example I wish I'd had time for:
The audience at Saturday night's Republican presidential debate gave their loud seal of approval to the idea of removing restrictions on child labor.

For over a week, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been suggesting that poor children should be in the workforce. He has said that janitorial jobs are appropriate for children, and has lauded the idea of 5-year-olds working.

"If you take one half of the New York janitors, who are paid more than the teachers. An entry-level janitor gets paid twice as much as an entry-level teacher. You take half those janitors, you could give lots of poor kids a work experience in the cafeteria, in the school library, in the front office, in a lot of different things. I'll stand by the idea young people ought to learn how to work."

With that, the Republican audience erupted with applause.
So why is the idea of revoking "stupid" child labor laws popular among GOP primary voters? Because of the adjective which they clearly hear but which has been overlooked in most commentary: "poor." They're not applauding the idea of children working, they're not applauding the idea of five year-old children working, they're applauding the idea of five year-old poor children working.

What's more, Grinch specifically referred to New York. You think that when he talked about "young people" learning "how to work" that folks in the audience were conjuring up images of the children of some white dirt farmer in Appalachia or Mississippi? Or even some down-on-their-luck white family in Indianapolis? You know damn well they weren't.

Because, y'see, it's them. It's those people. Those other people. The "not us." You know who we mean. They have no work ethic. They don't know how to work like we do. They are all shiftless, lazy. And so their kids are the same; they, Grinch claims, "have no habit of working ... unless it's illegal."

One of the few who I noticed addressing the "poor" aspect of this directly was Jesse Jackson, who pointed out that "83 percent of poor children live in households with at least one adult who works" and that poor working parents often work more hours than wealthier counterparts. Then there is the fact that according to David Cay Johnston, the average number of hours worked yearly by folks in the poorest fifth of the population has gone up by 26% in the past thirty years.

Jackson called Grinch's statements "ugly and stupid." I'm more than a little surprised that he didn't also call them what they were: transparently racist. And the response of the audience, the same.

Footnote: I expect the fact that Lizard Grinch's plan would also involve firing a lot of "unionized janitors" was icing on the cake for that audience.

Some stuff I didn't have time for #1

As I noted earlier, in the interim between posts of shows I'm going to be posting some stuff about things I would have liked to have included but felt constrained by time. Here's one.

Joe "I just loves me some TV face time" Arpaio, the soi-disant "America's Toughest Sheriff," may be at overly long last facing the end of his ill-deserved plaudits.

The proverbial straw appears to have been the revelation that his office either botched or just didn't give flying damn about hundreds of alleged sex crimes, in more than two dozen of which the victims were children. Most of those complaints, revealingly, were in Latino neighborhoods.

There already has been an on-going criminal investigation of him and his department for felonious abuse of authority, centered on a bogus "anti-corruption" squad that by all appearances primarily existed to launch phony but intimidating investigations into anyone who got on Arpaio's wrong side.

Now there is what is described as a "scathing" report charging him and his office with a pattern of civil rights violations against Latinos and a “systematic disregard” for their Constitutional rights.

There's even an internet petition calling for his resignation.
John Doughtery, a Phoenix New Times investigative journalist, who launched the campaign against Arpaio, explained his reasoning in a press release.

“Joe Arpaio has already cost Maricopa County more than $100 million in misspent funds and $43 million in settlements for claims arising from abuse in the county jails,” said Dougherty. “Since 2006 Joe Arpaio has allowed child molestation cases to take a backseat to his publicity stunts, racial profiling based roundups, campaigning, and a reality TV show. This is a clear example of government waste and abuse of power that must not be tolerated.”
Arpaio is a sfaming scumbag racist who deserves - at best - to be treated as he treated many Latino prisoners: forced to wear pink underwear while housed in a tent, surrounded by guards speaking to him in a language he barely understands who punish him for violating orders he didn't comprehend. We are much better off without him.

Left Side of the Aisle #35

The topics:

Update on voter suppression and photo-ID laws,0,4981922.story

Update on National Defense Authorization Act:

Update on Stop Online Piracy Act

Update on Occupy Boston, plus other Occupy news

And Another Thing: Search for the Higgs boson

Bradley Manning

Friday, December 09, 2011


There are some changes here.

What they are ain't exactly clear.

Well, pretty clear, anyway.

I've been focusing more on my cable TV show, as the lack of posts here surely has made apparent. But I definitely don't want to drop this. So this is what I'm going to do or at least which I intend to do, my limits on Blogger space permitting:

Each week, I'm going to embed the YouTube video of my show. It should be up by late Thursday. (If I start to run out of available space on Blogger for video, I may have to switch to it being a link to the YouTube site.) With that video will be a list of subjects covered in the video plus a list of links to the info used in putting the show together. I won't guarantee an exact 1:1 correlation between the video and the link list, as last-minute changes may result in some links not being used or something being included for which a link does not appear in the list - although I will try to correct for the latter.

During the days between, I intend to post on things that I wanted to mention on the show but didn't/couldn't because of time constraints or some other cause. Just be aware that for that reason, those post may not be the latest, hottest thing - but I hope they will at least be relevant.

Left Side of the Aisle #34

The topics:

- Good news on gay rights

- Dealing with the USPS fiscal crisis,0,3691570.story

- Threat to freedom in the National Defense Authorization Act

- Occupy news

- Continue the payroll tax cut?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

You asked for it!

Really. You did. Or a few of you, anyway.

I've mentioned a couple of times that I've been doing a weekly half-hour of commentary on my local cable access channel and a couple of folks have asked about seeing it. Well, I have finally - after first getting around to it and then dealing with a few hassles - done it. The show is called Left Side of the Aisle and now it is going to be on YouTube every week.

So here's the first one up, show #33.

Be careful what you ask for.
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