January 22, 2015 archive

Electoral Victory

State of the Union 2015: Lethal, Predatory, Delusional

by Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report

Wed, 01/21/2015 – 16:32

Tuesday night, in his next-to-last State of the Union address, President Obama flashed the suckers a bag of tricks that has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Congress, but will allow his apologists to claim that the genuine, more progressive Obama is revealing himself in his final two years in office. Of course, the final-years Obama could have accomplished his modest 2015 agenda, and much more, back in 2009 and 2010, when Democrats dominated both the House and the Senate and the Republicans were in despair and disarray. Which is precisely why Obama chose, instead, to put his party’s perishable congressional majorities at the service of bankers, Wall Street, private insurers and Big Pharma. Now that Democrats are the endangered species on Capitol Hill, Obama hangs a piñata of subsidized community college education, additional tax deductions for child care, seven days paid sick leave, higher capital gains taxes on the wealthy, and billions in fees on casino bankers.

On closer examination, his grab bag of bills and requests for legislation contains even less than advertized – a vapor-thin rhetorical veneer for a center-right presidency whose real accomplishment has been to re-inflate the Wall Street casino, flush the last vestiges of secure employment out of the economy, and put the imperial war machine back on the offensive. Corporate pundits describe Obama’s antics as an appeal to his party’s “base.” In a world in which words actually mean something, a politician’s base would be composed of the people whose interests he actually serves, rather than those he victimizes. But, such logic does not apply in late capitalist America, where both parties cater to the needs of the moneyed classes; one, shamelessly, without inhibition, the other through deployment of talented liars like Obama.

Obama celebrated the “resilience” of the “strong, tight-knit” American family, exemplified by a Minneapolis couple that have both regained employment. “Our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999,” said Obama – bad jobs, in a nation of growing inequality. For Blacks, wages relative to whites have regressed to 1980 levels, and Black household wealth has collapsed so completely there is no statistical possibility of ever reaching parity with whites under the existing economic system – period.

Thousands of U.S. troops now man the machinery of war in Iraq, where the U.S. was compelled to withdraw, five years ago.

Obama has no plans whatsoever to leave Afghanistan, where about 10,000 U.S. troops, largely Special Forces, remain on indefinite assignment. Yet, he begins his State of the Union address with the lie: “Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.”

What is over – kaput! – is the U.S.’s ability to compete in a world that is breaking the chains of Euro-American imperial bondage. Washington can muster no response, except war. Neither can it maintain living standards for the vast majority of its own people, whose interests are diametrically opposed to those of the financial ruling class to whom the Democrats and Republicans answer.

As he prepares for transition, two years from now, to more lucrative position in service of the Lords of Capital, Obama harkens back to his national television debut, at the Democratic convention, in 2004. “I gave a speech in Boston where I said there wasn’t a liberal America, or a conservative America; a black America or a white America - but a United States of America.”

He was lying back then, just as he lied Tuesday night when he promised “to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.”

So said the man who gave the final coup de grace to due process and the rule of law with his preventive detention bill, his Tuesday assassination sessions, and his ever expanding Kill List.

It’s Time for a Revolution: Bankrupt Policies, Historic Losses Call for New Generation of Leaders

By Bill Curry, Salon.com

January 18, 2015

Progressives have long cohabited with Democrats. The relationship, while abusive, is hard for them to quit. Starting over is always scary, and building movements is hard even in good times, so the temptation is strong to keep on doing what they’re doing. Besides, how can you tell the Democrats are really dead? You can’t call in a coroner or poke them with a stick. It’s simple, really. All you have to do is look.

Life is change and these Democrats never change. It’s like watching “Groundhog Day” but without laughs, a love interest or a learning curve. Democrats in Congress ran the same race in 2014 they ran in 1994, lost badly, and then reelected all their leaders. Obama handled the budget this year the same way he does every year, with the same result. Hillary Clinton is poised to run the same awful race in 2016 she ran in 2008.

In 2014 Democrats were supposed to hold a populist revival. Aside from a few tinny sounding ads, they didn’t. Tied to the tracks with a giant locomotive barreling down on them, they couldn’t bring themselves to cut their Wall Street ties and dodge otherwise certain death. Now, after six years of blown chances, they say they’re ready to act as our tribunes and ask us once again to commingle our hopes and dreams with theirs. I say not so fast.

Obama has made more populist gestures in the last two months than in his first six years as president. It’s why his popularity’s rising. Some say it’s the economy, but the economy rose for some time without the middle class or Obama’s ratings being much helped by it. Proposals to fund universal access to community colleges and tax Wall Street speculators to finance a middle class tax cut are catnip not just to the left but to the middle class. The question for us all is whether this populist charm offensive signals real change.

The cosseting of the rich is more brazen now and more subversive of the public interest, and people hate it.

Worst of all was the Democrats’ complicity in passing a corrupt, shameful budget. Aside from its senseless priorities – wars are winding down so let’s give the military some more dough – it curtailed efforts to slow global warming, restored Wall Street grifters’ ability to shift their losses onto honest wage earners and weakened what’s left of campaign finance laws. Without scores of Democratic votes it could never have passed.

Within weeks of an inglorious defeat the Dems had a chance to hit the reset button. Instead they gave Republicans priceless cover while making it harder for their own members to go on posing as populists. They bartered their honor and got nothing in return. Someone should tell these “realists” that their compromises are killing them.

Not Just The University of Missouri- Kansas City

Actually, I’ve been there for a convention associated with my club.

Not at the University, per se, my strongest memory of the event is a reception we had at a Children’s Discovery Center 150 feet below the surface in a Salt Mine which looked unfortunately similar to many classrooms of the modern design I’ve been to in that the walls were solid cinderblock painted in soothing colors and the lighting industrial florescent.  I understand some people couldn’t take the inherent claustrophobia long enough to stick around for the tasteless box lunch but I found it no different from many epistemic closures I have experienced in the past.

Speaking of salt (because I’m not really talking about the box lunch) there are two “Mainstream” schools of economics (which bears the same relationship to “science” of even the social type that a rattle shaking Shamen bears to a Medical Doctor), the “Saltwater School” that at least acknowledges John Maynard Keynes (in a weak tea Samuelson sense) and the “Freshwater School” of Friedmanite Monitarism which worships Hobbesian and Randian Social Darwinism.

Nature red in tooth and claw good (grunt).

We’ve seen the rise of some Heterodox Schools of which I most favor Modern Monetary Theory, with its main academic center at University of Missouri- Kansas City.  Among its prominent professors are Bill Black and L. Randall Wray.

They’ve seen Stephanie Kelton appointed Chief Economist on the Senate Budget Committee.

They publish a web site called New Economic Perspectives that I enthusiastically endorse and to which Dr. Kelton was a frequent contributor and this recently appeared there from Robert E. Prasch, Professor of Economics at Middlebury College (not noticably near any major water ways at all).

The State of the Union Speech and the President’s Credibility Gap

By Robert E. Prasch, New Economic Perpectives

January 21, 2015

Let us begin with the old adage that “talk is cheap.” The fact is that this president has had six years to demonstrate – in deeds rather than words – what exactly constitutes his priorities. Let us, as this is a website devoted to economics issues, set aside the Obama Administration’s genuinely horrific record on civil liberties (The sordid record is long, but highlights include unchecked domestic spying by the NSA; drones deployed to terrorize the citizenry of numerous foreign nations; proclaiming and defending the prerogative to unilaterally kill American citizens with ever stating charges, much less presenting evidence or seeking convictions in the courts; solely and exclusively prosecuting those brave individuals who alerted the public to the Bush Administration’s war crimes, even as he comforted or promoted those who committed the crimes, etc.). Let us focus solely on economic policy. What follows is a brief review of the low moments thus far. These are not presented in any order and is not a comprehensive list:

(1) Appointing failed regulators (Geithner and Bernanke) and failed economists (Summers) to senior positions to oversee the recovery of the economy and the reregulation of the financial system.

(2) Overseeing the bailing out the Too Big To Fail Banks (TBTF) through TARP, the several Fed QE programs, and (early on) accounting rules changes, while flat-out failing to admit that straight-out subsidies constituted the core of the “recovery” plan. By contrast, homeowners, including those that had been defrauded by these same TBTF banks or their subsidiaries, were left to the tender mercies of these same banks.

(3) Repurposing that modest element of the TARP legislation that was supposed to assist struggling homeowners into a ruse that would further bleed those same homeowners in order to further assist the banks and the fat cats that oversaw their collapse (Geithner’s memorably stated that bleeding homeowners through misrepresentation of their chances to have their mortgages refinanced was good public policy because drawing out a few last payments from broke families would “foam the runways” for the failed banks).

(4) Blocking (through highly visible inaction) the rewriting of U.S. bankruptcy law in a manner that would enhance the bargaining power of underwater homeowners vis-à-vis the TBTF banks.

(5) Working diligently to assist in the denial or outright cover-up of widespread and flagrant fraud on the part of TBTF banks and bankers. This fraud occurred in the origination of the mortgages, the sale of mortgage-backed securities, in the stringing along of struggling homeowners, and in the course of foreclosing on customers (and foreclosing on people who weren’t customers, also). Foreclosure fraud included the widespread forging of mortgages and liens that had been misplaced or destroyed. These forgeries were then presented in court proceedings as original documents.

(6) Working long and diligently to provide ex post legal immunity for bankers from Federal and State criminal proceedings on tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of instances of mortgage and foreclosure fraud.

(7) Working diligently to ensure that financial regulation would be a mishmash of meaningless sturm und drang that could – as all the adults knew at the time that it would – be unwound during the rule writing process that was to take place at a later date and largely behind closed doors.

(8) Participating in, and then promoting, the outright lie that the US government “made money” on the bailout of the financial system, including the bailout of AIG.

(9) Participating in the unwinding of the (all-too-few) meaningful Dodd-Frank Act reforms. Granted, we know that Treasury lobbied against the inclusion of these few meaningful reforms at the time, and that everyone knew that they would never become law, so the only remaining point of interest was how they would come to be annulled. Now we know.

(10) Passing George W. Bush’s investor protection (a.k.a. “free trade”) agreements with South Korea, Columbia, and Panama even though his government knew, at the time, that these agreements would harm the United States economy.

(11) The aggressive, unrelenting, and absolutely secretive pursuit of those monsters of all investor protection agreements dubbed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

While we are on this subject, I am in awe that in the State of the Union address Obama had the temerity to say, “We should write those rules [on trade]…That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe.” They say that if you have to lie, go big. After all, who is the “We” in that sentence? Not working Americans, we can count on that. Not civil society organizations concerned with workplace or environmental issues, to say nothing of people concerned with the cost of excessive patent or copyright protections that have become simple giveaways to firms. No, “We” does not include them, either. The “We” of that sentence refers to the hundreds of corporate lobbyists and trade lawyers who have been working, secretively, cheek-by-jowl with the most virulently anti-labor office in the entire executive branch, the Office of the United States Trade Representative. “We.” I love it. That’s real chutzpah.

(12) The persistent pursuit, albeit without a triumph (yet), of that greatest dream of all New Democrats, a “Grand Bargain” that would significantly cut payments to the elderly on Social Security (keep in mind that over ½ of all retirees have no measurable retirement incomes other than this enormously effective program).

(13) The aggressive and unrelenting effort to undermine teachers and privatize schools (or privatize school dollars in the case of “Charter schools”), on the thinnest of rationales such as the results of standardized test scores. This agenda has been maintained even though prominent studies appeared soon after the Obama Administration came into office demonstrating that Charter schools did not outperform traditional public schools, and often did somewhat worse.

(14) The eager adoption of the core of Sarah Palin’s energy program, “drill baby, drill,” by facilitating virtually unhindered hydraulic fracturing along with extensive offshore drilling.

(15) As with the Clinton presidency, anti-trust action against large and uncompetitive firms is most noteworthy for its absence. Personal favorites include last year’s US Air-American Airlines merger, which is an even worse deal for consumers than the United-Continental merger of 2010. But lets not overlook the forthcoming merger of Time-Warner with Comcast. Wow, could either of those firms achieve new lows in customer service? Stay tuned!

After six years in office, even the most loyal of Democrats can no longer feign to be ignorant of the substance and consequences of President Obama’s economic policies. Remarkably, the income of the median American household declined more during Obama’s recovery than during Bush’s recession! An optimist might describe the Obama Administration’s performance as pathetic or, as is the norm, present multiple excuses for it.

But the agenda and its consequences have not been pathetic by accident, or even from Republican Party interference, but by design. The failure is a consequence of a betrayal of the traditions and ideals of the Democratic Party so complete that it might, I say might, have shamed Bill Clinton (think NAFTA, WTO, the massive giveaway to the Telecoms, aggressive bank mergers, the repeal of Glass-Steagall & the ban against any regulation of derivatives, and so much more). Yet, despite this abysmal record, we are being asked to believe that President Obama and his senior economic advisors are concerned for the declining American middle class! That is to say that, after having lost both houses of Congress, we are to believe that the leadership of the Democratic Party is (finally) willing to do something about the ravages of thirty-five years of neoliberal economics.

Please excuse me for being skeptical. Excuse me for supposing that there may be an ulterior motive for this freshly minted interest in the economic fate of someone, anyone, who does not work on Wall Street or for a defense contractor. Indeed, I would like to remind readers that the last time we heard significant noise from the White House over the plight of working Americans, it was as part of an embarrassingly obvious effort to distract us from an upcoming Senate vote on the South Korea, Columbia, and Panama investor protection agreements.

Now, we know that the president and an embarrassingly large number of Congressional Democrats are anxious to rush through TPP and TTIP before the New Hampshire primary obliges them to pretend that they care about what mere voters, that is to say the sops that make up the rank-and-file of their own party, think about these certain-to-be-odious trade treaties. If I were to bet, it would be that concern over a coming backlash is the primary motivation behind Obama’s “liberal” State of the Union speech. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s test it. Let’s see how much of this agenda remains thirty days after these profoundly harmful treaties are ratified with, I am guessing, the affirmative vote of close to 50% of Democratic Party Senators.

So, what is to be done? I would suggest that those of us who still cling to the belief that the United States should and could be something other than a plutocracy have some serious thinking to do. While I have not addressed this topic here, I would also suggest that those of us who still believe that the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments were a good idea also have some serious thinking to do. This thinking is all the more important because, in this world of uncertainly and change, we can all rest assured that Hillary Clinton is not, and never will be, on our side. She and her long list of friends in the banks and amongst the defense contractors are opposed – adamantly – to our values and ideals. So, what are we to do?

Stated simply, it is time for those of us who are dissatisfied with the direction that this nation has taken over these past thirty-five years to begin to think and act strategically. I would submit that the dominant strategy pursued thus far – that of unquestioned loyalty to the Democrats – has been put to the test, repeatedly. We now have definitive evidence that, considered as a strategy, this approach been an absolute failure. Remember that in 2008 we voted for “Hope and Change. The issues of the day were President Bush’s random wars and the collapse of the financial system that was a consequence of the unthinking deregulation pursued by both parties. What did we get? The reappointment of Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates who, as a prominent CIA official, previously disgraced himself in the course of his involvement in the Iran-Contra Scandal. In what world did such a reappointment constitute “Change”?

And what of the economy? Proven failures from Bill Clinton’s frenzied deregulation drive – Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner (amongst many others) were appointed to the highest offices. There they were joined by a bevy of Goldman and Citigroup alums who, we were told, would oversee the reregulation of the financial system. Really? When did that ever constitute “Change”? What about it constituted “Hope”? Was all the prattle about “Hope and Change” simply a joke? Was it just a marketing gimmick? I believe that we can now answer that question, definitively.

Returning to strategy, we can now conclude that “lesser evil” voting has, in no way or form, advanced our programs, ideals, or values. It has been tried, repeatedly, and it has failed. We now know that the DNC treats the rank and file of the Democratic Party contemptuously because they know that they, at least implicitly, have our permission to do it. Should we ever decide that we are tired of their contempt, this implicit permission will have to be revoked in a manner that this is both unmistakable and dramatic. This means, operationally, that the DNC’s contempt for us must be returned, and in kind.

Holding the leadership of the DNC accountable does not mean adding our signature to an online poll, or holding a sign at a “peaceful protest,” and then turning out to vote for the 1% favored candidate. Holding the DNC to account means denying them, and their massive entourage of Washington-based apparatchiks, something that they ardently desire – election or appointment to high office. This means that those whom Howard Dean once labeled the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” must be prepared to stand on the sidelines while “centrist Democrats” lose. We must not shy away from taking such action, rather we must openly embrace it. In the aftermath, we must be prepared for the massive opprobrium that will be directed at us by these same time-serving apparatchiks and sundry Washington hustlers who have long staffed the DNC, associated think tanks, and political campaign consultancies. As stifled would-be office-holders anticipating an easy passage through the revolving door, we can and should expect the DNC’s officialdom to be bitter about losing their best chance to acquire cushy jobs with low workloads and high payouts. To quote one of their icons, “I feel their pain.”

Let us be clear, what is being proposed here not about being “revenge” or “being in a huff.” It is a strategy, one that proposes to win by playing the “long game.” As the saying goes, first they will ignore us and then they will insult us, but if can hold the line and deny the time-servers in the DNC the things that they want, they will be forced to negotiate with us. The day after the professional insiders and boot-lickers of the DNC come to learn that they cannot win without their Democratic wing, is the day that they will begin to consider what we want, and actually begin to respond to it.


The Breakfast Club (Breaking Netscape)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgYeah, usually I’m the first and last guy to break format.  The first because I need something that suits my style and the last because once you’ve set up something that works, why fix it?

Today I find myself caught between conflicting forces.  I’ve been much busier than you think in my personal life and the schedule that I normally adhere to quite rigidly (9 to 11 and 4 to 6 with the orchids) is shot to hell, has been since the holidays, and I expect it to continue at least through Groundhog Day.  This bothers me much more than it does you or should because it’s not necessarily bad news unless you pride yourself on certain expectations of performance.

The second is that there is one piece of earth shattering news that kind of eclipses everything else.

What?  Obama suddenly turned populist during the State of the Union?

You wish.  Microsoft is going to be giving away Windows 10 for “free”.

Allow me to explain.

Windows 8 was a stinker, a deal breaking piece of crap that was not only buggy as hell (ala Vista to which it was never too early to say Hasta la to baby) but fundamentally required businesses, only 70% of Microsoft’s market, to invest in exhorbitantly expensive hardware upgrades and even more in training costs.

Let me emphasise the training costs, most workers only know what the need to know to get the job done.  They are trained by the people around them to the level of competancy required in order to be productive and in most cases personel turnover is not high enough to justify a dedicated and highly compensated staff to educate them.

If you go into an office situation you’ll find that most desktops look and feel remarkably similar to the standard set down by Windows 95, the last radical interface introduced by Microsoft to gain wide acceptance.  This is true whether they run Windows 98, XP, NT, Server, Vista, or 7 (or variants of them like XP-64 Pro).

As a home user your experience is quite different.  Each default installation has all kinds of incompatible visual tweaks and cues and garish backgrounds and skins to make it look “fresh”, “exciting”, and “new”.  IT pros knew that there was always a secret hidden button that would restore the Windows “Classic” look and feel and eliminate training the basics of interacting between the screen, mouse, and keyboard.

But the business market is stable and not growing.  They buy solutions to problems and once the problem is solved have no incentive to change.  XP still has 18% penetration in offices, my Doctor’s for instance where they just rolled out a new paperless record keeping system that took Billions to develop and deploy.

Here is where economics and greed raise their ugly head.  Because the Stock Market is nothing more than a giant Ponzi scheme casino, profitability doesn’t matter- only growth.  I can charge you a Dollar for a program that is stable and requires no investment besides the nickle it costs for a CD to burn it on and make 95 Cents Millions of times a day.  Wall Street does not reward that behavior.

Nope, Mr. Market has already discovered the value of that and unless you’re into clipping coupons and collecting dividends at rates in line with the prevailing economy with little risk it has no attraction.  You want to be a Lion Tamer.

Apple ran into this problem early.  They had the Educational sector sewn up but were not making any progress otherwise with their proprietary and high priced hardware and software.  For them the solution was to get into the toy business.  Who needs a digital Walkman if you have a Walkman that works perfectly fine?  Nobody, not even a Walkman that plays TV.  But you can promote this attractive nuisance as a business category that is growing and in which you have a dominant position and attract lots of money from gamblers who you can con into thinking this is the next big thing no matter how tiny and insignificant it actually is.

At last even mighty Microsoft fell into the trap.  Windows 8 is an Operating System for toys and gadgets, not for working and businesses who were very unhappy.  To its credit Microsoft heard them, sacked those responsible for doing the Opening Credits in Norwegian, and rushed back to redo the User Interface.  Thus Windows 10 is born.

About that price

Microsoft’s 3 year obsolescence cycle is about more than driving new purchases.  They’ve also decided it’s not cost effective to be stuck with maintaining old products.  Likewise they are trying to reduce the number of them.  One goal which has not changed is making Windows work across many platforms (phone, tablet, PC) which Microsoft justifies on ease of use but is really intended as a cost reduction measure.  They’re also not above giving away software to get greater penetration and destroy the market, witness what they did very successfully to the Netscape Navigator browser with Internet Explorer.

Attempts to repeat that have a mixed record, Windows Media Player and CD Burner has not really killed Nero (which costs a pretty penny but is mostly bundled free with your optical drive) or StarBurn (always free), Windows Defender has not replaced the multitude of anti-virus programs (most of them no better than viruses themselves), nor has their speech recognition Dragon Naturally Speaking.

They’re under increasing pressure from other “free” applications like Goggle Chrome which is a browser based Operating System to Linux which does it all and is arguably better.  To counter this Microsoft has said for years that they want to move to a service based business model where you, as a consumer, don’t actually “own” anything and instead pay a yearly fee like your phone or cable bill.  Think this won’t work?  Ask anyone who’s had the misfortune to put Norton’s or McAffee’s anti-virus on their machines where it is practically impossible to remove and will brick your computer (i.e. turn it into a non-functional door stop) unless you pay for their annual update.

Also, in the gadget marketplace (phones and tablets), they are already giving it away in a desperate attempt to win share.  The profit margins in those appliances is virtually non-existant anyway, companies give you the hardware to get your signature on a long-term contract and then nickle and dime you into bankruptcy.

Will Windows 10 succeed?  The price is right but no amount of money is sufficient to compensate for the cost of re-training.  If it were everyone would be running Ubuntu.

Science and Tech News

Science and Tech Blogs

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

No News, Blogs, Video, or other Obligatories today.

On This Day In History January 22

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 22 is the 22nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 343 days remaining until the end of the year (344 in leap years).

On this day in 1968, the NBC-TV show, “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”, debuted “from beautiful downtown Burbank” on this night. The weekly show, produced by George Schlatter and Ed Friendly, then Paul Keyes, used 260 pages of jokes in each hour-long episode. The first 14 shows earned “Laugh-In” (as it was commonly called) 4 Emmys. And “you bet your bippy”, Nielsen rated it #1 for two seasons. Thanks to an ever-changing cast of regulars including the likes of Dan Rowan, Dick Martin, Arte Johnson, Goldie Hawn, Ruth Buzzi, JoAnne Worley, Gary Owens, Alan Sues, Henry Gibson, Lily Tomlin, Richard Dawson, Judy Carne, President Richard Nixon (“Go ahead, sock it to me!”), the show became the highest-rated comedy series in TV history.

Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In ran for 140 episodes from January 22, 1968, to May 14, 1973. It was hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and was broadcast over NBC. It originally aired as a one-time special on September 9, 1967 and was such a success that it was brought back as a series, replacing The Man from U.N.C.L.E. on Mondays at 8 pm (EST).

The title, Laugh-In, came out of events of the 1960s hippie culture, such as “love-ins” or “be-ins.” These were terms that were, in turn, derived from “sit-ins”, common in protests associated with civil rights and anti-war demonstrations of the time.

The show was characterized by a rapid-fire series of gags and sketches, many of which conveyed sexual innuendo or were politically charged. The co-hosts continued the exasperated straight man (Rowan) and “dumb” guy (Martin) act which they had established as nightclub comics. This was a continuation of the “dumb Dora” acts of vaudeville, best popularized by Burns and Allen. Rowan and Martin had a similar tag line, “Say goodnight, Dick”.

Laugh-In had its roots in the humor of vaudeville and burlesque, but its most direct influences were from the comedy of Olsen and Johnson (specifically, their free-form Broadway revue Hellzapoppin’), the innovative television works of Ernie Kovacs, and the topical satire of That Was The Week That Was.

Late Night Karaoke

The Daily/Nightly Show (State Of The Union)

What do we know now?

Mike Yard is a regular.  Tonight’s show is about the State Of the Union.  We were invited to submit our questions about President Obama.  Now I could have gone a different way with this and asked about the fact that African-Americans, who are wildly over represented in the less affluent demographics because of historic and persistent racial prejudice, have actually seen their economic position decline under the policies of this President, Obama, and that Police Violence against the African-American community has increased under his Administration and militarized Law Enforcement; but as I’ve indicated I think it does a disservice to The Nightly Show and Larry Wilmore to use a merely racial and tribal lens when watching.  African-Americans are Americans.  Their struggle is our struggle and class knows no race.

Besides, it’s too much research for midnight and I have other things to do with my life which include careful examination of the inside of my eyelids.

So instead I went with some things where the facts are undisputed-

How do you feel about Obama’s protection of torture, bank fraud, & indiscriminate surveilance, and his dozen+ new wars?

Would Larry have Bill Cosby on as a panelist?  Hell yeah!  And Mike Yard is actually funny-

Tonight’s panel is John Lovett, David Remnick, Amy Holmes, and Godfrey.  Sorry about last night, now that I know where to look I’ll try to include it.  Did I mention the Kinks?


Admiral Zhao

This week’s guests-

The Daily Show

When last we saw Anne Hathaway she was a phantom in Hugh Jackman’s dying mind-

Tomight she’ll be on to talk about her debut as a producer (though she also stars) Song One.

The real news below.