Friday, March 31, 2017

Maybe We Should Lose Sandwich Joe

Patton Oswalt

Tech Today

So, I needed to clean the ol' iMac today, and I can do that best by standing behind it. This makes for less wear and tear on my wrists and arms, but since I have to look around the side or over the top, it's hard to tell the difference between what's there legitimately and what needs to be gone.

Thinking it was a bit of snot or phlegm or mayonnaise or whatever, I just spent close to a full minute trying to scrub the cursor off my computer screen.

It occurs to me that I may be spending way too much time calling other people stoopid.


Today's GIF

Today's Resistance

The GOP fucks us over by knocking down FCC privacy regs, so here's one small thing we can do to fuck 'em back.

Every day, I go to Google to look something up - OK OK, every day, I go to Google about 40-leven times to look something up.

But every time, before I do anything else, I Google these:

Fuck Comcast
Fuck AT&T
Fuck the GOP
Fuck American oligarchy
Fuck Google Analytics
Fuck autoplay video ads

And I do it a dozen or more times each. Once you type it in and hit ENTER, all you have to do is click in the search box and hit ENTER again.

The Google Bomb works - ask Rick Santorum.

Takes maybe 90 seconds for the whole thing.

Show your discontentment. Fight back.

Revisiting

John Oliver from 2014


A Closer Look

Seth Meyers

Today's Tweet

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Today's Tweet

Nunes Is Dirty

It's possible Devin Nunes really thinks he's doing what we pay him to do - and it is possible he actually is doing what we pay him to do, even as he does it in a very unorthodox and troubling way.

It's also possible I can make the jack of spades jump out of a brand new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. (with apologies to Sky Masterson's dad for turning that one around)

NYT:

WASHINGTON — A pair of White House officials played a role in providing Representative Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.

The revelation that White House officials assisted in the disclosure of the intelligence reports — which Mr. Nunes then discussed with President Trump — is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the last presidential election.

- and -

Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and formerly worked on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment.

Samantha Bee



Keith

It Gets Worse


The Daddy State approacheth.

“A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention with the possible exceptions of handguns and Tequila.” 
--Mitch Ratcliffe


Soon every mistake you’ve ever made online will not only be available to your internet service provider (ISP) — it will be available to any corporation or foreign government who wants to see those mistakes.

Thanks to last week’s US Senate decision (update March 28: and today’s House decision), ISPs can sell your entire web browsing history to literally anyone without your permission. The only rules that prevented this are all being repealed, and won’t be reinstated any time soon (it would take an act of congress).

ISPs can also sell any information they want from your online activity and mobile app usage — financial information, medical information, your children’s information, your social security number — even the contents of your emails.

They can even sell your geolocation information. That’s right, ISPs can take your exact physical location from minute to minute and sell it to a third party.

You might be wondering: who benefits from repealing these protections? Other than those four monopoly ISPs that control America’s “last mile” of internet cables and cell towers?

No one. No one else benefits in any way. Our privacy — and our nation’s security — have been diminished, just so a few mega-corporations can make a little extra cash.


I'll take exception to that last bit - about how nobody benefits in any way.  My basic skepticism (ie: my cynical - tho' perfectly justifiable - paranoia) is waving flags like it's laundry day at Redneck Central Headquarters.

This looks a whole lot like standard Political Duplicity - privacy snoops disguised as profiteers to give the illusion of separation from Officialdom, so nobody in government is accountable to voters for the inevitable fuckery.

And the bonus is that the ISP cartel can peddle our information to Da Gubmint (aka: the Lunker Customer everybody's always gunnin' for, so you know it'll happen), which will confer upon us the supreme privilege of paying them to fuck us over - again.

Cronies get richer
Congress Critters get re-elected
We get fucked

'Twas ever thus with the Radical Right, and ever thus 'twill be.

Anyway, privacy is pretty much the whole banana in a free state, and there seems to an even fuckier fuckery afoot.

Roe v Wade is based on the concept of a Consitutional Right To Privacy. If this ISP thing stands up to challenge in the courts, kiss that one good-bye. And then it's really open season on everybody's rights across the board.

Now, I realize I'm pretty close to the Slippery Slope Fallacy, but these things happen step-by-step, so I'm just trying to follow it out to the logical extreme. And it's not like we haven't seen some of this shit already. The bullshit SCOTUS ruling on Voting Rights comes to mind.

So how's that Gorsuch appointment looking now?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Keith

Color Me Unsurprised

...again.

The Atlantic:

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush raised taxes, and GDP growth increased over the next five years. In 1993, President Bill Clinton raised the top marginal tax rate, and GDP growth increased over the next five years. In 2001 and 2003, President Bush cut taxes, and we faced a disappointing expansion followed by a Great Recession.

Does this story prove that raising taxes helps GDP? No. Does it prove that cutting taxes hurts GDP? No.

But it does suggest that there is a lot more to an economy than taxes, and that slashing taxes is not a guaranteed way to accelerate economic growth.

And there's still that nagging little finding from years ago - repeatedly reaffirmed to reach or exceed the 95% certainty threshold - that for every $1 solely in tax cuts, we get about 59¢ in Net Economic Stimulus and for every $1 solely in direct government spending (eg: infrastructure) we can count on $1.19 in Net Economic Stimulus.

Call me crazy, but if my broker comes to me trying to sell me on the idea that making 60¢ (kinda the same as losing 40¢) is a better deal than making $1.20, I'm gonna bounce that butthead outa my office so fast his feet won't even touch the ground.

Good old-fashioned Keynesian economics - cuz it works, dummy.

Tax policy is an important piece of an economic strategy, but we've let it get out of balance.

Water the roots, not the leaves.

Today's Tweet

Monday, March 27, 2017

Professional Left Podcast

Donald Trump had a very bad week. 
Jury is still out as to whether it was worse for Devin Nunes and Paul Ryan. 
Where's Vladimir? 
Local News connects nearly always to national politics, and vice versa.




Yow

45* lies. A lot. Everybody knows that, and about 20% of us are still with him, while the rest of us are wondering what it's gonna take to peel the rubes away.

Prob'ly not likely to happen.

Scientific American, working out the differences between White Lies, Black Lies, and Blue Lies:

Blue lies are a different category altogether, simultaneously selfish and beneficial to others—but only to those who belong to your group. As University of Toronto psychologist Kang Lee explains, blue lies fall in between generous white lies and selfish “black” ones. “You can tell a blue lie against another group,” he says, which makes it simultaneously selfless and self-serving. “For example, you can lie about your team's cheating in a game, which is antisocial, but helps your team.”

- and -

Around the world, children grow up hearing stories of heroes who engage in deception and violence on behalf of their in-groups. In Star Wars, for example, Princess Leia lies about the location of the “secret rebel base.” In the Harry Potter novels (spoiler alert!), the entire life of double-agent Severus Snape is a lie, albeit a “blue” one, in the service of something bigger than himself.

That explains why most Americans seem to accept that our intelligence agencies lie in the interests of national security, and we laud our spies as heroes. From this perspective, blue lies are weapons in intergroup conflict. As Swedish philosopher Sissela Bok once said, “Deceit and violence—these are the two forms of deliberate assault on human beings.” Lying and bloodshed are often framed as crimes when committed inside a group—but as virtues in a state of war.


This research—and those stories—highlight a difficult truth about our species: We are intensely social creatures, but we’re prone to divide ourselves into competitive groups, largely for the purpose of allocating resources. People can be prosocial—compassionate, empathic, generous, honest—in their groups, and aggressively antisocial toward out-groups. When we divide people into groups, we open the door to competition, dehumanization, violence—and socially sanctioned deceit.

“People condone lying against enemy nations, and since many people now see those on the other side of American politics as enemies, they may feel that lies, when they recognize them, are appropriate means of warfare,” says George Edwards, a Texas A&M political scientist and one of the country’s leading scholars of the presidency.

When we see each other as enemies - you and your team over there, trying to fuck things up for me and my team over here - it gets pretty easy to rationalize doing whatever it takes to "win". Because in that bumper-sticker-binary mindset, winning means everybody else has to lose.

Today's Atheism

If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense.

If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.
--Penn Jillette

Michael Franks

On a dreary dripping Monday

The Art Of Tea --Michael Franks


Fucked Up Bigly

Via Joy Reid on Twitter (@JoyAnnReid):


Not a whole lot of the Steele Dossier has been officially corroborated yet, but some pretty solid suspicions are being reinforced almost every day.

And some of the players still seem to be more or less unaware of just how enormous this thing could get.

Mr Jefferson Speaks

"The most effectual engines for [pacifying a nation] are the public papers... [A despotic] government always [keeps] a kind of standing army of newswriters who, without any regard to truth or to what should be like truth, [invent] and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper." 
--Thomas Jefferson to GK van Hogendorp, 1785


"I am persuaded myself that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro’ the channel of the public papers, & to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them."

--Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Today's Tweet

Friday, March 24, 2017

That Pesky Constitution

  Nikolas Bowie at Take Care

In its first fifty days, the Trump administration has done a magnificent job—the best job—teaching Americans about the Constitution. Who among us could distinguish an emolument from a peppermint before 2016? In that spirit, as we learn more about the employees President Trump has hired to run the executive branch, it’s worth asking whether his administration is violating another under-the-radar provision: The Appointments Clause.

The Appointments Clause is the one that requires the president to get the “Advice and Consent of the Senate” before he can hire certain “Officers of the United States.” It’s the reason we know what Betsy DeVos thinks about bears or that the Russian ambassador is easily forgettable. The eighteenth-century authors of the clause anticipated that no president could run the executive branch by himself, but they wanted a “check” to ensure that he didn’t appoint “unfit characters,” “family connection[s],” or “obsequious instruments of his pleasure.” They decided that Senate debates on the merits of nominees would provide much-needed accountability for the most important members of a president’s team.

- and -

Over the years, these “assistants to the president” have grown in number and in status to take on some of the most important advisory responsibilities in the White House. But even though these assistants now wield tremendous informal clout, they have always remained “employees” for constitutional purposes. And every president since Roosevelt has generally adhered to the Appointments Clause by restraining their employees from exceeding the constitutional limits on their statutory authority.

Until now.

When President Trump issued his first travel ban, for instance, employees Bannon and Miller interposed themselves between the president and the Department of Homeland Security by overruling its interpretation of whether the ban applied to green-card holders. That weekend, employee Miller reportedly called a Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney to dictate how he should defend the ban in court. In addition, employee Miller also “effectively ran” a meeting of the National Security Council despite Congress’s requirement that the council “shall be composed” only of people “appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”

More recently, employee McGhan has given “authoritative guidance” to Senate-confirmed officers in the Department of Homeland Security about how to interpret President Trump’s inscrutable executive orders. He’s also the employee responsible for directing Senate-confirmed officers in the Department of Justice to turn over any warrants regarding the president’s wild accusations that he was wiretapped.

Employee Preibus reportedly directed the Senate-confirmed FBI director to “knock down” stories that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia.

And the president has appointed at least one of his 400 “beachhead” employees, Stephen Vaughn, to serve in a Senate-confirmable position as acting U.S. Trade Representative, even though federal law expressly prohibits that sort of appointment.

Notice a pattern?

hat tip = Lawrence Tribe @tribelaw

Today's Quote

Golden Oldie

Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.
--George Orwell

Trump Redacted

Jezebel:
President Trump recently participated in an interview with Time Magazine’s Michael Scherer for a cover story about his relationship with the truth. Predictably, this conversation really tested the limits of irony.
In the full transcript of the interview published by Time, Trump lies a lot, says a number of half-true things, does not admit he was incorrect to link Ted Cruz’s father with Lee Harvey Oswald, foists responsibility for his inaccuracies onto media reports that he misrepresents, says the word “Brexit” 11 times, and forms sentences like “Brussels, I said, Brussels is not Brussels.” But, listen, some of it was fine! In the transcript below, we have redacted everything that is not verifiably true. What remains is everything the president said that is definitely true.
 

Today's Tweet

Today's Pix












Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tiny Desk

Tedeschi Trucks Band

"Just As Strange"
"Don't Know What It Is"
"Anyhow"

Samantha Bee



Taibbi

Is it possible Matt could be losing the battle he's constantly fighting against having a solid opinion on anything other than how fucked up it all is?

Well, no - he gets about half-way before sinking back into his comfort zone of "Yeah but the Democrats".

But still, it's a pretty good synopsis. (Rolling Stone)
The impact of the DeVos implosion was twofold. First, the Democrats realized they could and should fight back. Second, Republicans found the downside of party-line votes. Many received a torrent of abuse from constituents who demanded they vote DeVos out.
"I have heard from thousands, truly, thousands of Alaskans who have shared their concerns about Mrs. DeVos," said Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who dealt with protests outside her Alaska office and later estimated that 30,000 constituents called to complain.
Murkowski announced that she would pull her vote for DeVos, as did Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. A senator voting against his or her own party's nominee is the Beltway equivalent of an eclipse or a volcanic lightning strike – rare and frightening to the natives.
True to form, the Democrats – they have been a step behind Trump for a while now – never managed to peel off a third defector to defeat DeVos. But Republicans still suffered the indignity of needing Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie, another thing that had never before happened in the Senate's history.
Here's the O'Jays tune Taibbi mentioned in the piece - the one 45* used as his entrance march at CPAC. It seems a little odd. If you're touting the glories of having all the money and lusting for power, why do you pick that particular cut?  But then, it's not really odd at all considering 45* has done every shitty thing more or less out in the open, so it fits perfectly: Being a money-grubbing rent-seeking leech is how he got to be the hero they all love to adore - and aspire to be - with the bonus of doing things the Libtards hate, in ways that make the Libtards cry.

These things generally don't happen by accident.

For The Love Of Money --The O'Jays

Money money money money, money [Repeat: x 6]
Some people got to have itSome people really need itListen to me why'all, do things, do things, do bad things with itYou want to do things, do things, do things, good things with itTalk about cash money, moneyTalk about cash money- dollar bills, why'all
For the love of moneyPeople will steal from their motherFor the love of moneyPeople will rob their own brother
For the love of moneyPeople can't even walk the streetBecause they never know who in the world they're gonna beatFor that lean, mean, mean green
Almighty dollar, money
For the love of moneyPeople will lie, Lord, they will cheatFor the love of moneyPeople don't care who they hurt or beat
For the love of moneyA woman will sell her precious bodyFor a small piece of paper it carries a lot of weightCall it lean, mean, mean green
Almighty dollar
I know money is the root of all evilDo funny things to some peopleGive me a nickel, brother can you spare a dimeMoney can drive some people out of their minds
Got to have it, I really need itHow many things have I heard you saySome people really need itHow many things have I heard you say
Got to have it, I really need itHow many things have I heard you sayLay down, lay down, a woman will lay downFor the love of money
All for the love of moneyDon't let, don't let, don't let money rule youFor the love of moneyMoney can change people sometimes
Don't let, don't let, don't let money fool youMoney can fool people sometimesPeople! Don't let money, don't let money change you,It will keep on changing, changing up your mind.
Like I said, he's done all the shitty things right there in front of us, but 63 million voters decided it was all OK as long as they were able to engage with him in a years-long mutual ego massage, substituting dreams of hitting the lottery retroactively for the reality of guys like Donald Trump stripping them of any chance they ever had to make it any farther than are right now.

And:

Tweet From Yesterday

Today's GIF

Speaking Of 45*

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it.
--Voltaire

hat tip = David Ferguson, Raw Story 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Today's Today

FDR signed the Beer and Wine Revenue Act on March 22, 1933. 

Of course, there was always a way around prohibition if you were properly connected. The more things change.



American History Museum on Twitter

Yay Tweety

Chris Matthews gets up on his hind legs and starts talkin' sense.


And we are left to wonder a coupla things - whether or not Phil Griffin knows about this, and if we missed the freeze warning for hell.

The Turnaraound

WaPo:

The 2016 election was just a month away when Steve Curtis, a conservative radio host and former Colorado Republican Party chairman, devoted an entire episode of his morning talk show to the heated topic of voter fraud.

“It seems to me,” Curtis said in the 42-minute segment, “that virtually every case of voter fraud I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats.”

On Tuesday, Colorado prosecutors threw a wrench into that already dubious theory, accusing Curtis of voter fraud for allegedly filling out and mailing in his ex-wife’s 2016 ballot for president, Denver’s Fox affiliate reported.

Curtis, 57, was charged in Weld County District Court with one count of misdemeanor voter fraud and one count of forgery, a Class 5 felony, according to local media.

The case is the only voter fraud investigation related to the 2016 election that has resulted in criminal charges in the state, the Colorado secretary of state’s office told Denver’s ABC affiliate.

In sales, it's called The Turnaround. You take a negative, restate it, and either make it a positive or at least make it sound better or deflect the criticism or duck your responsibility, etc.

"We never go out anymore"
=
"Gee, honey - I guess I was being selfish; I just wanna keep you all to myself"

"It's expensive, but it's worth it"
=
"It's the best quality product you can buy and the investment you make today will pay off for a long time."

In politics, it's a way to slam your opposition and invite the inference that you're a swell guy by comparison. And it can be a very effective tactic when you're selling your way into power - which is how it works now. We don't evaluate the resumé to make an informed decision. We vote for the one who looks good and sounds OK and carries fewer negatives - the one with the better Marketing Campaign.

But it gets full-blown destructive when it flops all the way over into the kind of Authoritarian Gaslighting we've seen from the Trumpsters (most recently), and from guys like Mr Curtis for a coupla generations now - because eventually:
  • Every accusation is a confession
  • Every boast is an expression of inadequacy
  • Every warning of a threat is a statement of intent
Get woke - stay woke.


Today's Tweet

Keith

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Onion


WASHINGTON—Rushing toward the president as he pressed the eight-inch bit into his temple, several White House aides managed to wrestle a drill from Donald Trump’s hand Monday while he attempted to remove Obama’s listening device from his skull. “Obama implanted a microphone inside my head to record everything I say!” Trump reportedly shouted shortly before three White House staffers pinned him to the floor and pried apart his fingers to seize the power tool. “You don’t understand, he can hear everything we’re saying! Obama can even hear my thoughts! I have to get it out! I can feel it! I can feel it! I can feel it!” At press time, staffers were panicking after Trump locked himself in the bathroom and began cutting his stomach open with a razor blade in an attempt to find the tracking chip he said The New York Times had put in his food.

Today's Tweet



Take a candidate we've been conditioned to dislike - for a good 25 years now - and just play up everything negative even more. Hammer on it night-n-day. It's especially effective when "the dirt" just happens to include the magic word "email", which of course links nicely to the more recent negative inferences about Hillary that were set in place over the last 5 years or so.

Eventually you can move the needle enough to make a difference.

Because advertising works. The world is being run by some pretty smart people (current POTUS notwithstanding), and smart people don't spend $500 Billion a year on shit that don't work.

Keith

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tiny Desk

Corrinne Bailey Rae



She needs a really great producer, and some better backing vocals, but it sounds promising.

Ignore The Obvious

The house is burning, Trump is casually strolling away carrying matches and an empty gas can, and the GOP congress critters are busy bitchin' about who called the fire department.

(more or less - Garry Kasparov, via Twitter)

Today's GIF

Sean Spicer preparing for the press briefing

Dots

The federal budget is a statement of our values. And our values are now nothing but the kind of Friedmanesque "Rational Self-Interest" that says as long as I get what I want everybody else can take a flyin' fuck at a rollin' donut.

John Oliver:



This is not a philosophy of governance. This is a fucking robbery.

Selective Quote

"When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter. Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot."
--Franciso D'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged

The quote is from a speech aimed at shaming the Mooching Masses, and it's the usual junk that developmentally stunted Libertarians love to fantasize about when they rub one out, but there's a truth hidden in it that rings pretty solid right now when the roles are so obviously reversed.

The producers are the workin' guys being fucked over by the Rent-Seekers (aka: Looters, Wage Thieves, Corporate Welfare Leeches, Coin-Operated Politicians, etc) - under the full protection of the Daddy State.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bonnet Chronicles


Art Oddities

Carlos Enriquez Gomez ( 1900 - 1957)




Zappa

Uncle Remus --Frank Zappa


Wo, are we movin' too slow?
Have you seen us,
Uncle Remus . . .
We look pretty sharp in these clothes (yes, we do)
Unless we get sprayed with a hose
It ain't bad in the day
If they squirt it your way
'Cept in the winter, when it's froze
An' it's hard if it hits
On yer nose
On yer nose

Just keep yer nose
To the grindstone, they say
Will that redeem us,
Uncle Remus . . .
I can't wait till my Fro is full-grown
I'll just throw 'way my Doo-Rag at home
I'll take a drive to BEVERLY HILLS
Just before dawn
An' knock the little jockeys
Off the rich people's lawn
An' before they get up
I'll be gone, I'll be gone
Before they get up
I'll be knocking the jockeys off the lawn
Down in the dew

Written by Frank Vincent Zappa, George Duke • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

Yikes

From the front page of the Chicago Tribune yesterday:



So, there is actually a President Bartlet, and they call her Chancellor Merkel.

Angela Merkel has an undergrad in Physics & Physical Chemistry (1978 - Leipzig U), and a doctorate in Quantum Chemistry (1986 - German Academy of Science, Berlin).

Donald Trump can't even spell PhD.

A Climate Timeline


This is from Grist - I tried to capture the whole thing, but it's not working so you should go to Grist.org and take a look. Do that now.