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      The New York Times is beloved by many liberals, but I despise them. Part of my reason is their role in making the Iraq war happen. I was following it in real time and I remember how they pushed administration lies; the headlines of their articles on Iraq were almost always alarmist  and the lead [...]
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Secrecy and the Press: which came first?

Hillary’s emails at State might remain secret and away from prying eyes. Media freaks out accordingly.

Let’s see if I have this right. The media, such as the undead Andrea Mitchell, make a big stinking deal about everything Hillary Clinton does for 30 years, insisting it has the right, nay, the duty, to go through her underwear drawers looking for evidence of, of, well, nevermind that, when we find it, we’ll construct a narrative around it.

The undeads, prematurely decomposing before our very eyes, drag their target through many trials and tribulations, including scandals about billing records, scandals about friends who commit suicide, scandals about non-existent scandals about real estate investments that didn’t produce a generous ROI. The target has secrets that the undead is mindlessly driven to uncover. Secrets. “SSSEEEEEECCCCRRETS“, they sussurate as they stagger through the decades. Even as she outruns them, they manage to catch up, pounding on her door demanding SSEEEEEEEECRRRRRETTTS.

In the process, the target, being a live, sentient being, with the ability to learn and adapt to her environment, begins to understand that every interaction with the world can now be considered sustenance for the undead. So, she takes defensive measures and hides anything she doesn’t want taken out of context and twisted into some hideously misshapen, unrecognizable thing.

And now, the undead scream “Aha! We told you she was secretive!”

At this point, it shouldn’t be surprising if our protagonist rolls her eyes and ignores them.

***************************************************************************

Following up on what Peter Daou is exposing as the words that the right and the media use to describe Hillary (jeez, it sounds like something Newt Gingrich might have written in his infamous “Language: a Key Mechanism of Control” pamphlet. Wait. How do we know he didn’t write them?), I have assembled a similar list of words that the left uses.

The left will deny this (because it thinks rather highly of itself) but it is as prone to trigger words and propaganda techniques as the right. In the case of Hillary Clinton, there may be a certain segment of left purists who will not be satisfied with anything less than a knit-your-own-sandals, pacifistic, raw vegan, self-sacrificing type who grows her own GMO free biodegradable fuel source. Never mind that that kind of politician, if she even deigns to dip her little toe into such a filthy pursuit as politics, is completely unelectable. Hillary will never be able to meet the standards of these people.

But there is a vast segment in between them and, well, us, who are very vulnerable to anti-Clinton messaging. The former blogger Anglachel tentatively identified them as the “male grad student” demographic. These are the kiss ass sycophants who hope to make it up the career ladder by styling themselves as “creative class” and glomming on to disgruntled former Clinton administration officials or rivals. Many of them were too young to actually remember with accuracy what went on during the Clinton years when the GOP started flexing its muscle and went where few parties had gone before. Remember, it was Newt who shut down government back in 1995-96. Oh, you don’t remember? {{rolling eyes}}

Anyway, here are a list of words that this segment falls prey to with respect to the Clintons. For all I know, there are elements of the right invading comments sections of popular blogs and online newspapers, dropping these little rosebuds and then getting their colleagues to recommend the comments. That’s how they reach the top of the recommended comments list and convince other human herd animals that they have validity and should be emulated. This was a technique used to great success on DailyKos in 2008.

Here are the words:

inevitable, dynasty, entitled, war hawk, hawkishness, DLC, corporatist, insider, Wall Street candidate

urrrgghghhh! don’t those words just grate on your nerves??

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Wall Street trigger word is particularly funny because back in 2008 when Wall Street decided to back a candidate to save itself from the looming disaster it already saw coming, it didn’t pick Hillary. (Watch the creative classer’s head start to vibrate.) But never mind, Wall Street has always loved her (or so we are told) and now that it has let Obama go first (this is the most ridiculous rationalization I have ever heard), it will let Hillary go next. From what I can see, Wall Street, and its media minions, is not yet convinced it wants Hillary. We shall see.

Meanwhile, the undead remind me a lot of the courtiers of some medieval king, striving for status and hoping to not find their placecards below the salt.

The negative effects of GOP malice and MBA stupidity on Research shows no sign of slowing down

The commenters at In the Pipeline are beginning to think that nothing short of a bacterial apocalypse is going to get the public’s attention. I don’t even want to think of how that could come about.

Derek continues to document the atrocities. Amgen acquired Onyx and laid off 300 of their researchers this week. Add that to the antibiotic researchers who got laid off last week, the 100 or so Sanofi oncology investigators who got laid off last month and the Shire investigators who got the ax last week as well.

By the way, we are now referring to ourselves as investigators, not researchers. Add it to your glossary.

And now, the NSF is complaining that the Republican Congress is sticking its mitt into research, playing politics and generally making an already miserable situation even worse. I got this article in my email blast from Nature yesterday:

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has had a tough couple of years. Republicans in the US Congress have put the agency under the microscope, questioning its decisions on individual grants and the purpose of entire fields of study. The agency was without a permanent director for a year, and it is now planning an expensive, and controversial, move to new headquarters.

As she prepares to mark one year at the agency’s helm, astrophysicist France Córdova is carefully navigating these challenges. “I used to be a mountaineer,” she says. “It’s all about looking at every move and how you can best do it so that you don’t take a fall.” But many researchers worry that Congress has begun to interfere with the scientific process. As mistrust grows, the NSF is caught between the scientists it serves and the lawmakers it answers to.

Córdova has moved aggressively to repair relations with Congress. Aides to lawmakers who participated in a December trip to NSF facilities in Antarctica say that the journey was successful. And to address concerns about transparency, the agency has instituted guidelines that should make its grant summaries easier to understand.

But such efforts seem to have had little influence on an investigation of the NSF’s funding decisions by Representative Lamar Smith (Republican, Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Since he took the job two years ago, Smith has sought to root out what he sees as wasteful spending by the US$7-billion NSF. He has introduced legislation that would require the agency to certify that every grant it awards is in the “national interest”, and he has repeatedly sought, and been given, confidential information about individual NSF grants — albeit in redacted form. On at least four occasions, staff from the science committee travelled to the NSF’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, to review such documents, most recently on 28 January.

“There is a sense of exhaustion among researchers as this has continued,” says Meghan McCabe, a legislative-affairs analyst at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland. An NSF programme director who asked not to be named is more direct: “Having them in our building questioning our work like that felt like an attack.”

Some of these politicians make a big deal out of the fact that they don’t believe in evolution or the effect that human activity can have on climate. I am assuming that some are lying to get elected. But I’m hearing from former investigators that they have stopped doing research on dementia because only traumatic brain injury was being funded. Department of Defense grants seem to be in somewhat better supply in se fields of study.

Anyway, just read it. It’s just one more straw breaking the camel’s back. Between the constant layoffs, restructuring, relocations, impoverished startups, vulture capitalists, stingy academic salaries and hard to get grants, and more Congressional oversight from a bunch of anti-science wing nuts, investigators can’t catch a break. We’re on our last nerve.

We’re exhausted in every sense of the word.

Go there, Digby.

You are very close. All you need is the F word to put it all together and add a dash of second amendment.

That ought to keep you up at night.

Obama throws Hillary under the bus

It’s  either that or he never communicated with her about foreign policy.

Riiiiiiight

#Fundamentalists : They only want to help

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 7.52.12 AMWolf Hall episodes are available. I found 2-5. The video quality is subpar but the dialogue is unforgettable. Take this exchange between Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More (way too many Thomases in the 16th century):

Scene: Cromwell working at his desk. More comes to see him to speak to him about Cromwell’s friend and fellow lawyer Bainem who has been accused of {{gasp!}} reading the bible in English and speaking heretical views on grace and communion and purgatory.

***********************************************************

Cromwell: Lord Chancellor, you should have warned me. Will you have something to eat?

More: Thank You, no.

Cromwell: Drink then? Some wine?

More: Your friend, Bainem? He has recanted his heresy and been set free. I thought you should know.

Cromwell: Well, thank you.

(Cromwell returns to his work. More looks disappointed and turns to leave. Cromwell looks up.)

Cromwell: I heard he’d been put to the rack.

More: To save his soul, I would have had him whipped, I’d have had him burned with irons, I would have had him hung by his wrists. In these last 10 years, the Turks have taken Belgrade, lit fires in the great library of Buda, only two years since they were at the gates of Vienna. Why would you want to make another breach in the walls of Christendom?

Cromwell; (laughing) The King of England is not an infidel. Nor am I.

More: I think your faith is for purchase. I think you would serve the Sultan if the price was right. Do you think because you’re a councilor that you can negotiate with heretics behind the king’s back? No. I know about your letters that come and go. I know that you are in communication with Tyndale (note: Tyndale was a proponent of translating the bible into English and was hounded out of England by the Catholic faction)

Cromwell: Are you threatening me? (Join the crowd) I’m just interested.

More: Yessss, yes, That’s precisely what I’m doing.

*****************************************************************************************

They only cause you excruciating pain and death because they love you.

There you go. The 16th century version of ISIS with a Christian twist. Since then, the protestants and catholics have switched on who has the upper hand. In this century, in this country, the protestants do. But they’ve occasionally joined forces with the catholic faction to oppress women.

As for poor Bainem, he soon recanted his recantation.  More had him burned. For his own good, of course.

#Menendez and CORRUPTION: Just Sayin’

I’m no fan of corruption and we should all be repulsed by the idea that someone who gives you money should be allowed to influence policy.

So, what are we to make of the unlimited amounts of cash streaming into the coffers of just about every elected official from companies who have suddenly discovered that money equals free speech, courtesy of the Citizens United ruling (thank you, John Roberts). Then these companies pay lobbyists to write legislation for them. That lobbyist written legislation gets passed to the pre-paid congressmen and senators who then sponsor the bills and then vote on them.

Think of how many corrupt politicians could be cleaned out if Obama’s justice department went after them all. He’d be doing us a favor.

Why stop with New Jersey?

#Menendez : Are you pondering what I’m pondering?

Sweet Sue alerted me to the investigation of Senator Robert Melendez on corruption charges and asked me what I thought about it, being a former resident of NJ (I guess that qualifies me as a resident expert on this here blog).

So, here goes:

I’ve got no idea.

However, that never stops me from speculating.

As I said to Sue in the comments, I never quite understood NJ politics even when I dipped my toe into them at the local level. It seems to me that, especially at the US Congressional level, congressmen and senators are appointed, not elected. I say congressmen because for nearly 2 decades, there hasn’t been one woman elected to the US Congressional delegation from NJ- on either side. Nope, not one. You’d think that a state as dense as New Jersey, and I mean that sincerely, there would be at least one woman among the 8,938,175 residents who has the capability to be appointed, er, elected to Congress to represent the state. But try as they might, the political machines of both parties have failed to find even one in the entire state. It must be like trying to find Cinderella in a whole kingdom full of 4.5 million ugly stepsisters. But NJ is chockfull of Prince Charmings?? What are the chances?

I take that back, they found ONE in 2006. Her name was Linda Stender. She was a state assembly woman and former mayor who ran for a seat in NJ-07 and lost by a smidgen (something like 3000 votes). She ran again in 2008 and should have been a shoo-in but the state Democratic party, which had united behind Barack Obama, and promptly gave away our primary votes to him at the convention in Denver, decided not to back Stender very vigorously. In fact, I think the party kind of stabbed her in the back. So, she lost again to some Republican dude who probably spends his time in Washington golfing.

By the way, someone owes the NJ volunteers who phone banked and canvassed for Hillary and Stender an apology for wasting our time. Those are many solid weekends of our lives that we won’t get back. Why not just dispense with the silly notion that a primary vote or congressional election in New Jersey has any meaning? Think of all the money the state party will save taxpayers if they just admit up front that voting has no impact on who gets elected. Just divvy up the state districts by party, appoint some dude to be the representative and be done with it. It’s more efficient and honest. Wait, that’s the way it’s done currently. Why not be upfront about it?

But I digress.

Back to Menendez. When Chris Christie was merely a US Attorney, he badgered Menendez with a bogus investigation just before Menendez was appointed to serve out Jon Corzine’s senate term. It was something along the lines of Menendez using a personal address nefariously or writing it off on his taxes or some silly BS. In other words, it was a nuisance investigation from a blowhard political appointee US Attorney who would later become the notorious Chris Christie. It all came to nothing.

This investigation into the corrupt Senator Bob Menendez seems equally sketchy. So, a Florida doctor set Menendez up with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic? What are the chances? There’s a bit more on bribes and payments but it all seems pretty vague. It reminds me of the charges against Charlie Rangel that tied him up in knots and sidelined him when he was Chairman of the Ways and Means committee. He was probably one of the most powerful men in Washington at the time he was investigated and forced to spend time and loads of money defending himself. In the end, I think he was censured for shoddy paperwork. Gosh, we could all be censured for that.  But the whole point was to defang him at a time when he was at his political zenith.

So, I asked myself, “Self, what committees is Robert Menendez on?” And then Self toddled off and did a Google search on that question. Here is the answer:

Menendez is on the Banking, Housing and Urban AffairsFinance and Foreign Relations committees.

Hmmm, if I were to guess, one of these committees is going to have a vote or number of votes on something that is very important to someone(s). There are a number of tasty possibilities. Finance?  Health Care?  Consumer protection?  It could be any one of a number of special interest groups. We shouldn’t assume that the current justice system isn’t on their payroll. Remember how well the justice system investigated the bankers with their sternly worded letters? No? Go read that book by Neil Barofsky. This is the Obama administration going after Menendez. He must not be toeing some line. What could it be, what could it be?

Just a guess. But then, it doesn’t take much to set my tinfoil antenna twitching these days. Note that if Menendez is forced to resign, Chris Christie gets to appoint his replacement, I think. Isn’t that special?

Dominican chicky-babes and political favors for Florida doctors just doesn’t seem plausible. He’d have to be the slowest Democrat on the planet after witnessing what happened to Charlie Rangel, Eliott Spitzer and the Big Dawg. That’s not to say that it didn’t happen. After all, we’re talking about New Jersey, which has a reputation to maintain. But I’d like to see solid, incontrovertible, un-doctored proof, not vague innuendos.

Or fuggedabouddit.

PostScript: Germany just approved legislation that would mandate a quota of 30% women on corporate boards. Translating this into NJ politics, at least 30% of the legislative districts should have women from both parties running for office next time. Pick any four of the 12 NJ districts, find two women, one from each party, and elect some female reps forpetessakes. This all male dominated delegation thing is embarrassing.

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