Turning Pages

The first change that takes place is in your mind. You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move. So when we said that the revolution would not be televised, we were saying that the thing that’s going to change people is something that nobody will ever be able to capture on film. It’ll just be something that you see, and then all of a sudden you realize “I’m on the wrong page.”

Gil Scott Heron

This week everybody was talking about Egypt

and nobody knew what to think. Was it a revolution? A coup? The start of a civil war? Should we be happy because a popular movement for democracy succeeded in getting rid of an unresponsive government, or is that mob rule? Unhappy because the trash-canned government had been elected and was not replaced by constitutional means? Happy/unhappy because we fear/like the Muslim Brotherhood that won the election that formed the government? Unhappy/happy because we distrust/trust the Egyptian military that is setting up the provisional government? At times it’s best just to admit that you don’t understand and keep watching.

and the San Francisco plane crash

which is the kind of breaking news the Sift doesn’t cover very well. Turn on your TV.

and the 4th of July

Some patriotic videos never get old. I enjoy this 2002 celebration of the Declaration of Independence by Morgan Freeman and an all-star cast.

and a lot of stuff I’m studiously not paying attention to

like the Zimmerman trial and the chase after Snowden. I explained why last week.

because other stuff deserves a lot more attention than it’s getting

Some establishment liberals haven’t been taking the NSA leaks seriously, because who is this Snowden guy and why did he leak through Glenn Greenwald, who isn’t a “serious” journalist anyway. Well, the NYT’s Pulitzer-winning Eric Lichtblau has a new set of revelations. Listening yet?

Lichtblau has gotten access to classified documents from the secret FISA Court, and finds that it’s doing a lot more than just signing search warrants. It’s issuing sweeping legal opinions about the meaning of the Fourth Amendment (which protects us from “unreasonable searches and seizures”). Those opinions come out of a star-chamber process which only hears the government’s side of a case. The judges themselves are appointed by Chief Justice Roberts, and almost all were originally appointed to the judiciary by Republican presidents.

The FISA Court’s opinions have the force of law for the people who are cleared to read them — mostly the NSA, CIA, and others who would like to know what you’re doing. Its interpretation of the Fourth Amendment could be overruled by the Supreme Court, but since the unrepresented non-government side never finds out that it lost, who is going to appeal the case?

So in summary, your constitutional rights are at the mercy of a secret court that is far more authoritarian than the American judiciary as a whole. And you have no right to know what that court is doing to your rights, because Catch-22 says they don’t have to tell you what Catch-22 says.

Meanwhile, House Republicans are working on their ransom letter for the fall, when they once again plan to take the full-faith-and-credit of the United States hostage by provoking a debt-ceiling crisis. (“Nice country you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.”) The National Journal says they’re willing to extend the debt ceiling for the rest of Obama’s term in exchange for, say, privatizing Medicare — a highly unpopular concession they could never get through any legitimate democratic process.

The debt ceiling, you may recall, didn’t exist until 1917, and while extending it has often been an occasion for the out-of-power party to make pious speeches about fiscal responsibility, never in history had it been used to extract concessions until 2011. Until the Tea Party, nobody was so committed to an unpopular agenda that it was willing to threaten that much damage to the country.

and I wrote about the misuse of “religious freedom”

in “Religious Freedom” Means Christian Passive-Aggressive Domination.

and you also might be interested in …

Bill Keller explains why liberals should be happy with the Senate immigration bill. Not that it matters, because that bill has washed up on the rocky shore of the House.

In related news: Remember November, when Republicans had learned the importance of the Hispanic vote and figured they had to do something to appeal to it? Never mind about that. The new line coming out of conservatives is that they just need to do a better job appealing to whites.

At some point, the Republican efforts to sabotage ObamaCare turn into active disloyalty. For example, interfering with the administration’s efforts to tell the public how to use the new program. Democrats didn’t like Bush’s Medicare Part D, or the strong-arm tactics used to pass it, but they didn’t try to make it not work.

More debunking of the IRS “scandal”.

What if gun rights were treated the way abortion rights are?

Or if we thought about mass shootings the way we think about terrorist attacks?

Here’s another great visual of Republican men signing away women’s rights. After all, why should there be any women in the room?

I don’t know whether this guy scares the government or not, but he scares me.

And I guess it really shouldn’t be surprising that the KKK has a show for (white) kids.

or that Colorado preachers are blaming local wildfires on abortion, civil unions, and women’s breasts.

Student loan interest rates doubled on July 1. But don’t worry. Congress will get to it sometime. It’s not like the issue affects people’s lives or anything..

Now that there’s practically no competition, Amazon isn’t discounting books like it used to. Who could have foreseen that? I wonder what will happen when all of retail comes down to Amazon or WalMart?

Gil Scott Heron explains what “The revolution will not be televised” meant.

And something fun to end with:

If you’ve ever envied those fantasy worlds where place-names actually mean something, take a look at this real-world map, which traces current names back to their linguistic roots, like “Navel of the Moon” and “Abundance of Fish”.

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  • Dan  On July 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    The article about Amazon states that the evidence that prices are increasing is “anecdotal and fragmentary.” There is no real evidence to prove that prices are increasing on Amazon’s books overall, let alone to prove that increases are caused by a lack of competition. Yet you state both of these ideas as fact. That’s very religious of you.

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