Feed on


The naysayers are still trying to undercut the importance of what Snowden did, but most people get it:

Edward Snowden didn’t win a Pulitzer on Monday, but he might as well have.
In a move certain to be interpreted as a vindication of the former government contractor’s efforts, the Pulitzer Prize Board on Monday awarded The Guardian US and The Washington Post its coveted Public Service award for reporting on the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance practices.

The award was given for the “revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security,” the committee said in its release. Sig Gissler, the Pulitzer Prize administrator, announced the winners shortly after 3 p.m. at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.

Nothing to brag about

Budget Battle

I was just talking to a friend about this, that Obama’s fixation on the deficit meant that Americans were deprived of social services at a time when they needed them the most. I don’t want to hear any crap about how “his hands were tied.” Bullshit. He validated this wingnut bullshit every time he opened his mouth, and I won’t ever forget it:

WASHINGTON–The U.S. government’s gap between spending and revenue will be narrower both this year and later in the decade compared with prior estimates, driven in part by reductions in near-term military spending and falling longer-run costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, the Congressional Budget Office said.

The CBO, a nonpartisan agency that advises Congress on budget policy, on Monday said the adjustments will lower its forecast for the 2014 deficit to $492 billion, or $23 billion less than it estimated two months ago. That’s equivalent to 2.8% of gross domestic product, marking the smallest deficit since 2007. Since 1980, the deficit has averaged roughly 3.2% of GDP.

CBO also reduced the government’s projected 10-year deficit by $286 billion, to $7.6 trillion, mainly because of lower subsidies related to the health-care law. Future Medicare spending was also revised lower.

The estimates come during a brief period of rapidly shrinking budget deficits, forcing both political parties to rethink their approaches to taxes and spending heading into the November midterm elections. The White House and Republican lawmakers have battled over the deficit for years, primarily through protracted debates over how much revenue to collect and how to structure government programs.


I saw this story the other day and meant to write about it, and by this time, the problem was already fixed. Which is great, right?

I sometimes wonder why I bother to talk to that nincompoop

Big surprise, right? H/t Ron K.:

In Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens [PDF], a paper forthcoming in Perspectives on Politics by Princeton’s Martin Gilens and Northwestern’s Benjamin Page, the authors analyze 1,779 over the past 20+ years and conclude that policy makers respond exclusively to the needs of people in the 90th wealth percentile to the exclusion of pretty much every one else. Mass-scale intervention from citizens’ groups barely registers, while the desires of the richest ten percent of America dictate practically the entire national policy landscape.

In a summary in the Washington Post, Larry Bartels writes,

Alas, no. In their primary statistical analysis, the collective preferences of ordinary citizens had only a negligible estimated effect on policy outcomes, while the collective preferences of “economic elites” (roughly proxied by citizens at the 90th percentile of the income distribution) were 15 times as important. “Mass-based interest groups” mattered, too, but only about half as much as business interest groups — and the preferences of those public interest groups were only weakly correlated (.12) with the preferences of the public as measured in opinion surveys.

Gilens and Page frame their study as a test of four broad theories of American politics: “Majoritarian Electoral Democracy,” “Majoritarian Pluralism,” “Economic Elite Domination” and “Biased Pluralism.” “Majoritarian Electoral Democracy,” with its emphasis on public opinion, elections and representation, provides the theoretical backbone of most contemporary political science (including mine). The training of most graduate students (including mine) is primarily couched in that framework. But Gilens’s and Page’s work makes that look like a bad scientific bet, wishfully ignoring most of what actually drives American policy-making.

Suddenly I see

KT Tunstall:

Fallen for you

Sheila Nicholls:


Dixie Chicks:

Nevada standoff

That “range war” story? Turns out it’s really about the Kochs wanting federal land. Teabaggers are chumped again!

Go read.

That which must not be named

KKK rally, 1965

Juan Cole on white terrorism:

My Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others, judging by the Facebook shares, must be among the more popular pieces I have ever written. It keeps being proven correct by American journalism every day.

I get hot under the collar thinking about all the effort the US government is expending to monitor who we call and where we are when we do it–in the hundreds of millions!– and about all the surveillance of innocent American citizens of Muslim faith and of mosques, when the American fascists receive much less focus. If a group is armed and announces its purpose is to spread hate of another group, wouldn’t that warrant some surveillance? By surveiling us all, precious person power is being wasted.

Thus, we had the horrible day-before-Passover attack on two Jewish community facilities outside Kansas City, KS allegedly committed by a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, which left 3 people dead. My heart goes out to the innocent victims of hate. I put “Kansas” and “terrorism” in a search of Google News and did not get a single hit on this incident, which tells me that no US news services are describing it that way. Heck, the LA Times said authorities are cautioning that it is too soon even to call the shootings a “hate crime.” Since the shooter is said to have shouted “Heil Hitler,” I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was a hate crime. And I’m also pretty sure it was a form of terrorism.

Likewise, if you search for Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist who shot down Sikhs, “and terrorism,” you only get opinion pages and blogs, not MSM sites.

But a where a lone gunman committing a hate crime is a Muslim, there’s a demand to use the T-word. Moreover, there is the peculiar American practice of laying collective guilt on all Muslims for what any one wacko amongst them does. White people get a pass on having violent and destructive wackos among them. (In fact, almost all American Muslims are normal law-abiding and productive citizens– many are physicians and other professionals, business people, etc.; it isn’t their fault if West Asia is going through some turmoil these days; Europe went through a lot of turmoil and violence 1914-1945 and we don’t think Europeans in general are weird.)

Or then you have the stand-off between armed far right wing extremists in Nevada and the Bureau of Land Management. For more on this episode seethis diary at Daily Kos. They openly admit to being armed private militias with names like “Praetorian Guard,” and they are breaking the law and trying to intimidate government officials. But Federal authorities are treating them with kid gloves. Even though they are certainly organized and deploying terror to make a political point, no one is calling them “terrorists.” (The Oklahoma City bombings caused LE to be cautious in confronting the far right extremists; maybe that’s why they are monitoring millions of innocent people instead, who they know won’t push back.)

This is the way the US Federal Code defines domestic terrorism:

” the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. ”

If the person accused of the shootings at Jewish facilities is guilty, he was certainly trying to intimidate a civilian population! And the Nevada cattle grazing extremists, if their behavior is being accurately described in the press, are trying to affect the conduct of government with threatened violence.


the seed - spring

For the past 15 years or so, every spring, they say the same thing: “Worst allergy season on record, record high pollen, record high mold.” Etc., etc.

It’s really brutal this year. Everywhere I go, people are sneezing and wiping their noses. My throat is sore and I keep hacking up stuff.

I want to once again say thanks to the people who make monthly contributions, because their support means I can walk into the CVS and get me some generic Zyrtec. (And Nasalcrom.)

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