Thursday, June 27, 2013


And a day after an unspeakably bad ruling, the supreme court gets one right. About time.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Supreme Court Strikes Down the Voting Rights Act

And in a super clever way that rules section 4 unconstitutional, making section 5 worthless, and sending it back to a congress they know won't do shit.

Ari Berman has a typically well stated article on the decision.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Train of Thought Lounge: Wale feat. Sam Dew–Love Hate Thing


Greetings everyone.  Enjoy the opening single from Wale’s newest album, Love Hate Thing.

I apologize for the long absence from posting.  SCOTUSDocketwatch will return this week with write-ups and analyses of the Court’s upcoming decisions on the Voting Rights Act and Marriage Rights.

David Gregory Humiliates Himself More Than Usual

We know from watching David Gregory over the years that he simply isn't that bright, and has been promoted 5-6 levels too high into his current position as MTP host. He's like a smarter Luke Russert, in that all he knows is DC conventional wisdom, and since most of that currently involves anger at the NSA leaker and the reporting that brought this to light, it's no wonder that he says something this absurd. Greenwald's response is pretty damn satisfying.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Senator Warren Steps Up On Trade

Really amazing quotes in her speech opposing the US trade rep's confirmation.
I asked the President's nominee to be Trade Representative-Michael Froman-three questions:  First, would he commit to releasing the composite bracketed text [the full text of the TPP as it currently stands]? Or second, if not, would he commit to releasing just a scrubbed version of the bracketed text that made anonymous which country proposed which provision... Third, I asked Mr. Froman if he would provide more transparency behind what information is made [available] to the trade office's outside advisors. Currently, there are about 600 outside advisors that have access to sensitive information, and the roster includes a wide diversity of industry representatives and some labor and NGO representatives too.  But there is no transparency around who gets what information and whether they all see the same things, and I think that's a real problem. Mr. Froman's response was clear:  No, no, no.

"I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the Trade Representative's policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant," Warren explained. "In other words, if people knew what was going on, they would stop it. This argument is exactly backwards. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States."  
So his nomination still passed by an enormous margin, but this is an issue where we've needed Democrats to step up for a long long time. Glad that someone is taking charge.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

RIP Michael Hastings

This is so fucking sad. We have so few good journalists, we really can't lose any of them.

Rachel Maddow did a very nice tribute on him last night:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

When DC Journalists Take A Stand

In his typically brilliant column on Bob Schieffer's idiocy, Alex Pareene makes a really important point that I too find endlessly fascinating.
It is always interesting to see what subjects “objective” press figures like Schieffer feel comfortable expressing personal opinions about. Schieffer would never have expressed explicit support or disapproval of, say, the Senate comprehensive immigration reform package. He wouldn’t give an endorsement in a domestic election. But on this issue, Schieffer feels free to align himself with the state and against the state’s enemies. It isn’t a particularly surprising expression of allegiance, but it’s still useful to be reminded that many of our most Serious Journalists think of themselves as a partner, and not adversary, of power.
And that is exactly the point. Political journalists seem themselves as part of the game, part of the story, and a part of our government's power structure, not a check on it. The scariest part is that unlike if Schieffer had given a strong defense of the ACA, he doesn't even see a commentary like this as making a political statement at all. Everyone of importance in DC knows that this is the correct opinion to have about Snowden, so much so that it doesn't even trip his "I'm not allowed to take a position on anything" cardinal sin of serious journalism sensor.

Shit like this is exactly the problem with so much political journalism. They preach objectivity, but objectivity as they see it is basically impossible. They hold strong opinions, and express those opinions in writing every day under the guise of calling balls and strikes, not realizing that everything from what they choose to write about to how they cover the story reflects their own biases. Treating Benghazi and the IRS thing as super serious scandals while ignoring years up high unemployment and a government run predatory lending program is bias. A bias towards stupidity over substance counts. But in DC journalism, as long as your keep your biases against the right people and away from the wrong subjects, no one will ever question your objectivity.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Journalists Against Journalism

Where to even start with this shit: (video is not embedding because of something stupid)

Bob, just how exactly would we hold our elected officials accountable on this if until these leaks, NO ONE HAD PROOF THIS WAS HAPPENING. That really is the mindblowing point here. "Let's have a debate" about something we didn't know existed until Snowden leaked this documents. Linking to the 9/11 imagery is fucking shameful. It says everything about all that is wrong with our media that someone like Schieffer, a super respected dean of the DC press can say these statements and not be laughed out of his profession. Fucking mindblowing.

About it being cowardly going to Hong Kong: Hey, remember that last guy who leaked documents revealing US human rights abuses? Bradley Manning? He didn't run, we only put him in solitary confinement for 11 months (which is actual torture, BTW) and are prosecuting him for "aiding the enemy" which is beyond insane compared to his crimes. How about Daniel Ellsburg, who most people are ok with now because reasonable people seem to agree that the government was lying to us about the Vietnam war? He wasn't exonerated because it was the right thing to do, he's not in prison right now because of a fucking technicality.

Given these facts, what sane person would wait around for the Obama Administration ruin their mental and physical being by prosecuting them for aiding the enemy or treason or who knows what? This guy lived in Hawaii and made a shitload of money. He has chosen to live on the run/in hiding and probably won't see his family, friends or girlfriend again. All because he thinks letting us know about this stuff is THAT important. If that isn't courage I don't know what the fuck is.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Obama's Civil Liberties Legacy

As we've seen before with the deficit (bad) and gay marriage (good), stuff that the president says actually does matter and can change people's opinions.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Illegal Invasion

The Republican party seems to have a plan to regularly remind non-white voters that they are not welcome. Rebranding!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"I'm forever the 5 year old of something"

Pretty swamped with life at the moment, but can't say enough good things about this Kanye interview. Far too many good quotes to choose from, but this is one of the best:
I love the fact that I’m bad at [things], you know what I’m saying? I’m forever the 35-year-old 5-year-old. I’m forever the 5-year-old of something.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The NSA Whistleblower Reveals Himself

The courage it takes to do something like this is breathtaking. He lived in Hawaii with his girlfriend making $200,000 a year. There's a good chance he's voluntarily given up the chance to see her/his family and friends ever again to make this information public. Listen to him in his own words, it's unbelievably powerful.

Friday, June 7, 2013

It Gets Worse

Makes you wonder what else we don't know about:
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.

The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.

Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”
So many questions. First off, what the fuck is "paltalk"?

But thankfully after yesterday's news, our Senators are on the case!

Abolish the Senate, or at least give Diane Fienstein a primary. She is the worst.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The NSA Is Collecting Our Wireless Data

Well this is fucking appalling:
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

The disclosure is likely to reignite longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government's domestic spying powers.

Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.

The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.
If I were guessing, I'd say that there won't be any huge congressional action to push back against this either. Republicans love bashing Obama, but I think they love their national security state more.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Digby is right, this segment actually made me think, which isn't true about 99.9999% of cable TV. I hope the ratings for his new show pick up so we can get more of this:

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Our Racist Drug War

This shouldn't come as a surprise, but here it is in black and white (pun kind of intended, I guess):
WASHINGTON — Black Americans were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession in 2010, even though the two groups used the drug at similar rates, according to new federal data.
Post racial america, everyone!

Monday, June 3, 2013

"Do no ask me to enter the minds of the totalitarians running this government"

Watch this video. You won't regret it.

The age old question: crazy person pulled off the street, or Wall Street Journal Editorial board member?