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The chutzpah award

… goes to Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who criticized US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey for urging Israel to postpone strikes against Iran. Netanyahu said Dempsey’s remarks “served the Iranians,” even though the U.S. has backed Israel in Middle East conflicts for well over a half-century. No word on Dempsey’s response to Netanyahu, although “Shut the fuck up,” would do nicely.

‘Shitstorm’ rips through Germany

German academics have named “shitstorm” the best English loanword of 2011, because it “fills a gap in the German vocabulary that has become apparent through changes in the culture of public debate.”

Mitt flips, tells truth

As David Dayen points out, one of the perils of non-stop flip-flopping is you might make a statement that’s fact-based and therefore likely to get you into trouble with the Republican “base.” For example, a statement addressing the truth about spending cuts.

Feingold just said ‘no’

A profile in courage: Russ Feingold, the only U.S. senator to vote against the Patriot Act, back when there was overwhelming pressure from the George W. Bush administration to crush civil liberties. A profile in political expediency: Barack Obama, who last year signed into law a four-year extension of the Patriot Act.

From Raw Story:

Civil liberties advocates have condemned the [Patriot Act] because it allows authorities to conduct surveillance without identifying the person or location to be wiretapped, permits surveillance of non-U.S. persons who are not affiliated with a terrorist group, and allows law enforcement to gain access to “any tangible thing” during terrorism investigations.

Let’s not forget who stood up for us, or who sold us out.

Ben Franklin is believed to have said “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

If he had been alive today, he would have added “and Republican’s complete lack of foresight.” The Iraq War, for instance, was going to be over in weeks. OOOPS. Holding the debt ceiling hostage would make them look strong. OOOPS. Scott Walker was going to dominate Wisconsin. OOOOPS. The Tea Party was going to be their personal conservative army. OOOPS. Sarah Palin would rally the GOP. OOOPS. Impeaching a sitting president would work out swell. OOOOOPS.

In today’s Piggie of the Week, AP Ticker considers how the Citizens United decision backfired on the Republicans.

Private prisons racket a sin

Privatization of prisons is what happens when right-wing politicians collude with corporations to shrink government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub,” to borrow Grover Norquist’s vivid phrase. A major church has belatedly taken a stand against such ventures:

The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, “after six months of study, discussion and prayerful consideration,” announced on January 3 that it had withdrawn nearly $1 million in stocks from two private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group.

A spokesperson for the board said the decision was not based on finance, but morality. “Our board simply felt that it did not want to profit from the business of incarcerating others,” Colette Nies, managing director of communications for the board, told The Crime Report.

She added: “We believe that profiting from incarceration is contrary to Church values.”

The decision comes after a year of lobbying by the National Prison Divestment Campaign, a coalition of immigrant rights, criminal justice and other organizations targeting CCA and GEO. The effort seeks to convince private and public institutions that for-profit prisons are a bad idea.

One of the major objections to private prisons is that, unlike normal prisons, they have no incentive to rehabilitate prisoners because private prisons profit from keeping people incarcerated. Last week CCA was the subject of controversy when it was revealed that it was offering to buy state-owned prisons and operate them for 20 years on the condition that the states keep the prisons at least 90% full.

It’s a pleasure, and a bit of a surprise, to learn that some Christian groups ultimately can’t stomach investing in businesses that are clearly un-Christian.

The EMI song (when you smile)

A new collection of songs Alex Chilton made before Big Star:

Screw you, we’re from Texas

Ray Wylie Hubbard:

I drink

Mary Gauthier:

Statistician’s blues

This one’s dedicated to someone from my past. Todd Snider:

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