Friday, November 22, 2013

Zero Dark Fifty

Veteran JFK assassination researcher Jim DiEugenio on the national security state's fingerprints left both at the Texas Theatre in 1963 and on what's showing at your local theater today...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ich bin ein East Berliner

Documentary film maker Laura Poitras, recently profiled in the Sunday New York Times Magazine in the wake of  her role in the Ed Snowden revelations along with Glenn Greenwald, on being spied on by the United States government:
At the moment I live in what used to be East Berlin. It feels strange to come to the former home of the Stasi to expose the dangers of government surveillance, but being here gives me hope. There is a deep historical memory among Germans of what happens to societies when its government targets and spies on its own citizens. The public outcry in Germany to the NSA disclosures has been enormous.
Except now we're all in East Berlin.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Electoral Letters of Bismarck and Reprisal Amidst Health Care Reconstruction

File:Franz von Lenbach Bismarck.jpg

In 1883 Chancellor Otto von Bismarck of Germany instituted the first national health insurance scheme, which would soon be followed by workplace accident insurance (workman's comp), unemployment insurance, and finally old age and disability insurance (social security) to put into place the first modern welfare state social insurance system which was eventually copied with success throughout the industrialized world.

Now Brad DeLong invokes his legacy in anticipation of Obamacare's likely success in wealthy, successful, highly educated blue states where The Powers That Be will actually try to make it work in contrast with its questionable nearterm future in struggling, dependent, low-educated red states where rejectionist, provincial governance (whose preferred legacies of propertarian statism seem to "range" from slavery to libertarianism) may lead to a slow motion electoral time lapse Wile E. Coyote moment for those "at fault":
In the Democratic-controlled “blue” states, where 60% of the US population lives – and which account for 70% of national income and 80% of its wealth – implementation of the ACA is likely to be like that of RomneyCare in Massachusetts: a somewhat bumpy ride, but a clear success that nobody will wish to repeal after the fact. But no one knows what will happen in the “red states,” where the Republican political infrastructure is digging in its heels.

What will doctors and hospital administrators in Phoenix, Kansas City, Houston, and Atlanta do after they talk to their colleagues in Los Angeles, Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Baltimore, and New York, where state governments and political structures are trying to make ACA implementation a success? Will they compare and contrast the conditions under which they are working? Which candidates will they support with donations and votes in the 2014 and 2016 elections? What will nurses and patients denied the benefits of the ACA do?

America’s partisan heat is about to be turned up over the next several election cycles, as the blame game begins. Bismarck would know who is at fault.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Parish the thought

Wayne Slater drew the short straw in today's Dallas Morning News political junket coverage:
If Perry looked a little different, some things don’t change – like recalling numbers or geography. Touting Texas, Perry declared, “There are many other states that embrace those conservative values, the approach we’ve taken over the years. I’m in one today – Florida.”

“We’re in Louisiana,” someone shouted.

Thursday, August 01, 2013


Yesterday's report/memoir by Olivia Messer of the Texas Observer highlights the continuing culture of mysogyny in the Texas Legislature:
During the House budget debate in April, Brenham Republican Lois Kolkhorst and Austin Democrat Dawnna Dukes were debating an amendment. As the debate intensified, their male colleagues in the chamber started meowing and making angry-cat noises. Several times each session, men in the House will make cat noises when two women are debating.

“It shows how there’s this immediate visceral response from the men to treat us in a demeaning way,” Howard said. “Certainly, two men can go at it, and it’s thought to be business as usual, maybe because we expect that behavior from them. But the fact is that it’s still very hard for women to be assertive without being thought of as overly aggressive.”

When I asked Van de Putte if this immaturity is ever apparent on the Senate floor, she answered, “At times. You know, [pornographic images] on their personal iPads or something. You just say, ‘Gentlemen, don’t bring that to the floor… Just do that at home.’”
As Lesser describes, a couple of years ago this came to a head with a cathartic speech by 40-year House veteran Senfronia Thompson:
While Thompson was still at the front mic, Debbie Riddle stepped to the back microphone to ask a question. Riddle, a socially conservative Republican from the Houston suburbs, and Thompson, a liberal Democrat from an urban district, don’t side with one another often. But on this day, they did.

“Do you think this has become standard operating procedure by some because of what goes on in this House with the way some of the men have treated some of the women?” Riddle asked. “With pornography on the floor of this House. Do you think that’s why this is acceptable?”

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Real Ambulatory Time

In her Real Time with Bill Maher appearance, Sarah Slamen discusses Rick Perry's sister's financial interest in the recent passage of abortion restrictions in Texas.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Voter Fraud and Witchcraft

The Dallas Morning News' Trail Blazers political blog  reports that Texas Attorney General and presumed gubernatorial frontrunner Greg Abbott has taken to the venue of online superstition - by the light of the online Moon, as it were - which calls itself The Washington Times :
Electoral fraud harms voters of all races, and voter ID is a simple, nondiscriminatory way to help stop it. Getting an ID is free of charge for any Texan who needs one. Voter-ID laws already have been upheld by the Supreme Court. Crying “voter suppression” is nothing but a cynical scare tactic designed to mobilize Democratic partisans, none of whom ever will be prevented from voting by these laws. The administration’s absurd claim that this common-sense fraud prevention device is actually a racist plot to prevent minorities from voting would be comical if it weren’t so depressing to see an American president stoop to that level.
Right.  And witchcraft harms people of all races too.  But where's the empirical threat?  What is that voodoo that they do?  Perhaps weaving a magical virtual digital web with its inconvenient documentation of voter suppression and racial discrimination by the Texas Republican Party.
The Constitution makes elections the states’ business, not the federal government’s.
Then perhaps we can travel through time and take that argument to the Johnson administration. That is, the Lyndon Johnson administration, when it comes to the Voting Rights Act, and the Andrew Johnson administration when it comes to the Fourteenth  Amendment (equal protection) and the Fifteenth Amendment (equal right to vote, or as Justice Scalia would say, "racial entitlement."). And there is the matter of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment (poll tax ban, sorry Maggie.)

Ah, but that's what happens when you treat the voting booth as a dunking booth.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Stifle yourself, America

Via emptywheel, the Sunlight Foundation has caught the deletion of language, or rather the entire Obama transition site, just a couple of days after the emergence of Ed Snowden:
Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.
The message is loud and clea-  er, transparent.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Final Moments of Filibuster

From the Texas Tribune, highlights from the last twenty-five minutes or so of the tumultuous Texas Senate abortion filibuster by Wendy Davis on June 25th.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Reformation on Demand [Dragging Texas into the 1500s Edition]

File:Wittenberg Thesentuer Schlosskirche.JPG

When the Catholic Church was rocking the Middle Ages selling indulgences left and right, it found itself introduced to the Reformation when Martin Luther nailed the Ninety-Five Theses of the Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences  onto the door of the All Saints' Church in Wittenburg.

Likewise, when Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott kicked off his gubernatorial campaign for the Republican nomination with the usual archaic utterances on his July 17 Twitter Townhall, he was confronted with a twitter stream nailed with protests anachronistically originating from the twenty-first century:

Why was it ok for YOU to collect $10M in your injury lawsuit but then enact tort reform w/limits of $250,000?
Why did your office release the social security numbers of millions of Texas voters?
Why haven't you shut down tax-payer funded $487M slush-fund that current Gov. uses to reward businesses & donors?
Why do you accept large sums of $ from Big Coal and then fight the EPA when it wants to clean up Texas?
How do you reconcile regulating women's personal health choices while not regulating deadly  industries that kill hundreds?
How about laws that make it easier to vote & harder to get shot?
Why do you think banning abortions will eliminate abortions but banning guns won't stop gun violence?
Why is Sharia law evil while Biblical based law is OK (despite its prohibition in the Constitution)?
Do you own a favorite orange shirt that you're angry about never being able to wear again for fear of being called a RINO?
If god blessed Texas, how did Bush, Perry, and you end up as leaders?
If you were stranded on an island with Perry, Dewhurst and Cruz with only 1 can of hairspray, what time would you drown yourself?
[None of these made it through the Belo corporate media filter.]

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Is the Texas Taliban really going down?

Robert Draper writing in the current Texas Monthly cover story:
Still, the Texas Republican party’s problem hasn’t been a paucity of resources. Rather, its problem—which additional money and staff are unlikely to cure—has been its special gift for offending whole categories of the state’s electorate. As conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan acknowledged to me, “Republicans are so good at taking out their guns, shooting themselves in the foot, reloading, and then shooting themselves in the other foot.” While the sobering results of the 2012 presidential election have prompted introspection among Beltway Republicans about why they have lost favor among Hispanics, single women, and young voters, it’s fair to say that the soul-baring has not fully caught on within the Texas GOP. In April, Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled that same-sex couples could not receive domestic-partner benefits. And in June, word got out that Texas tea party organizer Ken Emanuelson had been caught on tape saying, “I’m going to be real honest with you: the Republican party doesn’t want black people to vote if they’re going to vote nine-to-one for Democrats.” Such bombast is exquisitely tailor-made to alienate hordes of millennial-generation voters
But it is the Texas GOP’s tone deafness on issues relating to the state’s fastest-growing demographic that is likeliest to prove the party’s undoing. Several Republicans attempted to convince me that many Texas Latinos do in fact vote for their candidates, citing, as GOP pollster Baselice did, numbers from the 2010 election cycle. One would think, then, that Republicans would’ve responded with delight to the new census figures. Instead, as the federal courts have repeatedly determined, the GOP redistricting chiefs have gone to great lengths to dilute Hispanic voting power.
 “All Hispanics have to do is look at the value documents of the Republican party of Texas,” said 43-year-old San Antonio state representative Trey Martinez Fischer, one of the Democrats’ most prominent opponents of the redistricting plan. “Their party platform says that this is an English-only state, that it’s a crime to be in this country illegally, that we should eliminate prekindergarten education for sixty-five percent of Hispanics, that we should repeal the DREAM Act for children of immigrants who came here through no fault of their own. Go to any of the two hundred and fifty-four counties—go find a Latino and ask them, ‘Would you join a political party if this is what they stood for?’ You’d get Ted Cruz, and that’s where it would end.”

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Squawking at Reality

Via TPM, Elizabeth Warren wading through the CNBC anchorage on re-enactment of Glass-Steagall..

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sarah Slamen: The Prequel

Sarah Slamen testifying June 20th before the Texas House State Affairs Committee on the House Bill 60 variant of the abortion restriction bill which went down to defeat under Wendy Davis's Senate filibuster but passed during a second special session last week.

[ Austin American-Statesman coverage ]

Friday, July 12, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Jeffrey Toobin, the Firewall Sniper of Hypocrisy [2013 Reloaded Edition]

Jeffrey Toobin has written an article attacking Ed Snowden for the unauthorized release of  government documents:
And what of his decision to leak the documents? Doing so was, as he more or less acknowledges, a crime. Any government employee or contractor is warned repeatedly that the unauthorized disclosure of classified information is a crime. But Snowden, apparently, was answering to a higher calling. “When you see everything you realize that some of these things are abusive,” he said. “The awareness of wrongdoing builds up. There was not one morning when I woke up. It was a natural process.”
Toobin has been accused of hypocrisy on this and other points before, more than once.  And not without kaus:
There's more! Let's not forget that Toobin, the man who now decries the baleful influence of book deals, first made his mark betraying Iran-Contra special counsel Lawrence Walsh, for whom he worked as a lawyer, by quitting to publish a book about the case before it was even over!
And how did Toobin betray Walsh?  Michael Isikoff:
Toobin was caught having absconded with large loads of classified and grand-jury related documents from the office of Iran-contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh. Toobin, it turned out, had been using his tenure in Walsh's office to secretly prepare a tell-all book about the Iran-contra case; the privileged documents, along with a meticulously kept private diary (in which the young Toobin, a sort of proto-Linda Tripp, had been documenting private conversations with his unsuspecting colleagues) were to become his prime bait to snare a book deal.   Toobin's conduct enraged his fellow lawyers in Walsh's office, many of whom viewed his actions as an indefensible betrayal of the public trust.  Walsh at one point even considered pressing for Toobin's indictment. ("I was petrified," Toobin confided at the time, "that criminal charges were going to be brought against me.") The matter also triggered an internal disciplinary inquiry by the Justice Department. Whether he feared dismissal and disgrace, or simply wanted to move on, target Toobin soon resigned from the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn (where he had gone to work after Walsh) and abandoned the practice of law.
Here's what Lawrence Walsh wrote in his memoir of the Iran-contra investigation, Firewall (p.273):
During our negotiations over the timing of the book's publication, Toobin and his publisher surprised us with a preemptive suit to enjoin me from interfering with the publication or punishing Toobin for having stolen hundreds of documents, some of them classified, and for exposing privileged information and material related to the grand jury proceedings. I could understand a young lawyer wanting to keep copies of his own work, but not copying material from the general files or the personal files of others.

Sarah Slamen resumes her testimony

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Thursday, July 04, 2013

A Note from the Hall Monitors of High School USA

Marcy Wheeler flags a courtesy note from the Pentagon's National Security Agency surveillance unit updating us on its current policymaking on our right to protest:
The Fourth of July reminds us as Americans of the freedoms and rights all citizens of our country are guaranteed by our Constitution. Among those is freedom of speech, often exercised in protests of various kinds. NSA does not object to any lawful, peaceful protest. NSA and its employees work diligently and lawfully every day, around the clock, to protect the nation and its people
No need to update them on your itinerary or agenda. They've already got that handled.