Open Thread: We Had A Good Run, While It Lasted…

Because I’m in a maudlin mood, and two hours is about as long as the general commentariat should be expected to keep our language clean and our shoes on, I share. Charlie Pierce at Esquire, on the Ryan-Wyden “compromise“:

In the rush of holiday preparation, it may have escaped your notice that this is National Sellout Day, when we celebrate the arrival of baby Jesus into this world so that the Magi can show up at the stable, pay him homage, present him with gifts, and then peddle his location to Herod for 25 denarii and a bucket of oats for the camels.
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The Democratic party certainly has gone to great lengths to remind us what day it is. They have made great preparation. They have cooked the goose (their own, naturellement, and ours) and placed it on the table in the traditional manner, with a knife stuck in its back. They have rehearsed all the traditional holiday songs, including Ploys to the World, Hark the Deceitful Scumbags Sing, and Angles We Have Played on High. They have filled the wassail bowl to overflowing with the customary holiday libation, Hot Mulled Blood of Constituent. And later, we will all gather around the fire while our party elders read the famous story. I particularly like the part at the end when Scrooge realizes that reformation has its limits and sells the Cratchit children into indentured servitude so that the other men of the Exchange won’t think him weak, or mired in the past.
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Oh, they have made a day of it. First, the pillars of Jell-O in the Senate roll over on the itty-bitty surtax they wanted to lay on the plutocrats to pay for a payroll tax cut for the rest of us. Then, the president announces that he’s not going to veto after all the bill in which 400 years of Western jurisprudence is pretty much torn to ribbons and tossed to the wind, albeit slightly less deeply into the wind than the original monstrosity would have liked. And, finally, Ron Wyden of Oregon steps forward to give cover to zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan’s latest attempt to “reform” Medicare in the same way that Arthur (Bomber) Harris “reformed” the building codes in Dresden. It’s a Very Special Holiday Episode of the long-running hit comedy, Ah, Who Gives a Fk Anyway?…








Occupy (Well, Not Exactly) Russia

(Jeff Danziger’s website)
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From the Guardian, “Russians come out in force to protest against alleged electoral fraud“:

Up to 50,000 people braved the cold and snow on Saturday to turn out for the largest ever protest against the rule of prime minister Vladimir Putin.
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Bolotnaya Square, across the river from the Kremlin in central Moscow, was filled to overflowing with thousands standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the bridges and along the riverfront leading to the site. Tens of thousands of police and interior troops were deployed around the area, but protesters had been allowed by officials to gather in an unprecedented show of discontent…
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“I demand new elections,” said Maxim, 26, an economist. “If they don’t agree, we will continue to come out. The people have woken up – they see there’s a point to going out into the streets and expressing what they don’t agree with.”
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Opposition leader Vladimir Ryzhkov said a further protest would be held on Christmas eve if the Kremlin refused to cancel the election results. The overwhelmingly young crowd organised via social networking sites and exceeded early estimates of 30,000…
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Protests took place in more than 50 cities, with a reported 7,000 people gathering in St Petersburg and up to 4,000 in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, despite the temperature of -20C.
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“They have to hear us,” said Artyom Loskutov, an artist from Novosibirsk who attended the Moscow protest. “The police simply don’t understand [that people are coming out on their own] – they ask, who are the organisers? They think it has to be the west, it has to be [US Senator John] McCain.”
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Putin has accused the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton of prompting the unrest and has cracked down on Russian NGOs that work with foreign funding. He made no comment on Saturday, but the country’s leadership has called the disputed vote a success and given no indication they plan to re-examine its results…








Sunday Evening Open Thread

Yes, things could always be worse. Per Gizmodo, “Engineered Avian Flu Could Kill Half the World’s Humans“:

… In his Netherlands laboratory, virologist Ron Fouchier was experimenting with the avian flu virus to see how it could become even more virulent. (Red flag.) His research involved spreading it throughout a population of ferrets, and he noticed that as the virus reproduced, it adapted to spread even faster. (RED FLAG.) Not worried about ferret flu? Previous research has shown that any strains of influenza that can pass between ferrets can also pass between humans. (RED FLAAAAAAAAAG.) Ten generations later, his efforts had created an airborne strain with the power could kill half the human population. (RED FUCKING FLAG, DUDE!)
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Fouchier, who conducted his research at Erasmus Medical Centre admitted that the new strain is “probably one of the most dangerous viruses you can make.” He presented his work at the influenza conference in Malta this September. Now he wants to publish his study in a scientific journal, so those responsible for responding to bioterrorism can be prepared for the worst case scenario. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Not exactly. The research has set off alarms among colleagues who are urging Fouchier not to publish, for fear the recipe could wind up in the wrong hands. Some question whether the research should have been done in the first place. Fair point!…

So… how’s the forward planning in your neck of the woods, tonight?








Good News for Sports Fans?

One mark of a good writer, like Charlie Pierce, is that he can make me read about topics in which I have no personal interest:

And so, on the day after Thanksgiving, when most of America was coming out of a tryptophan-and-Tony Romo-induced coma, and when hardly anyone at all was looking, they came up with a deal. There will be a 2012 NBA season, after all — a perfectly logical 66-game package beginning with a Christmas Day multimedia extravaganza that will be what ancient Rome would have organized, if Nero had invented the T-Cannon and Charles Barkley. This undoubtedly will include several of the league’s marquee, big-market teams, whose baleful influence over the game’s economics was supposed to have been management’s casus belli for the lockout in the first place. And it might have been, if the whole absurd kabuki ever had been about money in the first place.
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The NBA lockout was as exclusively about money as it was exclusively about astrophysics. One way you know this is that the settlement that finally was reached was one that could have been reached last June. Like Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho in 1972, the league and its players struck a deal they could have had much earlier, and without the extended bloodletting in the meantime. The players took a reduction in the amount of basketball-related income — and can we find a rocket and fire that little bit of business-school jargon off to Pluto, please? — while winning some concessions as regards the league’s salary structure and in the rules regarding free agency. And that was pretty much it after five or six months of loud public wrangling — a brief outburst of authentic MBA gibberish and (poof!) back to work, gentlemen…
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Stern’s concern for his league’s fans was as transparently phony as was Carnegie’s concern for his workers. (Hearing the commissioner’s unctuous solicitude for the paying customers must have occasioned rueful chuckling, and projectile vomiting, in Seattle.) His primary constituency is a group of 29 men who don’t have to deal much with unions in their principal occupations anymore and who, therefore, are not accustomed to reacting well when the help gets, well, uppity. The lockout was THE perfect oligarch’s answer.
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They got most of what they wanted, which means that most of them are probably very unhappy. The league suffered a public-relations debacle that very nearly became a public-relations catastrophe. But David Stern showed himself to be the tinhorn-in-charge once again, and there will be games on Christmas Day. God bless us all, every one.








Homeless Children: “It’s Only Life”

Via Dave Weigel, 60 Minutes points out that almost one in four American children are now living below the (inadequate) official poverty line…

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Programming note for those who can’t watch the video: A complete ethnic spectrum of homeless, near-homeless, and just-barely-ex-homeless children and their families are interviewed. Desperation knows no color line in Gov. Rick “Drug Tests for Welfare Applicants” Scott’s state.
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But as a partisan Democrat, I have to wince at the timing of Thomas B. Edsall’s NYTimes report today on “the future of the Obama coalition“:

For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.
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All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.
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