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Haven't seen a diary up on this yet, so I want to make sure DK readers appreciate the magnitude of the actions right now shutting down Black Friday sales locations nation-wide (sometimes in conjunction with living-wage protests, mostly it seems independent).  My friend @coffee_punk has an excellent twitter feed here: https://twitter.com/...

One would of course have expected this locally (at least if one lives here and understands the mood), and locally it's been big.  The closest major shopping center to Ferguson and STL in general is the Galleria, which has been shut down for the past two hours.  There's also been action at the Walmart 5 min from my house and the Target 10 min away.  The next largest mall is West County, also shut down (protesters have left but the police still have it sealed off, no doubt to the bafflement of would-be shoppers).  Interestingly I've heard nothing yet about Plaza Frontenac, the extremely-upscale mall in the center of STL county and the only one curently open in the region--but twitter-feed sez another mall is going to be targeted next, so we'll see.  Best photos I've seen so far are 1) national guard deployed to protect our Right to Shop, and 2) shoppers stepping over prone 'dead' protesters in the mall to try to continue their shopping...

But as with all this week, the protests are not just local.  Looks like major shut-down protests at Westgate and Pacific Place malls in Seattle, and (as another diary reported) BART is shut down completely---that seemed to have been protestor-initiated but it may also be a protest-control measure, since Oakland is pretty mobilized.  I'd be interested in commentary from anyone on the ground in SF.  Or Seattle, or anywhere else.

The big boxes, they are not so happy today.  

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Princeton Election Consortium is once again diverging pretty markedly from most other aggregators and as of today has Dems back to a 50% probability of holding 50 seats.  Pollster has gone the opposite direction over the same week--moving slightly from 62% to 66% R takeover--and so far I can't determine the basis for the divergence; though I assume it comes down to different calculations of polling 'house effects' that would give us GA and maybe hold IA and CO.  For what it's worth--and to some readers it may be worth a lot---538 has followed the same trajectory of change as Sam Wang over the past week, though since Nate et al were starting from a much more pessimistic point a week ago, they're now at essentially 60/40 R takeover.

Both Nate and Sam would, of course, stress that the difference between 50% and 40% probability is very, very slight.  However, both are also supremely invested in being right come election day, so movement over the next week on both sites will be very much worth watching.  But don't spend too much time watching.  Spend your time helping to GOTV in GA, KY, IA, CO, LA and wherever else you're so inclined. (And whatever happens in the Senate, it's a certainty that almost the entire '10 class of excremental R governors are staring at the abyss, so let's push them over...)

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Are you motivated more by fear, or more by the smell of victory?

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I just came across this editorial in Aljazeera, dated yesterday, which presents by far the best high-level analysis I've seen yet of what Russia might 'want' out of the current Ukraine mess (and/or what will likely be the geopolitical consequences regardless of what Putin's 'intentions' may or may not have been).  This analysis is certainly written from a place far outside the US and 'Western' media bubble and, as far as I can see, doesn't really take a position on the question--much contended in Kosland lately--of the relative blame or nefariousness of Putin vs the West in the Ukraine crisis itself.   The writer is more interested in Central Asia and I think they make a good case for that interest.  Since the whole thing is worth reading, I won't bother to excerpt but just urge you to follow the link.  Apologies, therefore, for the short diary but I thought this was worth some eyeballs:

http://america.aljazeera.com/...

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When playing the boardgame Risk, which continent is the best homebase for launching your world conquest?

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I'm just reading in the Guardian some details of the Senate foreign relations committee vote this evening to send the authorization request to the full Senate. The 10-7 approval was apparently contingent on thy adoption of some amendments proposed by John McCain.  Here's the Guardian for details:

But the committee also voted to accept controversial amendments proposed by hawkish Republican senator John McCain that would explicitly make it a policy of the US to seek to "change the momentum of the battlefield" in ways that would force Assad to negotiate his resignation.

"It is the policy of the United States to change the momentum on the battlefield in Syria so as to create favourable conditions for a negotiated settlement that ends the conflict and leads to a democratic government in Syria," said the second of two amendments proposed by McCain and Democrat Chris Coons.

"A comprehensive US strategy in Syria should aim, as part of a co-ordinated international effort, to degrade the capabilities of the Assad regime to use weapons of mass destruction while upgrading the lethal and non-lethal military capabilities of vetted elements of Syrian opposition forces, including the Free Syrian Army," it added.

The language reflects concerted behind-the-scenes lobbying by McCain, who effectively made Republican Senate support dependent on the White House agreeing to toughen its approach to Syria. The hawkish former presidential candidate has argued for months that the US should more actively take sides in the conflict and use its punitive strikes in reaction to alleged chemical weapons use to achieve broader strategic aims.

Now the full senate could vote to strip this language out again next week, but I predict they will not -- I think the measure will go forward to some kind of victory in the senate as an explicit bid for regime change, albeit one where boots-on-the-ground are verboten.  This will cause trouble in the House among the convinced anti-interventionists (both D and R); but there's an equally large block right now arguing that "limited strikes" are foolish because they can't possibly accomplish any real objectives (whether punishing the use of gas, or aiding the rebels more generally).  That block will be pleased.   I dunno if that's enough to get a majority in the House--there's been some interesting speculation that Obama would be satisfied with a senate vote; he could just write off the House as a bunch of irredeemable crazies.   But if he does get a majority house vote it will be on the McCainized resolution.

Just sayin...

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Wed Feb 23, 2011 at 11:54 PM PST

Jesus Grab Your Hard Hat

by Houses in Motion

The other day as I walked around the lake at Forest Park, a country music title (and a bunch of lyrics) came to me in a flash.  But as I took a few more minutes to develop the lyric further, I faced a conundrum, which I here set before the reader.   Should the song be in that slow, old-timey 2/4 time of classic country, like this:

"So Jee-sus grab yer hard-hat,
we've got some work, to do..."

Or should it instead be that 4/4 (8/8?) driving beat of contemporary country rock:

"Jesus grab your hard hat, Satan's back in town,
it's time we had a rumble, time we put him down--
so have yourself some whiskey, drink a little Jack,
he's gone down to my girl's but we'll get him coming back...

Maybe the world isn't ready for a Brawling Construction Jesus, I dunno.   Maybe just the easy-does-it Construction Jesus.  What do you think?  Not much of a diary I realize but this could be my breakout song.

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