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Liberal Outrage

The good is the enemy of the great

Yglesias, speculating why Justice Roberts might have ruled in favor of the ACA:

If that had happened, liberals would have had no choice but to start campaigning for Medicare for all. Would they have gotten it? Not in 2013, that's for sure. But the problem of health insurance wasn't going to vanish no matter what Roberts did. The employer-based system has been slowly unraveling for years and would continue to do so no matter what Roberts did. And the debate would be that either you're for expanding access to health insurance by enrolling more people in government-run programs or else you're against expanding access to health insurance--a very tough and polarizing debate in which the court had ruled that moderate solutions are illegal.

The ACA will do a lot in the medium term to improve people's lives, and i wouldn't wish for anything that would get rid of that but, um... damn.

Update: John Cole urges me to buck up, soldier (sorry for the language; someone is clearly upset):

They are now in disarray. Half of them feel betrayed by Roberts, the other half feel betrayed by life in general. The message for liberals should not be to move on from this victory, but to press the advantage. Obviously, Obama wants to move on and talk about jobs and the economy, but for those of us in the rank and file, this decision is an unlimited ammo dump. Keep pressing the advantage, keep talking about the benefits that consumers will experience under the law, keep mocking the "socialism" and "unconstitutional" claims, and keep moving forward. Remember, this is easy turf. A couple years ago Republicans were arguing that crushing a child's testicles was constitutional. Now they want to argue that denying your child health care when he has leukemia is constitutional. Go in for the fucking kill, liberals.

For once in your god damned lives, put aside your fucking stupid beliefs about purity and how the public option was the bestest thing since sliced bread, accept the massive, game-changing victory you got today, and use it as a god damned bludgeon against the troglodytes whose health care plans are modeled after Ebeneezer Scrooge. For once, focus your bloodlust on Republicans instead of the DLC/Firebaggers/ANYONE WITHOUT AN (R) AFTER THEIR NAME. I'm begging you.

For once in your lives turn a win into a win, just like the Republicans were able to do when I was a wingnut (and half the time they were able to turn a loss into a win). Don't argue amongst yourselves about what would have been better- smash the Republicans around the head and neck with the cudgel you have been given. We're not debating which Democratic plan would have been better, we're debating the reality of what we have now versus the 18th century version of what Republicans would replace it with.

Again, as a former wingnut and lifelong Republican until 2006 or 2007, I am fucking begging- treat a win like a win and use it to your advantage. The most depressing thing about becoming a Democrat after being a Republican for so many years is just watching Democrats shit the bed whenever they win. Press the fucking advantage.

By fnord12 | June 29, 2012, 3:47 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The voice of the community

Two news organizations go to the same "ordinary businessman" for a take on the ACA.

Wow--two news organizations covering the same story scoured the nation for a random small business owner to comment on that story--and they both found the same one! How'd that happen? What are the odds?

Well, as it turns out, Joe Olivo of Perfect Printing turns up quite a bit in public discussions of this and other issues. Here he is testifying against the health care law before House and Senate committees in January 2011. Here he is on the Fox Business Network around the same time, discussing the same subject. Here he is a few days ago, also on Fox Business, talking to John Stossel about the law. Here he is discussing the same subject on a New Jersey Fox affiliate.

And here he is in July 2010 discussing small business hiring with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. Here he is opposing an increase in the minimum wage in an MSNBC debate a couple of weeks ago.

Go to many of these links and you find out something about Joe Olivo that NPR and NBC didn't tell you: he's a member of the National Federation of Independent Business. NFIB's site and YouTube page promote many of Olivo's public appearances. He was the subject of an NFIB "My Voice in Washington" online video in 2011.

NFIB, you will not be surprised to learn, is linked to the ALEC and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, and to the usual rogues' gallery of right-wing zillionaires.

Are the news organizations punked or complicit?

By fnord12 | June 29, 2012, 3:32 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Fighting with one hand tied behind your back

Now that we're past the constitutional question on the ACA, we've moved on to "Can it survive a Romney presidency?". Most people think the answer is "Yes because Democrats would filibuster the repeal attempt." but Matthew Yglesias reminds us (as if we needed it) that the filibuster rules the Democrats were operating under were entirely self-imposed:

What I think this misses is that in the real world there are very few practical constraints on reconciliation. The operational issue the Obama administration had with reconciliation is that there were a clutch of 10-15 Democratic Senators who preferred a 60-vote Senate because it put shifted the pivot point and put policy outcomes closer to their personal ideal points. It was those Senators who raised a lot of niggling objections about reconciliation rules.

The GOP is more ideologically unified and more focused on advancing a broad conception of the national interest rather than parochial concerns of individual legislators. Here's how they handled the reconciliation process last time Democrats attempted to filibuster a major legislative priority:

The senate parliamentarian serves as arbiter of the Senate's rules. Although the vote of 60 senators can overrule the parliamentarian's decision, that seldom happens. What drew Lott's ire were the parliamentarian's decisions that made it easier for Democrats to stall the president's tax and budget bills. (Senate rules generally prevent filibusters on budget and tax bills. And the GOP leadership wanted those rules interpreted as broadly as possible. But Dove didn't always comply. Earlier he ruled that only one tax bill a year could be immune to a filibuster. And more recently, he ruled that a disaster relief set aside also wouldn't be getting the no-filibuster free ride.) Desiring more accommodating decisions, he fired Dove.

That is how you get things done in Washington when you want to get things done.

By fnord12 | June 29, 2012, 8:28 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Congress to make viewing of political ads mandatory

Via Kevin Drum:

The Dish Network, in its continuing effort to attract new viewers, introduced a new DVR called the Hopper earlier this year. The Hopper's main appeal is that it allows you to skip past commercials entirely, and unsurprisingly, TV networks aren't very happy about this. But guess who else is unhappy?
At a Wednesday hearing on video distribution held by the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, [Rep. John Dingell, D-Clueless] complained that the service will allow potential voters to skip past important commercial messages.

"I've got an election coming up, like all my colleagues," Dingell said, during his questioning of Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen. "We all put political ads on the local stations to reach our constituents. The Hopper potentially limits the ability of every member of this subcommittee to reach constituents to help them make up their minds on Election Day.

"Do you understand and appreciate the concerns that the politicians up here on the dais and other politicians everywhere will feel about that, yes or no?" Dingell asked.

By fnord12 | June 28, 2012, 4:15 PM | Liberal Outrage & TeeVee | Link

Jailed For Sharing Links?

Am i missing something here? The way i'm reading this article, this guy Anton Vickerman was convicted for sharing links.

Newcastle crown court heard Anton Vickerman's site had up to 400,000 users a day and made about £35,000 a month in revenue. While UK prosecutors did not pursue a case on copyright offences, Vickerman was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and faces sentencing next month.

The conviction increases pressure to halt plans to extradite Sheffield student Richard O'Dwyer to the US on copyright charges relating to a far smaller website. At its peak, O'Dwyer's site reached about 300,000 users a month and was estimated by prosecutors to have taken approximately £147,000 in revenue over around three years.


"It just seems to me that people like Richard are being punished for being able to navigate the modern world," said Linehan. "The internet has changed everything, they're doing what comes naturally in these new, uncharted waters and suddenly they're getting their collars felt by people who still have Hotmail addresses.

"And then [there's] the sheer shocking arbitrary nature of it all ... to be told that you could face up to 10 years for sharing links? When I heard that Nora Ephron died, I shared on Twitter a link to the full version of When Harry Met Sally on YouTube. Am I a criminal now? Why? Why not?

So, if i'm better at finding stuff on the internet than you are, and i set up a website where i link to those things, and you use my website to find those things, and i get revenue from people visiting my site...that's a conspiracy to defraud? Please explain.

"This was not a case brought using copyright law. The interest groups involved couldn't present a case of copyright infringement and instead decided to press for the use of the common law offence of 'conspiracy to defraud'," said UK Pirate party leader Loz Kaye. "This is one of the most controversial crimes in English law - it criminalises conduct by two or more people that would not be criminal when performed by an individual.

"The offence was notoriously used in the 1970s to prevent people sharing film cassettes as the TV and film industry believed video was a threat to their existence.

"In addition to flying in the face of recent findings in similar cases, this prosecution was driven by private interests. It is well known that the very groups representing the victim helped with the investigation, were present at the arrest, given access to the evidence and were present at police interviews. This is deeply concerning."


By min | June 28, 2012, 3:18 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

At least Bernie Sanders exists

From his website:

The Senate on Thursday rejected an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to let states require clear labels on any food or beverage containing genetically engineered ingredients. The vote on the amendment to the farm bill was 26 to 73. "This is the very first time a bill on labeling genetically engineered food has been brought before the Senate. It was opposed by virtually every major food corporation in the country. While we wish we could have gotten more votes, this is a good step forward and something we are going to continue to work on. The people of Vermont and the people of America have a right to know what's in the food that they eat."

As John Cole says:

I'm personally not someone who fears genetically modified food...

But having said that, I have no problem with, and in fact think it is perfectly reasonable to require these labels. Let consumers make informed decisions- isn't that how the alleged "free market" is supposed to work?

By fnord12 | June 22, 2012, 2:55 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

You're Welcome, South Africa

For the contribution our government has made in inspiring your secrecy bill. Take that, whistleblowers (I'm looking at you, Bradley Manning)!

The protection of state information bill - dubbed the "secrecy bill" - envisages draconian penalties of up to 25 years in prison for whistleblowers and journalists who possess, leak or publish state secrets. It has been described as the first piece of legislation since the end of apartheid in 1994 to undermine South Africa's democracy.

Opponents of the bill fear that, with South Africa often regarded as a beacon of democracy and freedom on the continent, it could be used as an excuse by repressive African regimes for renewed crackdowns on journalists and activists.


"The legislation is transparently intended to make life difficult for pesky investigative journalists, and generally to save incompetent or corrupt bureaucrats from being embarrassed," Coetzee, born in Cape Town but now resident in Australia, said in an email. "Its sponsors have very likely been emboldened by the push that has taken place all over the western world since 2001 to erect a wall of secrecy around the more dubious actions of the state, and to make it a crime to breach that wall."

It makes you feel good to know that we're setting an example for the world. I know, i know. We can't take all of the credit. We're not the only country in the west. But still. We contributed, and we should get credit for it. Ofc, we should also see what they've got in their secrecy bill and compare it to our secrecy policies. They might have some good ideas in there that we didn't think of.

Today, South Africa boasts arguably the freest press in Africa, with no shortage of revelations about shady deals or satirical cartoons lampooning politicians' foibles. Freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and other media, has been protected under the constitution. But opponents of the bill believe the gains of the past 18 years are under threat and warn that the rest of the continent is watching. In neighbouring Zimbabwe, journalists continue to be harassed and arrested, while state broadcasters remain firmly under President Robert Mugabe's control.
Nic Dawes, editor of South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper, said: "We're already hearing from people elsewhere on the continent that their politicians and government officials are saying to them: 'You see, they're even doing this in South Africa, so there's no reason why we shouldn't be doing it here.'

Meh. The South African government should learn another thing from the western world - propaganda through the media (see post below).

By min | June 8, 2012, 2:01 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Obama Administration Perfecting the Use of the Media as a Propaganda Mouthpiece

In today's Guardian, Glenn Greenwald writes:

The Obama White House's extreme fixation on secrecy is shaped by a bizarre paradox. One the one hand, the current administration has prosecuted double the number of whistleblowers - government employees who leak classified information showing high-level official wrongdoing - than all previous administrations combined. Obama officials have also, as ACLU lawyers documented this week in the Guardian, resisted with unprecedented vigor any attempts to subject their conduct to judicial review or any form of public disclosure, by insisting to courts that these programs are so secretive that the US government cannot even confirm or deny their existence without damaging US national security.

But at the very same time that they invoke broad secrecy claims to shield their conduct from outside scrutiny, it is Obama officials themselves who have continuously and quite selectively leaked information about these same programs to the US media. Indeed, the high publicity-value New York Times scoops of the past two weeks about covert national security programs have come substantially from Obama aides themselves.


In sum, these anonymous leaks are classic political propaganda: devoted to glorifying the leader and his policies for political gain. Because the programs are shrouded in official secrecy, it is impossible for journalists to verify these selective disclosures. By design, the only means the public has to learn anything about what the president is doing is the partial, selective disclosures by Obama's own aides - those who work for him and are devoted to his political triumph.

But that process is a recipe for government deceit and propaganda. This was precisely the dynamic that, in the run-up to the attack on Iraq, co-opted America's largest media outlets as mindless purveyors of false government claims. The defining journalistic sin of Judith Miller, the New York Times' disgraced WMD reporter, was that she masqueraded the unverified assertions of anonymous Bush officials as reported fact.
Perhaps the most pernicious effect of this type of journalism is that it converts journalists into dutiful messengers of official decrees. Reporters are trained that they will be selected as scoop-receivers only if they demonstrate fealty to the agenda of official sources.

In the article, Greenwald gives two examples of the difference in how two NYT journalists are treated when one writes glorifying articles on successful government missions and the other points out the mistakes.

I don't think they need to amend that ban on domestic dissemination of propaganda. They've already figured out how to spread government misinformation.

By min | June 8, 2012, 12:28 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Who to blame?

Quoting most of a Yglesias post:

Bernanke said, repeatedly, that he believes there are additional steps that he could take to bolster real growth and that he remains at the ready to unleash those steps if he thinks conditions warrant.

In other words, whatever it is that people who aren't named "Ben Bernanke" think is standing in the way of the Fed reducing the unemployment rate, Ben Bernanke thinks that nothing is standing in his way other than his own relative lack of concern with the fate of jobless people.

His view is that he could do more, and that if the situation gets worse he may do more, but that he doesn't regard a years-long period of mass unemployment as that big a problem. He's more concerned with preserving the Fed's credibility at capping consumer price increases at a two percent annual level. That's his personal judgment. Better for millions to stay unemployed than for them to start commuting to work and moving out of their parents' basement, pushing up oil prices and rents. It's a perverse judgment in my view, but nobody on the Hill wanted to directly challenge it.

This is entirely fair criticism and i agree with it, but it's worth remembering that the reason we're looking to the Fed right now is because our political system is completely gridlocked and the Fed (because it isn't accountable directly to voters or politicians) is the only one with any power that can act. But most economists agree that fiscal stimulus (e.g., government spending) is more effective than monetary stimulus (e.g., manipulating interest rates). And interest rates are already effectively at 0, so anything the Fed does will be somewhat unconventional and unproven. This isn't to say there aren't a lot of good ideas about what the Fed can do (and indeed, as Yglesias points out, Bernanke himself thinks he could do a lot, if he only wanted to). But we should also keep in mind that we're only looking here because of the failure of our political system.

By fnord12 | June 8, 2012, 10:04 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

It's How They Roll in Greece

Holy Crap! The first 50 seconds aren't all that exciting, but the last 30...

The brawl, a first in the nearly 40 years since democracy was returned to its birthplace, broke out during a morning talkshow when Ilias Kasidiaris, the spokesman of the far-right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) took umbrage at deputy Rena Dourou declaring that his party "will take the country back 500 years".

After leaping from his seat and throwing a glass of water at Dourou, a deputy with the radical Syriza party, Kasidiaris then turned on Liana Kanelli, an MP with the KKE communist party, who, waving a piece of paper, stood up to condemn the action.

As the cameras rolled, the cropped-haired Kasidiaris, a weightlifting enthusiast, who had served in the Greek military's special forces, is shown lashing out at Kanelli slapping her around the face three times as she threw up her arms in self-defence.

The extraordinary footage quickly prompted state prosecutor Eleni Raikou to order the immediate arrest of Kasidiaris. The 31-year-old, who was elected to the 300-seat Athens parliament in the country's inconclusive election last month, is the most vocal opponent of suggestions that Chrysi Avgi is a violent organisation with a history of attacks on society's most vulnerable not least Greece's burgeoning population of immigrants.

The Golden Dawn party has refused to condemn the actions of their spokesman, so that's how you know they're totally not for "the violence".

The guy's also going on trial on June 11th for aiding and abetting an armed robbery.

The Dems drop you like a hot potato if you get caught sending pictures of your crotch to women. This guy is going on trial for a crime that ended up with someone getting stabbed, and they made him their spokesman! Woof.

By min | June 7, 2012, 8:39 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link


David Frum:

Wisconsin has definitively exposed the failure of the American left to build an effective populist movement despite the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. The Wisconsin recall vote was a battle at a time and place of the unions' own choosing. They still lost, and in one of the bluest states of non-coastal America. Who'll fear them now? Say what you will about the Tea Party, it collected scalps. The unions plus Occupy plus the remnants of the '08 Obama campaign have not. Perhaps that will change if a Republican wins the White House - but until and unless the left loses that fight too, we won't know.


I'm even more unhappy with how it happened, with national Democrats basically sitting on their hands while conservatives poured resources into the race.


Over the past five years I've read more and more progressive lamentations of the decline of organized labor in the United States, but typically in narratives that seem to deny agency to the union leaders themselves. But part of what you see in Wisconsin is labor leaders paying the price for inability to deliver their own members.

Frum (who is probably ok with the Wisconsin results) and Krugman both end on a somewhat positive note for Dems. But it's ugly, and i don't see the Dems getting better organized in time for the election later this year.

By fnord12 | June 6, 2012, 5:11 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The oil barrier

Kevin Drum:

Generally speaking, we're finally living in the world of peak oil. Or call it plateaued oil if you like, since we seem to have hit a rough plateau in oil production that's likely to continue for quite a while. This is the world of the vicious circle: when the economy gets better, demand for oil goes up and oil prices spike. This causes the economy to tank, which sends demand for oil down. Rinse and repeat... And since, in this brave new world, the price of oil gyrates frequently and erratically, it's hard to get people serious about this. If oil were, say, permanently above $200 per barrel or so, we'd be building wind farms and installing PV solar at breakneck speed. But whenever the price of Brent falls below $90 or so, everyone gets nervous and wonders if wind farms and solar arrays are really such a good investment after all.

By fnord12 | June 4, 2012, 10:46 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Isn't this an act of war?


From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran's main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America's first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

I'm pretty sure that's an act of war. The Pentagon seems to think so, based on this article from a year ago:

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.

I ask because just a few days ago, Obama promised us no more wars than were "absolutely necessary".

By fnord12 | June 1, 2012, 12:58 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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